Fork Fest: A Feast to Remember

Still drooling over the assorted samples at Fork Fest this year? Me too! This year’s Fork Fest covered all of the bases for fall food cravings. Flavors from The Winchester, Reserve Wine & Food, and Daddy Pete’s BBQ all the way to Malamiah Juice Bar and Koeze were sampled Thursday night and I already can’t wait until next year!

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I walked into Romence Gardens & Greenhouses and the glow from the sunset warmed the room as delectable scents surrounded me. The excitement of seemingly endless options encouraged me to fill my plate within the first five minutes and maintain pace as I checked each table in the greenhouse. Everywhere I looked, people were nodding their heads to the fun folk music or enjoying food by the forkful.

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The array of local beverages to choose from helped cleanse my palate between meals. Long Road Distillers, Brewery Vivant, Vander Mill, and Fenn Valley Winery provided refreshments that complemented the scrumptious bites and treats.

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The gastronomic gathering, Fork Fest, nourishes and inspires attendees for the coming season with its warm atmosphere and savory experience. Thanks to the contributions from local restaurants, CSAs, and the team at Local First, Fork Fest will continue to be the fall food event that the community (and I) looks forward to year after year.

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My best advice for anyone who wishes to attend next year’s Fork Fest is to take your time! There is a wide selection of samples to try and there is no need to rush your amusement. Grab a plate, fill it up, and enjoy some music and conversation. Repeat 3x.

National Farm to School Month

October is National Farm to School month and that means that it is time to celebrate the food service professionals, farmers, and distributors who work tirelessly year round to bring healthier food options into our schools. Let's take a moment to introduce or reinforce what we know about the movement that is reshaping the way our country views nutrition, holistic learning approaches, and local food systems.

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Who is involved?

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Farm to Table initiatives rely on the perspectives and hard work of many stakeholders. In order for these initiatives to be successful, state government officials, community organizations, agricultural commodity groups, universities, administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community members all have a large role to play. Two Michigan based organizations who are leading the way on these initiatives are the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.

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What is Farm to School?

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Farm to School is rooted in the desire to support community-based food systems, strengthen family farms, and improve student health. Farm to School initiatives can take on many different forms but the core goals of these programs are to procure local food to be promoted and served in cafeterias, to provide students with educational activities related to agriculture, food, health or nutrition, and to have students engage in hands-on learning through gardening.

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When did this movement begin and where is it going?

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The National Farm to School Network sprouted in 1996 and stakeholders across the country have been working on this initiative ever since. The Farm to School movement has already helped to shift the way many school districts purchase food yet there is still a lot of work to be done. Here in Michigan, our Farm to School movement seeks to ensure that these initiatives help to fulfill the goal presented by the Michigan Good Food Charter that Michigan institutions purchase 20{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} of their food from local growers, producers and processors by 2020.

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Why is Farm to School important?

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Farm to school programs enrich the connection that communities have to fresh, healthy food and local food producers. Farm to school initiatives empower children and their families to make informed food choices that allow them to promote their own health, support their local economy, and promote sustainable, vibrant communities.

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How can you make an impact?

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It takes the collaboration and intentionality of entire communities for Farm to School initiatives to be successful. If you are interested in learning how you can support our local Farm to School initiatives, click here!

Rutabagas

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Rutabagas are high in carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, and some minerals, particularly calcium. Rutabagas also belong to a handful of cruciferous vegetables believed to be effective in cancer prevention.

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How to Prepare:

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Scrub rutabagas with a vegetable brush to remove soil. For maximum nutrition, do not peel.

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How to Cook:

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Rutabaga can be enjoyed raw, steamed, cooked, baked, or fried when creating rutabaga chips.

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How to Store:

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Rutabaga can be stored adequately at room temperature for up to 1 week, or refrigerated in a plastic bag or hydrator drawer for up to 1 month. For longer-term storage, rutabagas may be packed in moist sand and kept in a cool but not freezing location.

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

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Recipes

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Smashed Rutabagas With Ginger-Roasted Pears

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Ingredients

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  • 4 pounds rutabagas, peeled, cut into ¾ – to 1-inch cubes
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • 3 firm Anjou pears (about 1 ¾ pounds), peeled, cored, cut into ¾ -inch cubes
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • Coarse kosher salt
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Preparation

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Cook rutabagas in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 35 minutes.

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Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine oil, lemon juice, ginger, and sugar in large bowl. Add pears; toss to coat. Spread on prepared sheet. Roast until tender, turning pears every 10 minutes, about 35 minutes total.

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Drain rutabagas; return to same pot. Mash to coarse puree. Stir over medium heat until excess moisture evaporates, 5 minutes. Add cream, butter, and thyme. Mix in pears and any juices from baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

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Recipe courtesy of epicurious

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Creamy, Smoky Whipped Rutabaga

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Ingredients

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  • 3 ½ to 4 pounds rutabagas (two small or one large vegetable)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 2 Tbsp smoked olive oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
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Preparation

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Cut the rutabaga(s) in half crosswise. Place a half cut side down on a stabilized cutting board and carefully shave off the peel with a large chef's knife. Cut the peeled rutabaga into small slices about 1 inch thick. Repeat with the rest of the rutabaga.

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Heat the butter in a large, heavy 4-quart pot, set over medium heat. When the butter has melted, stir in the chopped rutabaga and the garlic. Stir to coat the vegetables in butter, then sprinkle them with the salt. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the rutabaga is very tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the vegetables cool for about 5 minutes.

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At this point you can either leave the rutabaga in the pot and use a hand mixer to whip it, or you can transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and use the paddle. Drop the cream cheese into the rutabaga and use the hand mixer or stand mixer to mash it into the vegetables. The rutabaga will crumble then slowly turn into a mashed potato consistency. Add the olive oil and smoked paprika and mix thoroughly. Taste and add more salt and some black pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.

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Recipe courtesy of the kitchn

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Gingery Coconut Stew With Brussels & Rutabaga

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Ingredients

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  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil (refined or virgin)
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb Brussel sprouts, quartered
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 heaping Tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • ¾ lb rutabaga, peeled and diced (½ inch)
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 5.5 oz can coconut milk (about ½ a cup)
  • Juice of one lime
  • Zest of ½ lime
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • Jasmine rice for serving
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Preparation

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Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion in the oil with a big pinch of salt, until onions are lightly browned. Now add the brussels and try to get them lightly seared by making sure that they hit the surface of the pot. So just push the onions to the sides and let the brussels cook, giving them a stir every now and again. It doesn’t have to be perfect and not every single one needs to sear, just do your best!

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Add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and mix in. Cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the rutabaga, carrots and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer, and add the chickpeas and lime zest. Cook with the lid ajar (to let steam escape) until the rutabaga is tender (5 more minutes or so.)

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Add coconut milk and lime juice, and taste for salt. Heat through, and serve with cilantro and extra red pepper flakes or Sriracha if you like.

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Recipe courtesy of Post Punk Kitchen

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Rosemary Lemon Garlic Rutabaga Fries

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Ingredients

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  • 4-5 rutabagas [peeled, and sliced medium]
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic [minced]
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
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Chipotle Dip

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  • 4 Tbsp vegannaise or mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp chipotle
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
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Sriracha Ketchup Dip

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  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha
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Preparation

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Wash and peel rutabagas, then cut into french fry-sized pieces, about ¼” by ¼”. Preheat oven to 425º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss chopped rutabaga, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Mix together using hands until the fries are lightly coated. Bake for 35-40 minutes, removing once or twice to stir fries around on baking sheet.

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To make the sauces, combine the ingredients for each in a small bowl and mix using a spoon.

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Recipe courtesy of The Fitchen

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Roasted Rutabaga with Brown Butter

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Ingredients

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  • 1 large rutabaga, about 1 ½ pounds
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
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Preparation

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Heat the oven to 450°F. Peel the rutabaga with a vegetable peeler and cut into ½ -inch to ¾ -inch cubes.

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Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until the butter foams then browns into a nutty, toasty-smelling liquid.

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Toss the rutabaga with the browned butter and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the rutabaga to a large baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Roast for 25 to 40 minutes or until browned and tender. Remove from the baking sheet and toss with lemon juice and parsley.

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Recipe courtesy of the kitchn

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Long Road Distillers

There is an added sense of connectivity when we frequent the places that reside within a few miles of our home. When a business puts down roots in the neighborhood where owners and workers and goers live, a deeper sense of community grows. Long Road Distillers, located in Grand Rapids West Side, is more than the city’s first distillery, it a place where people commune together over unique, handcrafted cocktails. Owners Kyle Van Strien and Jon O’Connor call the West Side Grand Rapids neighborhood home; the elbows of guests lean on the dark wooden tables in the dining space, wearing them down with story; the bartenders behind the bar craft a unique drink of homegrown flavor. It is as much about the spirits being consumed as the souls in the room.

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Long Road honors the journey, respects the craft, and takes no shortcuts. Their story encompasses the local community. At Long Road their ingredients come from Michigan, from the places they know and places that resemble home. Whether it be wheat, corn, rye, fruit, or cider it has a Michigan label. They are, as Van Strien shared “highlighting what we have available.” Long Road is an in-house distillery, making everything on location. They are perfecting the art of draft cocktails, stepping out, doing new things, and embracing the long road.

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We are delighted to have Long Road Distillers joining us at Fork Fest this week Thursday, October 22. They will be on site with their draft Gin and Tonic, as well as Teta’s Lemonade (vodka, lemon, lavender syrup, rose water). Stop by their bar and give one of these a try!

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Interested in learning more about Long Road? Sign up to take one of their tours. Or stop by for a midweek dinner and drink. They are open seven days a week and house a delicious food menu. They also recently expanded their upstairs space which can be rented out for private events, wedding receptions, and corporate events. Find out more at longroaddistillers.com.

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The Grilling Company

It is no easy task to take a passion to full time business, but that is just what Keith Hall, owner of The Grilling Company did. He stepped out of his career in construction to begin a barbecue business. Hall and his wife are taking the business step-by-step, one day at a time. The Grilling Company began three years ago with the sole focus on catering, and since then they have grown. In August, of this year, the couple opened a take-out counter in Belmont.

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Barbecue may be Grand Rapids’ next big thing, and The Grilling Company is at the forefront of this movement. Over the last year a number of restaurants and eateries have popped up with a menu focused around barbecue. Hall has a passion for what he does, and he and his wife focus on healthy, homemade food. Yet, they strive to be more than just a business that serves good food, they want to be a positive force in the community. As a business they are focused beyond the reaches of their food, and active participants in educational programs. The Grilling Company is a family affair, with Hall’s two sons helping out their parents. Moving forward Hall and his family have hopes to open a restaurant with seating as they continue to approach grilling and catering with passion.

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We are honored to have The Grilling Company join us for the first time at our 5th Annual Fork Fest on October 22. They will be serving up bite-sized samples of their barbecue, so make sure to stop by and give it a try!

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Interested in The Grilling Company’s catering services? Head to their website to learn more. Or swing by their take-out counter located at 6231 West River Drive in Belmont.

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Top 5 Things to do around Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Dine, dance, and “die” laughing with these upcoming events perfect for your social calendar.

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You can find this information every Thursday and Sunday in The Grand Rapids Press, online at MLive's event calendar, or on my Facebook page.

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Local First Fork Fest

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More than 40 West Michigan restaurants, food producers and specialty food makers will dish up delicacies during Local First's fifth annual Fork Fest on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 5 to 9 p.m.

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Fork Fest is held at Romence Gardens and Greenhouses, 265 Lakeside Drive NE, and connects patrons with local chefs, farmers, grocers, bakers, brewers and other businesses that support the West Michigan food system.

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Admission is $30 in advance, $35 at the door and includes unlimited food samples and live entertainment. New this year, will be a silent auction featuring items and experiences from local businesses and two cocktail options made by Long Road Distillers available. Local beer, wine and cider will also be available for purchase. For more information and tickets, visit localfirst.com.

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Zedd at The Deltaplex

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Zedd, an electro house musician and DJ, will perform at DeltaPlex Arena, 2500 Turner Ave. NW, on Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
nThe Russian-German musician draws influences from progressive house, dubstep and classical music. His two studio albums, “Clarity” and “True Colors,” have produced dance anthems including “I Want You To Know,” “Clarity,” and “Beautiful Now.” His work includes collaborations with pop icons Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and others.

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Special guests include Dillon Francis and Alex Metric to the all-ages show. Tickets start at $35. Doors open at 6 p.m. Details at deltaplex.com.

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Halloween: The Musical Parody

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The Stark Turn Players return to Dog Story Theatre, 7 Jefferson Ave. SE, to perform a Halloween parody opening Thursday, Oct. 22. This year's performance is based on the 1978 John Carpenter film “Halloween,” which featured the iconic killer Michael Meyers.
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nPerformance dates are 8 p.m. Oct. 22-24 and Oct. 29-31; 3 p.m. Oct. 25 and Nov. 1. On Halloween, there will be a costume party after the show with prizes and refreshments. Tickets are $14 for adults and $8 for students and seniors at dogstorytheater.com or at the door. The show includes minimal violence and gore.

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Giant Pumpkins and Mums at Meijer Gardens

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Celebrate fall with gigantic pumpkins and a multitude of mums at Frederik Meijer Gardens, 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, today from 1-4 p.m. Pumpkins weighing in at hundreds of pounds will be on display and two cooking demonstrations at 1:30 and 3 p.m. will demonstrate their versatility. Walking tours led by the horticulture staff along with informative demonstrations will feature the gardens' mums.

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Both events are included with admission: $12 ages 14-64; $9 age 65 and older and students with ID; $6 ages 5-13; $4 ages 3-4; free ages 2 and younger; group rates available. Details at www.meijergardens.org.

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'The Phantom of the Opera' with organ/vocalist

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Watch a screening of the 1925 film “The Phantom of the Opera” with a live pipe organ accompaniment at Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St. NE, on Friday, Oct. 23, from 7-9 p.m. This pre-Andrew Lloyd Webber version will feature the church's 172-rank Austin/Allen pipe organ with the soprano role being sung by Juliet Petrus.

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The event is free and open to the public. Details at fountainstreet.org.

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Read original story by Todd Chance here

The Koeze Company

The Koeze Company, founded in Grand Rapids in 1910, continues to craft traditional, all-natural, old-fashioned peanut butter.  Their Cream-Nut brand peanut butter has been a mainstay in West Michigan for over four generations. You can find the award winning Cream-Nut peanut butter in many grocery and specialty stores in your area. Available in both smooth and crunchy, Koeze’s  peanut butter has only two ingredients, peanuts and salt, and is made right here in Grand Rapids. Produced on vintage equipment and packaged in glass jars, the company strives to provide the community with classic, simple products. Koeze intentionally continues to invest in Grand Rapids, showing its commitment to maintaining a local presence through its customer service and award-winning natural products.

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As the years have passed, Jeff Koeze, the founder’s great-grandson and company’s current leader, has broadened Koeze’s product selection. Koeze offers numerous types of nuts, brittle, chocolate, and many more delicious, gourmet snacks. They take great pride in their chocolate turtles placing an emphasis on the caramel filling. Koeze has also been roasting the highest quality tree nuts from around the world since 1920. Aside from their retail stores, Koeze also sells their products through Koeze Direct, an online catalog and e-commerce site.

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Click here to find out more about Koeze Company. If you want to discover all of the gourmet treasures that Koeze has to offer, click here to visit Koeze Direct.

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Enjoy samples from Koeze and 40 other local businesses at Fork Fest. Get your tickets here

Parsnips

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Parsnips are most known for their mineral content and particularly high potassium levels. They top their nutritious cousin the carrot for vitamin C content and rival the potato for carbohydrate and vegetable protein.

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How to Prepare:

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Scrub parsnips with a stiff vegetable brush under running water to remove garden soil. To cook evenly, cut parsnips into uniform-size pieces.

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How to Cook:

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Parsnips can be enjoyed cooked, steamed, baked, roasted, raw, or satuéed.

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How to Store:

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Trim off parsnip tops and refrigerate unwashed in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks. For long-term storage, bury parsnips in moist sand and keep cool. They may also be frozen after being blanched, washed, dried, and stored in airtight containers

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

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Recipes

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Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary

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Ingredients

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  • 1 ½ pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ -by-2-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss parsnips with oil and rosemary, then season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

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Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

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Roasted Maple-Bourbon Carrots And Parsnips

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Ingredients

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  • 3 lbs carrots
  • 2 lbs parsnips
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup bourbon whiskey
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If any carrots or parsnips are very large, cut pieces lengthwise in half or into quarters for even cooking. In large bowl, toss carrots and parsnips with oil, salt, and pepper until well coated; transfer to two 15 ½ ” by 10 ½ ” jelly-roll pans or large cookie sheets.

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Roast vegetables on 2 oven racks 45 to 50 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring once and rotating pans between upper and lower racks halfway through roasting. If not completing recipe right away, cool vegetables completely in pans on wire racks; transfer vegetables to large self-sealing plastic bag. Refrigerate up to 1 day.

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About 10 minutes before serving, in large microwave-safe serving bowl, heat bourbon and maple syrup in microwave oven on high 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring occasionally. Add vegetables to bourbon mixture and stir until well coated. Heat vegetable mixture on high 1 to 3 minutes or just until hot, stirring once.

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Recipe courtesy of delish

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Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Minestrone

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Ingredients

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  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 turnip, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 small beets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 cups baby kale leaves (or any kale, roughly chopped)
  • 6 large sage leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup lightly toasted almonds
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup pasta shells
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 400. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the chopped vegetables with 1 Tbsp oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, until soft on the inside and gorgeous on the outside. Set aside. While the veggies are roasting, make the pesto. In a food processor, add the kale, sage, garlic, cheese, toasted almonds, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. With the motor on, add the remaining oil in a thin stream, until pesto-fied.

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In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the pasta and cook about 5 minutes. Add the beans and around 2 Tbsp of the pesto. (You may have leftover pesto. Save it to swirl into your morning eggs or to spread on toast!) Boil a couple more minutes until the pasta is al dente. There are two options for how to combine the soup and veggies. You can add the roasted veggies to the soup before you serve OR you can ladle the soup into bowls, then top with the roasted veggies. Finish with one more nice dollop of pesto on top of the veggies in the soup.

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Recipe courtesy of Bev Cooks

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Roasted Garlic, Parsnip, and White Bean Soup

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Ingredients

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  • 4-6 extra large cloves garlic, skin intact, left whole
  • 1lb parsnips (about 4), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, cut into rough pieces
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 Tbsp dried whole or fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • 1, 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed OR 2 cups cooked white beans
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
  • Pumpkin seeds, to serve
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 400ºF. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss garlic, parsnips, onion, oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until garlic and parsnips are tender and turning golden.

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Once cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic from skins into a blender, along with roasted vegetables, beans, water or broth, and lemon juice (this may need to be done in 2 batches); purée until smooth, adding more water or broth if too thick (depends on dryness of parsnips). Or, add ingredients to a large pot and purée with an immersion blender. Transfer blended soup to a large pot. Heat over medium, stirring frequently so bottom doesn't scorch. Serve hot with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and drizzle of olive oil.

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Recipe courtesy of yummy beets

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Roasted Parsnip Spinach Salad

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Ingredients

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  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup diced green onion
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 3-4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp honey
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 400˚. Cube parsnip (peeling before, if desired) and toss with the 2 tsp olive, salt, and pepper. Roast until tender and lightly browning, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove parsnips from oven and drizzle honey over the sprinkle with diced green onions and sesame seeds. Stir until parsnips are well coated. Let cool slightly.

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Toss together spinach and wild rice. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, and honey. Drizzle over spinach and toss to coat. Add the roasted parsnips and serve with an extra sprinkle of green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

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Recipe courtesy of Naturally Ella

Brewery Vivant: Good neighbors in the East Hills community

Good neighbors make…good neighbors. And no one understands that better than Brewery Vivant, a recent B Corp and integral part of the East Hills community.

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For Vivant, becoming a B Corp was a natural extension of what they do as a business: making great local & seasonal food/beer and gathering people together over them both. This commitment to community is carried out every day in the pub – and also through their charitable giving, both in dollars and time (they have a big goal 200 employee volunteer hours/year and have already hit 150 hours!)

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“Being a B Corp gives us more to think about as a company and inspires us to reach and stretch. From offering employees affordable healthcare, retirement planning, and profit sharing, to volunteering in the community, working towards operating at zero waste, and donating 10{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} of profits to charitable causes, we want Brewery Vivant to serve as a beacon not only in the beer industry, but also elevating the business community as a whole” – Kris Spaulding, owner of Brewery Vivant.

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To find out more about Brewery Vivant’s commitment to community and sustainability – check out their “Beer the Change” annual report here.

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You can try Brewery Vivant beer and food at their pub located on Cherry Street, and you can sample their fare at Fork Fest this Thursday.

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Ambrose Crafts Prototypes With Value

As I ascend the stairs to the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology’s (WMCAT) offices, Adam Weiler, founder and director of Ambrose, beckons me in to a bustling space. At long workshop tables, two graduates of WMCAT’s Teen Art + Tech program are having a design meeting, while another, Gen-Dairec Buchanan, methodically slides a squeegee across a screen, applying blue ink to a t-shirt. Gen-Dairec lifts the screen, removes the shirt from the press, and loads it into a conveyor oven to bake the bright design.

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Kirk Eklund, a manager at Ambrose, comes over to Gen-Dairec’s work. Together, they inspect the prototype shirt, scrutinizing it for microscopic imbalances and misprints. Their work will soon be applied to a large t-shirt run for the local non-profit, WMEAC (the West Michigan Environmental Action Council). Already, Gen-Dairec and his fellow apprentices have created major orders for Amway, the Grand Rapids Public Library, and the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

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Ambrose, a social enterprise arm of WMCAT, has teaching and mentoring students like Gen-Dairec at its core. Margaret Anisko, who is attending GRCC this fall, says that Ambrose helped her work on college applications, envision major career decisions. Learning the skills it takes run a commercial screen-printing business has been a huge part of it. While making t-shirts, Ambrose’s apprentices gather economic support, social capital and professional development necessary to catapult them into the creative career landscape.

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As we talk, Weiler muses about the experience of making his first t-shirt design. “When you see your t-shirts around town, it’s really awesome. You’re like, wow, I’ve created something that has value.” It’s the same discovery that Ambrose apprentices have made over and over this fall, he says. At the same time, “it’s not entirely about the t-shirts.” Ambrose fosters the leadership and entrepreneurial skills of its apprentices in a radically empowering way. “The ultimate goal would be working managers into consultant roles,” Weiler remarks. Already, the apprentices are learning to lead and impact the future of our community.

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One mantra at Ambrose is, “everything is a prototype,” Weiler explains. At Ambrose, apprentices learn to engage the design process to capture value. Ultimately, they will apply that learning in any arena they choose—in college, and beyond. You can visit Ambrose's website to make an order, support Ambrose apprentices and impact our community.

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Here are a few examples of apparel, posters, and packaging that have been printed at Ambrose:

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