Congrats for Taste

Kim Ode's profile of the cooks/owners of Travail Kitchen & Amusements in Robbinsdale, which ran in Taste in April 2012, was awarded third place in the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing, given through Les Dames d'Escoffier International. Here's a link to the story:

Kids' books in the kitchen

Over the past few months, our mail has held a sudden surge of children's books with food themes.

"Hungry Johnny" by Cheryl Minnema (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $17.95) has an Ojibwe boy as its main character. He learns how to be patient and respectful of elders, even as his stomach growls through a long Ojibwe prayer, then has to wait for others to be served. When an elder arrives late, just as Johnny is ready to dive into a plate of cinnamon rolls, he knows the right thing to do, learning that there always will be time to "eat, eat, eat!" Wesley Ballinger illustrates the story. Both are members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

"The Cow in Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen" by Diana Prichard (Little Pickle Press, $17.95) tells the tale of a boy who never knew food came from anywhere other than a grocery store. Prichard, a farmer, brings the farm-to-fork message to life with terrific illustrations by Heather Devlin Kopf.

For recipes that appeal to kids, "The Big Baking Book" (Hamlyn, $19.99) is from Ella's Kitchen, a British group founded to get kids in the kitchen. More than 200 recipes run the gamut, with an emphasis on nutrition and ease of preparation. This is real food that builds real skills. But you also can learn how to make a lava explosion, along with sausage-and-veggie rollies.

The wondrous Wonderbag

Here's a product that's almost stunning in its simplicity. And that's by design. The Wonderbag is an insulated bag — it resembles a small sleeping bag — that works as a slow cooker without using any energy. It was developed for use in African countries "to ease the social, economic and environment impacts of the current global circumstances," according to its website, For example, there's less deforestation because families need less firewood to cook, with fewer toxic fumes, meaning less respiratory problems. But it's also touted as being great for bringing food to potlucks, cooking at the cabin or on a boat. Once a soup, stew or other food is brought to a boil, you place the pot in the Wonderbag, where it continues to cook slowly for hours without power or fuel. The Wonderbag Foundation, based in South Africa, also donates one Wonderbag to an African family for each bag sold in the United States. Each bag is $50 and sold through

Eat local event

The ninth annual Taste of Eat Local Minnesota (formerly known as the Taste of the Twin Cities Originals) is from 6-9 p.m. July 24 in the TCF Bank Stadium's Dairy Queen Room. Fifteen top local and independent restaurants will prepare food to be paired with beverages from Great Waters Brewing Co., Chateau Ste. Michelle, Southern Wine, Prairie Vodka and Gin and Morningstar Coffee. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Memorial Blood Center. Tickets are $50 and include wine glass and entry into a drawing for a $100 gift card and gift baskets. For details and tickets, visit