Safety net for orchards

Lakewinds Food Co-ops are educating the public about apple orchards that use the IPM method, which stands for “integrated pest management.” This gives orchards leeway in using, as a last resort, certain pesticides on their apples if it will help them to harvest a crop.

It’s a pragmatic approach, but one that may raise questions among co-op consumers who buy only organic, but may bypass organic apples because, in many cases, they just don’t look good having weathered a summer’s worth of pests, said Brian Nanoff, produce lead and local buyer for Lakewinds. The co-op has signage and staff on the floor to answer questions about these methods.

Added marketing director Amy Campbell: “One of our priorities as a co-op is to buy from as many local producers as possible. For many of our local partners — orchards, in particular — it can be too costly to operate as an organic enterprise.” When pesticides are necessary, they’re drawn from a “safer list,” she said, and farmers used them as spot treatment.

More potica off the Iron Range

In the world of pastries, it seems that every ethnic group has its own specialty, even if it’s little known outside that community. Such is the case with potica (po-TEE-tsa), an Eastern European treat of sweet dough rolled up with a walnut or poppyseed filling that’s claimed by Slovenians, Czechoslovakians, Croatians, Slavs, etc. Little wonder, then, that the best examples of these labor-intensive loaves come out of bakeries on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Several brands are available in the freezer cases of Lunds, Byerly’s and some Jerry’s Food stores. Now Andrej’s European Pastry, which has been baking potica for more than 30 years in Chisholm, will have its product in Kowalski’s Markets across the Twin Cities starting in November. (It’s also sold at Lunds and Byerly’s stores and Tobie’s Restaurant and Bakery in Hinckley.) Baker Ján Gadzo’s potica is slightly less sweet than some others. (The bakery is named for his father and son.) He uses no preservatives, turning California walnuts, flour, cane sugar, milk, eggs, salt, butter and yeast into a nutty pastry that makes as great a breakfast treat as a midnight snack. For more information, or to order online, visit www.poticawalnut.com.

 

Chef competition: Lake Elmo

The sixth annual Valley Vine and Harvest Throwdown is Sunday at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center, showcasing seven area chefs while raising funds for Canvas Health, which helps individuals struggling with mental health issues, homelessness and chemical health recovery. Competing chefs from Acqua Restaurant & Bar, Danny’s Bar & Grill, Domacin, the Green Room, Marx Fusion Bistro, Phil’s Tara Hideaway and San Pedro Cafe will prepare mini-entrees upon which guests will vote. Preceding the event, chef John Schiltz from Lake Elmo Inn will host a VIP Grand Cru party, where he will prepare domestic and imported lamb served with red wine. Register for one or both events at www.CanvasHealth.org or by calling Melonie at 651-275-4314. Tickets are $85 per person for the Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown and $65 per person for the VIP event.

Celebrate the harvest

The northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market has its annual Harvest Gala from 6-10 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Solar Arts Building, 711 15th Av. NE. in Minneapolis, with proceeds funding market activities. The gala pairs farmers and chefs, who team up to create appetizers. This year, expect eats by Chowgirls Killer Catering, Sen Yai Sen Lek, the Modern Cafe, the Mill Northeast, Red Stag Supperclub and Cranky’s Ice Cream, among others, plus beers from the Nordeast Brewers Alliance and other beverages. There’s also a silent auction. Advance tickets are $15 and available Saturday at the Northeast Farmers Market, and online at NEFMHarvestGala.eventbrite.com ($20 at the door).

 

Taste of New Ulm debuts

The New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its first-ever Taste of New Ulm food tour event from 3-7 p.m. during Oktoberfest celebrations this Saturday. Six restaurants will offer special entrees and desserts amid the German festivities. The Taste of New Ulm tour attendees may buy tickets for $25 at Xorbia.com, then bring their ticket printout to the Visitors Center at 1 N. Minnesota St. to receive a tour pass. The Visitors Center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more details, visit bit.ly/1nSQWfL. Cookies, cookies, cookies

Join the fun in our 12th-annual holiday cookie competition. Who knows? Yours could be baked in kitchens all over Minnesota.

Send your recipe — and the story behind it — to Taste Holiday Cookie Contest, Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av., Mpls., MN 55488, or to taste@startribune.com (please write “Taste Holiday Cookie Contest” in the subject field). Please include your name, address, daytime phone number and e-mail address.

Top prize is a $200 gift card to a local cooking store. Don’t delay: The deadline is noon on Oct. 24.

STAFF REPORTS