Salon series begins tonight

The Bluestem Bar hosts the first in a five-month series of salons tonight, exploring how to restore sustainability and resiliency in our food system. Paula Westmoreland and Lansing Shepard, authors of "This Perennial Land," will discuss with the audience current land use trends and changing conditions in agriculture. Each evening includes a farm-to-table meal with organic, vegan or gluten-free selections from French Meadow Bakery and Cafe and Bluestem Bar's menu. The event is from 6-9 p.m. in Bluestem's Nord Tasting Room at 2610 Lyndale Av. S., Minneapolis. Cost is $24 per person, or $40 per person if you'd like a signed copy of the book. For details on this and upcoming events through May, visit (Click on events.) Reservations can be made by e-mailing or calling 612-767-3443.

Break out of your rut

Here's a fun idea from Kowalski's nutritionist, Sue Moores: Since we've all resolved to eat healthier (right?), why not have a little fun by committing to try one new food every week in 2014? Now, we're not talking about that caramel-crunchy stuff you've never tried. This is about star fruit, tofu, celeriac, figs — even a different shape of squash. And if you're already omnivorous, how about a familiar food in a new recipe? Kowalski's stores have weekend demos about healthy foods twice a month, or pose a question to Moores at

Nuke your lemons

We learn things from all sorts of places. Reader's Digest has interviewed professional chefs on how to make common kitchen tools more useful. Some of their secrets:

• To get more juice from a lemon, microwave it for 10 seconds to break down the cells and make the juice flow faster.

• Use your stainless steel sink to remove garlic odor from your hands by wetting them and rubbing along the sink's edge where it's easy to get in between and along the sides of your fingers.

• Use a cast-iron pan to grind pepper. Place peppercorns on a cutting board, whack them a few times and then rub the pan over them for a consistent grind. The more you rub, the finer it gets. Try this with any type of peppercorn, coriander and many other seeds.

For the full list, visit