We love Black Garnet Books!!! (And grilling veggies!!!)


We love books (if you haven’t noticed) and when you combine books with incredible people and the physical resource of a welcoming and vibrantly dynamic space, you have something that we can really get excited about supporting and valuing!!

We often struggle to articulate the deeper impacts and examples being set through the work this community is endeavoring to grow. Far too often we see these efforts dismissed as merely being a “food shelf”, or another charitable action. When, in fact, one of the biggest innovations in perspective that we seek to promote is the perception that “everything is connected”. Single-issue advocacy, that does not holistically incorporate the whole of our shared existences, will always continue to fail or fall short of the potential that exists within the people and motivations driving it.

We work in food because it is such a universal experience: we all need to eat. Through food we can highlight the harms of corporate practices of colonization. Through prioritizing local, human-scaled food systems we can highlight the harms and environmental racism that results from burning our own future shipping nourishment to places that already have nourishment available. Through food, we can create welcoming environments we neighbors come together to talk, and listen (you have to stop talking to take a bite of food). Through food we can highlight the disparities in public health that plague historically excluded communities and the obstacles that have been placed in front of those communities (throughout history) to find health and well-being through the essential resources of healthful nourishment.

Through food we can enter any conversation or space because IT IS THE FOUNDATION OF EXISTENCE!!!

So, with that, we are always excited when we see adjacent endeavors that model similar actions. Does Black Garnet Books believe that it should be the only bookstore? No. But, they give incredible space and value to elements within the publishing industry that far too often are relegated to the margins or a table dominated by Michelle Obama memoirs in February. (Don’t miss interpret that statement, we love Michelle Obama, she is just the current incarnation of the safest display of diversity and inclusion. Think Oprah, or Maya Angelou, or Aretha Franklin)

With Black Garnet Books existing, it only improves the incredible culture of independent bookstores we have in the Twin Cities!! Subtext, Boneshaker, Moon Palace, Next Chapter, Red Balloon, Milkweed, Birchbark, Once Upon a Crime, and SO MANY MORE!!!

Do we feel that everyone is going to go vegan? No, but everyone can eat vegan food, just like everyone can read a book by an author who isn’t white and heterosexual. We hope that you supplement what you get at an Open Market from other ideologically aligned resources such as the St. Paul or Minneapolis Farmer’s Markets, or a pop up maker’s market, or any of the incredible co-ops that operate throughout Minnesota.

Also, we see the adjacent nature of Black Garnet Books to our friends over at Resource MPLS. Alex from Resource wrote this about their intentions of curating that space:

“An idea will grow to fill the space it is given. The first step is giving yourself space. What follows is expansion. Resource MPLS is a supply of space that a person can draw upon. It is a kind space. Comfortable, casual. What lives here doesn’t have to be anything, doesn’t have to be complete, but it should be shared.”

As we have brought in other vendors, artists, musicians, and much more to the Open Markets, so has Black Garnet Books brought in other endeavors (They are hosting a handcrafted art fair today from 2-5pm). They have hosted talks with our elected officials, they have hosted a Queer BIPOC speed dating event, they have hosted a documentary film crew, they have hosted a painting class, they have hosted food vendors, and they have opened their space for outside groups to use for meetings or their own gatherings. It is a laid-back, welcoming, and sober environment. Filled with a breathtaking diversity of story, experience, perspective, and knowledge!!! Also, they have the absolute best shop dog, Nova.

These are just some of the reasons why we have used the pop up Open Markets at Resource MPLS as an opportunity to support Black Garnet Books, connect and introduce them to the community through the events at Resource MPLS, and use these campaigns as an opportunity to highlight Black Garnet Books amongst so many of the other vital, local resources that allow these actions to be so impactful.

So, with this community being SOOOO far behind our solidarity building goals for the pop up Open Markets this summer, I stopped by Black Garnet Books yesterday, had another wonderful conversation with their manager Kris, and picked up three books to encourage more acts of solidarity.

The book drawing that we held during the last campaign to provide April’s pop up Open Market to everyone was definitely impactful! So, from today until Saturday 6/24, anyone who contributes $25 or more in solidarity toward providing the three pop up Open Markets to everyone this summer will be entered in a drawing to win these three books: Thich Nhat Hanh’s “How to Walk”, Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” (A Zachary Hurdle recommendation), and Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste”, an essential book for anyone working in progressive, community building, and abolitionist spaces.

We are 2853 $5.44 Acts of Solidarity away from unlocking the $3000 challenge and having the $21,000 we have set as our goal for the three pop up, Open Markets at Resource MPLS on Sundays 6/25, 7/30, & 8/27, but we are only 741 more $25 Acts of Solidarity away from having the full $21,000 gathered in solidarity without meeting the 3000 individual Acts of Solidarity required to unlock that $3000 challenge match.

The Venmo is: @Chef-Collective-1123

The winner will be drawn at 8pm on Saturday, 6/24, and they will be able to pick the books up at the Open Market on the 25th!

I had a great day yesterday where I got to spend meaningful time with 5 different members of this Patreon Community. While doing some gardening at the Zion Community Commons with patron Jules, we continued a conversation that we have been having about the ridiculous challenge of gathering 3000 Acts of Solidarity to unlock the $3000 challenge match. Jules surmised it beautifully, “In thinking about this challenge, I have deduced one thing: you can’t do it alone.” Nope. I can’t. Like every meaningful endeavor in the world, it takes a community.

Now, summer grilling tips!!

1. Be patient!!! Get the chemical free, hardwood charcoal from your local co-op. Give the coals plenty of time to hot!! Putter around your garden, check in with a friend, read a book, sit quietly listening to the birds and the trees and the city, alive around you.

2. Mise en place. This is a French culinary term for having every ingredient fully prepped and ready to go before beginning to cook. Grilling is an ideal cooking method to practice this. Let’s say you are going to grill tonight. Well, this morning you can rinse, chop, and season all the vegetables. You can assemble your foil wrapped grill packs today, and keep them in the fridge. You can start soaking your corn on the cob 2 hours before they go on the grill. You can move any frozen proteins into the fridge or onto the counter 3 hours before grilling. You will have a much more enjoyable grilling experience if you only have to focus on the act of grilling itself. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes in “How to Walk”: When you walk, only walk. Don’t think. Don’t talk. If you want to talk to others or have a snack, you can stop and in order to do so. In that way, you’ll be fully present for the walking and also fully present for the person you are speaking to when you talk. You can sit down somewhere to make your phone call in peace, to eat your food, or drink your juice in mindfulness.

That certainly can apply to a lot more than walking, can’t it?

3. Vegetable size. Go big!! Like, really big! Slice eggplants in half lengthwise and grill them that way. Take a whole broccoli stalk, peel the rough skin from the florets to the end, slice it in half lengthwise, and grill that. Peel whole carrots and grill them that way. Slice tomatoes in half and put them on the grill skin side down. Don’t even bother to flip the tomatoes!!

Your vegetables will rest on the grill better, be less likely to fall onto the coals, and become presentation pieces when served.

If you keep your coals in the center of the grill, you get different heat areas. The thin tip of the carrots can be positioned near the rim of the grill so that they are not over the intense heat and will cook evenly with the thicker portion of the carrot.

4. Marinate!!! Years ago a member of the community was in at Eureka Compass and said to me, “Colin, I love it that you will let a leaf taste like a leaf.” They were eating some collard greens that I had prepared, and appreciated that he was fully experiencing the flavor of the collard green; that I hadn’t attempted to mask or diminish its pungent flavor.

Marinades to not have to be excessive! You are grilling to get that grill flavor!! The simplest marinade is simple some oil, some vinegar, and some salt and pepper. I will use a vegetable grill pack to demonstrate this concept, as well as using the size of the vegetable pieces to ensure uniform cooking.

Simple grill pack recipe: (What I love about the grill pack, is that they are easy ways to portion vegetables.)

For each grill pack:

2 Crimini mushrooms, whole

1/2 cup of potatoes diced a bit larger than a dice cube.

3 zucchini disks, a little under 1″ thick

1/2 of a carrot cut into 5 strips (Cut the carrot in half lengthwise, cut the half in half to separate the thin end from the thick end, cut the thick end into three strips and the thin end into two strips.)

1 onion half moon, 1/2 inch thick. (Cut an onion in half, and slice the onion half into 1/2 inch slices, as if you where going to use them in a salad.)

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced in half.

Hearty cooking greens such as kale, collards, or mustard/beet/turnip greens. 1 leaf per pack, sliced into 1/2″ strips, stem included.

Get a metal bowl out that is big enough to hold the contents of one grill pack.

Add the contents of one grill pack to the bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and (if you have it in the garden) some chopped herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, parsley, or rosemary, and toss to evenly distribute the salt and pepper and herbs.

Drizzle with olive oil and a few splashes of balsamic/apple cider/rice vinegar and toss to coat.

Place the coated veggies onto a sheet of foil and fold up the edges and pinch them shut.

The salt will release the moisture from the zucchini, onions, and mushrooms, which will be essential for steaming the veggies as they grill. If you are only using denser root vegetables in your grill pack (maybe a nice mix of winter squash, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and celery root seasoned with sage and rosemary) you will want to add a splash of water to the vegetables before sealing them in the foil.

You know how we always say the every oven is different when discussing cooking times? Well, grills are even more variable. Maybe you have a fancy propane set up. Maybe you have a classic, big-bellied, Weber Suburban King that was an essential accessory for every suburban dad in pressed shorts and a polo shirt from 1950 to 1985. Maybe you took one of your racks out of your oven and placed it over a fire pit/metal bucket/55 gallon drum, or maybe you are at a public park with one of their ergonomically mindful suitcase grills. Whatever it is, know that you can start the grill packs away from the main heat source, and cover the grill if able. Let them cook with the radiant, indirect heat first. Leave the main grilling area open for your proteins. Then, after 10 minutes, check one of the grill packs and make sure the potatoes are softening up. Then, you can add a little char to the veggies by placing them directly over the coals for another 3-5 minutes.

We will go more into more grilling tips and recipes in the next post, but remember these four to get going!!!

Thank you all for the continued support!! Maybe I’ll see you tonight at the Collapsing Sun Jam, or at Black Garnet Books, or at St. Paul Pride at Rice Park, or just out on the street as I bike around on this beautiful day!!!

Let’s do this!!!



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