Hungarian Mushroom Stew, Spaetzle, and our “Moonshot” goal! “All hands on deck!”

https://www.patreon.com/posts/hungarian-stew-99232148

(First off, this post is long. A lot of these posts we put up are long. I had a phone conversation with my pops yesterday and we talked about this. How many people have you heard complain that Donald Trump wouldn’t read the dossiers and reports given to him; and that he asked for the bullet points, only? How many people complain about the focus and attention spans of those younger than them? The issues and problems facing us as a society are complex and wide-ranging in their scope. If we are going to ridicule others for only being able to digest soundbites and bullet points, while we recoil at longer and more involved written communications, then nothing is ever going to get better. We will not shy away from posting content that may take 10-15 minutes to read. We will not shy away from using this platform as we stated it would be used: as a curriculum. This platform is a supplement to the conversations, actions, and community building that continue to happen in person and in the community. Sometimes we do not have time for long conversations with each individual who joins us at an event. There are community members who read these posts, whose feedback and conversations help to create them, and then they discuss them with other members of the community at the in-person events. Everything is everything, and the nuances, connections, and complexities of addressing the collapse of all existence are not going to be conveyed in an “elevator pitch”. Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing about this work and inviting your networks to join you in these actions, thank you for following up with us when you send in or ask us any questions you have about the recipes and techniques we share here, and thank you for showing up to the events and being in community with your neighbors as we create a future for ourselves and for those who will walk this same ground 1000 centuries from now. If you do one thing today, close your eyes for a few minutes, find your breath, and envision what you want that ground to look like for that neighbor of ours walking over your footprints 1000 centuries from now. What are you doing today to provide that future for your neighbor?)

One of the great meals that Erin and I enjoyed while in Budapest was this traditional Hungarian Mushroom Soup. Since returning home, this dish has found its way into a regular rotation in our household. There are so many great, local mushroom growers. Ones producing an incredible variety of mushrooms, and this dish is a great way to introduce yourself to new mushroom varieties!

Serve this soup in a shallow, wide bowl over, or next to, the spaetzle dumplings for an incredibly filling and warming meal any time of the year!

This is a stagey recipe, and making spaetzle for the first time is a trip, but once you are comfortable with the recipe, it goes smoothly. This is a staple dish in Eastern Europe, and has most likely been made over wood stoves more than it has been made in Michelin-starred restaurants.

I have pictures accompanying this post that show the mushroom stew with a large dumpling, and some paprikash with spaetzle. Combine those pictures in your mind to get an idea of what you are going for.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp of olive oil

1 cup of diced yellow onion

2lbs of mixed mushrooms coarsely chopped (Use 1lb of crimini, portobello, or white button, and supplement the rest of the volume with chestnut, oyster, chanterelle, dried porcini, or whatever. See your local grower at a farmers market and ask for a mixed bag of the smaller sized mushrooms; see what is on sale at your local market; use up that package of dried mushrooms you have in the cupboard. If using dried mushrooms, make sure to rehydrate them first by crumbling them up into a large bowl and dumping 2 cups of boiling water over them. Let them soak for 30 minutes before using.

1 Tbsp of sea salt

2 Tbsp of tamari

2 Tbsp of tomato paste

2 Tbsp of smoked paprika

1 Tbsp of dried dill

1 tsp of black pepper

1 tsp of thyme

1/2 tsp of marjoram

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

For the roux:

4 Tbsp of vegan butter

1/3 cup of flour (use a “1-1” GF flour to make this dish GF)

2 cups of soy or oat milk

1 cup of vegan sour cream or plain vegan yogurt (I recommend So Delicious coconut milk yogurt or Nancy’s oat milk)

The juice from 1 lemon

1/2 cup of chopped fresh dill (Do not hesitate to add a little bit of fresh parsley to this if you have some needing to be used up. Remember, “A sprig of parsley a day keeps ill will at bay!”)

Process:

1. Heat a deep frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add the diced onions and the olive oil. Stir to coat.

3. Add the diced mushrooms and the salt. Stir to coat and then reduce the heat to medium. You will want to cook the mushrooms and onions until they have released a lot of their moisture. Crimini, white button, and portobello mushrooms will release a lot of moisture. Have the heat at medium low, and use this time to make your spaetzle batter (recipe below).

4. Once the mushrooms and onions are covered in their own liquid, begin adding the seasonings from the tamari to the garlic powder. Stir to coat and incorporate all the seasonings and the tomato paste. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer while you make the roux.

5. In a deep soup pot, begin heating the butter on medium-low. Once the butter is melted, add in your flour a few spoonfuls at a time. Keep the flour moving constantly to mix smoothly with the butter.

6. Once the butter and flour are fully mixed and has started to brown, begin adding in the milk. Add a half cup at a time, and stir after each addition to make sure that there are no lumps, and that the roux is very smooth. Once all the milk is added, bring the heat up to medium and bring the roux to a low boil.

7. Remove your mushroom/onion mix from the heat and add it all into the roux a few ladles at a time. Stir between additions to get a good coating of the roux on the mushrooms. If the mixture looks too thick for your liking, you can add a little vegetable broth to achieve your desired consistency. You can also remove a couple of cups from the pot and purée them in a blender before adding them back in to create a creamier stew. You can add the broth to the blender as well to help speed that process up.

8. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let the stew simmer, covered, while you boil your spaetzle…

Spaetzle!

Ingredients:

1 cup of whole wheat flour

1 cup of all purpose flour

*(substitute with 2 cups of your favorite “1-1” GF flour mix to make this GF.)

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of black salt, kala namak. (Spaetzle is traditionally made with eggs, so this is a great way to replicate that “egginess”.)

1 tsp of nutmeg

1 cup of soy or oat milk

1 cup of water

1 tsp of apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp of oil (canola, safflower, or olive oil work well here)

Process:

1. Mix the milk, water, apple cider vinegar, and oil in a measuring cup and let sit while you assemble the dry ingredients.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix with a spatula. The batter needs to be a little thicker than pancake batter.

4. Bring a pot of water (about 6 cups of water) to a boil.

5. Place a colander into a large bowl near your pot of boiling water. When you remove your spaetzles from the boiling water you will place them in the colander to drain off the excess water.

6. Once the water is boiling, fill your spaetzle spoon with batter, and using a regular table spoon or small, rubber spatula, begin pressing the batter through the holes and into the boiling water. Move the spaetzle spoon around the surface of the water to help prevent clumping. Boil the dumplings in batches for about 3 minutes, or until the dumplings are all floating on the surface. The longer you boil them, the firmer they wil be.

(Pictured above is the spaetzle spoon we use in our household. I purchased it at Ingebretson’s on Lake St., but there are actual spaetzle presses out there if you feel like being a traditionalist. https://www.webstaurantstore.com/oxo-good-grips-11-1-2-potato-ricer-26981/29726981.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=GoogleShopping&gclid=CjwKCAiAivGuBhBEEiwAWiFmYeekuXD6bJt3FHR1msEY6AW0y2Wb409EYE6eguuFhleMyzXkQZ6M3BoC4f4QAvD_BwE)

7. Remove your boiled spaetzle dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon and place them in the colander to drain while you start the next batch of dumplings boiling.

Bringing it all together!

Once all of your spaetzle batter has been boiled, return your attention back to the stew.

Check the thickness of your stew and add more broth if you like.

Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and stir in the sour cream or yogurt.

Remove from the heat and sprinkle in a few Tbsps of fresh dill and stir it all together.

To serve:

Add a cup of spaetzle to one side of a wide, shallow bowl.

Laddle a few scoops of the mushroom stew onto the other side of the bowl.

Top with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, and sprinkle with a good covering of the chopped fresh dill.

Enjoy!!

Now, here’s your call to action:

Our “Moonshot” Plan!

-1000 new Patreon Community Members by June 1st!

-Turn the Thursday afternoon Zion Food Justice Program in to a “hybrid” model of food distribution. One that continues to work with donation/food rescue partners and also supports local food producers with direct, wholesale purchases.

-Begin hosting All Vegan Open Markets EVERY Thursday night!

-Increase the number of voices contributing to, and participating in, the neighborly discussions around solidarity, direct action, and community-led mutual aid & resiliency programs.

-It’s only $2/month, but larger sustaining contributions are much appreciated! Join this growing community that is creating a more secure, equitable, and sustainable foundation of community food distribution here: https://www.patreon.com/thecollectivecommunitydinner/membership

Let’s do this!!!

As many of you have heard or read, on January 28th Second Harvest Heartland launched its “Make Hunger History” plan after receiving $150 million from the State of Minnesota.

A “moonshot” they called it.

https://www.mprnews.org/episode/2024/01/29/second-harvest-heartland-announces-goal-to-cut-state-hunger-in-half-by-2030

That sounds like a great goal, doesn’t it?

Well, this “moonshot” plan of theirs is only a goal to cut hunger in half by 2030.

Well, what does that look like?

That means that in the next 6 years, they only wish to bring hunger back to the levels it was at in 2019.

So, in a full disclosure, they acknowledged they do not want to “make hunger history”, they want to return us to a level of disparity that is just not as noticeable.

Second Harvest Heartland continues to operate in an outdated and failed model of “charity”. A model that requires disparity to exist so that they can exploit historically excluded communities and populations as a marketing ploy as they solicit donations from the privileged and comfortable.

The privileged and comfortable who have harmed their own neighbors and fellow citizens by excessively hoarding wealth within an inherently violent capitalist system.

Second Harvest CEO Allison O’Toole ratcheted up the gaslighting rather brilliantly back in November of 2023 when she was quoted in the Star Tribune, saying, “It’s not sustainable. The status quo isn’t working. We cannot afford to be patient because the surge in need proves that we need to work differently.”

*Star Tribune, “Minnesota on Record Setting Pace to Top 7 Million Food Shelf Visits This Year.” Nov. 20, 2023.

Sadly, the state’s largest food shelf supplier has chosen to use that $150 million dollars to continue the models that they themselves have identified as a failing.

Allison O’Toole has also deflected any accountability for these failures by stating on numerous occasions, that addressing the food insecurity crisis in Minnesota is a challenge we all must participate in to solve.

I do not disagree that greater participation is necessary, but we must be sure to not participate in systems that have already been proven as failures.

With that understanding as our starting point, where do we go from here?

I do not make this next statement in anger, despair, or apathy; only in hope of achieving the level of hopefulness that comes from an honest perception of our reality: There is no one coming to give us a future. We will HAVE to be the solutions. In community, by community, and for community! We have no elected leaders, only elected representatives. It is our responsibility to model, participate in, and grow the programs, behaviors, and values that we hope to see represented in the halls of legislation. This is our “moonshot” goal: a more secure, sustainable, and equitable system of local commerce for providing the essential resources of nourishment to ALL of our neighbors. A system of commerce and solidarity that directly address food waste, supports our vital local food producers, and gathers the community together in an environment free of caste; an environment that prioritizes the need to honor our inherent interconnectedness and the inherent dignity of each of every individual. A dignity that can be honored by making sure that we are securely, equitably, and sustainably providing the very foundation of existence (healthful nourishment), to ALL in our communities.

This is our goal. Maybe it seems light years away? Maybe it is? That does not erase the reality that the status quo is failed, and we cannot be patient in our actions to create the alternative. Luckily for us, we get to move at the speed of thought. As quickly as we perceive our potential, ability, and capability, we can be on that moon.

As you probably know, I have become directly involved with the food justice initiatives occurring at the Zion Community Commons. Assisting with their Thursday afternoon food/meal distribution, hosting Community Dinners on Tuesday to raise awareness and financial support for our shared food justice actions, and assisting with three successful grant applications over the last 6 months. (We received $10,000 to expand the Open Market Program in August and September, we got $10,000 for a steam clean dishwasher and entirely new dish washing/produce sink island, and we just received another grant for a larger freezer and a stock of reusable meal containers that will allow us to package and freeze complete meals to distribute through our multitude of outreach programs.)

These are all huge developments! Through those processes and our time working together, we, as a collective have learned so much about how we can best provide greater service to our neighbors through our food justice and community-building actions.

We have seen a strong praxis develop and a melding of our growing communities that is truly, truly inspiring, hope building, and GROWING!!

We had the opportunity to begin a direct dialogue with Second Harvest Heartland last month. That relationship began after being told by the established source of food for Zion’s Thursday afternoon food justice programming that they would be cutting us off at the end of February to prioritize their own program needs. In the conversations that we have had with the representative from Second Harvest, they admitted Second Harvest Heartland is running out of food. They directed Zion to grants they offer that would give Zion money from Second Harvest Heartland to then purchase food from Second Harvest, even though they just received $150 million of our money. They have complicated ordering and reporting requirements that do not fit in with the skills and time resources that Zion has. It is more of the status quo operations that they themselves have admitted are not working.

At the core of our frustrations with Second Harvest, when we were told by the representative from Second Harvest Heartland that there “just isn’t enough food”, we asked, “Well, what are you doing to address that?”, they did not have an answer.

We suggested that possibly Allison O’Toole could buy the food herself.

(To be fair to this rank-and-file employee of Second Harvest, they did not know that their CEO made $500k/year. That their CEO has seen their salary double from $246k/year in 2020 to $500k/year in 2022 as the food insecurity crisis in Minnesota also doubled.) https://www.hungersolutions.org/data-posts/minnesotans-made-7-5-million-visits-to-food-shelves-in-2023/

Second Harvest Heartland is not our enemy, they are also not a monolith. There are great, compassionate individuals working there who had nothing to do with their CEO leveraging close, personal relationships with our elected representatives and colonizing, status quo maintaining corporations to receive over $170 million in public funds and corporate donations this year, regardless of their years of failing to operate in a manner that met their stated goals.

What these conversations have taught us is that the “moonshot” goals of Second Harvest Heartland are little more than a flight to Toledo.

Well, as Allison O’Toole says, “We cannot be patient”, and we aren’t going to be!

We are launching our own “moonshot” program with a goal of 1000 new monthly sustaining patrons in our Patreon Community by June 1st 2024!

This is a goal of supporting radically divergent models of food sec

The minimum monthly contribution is just $2/month. (A $2/month patronage represents $1.39 that is received by us to support these actions after site and processing fees.)

With the existing funding from the Patreon Community, with the partnerships that we have developed with other food security groups, we can use the funding from this “moonshot” goal to turn the Thursday afternoon food distribution into a “hybrid” model of sourcing to stock that resource, and offering an Open Market every Thursday night.

Here is the link to join the Patreon Community: https://www.patreon.com/thecollectivecommunitydinner/membership

I also want to address some of the fully acceptable backlash that is occurring in America towards the tax-exempt status of churches. Yes, some churches are operating entirely outside of the law as it pertains to tax-exempt status. They are participating and commenting in political ways that are not only terribly divisive but are illegal. They have leadership and clergy who are taking in compensation that is abhorrent and selfish. They are controlling access to their physical and financial resources. I cannot stress enough how welcoming, supportive, and open to community collaboration the Zion Lutheran Church congregation has been to our actions. The abhorrent behavior and practices of so many religious facilities in the USA is only that much more apparent when contrasted with the practices and philosophies of the Zion Lutheran Church congregation. We are so incredibly grateful for all that Zion offers in service of this community.

If the community solidarity is there, we could be hosting Open Markets on Tuesdays as well. We could host Open Markets on Saturdays. We are able to see this potential because of the incredible partnership and communalism and solidarity of Pastor John Marboe, Sue Widerski, Phoebe Waugh, Mira Kehoe, and so many more leaders in the Zion Lutheran Church community.

Again, this is our goal. Intentional and informed divergence from the failed status quo in service of creating truly secure, equitable, and sustainable networks of food distribution in Minnesota and beyond. Networks that can be held up as a model to communities everywhere.

Maybe it seems light years away? Maybe it is? That does not erase the reality that the status quo has failed, and we cannot be patient in our actions to create the alternative. Luckily for us, we get to move at the speed of thought. As quickly as we perceive our potential, ability, and capability as a community acting in solidarity, we can be on that moon.

Please, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. Do not hesitate to share this mission with your networks, family, neighbors, coworkers, elected representatives, and local journalists.

I invite you to join us on Tuesday, Feb. 27th for the next Community Dinner. Our friend Bronwyn will be there from 5-7 pm offering their skills at clothing repair. Our neighbors from the Hamline Midway Coalition Bee Line Program will be offering a native flower seed starting workshop. Everything you need to get started cultivating native flowers will be provided!

There will also be another Mind/Body Movement workshop led by patron Mira Kehoe from 6-6:45!

Just show up!

This post is not behind any paywall. Share it everywhere and with everyone.

Thank you,

-Colin


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