“The Farmer and the Chef ” cookbook features more than 90 chef-driven recipes reflecting the life of food and farming in Minnesota’s farm-to-table community. Photographed by Katie Cannon and Written by Claudine Arndt in conjunction with the Minnesota Farmers Union this book captures the long history between the farmer and the chef.
Join Makers of Minnesota Host Stephanie Hansen and Weekly Dish host Stephanie March at the Minnesota State Fair as they host “Minnesota Cooks Day” as the guest of the Minnesota Farmers Union on Sunday, August 29 at 1 and 4 pm in Dan Patch Park at the Fairgrounds.
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Stephanie Hansen 00:12
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the makers of Minnesota. I’m Stephanie Hansen. I’m your host. And I love talking to people in the state of Minnesota that are working on cool projects and doing cool things. And some of you may or may not know because sometimes my Stephanie’s dish life coincides with my makers in Minnesota life. But I am working on a cookbook, and it is my first cookbook, and it sounded super fun when I started many days. It’s really hard and I wanted to talk with Claudine aren’t and Katie cannon who have just come out with a new book called The farmer and the chef. They are working on this cookbook with the Minnesota Farmers Union. And the local food program Minnesota cooks and some of you may be have participated in Minnesota cooks days at the Minnesota State Fair. We have hosted a couple stuff and I’ll be hosting again on the first Sunday of the fair this year. But welcome to the program. You guys. I’m dying to talk to someone else that has written a cookbook. Thanks for having us. Thank you, Stephanie. It’s my pleasure. Now Katie, am I correct in assuming that you’re like the photo person? And Claudine, are you the writer person? Or did you both undertake writing as well?
Katie Cannon 01:28
Um, I mean, I guess I would describe it. Claudine is the primary author of the book, I am the photographer for the book. And I helped out in a few different, I guess, creative ways we’d call it Claudine. We kind of always work creatively together. I helped with some of the editing and going back and forth on on some of the writing but the writing is claddings.
Stephanie Hansen 01:51
Okay, so this is what I needed. When I started down this road. I needed a photographer because somehow I’m doing all of this, which is fine. But Claudine, tell me about this book, because your book is very different. And a part of why I like it is you have a farmer story that’s kind of paired with a recipe. And I think that’s how when we started the whole farm to table movement, like we’d meet these farmers, and we’d be so excited about what they grew. And then we’d want to eat it and we’d meet a chef and the chef would grow the product. So I like that this sort of brings it all together. And obviously it’s in the state of Minnesota. So that’s cool, too. Did you have to think up recipes, or were you working primarily with chef’s recipes.
Claudine Arndt 02:38
We were working exclusively with Chef recipes, actually. So you mentioned that Katie and I are a part of the Minnesota cooks program, which is the local foods program of Minnesota Farmers Union. And we have such a great time working on that program, where we every year highlight 12 Farm to Table partnerships from around the state. So we choose 12 farmers to highlight in our program alongside one of their restaurant partners or a bakery partner distillery brewery. It seems like it’s expanding all the time. And so as a part of that Minnesota cooks program, then each partnership every year submits a recipe for publication in our Minnesota cooks calendar. And when we started working on the farmer and the chef, we had 17 years of history of Minnesota cooks. So we have this treasure trove of recipes. And so it’s from that stash of recipes, that all of the recipes in the cookbook came from
Stephanie Hansen 03:37
did you have to go through because a lot of times when you get chef recipes, they’re very, they’re not like for the home cook. Yeah, we
Katie Cannon 03:47
actually, we actually did go through that we had to pare it down to however many recipes or recipes we wanted to use. And then it was a matter of making sure as Claudine says in the book that they would fly with the home cook. We know that chefs, they don’t use recipes a lot. And when they do, they’re often to scale that isn’t practical for the home cook, nor do they always have the same type of equipment that’s practical for the home cooks. So we worked with two home, I call them home chefs to test all of our recipes. So every recipe that’s in this book, even though it was created by a chef has been tested by a home cook and so that we would make sure that it would really work well in home home. kitchens.
Stephanie Hansen 04:32
Yeah, cuz that is a sort of a different way of cooking. And, you know, someone was asking me like, you know, are Stephanie Are you a trained chef? I was like, No, I’m just a home cook. I’m a person who cooks for my family. And in some ways, that perspective is pretty different than coming from a chef perspective. But one thing that is the same is that you want to use you know quality ingredients and when you go 17 years have you been involved in this the entire time?
Claudine Arndt 05:05
No, Katie and I, so this year now, it’s the 19th year of the Minnesota cooks program. And I have had the privilege of working on the program with Katie for 10 years. So we have quite a history together. And we made a great team on this project as a result.
Stephanie Hansen 05:20
Yeah, it’s a really, that’s a long time. How long did it take you to get the manuscript together, and to identify the photos and I want to know how long this project typically takes.
Katie Cannon 05:35
Typically, typical is kind of a hard thing to describe if we take COVID out of that time, where we had just a big lol, because our publisher went on a furlough for a long time and printers they weren’t printing we had. And I’ll let Claudine jump in here, I’ll I’ll talk about this piece. And then she can talk about the actual time. But you know, we had a time where, where books weren’t really being printed. And Amazon was not carrying items that weren’t considered essential. We were supposed to be published in July of 2020. And once our publisher went on furlough, we got word from them that they were going to delay our book. And one of the reasons why, in addition to the delays in printing was because retailers such as Amazon, were not carrying products that were not considered essential. And so a book with this book was not considered essential. And they were concerned that we wouldn’t have retailers who would be able to then push it out to the public.
Stephanie Hansen 06:29
Isn’t that funny, because in some respects, more essential than ever was the relationship with the home cook and the farmers. And just for me, personally, I was getting really anxious about the food supply, I was getting anxious about being able to get the quality goods. And I knew a lot of local farmers, and they were concerned about getting their products out, too.
Claudine Arndt 06:50
That was really frustrating for us, too, and was something we really struggled with. And until our publisher really explained to us exactly why it wouldn’t make sense for a book to come out last summer. And why it simply couldn’t, why it physically couldn’t. But even if physically put a push the book through why it still wouldn’t have made sense. It was really hard for us and we push them, we really tried to challenge them to go ahead and push the book out last year, for those same reasons that you just cited. Stephanie, people were home, they were cooking, they were concerned about our food supply. And we just felt like we might be missing that opportunity.
Katie Cannon 07:29
Yeah, I think I think going back to what you had said, Stephanie, about the stories tell, you know, telling the stories about the farmer’s lives that our book is a little different in that it’s not just farm to table, it’s really trying to take a step back and not just saying these are the farmers that you see at your market. And these are the vegetables and these are their farming practices. It’s really about telling deeper aspects of farm life and how farmers affect communities and and how we all work together to create a food system. And so we again, as Claudine said, we had a little a lot of troubles digesting that, because we just kept saying, This is what people need to understand are these deeper stories that farming is not easy. The people who farm make do it by choice in many cases, and and they they love what they do. And their stories are very tough. You know, they work hard. There are blue skies and sunshine days out there on the farms. But there’s many days that are not that and last year was definitely, you know, example of that. And people needed to hear that at that time.
Stephanie Hansen 08:34
Now that the book is in its physical form. Is there when you look at it. I’m not I’m sure you’re proud. But is there like anything that you glaringly notice? And like, Oh, we should have done that different?
Claudine Arndt 08:46
What an interesting question. No, for me, the answer is no, not yet. At least Katie, what’s your response to that?
Katie Cannon 08:56
I would, I would echo that. I it feels it feels odd to say that. I think that one thing that was surprising through the process is we we went through and created this book thinking that we were going to have to edit it down and putting all the content in there that we really wanted to have published. And we thought that once it went to our publisher that they would say, Okay, this is great, but you’re gonna have to cut back. And what happened was they said, Great, let’s include it all. And so what we’ve been saying is so surprising is that exactly what we wrote, is exactly what got published. And so that feels really good. You know, we don’t feel like oh, we had to cut out something major, or we didn’t have to scale back on anything that we didn’t choose to do. And that feels really good to put something out on the world. That was exactly the way we intended it to be.
Claudine Arndt 09:47
And Stephanie, you had asked about the timeline before so we got approval for the project in I believe it was late February of 2019. And it was that next week that Katie and I started sitting down with the material trying to organize all of the material that had been collected throughout the years. And our deadline was supposed to be December 1 of 2019, for submitting it all. And then we had, we lost one of our team members, he passed away. And so we had asked for a month extension and to submit all of our materials by the end of the year. Again, as Katie said earlier with the idea that our book was going to be published July of 2020. And then COVID happened. And we heard from our editor that the publishing company was being they were furloughed, that printing was shutting down. And so we actually didn’t know when we didn’t even see an interior layout of the book. until January of this year. 2021. Wow. And then it was go time again. And we Katie printed out all the pages of the book, she put them up on a wall, we basically created an enormous storyboard. And we were cutting and pasting, physically cutting and pasting, and moving things around, because once you see the layout of the book, it actually changes a lot. You can see in those cases, that Oh, if we cut three sentences from that headnote, we can fit that whole recipe on one page. And then we can open up a page for more of Katie’s beautiful photos. So it changes everything once you see that interior layout. And then we worked on that for I don’t know, a couple of weeks, right, Katie are and then just, yeah, our final edits, I think we were able to submit maybe in March, and that was really nerve racking. And then we finally got to hold the book just a few weeks before our release date of June 15, which was truly an amazing moment.
Stephanie Hansen 11:47
I’m so excited for you guys. Do people still do book tours? Or how do you like, how do you go about selling the book now? And how much of that are you involved in?
Claudine Arndt 11:59
Yeah, well, one advantage of having a publisher is that we have a marketing we have marketing health through our publisher. And so they have done an amazing job of just getting the book into all sorts of stores, obviously through the major outlets, but all sorts of local stores as well. And given our commitment to local we’re really encouraging people to try to find the book at their smaller local bookstores or gift shops. And then we had a release date at the mill city farmers market. In June, we sold some books there. We had a lovely event at honey and right bake house in St. Louis Park, later that same week to also help celebrate their kind of reopening and their new patio that they put in. We had a riot there as well. And we were part of the co op farm tour at Blue fruit farm in Winona a couple of weeks ago and now we’re doing just a couple of smaller events. Before we do hit the road. In September. We’re going on a tour with a small theatre company called sod house theater and they’re going to be performing a play about local foods called our Lamaze buya wagon. And so Katie and I are going to be joining them on I think 12 to 14 of their stops around the state from you know, halleck, Minnesota and far northwest of the state all the way down to Spring Grove in southeastern Minnesota. So we are actually doing a book tour and we’re we’re super excited for that adventure.
Stephanie Hansen 13:28
What a cool collaboration. How did that come about? Because it seems so fun and a blue Yeah. What is the blue? Yeah, too. It’s like a big giant pot of everything, right like that communities do?
Claudine Arndt 13:42
Yeah. We got connected with sod house theater, through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Actually, through one of our contacts there. They sod house had reached out to them and they said, You know what, you really need to talk to Katie and flooding at Minnesota cooks. And you know how Stephanie sometimes you just meet people and you just have like a resonance, you just have a vibe right away that we felt with the founders of this theater company, and really appreciate their work, to bring the performing arts to greater Minnesota and especially to create plays that illuminate issues that are relevant to rural communities. And so it’s just a really great fit.
Stephanie Hansen 14:26
I am really excited about hearing that people are still going out and doing tours and it’s fun that you’re kind of using the entertainment angle to because I don’t know like food is life right? And there’s a lot of ways you can come at it and just sitting in a bookstore no offense because I love bookstores, but sitting at a desk is a little two dimensional. I think when you can really like get in front of people and have food and share it makes more of a communal connection which that really is what I think the book is all about. What are some of your favorite recipes in the book? Is that like picking your favorite children?
Claudine Arndt 15:07
Well, I have to admit I’m a fairly simple cook. I always believe that when you have fresh ingredients, you don’t have to do a ton to it. So I gravitate towards recipes that are not as complex. That’s one thing we love about the cookbook, just a little side note is that it has some really simple recipes for the beginning home cook and then it also has some really challenging recipes for people who like that culinary adventure. But that said, I love the shakshuka in our Daybreak chapter, which is our breakfast chapter that came from Flexi falafel. I also love the farmers market. panzanella in our summer harvest chapter from young Joni, I’m going to have to look up those specific recipes and make them now I love Erica’s cooking at Foxy falafel.
Stephanie Hansen 15:52
She just like can make these ingredients just shine in a way that tastes different than everybody else and I don’t know exactly what it is she does to them, but it’s always delicious. How about you Katie? Oh man, I
Katie Cannon 16:07
have so many favorite recipes, I think. So I’ll take a different angle maybe and my favorite to shoot. I think we’re because we I got to shoot alongside the recipe testers, we didn’t have 10 years worth of photos. And so I had so much fun I love shooting action. And so I went to Lowry Hill meets and I got to shoot them making and sauces and stuffing the sausages and doing all the tying and twisting and that was really fun. And then also the apple strudel in our sweets chapter which is our desserts chapter. Chef Robert from mendo Berry, got to watch him you know this beautiful stretching of the strudel dough and making the filling and wrapping it up, you can just tell the care that he takes. And that was a lot of fun to shoot. And I think maybe one of my favorite shoots was we were doing a lamb Ragu from formerly the Craftsman Mike Phillips, we have several of Mike’s recipes, which is really fun. You can you can kind of follow it along as a historical kind of guide through the local food scene of restaurants through the Twin Cities as well. So you know, a lot of restaurants that might not be open anymore. But that played a very important role in the Twin Cities. And Mike is an example of that. We have a recipe from Chuck’s to Verona from him, from the craftsmen and now red table meets. But Becca, the recipe tester had made this lamb Ragu and later in the week, Claudine and I were going to visit Mike Phillips to package up a little of this lamb Ragu. That was a recipe from Craftsman and took it to him as a gift. And his face was just so excited to get you know, his food, his recipe made for him. And later that day, he sent me a picture where he had heated it up and plated it. And he was like, Yep, that’s right. Yeah, it was so reaffirming, and it was just such this wonderful moment to be able to share his recipe and his food back with them. And I you know, so that was a really fun one to shoot for me.
Stephanie Hansen 18:07
So where can people find the book most easily? Or where are you recommending it. And then I want to hear a little bit about what you guys are planning at the state fair as well.
Claudine Arndt 18:21
Really, the book is available everywhere. Stephanie. It’s really fun. I mean, obviously, people can get it through big online retailers if they want. We also it’s so fun. We’re calling it book watch. Our friends are going around the state on their travels their summer travels, and sending us pictures from Grand Marais and battle lake and
Katie Cannon 18:44
warehouse Raqqa or split light or can’t say it the rock lighthouse. Put rock lighthouse gift shops, somebody sent a picture with them holding it. They’re like we found it in the gift shop up here. So we’re finding it all over it. And it’s really a wonderful reception.
Claudine Arndt 19:03
We love supporting our local food co Ops, and we know a number of them are carrying the book or just got the book back in stock. So that’s wonderful. If people want to pick it up at a co op. We also love the local independent bookstore, cream and Amber and Hopkins but yeah, wherever people can get it everywhere.
Stephanie Hansen 19:22
All right. And if people want to come out to Minnesota cooks day at the State Fair, what kind of experience might they have? or What are you planning for this year?
Claudine Arndt 19:31
Yeah, so as you mentioned earlier in our conversation is Minnesota cooks day at the State Fair. We’re super excited to have you and Stephanie March is our afternoon MCs. But basically during Minnesota cooks day we’re highlighting those farm to table partnerships that I mentioned earlier, and our official shows of the day begin at 10 in the morning and continue throughout the day at the top of every hour with our last show beginning at 4pm this year and each show consists of cooking demonstrations using local foods. dialogue with the chef’s preparing the foods as well as the farmers where the ingredients came from. And then food samples as well. And it’s just a fun celebration all around us local foods in Minnesota.
Stephanie Hansen 20:11
And will you guys have books there for sale?
Claudine Arndt 20:14
We will have books there for sale. As a matter of fact. Thank you.
Stephanie Hansen 20:18
Yeah, I love it. So I’m looking forward to being there. Thanks for talking me through the cookbook journey. I’m just I’m in the thick of it. I finished all my recipes. And now I’m finishing writing the blurbs and the photography, I’m about a third of the way down. I don’t know, maybe a little further than that. But you guys have inspired me to keep going and to stay positive.
Katie Cannon 20:42
Reach out to friends. I know we reached out to a few people who had published books and it felt so good to be have that affirmation that it’s a tough process. There’s a lot of unknowns. No two processes are identical either. You know, some people work with publishers that do things one way we worked with a publisher that was completely different, but it was just so nice to just talk it through with someone and they’re like, yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard. I’m so glad we’re doing this together. You know, it’s just such a process that meant a lot to both of us. And it was just so great to be on this team.
Stephanie Hansen 21:17
Yeah. Well, I’m excited to talk to you. Thanks for sharing your story. It is the farmer and the chef cookbook, and it’s great. I was looking through the pictures. I haven’t cooked any of the recipes yet because all I’m cooking is my own recipes. Sorry. But I plan to it’s in my stack. And I will look forward to seeing you guys at the State Fair. Thank you Stephanie. Thanks so much. Bye bye.