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edible COLUMBUS THE STORY OF LOCAL FOOD

Member of Edible Communities No. 43 | Winter 2020

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WINTER 2020 | CONTENTS

DEPARTMENTS 3

EDITOR’S NOTE

5 #EDIBLECOLUMBUS

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EDIBLE ENTREPRENEUR

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

16 CULTURE 26 RECIPES 30 EAT 32 DRINK 39 HERO

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FE AT URES 10 COLUMBUS PIZZA PLACES SQUARE OFF

The largest pizza-focused group on Facebook calls Columbus-and its pizza-home By Linda Lee Baird | Photography by Rebecca Tien

20 WALTON GARLIC FARM A local family launches an unusual endeavor on the North Side By Nancy McKibben | Photography by Reilly Wright

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34 TWO DOLLAR RADIO The indie publisher’s vegan cookbook serves its community-building mission By Wynne Everett | Photography by Blake Needleman

C O V ER

Photography by Reilly Wright

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EDITOR’S NOTE

edible

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ecause Edible Columbus is published quarterly, I have often used this space to reflect on changes in the natural word that mark the new season. A year ago, I was writing about bird migrations and the winter solstice. It seems like a very long time ago. This has been a year unlike any in my lifetime—and in yours, I suspect. The pandemic disruption that began in March continues in all aspects of life, including the food scene. As another winter arrives, the socially distanced farmers markets are closing down, restaurants are losing their outdoor patio option to cold weather and bars continue to operate with restricted hours. Some food businesses have closed permanently, and others are worried. Pandemic fatigue has set in. As we all look for a bit of inspiration, this issue brings you the stories of dreamers—people who followed a passion and turned it into a mission. For Nakimba Mullins, the passion was pizza, both eating it and discussing it. For Ryan Walton, it was pursuing the agricultural adventure of growing garlic. Eric and Eliza Obenauer combined two passions— books and vegan food—into a publishing company that opened a bookstore and café. You also will hear from the people behind the Urban Spreads home-based jam operation and the Kabob Shack restaurant serving Afghan food. In each case, two friends shared an aspiration that became a business reality through hard work.

COLUMBUS PUBLISHER

Franklin County Farm Bureau EDITOR IN CHIEF

Gary Kiefer | gary@ediblecolumbus.com In this difficult year for everyone in the food chain, I also want to point out that you can still support growers and producers by visiting one of the indoor farmers markets in our area during the winter. The Worthington Farmers Market will again be held inside The Shops at Worthington Place on Saturday mornings from now through April, with occupancy limited and masks required. In Granville, the Granville Elementary School hosts an indoor market most Saturday mornings through February. The North Market in Downtown Columbus remains open and has added a delivery service. In an unusual twist, the Clintonville Farmers Market has announced that it will run an outdoor, drive-through market from Dec. 12 until April. Customers will need to order online in advance as they did when the market opened in spring under pandemic restrictions.

We also pay a visit to Tracy Kronk, a West Jefferson mother who turned a discussion with a hungry child into a nonprofit that brings together a community of volunteers, all pursuing the same goal of feeding kids.

As we come to the end of 2020, we all have decisions to make about our comfort level in gathering with family and friends this holiday season, and there is no one right answer. Whatever your path, I hope you have a safe and healthy winter. Let us also begin the new year with understanding and compassion for those who continue to suffer in these difficult times.

I hope these stories can bring you a bit of warmth as the temperatures drop.

Gary Kiefer gary@ediblecolumbus.com

Edible Columbus is brought to you by Franklin County Farm Bureau Board of Trustees: Leland Tinklepaugh, president | John Hummel, vice president Roger Genter, secretary | Dwight Beougher | Veronica Boysel Connie Cahill | Ross Fleshman | Denise Johnson Lewis Jones | Gayle Lewis | Jack Orum Cassie Williams | Nathan Zwayer

Edible Columbus

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Melinda Lee melinda@ediblecolumbus.com

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Edible Columbus is published quarterly and distributed throughout Central Ohio. Subscription rate is $25 annually. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission from the publisher. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us. Thank you.

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LOCALLY SOURCED

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Serving lunch and dinner inside, outside and curbside 1 5

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O l e n t a n g y

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L o c a l R o o t s P o w e l l . c o m 6 1 4 . 8 2 2 . 9 9 9 0

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To learn more, contact melinda@ediblecolumbus.com | (800) 451-8908

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#ediblecolumbus For Columbus foodies, by Columbus foodies. We held a social media contest to choose the 12 most drool-worthy photos to include in our inaugural calendar. Here are our winners:

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ALEXANDRIA STORCH @HONEYINHEREYES

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AUTUMN LEANN @THEAUTUMNLEANN

GARRETT BINGAMAN @GARBINGZZZ

To order your own 2021 Edible Columbus calendar, fill out the form shared on Facebook @EdibleColumbus |

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Uncommon Jam Flavors Drive Urban Spreads’ Business Farm-fresh fruit and quality ingredients keep customers coming back By Angela Lee

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he year is 2012 and the sweet aroma of freshly pressed fruit fills the air. The hustle and bustle in the kitchen of Amy Smith—mother of three and jam connoisseur—mark the humble beginnings of a small business in the neighborhood of Franklinton. These home-kitchen trials will lead to some unusual flavor combinations and the birth of Urban Spreads. Building on her brother’s idea for a jam business, Smith and her friend Becky Martin began responding to the local demand for quality products. What started out as a simple hobby grew into a full-on business venture as they invested many hours taking their jams to farmers markets and local events. Throughout the years, they have developed a strong relationship with their customers: Regulars come back craving their favorite flavors and word of mouth brings new customers eager to sample the spreads. With flavors such as Peach Tango Mango Salsa, White Chocolate Red Raspberry and Blueberry Lemon Sage, Urban Spreads is offering products unlike the average store-bought jam. Asked about the creation of new jams, Amy credits her brother for the eccentric flavor combinations. The spark of an idea could be formed from something as ordinary as eating tortilla chips with salsa or the simple curiosity of how different flavors might work together. The creation of the jams starts with locally grown fruits from orchards, markets and farmer’s auctions around Ohio and Michigan. Smith said they take pride in using quality ingredients, from the fruits to the liquor, and producing jams that have no high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives. Many customers say the Urban Spreads products remind them of Grandma’s homemade jams. For some, expletives are shouted at first taste as an involuntary display of pure enjoyment. One customer said his experience of tasting the Bourbon Peach Habanero resembled a shy kiss (sweet) followed by a strong slap in the face (spicy). With a flavor profile such as that, it is often a fan favorite dipping sauce for chicken nuggets. Over the years, Smith said they have been able to find many partnership opportunities with businesses and organizations in the area. They buy peaches and apples from Branstool Orchards in Utica for popular jams such as Peach Cobbler, Apple Pie and Apple Butter. In turn, Branstool sells a large variety of Urban Spreads jams in their farm market. Another community partnership is Franklinton Farms, a nonprofit urban farm that provides home-grown produce to residents of the Franklinton area. Urban Spreads purchases peppers from the farm for the creation of pepper jellies, and the farm sells Urban Spreads jams at its farm stand. On one recent Saturday, the display included Red Raspberry Jalapeño Basil, Hot Pepper Garlic, Cherry Habanero and Blackberry Bourbon, among others. Like other small businesses, Urban Spreads has been hurt by the worldwide pandemic. “It has been a difficult year,” Smith said. Many of the shows and special events where they had previously displayed their wares were canceled, making it difficult to predict sales. But they were able to continue selling at the Grove City Farmers Market, where they have been among the vendors every year since 2013. Smith remains hopeful for the future, saying she strives to “keep going and hope and pray.” Running a small business is no easy venture even in the best of times. Smith and Martin are balancing the roles of raising families and trying to run a business with no additional employees. Luckily, with the help of family and friends, they have worked out a system. They have even included Smith’s father in the mix as the newest delivery man for the jams. For payment, Smith provides him cinnamon rolls for a delivery well done.

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With the creation of Urban Spreads, Smith has found herself growing in her love and gratitude for her community. The local small businesses community has brought together people who share an interest in shopping and sourcing local. From the community of jam lovers to the farmers market regulars, the fan base for shopping local businesses continues to grow. The customers, the people and the connections are all invaluable components to a small business. “I know we aren’t alone in the unknowns,” Smith said. “We see and know the hard work that so many of our local businesses do, day in and day out. It really is their blood, sweat and tears that inspire me to keep going.” Photos courtesy of Urban Spreads Follow Urban Spreads on Facebook at facebook.com/urbanspreads. Their products also can be found at Celebrate Local at Easton; Sommer House Gallery in Grove City; Mad Hatter and Lohstroh Family Farms in Mount Sterling and The Noble Pig in Washington Court House. Angela Lee is a food photographer, freelance writer and social media strategist. She’s always in search of her next culinary adventure. You can find her on Instagram at @FindYourFork or via email at FindYourFork@gmail.com.

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Amy Smith


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COLUMBUS SQUARE /

These Kenyon College students are cultivating new attitudes along with the crops By Wynne Everett

The Pizza Connoisseurs group supports the city’s unique style of pie—and the many restaurants that serve it—with an annual poll By Linda Lee Baird | Photography by Rebecca Tien

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PIZZA PLACES

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bus,” he said. Heading down Main Street in Westerville one day, he discovered he’d been wrong when he saw someone walk out of an Italian restaurant with a pizza box. “I was, like, ‘Oh, they have pizza in there?’ ... That place really, like, stopped me.”

In 2015, Mullins’ job had him traveling to the far corners of the city. “I would drive around the area and pick up a pizza everywhere I would stop. I figured I’d had every pizza place in Colum-

Realizing he’d overestimated his knowledge of local pizza spots, he had an idea. “I woke up the next morning, like, ‘You know something? I’m gonna start a group about this.’” He formed a Facebook group, invited his pizza-loving family members and co-workers, and told everyone to spread the word. The Pizza Connoisseurs of Columbus group kicked off with about 20 people. In less than six years, it has grown to more than 27,000 members—the largest pizza-focused group on Facebook.

erhaps you recognize this Columbus pizza problem: When texting friends about getting together for pizza night, the emoji doesn’t look like our style of slice. Granted, when people in most of the country think of pizza, they think of what pops up on your phone—a triangle cut capped off with a thick crust. But anyone who knows and loves pizza knows that the iconic slice is just one of many options out there. And anyone who really knows and loves pizza will make it their mission to try all of them. Nakimba Mullins is such a man.

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Columbus-style To understand the popularity of pizza in Columbus, you have to know its history. Jim Ellison, a local food writer and author of Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History, said that pizza came to Columbus earlier than most of the Midwest when TAT Ristorante de Famiglia brought it to town in 1934. Then, in 1950, the first pizzeria in the city—Romeo’s—served slices cut rectangularly, likely to better fit inside the brown paper bags out of which they were served. Two brothers involved in that business, Jim and Dan Massucci, subsequently started their own restaurant, called Massey’s. Their signature square slice would become the hallmark cut of Columbus-style pizza. Massey’s success was replicated across the city over the next decade: by Tommy’s and Gatto’s in 1952, Ange’s in 1953 and Rubino’s in 1954. 1959 brought Terita’s to the East Side of town and Josie’s to West Broad Street. These restaurants are all still serving pizzas today. And the pizzas they’re pulling out of their ovens are the signature Columbus-style: square slices; thin, crisp crust; toppings all the way to the edge of the pie. According to Ellison, Columbus was one of the first cities to put pepperoni on pizza. But it’s not just any pepperoni you’ll find on a true Columbus pie; it’s spicy cuts that curl to a crunch on the edges as they cook. This style is called “cup and char,” and the local Ezzo sausage company produces a dynamite variety that is used by shops across town and recognized internationally for its quality. Today, Central Ohio is home to more than 400 mom-and-pop pizza places. It’s these small businesses that the hungry fans in the Pizza Connoisseurs of Columbus are dedicated to supporting.

Growing in popularity It’s fitting that Mullins started with his own family when founding a group that would end up benefiting so many family-owned businesses. But what is it about Columbus that spawns so many pizza fanatics? I would argue it’s partly location. Our proximity to other major cities means we’re less than a day’s drive from many better-known pizza styles: New York, Chicago and New Haven. Meanwhile, as the cost of living rises in these cities, many residents are relocating to Columbus, bringing their pizza preferences with them. That means you can buy an authentic pie in Columbus in practically any style you want. (The converse does not hold true: Just try to find a square slice on the streets of New York City that isn’t a crusty Sicilian).

From top: Making sausage at Terita’s, Terita’s pizza, Pizzaroni’s pizza

But it’s not just the pizza that’s popular. Thanks to the Connoisseurs, pizza fandom has become a pastime. And for that, we have Mullins to thank. “Honestly, my goal when I started this group was to get up to, like, 1,000 members,” he said. Although he hit that number during his first summer, he wasn’t convinced of the group’s staying power. “After the first year, I thought it was just gonna die out.” Clearly, it didn’t. Mullins speculated some reasons the group caught on. “I want it to stay on topic about pizza. I don’t ever want to get into political things or racial things or anything like that,” he said, adding his team of moderators quickly deletes anything reported as offensive. I appreciate the group’s positivity. It’s the only corner of the internet where the most consequential argument you’ll find is about whether pineapple makes an acceptable pizza topping (majority opinion: It does not). The group is like internet comfort food: You know what you’re going to get, and it’s never disappointing. Scrolling through photos and glowing reviews of pizza offers a type of mental break that’s hard to come by in the midst of a pandemic and relentless election. I’m not alone in this. Mullins said he suspects COVID-19 has contributed to the group’s growth, with people staying in and ordering out more. When we spoke in early October, he shared with some surprise that the group had added 1,200 members in the previous month and a half. In the three weeks since our conversation, it has added 1,200 more.

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Nakimba Mullins, right, presents the Pizza Connoisseurs’ annual award to Pizzaroni’s owners, from left: Tony, Valerie, Danielle and Dustin Sabatino.

Where Pizza Connoisseurs eat Every year, Mullins marks National Pizza Month in October with a single question poll: Who has the best pizza in Columbus? It turns out most Connoisseurs are firmly in the Columbus-style camp, as evidenced by the annual winners: Tommy’s from 2015–17; Terita’s from 2018–19, and Pizzaroni’s in 2020.

conveyor” and enables the crust to support the weight of the restaurant’s generous toppings. The family also makes their own sausage, and—building on the model established in Buckeye Lake—has ice cream on the menu, featuring Tony’s original hot fudge and peanut butter sauce.

Tom Iannarino, owner of Terita’s, shared what winning the last two years meant to him. “I just can’t believe the difference in our business since they started that [poll]. Just put our name out really quick,” he said. Terita’s is a classic mom-and pop shop. Named for Iannarino’s sisters Teri and Marita, founded by his father and using his uncle’s homemade sausage recipe, the business has involved nearly every member of the family.

The families that own both restaurants agree on many things: fresh ingredients, never cutting corners, and staying small. Neither restaurant advertises or offers delivery, relying on word-of-mouth and loyal clientele. The Pizza Connoisseurs group has been a key driver of business for both. “Yesterday, people came in, ‘Oh, I saw you on Pizza Connoisseurs; I’ve never been here before,’” Dustin said. Danielle added that winning this year’s poll was “humbling to us and an honor.”

This year’s poll winner, Pizzaroni’s, is newer to the pizza game. The Sabatino family purchased a pizza and ice cream shop near Buckeye Lake in 1994, their first foray into pizza. But it wasn’t until 2015 that Pizzaroni’s came to the Columbus area, when Tony Sabatino bought a small shop near Pickerington. He opened up for business with his wife, son and daughter-in-law. Though tastes have changed since the 1950s, the Sabatinos never considered branching out from Columbus-style pizza. “We chose to stay with the style that everyone is used to,” said Assistant Manager Danielle Sabatino. Pizzaroni’s is known for the crispness of its crust, achieved by finishing the pizzas in a brick oven. General Manager Dustin Sabatino explained that this gives the pies “brick flavor with the speed of the The Pizza Connoisseurs of Columbus’

Top Five Restaurants of 2020 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Pizzaroni’s Terita’s Pizza House Tommy’s Stadz

Iannarino expressed similar gratitude for the group. “The smaller shops, that’s what they’ve promoted, instead of the big chains. I think it’s done tremendously for places in Columbus.” And with so many devoted pizza fans, the Connoisseurs will ensure that the Innarinos, the Sabatinos and hundreds of other family-owned pizza shops across town will continue to do tremendously for us. Linda Lee Baird is a Columbus-based freelance writer and educator. Follow her adventures in food, writing, and parenting on Instagram @ms_lindalee.

Where Pizza Connoisseurs order other styles • New York slices (the classic slice—best eaten folded on a paper plate): East Coast Pizzeria • Chicago deep dish (thick crust, sauce on top): Meister’s • New Haven apizza (thin crust, coal-fired): Taft’s Brewpourium • Ohio Valley (cheese and toppings added after the pie comes out of the oven): DiCarlo’s Pizza

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How to Eat Affordably, Responsibly and Well in the New Year Lessons we can learn from the past

By Malinda Meadows

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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n 1942, renowned food writer M.F.K. Fisher wrote the seminal book How to Cook a Wolf, a biting and intelligent wartime guide for citizens hampered by food shortages—the proverbial “wolf at the door.” She taught readers to cook with gusto, even with limited rations, and stressed the importance of eating well, even—or especially—in times of hardship. In 2009, chef and food writer Tamar Adler began writing An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. Modeled on Fisher’s publication generations earlier, Adler’s book served as a rallying cry for home cooks to create delicious meals economically, especially at a time when the U.S. was recovering from the 2007– 09 financial recession. Neither book is a cookbook as we might be familiar with, each focusing less on teaspoons and tablespoons and more on sensibility and philosophy—things particularly consoling amidst a global pandemic in 2020.

Embracing leftovers

Both authors reframe leftovers from the foods brought home from restaurants into a beautifully integrative process that flows from meal to meal. In her chapter “How to Stride Ahead,” Adler details her ritual of cooking, roasting and boiling a week’s worth of vegetables and meats, and how she effortlessly topples each like dominoes into meals throughout the week. (Roasted vegetables are best when they “have a few days to settle into themselves,” she reminds readers.) Both Adler and Fisher extol the virtue of filling the oven whenever it’s turned on. This is how Adler completes a week’s worth of cooking efficiently, whereas Fisher reminds urges the readers to place foods such as sliced apples alongside whatever else is being cooked in the oven, either for dessert later or on buttered toast the next morning. If you’re going to heat the oven, why not use it to make more meals?

At the start of the pandemic, I revisited both of these books. It felt necessary to turn to my own cupboards and understand how to make meals stretch further without waste, especially when the days of popping out for just a few ingredients were no longer. Some of the tips these writers imparted to me through their prose stood out and warrant sharing as we look toward the new year.

Balance the day

Turn scraps into new beginnings

She says, “Breakfast can just be toast. It can be piles of toast, generously buttered, and a bowl of honey or jam. You can be lavish, because the meal is so inexpensive. You can have fun, because there is no trotting around with fried eggs and mussy dishes.”

In March, I started looking more closely at my scraps. The peels of carrots, the skins of onions, the leafy tops of celery. I didn’t have anywhere to compost, so what could I do with them instead? In Adler’s book, the chapter “How to Catch Your Tail” teaches how to gracefully and responsibly turn scraps that would otherwise be discarded into the perfect beginnings of another meal. Skins and tops of onions become hearty soups; leftover bones or vegetables create stocks full of depth; orange peels transform into sweet marmalades for lathering on toasted bread.

As the pandemic brought disruptions to daily life, mealtimes became less dictated by working hours and more by whenever they could be fit in. In How to Cook a Wolf, when it comes to mealtimes, Fisher advises: “Balance the day, not each meal in the day.”

The rest of the day can then be balanced with vegetables (like the ones you’ve already roasted) or hearty soups made from the stock of those vegetable scraps. There’s no need to stress about balanced meals.

Looking to the new year

When it comes to “liquid” scraps, such as cooking water or juices from fruits, Fisher’s advice is equally marvelous and involves leftover gin bottles:

When it comes to making meals last longer and being more resourceful with our food—especially in times of uncertainty—these books are gentle reminders that it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. All the ideas we need are there in the words of the people who came before us.

“It is best to keep it in an old gin bottle in the icebox, alongside the other old gin bottle filled with juices left from canned fruit. You can add what’s left of the morning tomato juice. You can squeeze in the last few drops of the lemon you drink in hot water before breakfast, if you still do that. You can put canned vegetable juices in. You can steep parsley stems in hot water and pour their juice into the bottle. In other words, never throw away any vegetable or its leaves or its juices unless they are bad; else count yourself a fool.”

As we turn the calendar page to 2021, perhaps we can take the metaphorical scraps we’ve gathered this year—like how to make sourdough bread or grow our own herbs—and let them carry us into the beginning of a new, perhaps more hopeful, year ahead. And if you ever need a little inspiration or guidance, Adler and Fisher can be your reassuring companions at the stove too, just like they were for me.

Fisher considered these gin-bottle juices a “veritable treasure jug for vitamins and minerals,” ideal for adding to soups or any manner of cooking. She even urged readers to try a glassful of it sometime. As for me, I think I’ll just stick to its cooking application for now.

Malinda Meadows is a freelance writer based in Columbus but will travel the world for a good meal. She loves handmade pasta, Swedish music and the first day in a new city. Find more of her writing at malindainthesnow.com or follow along on Instagram @malindainthesnow. |

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Chickpea stew

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CULTURE

BRINGING AFGHAN FOOD TO COLUMBUS Kabob Shack owners hope to educate customers with traditional dishes By Gary Kiefer | Photography by Reilly Wright

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hen Sakeena Bary heads into the kitchen, she knows that the dish she loves most is also the most time-consuming to prepare. It is mantu, a delicate, meat-filled dumpling that in Afghan culture is a dish most often reserved for special guests.

Mantu starts with a thin dough wrapper in the style of a wonton. The wrapper is filled with ground beef cooked with onion and spices before the dumpling is pinched closed and then steamed. Before serving, it is topped with a yogurt sauce and stewed lentils prepared separately. It’s a lot of steps for an item than can be consumed in a bite or two. For Bary, the result is worth the effort. “It just melts in your mouth,” she said. “I’ll make mantu even if I’m home alone.” These days, her kitchen is in the restaurant she owns and she is making mantu by the hundreds for her special guests—the customers who visit Kabob Shack on Cemetery Road in Hilliard. “When we were planning the menu, my family recommended against including mantu because it’s too much work,” she said. “There are other places that serve kabobs, but no one else has this.” Opened in June 2019, Kabob Shack serves a variety of classic Afghan foods, most of them made with beef, lamb or chicken. “These are all recipes from back home, but we just turn it up a notch” by using spices and herbs from both Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines, Bary said. Cilantro and cumin make appearances in many of the dishes. The mantu is one of the most popular dishes, along with the chicken tikka kabob, which uses pieces of chicken breast marinated overnight in yogurt, turmeric, garlic and a touch of cayenne pepper. Another top seller is the beef chapli, which comes as two grilled patties of ground beef mixed with green onions and spices. Those patties can also be ordered as a cheeseburger with French fries, a menu item meant to be both familiar and kid-friendly. “I also put the cheeseburger on the menu because a lot of people who eat halal food can’t find a halal cheeseburger,” she said. Lamb is a featured entree, available as lamb chops, lamb shank or lamb tikka kabob with pieces marinated in garlic, onions and lemon juice. Vegetarian items include bolani—a flatbread turnover filled with potatoes, scallions and cilantro—and two flavorful stews served with pita bread. Daal chalau is a lentil stew made with traditional spices, while the chickpea stew is cooked with onions and fresh tomatoes. All the entrees are served with rice presented in the Afghan style topped with sautéed carrots and raisins, which could be a meal in itself. Orders also are accompanied by two house-made sauces whose recipes are closely guarded. Bary will say only that her white

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“ These are all recipes from back home, but we just turn it up a notch. ” Mantu

sauce includes yogurt and dill while her green sauce, which delivers some subtle heat, includes yogurt and cilantro. While Bary won’t tell you what she puts in the sauces, she will sell you a large container of either one if you ask. (When you want some serious heat, ask for the off-the-menu tomato sauce.) If you’re surprised to learn that Hilliard is the center of Afghan cuisine in this part of the country, it’s all because Bary’s husband was transferred to the area by his employer in 2014. Arriving from Massachusetts, they could find no Afghan restaurant within hundreds of miles. “The closest one we could find was in Chicago,” she said. “It was his idea to open a restaurant.” The daughter of immigrants who came from Afghanistan, Bary had the traditional recipes but no restaurant experience. She recruited longtime friend Sheereda Hassan to be co-owner. They had a lot to learn about the restaurant business along the way, but their focus has always been on the food. “Everything is made here and it’s all made to order,” Hassan said. Because of its small space in a retail plaza set back from Cemetery Road, the restaurant has offered only carryout food since the pandemic restrictions were put in place. Bary and Hassan said they feel lucky that they already had established a strong carryout business, and they continue to see most of the same regular customers coming in. The co-owners are hoping to educate people about Afghan food as well. For centuries, Afghanistan was a trade route between the Middle East and Iran to its west and Pakistan and China to the east, so its cuisine mixes elements of all those cultures. “Not many people in this part of the country have tasted Afghan food,” Bary said. “My dream is actually to have Afghan food in every grocery store freezer, where people can just get it when they want.” Kabob Shack, at 4568 Cemetery Road in Hilliard, is open daily for lunch and dinner carryout. See the menu at kabobshackhilliard. com. Chicken Tikka Kabob

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The Walton family: Ian (5), Ryan, Annabelle (9), Sara and Marrehn (11).

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WALTON GARLIC FARM: SMALL BUT MIGHTY A local family launches an unusual endeavor on the North Side

By Nancy McKibben | Photography by Reilly Wright

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he space is improbable—a vacant lot off Cleveland Avenue next to Pablo’s Tires—but the results are impressive. This season the tiny .22-acre lot will produce 4,000 bulbs of garlic for Ryan and Sara Walton of Worthington to sell next summer. Welcome to the Walton Garlic Farm. Growing up in Waynesville, Ohio, Ryan’s idea of a farm was the 1,700 acres where his dad raised corn, soybeans and popcorn. Sara, from Upper Arlington, had no garden but harbored a vague yearning to marry a farmer. When the two met as students at The Ohio State University, Ryan, now 37, was a business major who had put farming aside, because his dad viewed conventional agriculture as “unstable.” Sara was majoring in human development and family sciences.

The couple married in 2006, and at age 25 obtained legal custody of 12-year-old triplets (a story for another time), eventually adding another three biological children to the family. Ryan worked at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center (currently as a data analyst), while Sara homeschooled the kids. But he “never lost the agricultural itch.” Soon enough, Ryan proposed the idea of an urban farm to Sara,

who was receptive because she knew how much he loved farming. “Try garlic,” suggested gardening friends in New York state. “It’s easy to grow—pest-resistant, not fussy,” Ryan says. They still have seedstock from their original planting of just 69 bulbs, picked up on sale at the local garden center when they purchased their Christmas tree in 2014. The garlic grew as promised, and so did their aspirations. In 2017, Ryan completed the Ohio Master Urban Farmer Workshop series, an intensive educational program developed by OSU Extension to equip participants to grow and market food in the city. “We talked about soil health, growing different foods, fruits, vegetables, fruit trees, pest management, organic growing, grant programs, to name a few,” Ryan says. Also through OSU Extension, the Waltons learned that they could lease land for their garlic farm through the Columbus City Land Bank. “The City of Columbus has been great to work with,” Ryan says. “It wasn’t a laborious process to apply.” In addition to the land, the City provides a rain barrel and soil and compost. |

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Duganski garlic

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How does your garlic grow? Sara explains that garlic planting begins in “mid- to late-November, depending on the weather.” One of the autumn prep jobs is to split the bulbs into cloves, a repetitive task that the family shares whenever a few minutes are available. They grow the garlic naturally, without insecticides or pesticides. Five-year-old Ian likes “covering it with dirt” when they plant it, and the three children are all active farmers. Come spring, Ryan and Sara check the garlic weekly, with kids in tow. “It’s a residential area, and we’ve met some of the neighbors,” Ryan says. “The tire guys are friendly and they help get the mower in and out of the van when Sara mows. They let the kids use their bathroom.” During the spring and summer, the Waltons mow each week and haul water to thirsty garlic—as much as 50 to 100 gallons of water, two or three times a week, when rainfall is scant. Nineyear-old Annabelle relishes the prospect. “I love watering it with troughs and water barrels—it’s so fun!”

community microfarms food security economic opportunity systems approach nutritious food sustainable agriculture our community at justice studentJoin co-ops social discovery.osu.edu/InFACT community microfarms food security economic opportunity systems approach nutritious food sustainable agriculture 24

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In mid-June, they begin cutting garlic scapes, the curly, bright green flower stems that sprout from the tops of hardneck garlic. (Garlic is either hardneck or softneck; softneck garlic produces up to 15 small cloves per bulb and hardneck garlic has four to eight large cloves.) Removing the scapes directs the plant’s energy toward growing the bulb rather than a flower, and scapes have become a popular produce offering. In June and July, the Waltons dig up the bulbs and dry them for two or three weeks in their home’s crawl space before chopping off the leaves and roots and cleaning the bulbs to ready them for sale. “We bring a basket outside with our scissors and just work on one variety at a time,” Ryan says. Once, “the neighbor kids came over while the kids and Sara were working and asked if they could help. We taught them and they helped trim stalks.” “It’s very yesteryear,” Sara says with a smile.


The garlic market Many market vendors grow garlic as one of their offerings, but the Walton Garlic Farm is unique locally in growing only garlic. In 2019, they began selling scapes and bulbs at the Westerville Farmers Market, with the two girls helping to bag and check out. “I want them to feel like they’re a part of it,” Ryan says. “That’s how I was raised.” “Selling it is harder than I expected,” says 11-year-old Marrehn seriously. In her overalls and checked shirt she looks the part of a farm girl. Many customers, says Ryan, have seen only softneck garlic. But part of the Waltons’ marketing strategy is to introduce people to new varieties. To that end, they grow two classically mild softneck varieties—Idaho Silver and California Early—and six hardneck varieties: German White (robust, long-lasting flavor); German Giant (strong, spicy, very hot eaten raw); Chesnook Red (strong with mellow aftertaste, good for baking); Music (warm rather than hot, long-lasting flavor); Spanish Roja (sweet, robust, lingering flavor); and Dugaski (deep earthy flavor, Sara’s favorite.) Although it is easy to grow, most garlic sold in American supermarkets comes from China and California. Customers have commented that grocery store garlic “doesn’t have oil” when pressed, like the Waltons’ garlic does. Ryan and Sara would like to purchase a house and land near Delaware. Theoretically, at least, a mere 1.7 acres would support 150,000 bulbs, enough to sustain full-time garlic production. But although Ryan has no plans to quit his day job, he and Sara are happy to keep their little family farm growing. “I’d rather dig in the dirt than do an Excel spreadsheet!” Sara says. “Thankfully, Ryan excels in the business areas, so we make a great team.” Ryan’s enthusiasm for farming has clearly spread. Sara sums up the family feeling: “Farm work is enjoyable. You go home feeling like you accomplished something.” Find out more about Walton Garlic Farm at waltongarlicfarm. com. For information about leasing City of Columbus land for farming or gardening, go to columbus.gov/landredevelopment/ communitygardens.

Music garlic

Nancy McKibben is happy to combine her loves of eating and writing with the opportunity to advocate for sustainable agriculture in the pages of Edible Columbus. Her latest project is Yucatecan Lullaby, a bilingual (English and Spanish) children’s picture book. She is also a novelist, poet and lyricist, the mother of six and wife of one. View her work at nancymckibben. com; contact her at nmckibben@leader.com. |

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SNOWMAN BLUE CHEESE BALL Makes 1 cheese ball

Erin Vasicek from The Spiffy Cookie makes a deliciously adorable Snowman Blue Cheese Ball. This winter appetizer will make a great addition to your holiday grazing table. Cheese Ball Ingredients 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese, room temperature 1 small can (2.25 ounces) sliced black olives, drained, 5 slices reserved and the rest chopped ¼ cup finely chopped green onion ¼ cup chopped walnuts 1 banana pepper or pepperoncini, chopped (optional) ¼ teaspoon salt ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese Decoration and Serving Ingredients 5 reserved olive slices 2 pretzel sticks 1 baby carrot 1 sliced red bell pepper Assorted crackers or crostini

Directions In a large bowl, blend together butter, cream cheese, blue cheese, olives, onion, walnuts, pepper (if using) and salt until well blended. Shape into 2 balls, one larger than the other, using bowls lined with plastic wrap. Chill at least 8 hours or overnight (necessary for flavor to distribute). Before serving, roll in Parmesan cheese, leaving bare spots where the balls will stack on top of one another. Place the larger ball on a serving platter and top with the smaller. Decorate with olives for the eyes and buttons, carrot for the nose, pepper for the mouth and pretzels for the arms. Serve with crackers or crostini. You can find more of Erin’s recipes at The Spiffy Cookie blog (thespiffycookie.com) or on Instagram (@thespiffycookie) or Facebook (facebook.com/TheSpiffyCookie). 26

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RECIPES

PEPPERMINT MOCHA CUPCAKES Makes 12 cupcakes

These festive Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes from Hannah Lewis of The Beard and The Baker are the perfect winter treat. Rich chocolate, cream cheese icing and crushed peppermint are a great holiday trio that will be perfect for your friends and family. Mocha Cupcakes Ingredients ½ cup cocoa powder 1 cup flour ½ teaspoon baking soda ¾ teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon 2 eggs, room temperature ½ cup sugar ½ cup brown sugar, packed 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ½ cup whole milk ¼ cup brewed coffee Peppermint Icing Ingredients ½ cup butter (1 stick), softened 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 4 cups powdered sugar 1 tablespoon Torani Peppermint Syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Directions Mocha Cupcakes Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside. Whisk the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl until completely combined. Set aside. In stand mixer, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together until completely smooth, about 2–3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment then add milk and brewed coffee and mix until combined. Add half of dry ingredients and mix until combined, then add other half and mix until combined. Be sure not to overmix. Use cookie scoop to add batter to cupcake liners in pan.

Bake for 18–22 minutes, or until toothpick is clean. Remove from pan and let cool completely on cooling rack until ready to frost. Frost cupcakes and add crushed peppermints for decoration and deliciousness! Peppermint Icing Beat cream cheese and butter in a mixer until blended. Add vanilla and peppermint syrup and mix until combined. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until fully combined and fluffy. Find more of Hannah’s recipes at her blog (thebeardandthebaker.com) and on Instagram (@thebeardandthebaker) and Facebook (facebook.com/TheBeardAndTheBaker).

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HOLIDAY OLD FASHIONED

WITH SPICED CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP Makes 1 cocktail

Local blogger Malini Swank from Lakes and Lattes helps us celebrate the holidays with this festive Holiday Old Fashioned with Spiced Cinnamon Simple Syrup. What better way to celebrate the holiday season than with this delicious cocktail? Cheers! Spiced Cinnamon Simple Syrup Ingredients ½ cup sugar ¾ cup water 2 cinnamon sticks 4–5 cloves Orange peel (I used about half the peel from a small orange) Old Fashioned Ingredients 2 ounces bourbon 1 teaspoon spiced cinnamon simple syrup 2–3 dashes bitters Charred orange peel Cinnamon sticks/orange peel for garnish 28

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Directions Place a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and peels. Stir slowly to help sugar dissolve. Bring liquid to a light simmer, and continue to simmer for about 3 minutes, or until the syrup thickens slightly. I left the aromatics in the syrup while it cooled, to infuse as much flavor as possible. Strain the syrup into a glass jar and store in the fridge for up to a month. Take charred orange peel and rub around the rim of a rocks glass. Discard peel. To the rocks glass, add bourbon, simple syrup and bitters. Stir to mix. Add in a large ice cube and garnish with orange peel and cinnamon stick, if desired. Check out all the great recipes on Malini’s website (lakesandlattes.com), and follow her on Instagram (@lakesandlattes) and Facebook (facebook.com/lakesandlattes).


QUICK RAGU SAUCE Makes 6 servings

A simple and delicious ragu is one of the most comforting dishes. It’s always good to have a quick ragu recipe in your back pocket in case guests arrive early or if you need to whip up a meal that’s guaranteed to be a crowd favorite. Christina Musgrave from Tasting with Tina has you covered. Her Quick Ragu is perfect for a crowd.

Directions Heat a large pot on medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, carrots and celery. Let cook for 5 minutes, or until veggies soften. Next, add your protein. Break apart with a spoon and let cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Ingredients 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 white onion, diced 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped 1 pound ground beef, pork, sausage, chicken or plant-based protein 1 splash wine, white or red ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper 1 can crushed tomatoes 2 tablespoons butter

Add a splash of wine, salt and pepper and crushed tomatoes to the pot. Stir well. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. After your sauce is done simmering, check the taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed. To finish the sauce, add butter and stir well. Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy! You can find more of Christina’s recipes at her website (tastingwithtina.com) or on Instagram (@tasting.with. tina) or Facebook (facebook.com/tastingwithtinablog). |

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FEEL-GOOD FOOD FILLS THE MENU AT TRUE FOOD KITCHEN New Easton restaurant focuses on healthy options with seasonal ingredients By Anna Kurfees

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at better, feel better. These are words to live by from Easton Town Center’s newest restaurant, True Food Kitchen. It’s the first Ohio outlet for a restaurant group that started 12 years ago in Phoenix and has grown to 35 locations in 16 states. Famously, True Food Kitchen was founded by renowned physician Dr. Andrew Weil, whose belief that food should make you feel better, not worse, is the foundation that True Food Kitchen was built on. The menu was created by passionate chefs, visionary restaurateur Sam Fox and Dr. Weil—a recipe for success. Weil is widely known for developing the anti-inflammatory food pyramid, which he says “encourages simple changes in eating habits to avoid and counteract chronic inflammation—a way of selecting and preparing foods based on science that can help people achieve and maintain optimum health over their lifetime.” This food philosophy extends to flavor and freshness, allowing guests to enjoy palate-pleasing, nutrient-dense ingredients all year round. Taking it a step further, True Food Kitchen also offers carefully sourced proteins and little-known superfoods—take sea buckthorn and yuzu root, for example—to ensure they are keeping ingredients creative, sustainable and in-season. True Food Kitchen is the only restaurant of its kind fundamentally based on science, a feature that sets it apart, according

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to Christine Ferris, director of marketing. With a menu that ranges from salads, bowls and pizza to ambitious entrees such as salmon or lasagna, all of True Food Kitchen’s dishes are intended to increase the longevity of people and the planet. This philosophy extends to True Food Kitchen’s scratch bar where hand-crafted cocktails and all-natural refreshers made with fresh juice—apple lemonade, for example, and their “kale aid” with ginger, cucumber and lemon—are prepared daily. True Food Kitchen is committed to providing a customized experience for every customer. They encourage guests to come as they are, and the restaurant will make sure any food preferences are met. This even includes options like gluten-free buns, pizzas and pitas. While many of the base dishes are vegetarian, just about anything on the menu can be made that way, and they have even found a way to make the most surprising of dishes vegan. The restaurant notes that every dish can be customized, so the menu has something for everyone. The top-selling dish is the Ancient Grains Bowl, which is packed with flavor including miso-sesame-glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onions, snap peas, grilled portobello mushrooms, avocado and hemp seeds. Ferris says her pro tip is to add any of the proteins for an extra dose of nutrients—her favorite is the grilled salmon.


EAT

The restaurant opened with a fall menu that includes butternut squash pizza with onion, garlic and vegan almond ricotta, as well as such items as edamame dumplings and jackfruit lettuce wraps. But it also includes classics such as the grass-fed burger, shrimp tacos and a grilled chicken avocado wrap, all served with a choice of kale salad or sweet potato hash. Ferris noted that when Easton Town Center announced its $500 million expansion in 2018, True Food Kitchen knew they wanted to be a part of it. They felt their seasonally inspired, flavor-forward menu would be an excellent addition to the premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination. With more than 30 million visitors each year and a lot of true foodies in the area, Easton was a perfect spot for their newest location, she said. While elated about joining the Columbus community, the group faced unexpected challenges in trying to open amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ferris said. The grand opening date was delayed from spring to September so they could reconfigure the sizeable dining area and open-air patio to ensure social distancing. Ferris also said that most of the training took place virtually. Safety procedures remain heightened, with stringent sanitation protocols, daily wellness checks, a mobile menu and more. Customers can order favorite dishes for carryout alongside several alcohol to-go options, and True Food Kitchen added “family pack� carryout offerings for groups of two, four and six.

Anna Kurfees is an amateur chef, freelance writer and social media consultant. She is passionate about showcasing and supporting local businesses. You can find her on Instagram at @behind_themenu or via email at behindthemenu614@ gmail.com.

Owl Creek Bison Grass fed and finished bison.

Stop in or visit us at the Chillicothe Farmers Market

Despite the challenges, Ferris said, True Food Kitchen is excited to share a passion for feel-good food and whole-hearted hospitality with the Columbus community. True Food Kitchen is open daily for lunch and dinner at 4052 Worth Ave. in Easton Town Center. See the menu, make a reservation or order online at truefoodkitchen.com/locations/ columbus.

owlcreekbison.com | (740)-775-4795 1635 Owl Creek Road, Frankfort, OH 45628 |

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DRINKING BEER TO SUPPORT A GOOD CAUSE Local craft brewers use their talents to raise awareness and donations

By Gary Kiefer

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DRINK

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June by Marcus Baskerville, founder of Texas-based Weathered Souls Brewing, during protests over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.

Happily, it was possible to support all those causes just by drinking beer.

Baskerville created Black Is Beautiful Stout, with all proceeds going to groups that support racial equality. Then he released the recipe and label free for any brewers who would make a local variation of the beer to support the cause in their own communities. Nearly 1,200 breweries representing all 50 states joined the project.

he summer of 2020 will be remembered for the pandemic, of course, but also for a renewed focus on social concerns. Across the county, people sought to end racial inequality, promote civil rights, fight hunger and homelessness and increase voter participation.

There has been a growing trend among craft brewers to use their brands to raise awareness and money for charities, said Mary MacDonald, executive director of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association. “Craft brewers tend to be passionate, creative people who are immersed in the communities where they operate their businesses,” she said. “As such, many are drawn to do what they do best—brew beer—while simultaneously contributing to a cause that aligns with their mission and passion and supports a worthwhile community effort.” Local beer drinkers could find a wide variety of causes to support through their purchases this year. Here’s a sampler.

Every Vote Counts

One of the most unusual awareness campaigns in craft beer this year was launched by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who asked brewers for their help to increase voter registration and election participation. Nearly 50 Ohio breweries signed up to make a beer called Every Vote Counts. Each brewer could choose the type of beer to release, but all shared a common label design contributed by Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati. The labeling listed the Oct. 5 voter registration deadline and directed consumers to VoteOhio.gov for information. The effort was widely hailed as a smart move to reach a younger demographic that is less likely to vote but very likely to drink craft beer. “You can state your opinion, you can share it on social media, or you can go to public demonstrations, but unless you register and vote you are missing an important part of the civic process,” LaRose said. At the press conference to kick off the campaign, Seventh Son Brewing co-founder Collin Castore said breweries “are not just bars and taprooms, we’re also community centers—and voting is a great way to emphasize community.” Seventh Son released a pilsner as its Every Vote Counts beer. Some of the other participating breweries in Central Ohio were BrewDog (wheat ale with mango), Land Grant (hazy double IPA), Lineage (New England IPA), Wolf’s Ridge (American wheat) and Zaftig (orange IPA).

Black Is Beautiful

Many local brewers also joined in a national project launched in

Among local examples, Olentangy River Brewing in Lewis Center added caramel malt to the base recipe and supported the YWCA Columbus. Nocterra Brewing in Powell added coconut and vanilla and donated to the Black Queer & Intersectional Collective. Seventh Son infused the stout with Brazilian coffee from local Blackowned coffee shop Upper Cup to raise money for the NAACP and The Godman Guild. Land Grant chose to send proceeds to the community health organization Mozaic Ohio. In a separate campaign, BrewDog partnered with Crowns & Hops Brewing Co., a Black-owned business in California, to brew and distribute a pilsner called 8 Trill Pils as part of an effort to achieve racial equity in the craft beer industry. The name comes from a report by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation suggesting that the U.S. economy would be $8 trillion larger by 2050 if the country eliminated racial disparities in health, education and employment.

Other charity campaigns

• As part of the national People Power beer campaign to support the American Civil Liberties Union, Seventh Son Brewing released a West Coast IPA as its People Power beer this year, while Wolf’s Ridge Brewing joined in with a peanut butter porter. • North High Brewery released a Kolsch-style beer—Suds for Sustenance—to raise money for the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, which has seen demand spike during the pandemic. • Trek Brewing in Newark released a new IPA—called Smash: Homelessness—in August and pledged to donate $1 per pint to the nonprofit Licking County Coalition for Housing. • BrewDog teamed up with drag superstar Nina West, releasing a wheat beer called Nina Weisse to raise money for the Nina West Foundation in support of LGBTQ causes. • Combustion Brewery and Taproom in Pickerington continues to sell its Pelotonia Pilsner that was launched in 2018. A dollar from every pint goes to Pelotonia, the cycling event that raises money for cancer research. The most recent economic impact study by the craft brewers association showed that in 2018 Ohio breweries contributed $1.15 million and 13,000 volunteer hours to charitable causes. Going forward, MacDonald said, you can expect to see craft brewers finding more new and interesting ways to give back to their communities. |

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TWO DOLLAR RADIO: THE FOOD IS THE STORY The indie publisher’s new vegan cookbook serves its community-building mission and delivers flavor and laughs along the way By Wynne Everett | Photography by Blake Needleman

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f you’re one of those foodies who groans at having to scroll through a story to get to the recipe on a food blog, the folks at Two Dollar Radio have a new cookbook that isn’t for you. Or maybe it is.

The hilarious episodes of Two Dollar Radio’s vegan protagonists are not the stuff of your average food blog. They’re more like the antidote to the overwritten puffery that recipe seekers complain about scrolling past to get to the good stuff.

The indie publisher’s first-ever food title, Two Dollar Radio’s Guide to Vegan Cooking, is more than the recipes from café chef and owner Eric Obenauf. It’s the adventurous tale of how those recipes came to be part of the menu at Two Dollar Radio’s headquarters café.

The tales are also part of a larger mission for Two Dollar Radio, a publishing house that focuses on literary nonfiction. It was launched in 2005 by Obenauf, a Granville native, and his wife, Eliza Wood-Obenauf, who met as college students in New York. Eliza serves as the company’s chief operating officer while Eric is the editorial director.

Intertwined among the vegan recipes and vegan hacks for everyday life is the rock ’n’ roll vegan cheffing tale of characters called JeanClaude van Randy and Speed Dog. Illustrated by Eric’s cartoons, the story follows the pair on a cross-country road trip during which they encounter the likes of Tofu Daddy and Drunk Publicist as they discover and/or create their badass vegan dishes. “We were satirizing the blog recipe a little bit,” Eric said.

Next came the company’s headquarters on Parsons Avenue, which functions not only as a bookstore for their titles, but also as a hub for community events such as book clubs and public performances. From there, a café menu seemed like a logical next step. Each element of the enterprise helps build a community, connecting stories and storytellers to the wider world, and serving some killer vegan cuisine to boot. The food is the story at Two Dollar Radio.

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Founders Eliza Wood-Obenauf and Eric Obenauf with co-owner Brett Gregory

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Say cheeze Long-time vegetarians, the couple more recently has gone vegan. Eliza went first in 2013, but Eric took longer to come around. “Eric does not sacrifice when it comes to his food,” Eliza said. “He likes to eat well.” The obstacle was the same for him as it is for many vegetarians: the reluctance to give up cheese. “For me, personally, that was it,” he said. “I was hanging on just because of the cheese.” But then, Eric said, he began discovering the many tasty cheese substitutes he could make and all the savory and satisfying dishes those “cheezes” would allow him to create. In the book, he describes finding recipes for good dairy-free cheeses as the Mount Everest of veganism. In fact, the book includes a section on cheezes, most of which are made with some combination of cashews, tofu and nutritional yeast, among other ingredients. And once you have good melty vegan cheeze, you’re halfway home to adapting many of the most treasured comfort foods and bar-food classics, including Two Dollar Radio’s Buffalo queso, smoky mozzarella cheeze and even devilish cheezecake. Reassurances and recipes for tasty vegan cheese substitutes are part of a broader goal for the book. All the recipes are meant to make veganism more appealing and accessible, emphasizing familiar dishes and using ingredients that aren’t exotic or difficult to find.

Don’t call it “plant-based” The couple always knew their menu at the headquarters would be vegan. After all, they’re vegan, their kids are vegan, their friends are vegan. “We live in this little bubble of people who don’t eat meat,” Eliza said. But as they were developing it, the couple got plenty of advice NOT to explicitly call the café menu “vegan” for fear of putting off omnivores. Instead, they were counseled, they should call it “plant-based.” But plant-based, for all its recent popularity, does not necessarily mean vegan. Also, the duo rejected the idea that vegan food is too fringe or inaccessible for most patrons to enjoy. Vegan food has come a long way since the steamed vegetables and brown rice of the ’70s. For proof, look no further than Two Dollar Radio’s hearty game-day chick’n wangs, tacos hermanos or beer brats. “It’s not just some hippie food,” Eliza said. Two Dollar Radio is hardly alone in embracing vegan dishes. Well known for its diverse culinary scene, Columbus is seeing an increase in vegetarian and vegan restaurants, as well as an uptick in the number of other restaurants that have plant-based items on their menus, according to Diane Hurd, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Restaurant Association.

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The legends behind the food When Two Dollar Radio first added a café to its headquarters in 2017, they initially planned to offer a small, simple menu. “We had been thinking there would be some dips and maybe a couple of sandwiches,” Eric said. Instead, the menu grew. And each new dish cooked up by Eric and the other kitchen staffers brought with it an origin story. “We have a literary inclination,” Eric said. And so Jean-Claude van Randy and Speed Dog were born. And the tales of their adventures began as the inside jokes of the kitchen staff. “They’ve lived with us for a couple of years now,” Eric said. “Whenever we come up with a new recipe we have to think of how this fits into the story.” The stories of the cooks themselves show up in the recipes as well. Second Pair of Black Jeans Eggplant Po’ Boy, for instance, takes its name from the staffer who was known to wear all black every day. This included black jeans. “One day he said to me, ‘Ah, I had to get a second pair of black jeans,’” Eric said. “I said, ‘You mean you’ve only had ONE pair this whole time?!’” Among the creative offerings in the cookbook are tortugas. The small Two Dollar Radio kitchen relies primarily on a convection oven. Using this instead of a cooktop grill transforms a crunch wrap into a puffed up, crispy-tortilla creation that looks like a turtle shell. Hence, tortuga—the Spanish word for turtle. According to the cookbook’s explanation of its origins, the dish was initially called a turtle by Jean Claude van Randy and Speed

Dog until they met up with a rocker girl named Rach, who told them a turtle is a sundae, not a baked tortilla. And at her suggestion, the tortuga—the taco mac & cheese tortuga, the gobbler tortuga, the loaded breakfast tortuga—was born.

A departure Don’t expect more cookbooks from Two Dollar Radio. Except for a possible future sequel to update the vegan cooking guidebook, Eric and Eliza say they’re likely to stick to Two Dollar Radio’s bread and butter, which is mostly literary nonfiction. But the vegan goodies are still flowing out the kitchen at the Two Dollar Radio Headquarters café. In mid-October, after months of takeout and delivery orders only, Eric and Eliza decided to reopen for limited dine-in service. So, whether you pick up a copy of the book and cook at home or stop by Two Dollar Radio Headquarters for a visit, vegan comfort food with a great backstory is easy to come by. And if you play your cards right, you may even spot Jean-Claude van Randy or Speed Dog heading into the kitchen. Two Dollar Radio Headquarters, 1124 Parsons Ave., is open for dine-in or carryout from 4 to 8pm Tuesday through Friday and from 11am to 3pm on Saturday and Sunday. See the menu and get updates at twodollarradiohq.com. Wynne Everett is a Columbus native who grew up eating fruits and vegetables from her grandparents’ farm and beef bought on the hoof at the county fair. She’s now a vegetarian and a veteran journalist whose career has taken her to Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Toledo. She has a passion for food stories and can be reached at wynneeverett@gmail.com.

SECOND PAIR OF BLACK JEANS EGGPLANT PO’ BOY Ingredients ¼ cup plant-based milk Zest of 1 lemon 2 teaspoons salt 1 cup cornmeal 1 eggplant, skin on, sliced ¼-inch thick 1½ cups flour 1 tablespoon cajun spice 3 tablespoons lemon juice

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Cheffing instructions In a mixing bowl, add flour, lemon juice and zest, spices and milk, and stir until it resembles a thick pancake batter. Dip eggplant slices in batter and then coat in cornmeal. Fry eggplant in oil in a pan. Assembly Add some slaw, lettuce, tomato and a zesty remoulade to this eggplant for a classic New Orleans– style po’ boy sandwich.


HERO

SUFFICIENT GRACE How a mother’s concern about hunger launched a charity By Nicole Rasul | Photography by Rachel Joy Barehl

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racy Kronk’s eyes light up as she recounts an email she received from a caregiver about the impact of her 9-year-old nonprofit, Sufficient Grace, on the woman’s step-grandson. Kronk, a married mother of four, is the founder and executive director of the organization, which provides non-perishable food for weekend and after-school consumption to food-insecure students in pre-K through 12th grades in Madison, Clark and Union counties. After one of the boy’s parents was placed in prison and another in drug rehab, the step-grandmother took over care of the child. The woman told Kronk that he had faced dire circumstances

with trauma that left a painful mark, plagued by nightmares centered on lack of access to necessities like food. Once in the caregiver’s home, the child began receiving boxes of food from Sufficient Grace to tide him over on evenings and weekends. The woman told Kronk she placed the boxes on the boy’s dresser to soothe him at night when he was startled awake. “I’m looking at my computer, crying,” Kronk recalls about the exchange. “How does a box of food—which sometimes is tedious and routine for me—how does it mean so much to someone else? I hope I always remember that little boy and what that food |

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meant to him.” With a mission of “helping students meet their food needs outside of school,” the West Jefferson nonprofit engages with local school districts to identify students in need. A stalwart group of volunteers meets at the organization’s headquarters at the United Methodist Church in West Jefferson to pack food boxes, which are then delivered directly to educational institutions for doling out to students.

Tracy Kronk

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sufficient Grace reached more than 800 children in nine school districts last year. For younger children, the nonprofit supplied three boxes of pre-packed non-perishable food each week. It also offers what Kronk calls a “grocery model” to middle and high school students, enabling them to choose food to take home from pop-up pantries in their school buildings. Importantly, this includes personal hygiene items like soap, shampoo, toothpaste and female sanitary products. Due to the complexities of COVID-19, Kronk and her team have scaled their operation down to one food box per week— distributed on Fridays—to help students through the weekend. With remote and hybrid learning in place, enrollment in Sufficient Grace’s programming is down. However, Kronk says she knows the need is still there and will most likely even increase. “We’re around 650 right now,” Kronk says on a mid-October day about the number of students the organization serves. “Two weeks ago, we had 120. I anticipate our numbers will grow as people settle into the new reality of school. I’m guessing we will get back to 800 quickly and how far above that we go, I don’t really know.”

Kronk launched Sufficient Grace after a life-changing conversation with a student while volunteering in one of her children’s classrooms. The elementary-aged boy nonchalantly commented to Kronk that food was only available to him at school through his participation in the free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch program. He said he didn’t enjoy weekends as there wasn’t much to eat in his house.

The pandemic’s grip on the U.S. economy has left millions more Americans hungry compared to rates in years prior. Demand at food pantries, including those in Central Ohio, has soared and enrollment in federal nutrition assistance funding is growing rapidly.

“I sat next to him for a measurable amount of time with my mouth hanging open,” Kronk says about the exchange. Soon, she started bringing non-perishable foods to slip into his backpack. Within a month, there were more than 30 other children identified by the school who needed the same support.

Currently, Kronk says, there’s not much information available regarding kids who may need help but aren’t receiving food due to remote or shortened in-person schooling. “I worry about kids who were in the program previously but are now being homeschooled,” she adds.

A slew of volunteers and donors have kept Sufficient Grace afloat over its years. “I’ve been really blessed,” Kronk says. “It takes well over $150,000 a year” to pay for the food and supplies. “And, to think that amount comes in because people are kind is amazing. People pray for me and they donate money.”

According to Melissa Canney, student support specialist at London City Schools, Sufficient Grace has not only helped students in her district meet nutrition needs, but it has built trust between students and administrators. “I’m the face of Sufficient Grace in our district,” where about 250 students were aided by the program last year, Canney says. “They see me as a helper.”

“I guess the Lord wants me to go on another year,” Kronk adds optimistically.

Canney says working with Kronk has been stress-free, evidence of the director’s outstanding management of the nonprofit. “She makes it really easy on schools,” Canney adds. “She says, ‘Tell me how many kids need help, let’s set up a process for delivery,’ and then she provides it.”

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Learn more about Sufficient Grace and how to help at sg2012. org. Nicole Rasul is a freelance writer covering food and agriculture. In addition to Edible Columbus her work has appeared in Edible Indy, Columbus Monthly, Civil Eats, The Counter, Modern Farmer, Eater, Salon, Forbes.com and others. You can read her writing at nicolerasul.com and follow her on Twitter at @rasulwrites.


HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Franklin County Farm Bureau On behalf of Franklin County Farm Bureau, we want to thank our loyal readers and share a delicious and festive recipe for the winter season. 2020 has led many of us to the kitchen more than ever, so please enjoy this cheesecake recipe and bring cheer to the family!

Awesome White Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe and photo provided by the Ohio Poultry Association INGREDIENTS

FILLING 2 (6 ounces) packages white chocolate squares 1/2 cup whipping cream 4 (8 ounces) packages cream cheese, softened 1 cup sugar 4 Ohio eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract TOPPING 1/3 cup whipping cream 2 teaspoons sugar 2/3 cup cacao bittersweet chocolate baking chips

CRUST Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In bowl, combine chocolate cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly on bottom of pan.

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CRUST 26 chocolate sandwich cookies, finely crushed 3 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

FILLING In medium saucepan over low heat, combine white chocolate and whipping cream. Cook and stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Stir in melted white chocolate mixture, mix well. Spoon batter over crust. Place foil around bottom of springform pan and place in a shallow baking pan with 1 inch of water. Bake for 60 minutes or until center is almost set. Turn off oven; allow cheesecake to stay in oven with door closed for 20 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and run a knife around edge of cheesecake. Cool. Cover and chill for 8 hours. TOPPING In small saucepan, combine whipping cream and sugar. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Let stand until chocolate is melted; stir until smooth. Spread over chilled cheesecake.

 For more information about becoming a member, contact franklin@ofbf.org or visit ofbf.org/membership.

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Profile for Edible Columbus

Edible Columbus Winter 2020  

Edible Columbus Winter 2020  

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