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Beans are an essential part of the delicious Indian, Provençal and Middle Eastern cuisines, but many home cooks in the United States are hesitant to use them. Eliza Sproat of HnL Enterprises wants to change that. Eliza and her husband developed the Quick-Cook Bean Pot that allows cooks to quickly and easily cook nutritious dried black beans, chickpeas, fava beans and more over the stovetop without overnight soaking. A native of Columbus, Eliza came across the inspiration for the pot in her husband's hometown of Cairo, where bean pots are an essential kitchen item.—Leah Wolf

Leah Wolf: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Eliza Sproat: I gravitate toward good food. In high school, an Indian restaurant opened nearby; as soon as I saw the sign go up, I was determined to work there. I ate Saag Paneer every night. Some time later I ate in a Slavic restaurant. The food was so good that I secured a job there that night. Then, before college, I worked in a Chinese restaurant both to enjoy the cuisine and to practice Chinese. Since 1993 I have pined for the tofu that tasted exactly like the smoked Gouda I learned about in a noodle shop while studying Chinese in Beijing.

When my husband and I were dating while students at OSU, he made a concoction I'd never tried before. It consisted of chopped lettuce and parsley, chopped veggies (the beautiful thing is most any raw vegetable works), oil, lemon, cumin, salt, pepper and fava beans. I was hooked. That was more than twenty years ago. When my husband was invited to share a bit about his culture at a local Boys & Girls Club here in Columbus, he took the same dish and the crowd there was as enthusiastic about it as I was.

January 31 2014

Belgian Beef Carbonnade

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We had a "Back from Brussels" class at The Seasoned Farmhouse last week where Tricia shared traditional Belgian dishes inspired by her holiday trip to Brussels. In the shadow of arching Cathedrals and a crumbling castle were winding streets of chocolate shops and charming cafes. It was there Tricia discovered the delicious combination of Beef Carbonnade served with Stoemp, a rich mixture of mashed potatoes and other root vegetables. —Leah Wolf

Beef Carbonnade
Recipe by Tricia Wheeler
Yields 6 servings

3-½ pounds boneless beef chuck
4-5 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3-4 tablespoons oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper
3 medium onions, diced
6 medium carrots, chopped into chunks
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1-½ cup beef broth
12 ounce Belgium beer (I like Chimay.)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
6-8 sprigs fresh tarragon

1. Trim beef chuck of any extra fat or gristle but don't over trim, you want some fat and marbling on the beef. Adjust your oven rack to the middle and preheat to 300°F.
2. Mix flour, dried thyme, salt and pepper on a plate, and heat up heavy skillet coated with oil. Roll beef cubes in flour mixture, then brown in skillet for a few minutes per side.
3. In a Dutch oven, heat up a 2 tablespoons of oil and add onions and carrots. Cook on medium heat until carrots are soft and onions are translucent. Add in browned beef, garlic, brown sugar, cider vinegar and bay leaves. Pour in the beef stock and the beer. Add more salt and pepper.
4. Place Dutch oven in the oven and cook for 3 hours or until beef is fork tender. One hour before beef is finished cooking, pull Dutch oven out of oven and degrease by ladling out grease on top of stew. Put back in the oven and cook for the remaining hour.
5. When the meat is finished cooking, discard the bay leaves and adjust salt and pepper. Mix in fresh tarragon leaves. Serve over buttered egg noodles or with mashed potatoes.

With a passion for quality ingredients and an appreciation for entrepreneurs who share their delicious recipes with the world, Steve Barrish is helping to change grocery stores across America, one Luna Burger or frozen pretzel at a time. As Director of Sales and Account Management at Eat Well Distribution, Barrish is a key player in helping Columbus specialty foods producers get their products on shelves nationwide. Read on to learn about how a former promotions manager teams up with retail shops to bring artisan products to our kitchen tables.—Rebecca Wojno

Rebecca Wojno: Tell me about your background and how you went from working in promotions to being Director of Sales and Account Management at Eat Well Distribution?

Steve Barrish: I was hired on as Promotions Manager at PromoWest Productions soon after graduating from Ohio State in 2006 with a B.A. in Strategic Communication. I coordinated the Promotions Department which focused on grassroots and online marketing strategies for more than 400 concerts and live events each year.

In 2010, my wife Carly (who managed the Jeni's scoop shop at the North Market) and I decided volunteer for WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) in New Zealand. For eight months, we did work that ranged from weeding backyard gardens to thinning grape vines to caring for hogs, cattle, and chickens. The experience helped to bridge the gap that so many of us have when it comes to understanding what it takes to grow, raise, and properly prepare our food. It gave us a deep appreciation for whole foods, simple ingredients, gardening, and cooking.

When I returned, I was invited by Jeni's CEO John Lowe to an informal interview. He saw how the trip affected me, that I developed a passion for real food and a better food system, and appointed me the Director of Sales & Account Management with the launch of Eat Well Distribution in January 2012.

Elisa Rosen and her new web business, Jackeez.com, aim to change the way local farmers and artisan producers reach customers. Jackeez.com complements the traditional farmers market audience by giving producers access to national and international customers through an online marketplace. Site vendors offer everything from honey and fruit preserves to artisan cheese and fresh quail eggs—all healthy, high-quality products that represent the pride of the artisans and communities that produce them. —Leah Wolf

Leah Wolf: Tell us a bit about Jackeez.
Elisa Rosen: Jackeez.com began with a conversation I had with my husband and daughters a little less than a year ago. We have a lot of friends who are working and running farms, raising animals right, making artisanal cheese, growing organic produce, making biodynamic honey, foraging, producing beautiful jams, fudge, and the list goes on and on. Most of them are struggling to sell enough of their products to survive full-time at what they're doing because they don't have access to a large enough consumer base and rely only on local customers, which is extremely limiting.

We thought we could give them access to an unlimited amount of customers by building an online marketplace where everyone and anyone who produces artisanal, small-batch foods and related products could sell their products around the country and the world, and gain access to a market that previously only national chain stores could provide.

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