Friday, May 23, 2008

Locally Grown Produce at the Market

Allen Hagemann grows a variety of crops at Hagemann Farms in the middle of scenic Lion's Den Valley in Imperial, MO. Locally grown produce, including spinach, tomatoes, green beans, corn, catalopes, watermelons and others are available at his stand at Soulard Farmers' Market, fresh from the fields, all in their season.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cheese Tart Recipe from Baetje Farms

Following is a recipe forwarded to Madame Chouteau by Veronica Beatje from Baetje Farms, source of the excellent goat cheese products found at the Soulard Farmers' Market:

Ingredients for crust:
1/4 cup Oat Flour from Kimker Hill Farm plus 1 3/4 cup 10 Grain Flour from Kimker Hill Farm-or 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks chilled butter, cut in 1/2" pieces
4 T shortening
1/2 cup iced water, plus more as needed

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Place in a 2 qt. or larger food processor with the slicing blade on. Pulse once or twice to smooth out the dry ingredients. Add the butter and shortening and pulse 4-5 times, until the flour mixture starts to pull together into small pearls. Turn the blade on and add the water in one fell swoop, stopping the blade just after and pulsing another 5-10 times until the dough just starts to come together around the blade. Do not overmix!

Pull the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quickly form into a ball, working fast to stop the butter from melting due to heat from your hands. Wrap tightly in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours and up to a day in the refrigerator. The dough will freeze for quite some time if carefully wrapped.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to just larger than 9". Carefully transfer the dough to an 8" tart pan rubbed with butter. Gently press the dough into the edge of the pan, forming the bottom and sides of the tart. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the tart and fill with beans to keep the tart from puffing during baking. Bake on a sheet at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and carefully remove the aluminum foil and beans. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the crust in several spots, then return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes. Remove when center is firm and edges are just starting to brown.

For filling:
1/2 lb. bacon lardons - I used Greenwood Farms' smoked bacon
1/2 cup sliced fresh green onions, green and white parts
4 cloves minced garlic
4 cups fresh spinach, washed and dried
9 oz. Baetje Farm's "Coeur de la Creme" cheese (1 1/2 hearts)-substitute with your favorite chevre
2 T softened butter
3 T heavy cream
2 large eggs
pinch of Penzey's French Four Spice-substitute with fresh ground nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large skillet and add the bacon. Stir over med-high heat until the bacon pieces are browned and crispy. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 1 T drippings. Stirring quickly, add the green onions and the garlic. Heat for 30 seconds until the onions start to open up, then add the spinach. Cover and remove from heat. Let the spinach wilt for 1 minute, then stir to begin mixing in the onions, garlic and oil. Cover again and wilt for 4 minutes. Stir again and let cool (preferably to room temperature but it can be a little warmer if you're rushed for time).

Mix the softened goat cheese, butter and cream with a fork until lightly blended. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then add to the cheese and mix well until smooth. Season with a pinch of Penzey's French Four Spice and salt and pepper to taste.

Fold the wilted spinach into the cream mixture. Scatter bacon pieces on the bottom of the cooled tart crust, then gently spoon in the cream mixture, smoothing with a spatula. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until center is light and puffy and the top is just starting to brown. A knife to the middle should come out clean.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then gently remove the sides of the tart pan. Cool to room temperature, then slide the tart off the bottom of the tart pan. Serve at room temperature or cold. Keeps for 3-5 days covered and refrigerated.

Recipe by Chris Freeland -
More local recipes at

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Soulard Farmers' Market Quality Selections

John Davis, the Mushroom Man, shows off his wares at the market on Saturday, May 17. In the basket are Crimini, and he holds a container of morels. A variety of mushrooms are available from his specialty booth.

Soulard Quality of Life Over the Weekend - A Report

A friend of Madame Chouteau, who will be known as Brenda Starr, provided insight into neighborhood life over the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, 2008. There were a series of street closings and miscellaneous celebrations. Pictured are some empties lined up along the gutter near the intersection of S. 10th Street and Allen, found on Sunday, May 18. How many dead men can you count? Following is the report of Brenda Starr. Enjoy.

One of the street closings over the weekend was for the 9th Annual Car Show, originally begun by Hammerstone’s Bar. For 8 years the car show was confined to Ninth Street. But, like most things in Soulard, in an attempt to draw more beer-drinkers to the neighborhood, the show has been expanded to include more and more cars, and then to add to the excitement there was created the "Wacky Soapbox Derby." To make room for this wonderful event, all of Geyer Avenue was temporarily closed for the excitement.

Another spectacle was billed as the "Soulard Olympix." The main event seemed to be elbow bending, since the Olympix was described as time to "crawl your way thru Soulard’s Pubs and Private residences."

Still another street closing - the area where S. 10th Street intersects Allen - was sponsored by Jim and Julie Price. I was told this was a charity affair, but the person I questioned about the matter did not know the name of the charity.

Friday night: Geyer, my street, looks like a fraternity party. Three young men have pulled chairs out onto the sidewalk in front of their apartments at 1006 and are drinking. At 1003 there are three young men and a young woman drinking beer on the stoop. Emergency "no parking" signs are posted all up and down the street, in anticipation of the Wacky Soapbox Derby.

Saturday, early afternoon: Old-timey music from Spooty’s bar is blaring across the neighborhood. I assume it is for the benefit of the neighborhood, since there are only five patrons sitting on the patio where the speakers are located.

In the late afternoon the old-timey noise is surpassed by rock music coming from the Price’s event on 10th Street and Allen. I am a block away. With my windows and blinds tightly shut and the air-conditioning going, I can still hear the music inside my home.

Saturday evening: at 10:30 p.m. the music is still blaring away. My stroll down the alley at that hour reveals several young men urinating in a neighbor’s dogtrot. When I suggest that they use one of the three port-o-potties at the event, they said that they were urinating on the neighbor’s property because the port-o-potties were full. It is not clear whether the facilities are full of people or full of urine. But, what the heck, an excuse for public urination is an excuse.

There were a lot of people at the 10th Street celebration, some of them obviously drunk, and some of them obviously underage and drunk. One wonders if anybody is supposed to monitor underage drinking. The Prices? The City of St. Louis department which authorized the liquor license? Alder woman Phyllis Young? Obviously, nobody was in charge. Obviously, nobody cares.

Sunday morning: at 7 a.m. the neighborhood is blissfully quiet. 1006 Geyer still has the chairs, now empty, and a few beer bottles, now empty, on the sidewalk. 1003 Geyer is more poetic - a beer bottle sitting in a flower pot. Soulard’s flowers. And 10th Street between the alleyway and Allen, the site of the Price event, is a mess. Plastic trash bags overflowing with food and miscellaneous garbage are everywhere. One must assume that the rats had a good time when the music stopped and the drunks went home.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quality of Life Issues in Soulard or Trash is Good, No?

We were out walking early on a Sunday morning, on May 4, 2008, and discovered this cache of trash in Soulard on S. 12th Street, near Russell. When we drove by hours later, it was still there. It looks like some people had been partying. To the left is the front door of Tucker’s Restaurant.

We watched the television program on Channel 10, the city channel, about littering. Interestingly, we did not see our alderperson, Phyllis Young, featured in the program or saying anything anti-litter. In fact, we did not hear any politicians address the subject. The Channel 10 story featured citizens urging other citizens to pick up litter around their property.

Madame Chouteau wonders why this issue is left to those who are faced with picking up after others. To be honest, St. Louis is a very litter strewn city. Go to Chicago and you do not see the litter that St. Louis boasts. Of course, go to Lafayette Square and you do not see the litter that Soulard boasts. Can you say Entertainment District?

It is a quality of life issue, just like street crime. But nobody goes near it. It seems to Madame Chouteau that the problem stems from a lack of self respect exhibited by those who litter. This group needs to be addressed. Instead, the victims are lectured, as usual, and urged to do something about the problem.

The April 30, 2008 (May 1-May 7, 2008) issue of the Riverfront Times carried an interesting story ( titled "La Dolce’ Veto," a story about quality of life issues resulting from a bar downtown. Fights, noise and some sort of drive-by shooting were all discussed, along with the outrage of nearby condo owners/residents. The police had to concede that shots were fired because there were bullet pock marks in the building and a window had been shot out. The highlight of the story was the quote from Rob Olsen, described as the owner of Dolce’ Ultra Lounge & Bistro, the name of this place, who said: "I just don’t get how people think they can move downtown and not hear some noise."

This is the classic response of discourteous, couldn’t care less people who ignore the impact of their actions on a community. In Soulard, I guess the quote would be: "I just don’t get how people think they can move here and not be confronted with litter. After all, it is an Entertainment District."

Madame Chouteau certainly has to concede that point, and she has to thank the fine folks at City Hall - and our local leadership - for ignoring the impact that an Entertainment District designation and liquor sales has on residential interests and quality of life issues. And of course, we tip our hats to those who litter, to those who are making Soulard - and the City of St. Louis - what it is.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Crime Stuff: Stay Alert, Shots Fired?????

Following is a crime alert from Lisa Otke dated April 30 and forwarded by Terry Hoffman on May 1, 2008:


Residents reported hearing shots fired on Saturday night in the vicinity of Shenandoah & 7th/9th Streets. Per the police the shots came from the area around South Broadway Athletic Club where the suspects were not allowed into a party. The police received over a dozen 911 calls – a resident reported being on the line for 8 minutes without a answer from 911 which may have been due to the volume of calls. The police have a partial license plate number and are investigating. A problem with the investigation is that all the “victims” refused to make any statement and would not give any good physical descriptions.

Terry Hoffman added to his e-mail the following note (note was above description of "Shots Fired"):

additional information we received from hi-tech security re: the event below...

"original call was for a "large fight with shots fired" around S. Broadway Athletic Club (around midnight on Saturday night.) The call was reclassified as "large crowd causing a disturbance" and the "shots fired" was canceled. Crowd was dispersed by officers and everyone was back in service in about 10 minutes."

Madame Chouteau is not following this report. Apparently a dozen or so people called 911 to report shots fired, but now the "shots fired" concept has been deleted from any police report. Madame Chouteau is starting to understand the April 25, 2008 St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline: "Crime down, except for the killings," found on page C1. We like creative crime reporting: if it isn't in the police report, then it didn't happen. Some may remember that this happened with rape statistics a couple of years ago.