Tag Archives: locally grown

Colin and Jessica Duggan

November 11, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The next time you sit down for dinner at Kitchen Table, one of the newest restaurants in Downtown Omaha, you might want to take a closer look at the diners next to you—your salad might have come from them.

Husband and wife owners Colin and Jessica Duggan started Kitchen Table to highlight local food. They’ve been touched by the relationships built with local customers and farmers, eager to bring the Duggans everything from rabbits to peaches to use in their restaurant.

20130924_bs_3262

“We wanted to embrace the trend of local, organic products but in a more casual and all-accessible setting,” Colin says. Even the couple’s menu planning is casual. They decide what to cook based on what’s in season and what’s local.  But they also just want to share with customers what they like to eat. Jessica likes tacos, and Colin likes pasta, so a recent dinner menu included chile verde chicken tacos one night and potato gnocchi with a local tomato vodka sauce the next.

Colin is the head chef at Kitchen Table while Jessica handles everything else. They met 12 years ago after Colin returned home to Omaha from working in Boston. His work later took them both to San Francisco, but Omaha was calling them back.

20130924_bs_3225

“We really started to realize the potential of local food in Omaha and how it was kind of a missing piece in Omaha,” Colin says. “The idea was to bring it [the local food movement] back—to go out in the world, gather tools, and come back and build a house.” In October, the Duggans found a space and began building their “house”—a comfortable restaurant that served homemade food and showcased local produce. On June 4, 2013, they opened to the public, and Kitchen Table was born.

There’s no question as to what goes on in the kitchen, due to its open format located right in the center of the restaurant. Seated at the bar, customers can order their food, watch how it’s cooked, and be served all without leaving their seats. The open kitchen was one of the Duggans’ must-haves, in order to make Kitchen Table a “home away from home, where anyone can find something to eat,” according to Jessica.

20130924_bs_3203

Fortunately for Colin and Jessica, home isn’t far away. Both Omaha natives, they say they’ve received tremendous support from family members in the area. They can always call on Colin’s mom or Jessica’s dad if they are out of paper towels or forgot something at the farmers market. Meanwhile, the bar at Kitchen Table has its own history with the family. The bar originally came from Jessica’s cousin in Bennington, who was looking to get rid of it.

While the Duggans cherish the relationships they’ve built during their short time so far at Kitchen Table, the one they cherish most is their relationship with each other. Colin says that opening Kitchen Table was “always about us being able to work together,” because they rarely saw each other in their previous jobs. Both admitted with a laugh that they still like each other, even after working together almost all day, seven days a week.

Although word has spread about Kitchen Table, Colin and Jessica currently have no plans to expand. They are focusing on keeping their menu fresh and simple and continuing to share “slow food fast” with Omaha.

The Best, Local Farmers Markets

July 22, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Krisha Goering has made a weekend visit to the farmers market a summer tradition for the last four years. The Millard mom, who often takes her own mother along for a little girl time, enjoys spending an hour or so each Sunday morning walking the farm stands at the Aksarben Village market and buying the bulk of the fresh groceries she’ll need for her weekly menu and beyond.

The veteran shopper says she heads to market each week with an action plan. “I know exactly what I’m going to get when I get there. I make a swing through the market with $20, and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Goering says.

“I typically buy whatever’s in season. At the beginning of the summer, that’s asparagus and a variety of lettuces. Eggs are abundant [early summer], so I eat a ton of them, too. Come August and September, when the harvests are plentiful, I buy tomatoes two or three cases at a time for canning, and I grab a couple of bushels of green beans to freeze. I also buy cucumbers for canning pickles, as I haven’t had much luck growing [cucumbers] in my own garden.”

20130608_bs_0038_Web_2

Goering says she buys her fruits and veggies at the farmers market whenever possible, preferring locally-grown over store-bought, organic produce in almost every instance. “They’re simply more fresh and more nutritious. Store-bought goods just don’t ripen the same or taste the same.”

Visiting with her favorite vendors, some of whom she now considers her friends, is one of the perks of frequenting the same market each week, Goering says. “We chit-chat a bit, talk about our kids, share a little news…” she says. “These [farmers] are quality people. They work many hours a day and grow and sell wonderful product. I really respect them. But I don’t want to occupy too much of their time visiting, as I know they’re aiming to make new clients and I don’t want to cost them business.”

Omaha shoppers are fortunate in that they have three large outdoor markets from which to choose, all accessible by bus, bike, car, or foot. The Omaha Farmers Market at 11th and Jackson streets in Downtown Omaha is open every Saturday from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The Historic Old Market, which served as a city market for local produce vendors over a century ago, today offers more than 100 vendors selling everything from fruits and veggies and baked goods and dog treats, to teas and coffees and jewelry and toys. Great Harvest Bread, The Tea Trove, Big Kahuna Kettle Corn, and Cibola are a few of the names you’ll see each week.

The same group of sponsors that produces the Downtown Omaha market also organizes the farmers market held each Sunday at Aksarben Village, 67th and Center streets. More than 85 vendors participate in this market, which offers much more than produce as well. Goods from Goodrich Pottery, Honey Creek Creamery, and Soup-n-More can be found alongside fruits and vegetables from Birdsley Road Blueberries, Shadowbrook Farms, and Hillside Orchard, among many others.

20130608_bs_0003_Web_2

Both Omaha Farmers Market ventures participate in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which helps financially strapped families afford healthy food options.

A third farmers market is hosted Saturdays all summer long on the south side of Village Pointe Shopping Center, 168th and West Dodge Road. A wide variety of produce from farmers within a 150-mile radius is available, as well as food and gift items from Jisa Farmstand Cheese, C&C’s Bzzz Honey, Dance in the Wind Iris Garden, and dozens of other retailers. The shopping center hosts a fun family event, Harvest Fest, on the final day of the market October 5.

Browsing the flowers, arts and crafts, yummy treats, and unique gift items at the farmers market can make for a fun, leisurely outing for some shoppers. But for health-conscious grocery shoppers like Goering—there for the fine, locally grown produce and foods and not much else—here are several tips that can help produce a fruitful visit. (Sources: Krisha Goering, tasteofhome.com, and localfoods.about.com).

  • Go early for best selection of produce, thinner crowds, and to beat the summer heat. Go late for (again) thinner crowds and the best deals; some farmers discount items at the end of the day to avoid hauling them home.
  • If you’re new to the market, make a swing through just to get an overview of what’s there. (Some markets offer a map of vendors.) Don’t buy at the first stand you see; you may find better goods cheaper down the line and have buyer’s remorse.
  • Bring your own reusable bags. Reinforced plastic or canvas bags work best and make carting produce around more convenient. If you’re buying a lot, bring a wheeled cart.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen and bring a water bottle and your patience. You may have some waiting in line to do, and not all areas are tented with shade.
  • Be considerate of other shoppers. Don’t overstay your welcome at a busy stand, block the roadway with a huge stroller, or allow your dog to invade others’ personal space. Shopping in small groups is recommended.
  • Get to know your vendors during the market’s downtime. They may offer great food prep or cooking advice, share recipes, or give referrals to other vendors you’ll enjoy. They might also share their growing techniques or food philosophy.
  • If you’re looking to not break the bank, set a budget and stick to it. Make your grocery list beforehand and avoid impulse buys.
  • Respect the vendors. Selling their goods is their livelihood, and a farmers market is not a flea market. Don’t haggle on price. If you’re not willing to pay it, politely move on.

For more info on farmers markets in Omaha, visit OmahaFarmersMarket.com or VoteRealFood.com.

Local Farmers Markets

Omaha Farmers Market—Old Market

11th & Jackson streets

May 4 – October 19

Saturdays 8am-12:30pm

Omaha Farmers Market—Aksarben Village

67th & Center streets

May 5 – October 20

Sundays 9am-1pm

Village Pointe Farmers Market

South side, Village Pointe Shopping Center

168th & W. Dodge Rd.

May 4 – October 5

Saturdays 8am-1pm