Bluebird Grain Farms - February 2009A Note from the Farmer
A cold, still pattern here on the Rendezvous these days as high pressure envelops the state. Our moisture/snowpack is minimal so far and although I’m not too stressed yet about the coming spring’s moisture – it certainly can snow plenty in the mountains over the next couple months –I do think it will be a fairly early spring on the fields and I am beginning to plan field work. Bluebird will be taking on another 170 acres of leased ground this spring – all certified organic. Most all the acreage is currently in alfalfa and so will make for good grain growing. At this point, we plan to put at least 70 acres of it into grain production this spring. We’ll keep you updated.
For now, however, I’d like to follow up on last month’s condensed essay on biodynamic farming. Back in the day, I used to spend this reflective time of year writing. And so I would like to share this poem I wrote some years ago titled “Tilth”.
by Samuel Lucy
May not be all
But all of most of it
Sometimes for cover
Sometimes for harvest
Always in harmony
To benefit one another
Fatten those worms-
Those wageless workers
Kill those germs
With time-tested microbes
That delight the soil.
Scratching Mother's back
Not too deep
Not too shallow
Never when soaked
Seldom when dry
Always with restraint
Timing all and everything.
During all weather
Through every season
Kneel and listen
Touch and taste
With open eyes for learning
Only the soil will tell
If you've been naughty or nice
Only the soil can tell
All that there is.
Best health to all, Farmer Sam
Nutritional Profile of Emmer Farro
“What the heck is a ‘whole grain’?” some of us have wondered. We know whole grains are nutritious and we know they aren’t processed. But what does “whole grain” actually mean?
A whole grain contains the entire grain seed including bran, germ and endosperm. Examples of whole grains include: oatmeal, brown rice, barley, popcorn, quinoa, corn, emmer/farro and other varieties of wheat, and whole wheat flour in bread or cereal.
Whole grains are good for you because they:
1) Help lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease (Fiber in whole grains lowers cholesterol by binding to it in the digestive tract and eliminating it from body.)
2) Help control blood sugar (Whole grains control blood sugar by releasing their sugars into the blood more slowly, so that blood sugars go up more slowly and stay steady, rather than refined grains which cause a spike in blood sugar, and then a rapid drop.)
3) Keep the digestive system healthy (Fiber keeps digestive system healthy by acting like a scrub brush, providing bulk and binding wastes together, to eliminate waste products from the digestive tract. Eating fiber rich food such as whole grains keeps intestinal cells healthy and can help prevent inflammatory diseases in the colon, such as diverticulosis.)
4) Help maintain a healthy weight by helping you feel full longer (Fiber helps you feel full longer, so that you will be less likely to snack or get hungry again as soon as after eating refined grains.)
Whole Grain Emmer Farro is one of the most nutritious whole grains available; see the chart below to compare its nutritional profile with oats and refined flour.
Whole Grain Emmer Oats Refined Flour
One thing the nutrition chart does not mention is the bounty of Emmer Wheat’s trace minerals. As Farmer Sam would say, food is only as good as the soil in which it is grown. Note the fiber and protein of Emmer Wheat!
If you’re seeking more fiber in your diet, Whole Grain Emmer offers you lots of options. Consider the fiber content of these Emmer Wheat products:
• Emmer Farro 5 grams per serving
• Cracked Emmer 7 grams per serving
• Old World Cereal Blend 7 grams per serving
• Emmer Flour 3 grams per serving
• Emmer Pancake & Waffle Mix 2 grams per serving
*1 serving is ¼ Cup dry
Customer Profile: Leslie Hall
When Methow Valley residents hear the name “Leslie Hall” two things immediately come to mind: skiing and bread. Bluebird Grains customer Leslie is well-known throughout the valley for her world-class Nordic racing background, her expertise as a coach, and her fabulous breads. So delicious and chewy are her breads that if you know she’s going to be at a particular potluck, you make sure to arrive early to ensure you’ll get a piece of her bread before it disappears.
The daughter of a Vermont builder who spent slow winters baking bread, Leslie learned to bake as soon as she was strong enough to knead a yeast dough. Sam Lucy, also a native new Englander and Leslie got to know each other years later on the collegiate nordic racing circuit. But their connection to fresh, organic, whole grains wasn’t formed until Sam started farming in the Methow Valley and Leslie began experimenting with his wheat, rye, and later emmer flours.
When she moved to the Methow Valley about a decade ago, the world-class skier and now mother of two got serious about her sourdough. The Anjou Bakery (located in Cashmere) offered a class on artisan breads at the former Community Kitchen in Twisp and after that class, Leslie started her own white, wheat, and rye bread sourdough starters bubbling; the starters have been going ever since.
Leslie bakes bread intuitively, not scientifically, so she can’t pinpoint a particular element that makes her Bluebird Grain breads so delicious, but her palate is proof enough: the Bluebird breads simply taste better. The flours work well, the breads have a crispy crust and a chewy crumb, and the loaves get gobbled up quickly wherever they are served.
Leslie’s kids and husband, Ella, Walker, and Alex, love to eat her artisan breads, her emmer and wheat pancakes, her sourdough waffles, and especially her soft white flour cookies. While the kids have expressed an interest in learning to bake bread, Leslie is still the primary baker in the house and relishes the process. Most importantly, she loves being able to feed her family fresh, organic, and local foods and Bluebird grains and flours allow her to do this in a way she feels great about.
Leslie offers a few tips for new bakers. First, use as much water as you reasonably can. Instead of putting flour on your hands to knead the dough when it gets sticky, put on more water. Spray your bread just before putting it in a hot oven (Leslie heats her oven to 500◦F, then turns it down to 400◦F as soon as she puts the bread in), and use a baking stone.
Most importantly, Leslie advises, just go for it! Bread is very forgiving and even most of your “mistakes” will turn out to be edible. Slather on the butter and enjoy a warm slice fresh from the oven. Bon appetit!
Recipe of the Month: Rye Crackers with Caraway
Most kids would live on crackers if we’d let them and plenty of adults can’t resist them either. Crackers are supposed to be crisp, not stale—crackling when you bite them—and the best way to get a fresh cracker is to make them yourself. These Rye Crackers with Caraway let you feed your family and guests a simple but fresh and elegant cracker made of healthy whole grain dark northern rye flour. Top them with soft cheese or smoked fish, or serve them alongside our Creamy Farro and Chickpea Soup. Try these crackers once and you’ll never go back to the ones that have been sitting on the shelf in boxes!
Bluebird Granary Tour Coming Up February 14th 10:30-12:00. All Welcome.
Tour our Granary and sample sweets made from local purveyors. See a map and get directions to our granary.
Bluebird Grain Farms seeks Market Manager for Seattle Farmers Market booth
May-September. Please e-mail email@example.com for a full job
Did you know that you can purchase Bluebird Fresh Milled Flour and other dry product blends in Seattle on Queen Anne Hill at EAT LOCAL.
Brooke and Sam Lucy