Bluebird Grain Farms - June 2009
A Note from the Farmer
Phew! I always underestimate how busy May is around Bluebird. Though I love every month of the year, I'd almost trade August for two Mays. Alas, Mother Nature knows best and she's blessed us with as nice of a spring as we could hope for. Even got some early May showers that added up to fairly an inch of precip. (Don't laugh, west-siders, many springs we get zippo over here!)
We've done our best to take advantage of the conditions and have gotten 100 acres planted by the 21st of the month with most all of that up and growing right along now. As I write this, this final week of May, we look to get the rest of our emmer in up valley by month's end. Our equipment has been holding up beautifully, (knock, knock) and that is always a joy. We've been nearly as busy here at the granary (thanks to many of you!) in the meantime which presents a nice juggling act as we use one of the tractors here quite a bit for milling, shipping etc. However, if I can keep my best-of-help Brian from getting too distracted by the new "scenery" around town, we should make it. Then can kick back a brief moment and toast the growing season with some of the fine scotch he birthday presented me with two months ago.
As fast as spring has gone, at the same time I marvel once again at how long it truly lasts here in the Methow. Many years through mid-June, really. At daybreak this morning I sipped my cup listening to new songs of tanagers, warblers, vireos and my sweet friend the wood thrush -- all arrivers in just the last week. And there will be more before June!
June will also tell the tale of our moisture needs and whether or not we'll kick on our irrigation systems. It's no secret I'm hoping for a nice, damp June and that is when we can get it here. We're thankful to have back-up water, however, and we usually are out in the fields irrigating by early June. Either way, we look to be off to a good growing season and hope the same for all of you.
We hope as well that the excitement of school-out and the beginning of summer carries on. And that this finds you all in good health as the chill finally comes off that fresh mountain air.
Best to all, Farmer Sam
Vendor Profile: Thomasina Murdock, owner/baker of Knead Some Dough
Within five minutes of meeting Thomasina Murdoch, owner/baker of Knead Some Dough, and her husband Jerome, I wanted to move in with them, sit at their kitchen table, and listen to them talk about grains, artisan breads, and fresh pasta while they bustle about grating fresh nutmeg, hanging noodles from dowels, and kneading satiny doughs.
Thomasina and Jerome are compelling personalities, not only for their joie de vivre, but also because of their passion for serving and connecting with their customers. They are making delicious breads and pastas, yes, and they are doing it because it brings satisfaction and joy to those who consume them.
Thomasina started Knead Some Dough after living for thirteen years on a remote island where every family made its own sourdough rye bread and then teaching baking at a rehabilitation facility in Ontario. Customers discovered Thomasina at Vancouver farmers markets and quickly fell in love with her organic, artisan breads; she soon found herself with a booming business.
Thomasina’s interest in using ancient grains led her to spelt growers in Saskatchewan and eventually to Bluebird Grain Farms. Despite an international border and the circuitous road route between Bluebird’s emmer and wheat fields and Thomasina’s market neighborhoods, the two businesses are less than 200 km apart as the crow flies: a local collaboration by many standards. Local and seasonal ingredients still drive Thomasina’s menu; she uses rhubarb, berries in season, and fresh leeks, or dried cranberries and figs. She’s crazy about , spelt, flax, and kamut and she has turned many a customer on to the pleasures and benefits of these ancient grains.
Knead Some Dough’s bread repertoire is extensive and varied, ranging from traditional sourdoughs and ryes to international offerings like Fig Anise Bread, Ciabatta, and Moroccan Flat Bread. Thomasina is the artist behind the yeast breads, while Jerome has become a specialist in the sweet oaty Welsh Cakes, of which he sells 350-400 at each market, warm from the griddle. Using several authentic traditional recipes from Wales, as well as a host of stories gleaned from customers telling him about “these cakes my grandma used to make…,” Jerome is on a perpetual quest for the ideal Welsh Cake.
The pasta menu is equally varied, with the recent addition of Cabernet Pasta—a 50/50 emmer/semolina blend colored and flavored with powdered grape skins, resulting in a show-stopping rich burgundy-colored pasta. The fresh pastas are incredible—tender, springy, and savory. It’s almost criminal to consider covering them with anything but olive oil and garlic. Even the most basic emmer penne impart a hearty, nutty flavor; you can actually eat them straight out of the bag, uncooked—although with just three minutes in boiling water they reach al dente perfection.
Knead Some Dough is a small, home-based business and Thomasina and Jerome plan to keep it that way. The duo needs time and space for experimentation and creativity and they believe that by serving local markets exclusively—despite encouragement to push into larger markets—they can continue to provide their local customers with the freshest, most authentic, and most delicious breads and pastas in the area.
The Vancouver Farmers Market is a selective operation, with every product sold at the market first being “juried” (tested by a panel of chefs, nutritionists, and other experts) before it is approved for sale. The Knead Some Dough menu has been heavily scrutinized and sampled by this jury; customers can count on being satisfied with—and most likely ecstatic about—any item they purchase.
Knead Some Dough has a booth at all four Vancouver markets; visit the Vancouver Farmer’s Market website for schedules and locations.
Bluebird News: Potlatch Pilaf and New Website
We’re thrilled to introduce Bluebird's Potlatch Pilaf, a hearty blend of split emmer/farro and wild rice derived from Methow Valley farro from Bluebird Grain Farms and Willamette Valley wild rice from Oregon Jewel. You can purchase Potlatch Pilaf at the Seattle Markets (U-District Market & Ballard Market) and Twisp Farmers Markets, through our CSA program, or through phone orders. It is offered in convenient 1.2oz. bags.Please try our recommended Potlatch Pilaf recipe, below, developed by dietician and cook Acacia Larsen. Debby Hatch, a part time neighbor and incredible supporter, reports that Potlatch Pilaf is just as good served cold (similar to a tabouleh salad). She recommends adding: chive blossoms, mint, feta cheese, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.Potlatch Pilaf will be available online by July 1st when Bluebird launches its NEW Website and Online Store! We look forward to offering you a swifter and more intuitive process for online ordering and information. Our new site will offer information for wholesale customers. It will also feature nutritional information for all of our products as well as archives for all of our recipes and newsletters. Stay tuned…
Recipe of the Month: Split Emmer and Wild Rice Pilaf It’s hard to find a dish more traditional than pilaf, which has roots in many continents over a span of centuries and which remains a staple in many Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. In Bluebird’s version of the dish, hearty and nutritious wild rice and split emmer are simmered in herbs and broth and topped with toasted nuts.
Bluebird’s Split Emmer and Wild Rice Pilaf is easy to prepare, inexpensive, and delicious; it’s also deceptively nourishing and wholesome. Both emmer and wild rice have a nutty, full-bodied taste, and the pilaf’s broth, mushrooms, and toasted nuts enhance the grains’ hearty flavors. Wild rice is low in fat and gluten-free; it’s also a great source of protein and B-vitamins (both of which are absent in white rice). Similarly, emmer provides about 15% protein and is easily digested. With the nutritional benefits of the emmer/wild rice pilaf far outweighing those of other typical pilaf grains and the distinctive, hearty taste equally outstanding, the decision to cook this pilaf should be simple.
Serve with a green salad and fruit compote for a satsifying summer meal.
Thank you again for all your support,
Brooke & Sam Lucy