In This Edition
Bluebird Gift Baskets and Open Houses
Bluebird Grain Farms Job Postings
Customer Profile: Phyllis Rosen of Catering by Phyllis
Notes from a Farmer
Many people ask when our farming season starts? I often remark: December. December is when we usually know what our valley soil profile looks like and how our snowpack is shaping up for spring.
November is one of the few months we can count on for moisture here in the Methow and to be sure Mother Nature added to the soil profile last month. My journal shows we received three inches of moisture, mostly rain, in November to add to the two inches we received in October in the valley floor. This, combined with mild temperatures month-long, bodes very well for next spring’s farming.
When we receive bountiful moisture on still pliant soil it is allowed to soak in slowly. More importantly, this sets the stage for spring snow melt. When the snow melts on mellowed soil left from the previous fall (now) a much higher percentage of that melt goes directly into the soil’s profile and doesn’t so readily “run-off” or evaporate. This is a farmer’s delight!
So where is that snow?? Up in the mountains, so far. And a bounty of it! We’re way ahead of last year’s snowpack, which is a delight for us skiers but even more so for us farmers. Our irrigation supply looks to be off to a great start and we are in need of recharge after a low water table late this summer. Once again, ol’ Mother Nature comes full circle and evens things out as only she can.
On a drearier note here at Bluebird, we said goodbye to a few friends this past month and it was a rough one at that. Early on as the full moon rose we bid farewell to my old, old brown Lab retriever Max who probably farmed as much ground here in the Methow as any dog. I still remember him riding shotgun in the tractor cab as a pup almost sixteen years ago. Once full-grown, he loped along beside the tractor or combine or accompanied me changing irrigation and lay in the sprinklers on hot summer days. This time of year, he lived for the birds we hunted all those years together.
Soon after Max, we paid goodbye respects to our friend Sean McCabe, one of the valley’s beloved teachers and athletes and all around friends. And too recently we lost a native son here, Paul Sullivan, who we remember as a young, fun loving kid on the local ski team that Brooke helped coach. Our warm wishes and embrace go out to these families…
…and to all of yours. As we take stock in the good fortune so many of us have coming into the holiday season here, we wish you the very best for a blessed Christmas and much family joy. Hold tight….
In the beginning of November I had the pleasure of traveling to Town and Country Market on Bainbridge Island. I enjoyed meeting their customers and fabulous staff while serving a delicious Farro soup with White Beans and Swiss Chard that was developed by Sharen, T&C’s culinary resource manager. You can now purchase Bluebird Grain Farms Farro and Hot Cereals in Bulk at T& C markets in the greater Seattle area.
* New products
Bluebird has two new products available:
1) Hard White Wheat Flour –a wonderful all-purpose whole grain baking flour. It is ground fine for a multi-purposed application and can be used in baked goods, pie crusts, and yeast breads. It has a very neutral flavor and soft texture.
2) Potlatch Pilaf –a blend of split farro and Oregon- grown organic wild rice. This makes a fabulous stuffing or side dish for the holidays. You can view additional recipes on our website.
* Job Openings:
1. Farmers Market Manager for Ballard and U-District Market (Saturday and Sunday Markets) Time Commitment: Weekends 8-3 April-October Requirements: must live in the Seattle area, be able to store and transport goods to and from market, have sales experience, great communication skills, reliable, and sound knowledge of our farm and products.
2. Millwright/ granary operator : 25 hrs per week Requirements: mechanical skills, organizational skills, work well with others, heavy lifting, good humor always appreciated.
Please e-mail Brooke for full job descriptions. Please specify the job that you are interested in under subject.
Bluebird Gift Baskets and Open Houses
We will be hosting three open houses the firsts three Saturdays of December (5th, 12th, and 19th) from 10-noon. You will be able to assemble your own Bluebird gift boxes, selecting from a variety of Bluebird products, handmade wooden baskets, natural fiber stuffing, and local artisan foods. Bring your addresses and we can ship via UPS. Please allow at least 7 business days for East Coast deliveries. If you can’t make our event and have a special gift request please do not hesitate to call our office. We are happy to put together custom gift orders.
(Community Supported Agriculture packages) make wonderful gifts…. a gift that keeps giving for 4 to 6 months! Bluebird’s CSA is versatile—you can swap out any pre-packaged item for any other pre-packaged item. If you have too much flour and need more hot cereal or pancake mix you can request to swap these products for your next delivery.
Customer Profile: Phyllis Rosen of Catering by Phyllis
We are all products of our childhood and for Seattle-area chef Phyllis Rosen this is patently obvious, and quite providential for those with access to her talents.
Phyllis’s palate was cultivated early, with a semi-kosher Eastern European influence from her Polish grandparents and adventuresome eating habits from her parents. A childhood spent in ideal growing climates such as Honolulu, Hawaii and Sonoma County, California, taught her that food is fresh and fun: garden produce in abundance, exotic fruits, quick pickles, and layers of flavors.
Her family lived in communities that valued socializing through meals. Potlucks were frequent and Phyllis always remembers being part of the food preparation; as early as five she was rolling wonton with neighbors. Surrounded by families from Japan, Indonesia, India, and Spain, Phyllis learned to appreciate a wide range of flavors and cooking styles.
Phyllis’s eventual career as a caterer derives from the values she formed as a child: an abiding love of serving people, a food aesthetic from her artist father, and the conviction that elegant presentation makes delicious food taste even better.
Phyllis’s culinary entrepreneurial spirit began early; at age three she was selling fresh coconuts on the University of Hawaii campus and by eleven she dreamed of starting the country’s first smoothie bar. (When Jamba Juice burst on the scene in 1990 Phyllis was delighted to see someone else living her dream.)
Before starting her own catering business, Phyllis cooked at Dominique’s Place in Seattle and The Ark Restaurant on the Long Beach Peninsula, as well as opening a café for the Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C. For Phyllis, the transition to catering was a natural one, as it allowed her to serve people in intimate settings and use her seemingly limitless imagination to create elegant and delicious dishes.
Phyllis met Brooke Lucy at a Farmer-Chef Connection about four years ago. An instant attraction to Bluebirds’ products led Phyllis to visit Bluebird Grain Farms, which Phyllis describes as “an ideal family farm.” “Brooke and Sam are proud farmers with good business acumen,” she says, “they’ve figured out how to make farming a sustainable profession.”
Phyllis now uses Bluebird Grains almost exclusively for all her grain needs, both at work and at home; her young sons eat Bluebird’s organic emmer pancakes almost every morning. Like many chefs, Phyllis loves making whole grain emmer/farro salads, which can be made in advance of events and still retain their form and consistency. “The farro is so versatile,” Phyllis says, “I have several clients who request a farro salad for every meal I cater for them.”
Phyllis is classically trained in French, Italian, and Russian cooking, and her meals have a renaissance, old-world feeling. She serves food on wooden or pottery platters she designs herself, she uses layers and textiles to present her meals, and decorates with found objects. Her meals are described as “bountiful,” “opulent,” and “abundant.”
With winter upon us and the holiday cooking season in full swing, Phyllis notes that the concept of the winter doldrums has changed in recent years because of the availability of seasonal, fresh foods, and she’s very excited about what’s available. For example, this week she’s making savory emmer/corn waffles served with smoked tomatoes and grapes, presenting a hearty whole grain dish with stacks of flavors.
For Phyllis, holiday meals are a chance to showcase local foods, to create elaborate meals that surprise and delight, and to spend extra time preparing refined or difficult dishes. A winter meal catered by Phyllis might include princess pumpkin flan, game hens stuffed with wild rice and baked inside a whole pumpkin, or homemade Japanese mochi. Garnishes are unusual and full of flavor: citrus zests, kumquats, and star anise.
Even with a full calendar of holiday meals ahead, however, Phyllis is still thinking about her next creation. It’s still more of a notion than a fully-formed recipe, but knowing that it involves sweet whole emmer/farro and carmelized nuts, we’re sure we’re going to like it.
For more information about Catering by Phyllis, email Phyllis or call 206-283-0480.
It’s nearly impossible to believe, but with the help of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, you can bake incredible, healthy, homemade artisan breads with just five minutes of preparation per day. From the authors of Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day, the new book—Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients features a recipe with Bluebird’s emmer flour!