In This Edition:
Golden Farro with chickpeas & roasted turnips
Chef Peter Witt shares two recipes
Notes from the Farmer
Next Seattle Market: March 31, U-District
Monthly Special: 20% Off Split Farro
Notes from the Farmer
My slightly morose feeling of winters’ leave in last February’s note was put to ease as the month came to close with a pair of nice little snowstorms, and I think the mercury sat at a perfect zero on our porch one of those days. To be sure, farmers always talk about the weather! Some, skiing, too, and we ushered in the month of March with fresh turns on the Butte above the granary.
Those runs gave me a glow as I cranked away in the granary each day. You all have been keeping us awful busy out there, and I’ve sure been missing my main man Walt who is recovering from surgery these past weeks. The good news is I’ve been able to revisit our customers by processing and seeing most orders out the door. It has also enabled me to scrutinize our grains and flours, and I hope I’ve been doing as good a job as Walt! I’ve been impressed not only with demand from you, but how well our little milling line continues to work. Certainly, I realized some needs along the way.
Farming season has been hot on my mind as indeed the chickadees have changed to their spring morning song and the red-tails are back swooping the tall fir on our north hill where they’ve nested since before we ever took up residence here. The biggest improvements we’ve made is learning more what our soils like here as far as minerals and cover crops, ultimately, of course, to grow a nutrient dense, high volume grain crop. Coinciding with this is the question, when best to apply? This goes for field dressing in the spring pre-plant, foliar feeding during actual growth stage, and certainly post-harvest digesters and enzymes. Though it may seem in the past 50 years that farming has been all about equipment advances and technology, here at Bluebird, we like to think that farming and farm improvements still come down to soil biology and balance.
Surely, we’ve upgraded some tools to help out with this. One big technological advance for us has been on our Moccasin Lake field where our lessor has installed several irrigation pivots. This year, we plan to hook up a pumping system whereby we can apply all soil goodies thru the pivots as opposed to putting them down with a tractor tank. As well, we will be using the same setup once our new lease, with two pivots, is up and running.
Back to the soil, which always is the focal point at Tainio Technology's two-day spring seminar, where, this year, one of the keynote speakers was Dr. Mike from Mycorrhizal Applications. Fascinating information and presentation about the world of mycorrhizal fungi and the importance they play in growing – guess what– nutrient dense, high volume crops. We’re looking forward to inoculating our grain seed with some of his amazing mycorrhizal "new equipment" this spring.
Also at Tainio was speaker and anti GMO advocate Jeffrey Smith, who has written at least three books dealing with the dire health ramifications and crop destruction caused by the use of GMO seeds and plants. Okay folks, the cat is out of the bag and you likely have not heard it here first as I’m not big on pushing politics, but hear it again: GMOs are BAD. Trust me. We do not want nor need them in our food system and please, please sign any circulating initiatives, as they are once again, that support legislation making it mandatory to have foods containing any GM ingredients LABELED SO. This will not prevent you from buying them if you so wish, but will at least give those the choice not to. I’m not going to list all the reams of literature – of which there are many– confirming the bad affects of GMOs, but GMOs are banned in much of Europe, India, and Japan for damned good reason.
Of course, it is an uphill battle in the USA to get such labeling because we have a handful of huge AgriPharamacutical companies paying off politicians, but let us not forget where change always comes from... the bottom up! Grassroots, and so, back to the soil...
Your farmer, Sam
Bluebird News & Events
Seattle Market Schedule We will be at Seattle Farmers Markets only once-a-month in hopes to make our travel time more efficient. We plan to be at U-District and Ballard Market the first weekend of every month.
Our schedule is as follows:
March 31st: U-District ONLY
May 5th: U-District
May 6th: Ballard
June 2nd: U-District
June 3rd: Ballard
July 7th: U-District
July 8th: Ballard
* Remember you can put special orders in under 100lbs for Market Pick Up. Please place your orders one week in advance prior to pickup to guarantee delivery. We ask that orders be paid in advance. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Try our Split Farro this month and receive 20% off through March 31st. This bulgur-like grind is perfect for adding texture to soups or used in wraps.
New Delivery OptionTwice-per-month delivery option to the Greater Wenatchee and Seattle Areas: Susan Speir of Gabby Cabby is committed to delivering local goods to the greater Seattle area on a bi monthly basis ( .17 Cents per lb/ $15 minimum order) and Weekly to the Greater Wenatchee Area ( .12 per lb/ $10 minimum order).
Food Demo for Whole Foods Employees
We had the opportunity demo our grains to the employees of the new Whole Foods in Lynwood. This was a great opportunity to meet the people who are handling our products daily. A special thanks toDenise Bryley for her advocacy around local, farm-direct products. Look for our Whole Grains in Bulk at the new Lynwood Store
Farmer Chef connection This was my 7th year attending the SeattleFarmer-Fisher Chef Connection. The food was outstanding and once again a wonderful opportunity to connect with old customers and meet new potential customers. Thanks to all the advocates and volunteers at Seattle Chefs Collaborative!
Muffins? My 11-year-old daughter told me she was going to make some muffins. I walked into the kitchen and there were 11 pairs of these little numbers made with our hard white flour... do you think she is trying to tell me something?
Recipe of the Month:
Golden Farro with Roasted Chickpeas and Baby Turnips
Adapted from The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley
Makes about 6 Servings
1 Cup Emmer Farro
1/4 Teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3 Cups water
1 Large leek (or one onion), halved, then sliced into thin half moons
1 Bunch baby turnips with greens (about 8 small turnips)
2 Tb olive oil
2 Tb butter (or use more olive oil)
1 15oz Can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Lemon (zest and juice)
2 Teaspoons cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Bay leaves, broken in half
1 Teaspoon whole cumin seed
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric
1/2 Teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 Teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Coarse flake salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Place the farro, water and salt in a medium or large saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the leek slices in a bowl of cold water and swish them around to wash out any grit. Lift the slices out into a colander to drain. Wash the baby turnips, remove the tops and them aside. Cut the roots into quarters (if using a larger turnip, chop into about half inch pieces).
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, butter, chickpeas, leek, turnip roots, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, honey, bay leaves, cumin seed, turmeric, smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon salt, and stir occasionally until everything sizzles (about 3 minutes). Transfer this mixture to a large rimmed baking sheet, spread in an even layer, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
After the farro has simmered for 45 minutes, remove the lid and roughly tear the baby turnip greens into large pieces into the simmering farro. Replace the lid and cook for just 30 seconds to 1 minute to blanch the greens. Turn off the heat, drain the farro & greens and return to the pot. Scoop the cooked chickpea mixture into the farro and stir to combine well. Top each serving with coarse flake salt and fresh ground pepper.
Customer Profile: Peter Witt of Dover Point Gourmet
Chef Peter Witt's journey to professional cooking has been anything but traditional. For 30 years he owned a management consulting firm. But after selling his consulting company, he started a private chef business as a way of blending his penchant for entertaining with his passion for gardening. A long-time gardener, Peter grew heirloom vegetables and sought out ways to serve his garden’s bounty with fresh, locally-sourced meats, grains, and other products from around the Pacific Northwest. For a number of years he spent summers in Alaska working at a lodge owned by Princess Cruises, supervising other chefs cooking for large groups. “I always kept my hand in the actual cooking, though,” he says, as he describes getting involved in cooking meals for Princess Cruise employees.
In 2007, Peter, who had long been an advocate for food quality and safety, sponsored a forum that featured organic farming in the Pacific Northwest. Having seen the documentary "Good Food" that highlights Bluebird Grain Farms, Peter invited Brooke Lucy to participate in his forum. "She brought samples," Peter laughs, "and I was hooked."
Not only did Peter become committed to Bluebird Grains (he is partial to Split Emmer and Old World Cereal, which he breakfasts on nearly every morning, and he claims that working with Emmer Flour dough is "so much fun you can hardly wait to get your hands on it!"), he also remained dedicated to local food systems that support health and the environment. "People are concerned about food safety," he says, "We simply feel more secure with foods that are fresh, local, and unprocessed." Peter describes a food council that he'd like to create, which would connect food systems to energy and water usage and other global concerns.
An enthusiastic host, Peter focuses on cooking intimate dinners for groups of four to twenty people. "I like entertaining," he says, "and when I put on an event I want people to feel good about being there and to enjoy every bite." The secret of pulling off this feat, he says, is to use the best ingredients he can get his hands on and to employ a variety of cooking techniques. Classically trained in French-Provencal cuisine, Peter complements superb ingredients with "exquisite sauces that bring out the essential flavors of the main ingredients." He mentions chutneys, fresh carrot and ginger sauces, and other sauces that harmonize and highlight the Pacific Northwest foods he favors, such as Dungeness Crab and salmon. "I'm constantly experimenting with food," he says. Whether he's catering private chef tables or teaching cooking classes, Peter keeps Split Farro close at hand. "It's very versatile," he says. "It can easily substitute for rice. It's amazing what flavors it adds to a dish."
Peter's food caught the eye of fitness trainers in Olympia recently, when he was invited to cook for clients and staff at Progressive Body Training Systems. Peter featured a sample low-fat nutritious meal using his favorite Bluebird Grain Farms products: Split Emmer Farro and Old World Cereal. "I cooked the Old World Cereal with cinnamon, vanilla, raisins, and walnuts," he says, "and everyone kept telling me 'this could be a dessert!'" His split farro tuna-asparagus wrap was as big a success; a blend of yogurt and split farro acted as a binder for the tuna and lightly steamed asparagus and it was reportedly "the hit of the evening." The meals demonstrated how the use of local heirloom grains can enhance fitness training and nutrition programs.
"Each ingredient and every dish has a story to tell," says Peter. We're betting that Dover Point Gourmet's edible story is one you'll want to hear again and again.
For more information about Chef Peter Witt and Dover Point Gourmet Private Chefs, visit his website.