In This Edition:
Bluebird featured in Sunset Magazine
Cranberry frangipane crostata
Notes from the farmer
Pick Up Thanksgiving Grains on November 20Th: Ballard Market
Holiday granary tours slated
Notes from the Farmer
In last month’s letter I hinted at a great grain crop up-valley that Bluebird spring planted very late. This crop took off and grew beautifully and was just about cured for harvest when the October rains began. At that time, I couldn’t guess whether or not we’d get this crop harvested or not and spooky thoughts jumped around. Alas, wait and try our patience as Mother so often does, she turned and gave us a beautiful week of “Indian Summer” later in October and indeed we were able to reap what we’d sown. Big time. Truth to tell, it was our biggest emmer crop from the Mazama fields, and perhaps from any of our fields. Oh, it was a thing of beauty, alright… Better lucky than smart.
Though we try and not push our luck, I suppose every farming year is an exercise in pushing ones luck, though this crop was a bit of an extreme case. Despite the delayed (too wet) planting, we went ahead and did all the things we’d normally do to a crop: (irrigate, foliar feed etc) despite knowing it may be a loss. And, well, we got lucky and mostly feel blessed.
What’s more, we’ve had the weather since to chop up all the heavy straw, disc, and just yesterday got down all our microbes and enzymes to help turn that bounty of organic matter back into future soil. Amen. And with that, after a few other odds and ends, we’re nearing the end to another very eventful and yes, I’d say successful farming season. Funny, I don’t even find myself shedding tears...
As always, we’re ever grateful for the continued support all you customers give us. We’ve got the business, thanks to you and now we know for another year, we have the grain! As well, we give our thanks to Mother Nature and I thank our employees and most of all I thank my wife and two children.
I’ve likely mentioned before that November may be my favorite month. I love the sharp light, the bare quiet land, the brisk air that makes you really know you’re alive. It is a wonderful time to be out of doors and certainly a time one doesn’t mind being in. So I hope many of you get to spend some time gathered-round this Thanksgiving eating, laughing and most of all, feeling “lucky” for the good life many of us have while at the same time, thinking of ways to help those less fortunate.
Your farmer, Sam
Bluebird News & Events
YES, Bluebird Grain Farms was featured in this month's Sunset Magazine. The article features several farms based in the West with some great Thanksgiving recipes. Go out and get a copy today!
Our next market is November 20Th: Ballard Farmers market. Please place any special requests by November 11Th. For a list of wonderful Thanksgiving recipes go to our homepage.
Pasta Flour Now On line!
Check out our new product: Pasta Flour. Our freshly milled Pasta Flour is a unique blend of two grinds of Emmer Flour that delivers a rich, nutty rustic pasta that compliments any sauce. Chef John Platt of St. Clouds Restaurant has included a simple, easy to use recipe that is included on the back of the package. This flour will inspire you to have your own fresh made pasta within minutes! The dough can be rolled and cut by hand or used in a pasta extruder.
Holiday Tours Slated: December 3rd & 17th. 10:30 am to Noon. Join us for our annual Holiday granary tour and gift basket assembly. Eat emmer coffee cake and order one to be sent to Auntie Mae (more on that later), tour our facility, buy grain for your loved ones.
If you have any topics or questions that you would like our newsletter to address please give us a shout- we welcome your ideas and comments!
Remember: We send gift baskets.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Recipe of the Month: Cranberry frangipane crostata
featured in November issue of Sunset Magazine, Page 72
This month's issue of Sunset Magazine features a farm to table dinner from a host of Western farms. We were honored to be featured and delighted by their crostata recipe that uses our Whole Grain Emmer Flour. I followed the below recipe with one change, instead of using all purpose flour I combined our hard white whole grain flour with Emmer Flour. The crostata was delicate to work with yet the trade off of 100% fresh milled flour was extraordinary!
3/4 cup each emmer farro flour and all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 T. sugar, divided
1/3 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
1 large egg
1 T. emmer farro flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
Make pastry: In a food processor, pulse flours and salt to mix. Add butter and whirl 3 seconds. Drizzle in 1/3 cup ice water, pulsing until mixture comes together in a shaggy ball but still has bits of butter showing. Form into a disk, wrap airtight, and chill at least 2 hours. Make filling: Beat butter and 1/4 cup plus 2 T. sugar in a bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Switch to low speed, then blend in almonds, then egg, then flour, extracts, and salt until combined.
Stir together cranberries, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 T. water in a medium bowl. Set aside. Roll pastry on a floured work surface into a 14 in. circle, turning pastry over and dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Trim edges, then transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Spread frangipane over pastry, leaving a 3 inch border. Top frangipane with cranberries. Fold border of dough up and over cranberries, pleating dough as you go(berries will be uncovered in center). Press on pleats to seal. Then transfer crostata on parchment to a rimmed baking sheet. Chill 30 minutes(otherwise pastry will ooze).
Preheatoven to 375 degrees. Brush crust with egg wash. Bake crostata until deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Loosen from pan with spatula while still hot.Copyright: November 2011, Sunset Magazine
Customer Profile: John Bonica of Tappi, Twisp
Walk into Tappi in Twisp, WA, and you almost feel as if you’ve been invited into someone’s large kitchen for supper. Elegantly rustic décor creates a cozy atmosphere and a brick pizza oven spills heat and light into the heart of the dining area. The environment reflects owner John Bonica’s upbringing in his parents’ Italian kitchen. John’s parents were Sicilian and Venetian immigrants who, among other things, passed down to him a culture of making guests feel like part of the family. “My parents were always entertaining,” says John. His father was a pioneer in the field of pain management and obstetrics and other doctors and researchers from around the world came to work with him. John’s parents made sure that these visitors were taken good care of, with home-cooked meals, good wine, and engaging conversation. “In fact,” he adds, “it was not at all uncommon for me as a teenager to be told that I couldn’t go out that weekend because I was expected to help serve and pour wine for our guests.”
Although John didn’t receive any specific instruction in cooking, the lessons he absorbed about simple country fare from watching his mother stuck with him. “My mom grew up in neighborhoods in Brooklyn that hosted immigrant families from several regions in Italy,” John says, “and she cooked a variety of dishes that are distinctive to those regions. When I opened Tappi I said I would only cook those foods because they were the ones I loved.”
Tappi’s menu has a comforting appeal: lots of legumes, pasta, meats long-roasted and birds prepared simply, John’s mother’s lasagna and sauce recipes. It’s just what you would expect your Italian grandmother to cook for you, if you had one. And in fact, John describes a recent experience where an older woman came up to him after dinner with tears in her eyes and said “I haven’t had sauce like this since my grandmother died.”
“This is the way we’re supposed to eat,” says John. “Not just for special occasions, but every day.” We should be eating fresh foods prepared simply, he says, and taking time to linger over meals with a nice glass of wine. For John, a main ingredient of the invitation to linger is Tappi’s pizza oven, which John describes in loving, almost reverential, tones. “It’s the heart and soul of the restaurant,” John says. “It has its own character,” he continues. “It’s unforgiving because it’s so hot, it’s sort of like working with a large animal. It is constantly teaching me things, because I can mess something up so quickly in there.” The pizzas—along with everything else that spends any time in the oven—are irresistible, with inventive toppings and a crust with phenomenal crumb and elasticity. But the pizza oven also produces something less tangible—an ambiance that encourages guests to stay for a while, to chat with the “pizzialo”—the pizza maker.
John and Sam Lucy have been friends for years, so when Sam segued from reclamation work into growing crops, John was thrilled to hear that Sam was successful in growing emmer-farro. “This is heirloom grain from Italy,” he says, “just fine old genetically pure farro.” Tappi always features farro in some form on the menu, typically in the form of a warm farro salad. “I’ve developed several recipes that are just beautiful, very simple treatments,” says John. “I’ve got a vegetarian and vegan option, or I can make it with oven roasted tomatoes and parmesan cheese. People love it, it’s very satisfying.”
John wants Tappi to be one of those places that people stumble upon when they’re weary from a day of traveling. “They’re exhausted, they walk into this friendly, intimate atmosphere, and they feel like they can stay all evening,” he says, “and they just thank their lucky stars they found the place.” Now and then he has that experience himself, he says, and he loves being able to provide that environment to others, as if they’ve entered the welcoming fold of a friend’s home. Not surprising, for a boy raised in a home filled with family and guests enjoying food and wine together. “The irony is,” John says, “that my mom always daydreamed about having a little restaurant. Just a few tables, a comfortable place where people could stop for a long meal with friends and family.” Tappi, it turns out, is exactly the type of place she would have loved.