In This Edition:
Fried Farro with Asparagus
Notes from the Farmer
Culinary Coordinator for Central Market
Poem: To A Child
Notes from the Farmer
Quail song is for early mornings these sudden hot, hot May days. Hummingbirds hardly visit the feeder of organic sugar with the real sugar bursting from all the cherry and apple blossoms. Meadowlarks are almost too hot to give us evenings notice, while ducklings – barely the size of golf balls – somehow surf the swollen river as winters undoing has come upon us here in the Methow, that fast!
Who would have guessed that the early April snow squall would be the last of this spring’s moisture? Who would have guessed we’d all be seeking shade this early and I swear, I’ve been hearing crickets at night, not frogs. Who would have guessed we’d be irrigating our early cover crops so soon? And pre-irrigating the seedbeds for our grain? All of this is happening as this e-newsletter goes to print. We are thankful to have irrigation capabilities. As I see the volume of water racing past by the second, it is nice to put some of that Pasayten wilderness water on the fields!
Wherever there is heat, there generally is fire and the fire has put the heat on this farmer to get crops planted! We are at it full throttle. Our early cover crops are up and we began sowing grain this week with our new and well-built Great Plains drill that Walt and I had fun calibrating. We’ve done most of our cultivating following up our mineral application, and now are making seed beds one field ahead at a time so that we’ve acreage to plant while we prep the rest. This is made easier with a third tractor now, as we’ve leased a machine for the summer so that we have 2 full-time tractors in the fields. This way, the very important work here at the granary of cleaning, milling and shipping you all “the goods” goes on uninterrupted.
Our friends at Walter Implement were timely with delivering the new drill and brought the drill and tractor on the same load just in time. As much as we think and talk about the soil, farming even at our smaller scale for grains requires necessary and quite a variety of good, ole’ machinery! As with any job, the right tools can make all the difference.
In a week we should have most of our grains in - hopefully in time for some rain? While I’ve seen it this dry in the valley before, I don’t recall such early heat. It will give us something to talk about around the fire in a couple weeks when it snows!!
The good news is, as harried as the weather is making us for the time being, we know our grains are very resilient and there is plenty of ground moisture to bring-up the crop which still is my preferred way of germination. Let the plants come on their own and they will be stronger and more vibrant in the end. We hit the fields with a light watering mostly just to keep down the dust.
We love that you customers all enjoy our products as much in the spring as in the summer, fall and winter! Thank you. We’re excited about putting in as big of a crop this year as ever. We look forward to seeing what Mother Nature decides to do next!
Happy Mothers Day.
Yours, Farmer Sam
News and Announcements from Brooke
Bluebird Bulk Items are on Special in all Town and Country Markets in the greater Seattle area for the month of May.
We will be attending the UNFI Tabletop Show June 5,6, & 7, Wholesalers please stop by our booth in the Local Roots section.
Memorial Day Weekend, Bluebird will be starting the Twisp Farmers Market. We hope to be there weekly through July, off for August, and back for September.
Today at the 49er parade I ran into a few Methow Moms, we happened to be all wearing the same Blubird T-shirt, I had to snap a photo.
To a Child
by Sophie Jewett
The leaves talked in the twilight, dear;
Hearken the tale they told;
How in some far-off place and year,
Before the world grew old.
I was a dreaming forest tree,
You were a wild, sweet bird
Who sheltered at the heart of me
Because the north wind stirred;
How, when the chiding gale was still,
when peace fell soft on fear,
You stayed one golden hour to fill
My dream with singing, dear.
To-night the self-same songs are sung
the first green forests heard;
My heart and the gray world grow young-
To shelter you, my bird.
Source: The Poetry Foundation
Recipe of the Month:
Fried Farro with Asparagus
Recipe from Town & Country Markets Central Market Mill Creek - Culinary Resource Center
1 cup (uncooked) Bluebird Grain Farms Organic Whole Grain Emmer Farro, rinsed
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Oil for frying
4 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts), divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 generous cup asparagus (about 1/2 pound), sliced diagonally in 1/4-inch pieces
Soy sauce to taste
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Place Farro in a saucepan covered with lightly salted water by a few inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and cool (can be done a day ahead).
Combine eggs and sesame oil; set aside. Lightly coat a large non-stick pan or wok with oil and heat to medium-high. Add garlic and white part of green onions; stir-fry about 10 seconds. Add asparagus; stir-fry about 30 seconds or until bright green. Add cooked Farro and toss until warmed through.
Push Farro and asparagus aside to one half of pan. Add a little more oil to empty side of pan and add egg. Do not disturb until almost set. Stir into Farro, breaking egg into pieces. Toss in remaining green onion and season very lightly with soy sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve hot.
This dish readily accepts variations! Add whatever fresh vegetables are in season. Try kale, shredded carrots, summer squash, cabbage, or fresh green peas.
Jenny Nichols, Culinary Coordinator Town & Country's Central Market Mill Creek
Like many people, Jenny Nichols was impacted professionally by the events of September 11Th, 2001. “In the spring of 2001 I’d been working at a law firm as a paralegal for a couple of years,” she says, “and I had taken the summer off to travel. I planned to go back to work in the fall.” But after 9/11 no one was hiring, and Jenny became part of a vast wave of young professionals who went back to school.
After graduating from Seattle Culinary Academy, Jenny worked in a variety of restaurants as a line cook and pastry chef. “I had always been around restaurants and food in that way,” says Jenny, adding by way of explanation, “In college I majored in musical theater—of course I had restaurant jobs.” Jenny wasn’t looking to get out of line cooking, but in 2006 a friend showed her the job posting for a Culinary Coordinator at Town & Country’s Central Market Mill Creek and she was intrigued. “I had been shopping at one of the other Central Markets,” says Jenny. “During my time as in the law firm I was in there every day, looking for new things to cook as a way to be on my feet and release some of the tension that built up at work. I loved the store. I thought, ‘Why not?’”
Like the other Town & Country Markets (a family of five grocery stores in the Puget Sound area), Central Market Mill Creek is committed to providing fresh, high-quality food to people as well as providing them with resources and ideas for how to cook that food. This is where Jenny (as well as the three other Culinary Coordinators at the other Town & Country Market branches) comes in. “I provide the human connection between food and people,” says Jenny.
Shoppers come through the markets all day, Jenny explains, and most of them seem to be looking for a single thing: an idea about what to cook for dinner that night. The staff at the culinary resource centers in the markets can help shoppers figure out recipes that taste great and save the shoppers time and money. “Time is a huge factor,” says Jenny. “People work and they don’t have a lot of time, but they want to eat well. We can help them figure out strategies for cooking that save time.”
Additionally, she points out, the folks in the culinary resource centers in the markets help shoppers gain the confidence they need to try a new food or test a new preparation method. “It’s really amazing how many people will try things for the first time,” says Jenny. “Whether it’s something like mussels or a new grain, like Bluebird Grain Farms' farro, there’s just this ‘aha!’ moment when they realize they like it. And then we can help them figure out how to cook it at home.”
Bluebird’s organic whole-grain emmer farro provided the culinary coordinators an excellent opportunity to introduce shoppers to eating whole grains in a flavorful and versatile way. “At the time that the farro started coming through the store, everybody was into quinoa” says Jenny, “But then this farro showed up and became the center-of-the-plate thing that everyone was talking about.” Jenny uses the veggiesin both savory and sweet recipes, the latter sometimes involving cooking the grain in apple juice and honey and tossing with fresh fruit and yogurt.
With in-store daily cooking demonstrations, a treasure trove of recipes available online, culinary resource videos that demonstrate how to do everything from slicing a mango to boning a salmon, and an email list advertising sale items, the Town & Country Markets are clearly committed to helping shoppers become more confident cooks. They’re also interested in helping people eat seasonally and economically. “We select our cooking demos based on what’s on sale in the store,” Jenny points out. “We also offer occasion-based demos.” Mostly, however, culinary resources are directed at helping shoppers prepare food that is available and good, whether that’s potato salad and salmon in the summer or chili and slow-roasted meats in the winter.
Still, some customers can be hard to please. Take for example the 3-year-old and 6-year-old Jenny cooks for every day. “My kids are so picky,” sighs Jenny, echoing the complaint of parents everywhere. Since having children, Jenny has become adept at creating meals that can be “deconstructed,” in her words, cooking in a way that the adults like while retaining distinct elements that can be pulled out for the kids. She’s also committed to whole grains, so even if her children favor breads and pasta, at least they’re only getting whole-wheat versions. Jenny has also discovered that that her children will eat vegetables as long as they’re pickled (the vegies, not the kids); if she drizzles a little vinegar on the produce the kids gobble it right up. It’s this kind of invention and commitment to healthy eating that Jenny employs both at home and in the store—helping people figure out appealing ways to eat fresh and nutritious foods.
To learn more about Town & Country Markets or to sign up for one of their email lists, visit their website.