Artisanal Baker Chosen for Beyond The Kitchen Farm Dinners

After spending a little bit of time and “research” (read – eating), we have decided on a local baker to use for Beyond the Kitchen farm dinners.  The choice was made for several reasons.  Not only is the quality some of the best, but the story of this bakery and the history involved are a perfect fit for what we are all about.

1908 this place opened as a bakery in St. Helena and is continuing the tradition to this day.  Rechristened as the Model Bakery over 25 years ago, they still bake out of the same brick ovens that were originally installed in the 1920’s.  While I have yet to try them, I hear the english muffins are killer.

Straw Bale Garden In the Works

I first heard about this technique a couple of months ago.  The idea is that you can start the composting process in the bales by letting nitrogen (in my case, organic chicken manure) soak into them and allow them to “cook” over the space of a week.  (See previous post for details).  

Now that we have started our rainy season, I have purchased 4 bales of straw and have set them out into our mini farm.  My “farm hands” spread the manure over the tops and soaked them in real good.  We’ll continue the soaking process a couple of times a day unless it’s raining.  Hopefully these guys will start heating up real well and maybe we’ll see some mushrooms poking out.

After the bales cool down when the reaction subsides, the natural nitrogen in the straw will be available for whatever we want to plant.  We will be using them mostly for micro kale, micro cucumbers, pea tendrils, red vein sorrel, and nasturtiums for our Beyond the Kitchen farm dinners.  It’s gonna be great!

The Slaughtering of Animals

I had the opportunity to join a small farm as the called in a small, mobile slaughter truck that came in and slaughtered a cow and a Mulefoot hog.  It was a calm and quick .22 shot to the head.  The use of a mobile unit coming to the farm is preferred because the pigs live a happy, healthy life on the farm and to truck them away would add undue stress.  They were then processed in the space of about 30-40 minutes a piece.  It was amazing to watch, but unnerving at the same time.  I appreciate animals for food so much more now.  What was even more amazing was listening to the slaughterer and the farmer discuss the current affairs of big agribusiness and factory farms and how sad the condition of our food supply system is in.  My new favorite quote is the farmer saying “Pigs in factory farms are merely holograms of the real thing.”   The following pictures are a bit graphic.

 

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Local Wheat

Here is a pic of the wheat we grew here at the Inn from some local seed stock…  I have never actually seen wheat growing.  It’s a blast teaching the kids about wheat and how you make bread and cereal and all the wonderful other things that are associated with it.  True food, not processed.

Hawaiian Tombo Tuna

Found a use for these great Oregon pickled ramps.  I’m pairing them with a salad of crispy Spring new potatoes, grilled asparagus, pepper bacon and a cider-mustard vinaigrette.  It’s finished with avocado puree, hard boiled egg and micro turnips/pea tendrils from our kitchen garden.  Can’t wait for the local albacore tuna season to open up!

Our Micro Greens Revisited

So, I took the plunge and purchased a 50 liter bag of “Hydroton”.  This is the clay like rocks I started experimenting with to grow microgreens under out grow lights in the kitchen.  It cost $35 and we are now converting all our indoor growing operations to utilize it.  Our most recent planting includes pea tendrils, micro radish and micro beets.  The tendrils have been tested and work great (see prior post) but the other items have yet to be seen.  Germination has already taken place after just 2 days.

Wild Columbia River Sturgeon

The restaurant is known for it’s Salmon and Halibut on the menu that we feature year round.  People come looking for it.  As the customer demand dictates that we must have this available all the time, I have started trying to focus on other fish that we can offer that may, perhaps, sway some guests into discovering how delicious local, fresh fish can be.  Remember, ALL food we consume has a season.  Just because it can be purchased year long does not mean that it’s at it’s best year long.  With this in mind, I have been really trying to utilize some of the wild Columbia River sturgeon we have available.  This fish is truly amazing.  It is an ancient species that swam with the dinosaurs.  It has a rich history in the Columbia River.  The sous vide sturgeon we have on the menu is garnering a lot of attention.  Here we have another application.  It smokes up great.  We will probably feature this smoked sturgeon for our mother’s day brunch.  It came out delicious!

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