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!

New Cooking Demo Video

Here’s the latest video from KTVL Channel 10 West Coast Flavors.  Grab some popcorn and enjoy!

Pear Blossom Festival Tomorrow!

Southern Oregon produces a lot of pears for the world.  With so many pear trees, the blooms are quite a site.  Every year, my boss runs in the Pear Blossom Marathon and every year I make him a huge pasta dish to help him get his carb on.  Here’s this year’s rendition.  GOOD LUCK JERRY!!!

Cooking up a Story…

One of the most comprehensive websites I’ve come across that covers everything from people and local farms to sustainable living.  Stop by for the latest food news and how it affects you.  Great stuff.  “Bringing the people behind our food to life”.

 

 

Chicken Fried Pulled Pork.

Chicken Fried Steak?  Yeah.  How about Chicken Fried Pulled Pork?  We took our sous vide pork and pressed it into a terrine while it was hot and let it set over night.  Then it’s sliced and wrapped in chicken skin glued on with Activa.  After it sets, its coated in seasoned buttermilk and dredged in flour and fried.  Just like fried chicken, but it’s pulled pork.

Activa RM.

We just received our shipment of Activa RM today.  AKA Meat Glue, we will be using this in several different applications.  The enzyme transglutaminase has the ability to molecularly crosslink protein molecules together.  It does not discriminate against which kind of protein, so you can theoretically glue a piece of fish to a piece of pork if you wanted to, just as if that’s how nature intended it to be. 

Yeah… This is on my Christmas List…

Modernist Cuisine.  Consider this the culinary student’s 21st century text book.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Grilled Peaches, Fresh Corn Polenta and Garden Greens…

Garden Progress

Some new photos…

                         

First Harvest!

We harvested Giant Red Mustard, Blue Vein Kale, Pea Tendrils, Curley Cress and Cilantro, all in the micro stage.  It wasn’t a lot, but it’s starting!  Very exciting.  The weather’s warming up and things are starting to really grow.

Spring Garden Risotto

Peas, radish, asparagus, spinach and fennel with beet emulsion and pea tendrils.

Race Day Tomorrow

What do you feed your boss who has a 10 mile race in the Pear Blossom Festival tomorrow?  C-A-R-B-S!!

Spring Vegetable Pasta Agilo E Olio with Jumbo Shrimp…

 

 

GOOD LUCK JERRY!!!

Seeds of Change

We have been reconditioning our gardens and are just about ready to plant some seeds.  Tonight is suppose to get below freezing but we hope that the weather will soon hold.  Looking at planting heirloom tomatoes, red, purple, white, yellow and orange baby carrots, pickling cucumbers for pickles, summer squash, radish, herbs, herbs, herbs, baby broccoli, peas, kales, and whatever else I can squeeze out of this little area!

Greek Independance Day.

The celebration of Greek Independence Day on March 25th draws inspiration from one of the holiest days for Greek Orthodox Christians, the Annunciation of the Theotokos. This is the day that the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child. Bishop Germanos of Patras seized the opportunity by raising the banner of revolution, in an act of defiance against the Turks and marked the beginning of the War of Independence. Cries of Zito H Ellas and Eleftheria H Thanatos can still be heard today. These freedom fighters, or klephts as they were called, of Greece sacrificed much for their country. Kolokotronis, Nikitara, Karaiskakis, Bouboulina, and Mpotsaris are some of the heroes of the revolution.

The struggle for independence was supported abroad by intellectuals of the day. In addition to the Secret Society of Friends (Filiki Etaeria) and the Sacred Band (Ieros Lohos) prominent world figures including Lord Byron of England, Daniel Webster and Dr. Samuel Gridly Howe of the United States raised the interest level among Europeans and Americans.

After centuries of unsuccessful uprisings and failure of the Ottoman Empire to assimilate and convert the Greeks, The War of Independence began in 1821 rising up against 400 years of occupation and oppression by the Ottoman Turks. The origin of the Turkish occupancy began in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople (currently referred to as Istanbul). All true and faithful Hellenes living in their occupied homeland reacted to the Turkish oppression and resisted the attempts to deprive the Greeks of their heritage, their freedom and their religion. During the dark years of the Ottoman occupation, thousands were killed and tortured for attending church or teaching their children culture, history and language. It was the Greek Orthodox Church that helped to retain their very identity by the institution of Crypha Scholia (Hidden Schools).

For eight years the fighting ensued, until 1829, when the Sultan Mahmud II, facing Soviet troops at the gates of Constantinople, accepted Greek independence with the Treaty of Andrianople. Copyright 2002 Middlesex Media Exchange.

So, seeing as Platon is Greek (as he reminds me everyday), he has put on a Greek independence day wine dinner with everything Greek.  apparently he has put on these dinners every year for the past 200 years (or something like that).  I felt honored to be a part of this dinner and learned a lot about Greek food and tradition.  We had a belly dancer, Ouzo, lots of Greek (wine?), Platon’s magical storytelling and tons of fun.  Here are some shots of the food.  This was yet another sellout event.  Platon worked with us in the kitchen and produced about 99% of these items and they were super.

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