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Archive for the ‘Gold Forest Grains’ Category

Cob Oven Bread

09.07.12

I’m not sure quite what to say about the fact that I’ve had this lovely oven for months now, and today was the first time I actually intentionally baked bread. In my defense, I shall say: pizza, roast and braised meats, pies, loaves, deep frying, and smoked bacon. It’s interesting that a lot of folks think wood oven and think ‘bread’, yet it took me so long to get to it. It speaks to the over-performing-versatility of the thing. I know many of your are convinced, and I tip my hat to those of you who either have built one since I built mine, or are going to, due to my constant prodding. It makes me deeply content to know a few cob ovens adorn our city that didn’t before, simply because I shared my experience with mine.

For a guy who’s far from obsessed with perfecting bread, I’m pretty pleased with this one. Overnight ferment of 50% Gold Forest Grains’ hard whole wheat. About 80% hydration. That’s all there is to say about it. It’s bread. Baked in a wood oven. The one thing I did that some would scorn is I baked it with the last of a fire in the back, with the door open. Most would pull coals and close the door for more even heat and a higher humidity bake. That would have removed the pleasure of watching it and turning it as I saw fit. Really solid oven spring, nice toast. Now to get to eating it.

From The Farmers’ Mouth – Time to Vote

12.21.11

My highlight reel of ‘From Local Farms‘ videos was just chosen by Daniel and Mirra of The Perennial Plate as a top-four contender in their recent video competition. I’m honored to be on the list, to say the least. The very reason I started a video series at all was directly because of Daniel and Mirra’s earliest episodes – inspiring me to pick up a cheap Flip camera, introduce myself to some farmers, and press some record button. My life, quite literally, has not been the same since.

So a big thank you goes out today to Daniel, Mirra, all the passionate farmers, and especially to you for taking the time to watch what other folks have to say about our food world. You plugging into and supporting projects like The Perennial Plate matters – it creates cracks in a food culture needing to evolve.

Please click over here to like the video on facebook, and vote for it too while you’re at it. If the vid wins the day, it will replace the regular programming of The Perennial Plate next Monday, exposing it to a very large viewership of like minded folks across many borders. That would be very cool. Even if it doesn’t, big thanks to Daniel and Mirra for your support of what I’m up to and sharing your audience.

‘The Harvest’ w/ Chef Brittany Watt

11.16.11

I met Britt a few months ago, when the proprietor of the restaurant she was then working at introduced us. I promised her some plants, she came to get them and came for dinner, and I still haven’t managed to get her those plants. I think she and I get along because we’re both pretty hardcore when it comes to our values around food, and neither of us care much for beating around the bush. We were able to get out mushroom foraging this summer, and it looks like she’ll be jumping in on helping Allan Suddaby and I butcher elk this weekend. So there you have it: disclosure of bias + an explanation of why I was at her event, all wrapped into one.

Anyway, long story short: she’s started up her own gig, was having an ‘after hours’ harvest dinner geared entirely around farmers’ market vendor ingredients [NOT a normal activity around here], and invited me to attend as her guest. If you want to read a lovely blog post, Liane happened to be there. Read hers. I lack her eloquence. What I can tell you is that those chefs leading the way in their industry towards a real local and seasonal approach to food have my support. I’m unusual, with all my DIY/grow-it-kill-it-make-it-yourself stuff – I get it. I also get that many folks that eat out have similar values around local, seasonal, ethical food, and if I can support the chefs blazing the way in industry that serves the masses, I will.

Because I, quite honestly, hate writing about events [or worse, organizing them, don't ask me to do that], do enjoy the video below. It delivers far more than I could via writing and a few pictures. Last thought: get down to the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market not just to shop, but to eat, as Britt now runs the concession. The menu blew me away, as it actually serves up food sold by the vendors under that very roof. Well done, whoever lined up this long-time-needed change [and I know who you are]. Well done.

An Afternoon with Bread

02.04.11

Life’s pace slowed for a moment today, so out came the flours. I made 3 doughs. 1] 50% Highwood Crossing Unbleached White, 50% Gold Forest Grains Whole Wheat. 2] 50% Highwood Crossing Unbleached White, 50% Gold Forest Grains Rye and 3] 100% Highwood Crossing Unbleached White. So a white, a whole wheat, and a rye. All with roughly 80% hydration, 1ml salt and active dry yeast per 100g flour.

The whole wheat seemed to proof the fastest, and was the most slack. Next was the rye, and then the white – which is odd, perhaps attributable to the white flour being cold [straight out of the cellar].

Below is a photo essay illustrating the doughs post ferment/pre final rise; the probe thermometer reading internal loaf temps inside my temp wood fired oven [grateful, as they cooked faster than anticipated]; the finished loaves [the white a tad small as some dough was nicked to make a small pizza for lunch while the oven was really hot]; my use of the coals when pulled out to bake: grilled some bugers for dinner; and lastly, a quick shot of the oven walls white from exceeding 600F [I think], burning off any residual soot.

Local Organic Pasta

01.28.11

Bias disclaimer. I think John and his farm are fantastic. There, I’ve said it. If you want to formulate your own opinion on him and his farm, watch the From Local Farms episode about their farm. Yesterday was the FIRST time their farm attended a farmer’s market EVER. Which marked the first time their organic local flours were available on some form of retail level to folks like us. Some well respected bakers around town were hooked up – but now it’s our turn. I’m excited.

Local organic grain is important to me. I’ve often driven around the outskirts of the city, looking at the crops around town, wondering why they didn’t supply our local market with top-end food. Gold Forest Grains is one of the few farmers that are extremely local to Edmonton, which presents a challenge with the inherent high costs of production [anyone notice real estate isn't cheap around here?].

So I left the market with their current lineup: organic whole grain wheat [hard red spring], organic whole grain rye, organic whole grain pastry/pasta flour [soft white wheat], and flax. They also produce legumes, farm-killed organic beef, and other things worth paying attention to as they get their products to the local market.

This morning we tackled whole grain rye pancakes, as John had written about on his blog. Lovely, and I recommend cooking them for quite a bit longer than you would for other pancakes, as the crust that forms on the rye is truly delicious, and they don’t tend to overcook quickly. Quite the opposite. But I had promised John some whole grain pasta from his flour. My daughters would eat pasta with butter and salt exclusively if I allowed it. The potential for their pasta consumption to go 100% local and loaded with fiber and nutrients appealed to my paternal instincts.

First off, Gold Forest Grains‘ organic pasta flour is not what what I’m accustomed to working with. I normally use Divella Tipo ’00’ for pasta. It provides silky awesomeness and feels like air. This stuff, not surprisingly, has fiber. Density. It’s coarser than I’m used to and honestly, I thought I was in for a disaster when I tried to put it through the first thickness of my hand-crank pasta maker. Solution: start it by rolling with a rolling pin. From there, it went far better. I ended on both thickness settings 4 and 6 with equal success, and cut it into a fettucine width with no problem.

Oh. Recipe. Right. 250g flour, 2 Green Eggs & Ham duck eggs, and a couple pinches of salt. Bring it together, and let it rest for a few hours. That’s as ‘recipe’ as I get.

Bottom line on the pasta making: it’s a different beast. I’m going to be messing with a combo of Tipo ‘OO’ to try to regain some of the texture – due to fussy toddlers more than for adult palates. I’ll also be sifting out the bran to make a finer dough – I’ll reserve it for pancakes where it doesn’t have the same mouthfeel impact. I’ll admit I was relieved when the toddlers finished their bowls, as despite all my efforts, they are still fussy little kids, and having them pound back stuff that’s healthful and local is still an achievement. Success, but tempered with room for improvement.

Lastly, ever the cheapass, the economics are necessary to forever prove a point. Cost of flour: $1.32. Cost of eggs: $1.33. Total: $2.65. Would serve 5, or $0.53/head. For organic local food. Not cheap enough? Make the noodles with water, and get to $0.26/head. Point is, organic, local foods need not break the bank. It can be done.

FROM LOCAL FARMS – Gold Forest Grains

09.22.10

Organic grains from just outside the city – a bit of a dream come true for me. I could buy organic bananas and skads of other items grown overseas, shipped, then trucked to me.  I could buy large sacks of organic flour from Anita’s Organic in Chilliwack, BC. But I couldn’t seem to find a good supplier of larger quantities of organic grains from the vast fields of cereal crops surrounding our city.  It didn’t make sense.

Problem solved. These folks are my new source. This episode was shot between Edmonton and Spruce Grove – other than Sundog Organic Farm actually IN the city limits, these folks are about as local as you can ask given the ridiculously high prices for land around the city. And this past spring, they bought a mill and started selling their products retail. Thank God for that.

As you’ll see, John’s very well spoken and informed, and is fighting the good fight supplying locally farmed organic grain retail rather than solely selling it into the international commodity market. He has an informative blog, which is going to allow me to defer to that for more information, and simply leave you to enjoy listening to John talk about who he is and what he does, addressing some of the issues surrounding grain farming – notably the disconnect between local organic feed and local organic livestock producers that came up in the comments of the Nature’s Green Acres episode.