Follow Your Food: Fields Farm

 

Organic agriculture goes back millennia, with roots as deep as any human tradition. Our connection with how to select, cultivate and prepare foods has evolved over generations of farmers and meals from the family hearth. That natural evolution eventually led to a point where the goal of food production rose above the level of subsistence, where technology allowed farming to become a smaller piece of our larger anthropology. Inevitably consolidating agriculture led to a smaller number of farmers growing over larger acreage. Farming then became less a natural development and more a field of study. Of course this has allowed the concentrated field of agricultural science to make profound discoveries in areas like crop genetics and advanced breeding techniques which matriculated  into large yields and global food distribution. However, in the creation of any industrial system there are unforeseen externalities; details that were either overlooked or not accounted for. For years now people have been talking about the ills of the “conventional” food system, and how it is a broken model. Stacks of articles have been written about how modern agriculture has contributed to land degradation, pollution, biodiversity loss, obesity, diabetes, inequality… the list goes on. One source of these problems, a factor that is easily overlooked, again, is that the greatest externality is a loss of knowledge. Yes, of course there is more research going into food than ever, but the kind of knowledge we are missing does not come from a classroom; the form of knowledge that faded comes from the land, and from each other.

That is how organic farming emerged as a movement. In the midst of consolidation, there were those among rural and urban populations who realized that they felt disconnected. What they were disconnected from was, and is a cultural heritage between people, the land, and food grown in it. This movement emerged then, and continues to this day, as a populous voice seeking to rewrite the modern definition of agriculture to include those details that were overlooked as seeds started to be bought through growing corporations, instead of shared between a community of growers. In a sense, the farmers that emerged during the organic revolution were pioneers on quest to journey back into human history and reconnect with the heritage of traditional farming.

Fields Farm has long been a curator of mindful agriculture here in Bend, beginning a quest for creating sustainable land. Jim and Debbie Fields began their journey into farming 27 years ago when they purchased their 10 acre plot, nestled right outside the heart of Bend. It began as a small gardening experiment, their initial goal was simply to connect with their roots and build a lifestyle around living off the land. Over time Jim an Debbie began to grow their hobby into a business by implementing a small CSA. They only started with 8 members, but Jim’s philosophy is to ‘start small, grow slowly and observe a lot’, much like natural adaptation in plants. By 2006 they had grown their CSA to 68 members, engaged in two farmers markets, and finding their way to sell some produce wholesale.

Over the years their growth as a business has meant that their knowledge of farming has grown along with it. What began as a backyard homestead has evolved into a goal to feed the Bend community without a carbon footprint. Jim reached this goal by holding to his same curiosity that drove he and Debbie closer to the land in the first place. Over years of observing the services plants provide to the ecosystem, they became more attuned to what the land needed to give back to complete the nutrient cycle. This led them to building their own foundation of soil health through composting non-commercial plant organic matter; however, further inspection of the wider community revealed that this process did not have to end with the 10 acre boundaries of Fields Farm. So, Jim approached Deschutes Brewery and gave them a way to recycle their wasted hops and spend grains back into the soil to foster new life. Instead of contributing to methane pollution in landfills, Deschutes contributes their organic wastes towards growing food for the community. Now, those gasses are taken out of the atmosphere and added to a soil amendment strategy that reduces more than just the farm’s carbon footprint. This example right here is how Jim and Debbie Fields are writing organic farming into the modern context of community, taking us closer to the old days when agriculture was the beating heart of human culture.

27 years of farming has imbedded a lot knowledge at Field’s Farm, extending from carbon neutrality to season extension, to crop rotations. Jim and Debbie have realized that this information contributes diminished service if it stays locked in their own brains; because, as mentioned earlier, the cultural heritage of farming is shared around the community. Without the help of caring, and insightful neighbors, there is no way that a beginning farmer can know what experience doesIf you talk to most any young farmer around Bend, they will go on about how much their operation has learned from the wised counsel of Jim and Debbie Fields. Currently Jim offers consultation services to aspiring growers in the area, a way of helping them learn from what years of experience have taught him. Knowledge not only enrichens the lives of producers, but for consumers as well. This is why Fields Farm hosts tours on site for school groups, so that the next generation of consumers grow up knowing where there food comes from, how it was grown, and why that is important.

Our world is so concerned with the pitfalls of humanity, that we forget that the objective world exists in our collective ability to care. Fields Farm cares, and through their individual work, the community is brought closer around the identity of healthy land and good food. Food is the foundation of knowledge and, no matter how far we stray away, will always be origin of culture. So, I guess my piece in this is to call to you to explore your origins by caring about your food as Jim and Debbie do.

Advertisements

Follow Your Food: Spring Latkes

Memorial Day is the unofficial marker of our transition from Spring into Summer. Now the sun rises early and sets late, giving plants longer hours of solar radiation for photosynthesis and metabolism. The increased photon energy provided by longer days allows for greater glucose sugar production. Naturally, as the plant makes more sugar, it must be allocated for storage. So, to keep up with energy production, the roots of certain species develop to accommodate the glut of glucose and store it as a carbohydrate. Over time this storage unit becomes a viable food crop, which we all enjoy in the form of a carrot or a beet. This trait to store increased energy is not ubiquitous among all species. Normally, it is either something represented in perennial plants, who must survive for a number of years or has been cultivated in annual plants from years of farming. Most plants would prefer to allocate available resources directly towards reproduction and setting a flower head. Eventually the fertilized flower develops into a fruiting body to provide life to a new generation, or to a hungry table. This requires an immense amount of energy, and if the plant has not met a critical mass of photosynthetic capacity, reproduction can stress a plant. So, it is critical that the season is right and the days are long to plant a fruiting crop. As Spring is to green, summer is to color; that color is derived by new growth in root and fruit crops. This week we saw an example the shape and color of early summer food with fresh Zucchini and Carrots.

Fortunately, for most, the introduction to summer is met with an extended weekend. I know how I will spend these long days ahead; sharing food and late afternoon memories with friends to grow our roots deeper.

This is an amended recipe to one I found online for some vegetable latkes (or fritters, whatever you prefer). I must say, this is an easy and delicious way to use seasonal produce, and nothing but seasonal produce. If you go online, there are a lot of iterations of this meal. I went with what worked best for the materials I had on hand. Find what works best for you. But here is a little kick to get you on your way…

Ingredients to serve 4 Latkes:

  • 2 small Zucchini, shredded (Groundwork Organics)
  • 3-4 medium Carrots, peeled and shredded (Organic Redneck)
  • 1 medium Potato, boiled and mashed (Rainshadow Organics)
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced (Groundwork Organics)
  • 1 Green Onion, chopped (Cinco Estrellas)
  • 1/4 tsp thyme (Sagestruck Herbary)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (Rainshadow Organics)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika, or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or both!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Half & Half

Cooking instructions:

  1. Begin by prepping your zucchini and carrots by shredding with a large-holed cheese grader. If you are like me and lack this piece of equipment, this can be done with some dextrous knife work. Transfer veggies to a collander, add the salt and mix. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Add the potato to water and boil until soft all of the way through. This can be accomplished more quickly if the potato is quartered beforehand. Remove potato to a bowl, add the half & half and mash.
  3. Add the Flour and Baking powder to a separate bowl and mix.
  4. Squeeze the veggies dry, using either just your hands or a cheesecloth, and transfer to a bowl. Add the Garlic, Paprika, Cayenne and Thyme. Mix together. Now add the mashed up potato, mix. Lastly, add the flour/baking powder and mix.
  5. Once mixed, grab a medium sized handful and pack into a ball, repeat 3 times. Place the uncooked latkes on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes so that they hold form better while cooking.
  6. Heat up 2 Tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the packed latkes. Cook for 3-5 minutes and turn. They should be slightly charred and crisp when flipped. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Fin!

I did not have the ingredients at my disposal to make an adequate sauce for serving, but these would be amazing served with a yogurt based side. Perhaps yogurt, cucumber and lemon.

This was so easy, so good, and almost 100% local, that it may just become a staple in my diet.

Follow Your Food: Thai Chicken Larb

In my last post I talked about how food is a vehicle to connect with culture outside of our own, and did a recipe on Thai Red Curry to bring some eastern flavor into our Kitchen, and the curry was just awesome. Also, this time of year there is a lot of fresh, brassicas growing, which means cooking dishes with sharp mustard flavors and Asian origin. So, naturally, this time around I wanted to continue the Thai trend. It is also the advent of regional spring lettuce season. Crisp, turgid lettuce leaves provide the perfect vessel for wrapping up a lot of flavor without soaking in juices. Now, I am not opposed to wiping my plate clean with a hearty piece chunk of baguette; but for the sake of the spring, the juicier, the better!

The lettuce I am using comes from this week’s produce box. These mixed varieties of romaine and red leaf come from James of Radicle Roots Farm, which is a sustainable market garden located just 12 miles outside of Bend. Their philosophy is simple, “healthy soil grows healthy food, which is the underlying principal for cultivating a reciprocally sustainable agrarian system. As first generation farmers, their goal is to bring vibrant energy and a passion for future generations to our local food system. I will write more about James and Radicle Roots at a later date, once I can get out to the farm with him and dig into his operation. But for now, let his lettuce speak as a testament to their quality care and fresh produce.

I was talking with James this Tuesday when he came by to drop off his produce for the week, and inspired me on the idea of using his lettuce as a wrap. So I set off to find a good recipe for lettuce wraps, and found one that incorporates Thai Larb (or Laap).  Larb is the national dish of Laos and has been incorporated into the culinary  tradition northern Thailand where there ay many people of Laotian descent. It combines raw or cooked minced meat, spices, mint, basil and is often served on lettuce leaves. It is traditionally a spicy dish, where spice adds complexity into the flavor of a dish. Southeast Asian meals derive their spice from capsicum chilis, cumin, garlic, and ginger. The watery lettuce leaves counterbalance the heat, and cool your palate at the end of a bite. This provides a rather refreshing physical experience to dining on a warm, sunny day. Since it is not quite pepper season in the high desert, I brought in spice with red chili flakes, garlic from Groundwork Organics and ginger from Bob at Tumalo Fish and Vegetable Farm. And because it is the aforementioned spring brassica season, I chopped up some of Windflower Farms asian greens to add some mustardy zest into the mix.

I pulled my recipe from one I found by Williams Sonoma. Due to what I had in the pantry, and what is available seasonally, I made some adjustments. No doubt it is good with or without amending the original format.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, since that is what is in my pantry)
  • 2 Tbs Asian sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and light green portions
  • 1 1/2 Tbs peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (I would also recommend finding a red thai chili to cook in)
  • 1 1/4 lb ground chicken (I used chicken thighs, which I diced up myself)
  • Lettuce leaves for serving
  • Bean sprouts and fresh cilantro and basil leaves for serving
    • I did not have either the basil or the sprouts, but I did add in sliced hakurei turnips from Windflower Farm as a garnish, which was spot on

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Set aside.
  2. In a wok or large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add half the soy sauce mixture and cook 1 minute more.
  3. In a wok or large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add half the soy sauce mixture and cook 1 minute more.
  4. To serve, spoon about 3 Tbs. of the chicken mixture into a lettuce leaf, top with bean sprouts, cilantro and basil, and wrap the lettuce around the filling. But that is just the recommended serving style. To do this family style, I put all of the add ons on a few plates and allowed for self serve. Put the the remaining soy sauce mixture alongside in a small bowl for dipping

This dish is just amazing, and I cant even imagine how much better it would be if I had some basil, bean sprouts and thai chilis on hand…

 

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary & Garlic

roasted-brussels-sprouts-and-fingerling-potatoes-with-rosemary-6793-3

If you are getting a produce box from Agricultural Connections this week, you’ll likely have fingerling potatoes. One of the best things to do with potatoes in general is to roast them. Many of you may have roasted potatoes before; this recipe adds brussels sprouts which is a fun way to add veg to your meal as well. Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables. Don’t let the soggy brussels sprouts from your childhood stop you from trying them roasted. They are really quite wonderful and full of flavor. Today’s recipe is from the lovely Oh She Glows recipe blog. Enjoy!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary & Garlic
Serves 4-5 as a side

1 part brussels sprouts
2 parts fingerling potatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh minced rosemary
1 tbsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp Sucanat (unrefined cane sugar) (optional)
3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and scrub potatoes and pat dry. Slice in half lengthwise and place into large mixing bowl. Cut off stem of brussels sprouts and remove loose outer leaves. Rinse and pat dry. Place in bowl. Add the minced garlic, minced rosemary, oil, optional Sucanat, salt, pepper, and optional red pepper flakes into the bowl along with the potatoes and sprouts. Toss with your hands to combine and place on baking sheet. Roast for 35-38 minutes at 400F, stirring once half way through baking. Potatoes will be golden and brussels will be lightly charred when ready. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2012/10/08/roasted-fingerling-potatoes-and-brussels-sprouts-with-rosemary-and-garlic/#ixzz2ZoNRfijS

Spaghetti and Collard Greens “Carbonara”

20130427-204151

The recipe and photos in the post come from the lovely blog Steph’s Apartment Kitchen. I couldn’t make myself post a recipe for traditional wilted-to-death collard greens … I just couldn’t. Do real people actually like them like that? Well, I found an alternative for the non-adventurous of us. Hope you enjoy!

Spaghetti and Collard Greens “Carbonara”
Serves 2

1/2 lb spaghetti or bucattini
4 oz. guanciale (cured pork jowls) or pancetta
2 large eggs
1 bunch collard greens, washed and dried
1 small shallot, diced
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano and/or pecorino romano
olive oil
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
salt

Bring to boil a large pot of [heavily] salted water. While you are waiting for this to boil, prepare your shallots. Then, your collard greens. Cut the leaves away from the stems. Stack these on top of each other and roll, like a cigar. Chiffonade into thin ribbons. Also, dice up the guanciale.

In a large, shallow pan, heat up some olive oil on medium high heat. Add your shallots and guanciale. Stir until brown and crispy at the edges and the mixture is fragrant. Now, add the chiffonaded collard greens. Sautee around until soft. Add a generous pinch of salt and lots of pepper. Stir it around as it wilts. Once it’s cooked and soft, turn off the heat.

Once the water is boiling, add your spaghetti. Cook until just before al dente. Using tongs, add this to your sautee pan along with a 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water.

Working quickly, add your two eggs directly to the pasta. Pour the grated cheese right over. Using tongs again, break up the eggs and mix it up in the pasta, coating everything. The egg shouldn’t scramble at all, since the burner is off. Be sure to constantly move the pasta around. If it gets dry at all, add more pasta water. It should be nice and glossy, as depicted in the above picture. Another generous heap of freshly cracked black pepper.

The pasta should be nice and creamy, with strong pepper flavor . Taste. Add more salt if necessary. Top with more black pepper before serving.

20130427-204229

Roasted Cauliflower, Sage and Almond Risotto

roasted-cauliflower-sage-and-almond-risotto-1

Roasted Cauliflower, Sage and Almond Risotto
Serves 4

5 cups cauliflower, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
¼ cup chopped almonds
1 bunch sage, leaves picked
1.5 liters hot chicken stock
4 Tbs butter
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cup aborio rice
½ cup dry sherry
½ cup finely grated parmesan
Taleggio or strongly flavored cheese, sliced

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place the cauliflower, oil, salt and pepper on a baking tray and toss to coat. Roast for 15 minutes, add the almonds and half the sage and roast for a further 5–8 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside and keep warm.
Place the stock in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Chop the remaining sage and add to the pan with the rice and sherry. Cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes or until the sherry is absorbed. Gradually add the stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring continuously for 25–30 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and rice is al dente. Stir through parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon into serving bowls. Top with Taleggio (an Italian washed rind cheese available from delicatessens) and the cauliflower mixture to serve.

Let us know what you think!

Recipe is adapted from Donna Hay.

Grilled Zucchini and Squash Flatbread

heatherbullard_flatbread-107

Grilled Zucchini & Squash Flatbread
Serves 2-4

16 oz. store-bought pizza dough or homemade
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/2 red onion
1/4 c feta cheese
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil, plus 1 1/2 Tbs reserved
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4-5 basil leaves

Cut zucchini, squash and red onion in 1/4″ slices, add to a shallow dish. Mix 1 Tbs of olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper and pour over vegetables. Marinate 30 minutes. Remove pizza dough from refrigerator, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and insert baking stone in oven. If you don’t have one, insert a baking sheet. Heat up your grill and proceed with grilling all the vegetables.
Lightly flour your work surface and form the dough into desired shape. Brush with the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs of olive oil. Arrange vegetables on top of dough. Sprinkle with feta cheese.
Bake for 9-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Chiffonade basil leaves and sprinkle over pizza.

Enjoy!

heatherbullard_flatbread-1051

Recipe and photos from Heather Bullard.