Artisan Producers, Cooking, Craftsmanship, Eat Good Food, Field Notes

Clay Cooking Transcends Time and Tradition

Clay cookware brings traditions to the kitchen and tenderness to recipes. Since their invention about 12,000 years ago, clay pots have been used for good cooking and good eating across cultures and geographies. Clay vessels have unique properties that make them ideal for roasting, baking, steaming, and braising. The porousness of the material allows for heat and moisture to slowly circulate around the dish while it cooks. This makes the resulting food more tender, juicy, and delicious.

There are health benefits associated with clay cooking. Recipes do not require as much oil or fat because clay naturally draws out the rich flavors by heating evenly and recirculating steam. Some claim that clay cooking retains vitamins and minerals that otherwise would be lost in the process. Also, the alkaline in clay balances out the acidity in food, which makes the flavors more coherent and rounded.

Cooking and serving in clay cookware encourages a certain thoughtfulness in the kitchen. Gathering for a slow-cooked meal becomes a sought-often moment of respite. We offer a selection of clay cookware pieces, each with a unique story to tell. These made-to-last vessels are a way to connect to traditional cooking techniques from around the world and make your own memories.


Chamba (La Chamba, Colombia)
Chamba cookware is handmade by local artisans in La Chamba, Colombia, out of natural clay. Each piece is burnished with stones and fired on site. Chamba earthenware pieces are unglazed; their distinctive black color coming from the clay and how they are fired in the kiln. We use Chamba dishes in our Café because they retain the heat well from our oven to your table. The smooth black finish makes the vessels appear strikingly modern. However, the origins of the vessel’s design can be traced back 700 years to pre-Columbian archaeological sites.

The Chamba roaster and bean pots are designed for cooking meats, stews, and pulses. The lid-less options are the Chamba Oval Platter for roasting and baking, and the Chamba Comal for heating tortillas and roasting chilies.


Oaxacan Collection (San Marcos Tlapazola, Oaxaca, Mexico)
We are proud to offer a selection of clay earthenware from Oaxaca. These pieces were created in San Marcos Tlapazola in collaboration with Colectivo 1050º, a design guild devoted to maintaining and advancing Oaxacan craft tradition. There are over seventy pottery villages in Oaxaca, each with distinct workshops and artisans. Eric Mindling’s book Fire and Clay: The Art of Oaxacan Pottery is an essential introduction to the culture imbued in Oaxacan pottery.

The Elia Cooking Pot is suited for beans, soups, and braising meat. The Elia Rice Pot can be used for rice and other grains. The Clay Grill is a portable grill for meat and vegetables, as well as a mobile stovetop for cooking soup and warming tortillas. It is an intricately made and striking to watch in action.


Manufacture de Digoin (Burgundy, France)
Founded in 1875, Manufacture de Digoin originated as a family ceramic business in the northern Loire valley and established itself crafting staples of the French kitchen. Digoin specializes in earthenware and stoneware made from local materials. Each piece of pottery is hand-shaped by artisans and made to stand the test of time.

We’re honored to be Manufacture de Digoin’s first collaboration with a U.S. company. Digoin’s selection of clay cookware includes unglazed and glazed pieces that serve a variety of functions. The Unglazed Roasting Pot works like a stove-top to roast potatoes, beets, and even chestnuts and coffee beans. The Unglazed Terracotta Roaster is ideal for baking bread (the clay will keep the insides soft and the make crust crispy) and roasting chicken – check out our roast chicken recipe. This type of roaster dates back to Roman times and is nicknamed the “four crétois,” which translates as “the Cretan oven” or “Mediterranean oven.”


Nagatani-en Pottery (Iga, Japan)
We source our donabes, traditional Japanese clay pots, from the Nagatani-en clayware house founded in 1832. Nagatani-en is the leading producer of Iga-yaki pottery, which is crafted from clay from the 4-million-year-old seabed of Lake Biwa. Iga-yaki donabes are handcrafted, each taking two weeks to complete. Donabe cooking has been traced by 10,000 years, yet the vessel remains a modern kitchen staple.

The Donabe Clay Smoker can be used for grilling vegetables and fish (here’s our getting started guide). Due to its thick clay body, the Donabe Rice Cooker steam-cooks rice even after it is removed from the heat source, making the rice extra fluffy. The Donabe Clay Steamer is an impressive cooking and serving vessel well-suited for fish, chicken, or vegetables.

Artisan Producers, Chefs, Cooking, Craftsmanship, Farming, Field Notes

Dan Barber’s Row 7 Seed Co.

Dan Barber

Dan Barber is more than a chef or restaurateur, he’s even more than an author. With the launch this year of the new Row 7 Seed Co., a collaboration with seedsman Matthew Goldfarb and plant breeder Michael Mazourek, Barber is now also a botanical innovator, aiming to input deliciousness into plants from the seed forward.

It’s a radical idea that’s already working. Witness the success of the Honeynut, a squash Mazourek — an associate professor at Cornell — developed some eight years ago at Barber’s request.

Boasting a higher nutritional quality and greater sweet profile than the Butternut, the Honeynut’s pure deliciousness prompted star chefs and even such outlets as Vogue magazine to support it. The exposure made this squash a culinary hit and today it’s readily available at Whole Foods Markets and other ordinary outlets.

Developed to entice a child, the Badger Flame beet has none of the earthiness of traditional beets, but is sweet enough to be eaten raw.

Barber comes to our Modern Grange on Oct. 10, 2018, to introduce Row 7 Seed Co. in an event dedicated to good farming, good cooking, and good eating with a who’s-who roster of West Coast chefs.

We expect that one of the first questions he’ll address is this basic: What’s so radical about breeding for flavor? And here’s what we reckon will be one of his answers: Flavor is typically last on the list when large seed companies are involved.

Rather, large corporations breed for portability, chemical symbiosis (as with those seeds made to interact with Monsanto’s Roundup), uniformity of size and shape, and the varied notions of attractiveness that arise when one considers such as a tomato.

Durability and disease resistance are bred into Row 7’s seeds so that they don’t need to interact well with Roundup or other chemical inputs; they’ll be robust enough to resist pests and other dangers all on their own.

Ultimately, the delectability of the produce and its nutritional value are the first concerns. Unlike other breeders, Row 7 has pledged not to patent their line of seeds, encouraging users to acclimate to their particular spot in the world. They’re even working to make the leaves and stems of their squash delicious and edible.

And of course, the seeds are non-GMO, organic, produced without chemicals, and grown in the USA. When you’re going to do something good, why not do it all the way?

That’s the idea with Row 7. To do something good — all the way. Its initial seed slate includes the Badger Flame, a sweet orange beet that can be eaten raw; the Habanada, a habañero pepper with all of its floral notes retained without the heat; a potato that tastes as if already buttered; a cucumber with the yummy bitter edge that’s been bred out of most stock; and a squash that changes color on the vine to indicate ripeness.

At our own HomeFarm, we’re supporting Barber’s efforts by growing his Habanada and Badger Flame varieties for our produce shelves. We grew Row 7’s new line of peas last spring. Our friends at SingleThread Farms are growing some, too.

One of the genius beliefs that the folks at Row 7 hold is that chefs can actually influence supermarket choices by popularizing produce through their own artistry and evangelism. Actually: it’s all genius.

Dan Barber hosts a sold-out Row 7 Seed Co. dinner with us on Oct. 10. 

Artisan Producers, Farming, Field Notes, Foodshed, Meet the Makers

Honoré Farm and Mill Gives Us Back Our Daily Bread

Fifteen years ago, Episcopal vicar Elizabeth DeRuff was presiding over the eucharist at a retreat center in Healdsburg when a congregant declined to take communion. This wasn’t unusual, but the woman’s reasoning was, at least for the time: she was allergic to wheat and certain that eating the Bread of Heaven would make her sick.

Cut to 2010. The number of people avoiding gluten is trending upwards (it will go on to triple over the next 8 years). It’s a post–South Beach Diet world. Bread is now seen as a guilty pleasure at best. But that moment at the altar is still firmly lodged in Elizabeth’s mind. As she puts it now, “what does it say about our food and farming systems if someone can be allergic to the food that is the very symbol of all food?”

That year while working on an agricultural service project, Elizabeth met a farmer who was growing heirloom wheat—wheat which, seemingly by magic, even gluten-sensitive people could eat with abandon. The problem for most people wasn’t actually wheat or gluten but rather industrial processing, which strips grains of their nutrients and divorces bread from traditional sourdough fermentation, which makes wheat more digestible. The problem was equally compelling to her from a theological point of view: the supply chain behind most communion loaves hardly reflects care for creation. Thus began Elizabeth’s 8-year deep dive into the science and spirituality of wheat, and thus began Honoré Farm and Mill.

Honoré is a nonprofit that integrates spiritual care, climate action, and heirloom grain stewardship. In practice, their work is multifaceted: Honoré grows, mills, and sells Red Fife and Sonora wheat (and incredible shortbread cookies, which we sell at SHED), hosts sourdough classes and educational workshops, and runs a flour and communion wafer CSA for churches. In 2016 they crowdfunded a mobile stone mill to travel to schools, churches, synagogues, and markets.

The mobile mill was Honoré’s answer to what Elizabeth sees as the biggest barrier to thriving grain economies: lack of infrastructure. There used to be more than 20,000 stone mills around the country, but now that industrial agriculture is the status quo there are just a small handful (we’re lucky to lay claim to one at SHED). In fact, when Elizabeth first started working on heirloom grain issues she had to drive to Ukiah to find fresh flour. Most people don’t think of flour as perishable, but the difference between fresh-milled and conventional flour in terms of both flavor and nutrition is astonishing. To a grain-lover like Elizabeth, “it was like if you had to drive 200 miles whenever you wanted a good cup of coffee.”

Thankfully, Honore’s community saw the value in getting a little closer to their daily bread. Their kickstarter campaign reached 125% funding, and the mobile mill was able to take its first major trip in June, to the Episcopal General Convention in Austin. It’s also the centerpiece of Honoré’s “Wheat Wednesdays” educational program at underserved local schools. Their next project is a conference in May of 2019, which will gather farmers, millers, bakers, and church members together to build community through workshops, panels, and a planting day. (In a bit of spiritual kismet, the Growers Guild Conference will be held at the very retreat center where that fateful 2003 communion took place.) They’re also searching for land to create a home base for Honoré, which has been loosely based in and around Marin County thus far. Elizabeth envisions an educational farm for land-based healing ministry—simply touching organic matter is good for us, Elizabeth points out.

Spirituality and nutrition are singularly slippery topics that can be difficult to discuss. Trying to relate one to the other is an even more esoteric challenge. But listening to Elizabeth, it feels like the most natural thing in the world. She says the reception to Honoré’s work has been overwhelmingly positive (though she’ll admit a Dow Chemical executive’s wife walked out on one of her climate-focused sermons once). Not only that, but people seem to be more and more interested as time goes on: their booth at the general convention three years ago garnered mostly blank stares, but this year they were deluged with interest.

“I haven’t met very many farmers who don’t think farming is a very spiritual practice,” Elizabeth says. “And spiritually it’s so rich to be able to inhabit the life of scripture for a moment while you’re threshing or harvesting.”

Artisan Producers, Cooking, Farming, Field Notes

How the OAEC Cookbook Also Teaches about Life

oaec cookbook

The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) folks have lived peacefully in an intentional community for nearly 25 years, co-owning some 80 acres of pristine growing grounds near the ocean. From this place of centering, they teach thousands of people how to farm and how to honor and preserve biodiversity.

They maintain, enlarge, and propagate a “mother garden” that contains a wild amount of biodiversity and offers a continuous food production cycle amid West County’s wild weather. They paint and hold Chauttauqua and even produced a cookbook.

All of which is to say that the OAEC community is pretty amazing. But there are some things that they do that you might be able to do, too. Like grow a garden. Like buy what you can’t grow from those who can. Like cook at home. Like remembering to smile.

These and other simple lessons are among the pleasures of the OAEC’s eponymous Cookbook (Chelsea Green; $40), a richly illustrated photo-heavy 416-page declaration of intent, process, and good ways to eat from the land — whatever your land might be.

Founded by seven friends in 1994 as the Sowing Circle intentional community and soon incorporated as a 501(c)3, the OAEC exemplifies the human interdependence that their innovative permaculture design work encourages in the plants and trees that surround them.

Hosting workshops and classes, retreats and day visits, the OAEC has a robust seasonal schedule, so the recipes in its cookbook are cleverly calibrated for either four to six people or 30 to 40 hungry folks.

They’re used to feeding a crowd, and an enduring and crowd-pleasing dish that visitors have come to expect is one of their epic salads.

Called the “biodiversity salad mix,” this collection of propagated and foraged foods changes with the seasons, as the cookbook deftly illustrates. Mother Garden biodiversity director Doug Gosling, in charge of the collective’s nightly salad, has such a wealth of options available that he sometimes picks solely for color palette.

In spring, it might contain tulip petals and broccoli leaves amid the myriad; in the summer, rose petals and celery flowers. While his salads always feature a lettuce or green of some type, the point being celebrated is that “salad” isn’t solely Romaine or iceberg glopped up with something from a bottle but rather, a living expression of what’s happening on the earth the very day you sit down to eat it — and that said eating should be fearless in its wandering and appetite for taste.

As pleasurable to simply read as it is to cook from, the OAEC Cookbook, primarily written by Olivia Rathbone but naturally contributed to by all members of the community, offers such wisdom as that chamomile will get bitter if boiled (and make you sleepy!); how best to cook cactus; that seed saving is a radical act; how to start your own sourdough; what the role of rosemary is in transforming whipped cream; that carnations taste of cloves; why lemon verbena is good with steamed rice; and how sometimes in the winter you are simply so very glad that all visitors have gone home and you’ve got the whole 80 acres to yourselves.

Join us on Thursday, March 15, when members of the OAEC are honored at a special Taste of Place dinner featuring recipes in their cookbook.

Artisan Producers, Chefs, Craftsmanship, Farming, Foodshed, Healdsburg, HomeFarm

Introducing the SHED Pantry Line

We’re excited to announce the launch of the SHED pantry line, featuring a proprietary collection of powders, salt blends, herbs and spices, preserves, pickles, and Shrub concentrates drawn from the best ingredients prepared just as we do in our Healdsburg café.

Coming to fruition under the direction of SHED chef Perry Hoffman, plans for the Pantry Line predate SHED and its café. SHED co-owner Cindy Daniel knew that she wanted to do this before our doors even opened.

“It’s always been a dream of Cindy’s and really, it just makes so much sense,” Perry says. “It really came from the concept of utilizing the pantry that we use to cook from in the café.”

SHED Powders

A distillation of flavor, the SHED powders are a unique finishing touch that pack a punch. Available in one-ounce bottles, they are the essential taste of the vegetables from which they’re made.

Dehydrated in our own kitchens and then pulverized before being mixed with Jacobsen Salt, these powders are intended to be used just before serving to add a strong note to your good fresh food.

“I’ve been using powders for 16 years,” Perry says. “The tradition really comes from fine dining. They’re amazing flavor enhancers. When you dehydrate produce, you concentrated the flavor of that element.”

Perry likes the Charred Eggplant Powder sprinkled atop a bowl of yogurt with fresh chopped mint. He mixes it into vinaigrettes, and hails it as his “love letter” to the baba ganoush dip he adored as a child.

The Tarragon Caper Powder is a nod to traditional French cuisine, adding a note of elegance perfect for using to finish sauces. “Capers and tarragon are two ingredients that are made for each other,” Perry says.

The Niçoise Olive Powder is purposefully not powdered entirely. “We leave this a bit chunkier and just smash them into little crumbles because we love those little bits of dried olives,” Perry says.

The Shiitake Mushroom Powder is a “flavor builder,” Perry says, referring to its role adding umami to any dish. “Add it to a little bit of chicken stock and soy sauce and you’ve got this amazing stock that will add flavor to anything. It’s all about intensifying flavors.”

One in every 100 Padron peppers is hot, so eating them has an element of chance. Dehydrating and then powdering them for our Padron Pepper Powder guarantees that its sweetness will be tempered by a bit of heat. “When you combine them,” Perry says, “you get an incredibly wonderful, earthy powder.”

The Smoked Onion Powder features sweet onions and adds a gorgeous element of onion flavor to everything it touches. “Mix it into sour cream,” Perry suggests, “and you have a dip.”

SHED Salt Blends

SHED’s blends use Jacobsen Salt as a base and add unusual flavors to create finishing salts you’ll always want to reach for.

An incredibly versatile and popular offering, Lemon Salt can be sprinkled liberally atop roasted potatoes and fish. For dessert, try a pinch with vanilla ice cream.

Utilizing an increasingly popular Japanese culinary herb, our Red Shiso Salt is perfect for bringing a fresh taste to a salad before serving or for sprinkling upon fish.

“As a chef, you have the opportunity to cook this way because you have Shiso and you have salt,” Perry explains. “Home cooks don’t necessarily have that option. This is a way of being able to capture those flavors in a jar and be close to the same outcome.”

Made for chicken and perfect for lamb, pork loin, and other roasts, the Rosemary and Wild Fennel Salt is, Perry says simply, “a natural love affair.”

Normally not one to play favorites, Perry confesses that his favorite of the new line is the Black Lime Salt, which has a distinctly Californian take on a traditional Middle Eastern flavor profile. Limes are salted and soaked before being dried and pulverized, bringing an intensity to this salt.

“The wonderful aromatic flavors of lime are very dominant, so this becomes a umami flavor enhancer,” Perry says. He suggests pairing the Black Lime Salt with the Shitake Powder for a umami powerhouse. “If you were to add those two to your broth, it would be very full-bodied.”

SHED Shrubs

A drinking vinegar born from the need to use all of the harvest, the Shrub has recently come back into favor. And thank goodness for that.

Shrubs are the centerpiece of the Fermentation Bar in our Healdsburg store and our flavors always change to match the season. This new collection of essential Shrub flavors is just the start; we’ll be certain to add more as the harvest wanes and new herbs, fruits, and flowers become available.

Available in 12-ounce bottles, SHED Shrub concentrates form the base for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink but can just as easily be made with Prosecco or other lightly bubbly wines.

Whether Quince, Apple, Beet, or Grape — each SHED Shrub concentrate is made from organic ingredients raised by farmers we know or even foraged by Chef Perry himself.

What’s more, his technique for creating this concentrate hasn’t change. For a few hundred years. “We do this just as they would have in the 1800s,” Perry says.

Preserves and Honey

Having fresh jam made with local fruit is a hallmark of the SHED café and our pantry. A devoted home cook, Cindy has always spent part of her summer putting up preserves. Now you can share in some of our good fortune and bounty. Each jar is made of pure organic or even foraged fruit set with cane sugar and a good squeeze of lemon juice. That’s all.

SHED honey is raised in Sonoma County by beekeepers who respect their hives and the hard-working insects inside of them. SHED subscribes to the idea that we don’t keep bees — the bees keep us, as one-third of all the food that we eat is made possible by pollinators.

Pickled Vegetables

Fermentation is a core value at SHED. “We pickle everything. It was so hard to even choose what to put in the jar,” Perry says.

Perry loves eggplant but it doesn’t pickle well, so he made a gorgeous chunky Roasted Eggplant Conserva from it. He encourages us to use it as a chutney. “Yogurt is the most wonderful platform for it,” he enthuses. “It’s such a match made in heaven.”

Packed like the Conserva in 13.5-ounce jars, our Pickled Carrots are flavored with dill leaves, jalapeños, and black peppercorns; the Pickled Turnips with bay leaf, beets, and garlic. Both of them are perfect additions to supper, laid out on a relish plate to contribute bite and interest to a simple meal.

Also jarred up for a pre-dinner pickle plate are our Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Roasted Eggplant Conserva, and Turmeric Pickled Turnips.

Herbs & Spices

With this Pantry line-up, SHED is also proud to release its own line of herbs and spices, adding traditional everyday spices like cinnamon to a line-up of offerings that include the Middle Eastern flavors of Harissa, Zahtar, and Vadouvan. We have other unusual mixes like Shichimi Togarashi, Japanese Curry Powder, and Chinese Five Spice. Our own line of Dukka is already a best-selling staple. We even have six kinds of peppercorn!

Just the Start

SHED’s Pantry line is an effort to preserve the peak flavors of the season by pickling, preserving, fermenting, smoking, and drying ingredients to make jams, pickles, shrubs, spice blends, and powders.  It’s an attempt to better tell the story of good farming, good cooking, and good eating.

“We want to take all of the behind-the-scenes things that we make and showcase them,” Perry says.

“There are so many things that we have to make to stock our own pantry. The powders are a perfect example of that.  We want to show what we make, and how we use these products to flavor and enhance our cooking,” he says.

“And how you might share in that.”

Artisan Producers

Celebrating Our Fibershed

Our store isn’t called Healdsburg “SHED” by accident. Rather, we honor SHED as a suffix, a signifier of demarcation. A way to claim place.

The term “SHED” comes up in all of our pursuits. We are passionate about our foodshed, certainly. Fiercely protective of our local watershed, too. We see our store as a toolshed of sorts that you can go to for your essential needs. But perhaps lesser known is the role the fibershed plays in our community.

Locally, our fibershed stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the edges of California’s Central Valley. It’s where sheep and goats are raised for their milk, their meat, and their wool. Where textiles circle soil to soil.

It’s even a movement. The concept of a fibershed was formalized in 2010 when Marin County’s Rebecca Burgess set herself the task of creating and wearing a wardrobe solely drawn from textiles, dyes, and labor contained within a 150-mile footprint of her home.

It was nearly impossible to do then, and it’s not much easier today — but Rebecca started something significant by looking for local solutions.

Textile production is a gross polluter; inexpensive clothing has an enormous cost. From poor wages to environmental concerns, from working conditions to transportation obstacles, the mass global production of inexpensive throw-away stuff is expensive in a way that has nothing to do with our wallets.

As with so many other concerns of the global economy, the best answer to issues surrounding textiles is literally beneath our feet. Bring it back to the local community.

We define our local fibershed as the network of farmers, ranchers, designers, sewers, weavers, knitters, felters, spinners, mill owners and natural dyers living and working in Northern California.

And we’re proud to support their work in our store, both online and in Healdsburg.

Our producers and collaborators include Mary Pettis-Sarley of Twirl Yarn; Lily Reid of Apprentice Studio; indigo farmer Craig Wilkinson; artist Sasha Duerr; the textile producers at Caseri Ranch; artist and teacher Chelsea Heffner; and natural dye artist Chelsea Wills.

We celebrate our fibershed twice this month with special events.

Join us on Friday, Dec. 2, for a PomPom Party with Apprentice Studio’s Lily Reid, where we’ll use Mary Pettis-Sarley’s Twirl Yarn to make fun, festive decorations that are equally at home adorning your holiday tree as they are your winter cap.

Plan to return on Sunday, Dec. 11, for an all-day Fibershed Pop-Up Shop upstairs in our Modern Grange space. There you can meet eight artisans contributing to our local fibershed, support their work with your purchases, get something unique and delightful for yourself or someone on your holiday list, and learn more about why going soil to soil makes a difference to your clothes.

Learn more about the Fibershed project on their extensive press page.

Featured image courtesy of Lily Reid, Apprentice Studio