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.”

Cooking, Farming, Field Notes, Foodshed, Healdsburg, HomeFarm

Food is Too Good to Waste

Currently, about 40% of the food we produce is wasted, representing a carbon footprint larger than any individual country except China and the United States. It’s also a moral failing—in the United States alone, 1 in 8 people are food insecure.

The EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy ranks methods of dealing with food waste from the most preferable to the least. Many people think of composting as the be-all end-all of responsible waste management, but it’s actually all the way at the bottom of the pyramid, just above the landfill. Don’t get us wrong, we’re big believers in compost—one of our owners is a self-proclaimed dirt doctor!—but effective reduction of food waste starts long before your cores and peels hit the compost bin.

The top of the pyramid is source reduction, which simply means generating less food waste to begin with. The more mindful we are about using every ingredient to its fullest, the less food waste we’ll have to manage further down the line. It’s a philosophy essential to our culinary identity at SHED. Our different departments work together to ensure that nothing goes to waste, much like a permaculture farm would. When we have surplus dairy in the coffee bar, pantry products we need to move, or extra ripe and ready produce, our cafe chefs can transform them into new dishes.

Our menus are full of underappreciated ingredients, from croutons made of bread heels to apricot kernel ice cream. And when we can’t use all of a seasonal ingredient, we ferment or preserve it. It not only lends flavor to our dishes, it extends fresh ingredients’ shelf lives to ensure they don’t end up in the trash. And our eye toward preservation goes beyond pickles; culinary powders and shrubs also keep produce out of the landfill. Our passion for preserving extends to helping others learn the art. From canning classes to full-on food waste dinners, education is a top priority. Going low-waste in our own kitchen is good, but encouraging those in our own community and beyond to do the same can be game-changing.

But despite our best efforts, sometimes we end up with food waste. We over-prepare or end up with trimmings that just can’t be used. The next three tiers on the food recovery hierarchy are all ways to make the most of leftover food. If we can’t eliminate food waste, we should try to feed hungry people, feed animals, or find industrial uses for food waste. As our leftover-loving employees and our well-fed chickens can attest, we’ve got the first two covered. We also work with an oil management service that turns all those fried chicken Fridays into energy-rich biofuel.

The bottom tier of the food recovery hierarchy is the landfill. The landfill should only ever be a last resort. With so many alternatives to choose from, there’s no reason we should be throwing food away. Yet this is where 90% of food waste ends up. We’re proud of the work we have done to be part of the solution, but we know we can always do more. So we’re asking for inspiration from the place we so often find it: our community. We want to hear your ideas of how we can do more, because every meal we can keep out of the landfill is one more we can enjoy together. We welcome your comments and insights below!

Field Notes, Nonprofits

Edible Schoolyards Help Kids Grow

edible schoolyards

Having revolutionized American cuisine with the launch of her Chez Panisse restaurant in 1971, chef Alice Waters created a second wave of change with her Edible Schoolyards program in 1995. Her first effort served adults; her second, their children. Taken together, her impact has touched us all.

Alice’s philosophy is succinct. We should all be able to eat and have access to fresh, seasonal food. We should understand how our food is grown and where it comes from. Food is to be celebrated and enjoyed, its preparation experienced as pleasure rather than chore.

Fast food, she recently told an audience gathered to support Edible Schoolyard, “tells us that work is drudgery. That more is better. That our natural resources are limitless. That everything should be the same, no matter where we go.”

Loaded with fat, sugar, and salt — fast food is often what children want most. It activates all of our pleasure sensors and quickly overwhelms them, resetting taste buds to exaggerated heights.

Not wanting her own daughter Fanny to grow up eating junk food, and concerned about how other children in her community and beyond were being exposed to poor eating habits that could affect them for life, Alice decided to do something about it.

She convinced the administration at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in her hometown of Berkeley to turn a weedy one-acre parking lot into an experimental garden. Soon came a communal kitchen and a whole new curriculum for teachers and students at King Middle.

Alice knew that math, science, history, humanities, and even technology can all be taught from the garden. Planting, growing, harvesting, and preparing food offers opportunities to explore all of the academic subjects. Students must cooperate and interact; along the way, they gain independence and the satisfaction that engenders.

Dedicated to the ideal of children having a balanced daily meal that is as delicious as it is healthy, Alice helped to establish the School Lunch Initiative for all students across the Berkeley city school system. Over 10,000 students participate each school day. No one is trading Cheeto’s for a PBJ sanny in Berkeley school yards.

Today there are five affiliate Edible Schoolyard programs across the country in places as disparate as New Orleans and San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, and even Greensboro, North Carolina. A study followed students at one school over three years and discovered them to be healthier and better informed than similar students who didn’t have access to a school garden.

Speaking to that same audience raising money for Edible Schoolyard, Alice concluded, “I feel like [fast food has] imprisoned us, depriving us of living harmoniously with nature. Every time we choose what to eat, we’re voting for the kind of world we want.”

Cooking, Eat Good Food, Field Notes

Make Your Own Yogurt

Yogurt is downright magical. It’s packed with protein and with gut-friendly bacteria that aid in digestion. It goes from sweet to savory, from breakfast to dinner, like nobody’s business, and it stays fresh far longer than a carton of milk. Making your own batch of yogurt feels pretty magical too, and is simple to boot—all it takes is a quart of milk and a spoonful of yogurt.

Yes, you read that right—you need yogurt to make yogurt. Yogurt is the product of live bacterial cultures fermenting milk, and for your first batch you’ll need to borrow some of those cultures from a good storebought yogurt. Once you’ve had your first yogurt-making session you can save some of your homemade yogurt to inoculate the next batch, much like maintaining a sourdough starter or a kombucha mother.

Homemade yogurt without stabilizers or thickeners has a thinner texture than you might be used to—it will dribble, rather than dollop. If you prefer a thicker yogurt, strain your yogurt through a cheesecloth-lined colander for a few hours.

 

Ingredients

1/2 gallon fresh whole milk

1/4 cup plain, unsweetened full-fat yogurt with live active cultures

 

Instructions

Put milk in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Heat, stirring frequently until milk reaches a bare simmer. Milk should be between 180 and 200 degrees. Remove pot from heat and let cool to between 110 and 120 degrees.

Place yogurt in a small bowl and whisk in a bit of milk until smooth and liquidy. Stir the yogurt mixture into the pot of warm milk and cover with a lid. Wrap pot in a large towel and place in a warm place, such as in the oven with the light turned on or on top of the refrigerator. Let yogurt sit for 6-12 hours until thickened. The longer it sits, the tangier it will be.

At the end of fermentation, whisk the yogurt vigorously until smooth. Keep finished yogurt in the refrigerator, and be sure to save some for the next batch.

Cooking, Eat Good Food

Plum Salad Recipe

Perfectly in-season stone fruit is an unexpected-yet-perfect match for pungent kimchi, cooling yogurt, and bright citrus. With a shower of cilantro blossoms on top, this salad by our executive chef Perry Hoffman is a beautiful celebration of late-summer flavor.

Serves 6-8

Beet Kimchi:

4 large yellow beets (should yield about 1lb)
1 qt. kombu stock
1/2 cup grated ginger
1/4 cup grated garlic
5 tbsp ground Korean red chili (gochugaru)
1 cup scallions, sliced
1 cup radish, shaved thin
1/4 cup kosher salt

Toss all ingredients together. Place in a fermentation crock for 14 days then refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Plum Salad:

8 red-fleshed plums, such as a Santa Rosa Plum or Elephant Heart, sliced into wedges
1 cup beet kimchi
1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 2 tbl white soy sauce mixed in
4 tbsp miso, with lemon kosho blended in to taste (recipe follows)
2 cups of purslane tops
2 Serrano chilis, sliced into thin coins
20 basil leaves
1 bunch of flowering cilantro
1 lime for zest and juice

On the desired plate place a small pool of the soy yogurt. Add a dollop of the miso. With the tip and a small spoon swirl together to create a marble effect.

Place the sliced plums off to one side of the yogurt miso mixture. Add some of the beet kimchi. Scatter the purslane, basil, Serrano chili, and cilantro over the top.

Using a microplane zest the lime over each plate.  After you have added zest to each plate, cut the lime in half and squeeze the lime over each salad.

Lemon Kosho

1/4 cup lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Korean chili paste (tobanjan)
2 tbsp kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together and let sit a room temp for 48 hours, then refrigerate for 1 week. It’s then ready to use. The kosho will hold for 6 months in the refrigerator.

Farming, Field Notes, Grow Your Own, HomeFarm

How to Make a Flower Crown

There’s no better accessory for late summer weddings, garden parties, or weeknights (why not?) than a flower crown. Whether it’s a simple band of greenery or a riotous floral bouquet, donning the season’s bounty always puts us in a festive mood. We asked our floral specialist Alison Fields to teach us how to make the flower crown of our dreams, and it turns out it’s surprisingly simple. You’re just a trip to the craft store and a walk through the garden away from getting your midsummer night’s dream on.


YOU WILL NEED:
Bark covered wire
Floral tape
Wire cutters
Scissors
Fabric ribbon
An assortment of cut flowers, greenery, branches, berries, etc.,


Step 1:
Cut a section of bark covered wire equal to the circumference of your head. Create a loop at each end of the wire and twist to secure. Trim sharp edges of wire, if necessary.

 


Step 2:
Trim the first few flowers or pieces of greenery you would like to attach to the crown, leaving a 1-2” stem. Cut a length of floral tape that will be easy to work with, approximately 2 feet long.

 


Step 3:
Stretch and warm up the floral tape in your fingers slightly to prepare it to adhere. Starting at one of the loop ends, hold the greenery to the bark wire with the stem end facing away from the loop. Wrap the floral tape around the stem several times. Wrap as snugly as possible—the tape will stick to itself to hold the greenery in place.

 


Step 4:
Attach more flowers and greenery to the crown, overlapping leaves over the wrapped stems to hide them. Continue building the crown in the same way, working from one end of the crown to the other. When you run out of floral tape, wrap it around itself to adhere and start a new length of tape in the same way.

 


Step 5:
When you reach the end of the crown, attach a few flowers or leaves facing the other direction to hide the wrapped stem. Trim any protruding stems or wire pieces and adjust flowers as needed.

 


Step 6:
Cut a piece of ribbon to desired length. Thread ribbon through both loop ends of the crown and place gently on your head. Tighten until crown fits comfortably, then tie ribbon in a bow.

 


Step 7:
Wear your flower crown with pride!

TIPS:

  • For the best effect, vary shapes and sizes. We love incorporating flower buds, berries, and airy accents like fennel flowers and moss.
  • Try adding a larger statement flower off-center.
  • Fresh flower crowns will wilt after a day or so. Crowns will keep for approximately two days if stored in the refrigerator.
  • For a longer-lasting crown, use dried flowers or hardy varietals like strawflower, celosia, gomphrena, or statice.