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Bringing self-sufficiency and sustainability home

Girl power: How women are transforming the masculine world of farming Soups: Step up your game this fall Boulder farmer believes organic agriculture can save the world Drinkin’ dandelion wine: In Gold Hill it’s fine


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Fall, food and time to reflect


ith the days growing colder and shorter, fall gives us time for reflection. As we spend more time indoors, we have the chance to slow down. You might find yourself finishing that novel you started during your beach trip, or maybe you stop and call a family member you’ve been meaning to catch up with. As the leaves fall off the trees, it’s easy for us to think about the seasons of our own lives and to take stock in all we have to be grateful for. Living in Colorado is one of those things we have to be grateful for. Not only is it beautiful here, but Boulder County is full of amazing people: chefs who take great pains to prepare locally sourced and seasonal foods year round; farmers dedicated to growing crops without chemical

pesticides; and regular citizens like you who appreciate the work these farmers and chefs put into the food we put into our bodies. For this issue of Boulderganic, we’ve taken time to reflect on one of the most fundamental needs in our lives; food. We’ve done so by talking with folks — from Boulder County and around Colorado — who grow and/or prepare our food. We kick this issue off by looking at Illene Pevec’s journey from Boulder across the country to see how community gardens improve the emotional well being of young folks. We take a trip south to the San Luis Valley where two first-generation farmers are aiming to become an oasis in a

food desert, and we examine the growing visibility of female farmers across the nation. We’ve got the 411 on upcoming food trends, a primer on making dandelion wine, a list of tasty winter soups for you to try, and a rundown of new ways you can incorporate pumpkin into your fall diet. We take a look at food waste via a movie about a couple who spent six months eating “recovered” food, some of it from dumpsters behind grocery stores. So if you find yourself in front of the fireplace this autumn, we hope you’ll stop and reflect with this year’s Fall/ Winter issue of Boulderganic. Thanks, as always, for reading. We hope you enjoy. Respond: info@boulderganic.com


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Cultivating more than crops The positive effects of youth gardening programs


by Katie Porter

f there were a stereotypical image of gardening, it certainly wouldn’t be a disadvantaged teenager. But programs across the country are beginning to see the peaceful, prolific pastime as something that young kids are not only actively involved in, but also benefitting from. The unconventional pairing of organics and juveniles peaked researcher Illène Pevec’s interest when she encountered a youth Illène Pevec produce stand 10 years ago in Boulder. Cultiva Youth Project is an agriculture organization at a North Boulder community garden, where kids gain experience planting, tending and distributing the crops. “They were so enthusiastic, so happy, selling me these cherry tomatoes,” Pevec says. “I thought, ‘I’m going to interview these young people.’ My intuition was that something changes in people when they’re gardening and I wanted to know how and why that happens.” So Pevec traveled all corners of the country, visiting an array of youth gardening programs, interviewing more than 80 students. In doing so she found a reciprocation of benefits — not only are the communities gaining fresh produce, but the youth gain food education. Most importantly, though, the kids gain increased wellbeing. “The communities benefit because they’re getting local, healthy food, organically grown with a lot of love and care and smiling young faces,” Pevec says. “And these kids are developing phenomenal environmental and social awareness and commitment to positive change in the community. They’re very proud of themselves.” Through her research, she heard stories of personal growth cultivated in the gardens, from the Rockies to the Bronx, from Oakland to New Mexico. She shares these in her new book Growing a Life, a culmination of her inquiries into the psychological effects of the practical hobby. “I wondered how people changed from this experience in terms of their emotional state,” she says. “The questions I asked were about all their senses: what they saw, how it smelt, how that made them feel. They were so touchingly open about how they felt in response to working with nature. Hoping to capture the student’s experiences, Pevec says 85 percent of the stories are presented in their

own words. “I really wanted the youth voice and not my voice,” she says. “It’s kind of like an oral history of young gardeners. It’s their voices who will convince people.” Many of the programs Pevec visited were developed with diversion and distraction agendas for at-risk youth. Gardening helps these kids in a number of personal

ways, giving them a positive outlet from the societal hardships they face. When visiting a school gardening program in Oakland, for example, Pevec recalls being interrupted by a lockdown because of a nearby shooting that involved minors. “For these kids, gardens are a way for them to do something sane and safe and beautiful and not be on the street,” she says. In urban New York she observed the efforts of teacher Stephen Ritz, whose Ted Talk about youth gardening in the South Bronx inspired her to document the positive effects of gardening on teens who don’t have many positives in their lives otherwise. She particularly noticed how connecting to the natural world through gardening led to interpersonal reflection among the students. One young man reported it made him feel better than listening to angry rap. Another student said she really enjoyed the program because it reminded her

Project “Feed the Hood” is a food literacy and community gardening initiative that aims to improve community health through education and revival of traditional growing methods.



Bringing self-sufficiency and sustainability home


It’s Time To Plant

Illène Pevec

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of when her dad used to take her to the park as a little girl. Comparable praises came from a similar program in a highly contrasting location. In New Mexico, kids were appreciative of their youth gardening program because it served as a way for them to continue local traditions. “Their stories are about preserving culture,” Pevec says. “Food and land and culture are intimately tied.” There are also the inherent physical effects of growing your own fresh sustenance. The inner city kids, who often spend more than 20 hours a week in greenhouses, changed their eating habits. Whereas they hardly ate vegetables before, they told Pevec they now snack on the crops as they’re working and have grown a liking for fresh tastes. “I asked whether eating habits had changed for them, and a lot of the boys had lost 10 pounds,” she says. Additionally, the kids get to see the fruits of their labor, quite literally. Everything from the gardening programs is going somewhere with a good cause: Cultivas’ crops are sold at the Boulder Farmers’ Market or given to homeless shelters; yield from Oakland’s program is sold to fund the organization; the products of programs in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs are used in the

school lunch program. The nonprofit work reflects a growing preference for local food, after years of corporate processing plants made community farms second choice to convenience. “With school lunches the challenge of making that good food is enormous,” Pevec says. “It used to be where everything was cooked from scratch but fast food purveyors took over lunchrooms in the ’70s because Congress was trying to save money.” Pevec points to First Lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch initiative as a great step towards reversing that. “They let pizza and tacos and frozen food into lunchrooms and they’re trying to change it back now,” Povec says. And it seems as though the general population is also gravitating toward locally-grown food. Recent studies, like one done in 2014 by market intelligence company Mintel, reveal 21 percent of people say they would pay more to buy local, valuing both the food quality and economic stimulation. As the stories in Growing a Life demonstrate, youth gardening programs are a holistic way to both meet the growing demand for local produce, while providing beneficial outlets for students. As Povec says, “People trying to change food are people who are looking at the big picture of how food affects life and learning.” Respond: info@boulderganic.com

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Fields to Plate Two first-gen farmers look to be an oasis in a food desert by Melissa Schaaf


an you hear us OK?” Max Fields inquires for both he and his agri-business partner James Plate over speaker phone. “We’re just out harvesting some onions.” Fields and Plate don’t fit the mold of traditional farmers. Friends since kindergarten, they both grew up in Denver’s urban scene where the closest thing to working the land was potting pansies in the summer. Neither of them comes from genealogy that provided crop production knowledge or farming skills, never mind land

Max Fields and James Plate grow produce on a 2.5-acre plot they obtained through an agriculture incubator program at Fort Lewis College for Agriculture Business Administration.


valley in the world. “Growing up in the city, there was a huge disconnect with the ag[riculture] business that we weren’t able to appreciate until we were fully immersed in the production side,” Plate says. “We’ve always had an interest in plants and growing food, and have seen that our current industrial food system is not working. We’re seeing opportunities and how we can do it better through innovation and education. At the end of the day, though, it comes down to producing food. If we’re not producing, it’s all just talk.” Fields and Plate acquired land through an Courtesy of Fields to Plate Produce agriculture incubator program while attending Fort Lewis College for Agriculture Business Administration. The program allots land for crop production to applicants on a five-year rotation and Fields and Plate were one of the first participants. Fields and Plate currently farm on a 2.5 acre plot from the incubator program where they’ve grown carrots, Brussel sprouts, onions, potatoes, winter squash, turnips, tomatoes and beets. Additionally, they are leasing a 1 acre, 100 percent USDA-certified organic plot of land primarily for potato production. “There’s such a demand for local food production that our main focus has been to produce enough food to feed our communities,” Plate says. “But we also want to make an impact with the consistency and quality of our produce.” Not only are they focused on production, with a yield goal of 30,000 pounds this year alone, but they also acknowledge the significance of providing local produce year-round as opposed to just during the short growing season. They are able to do this through the winter months by root cellaring, a traditional food preservation method that and equipment. Despite that, these young, first-generation balances temperature and humidity to keep produce from farmers formed Fields to Plate Produce in 2013 and have freezing or spoiling for extended periods of time. been providing fresh vegetables to Durango and surround“Root cellaring has been our niche of utilizing old ing communities at farmers’ markets, restaurants and traditional techniques of farming,” Fields says. “It’s somegrocery stores since. thing different, which was a big push for us. We’re able Fields and Plate are true agri-preneurs. The only two to provide and service buyers at times when other local employees of their business, they handle all operations producers don’t have product to take to market.” from seed to sale, as well as build relationships and busiThe main produce they plan on cellaring are root vegness development with chefs, community members and etables, including potatoes, carrots, beets and turnips. other start-up farmers. Their business model focuses on “We’re working with the environment to produce as food sustainability and education, raising awareness for much as we can in the short growing season and then local food and agriculture products and reducing their preserving that crop through the winter months,” Plate carbon footprint and eliminating produce waste. added. “This is a key component in our production model, Also, they grow crops at an altitude of 7,600 feet especially as our region specifically is considered a food in Hesperus, Colorado, located in the San Luis Valdesert.” ley — the largest and highest commercial agricultural The San Luis Valley, a rural six-county area in south-

Bringing self-sufficiency and sustainability home

Nourish your Body, Feed your Soul

Courtesy of Fields to Plate Produce

central Colorado, is considered a food desert due to transportation access and accessibility of grocery stores. According to the Colorado Heath Institute, 759,000 Coloradoans, including 80,000 children, live in food deserts — defined as areas lacking in access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods. The Colorado Health Foundation reports that rural counties, particularly in the western U.S., face the greatest challenges when it comes to access to adequate healthy foods. Of Colorado’s 64 counties, 24 are designated as rural, 23 are designated as frontier Fields to Plate Produce (fewer than six people per square operates in the San mile), and 17 are designated as urban. Fields and Plate’s Luis Valley, which is considered a food desert preservation method and business model is an effort to provide food for at least some of the families living in due to a lack of access to health food. the San Luis Valley. “There’s a lot of care that goes into these crops to ensure the shelf life they’ll be able to have so that people have the opportunity to eat local, fresh foods when that would normally not be an option,” Fields says. Although Fields and Plate are aiding the community, this start-up, firstgeneration agri-business is not without its challenges, much of which comes down to capital. Or lack thereof. “Farming is a really expensive thing to get into and it takes years and years to build up assets,” Fields says. “From the first-generation farmer aspect the question is, ‘How do we get this up and running without multiple generation access?’ There’s not a lot of funding with farmers like us.” One step they’ve taken to further marketing efforts is by being a part of Colorado Proud, a Colorado Department of Agriculture program that generates awareness for, and encourages consumption of, local food and agriculture products. “The program is designed to help farmers like [Fields and Plate] market their products and reach their audience, especially with businesses starting from the ground up,” says Wendy White, marketing specialist with the Colorado Department of Agriculture Markets Division. “The Fields to Plate guys are doing amazing things at high altitude. They have a clear passion for growing products, because they started with nothing and are growing a business. They’re contributing not only to the community, but to the Colorado agriculture industry as a whole.” Fields and Plate have only one year left in Fort Lewis College’s agriculture incubator program before their phase is up, but they’re already looking at leasing options on larger plots of land to continue and scale their business. “Our strategy is to think five to 10 years down the road, expand our production, market really smart, and not have a single drop of waste on the farm,” Plate says. As they talk about the future, they continue harvesting spring onions that won’t be stored for winter — they are weeding out onions that might normally be considered product waste. Fields and Plate, however, see opportunity. “We try to add value to things that might not have value to other farmers,” Fields says. “We make an added effort to get the most out of everything we have, even out of what might be considered ‘waste.’” Max Fields and James Plate are challenging farming norms in more ways than one, and that’s just the way they like it. Respond: info@boulderganic.com

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Easy fall propagation techniques by Mike McGroarty


s a home gardener, fall should be a very special time for you. Fall is the best season of the year for plant propagation, especially for home gardeners who do not have the luxury of intermittent mist. The technique that I am going to describe here can be equally effective for evergreens as well as many deciduous plants. The old rule of thumb was to start doing hardwood cuttings of everWikimedia Commons/J.D. McGreg greens after you have experienced at least two hard freezes. After two hard freezes the plants are completely dormant. However, based on my experience it is beneficial to start doing your evergreen cuttings earlier than that. So instead of doing “by the book” hardwood on the top and open on cuttings you’re actually working with the bottom. Just lay it on semi-hardwood cuttings. The down the ground in the cleared side to starting your cuttings early is area, and fill it with a that they will have to be watered daily unless you expericoarse grade of sand. ence rain showers. The up side is that they will start rooting This sand should be clean (no mud or weed seed), and sooner, and therefore are better rooted when you pull them much coarser than the sand used in play box. Visit your loout to transplant them. cal building supply center and view its available sand piles. To prepare an area in which to root cuttings you must It should have different grades varying from very fine to first select a site. An area that is about 50 percent shaded very coarse. You don’t want either. You want something a will work great. Full sun will work, it just requires that little more coarse than their medium grade. But then again you tend to the cuttings more often. Clear all grass or other it’s not rocket science, so don’t get all worked up trying to vegetation from the area that you have selected. The size find just the right grade. Actually, bagged swimming pool of the area is up to you. Realistically, you can fit about one filter sand also works and should be available at discount cutting per square inch of bed area. You might need a little home centers. more area per cutting, it depends on how close you stick Once your wooden frame is on the ground and filled the cuttings in the sand. with sand, you’re ready to start sticking cuttings. Wet the Once you have an area cleared, all you have to do sand the day before you start, that will make it possible for is build a wooden frame and lay it on the ground in that you to make a slit in the sand that won’t fill right in. In this space. Your frame can be as simple as four two-by-fours or two-by-sixes nailed together at each corner. It will be open PROPAGATION continued on page 12

Wikimedia Commons/Famartin

The old rule was to wait until two hard freezes had occurred before gathering cuttings to plant. But you can do it sooner rather than later on plants like the Rose of Sharon pictured above and speed up the process while getting better results.


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propagation box you can do all kinds of cuttings, but I would start with the evergreens first: Taxus, Junipers and Arborvitae. Make the cuttings about 4-inch long and remove the needles from the bottom two-thirds of the cuttings. Dip them in a rooting compound and plant them in the sand about an inch deep. Most garden centers sell rooting compounds. Just tell them that you are rooting hardwood cuttings of evergreens. When you make the Arborvitae cuttings you can actually remove large branches from an Arborvitae and just tear them apart and get hundreds of cuttings from one branch. When you tear them apart that leaves a small heel on the bottom of the cutting. Leave this heel on. It represents a wounded area, and the cutting will produce more roots because of this wound. Once the weather gets colder and you have experienced at least one good hard freeze, the deciduous plants should be dormant and will have dropped their leaves, and you can now propagate them. Just make cuttings about 4-inch long, dip them in a rooting compound and stick them in the bed of sand. Not everything will root this way, but a lot of things will, and it takes little effort to find out what will or won’t work.

You can cut and plant

This is a juniper before the first short list of just freeze. some of the things that root fine this way: Taxus, Juniper, Arborvitae, Japanese Holly, Blue Boy/Girl Holly, Boxwood, Cypress, Forsythia, Rose of Sharon, Sandcherry, Weigela, Red Twig Dogwood, Variegated Euonymus, Cotoneaster, Privet and Viburnum. Immediately after sticking the cuttings, thoroughly soak the sand to make sure there are no air pockets around the cuttings. Keep the cuttings watered once or twice daily as long as the weather is warm. Once winter sets in you can stop watering, but if you get a warm dry spell, water during that time. Start watering again in the spring and throughout out the summer. The cuttings should be rooted by late spring and you can cut back on the water, but don’t let them dry out to the point that they burn up. By fall you can transplant them to a bed and grow them on for a year or two, or you can plant them in their permanent location. This technique takes 12 months, but it is simple and easy. Mike McGroarty is the author of The Gardener’s Secret Handbook and you can read his gardening blog at mikesbackyardnursery.com Respond: info@boulderganic.com

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There she is Female farmers gain visibility by Emma Murray


n any given day, Becky Ravenkamp wakes up and checks the weather. She analyzes it carefully, taking note of fog or moisture, because one of her jobs is to decide whether or not to change the days’ plans. Too wet and they can’t harvest the crops. Too hot and they can’t run some of the heavy machinery. At Ravenkamp Farms in Hugo, Colorado, Ravenmkamp is a farmer. After checking the weather and coordinating her plans with her husband, his uncle and the other farm hands, she gets her kids up and ready for school, checks email, checks on the cows, drives an empty semi-truck to the harvesting field and trades it for the full truck, drives the filled truck back. She’ll weigh the truck, start the tractor to run the auger, unload the semi-truck of grain, weigh the truck. She’ll use the skid steer to move totes of grain into the shed or onto a waiting truck to be shipped. Then she’ll head back to the field, move the harvesting equipment to a new field, stay there, run the grain cart until around 9 p.m. before jumping on the next truck back home to check on the kids, eat supper, fix something to put in the slow cooker for the next day, clean the house, check emails. Gets ready to do it again tomorrow. Ravenkamp is one of over 20,000 female farmers in Colorado, a number that has been rising across the Centennial State for the past two decades, at least according to the National Census of Agriculture, which reported a 39 percent increase between 1997 and 2002 But many, including Ravenkamp, are skeptical about the perceived increase in the number of women farming, which, at the outset, seems like a triumphant applause in the context of the traditional image of women relegated to household domestic work. The truth is, women have been farming alongside men, toiling through long, sun-drenched days, lifting heavy loads and taking care of crops and animals, plus children, since the prehistoric Agricultural Revolution that transformed Southwest Asia’s Fertile Crescent. “Even pioneer women always worked along their husbands to get work done, because there was so much work that had to be done on the farm,” Ravenkamp explains. The traditional masculine farming stereotype, she says, wasn’t necessarily cemented until the 1900s, as the dawn of advertising creeped above the cornfield horizon and the white male riding his industrial tractor stole the show. From there, “Social norms, chivalry, nostalgia and historic record created and kept ‘man’ as the farmer image,” Ravenkamp says. According to the 2012 Agriculture Census, 30 percent of farmers across the nation are women, with some states like Arizona boasting almost half, but, as Ravenkamp says,

“Statistics can be shades of gray. For example, look at who’s name is on the land title. Not all women are listed, so even if they’re working just as much or more than the husband or man, it might not be known.” The census’ large jump from 1997 to 2002 can likely be attributed to a change in 2002, when the census Kayann Short included room for multiple people to claim ownership and operation rather than just one. For the first time, this enabled the majority of farms run by a manand-woman partnership to officially acknowledge the woman’s role in farming operations. Kate Petrocco, a farmer at Petrocco Farms in Brighton, Colorado, with 10 years of experience managing the family’s operations, wants to challenge the “traditional ‘farmer image’— a single guy up at 4 a.m. with a pitchfork,” she says. “That harkens to children’s books, when people are first forming their ideas of what it’s like to be a farmer. Women farming is nothing new, but no one cared before.” The ideation of the one-man farmer isn’t helping the woman-farmer’s case, and according to Petrocco it is also counterproductive when trying to understand where food comes from. “People will come to our farm and take pictures of my father-in-law, who looks like a farmer with a straw hat and a button up shirt, but what they don’t see are the 300 people that come to work everyday that feed, weed, harvest the crops that allows my father-in-law to farm because we have so much acreage.” She adds, “I’ve had kids come to the farm for tours and burst into tears because I don’t wear overalls.” For Ravenkamp, the recent appearance of significantly more woman farmers shouldn’t be perceived so much as triumphant, but perhaps as missing the point. She believes FEMALE FARMERS continued on page 16

••••••• “Women farming is nothing new, but no one cared before.” — Kate Petrocco •••••••

Despite traditional stereotypes, woman have been farming alongside men since the Agricultural Revolution.





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FEMALE FARMERS continued from page 15 Kayann Short

the acclaim should also be directed toward the generations of women who kept their roots fiercely tied to the land, even as the glory was constantly diverted to men. Kayann Short, author of A Bushel’s Worth and operator of Stonebridge Farms, Boulder County’s first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project, echoes both Ravenkamp and Petrocco’s sentiments and skepticism. Short reckons two recent shifts in agriculture practice and theory have moved the spotlight away from the male-dominated image of agriculture, making it appear as though there are more women. First, she credits the return to smaller scale farming after the industrial, mono-crop boom, and second, to advancements in farming technology. “Women have been involved in agriculture for along time in this country,” Short says. “But the shift [to the male-dominated image] came when agriculture became industrialized and mechanized, and farms became farms focused on exports, a way that was very divorced form the consumers of those agricultures.” Women, Short says, were never as interested in mono-cropping or industrial farming as men, so when agriculture shifted toward large-scale operations, many women stayed at their family-style farms. This helps explain why the average womanoperated farm today is still about a third the size of male-operated farms, according to the 2012 Agriculture Census. “It’s a question of scale as much as anything,” Short explains. “I don’t know any women farmers who aren’t organic farmers. This ethic of service and farming for service instead of for production is where you find women farming coming from.” Smaller farms, those typically run by women, rarely rely on high-cost

advertising Barn boss, Eva Mesmer, organizes a CSA pickup because local farms can often at Stonebridge Farms. survive simply via word of mouth. Larger industrial farms, typically run by men, can produce extensive advertising campaigns, which in turn have the potential to disseminate the image of the masculine, all-male farming team across a broad range of viewers. In this way, the woman-as-farmer image has stayed relatively free from the national agriculture limelight as the man-as-farmer became standardized, cemented in children’s books and TV commercials. As push-back against industrialization and mono-cropping ensued, family-style farms have slowly made their comeback and CSA programs have popularized. This has brought the image of the woman farmer out into the public, perhaps for the first time. Add to that the farm-to-table movement and, “People [are growing] more invested in where their food comes from, they want to know the backstory behind it all,” Petrocco says. And a lot of the time, that answer is going to be: women. This feminist inertia has been amplified by innovations in farm technology, which has changed the scope of women’s ability to do more physical tasks. “Less need for physical force allows more petite women to do those kinds of jobs,” Ravenkamp says. “When I was growing up, we used small 50-pound hay bales to feed our

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FEBRUARY 3rd + 4th 2017 WWW.COLORADO.EDU/ECENTER/BIONEERS cattle. We’d pick them up ... and move them ourselves, stack them, and feed our cattle. My grandma — 90 pounds soaking wet — I never saw her chuck a bale. I don’t even know if she could have. On our farm today, we use a loader to pick up 1,500-pound loads of hay and feed our cattle that way. If my grandma were still alive today, she’d be able to feed them.” She adds, “Technology added efficiency to man hours, meaning farms could rely less on manpower. So then the men would continue to do the work in the field, but it freed women up to also go inside. And you can’t forget that work inside the home is just as important for a household farm to run.” Alongside the shift toward family-style, localized farming systems and technological innovations, Ravenkamp believes that time will also help the case for women famers. “As the age of farmers changes, things will naturally change,” she says. “The young men that are graduating high school now are growing up with the [21st century] mentality that girls can do what boys do. So as those young men and women enter into agriculture, I think that old, traditional mentality will naturally phase out. When I was young I heard other men make comments to my dad about how I wasn’t a man, but I don’t hear people talk that way about my daughters now. And this isn’t necessarily unique to agriculture.” Meagan Schipanski, an assistant professor in Colorado State Univer-

sity’s department of Soil and Crop Sciences, agrees. “In terms of the student body,” she says of the agriculture classes she teaches at CSU, “At least 50 percent are women.” In fact, women’s enrollment in the soil and crop sciences degree program jumped from 29 percent in 2010, to 45 percent last year. “Still, if you go to a crop consulting meeting, you still see mostly men. But there are still more women than before,” she admits. “But, as someone who does do a lot of crop research with mostly male farmers, there has been nothing but respect and positive attitudes [between us].” This rejuvenation of the woman farmer is sparking change across the entire industry. “What I do see as a real change now is that we are seeing more women in industry positions — agricultural consulting, selling seeds, agronomists. As soon as a few really competent women broke into industry positions, it opened the door for other women to follow in their footsteps. And I appreciate the work that these women have done, knowing that it would be challenging,” Ravenkamp says. “By the very nature of being mold breakers, it frees up women farmers to be mold breakers all over.” Respond: info@boulderganic.com


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Fall food trends Two local chefs talk about what’s hip in food

If your gut doesn’t process gluten, Blackbelly Market has options aplenty.

by Mariah Taylor


ike anything good in life, the food industry is always in flux, changing and growing according to the latest tastes like a living, breathing organism. One year the trend is white tablecloths and threecourse meals, the next it’s bone marrow donuts served out of a humming food truck. These fashions and fluctuations are almost unpredictable, but to help us gain a bit of insight into the coming Boulder restaurant world, we talked to two renowned local chefs: Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Market and Alec Schuler of Tangerine and Arugula. Here’s what they have to say about fall food trends.

Photos courtesy of Blackbelly Market

White tablecloths are stuffy. Best to trade them for a classic burger. As Schuler has learned from his experience running two very different local restaurants — appetite for the hamburger is alive and well. While Tangerine’s more casual atmosphere has flourished, the fine-dinging ambiance of Arugula has begun to fall flat with younger restaurant-goers. Thus, on Oct. 6, he will unveil a new, more casual menu to suit this growing taste for informality at Arugula. “I feel that the standard fine dining — white-tableclothorder-an-appetizer-order-an-entrée-order-a -dessert style — doesn’t really have a long-term future,” Schuler says. “The diners under 45 don’t want to eat that way. They want it more casual. They maybe, yes, want a good glass of cabernet, but also have a hamburger with their cabernet rather than the filet mignon.” Corwin Sheahan, an engineering student at University of Colorado Boulder and member of the under-45 group, says his ideal dining experience falls under this level of simplicity, minus the cabernet. “Overall, I want to have good service, a great craft beer selection and excellent tasting food,” Sheahan says. Hamburgers included.

But that’s not to say that all diners want a slice of beef on a wheat-filled bun. As you might have noticed, food allergy-conscious menus are as prevalent as the burger. Gluten allergies, and others, are becoming more easily accommodated. “I’ve seen, over the last couple years, a bigger increase in

••••••• “I feel that the standard fine dining ... doesn’t really have a longterm future.” — Alec Schuler, owner, Tangerine •••••••

FOOD TRENDS continued on page 20


Bringing self-sufficiency and sustainability home FOOD TRENDS from page 19 Justin Copious Joffe

Justin Copious Joffe

allergies, especially gluten,” Rosenberg, of Blackbelly Market, says. “So our menu, without even trying that hard, is very Paleo-friendly. We do a lot of meat and a lot of vegetables so that kind of falls into play with gluten intolerance. The dairy thing is a little tougher; I like to work with butter. But the wheat/gluten thing has become pretty easy for us.” Alec Schuler, owner of Arugula restaurant, says the eaters are making a shift to a more casual environment.


Menus should be understandable for the average Joe. For Schuler, adapting menu items to be palatable for those of us who didn’t go to culinary school was a necessary lesson in adapting to new trends. “We had a corn risotto topped with heirloom tomatoes and alto

adige speck [at Arugula],” Schuler says. “But the average Joe might not think of those combinations together, even though it was delicious. So, I thought, let’s just give them paella or squash risotto — something they can immediately identify with. People want it more casual and more relaxed, not ‘I can’t pronounce the name of that dish. What is it?’” But that doesn’t mean that restaurant-goers will be talked down to. “The dining public is much more educated about food now,” Rosenberg says. “People really want to know where the ingredients come from, so sourcing is probably one of the most important things great chefs and great restaurants are doing — knowing exactly where the food is coming from and working with great farms, great

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ranches and great artisan purveyors so that you can explain all of the ingredients in a dish and their prominence.” The result is a restaurant full of employees that can tell you exactly where the food came from, the name of the ranch where your cut of meat was raised, every ingredient in each dish, the age that the pig you’re eating was when it died and how it was treated in its lifetime. Not unlike an episode of Portlandia. Quality dining and fine dining are different. The former can include even the little people. “I’m actually excited about making the menu at Arugula more casual, because I have kids — I have four young sons and I’m a busy person,” Schuler says. “I’m looking, personally, less for that fine dining experience anymore.” Rosenberg agrees that fine dining doesn’t have to be the stale, special event experience it used to be. “There’s a certain level of perfection that’s associated with what fine dining means,” he says. “However, a lot of restaurants, ours included, can offer really high-end cuisine and great service but it doesn’t have to be in such a serious environment.” Open kitchens are becoming more and more common in restaurants across the country.

It’s cool to be transparent. Many establishments are embrac-

ing open environments as they move away from fine-dining models and towards new trends. “We’re very physically transparent in [Blackbelly],” Rosenberg says. “We have an open kitchen in the restaurant and the butcher shop is wide open so you can see everything that we’re doing. You see more and more of that where chefs are on display. People like it. It’s fun to watch — it’s entertaining but it also makes the statement that we’re not hiding anything. There are no tricks going on in the back. The food is being made the way it should be.” Showcasing the kitchen can put those restaurant-goers with a desire for cleanliness at ease in this regard. “Nothing makes me want to run away screaming from a restaurant than a dirty appearance,” Sheahan says. “Cleanliness is also an extension of atmosphere. I definitely will discriminate my dining choices based on atmosphere.” These fall dining trends embrace a feeling of juxtapositions: high-end restaurants fit with deep fryers; classic, greasy cheeseburgers made with locally sourced products; glutenfree menu items nestled neatly next to wheat crust pizzas. And while the concept of fine dining is certainly changing, the prevalence of good food in Boulder is certainly not in danger. Respond: info@boulderganic.com


What we see when we see food Recalibrating how we view food by Michael J. Casey


All photos courtesy of Peg Leg Films

re we looking at our food wrong? In 2010, Lady Gaga attended the MTV Video Music Awards clad in a dress made of raw flank steak. Designed by Franc Fernandez and styled by Nicola Formichetti, the Gaga meat dress accomplished exactly what she hoped: It drew attention from the press, dominated social conversations, brought the ire of animal rights groups and solidified her status as a pop icon. Later on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Gaga claimed that the dress was her statement on being viewed as “a piece of meat.” Jump ahead six years to current day and Tasty videos, courtesy of Buzzfeed.com, have started to proliferate Facebook feeds. These one-minute videos show how to make easy, everyday meals, but they do so by speeding up the image to race past the time of cooking and preparation. Interestingly, the videos will often slow down and cut to a close up of an action. These cuts are almost always suggestively erotic. The term “food porn” has been bandied around recently in conjunction with the plethora of cooking shows on TV, but Tasty takes that to the next level by turning the food into a form of pornographic desire. But Tasty, Gaga and cooking shows can’t hold a candle to Harley Morenstein and his web series, Epic Meal Time, which gives a one-finger salute to serious cooking — with recipes like churro poutine, Doritos Mac & Cheetos and spaghetti Western omelette sandwich pizza lasagna. The food that Morenstein and company appropriate for Epic Meal Time serves more of a comedic sensibility than anything else — you might be able to eat their concoctions, but it would be advisable not to. Gaga used food to make a political statement — much in the same way that Andy Warhol used food, notably commercial food, to make an artistic one in 1962 — but all of these, Tasty how-to videos included, divorce the image of the food from the original intent and purpose, namely sustenance for humans and animals. This idea is far from new, but it is getting stronger. Movie screens, TV shows and internet advertising... all 22

‘Just Eat It’ is a documentary about the massive amount of food waste that accumulates globally, and a couple that dedicated six months to eating “rescued“ food.

shape how we view and define the world around us. And as our perceived definition of these images change, so does our understanding. “Hollywood sidelines film products that fail to promote the mainstream vision of food as an expendable consumer product,” Cynthia Baron, Diane Carson and Mark Bernard write in their critical study on food and film representation, Appetites and Anxieties. “[P]rofit-driven films deliver a circumscribed picture of food that emphasizes consumption rather than labor, and immediate pleasure rather than longterm consequence.” “What I find interesting is the way that it is the benefit of both the food and film industry that people think about food as just a commodity,” Baron says. “As just something to consume and throw away.” Dr. Baron, a professor of theater and film at Bowling Green State University, points out that it isn’t just the production and transportation that isn’t depicted in mainstream

••••••• “Hollywood sidelines film products that fail to promote the mainstream vision of food as an expendable consumer product.” — Appetites and Anxieties •••••••

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circumscribed picture of food that emphasizes consumption rather than labor, and immediate pleasure rather than long-term consequence.” “What I find interesting is the way that it is the benefit of both the food and film industry that people think about food as just a commodity,” Baron says. “As just something to consume and throw away.” Dr. Baron, a professor of theater and film at Bowling Green State University, points out that it isn’t just the production and transportation that isn’t depicted in mainstream film and television, but the waste and disposal as well. “You hardly ever see clean up, and never disposal,” Baron says. “So, it just magically appears and it magically disappears?” That “magical” aspect Baron refers to is the labor involved — labor that occasionally makes an appearance in independent productions, but rarely graces mainstream screens. “There used to be, in the 1920s, regularly circulated movies ... about working-class characters,” Baron explains. “Those films have all been eliminated. ... The labor involved in running this beautiful country has just been eliminated. It has to be wiped off the screen.” Audiences demanding escapist pleasures and entertainment drove labor from the screens. Why pay money to go sit and watch someone work? And what do people do while they watch movies? They eat. Which is how the theaters make money in the first place. “Watching Killer of Sheep [Charles Burnett’s 1978 drama about an African-American family living in Los Angeles’s Watts District], particularly the scenes in the slaughterhouse, doesn’t really want to make you gulp down that Coke or chomp on that popcorn,” Baron says. Realism is not the aim, getting the customer to buy another Coke or a Snickers bar is. As Appetites and Anxieties put it: “Advertisers and lobbyists work overtime to keep food and film consum-

ers focused on the pleasures of the FMCGs, the ‘fast-moving-consumer-goods’ sold by the linked industries.” And if food has no value beyond a consumer product on our screens, how can we expect it to overcome that handicap in real life? Jenny Rustemeyer is one-half of the documentary team behind Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Upon learning that 40 percent of the food produced globally ultimately ends up in the trash, Rustemeyer and her partner, Grant Baldwin, undertake a selfimposed six-month challenge where they subsist on nothing but “rescued” food. Most of this food is taken from the dumpsters, but Rustemeyer and Baldwin don’t live off table scraps — the food they find discarded is perfectly fine and fully sealed. Just Eat It is a must see. Watching it is both fascinating and infuriating as Rustemeyer and Baldwin try to understand why perfectly good food would go to waste when so many are hungry. But as Rustemeyer and Baldwin find, what gets discarded and why all stems from a root assumption about how food is seen. Just Eat It identifies three instances where the majority of food waste takes place. The first occurs in the field where perfectly fine food is discarded out of necessity: celery pickers hack off four to five stalks per bunch so it can fit in the plastic bag it will be purchased in. This waste is a practical one; the bag’s not big enough. Then the food travels to the supermarket where it remains unpurchased by the consumer and eventually discarded by the store because something about the product looks off. This waste is an aesthetic one; paying customers want to buy the best-looking product. Then the food goes home, lives in the fridge or on a shelf where it is forgotten and spoils. This waste is neglect. While the first two forms of waste may be understandable, home waste seems the most infuriating and confusing. The consumer voluntarily and willing purchased the product from the store,

••••••• “We have a strange mental process that once we buy the food, we put it in our fridge and forget that we paid money for it.” — Jenny Rustemeyer •••••••

“Rescued” food might took it home and completely not look like you think forgot about it. Why? — many times food “Talking to one of my is thrown away fully friends who grew up in a low- packaged and still fresh enough to eat. income family, having abundance in her house is really important to her,” Rustemeyer says. “She doesn’t want to feel like she’s poor; she wants to feel like she’s providing for everybody. That’s a tough thing to balance. Of course, we want to have enough food, and we want to have enough extra food so that if someone drops by you can serve them too.” That transforms home waste from one of neglect to one of social participation. Rustemeyer’s friend wants to prove that they are a valuable provider: An abundance of food equals an abundance of wealth. Oddly enough, the same equation doesn’t carry over when the food is tossed out. Wasting food is not like wasting money. Considering that few people are free of any form of debt — student loans, mortgage, car payment, credit cards, etc. — it seems absurd that amount of food voluntarily purchased should be wasted. “We have a strange mental process that once we buy the food, we put it in our fridge and forget that we paid money for it. And it doesn’t seem valuable,” Rustemeyer says. “That’s a big social shift that has to happen. That’s why I see a lot of campaigns trying to appeal to people about the money.” Rustemeyer is quick to point out that for some, the ethical offenses of food waste will motivate people to change. That is where food banks and local places like Boulder Food Rescue come in. Or the Daily Table in Massachusetts, a nonprofit retail store that sells rescued food that would otherwise be wasted by other supermarket chains. As Just Eat It shows, there are plenty of ways to reduce individual waste and help be a part of the solution, but if major change is going to take place, we must first start by acknowledging what the food on our plate represents. Food is the product of sacrifice, hard work and time. But that is a major change in everyday thinking, and to get there we are going to need a very tall pulpit and a very large bullhorn. Maybe the movies can help. Respond: info@boulderganic.com


Honey-like sweetness Making dandelion wine in Gold Hill by Carolyn Oxley

Carolyn Oxley


ention dandelion wine to a literary enthusiast, and they’ll probably speak of the 1957 novel by Ray Bradbury. Mention it to Boulder County resident Mary Ryan, and she’ll produce a bottle of 30-year-old

Carolyn Oxley

Mary Ryan’s love for foraging, combined with a sense of efficiency she learned on her family’s farm, has led her to make dandelion and wild fruit wines at her home in Gold Hill.


homemade dandelion wine and three vintage, gold-filigreed shot glasses. It’s early September, and I’ve made the gritty drive up Lefthand Canyon and Lickskillet Road to arrive at Mary’s cabin in Gold Hill, 11 miles west of Boulder. A weekend houseguest has joined me for this Sunday expedition, and we park on a hushed dirt road and gently push our way through Mary’s tilted gate. We’re greeted by Iris, a cheerful Australian Shepherd who — Mary explains later — was meant to be miniature but whose genes missed the memo. Iris is a sizeable bundle of snout and fur and is thrilled to have visitors. She bounces through the tall grass as Mary leads us around the side of her house to an unobtrusive camper parked in the

backyard. Petite in jeans and hiking boots, Mary’s gray hair ends in a wave at her shoulders. She wears a long-sleeved black shirt and brown leather vest. Against her tanned face, her eyes shine like bright pennies. Mary’s backyard is a study in mountain life. She keeps chopped wood in a hutch, four hens in a tarpaulincovered coop. They keep her in eggs all year, she says, even during the winter. A half-tree, dark and leafless, juts upward near the fence. A china cup hangs from the tree on a nail like a bangle. Below the cup, an animal’s jawbone arcs against the tree like a bleached moon. We settle ourselves at a small table inside the camper. Mary leaves and returns with a dark green wine bottle, repurposed more than three decades ago as a vessel for her homemade dandelion wine. She pours a taste into each of the shot glasses. The wine is a buttery yellow. On the tongue, it conveys subtle herbal and citrus notes and a honey-like sweetness. This particular bottle has developed into a dessert wine, and as we sit in Mary’s backyard — September’s scent breezing through the open camper door, hens chattering nearby and Iris sitting observantly at the threshold — I feel very much like I’m swallowing sunshine itself. Mary has three or four such bottles tucked away in her cellar, having forgotten them after that particular long-ago bottling. It was back when Mary had been in Gold Hill for almost 25 years. Now she’s been here for 54, having moved up the canyon with her husband in 1962 following a stint in university housing at Boulder’s Chautauqua Park. More than a hundred years old, the cabin has witnessed the raising of Mary’s two daughters and her initial efforts at making dandelion wine. “That was back when you bribed the kids to go pick a gallon bucket of dandelion blooms,” she explains. “You just use the yellow part, not the green. You wash it and start the process with boiling water. One of these magazines has the whole process,” she says, gesturing to a stack of yellow Capper’s magazines she keeps on the table. “And then, you know, you put it in a stone crock and let it ferment — add your sugar or honey yeast, and oranges.”

Bringing self-sufficiency and sustainability home

Considered by many to be a pervasive weed, dandelion is revered by others for its healthgiving properties. Well-regarded by ancient cultures, dandelion tonics have traditionally been used to support the liver and the digestive system and to remove toxins from the bloodstream. A gentle diuretic, dandelion was reportedly used by Persian pharmacists as early as 900 A.D. and is believed to have been intentionally transported to North America by Europeans who prized it both for its medicinal qualities and its value as a reminder of their native homes. “Dandelion” is a corruption of the French name for the flower: dent de lion. Meaning “lion’s tooth,” the name is a reference to the plant’s serrated leaves. Early North American settlers, accustomed to seeking nutritional support from seasonal plants, incorporated dandelion leaves into salad, dried and ground its roots to brew a coffee substitute, and plucked the dandelion’s bright yellow blooms each spring to make wine. Aged through the summer and autumn, the wine could be ready to drink by Christmas, cheering settlers through the harsh winter months. Raised on her family’s farm in south-central Kansas, Mary grew up during a time when such self-sufficiency and seasonal alignment were critical to a family’s survival. “You could dress a chicken, you could hoe the garden, you could drive the tractor, you could milk the cow, you could get on the horse and help herd the cattle,” she says, cataloguing her childhood responsibilities. “Putting up food was part of it, too. Canning — picking the wild plums and apples and whatever was available at the time.”

Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism There was a diesel passenger train, too, nicknamed the Doodlebug. “You put the cream and the milk cans on to go to Wichita, and that’s how it went to market.” It was these lessons in efficiency and a love of foraging — gleaning her ingredients from nature — that led Mary to add dandelion wine-making to her seasonal culinary pursuits and, later, to experiment with wild fruit wines. “I ask myself why I like to do this,” Mary says thoughtfully as we finish our glasses, “and part of it’s the gathering — the going out and picking the chokecherries or the elderberries or the crabapples. It’s more than just sitting down and opening a bottle of wine and drinking it. I think I give more away than I keep.”

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••••••• Aged through the summer and autumn, Dandelion dandelion wine Wine Recipe could be ready To make a gallon of dandelion wine to drink by you have to start by Christmas, picking approximately a gallon container cheering early full of fresh dandeliNorth American on blossoms. Put the yellow flowers into a settlers through two-gallon or larger the harsh winter open crock and pour 1 gallon boiling months. water over them. Cover the crock with ••••••• cheesecloth and then

be patient. You have to let sit at room temperature for three full days. Then squeeze the juice from the flowers, keeping the liquid and tossing the squeezed flowers in the trash. Put the liquid into a large pot and add: • 3 lbs. raw sugar • 3 or 4 whole lemons, chopped • 3 or 4 whole oranges, chopped Cover pot and boil mixture for 30 minutes. Cool to lukewarm. Pour into a crock and add 1 1/2 to 2 packages of yeast. Cover with cheesecloth and let it sit for two or three weeks until the bubbling stops. Filter the liquid through cheesecloth and bottle. Respond: info@boulderganic.com


Fall’s forgotten fruit Go deeper than pumpkin spice, with the original flavor source by Billy Singleton


hen it comes to fall time, pumpkins are about as American as it gets. But according to Chris Royster, the chef de cuisine at Boulder’s Flagstaff House, many of us don’t even know what they taste like. Since we eat them almost exclusively in pumpkin pie, many people confuse the taste of pumpkin with that of pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice is somewhat of a misnomer — while it plays a prominent role in pumpkin pie it contains no pumpkin or pumpkin flavor. “When they taste, for instance, a roasted pumpkin

Susan France

risotto, chili, hummus, sauces, pancakes, waffles and brittles, not to mention classics like pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. “It’s pretty versatile,” Engel says. “There really is the idea out there that you can’t utilize it as you would other winter squashes out there, but that isn’t the case.” Before you get started cooking with pumpkin, there are a few things you’ll want to know about pumpkin selection. Avoid big, jack-o’-lantern style pumpkins, as they were built for size, not taste. Opt instead for a medium-sized one. Specifically, you’re looking for a firm pumpkin without any soft spots. Avoid discoloration if possible. The pumpkin should feel heavy for its size — a good indicator of ripeness. As far as pumpkin-type goes, it depends on what you’re going to use it for. There are so many types available for cooking that your best bet may be to ask. That said, it’s hard to go wrong with anything labeled “sugar pumpkin” or “pie pumpkin.”

Roasted pumpkin and bitter green salad

with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper, that flavor isn’t what people associate with pumpkin,” Royster says. “But that’s kind of what I like to do.” Even the most common canned variety looks and tastes more like a butternut squash than an ordinary pumpkin. The real tragedy isn’t just that one of America’s most iconic native foods is almost completely unrepresented in our cuisine — it’s that there are so many applications we could be using it for and, for the most part, are not. When asked about pumpkin’s other applications, Royster and The Kitchen Bistro’s Dave Engel hardly knew where to start. Over the course of our conversations, they rattled off suggestions including seeds, salads, soups, dressings, curries, ravioli, lasagna, 26

One of the most straightforward uses for pumpkin is in salad. Because of the ease of this recipe, I’m going to provide recommendations rather than a strict list of ingredients. The directions will deal with roasting the pumpkin only. The rest is up to you — feel free to get creative. For four servings or less, you’ll need only a single, small pumpkin. Bitter greens (arugula, watercress, radicchio) are ideal because they’ll provide a contrast to the roasted pumpkin’s sweetness. I recommend topping it with a light balsamic vinaigrette and pine nuts. Other seasonal fruit, apples for instance, pair well with pumpkins too. Just remember to keep it light — the pumpkin and its natural flavor is the main event here. Preheat your oven to 400°F, gut the pumpkin, and scrape out the remaining seeds and innards. Cut the flesh into cubes or wedges. Butter lightly and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. After they’ve cooled, remove the skin and they’re ready for use in your salad. You may be surprised to find flavors completely outside the realm of your expectations.

Pumpkin pancakes This next recipe is just a small step up on the difficulty ladder. Since it doesn’t require too much pumpkin,

Bringing self-sufficiency and sustainability home

you might be best off buying your puree at the store. You can make your own, but you’ll need a food processor or blender. The sweetness and ease of this recipe makes it great for kids. This recipe makes four or five pancakes. 1 1/2 cups flour 3 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (optional) 2 tablespoons butter 1 egg 1 cup milk 1/2 cup pumpkin puree If you’re making your own pumpkin puree, you’ll want to roast your pumpkin (this process described in the previous recipe), blend well and strain. Mix the dry ingredients together (for a pumpkin-pie taste, include pumpkin spice). Do the same for the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Then combine the two. Oil a frying pan or griddle and bring it to medium-high heat. Add a pancake’s worth of batter and cook until the bottom is golden brown, then flip and repeat. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

you’ll need to make your own pumpkin puree. Follow the steps in the salad recipe to roast your pumpkin, and puree it with a blender or food processor. Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter. Over medium heat, add flour and whisk until smooth. Then add milk, 1 cup at a time, while continuing to whisk, making sure to smooth out any clumps. Add the pumpkin puree, stir. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes — the sauce should be fairly thick. Add a tablespoon of nutmeg and salt to taste. Remove from heat. Oil pan and cook chopped mushrooms, onions and garlic over medium heat. When tender, add spinach and stir for a minute or so. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Boil lasagna sheets until al dente. Follow directions on packaging. Coat the bottom of a 9” by 13” baking dish with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of pasta, followed by mozzarella and ricotta, then vegetables, then sauce. Repeat. Top the final pasta layer with the remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese. Cover and bake at 375°F for 45 minutes. Let it cool and serve.

Pumpkin Bechamel Lasagna

Finding pumpkins

This is a vegetarian lasagna with a pumpkin bechamel sauce replacing the traditional tomato sauce. It serves six to eight people, and it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Sauce: 1 small-medium sized pumpkin (or a can of puree) 1/2 cup flour 3/4 stick of butter 5 cups milk 1 tablespoon nutmeg Salt Lasagna: 16 oz lasagna sheets 1 1/2 cups ricotta 1 1/2 cups mozzarella 1/2 cup grated parmesan 1 onions 8 oz mushrooms 2 cups spinach If you’re using canned pumpkin, skip to the next paragraph. If not,

In Boulder, we’re lucky enough to have access to quality, locally grown, organic pumpkins. While ordinary, store-bought pumpkins are available too, you might consider tasting the difference for yourself. Royster and Engel recommend Boulder’s Cure Organic Farm and Munson Farms, respectively. Both are located at 75th and Valmont, just east of Boulder, and have stands at Boulder’s biweekly farmers’ markets. While Engel buys upwards of 1,000 pounds of pumpkins from Munson Farms each year for use at the Kitchen, these farms are just as great for picking up a single pumpkin or two. The important thing, Engel says, is not to be intimidated. Experiment, have fun and enjoy the forgotten taste of this nostalgic comfort food. Respond: info@boulderganic.com


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Eat, drink or shine? A cautionary tale of winter soups by Robert Eric Shoemaker


hree drinks are in front of me. One is a glass of water, refilled multiple times. One is an amber pilsner in a cozy stein. One is a cup of bone broth. I meditate for a long time on which to finish first. Should I down the beer now, followed by the water and broth, so that I am less tipsy by the time my interview with the chefs begins? Or is it more prudent to spread the beer out between sips of the other beverages in the hopes that I am only “slightly” buzzed should the interview begin earlier than expected? I’ll let you guess which path I chose. The only hint I’ll supply: My body temperature was higher than usual by the time I spoke with the Blissful Sisters. If this sounds like a parable, you’re right on. I’m here to recommend to you several winter soup recipes, couched inside a real-life cautionary tale about a bisque, a blender and several glasses of wine. But first a chat with the Emich sisters. The Blissful Sisters — Jessica, Jen, and Jill Emich — run Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place in Downtown Boulder. Shine is a largely “paleo” restaurant. The sisters recently released a book of their recipes, which include several cold-weather soups, and with the fall coming on fast, I hastened in for a discussion on produce, soups and the merits of clean cooking. Cooking is about “being open to being creative,” Jen says. “For me, I like this flavor and this flavor, and how can I turn it into a recipe?” “It definitely takes making recipes a lot of times and finding something I love, and being able to duplicate it again,” Jessica says. “From there, I will use my running note pad in the kitchen and keep doing it until it’s where I want it.” The sisters have been cooking since they were children, when their parents taught them. Their cooking inspiration comes from experience and seasonal knowledge. “If I know butternut squash is good at this time, I’m gonna make a recipe for this. That’s what jazzes me and gets me excited,” Jen says. For Jessica, the focus of cooking is nature. “When I’m out on different farms, seeing what’s blossoming and blooming at different times of year, and I’m like, God, it’s gorgeous, I want to make something spectacular with that,” she says. “And that’s why a lot of our recipes are simple, because you’re honoring the ingredients when it’s simple and you can see what you’re eating and taste each ingredient.” Favorite produce among the sisters includes cauliflower and beets. “We have a really good local source [for beets]: Dark

Farms. [It’s] a little farm, and we’ve been working with [Dark Farms] for 15 years,” Jen says. Jill explains that beets are cleansing to the liver, which she says is “where we store a lot of our emotions.” Cauliflower has also played a large role in the Emich sisters’ cooking, though Jill says some people may think its traditional color indicates a lack of pizzazz. “So they don’t think it’s fun, but we showcase it in what you made, the Wild Mushroom Bisque; it’s a soup thickener.” Which brings us to our cautionary parable. To add a bit of spice to this article, I asked the trio to provide some “difficult” recipes for me to try out at home, prior to our interview, in the hopes that something hilarious (and perhaps embarrassing) would occur. They introduced me to their book, Eat Drink Shine, and two cold-weather soup recipes involving pounds upon pounds of crisp vegetables. Surely I’d be up to the task?

••••••• “You’re honoring the ingredients when it’s simple and you can see what you’re eating and taste each ingredient.” — Jessica Emich ••••••• Cary Jobe

The Emich sisters talk experimenting in the kitchen and winter soups.

*Disclaimer: These recipes are not truly difficult. They involve some prep time and ingredients you may be unfamiliar with, but the main inspiration for the recipe comes from experimentation with love in the kitchen. I’m more of a “throw it in a pot and boil it” cook, so feel free to ignore my story and imagine or embark on one of your own. To start my cooking extravaganza, I prepared the immense number of vegetables that end up in the stock. Sans the recommended seaweed, I prepared seven different produce items. I also cheated a bit by adding bay leaves instead of fresh parsley, which may have been nothing more than rookie luck but ended up knocking the stock’s flavor out of the park. While the broth stewed, I proceeded to prep/bake/sauté/ WINTER SOUPS continued on page 30


Bringing self-sufficiency and sustainability home WINTER SOUPS continued from page 29

boil the vegetables included in both the “Squash and Pear Soup with Spiced Coconut Milk” and the “Vegan Wild Mushroom Bisque.” That “Bisque” title in the cookbook should have been a gigantic red for me. I realized late in the game — postpurchasing, post-prep — that I had not purchased the “assortment of mushrooms” that the bisque recipe calls for. I had instead purchased baby bella mushrooms, which I had hoped to use in both the vegetable stock and the bisque. I also had no blender.

Vegan Wild Mushroom Bisque

Serves: 6-8 Ingredients: 1 small head cauliflower, florets separated and chopped 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 1/2 cups cashew pieces 1 large apple, chopped 2 cups mushrooms, chopped 1 shallot, minced 1/2 cup white wine 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaf 2 teaspoon fresh sage, minced 6 cups vegetable stock 1 pinch ground nutmeg sea salt to taste

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Preparation: 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 2. Toss the cauliflower with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt in a mixing bowl. Move to a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven until tender and lightly browned, approximately 20 minutes. 3. Rinse cashews with water and place in a small pot and add enough water to cover. Bring the cashews to a boil and then lower to simmer for 30 minutes. 5. Heat a large pot and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped apple and mushrooms and a dash of salt and sauté until soft and caramelized. 6. Add the minced shallot and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add white wine to the pot and reduce the liquid by two thirds. 7. Stir in the roasted cauliflower, thyme and sage. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for

30 minutes. 8. Drain and rinse the cooked cashews. Put the cashews in a highpowered blender and fill with just enough water to cover the cashews. Blend on high until the cashew mixture is silky smooth and creamy. Pulse in the nutmeg. 9. Puree the soup with the cashew cream in a blender (in batches) or by using a hand (immersion) blender. Blend until smooth. Return mixture back to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes to develop the flavors. I was reminded in that moment of a line I’d read: “I made a soup with burned spices. I would not give up hope for good news.” I proceeded to make the “wild” mushroom bisque with no blender but a modicum of hope that I might be able to mash it into submission. I am not the masher I thought I was (or once was?). The mushrooms and cauliflower refused to yield to my desperate pleas. After that experience, I recommend a blender. Highly recommend a blender. The flavors of this soup come out when the cashew is blended thoroughly with the mushroom, and without that consistency, you don’t have “bisque” so much as soup-salad. The butternut squash/pear soup turned out much better than my mushroom stew. The pear flavors open up the squash’s unmistakably autumnal texture and juices, creating a bellywarming and filling experience. The pecan topping is much more than a garnish; it brings fall into the dining room, and I highly recommend including it.

Squash and Pear Soup with Spiced Coconut Milk

Yield: 6-8 Servings Ingredients: 3 pounds acorn or butternut squash 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1/2 small yellow onion 1 celery rib, chopped 2 pears, skinned - seeded- and chopped 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock 1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 teaspoon fresh ginger

Bringing self-sufficiency and sustainability home

1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 pinch ground nutmeg 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 tablespoons chopped pecans sea salt to taste Preparation: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. 3. Brush the flesh side of the squash with coconut oil and place flesh down on a baking sheet. 4. Bake the squash until tender (approximately 35 minutes.) 5. Meanwhile, in a soup pot, heat coconut oil and saute onion, celery and pear with a bit of salt until softened and lightly caramelized. 6. Add stock and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. 7. Scoop out squash and add to stock. 8. Add the canned coconut milk, maple syrup, ginger, spices and vanilla extract and simmer for another 30 minutes. 9. Blend with a hand high powered blender or in batches in a high powered blender. 10. Serve in bowls garnished with pecans. As for the mushroom bisque, it languishes in my refrigerator waiting for the additional appliance. If you’re interested in eating clean and feeling the fun and “empowerment” of cooking, here are a few tips from the Blissful Sisters: 1. “Seconds”: At some restaurants and the farmers’ market, you can get lower quality produce for much cheaper, and sometimes, that’s perfect for your dish. It’s a good way to introduce your family to new vegetables and get comfortable in the kitchen playing with those less popular vegetables. (Jessica) 2. Farmshares: Many local farms will sell you boxes of produce on a regular basis, making those exciting new vegetables a frequent (and cheaper) part of your kitchen. (Jessica) 3. Grow your own: I started with cucumbers and basil, and thought, ‘Wow, I can do this!’ And as you get more versatile you can plant more things. (Jill) 4. Fermenting: This adds flavor and

Cary Jobe

digestive qualities to any dish. And it’s not hard. A bit of salt in the produce brine and let it sit, and you have delicious ingredients. (Jen) 5. Whole animals: Buy a whole chicken, and use all of the parts. It’s good for the environment and good for you. Plus, chicken feet make a great addition to stock/broth. (Jessica) Respond: info@boulderganic.com


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