Member of Edible Communities
Issue No. 20
Celebrating Local Foods, Season by Season
Flavor of the Forest CHAMPAGNE • JAPANESE FARM FOOD THE WAY OF TEA • PRAIRIE FIELDS FARM BONHOMIE ACRES • CACKLER FARMS CONIFERS
Contents 2014 Features
Departments Letter from the Publisher
How the farming traditions of the East meet the West in a traditional Japanese kitchen By Sarah Lagrotteria, Photography by Kenji Miura
Letter from the Editor Local & In Season
Cackler Farms The story of the Cacklers and their generations-old Christmas tree farm By Nancy McKibben, Photography by Jodi Miller
Behind the Bottle Local Medicine
Flavor of the Forest Recipes to inspire cooking with conifers for the winter season By Sarah Lagrotteria, Photography by Ryan Benyi, Styling by Bridget Henry
Policy Matters Edible Nation
Japanese Farm Food
From Land to Look Athens-based designer Kevin Morgan and Snowville Creamery owners Warren and Victoria Taylor
take on the challenge of designing the look of local food By Eric LeMay, Photography by Sarah Warda
Local Foodshed On the Cover: Pinecones from the Dripping Rocks trail at Highbanks Metro Park and a cup of
From the Good Earth
warm matcha tea. See page 42 for winter recipes using pine from Recipe Editor Sarah Lagrotteria,
and a recipe for traditional Japanese matcha on page 20. Photo by © Ryan Benyi, ryanbenyi.com, styled by Bridget Henry, bridgethenry.com, retouched by Dylan Stanley dylan-stanley.com
RECIPES 8 Kale Holiday Salad • 25 Matcha Green Tea • 28 Miso Soup • 30 Sweet-Vinegared Daikon and Carrots • 32 Raw Egg on Hot Rice • 59 Evergreen Tea 59 Perfectly Baked Potatoes with Pine Butter • 59 Pine-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Parsnips and Onions • 61 Pine-Roasted Beets with Yogurt 61 Evergreen Shortbread Cookies
PHOTO BY © JODI MILLER, JODIMILLER.PHOTOSHELTER.COM
4 6 8 11 13 16 18 20 34 38 64
letter from the Publisher
edible Columbus “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” —Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Publisher & Editor in Chief
Tricia Wheeler Managing Editor & Editor
Colleen Leonardi Recipe Editor Sarah Lagrotteria Copy Editors
Doug Adrianson • Susanna Cantor
agree with Jackie Kennedy—if you bungle raising your children, what else matters? My plan since the doctor put my daughter in my arms eight years ago has been to raise her to be a kind, compassionate, worldly individual with many interests and curiosities. Ever since she was a little girl, she has worried about the homeless, the less fortunate, and the hungry. She can’t stand the thought that people do not have a home or food— her little face is pained when we see someone in need of help. We always give money and leftovers, if we have them, and we talk to her about all the many reasons that can lead to someone finding themselves in unfortunate circumstances. On pages 15, 17, and 19 the Mid-Ohio Foodbank tells us how we can help support those in need this season.
Editorial Intern Danielle Vilaplana Design Melissa Petersen Digital & Communications Director
Alexandria Misch Business Development
Shelly Strange Marketing & Sales Consultant
Sarah Maggied Contributors
At Edible Columbus we feel very fortunate to be telling the stories of individuals and families who have chosen to build their business and lives around what they can grow and cultivate on their land. Ohio maple syrup, Christmas trees, and soap from goat milk are some of the things being cultivated by families close by. We will introduce you to them in this issue of Edible Columbus. Seek them out and other Ohio-made products for gifts this season—let’s keep as many of our dollars as local as we can! Edible Columbus would not be possible without our committed advertisers, who not only hope to connect with all of our readers throughout the season but want to support a publication that tries to inspire and connect our community through storytelling. If you would like to support our publication, on page 5 we have a way for readers to be a friend of Edible Columbus. Our subscription drive encourages you to give subscriptions to friends and family and also offers one complimentary subscription when you buy three. Subscriptions also come with a gift enclosure recipe card for our Ohio Eggnog featuring Snowville Cream. It is honestly the best eggnog we have ever tasted! Thank you to all of our readers for your support over the past five years. We have some wonderful new things planned for you in 2015! Have a wondrous, cozy winter.
Tricia Wheeler 4
Ryan Benyi • Bryn Bird •Dawn Combs Tove Danovich • Nancy Singleton Hachisu Bridget Henry • Michelle Herman Debra Knapke • Sarah Lagrotteria Peter Liem • Eric LeMay • Marta Madigan Nancy McKibben • Kenji Miura • Jodi Miller Catherine Murray • Robin Oatts Nicole Rasul • Carole Topalian Alexa Van de Walle • Sarah Warda Teresa Woodard Contact Us
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email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Edible Columbus is published quarterly and distributed throughout Central Ohio. Subscription rate is $25 annually. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission from the publisher. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us. Thank you.
PHOTO BY © CATHERINE MURRAY, PHOTOKITCHEN.NET
During this time of year, I search for ways to make the season less commercial, more authentic, and more meaningful for my daughter. This year we have decided to do a random act of kindness every day between Thanksgiving and the New Year. We are going to do them together and think of things that could brighten a stranger’s day or help someone who we know needs something we can give. I often tell my daughter that everyday happiness comes from little things and usually feels best when it involves helping others.
love winter. I cherish the chance to curl up with a book, a cup of tea, and a bowl of soup, and have my day be defined by introspective moments and simple comforts. Ritual sets in and lighting candles, cooking root vegetables, and calling friends for long talks becomes commonplace. My heart searches for enduring things, for they harbor an everlasting quality that feels like sustenance for the soul.
“The pine stays green in winter ... wisdom in hardship.” —Norman Douglas
Evergreen is everlasting in winter. It’s what drew us to the notion of cooking with pine. We’ve unearthed some facts in our expedition into conjuring the flavors of the forest: the great, native eastern white pine is best for evergreen tea on page 46 and a host of other winter recipes by recipe editor Sarah Lagrotteria; the pilgrims drank pine tea, with its high levels of vitamins A and C, to protect themselves from scurvy; and throughout history, pinecones have been a symbol of enlightenment with their sacred, perfect Fibonacci-like spirals. Pine is also symbolic to the Japanese, for they believe pine trees to be holy, acting as homes for heaven-sent deities. In the New Year, the Japanese place pine branches at the doorways of their homes—a tradition called kadomatsu, meaning “gate pine”—to welcome in the gods. This reverence for the spirit world comes through in the Japanese tea ceremony, sadō, which we share with you on page 20 to inspire a desire to make slow tea this winter with a recipe for homemade matcha. We’re also so happy to share some recipes from Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s cookbook Japanese Farm Food on page 27. Her story of bridging her upbringing in California with her life in Japan is enlivening. We thought her recipes for a fresh Japanese breakfast from the Earth would be the perfect complement to the heavier, Midwestern meals so familiar this time of year. In 2014, the Slow Food Movement celebrated its 25th anniversary. Tove Danovich’s article on page 13 details what our two heroes of the movement—Alice Waters and Carlo Petrini— have to say about how far we’ve come and have yet to travel. Champagne expert and writer, Peter Liem, shares how small, family-run farms are changing the world of Champagne on page 16,
so as you pop a bottle of bubbly this New Year you can have a sense of the place from which it grows, too. And as we look to 2015, Bryn Bird highlights the top five local food policies for the New Year on page 11, bringing clarity to all the ways we can each have an impact on our local food community. Dawn Combs of Mockingbird Meadows on page 18 reminds us of why we need to commit to our roots when it’s cold outside with her recommendations for using local foods as local medicine at a time when our bodies, like the plants outside, need to rest and receive. And we take a peak into the creative process of designer Kevin Morgan on page 54 and how the land of Athens and local food producers like Snowville Creamery have inspired a body of artwork steeped in place, reflective of the way good food and good art arise from the same source. The long months of winter can become unlovable. No doubt. Yet when I pore over the pages of this issue and see all the beautiful ways in which I’m surrounded by a merry band of farmers, growers, producers, eaters, and readers, I don’t despair. I feel my heart warming. This autumn when I wrote about the loss of my brother, Devin, I was stunned by the outpouring of support from our readers. It reminded me that it’s not just food we share and celebrate. It’s also this experience of time passing and being human that binds us issue-to-issue. So thank you for reading, for being a part of the movement, for growing good food and eating good food, and for returning to our pages again and again. May the wisdom of all that is evergreen this winter keep your hearts and homes ripe with growth, love, and light, even as the snow falls and the pine trees whisper their wisdom. Blessings & Gratitude,
PHOTO BY © SARAH WARDA, SARAHWARDA.COM
letter from the editor
local and in season
What to Cook
What to Eat Onions • Parsnips • Potatoes • Winter Squash Turnips • Cabbage • Microgreens • Sprouts Carrots • Maple syrup • Cheese • Milk • Meats Honey • Local staple crops, such as Shagbark’s Black Turtle Beans and Stone Ground Whole Flours
Kale Holiday Salad By Sarah Lagrotteria Serves 6 as a side Fruit, nuts, and cheese—the holy triumvirate of salad making. To this add raw kale and you up your salad’s crunch and its antioxidant levels. In this instance, you also enrich a classic holiday palette of red, white, and green. Dress the kale at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours before serving so the dressing has time to soften the bitter greens into something sweeter and easier to digest. Add the remaining ingredients just before serving. If you’ve never dared crack a pomegranate before, now’s the time. (Shhhh, it’s easy. Directions below.)—SL Ingredients for dressing 2 tablespoons diced shallots 1 tablespoon honey or agave 1 teaspoon Dijon 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 3 tablespoons olive oil
Ingredients for salad 3 heads kale, washed, ribs removed, and cut into chiffonade 1 pomegranate 1 green apple ½ lemon Parmesan cheese, for shaving Pecan halves, lightly toasted
To make dressing: combine all ingredients in a mini food processor or shake together in a jar until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fill a medium-sized bowl with water. Cut your pomegranate in half horizontally and, working with 1 half at a time, submerge in the water bowl and use your fingers to gently pull the seeds from the rind. The seeds will sink, the rind will float, and your hands and shirt should remain clean. Scoop out the rind and discard. Strain seeds through a colander lemon juice. Reserving 1 tablespoon, massage the dressing into your greens 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, toss the pomegranate seeds and apple slices with the reserved dressing and add to greens. Top as desired with Parmesan shavings and toasted pecans.
PHOTO BY © ALEXANDRIA MISCH
and set aside. Cut your apple into matchsticks and toss with a squirt of
Looking Ahead The top five Ohio food policy priorities for 2015 By Bryn Bird
Farmers account for only around 1% of Americans. Their voices alone are not enough to get our elected officials to listen when it comes to food and farm policy. As the year comes to an end, we wanted to roll up our sleeves and get to work for more fair policy in 2015. I sat down with Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s policy program coordinator, Amalie Lipstreu, to develop a Top-Five list that consumers can use during 2015 to stay educated and take action.
1 Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Legislators in Congress recently introduced H.R. Bill 4432, referred to as the D.A.R.K. Act (Deny Americans Right to Know) by opponents. The bill prevents states from enacting genetic engineering (GE) labeling laws and makes it illegal for states to prohibit food companies from labeling products containing GE ingredients as “natural.” Despite 90% of Americans’ consistently supporting GE labeling, Central Ohio’s own Congressman Pat Tiberi has co-signed the bill. The DARK Act will stop any future efforts by consumers seeking the right to know how their food is grown and what is in their packaged foods. In discussing the matter with Mr. Tiberi’s staff, I was informed he had heard very little opposition from his constituents. You can contact his office directly at: 202-225-5355.
2 Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) High-volume horizontal hydrofracturing continues to be a controversial subject. For many in rural Ohio, oil and gas leases provide a muchneeded income stream but at too high of an environmental cost for others. Despite concerns, fracking continues and the increased need for pipeline and infrastructure may bring the effects of fracking into more Ohioans’ backyards. Green Hunter Energy has applied for a permit to construct a wastewater barge dock and pipeline in Meigs County. This would allow for the transportation of 100 million gallons of hazardous and radioactive waste on the Ohio River. Ohio leaders must examine the enormous consequences a spill would have on the eighth largest U.S. port and more than 12,000 individuals employed throughout the Ohio River port system.
3 Climate Change Farmers are on the front line of climate change. As a family farm we look back over the past four growing seasons perplexed and unable to predict the next season. We have had months of endless rain, droughts, wind storms, warm winters, and polar vortexes. The government needs to act to proactively mitigate climate change’s influence on all industries. Governor John Kasich recently signed Senate Bill 310 putting a two-year freeze on Ohio’s renewable and energy-efficiency stan-
dards. The standards would have required 25% of the electricity sold by Ohio utilities be generated from alternative energy sources. Ohioans have two years to convince the Governor and state legislators that climate change is real, is here, and we must act.
4 Agricultural Nutrient Management The Toledo water crisis in the summer of 2014 was a wake-up call to all Ohioans about the health of our waterways. It seems for many, however, the shock of contaminated drinking water for more than 400,000 people in Northwest Ohio has already been forgotten. State officials passed the agricultural nutrient management Senate Bill 150 in 2014. The law requires farmers using commercial fertilizers to register annually with the state and attend training, but does not require them to reduce their rate of application. This is a good first step, but only a first step. The biggest problem with the law is it does not address the animal waste and its application on agricultural fields. In addition to stronger legislation and policies on reducing fertilizer use and animal manure management, more research into the affects of Confined Animal Feed Operations and conventional petroleum-based farming on current algae blooms is needed.
5 Organic Farming Research and Farmers Decreasing farmers’ dependency on petroleumbased inputs would do wonders to help all of the above policy issues. In order to decrease their dependency, we need more organic farmers. The 2014 Farm Bill increased funding for Organic Farmers by $25 million dollars through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, and maintained funding for the Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives and the organic certification farmer cost share program. These wins are not guaranteed with the next farm bill cycle and need to continually be utilized, highlighted, and brought to legislators’ attention. For more information about OEFFA’s policy work or to get involved visit policy.oeffa.org.
Celebrating 25 Years of Slow Food A conversation with Alice Waters and Carlo Petrini By Tove Danovich • Photography by Alexa Van de Walle
t was the food movement’s version of a Fleetwood Mac concert: a question-andanswer session with Slow Food’s founder Carlo Petrini and its international vice president, Alice Waters of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse. They’d come from warmer coasts—Italy and California—in honor of Slow Food’s 25th anniversary. The backyard of Roberta’s, the Brooklyn restaurant where the event was held, was a sea of pizza boxes and checkered picnic blankets. Whatever total capacity was for the outdoor space, it had been reached. Most of the audience were in that 20s-to-30s age group that had never really lived in a world without the influence of Alice Waters or Slow Food (Chez Panisse was founded in 1971 and Slow Food in 1989).
Alice has served as vice president of Slow Food International, solidifying the ideological connection between her work and Carlo’s. Carlo spoke in Italian throughout. “Not speaking English is also an example of biodiversity,” he said, getting a laugh from the audience. Though Carlo had a translator on hand, Patrick Martins of Heritage Foods USA did the official translation for the event.
If Carlo’s answers to the moderator’s questions felt like speeches, it may have had something to do with the audience’s hearing his appeals in Italian first. In a particularly evocative moment, he spoke of what it would be like to describe our current food system (“a criminal food system”) to his grandparents: “Do you know we live in a society where people spend more to get thin than to be fat, to nourish ourselves?”
International vice president of Slow Food, Alice Waters (left), and founder of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini (right)
Though in the past decade we’ve witnessed local eating become trendy and urban farming a viable business model, the situation in the United States at the time of Slow Food’s founding was a bit of a culinary wasteland. There’s a good chance your neighborhood farmers market didn’t exist. Agricultural biodiversity had nothing to do with heirloom or traditional foods; it was the choice between red, green, and yellow apples. It took the combination of many voices to get us to today’s culinary landscape, and Alice and Carlo were among the first to lead us there. Carlo planted the seeds of what would become the international Slow Food movement when he protested a McDonald’s opening on the Spanish Steps in Rome. For Alice, it was taste and a trip to France that led her to a lifetime of championing fresh, local foods. Although in different countries and at different times, they were on the same page. Since 2002,
“When you edibly educate kids, they have a different set of values when they grow up.” —Alice Waters
That’s just the first of many problems Carlo and Alice continue to address when it comes to food. The difficulties seem endless—dwindling biodiversity, water scarcity looming on the horizon, land grabs—and though groups work tirelessly to combat them, it’s an uphill battle. Instilling Slow Food values, a phrase both Alice and Carlo mentioned multiple times, is central to this work. “When you edibly educate kids,” Alice said, “they have a different set of values when they grow up.” In a perfect world, Alice would love to see this form of education in every public school, “middle school kids, when they’re in the garden, don’t feel like they’re in school.” She would love to see children get school credit for eating well and be taught to cook with the seasons—ideally with locally and sustainably produced food. Nowadays, though, students lucky enough to have a garden or cooking program have classes slotted in as extracurricular enrichment. But food, Alice believes, is central to a real education. “They aren’t kitchen or garden classes; they’re courses in the lab of the garden and in the lab of the kitchen,” she said. Though Carlo’s vision of educating new generations focuses more on the family—traditions and knowledge passed down from grandparents to grandchildren—he stands firmly beside Alice’s convictions. “Alice seems all passive and tranquil but she is a force of nature,” he said. Farmers markets did not exist on the scale that they do now when he met her. Today a resurgence of markets in the United States and Europe has led to these events’ being known not in their native tongues but under the Americanized label of “farmers markets.” It’s fascinating that the United States has become such a mecca for the food movement—and maybe it’s because we only had room to improve after exporting fast-food culture. In the past 20 years, Carlo has seen “unbelievably good things” coming from this country. He recalled there being only two kinds of beer when he first came to the United States. Now microbreweries spring up faster than a litter of rabbits. Organics and
school gardens are proliferating. Where once generic cheddar, Kraft singles, or Velveeta were the norm, domestic artisanal cheeses have come into their own. “You were eating all these delicious microbes out of Europe and killing the same microbes here in the States,” Carlo said. Not any longer. Because one of the most important changes is that events like the Carlo Petrini and Alice Waters talk exist at all. Though Slow Food certainly paved the way for creating a community around food, there are now scores of events and organizations devoted to eating carefully sprinkled throughout the United States. Even in New York City, people are doing their best to connect to their food. When Carlo asked how many attendees had gardens, roughly half the audience at Roberta’s raised their hands. “I wasn’t looking for food, I was looking for taste,” Alice said of her own journey into the food movement. “I was looking for taste and then I found the farmers.” Her reflection goes to show that not everyone falls into food advocacy for the same reasons or knows how far it will take us. Yet here we all are. And largely thanks to Carlo’s and Alice’s leadership, change has happened, is happening, and will continue to move forward for another 25 years and beyond. For a recording of the interview, go to heritageradio.org.
Tove Danovich is the Founding Editor of Food Politic: Journal of Food News and Culture. Her work has been published in Modern Farmer, Miracle of Feeding Cities, Civil Eats, and others. She is currently working on a book about animal agriculture, sustainable farming, and vegetarianism.
behind the bottle
Grower Champagne How present-day Champagne from small, family-run farms is changing viticulture By Peter Liem
hampagne is undoubtedly one of the most famous wines in the world, connoting an air of celebration, luxury, and sophistication. At the same time, it’s not always taken seriously as a wine, and some people don’t even think of it as wine. In reality, though, Champagne is a wine like any other, born in the vineyards and intrinsically rooted to notions of agriculture, season, and place.
Champagne is also a place—a specific, delimited region in the north of France, about an hour and a half’s drive east of Paris. Winemaking in this area has a long and distinguished history, dating back to the Roman era. For most of this time, though, the wines of the Champagne region were still rather than sparkling, as the glass bottles re-
quired for sparkling wine production weren’t invented until the middle of the 17th century. The still wines of Champagne, which were largely red, were renowned through the Middle Ages and beyond as competitors to the wines of Burgundy, and they found particular favor with the kings of France, who were traditionally crowned in the local cathedral of Reims. The invention of sparkling wine is popularly credited to the monk, Dom Pérignon, who lived and worked at the abbey of Hautvillers in the late 17th century. While lightly effervescent wines had already been made in the French wine region of Limoux as early as the 16th century, and the méthode traditionnelle, the process whereby sparkling wines are created through a second fermentation in bottle, had been documented in
England before Dom Pérignon’s time, it was around this period that sparkling wine production began to establish itself in the Champagne region. By the mid- to late-18th century, Champagne was well on its way to becoming the effervescent wine that we know today. In its modern incarnation, Champagne begins its life as a still, white wine of about 11% alcohol by volume, which is low in comparison to contemporary table wines. This doesn’t mean that Champagne’s grapes are unripe. In this cool, northerly climate, close to the 50th parallel north, grapes achieve physiological ripeness at relatively low levels of potential alcohol, creating a lightbodied wine of high acidity. This wine is then bottled, together with small quantities of yeast and sugar. The resulting fermentation creates Jacquesson's vineyard of Corne Bautray, in the village of Dizy
carbon dioxide as a byproduct, which is trapped inside the bottle, creating the wine’s sparkle. Historically, most wine books have focused on the winemaking process when talking about Champagne, as this process easily differentiates Champagne from other wines. In the region, too, winemakers have often emphasized work in the winery over that in the vineyard, particularly in the latter part of the 20th century. The past two decades in Champagne, though, have seen a remarkable transformation in attitudes towards viticulture, with the best producers making a concerted effort to improve the way that they farm their vineyards. Some producers farm entirely organically, and the number of certified organic growers in the region is rising. A few Champagne producers are certified biodynamic, adhering to a holistic form of organic farming that addresses the vineyard itself as a complete and living entity, working according to lunar and cosmic cycles and employing various herbal and organic preparations to increase overall health. Many more producers experiment with organic and biodynamic trials in their vineyards, even if they aren’t certified, and across the Champagne region, the best winegrowers are reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides, decreasing the use of synthetic fertilizers, and increasing biodiversity through the planting of cover crops.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PETER LIEM
This renewed dedication to viticulture is often attributed to the rise of so-called grower Champagne, or Champagne from small, family-owned estates that make wine exclusively from their own grapes, in contrast to Champagne houses or négociants, which purchase part or all of the grapes used for their wines. In truth, though, this is a region-wide effort, with even major houses (that often own vineyards in addition to purchasing grapes) seeking to improve their viticulture. At Bollinger, for example, CEO Jérôme Philippon says, “The biggest changes that we’ve made at the house in the last 10 years have been in the vineyards.” Why is viticulture important? Pascal Doquet, who has farmed his estate organically since 2004, believes that there’s a demonstrable link between improved methods of farming and the quality of the wine that ultimately winds up in the glass. “There’s a harmony and length in the wines that wasn’t present before I started working organically,” he says.
holder of biodynamic vineyards in Champagne, with 158 of Roederer’s 593 acres of vines now farmed biodynamically. Lécaillon has done extensive comparisons between his biodynamic and non-biodynamic parcels, and he says, “We consistently get riper, richer fruit from our biodynamic vineyards.” He also notes that biodynamic farming has resulted in better overall health of the vines. As an agricultural product, wine is subject to the same vagaries of climate and variables of site as anything else we grow, and in a year like 2014, which saw a significant amount of rainfall in the summer, Roederer’s biodynamic vineyards were better able to resist diseases such as mildew and rot, and were more likely to produce riper, healthier grapes. “In this vintage, we saw a clear difference in character between our biodynamic vineyards and our conventional ones,” says Lécaillon. This isn’t to say that organic or biodynamic farming is a prerequisite for quality Champagne. Some of the region’s most renowned winegrowers, such as Anselme Selosse, Pascal Agrapart, or Christophe Mignon, don’t follow either system. Regardless, a common thread among Champagne’s top producers is that they’re all placing increasingly heavier emphasis on diligent and conscientious work in the vineyard, and the result is Champagne that is noticeably different from that being made 15 or 20 years ago. Today’s Champagnes often show riper flavors and a more pronounced fruitiness, and they exhibit a remarkable and unprecedented diversity of style. For the consumer, this means that there’s a wider world of Champagne to explore than ever before, and this in itself is cause for celebration. Visit ediblecolumbus.com for Peter’s pick of the top five Champagnes for 2015.
Peter Liem is the author of ChampagneGuide.net, an award-winning online guide to the wines and wine producers of Champagne. His writings on Champagne and other wines have also appeared in publications such as Wine
& Spirits, The World of Fine Wine, The Art of Eating, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
At Louis Roederer, cellarmaster Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon has turned the house into the largest
Back to Our Roots Why local food is good medicine for the winter By Dawn Combs
hakespeare forever linked the imagery of winter with discontent in Richard III. For the fresh-focused food nut, this may seem like an apt description, but I think we need to look at it differently.
Here in Ohio, our winter season is not just something to be endured until real life begins again in the spring. It’s a good season for us to observe in our hustle-bustle lives. In other climates without an enforced time period indoors, people tend to mete out their energy at a sustainable pace. This is why the northerner often gets frustrated in the South at their seeming lack of a need to rush. Here in the North, we bide our time for the warm season and then go like mad to capture every bit of daylight and sun. Spring, summer, and fall are seasons of high activity and continuous exhaustion. Foods that are readily available during these seasons, such as salads, cucumbers, and fresh tomatoes, are cooling in nature. This is exactly what the body needs during high activity and warm weather. If we run like mad during the three seasons, winter, then, is the time to replenish and store energy. In more steady climates, the plants remain green and productive throughout the
PHOTO BY © CAROLE TOPALIAN
Often the best medicine for our body is food appropriate to the season. In winter it’s time to turn to the foods that feed our roots. Winter is a time to warm up and deeply nourish ourselves with medicinal foods that keep our body balanced and protected from the onslaught of the common illnesses at this time of the year. There is more to eating locally than just the nutritional value; there is a corresponding energetic quality in the food.
“Winter is a time to warm up and deeply nourish ourselves with medicinal foods that keep our body balanced and protected from the onslaught of the common illnesses at this time of the year.”
year. Here, the plants experience a period of dormancy. They shove all their energy expenditure into spring, summer, and fall. While we mirror the plants in these seasons, we forget to mirror them in winter. Winter is time for both plant and people to die back to our roots in order to store and conserve our energy. When we have an urge to curl up on the sofa with a book and a warm mug of soup it is because, like the roots around us, we are being called to the deep burrowing stillness that should accompany winter in order to balance out the rest of our year and remain healthy. In all of the winter foods there is a common vitamin C refrain. This is a time when we move indoors and tend to be in closer contact with other people. It is wise to support the overall health of our immune systems daily because of this, rather than waiting to “treat” the inevitable illness that comes when we don’t. Seasonal medicinal foods for winter should be added liberally to the diet and include: •
Burdock root (Arctium lappa)
Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale)
Turmeric, ginger, garlic, and onions
Winter squash is abundant in storage and
body, are antibacterial, and provide balance against the cold outside. •
While not local, citrus fruits are in season at this time. Grapefruit and lemon are two of our most valuable for winter health because they help maintain the alkalinity required to prevent illness.
The foods that are seasonal and appropriate for us during winter are best eaten warm. Because our digestion is where a good deal of our immune system lives, it is important to take care that cold weather doesn’t cause this important part of the body to become sluggish. Warm soups and teas, cayenne pepper, and regular walks in the snow will help immensely. My bone broth is both my secret weapon and my delivery system for many of my cold-weather medicinal foods. This winter, allow yourself to hibernate. It is necessary for your health. Relish in the rich, heavy food of winter and don’t forget the medicinal foods that are just out the back door. Visit ediblecolumbus.com for Dawn’s recipe for her secret weapon in winter—bone broth—as well as other tips for winter eating.
provides us with much needed vitamins A, •
C, and D.
Dawn Combs is the director of the Mockingbird
Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are
Meadows Eclectic Herbal Institute here in Ohio and
available at this time of year and give us vitamin C as well as vital minerals. •
Spices such as cinnamon and clove get more use now as well. Some believe this is because
is the author of Heal Local, 20 Essential Herbs for Do It Yourself Home Healthcare and Conceiving Healthy Babies: An Herbal Guide to Support Preconception, Pregnancy and Lactation.
of the holidays, but in truth, they warm the
The Way of Tea The winter practice of the Japanese tea ceremony By Marta Madigan • Photography by Ryan Benyi • Styling by Bridget Henry
irst you boil water, then you make a perfect bowl of matcha— green powdered tea—and drink it. It may seem simple but the Japanese tea ceremony takes years to study and a lifetime to master. There are different schools, different seasons, different occasions, and different ceramics used for different consistencies of tea. Regardless of all those variables, sharing a wonderful moment remains at the heart of sadō, the way of tea.
Beauty in Simplicity A faintly pink camellia in half-bloom and three green leaves bend from an unglazed earthy vase. This chabana—a simple floral decoration for the tea ceremony—graces the tea room during the first half of winter. Flowers connect people to nature and bring the season indoors. According to Sen no Rikyū, one of the founding fathers of sadō, flowers should be arranged as they are in the field. “This means you can only use the variety that blooms near you during a particular month,” explains Maya Ishii, an Urasenke Tea Ceremony Society member. “You should try to make your chabana look natural,” she adds. Next to a single flower or a few branches of willow usually hangs a prominent scroll that displays an artistically calligraphed Zen phrase or a
Opposite: The traditional presentation for the Japanese tea ceremony, sadō, the way of tea. The bamboo whisk whips the matcha green tea powder into a fine foam and the minature mountain of matcha is symbolic of the tea ceremony’s Buddhist origins.
painting or a combination of both. For hatsugama, the first tea ceremony held in January, an art piece with Japan’s beloved pine tree motif whispers longevity and good fortune. Hanging scrolls play an important role in Japanese tea gatherings. They not only accentuate the ascetic design of the tea room but also give pause for thought.
Spiritual Exercise The Japanese tea ritual is deeply rooted in the philosophy of Zen Buddhism. Harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility—the four principles of sadō—lift participants to a higher plane of virtue. “When in the tea room all guests are equal,” says Mark Hykes, a Japanese translation grad student at Kent State University and an Omotesenke school of tea practitioner of nine years. Putting everyone on the same status enables the harmonious atmosphere of the ceremony. Hospitality and a great attention to each detail offered by the host show respect to the guests who, in turn, display appreciation for the host’s efforts. Mutual respect and gratitude reinforce the feeling of harmony. Purity refers to cleaning utensils, one’s body and mind. “The host cleans everything and thus cleans himself and his guests making them pure,” Mark explains. Before entering the tea room, guests wash their
“Harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility—the four principles of sadō—lift participants to a higher plane of virtue.” hands and rinse their mouths with water. They leave impurities and problems outside. Constant practice of harmony, respect, and purity may eventually lead toward achieving tranquility of one’s mind. Students begin with the exercise of silence. “During a traditional tea ceremony there is rarely talking,” Mark reveals. “Everything is done with bows and gestures.”
The Little Things Thanks to a peaceful atmosphere one can tune into the music of the tea room. The soft crackling sound of charcoals creates a feeling of warmth during the more traditional winter tea ceremony. Only in the cooler season, a hearth sunken in the floor is used. Before the guests’ arrival, the host builds a small fire in the sunken hearth using a set of special charcoals. A cast iron kettle is then put over the fire to boil the water. While water heats, guests enter the room, pause to reflect on a hanging scroll, and take their seats by kneeling on the tatami floor. The fabric of their kimonos rustles. Using a silk napkin, the host symbolically purifies tea utensils. At this point the sound of boiling water fills the tea room and wagashi—sweets made of rice flour, sugar, bean paste, or fruit, are served. “The sweets shop will design the wagashi to reflect the time of year, so the colors and shape may take on the symbol of the season,” says Brittany Parsons, the program coordinator at the Japan-America Society of Central Ohio. In February, the host may select toraya, the sweet that looks like a little red plum blossom with frost on it. This embodies the anticipation of spring. The host also chooses a beautiful ceramic from which matcha is drunk. In winter a deeper bowl keeps the heat longer. In harmonious hand movements, the host whisks the tea with hot water, placing the bowl next to the guest. The guest drinks the tea, then admires the bowl. “The tea ceremony teaches appreciation of the smallest things in life,” sums up Mark. “At the end, it’s simply a bowl of tea.” Visit ediblecolumbus.com for our web exclusive video of an authentic Japanese tea ceremony here in Columbus.
Marta Madigan is a food and travel writer who, as an editor and contributor, helped begin the Polish edition of National collaborated with Edible
Geographic magazine. She has Columbus since the winter issue of 2010. She and
her husband, Jay, now live in Orlando where she continues writing about the local food scene for Edible
Orlando. Marta shares her knowledge about the Ethnik Plate
delights of ethnic cuisines on her blog entitled The
(ethnikplate.blogspot.com). She is a serious tea drinker.
Opposite: “The host also chooses a beautiful ceramic from which matcha is drunk. In winter a deeper bowl keeps the heat longer. In harmonious hand movements, the host whisks the tea with hot water, placing the bowl next to the guest. The guest drinks the tea, then admires the bowl.”
A Matcha Moment How to make a perfect bowl of tea at home To prepare matcha—a bright jade color powder made of Japanese green tea— you will need: Hot water Teapot
Matcha powdered green tea Bamboo tea scoop (or a teaspoon) Bamboo tea whisk Japanese tea bowl (or a wide big tea cup) Another bowl to discard water plus a clean towel
Boil fresh water. You will need about ¼ cup per tea bowl plus more to rinse the bowl. During the Japanese tea ceremony, the host uses hishaku—a bamboo water ladle—to measure the amount of hot water from the tea kettle. She or he is also equipped with mizusashi—a water jug—from which cold water is added to boiling water to adjust the temperature. The water for matcha shouldn’t exceed 176º. To achieve the desired temperature, pour boiling water into a teapot and wait for a few minutes. In the meantime, warm up your tea bowl by pouring some hot water in it then gently swish the water in the bowl. Put the bowl on the table and dip your whisk in the water to soften its tines. Discard the water and dry the bowl with a towel. Add 1½ scoop (about a teaspoon) of matcha and eyeball about ¼ cup of hot water. Hold the bowl with one hand to stabilize it while whisking tea and water in rapid zigzagging movements. When you start seeing a thick froth and some bubbles on the surface, your tea is ready. Gently remove the whisk. Drink your
matcha immediately. Enjoy the moment! Matcha and some basic wagashi (Japanese sweets served before drinking a bowl of tea) may be purchased at Tensuke Market (1167 Old Henderson Rd.; 614-451-6002; tensukemarket.com). TehKu (55 S High St., Dublin; 614-7613808; tehku.com) also carries traditional ceremonial matcha, tea bowl, bamboo tea scoop, and whisk. Authentic matcha can be purchased online from a Japanese provider Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms at obubutea.com.
Japanese P Farm Food
icture a family home in sunny Atherton, California, in the ‘60s. A jumble of kids, six in all, run free, embracing the kind of liberal California upbringing we know from pop culture: non-stop music, conversation, and cork walls. It’s a world antithetical to how we imagine life in rural Japan. But for Nancy Singleton Hachisu, daughter of that progressive northern California clan, it provided a model for the lifestyle she has since recreated in Tokyo’s rural Saitama prefecture.
How the farming traditions of the East meet the West in a traditional Japanese kitchen By Sarah Lagrotteria • Photography by Kenji Miura
Nancy and her husband of more than 20 years, Japanese organic egg farmer Tadaaki Hachisu, took over his family’s 80-year-old farmhouse in Japan a decade ago. The traditional post-andbeam home, which Nancy describes as the “heart and soul of [their] lives” is “comfortably cluttered with books and pottery bowls” and reflects the fusion of their California and Japanese traditions. Together they’ve unearthed traditional woven baskets and ceramic bowls, tools rejected by Tadaaki’s parents’ generation as “too impractical, not modern enough” and put them to use. Theirs is a desire to synthesize the traditional beauty of Japanese farm life with modern conveniences. It’s a desire that extends to their home cooking. Tadaaki is an anomaly among Japanese men in that he learned to cook from his grandmother and continued cooking after his marriage. An experienced home cook whose tastes ran toward Paula Wolfert and Madhur Jaffrey, Nancy eventually began studying her husband’s methods. “I was asking him how to make certain things. He’d show me with his hand and then I started measuring and deciding logically how much to use,” says Nancy. “I might put less soy sauce in, I might not cook it as long. He cooks more like ‘boy cooking,’ and I want it to stretch and pop and be different than his.” All that stretching and popping resulted in Japanese Farm Food, Nancy’s 2012 cookbook cum memoir, a book so captivating that you read and re-read it before pulling out your knives. In the first few pages, Nancy opens up her home, her family life, and the challenges of defining herself within a foreign culture. As she tells me on the phone: “I was 33 when I got married and I wanted to set the tone right off the bat that I wasn’t going to be a perfect little Japanese wife, not for my husband, but for my in-laws; I knew it wouldn’t last (if I tried to play the role). I
butted up against a lot of stuff that I could have been more respectful of. Once I knew I was going to stay [in Japan] I had to pick and choose and find alternative ways to be and exist.” Nancy’s flexibility extends to her recipes. She’s the first to say that their version of farm food is just that—theirs. Tempura may be common to farm families, but her recipe is different than her husband’s, which differs from their neighbor’s. And the essential spirit of Japanese farm cooking is using what limited ingredients you have—depending on season and place—to create dishes that are simple, “bold and clear.” As Nancy explains, “my message to people is that you should not be trying to fit Japanese vegetables into your Japanese recipes if you don’t have Japanese vegetables.” Better to try a Japanese recipe with what is readily available than be a slave to a recipe.
Japanese Farm Food includes hundreds of different recipes. I’m highlighting those that echo my own experience with Japanese farmhouse cooking: a breakfast menu of miso soup, vinegared vegetables, and a raw egg on hot rice with soy sauce. As a long-time private chef to clients who embraced Japanese food and philosophy, I spent several years of weekends rinsing rice and bringing farm-fresh eggs, usually with a feather or two still stuck to the shell, to room temperature. The practice stuck with me.
Miso Soup Adapted from Japanese Farm Food Serves 6 When it comes to miso soup, Nancy advises not putting in the miso until the very end and never boiling the soup once the miso has been added.—Sarah Lagrotteria Scant 1⅓ cups dashi (Japanese broth) 2½ tablespoons organic brown rice miso Thinly sliced scallions, to taste
According to Nancy, “Japanese breakfast is clean and healthy feeling. What I love about it is that there are vegetables. Now even when I serve a western style breakfast, I always serve a vegetable with it.” You may have on hand all you need for this deceptively simple meal. I hope it works its quiet magic on you.
Pour the dashi into a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to a gentle simmer. Measure the miso into a small bowl and dip a whisk into the miso to catch up some of the miso. Dunk the miso-covered whisk into the
The one subject on which Nancy offers universal directives—stocking the Japanese pantry. Nancy is precise about what makes a proper Japanese staple, particularly soy, miso, sea salt, and shottsuru, a native Japanese fish sauce (see sidebar). Her interest is culinary as well as political.
Nancy’s second book Preserving
Sarah Lagrotteria is a FCI-trained chef who has
with scallions, either before a meal or at the
worked for Mario Batali, taught writing classes on
end with a bowl of rice.
“What is going to come is a huge movement in Japan about getting Japanese food to foreign countries. The Japanese government wants to do that and is helping funnel money to local prefectures to help them promote their foods and local culture, but the government cannot get involved in exporting so there are logistical issues. But the more people know about it and ask about it, the more they are going to get it.”
Way is due August 2015. Look for it at your local bookstore.
food culture at Stanford, and contributed to numerous cookbooks. In 2003, Sarah co-founded Apples & Onions, a private chef company in Malibu, CA. She now lives in Worthington with her husband and daughter Marlowe.
Eden Foods (edenfoods.com) sells artisanal Japanese products under their own name both online and in natural grocery stores nationwide. Gold Mine Natural Food Company (goldminenaturalfoods.com) is the official American distributor of Ohsawa® organic products, including the only soy sauce Nancy uses, as well as her favorite brown rice miso. Also carries high-quality vinegars, pickles, and sea vegetables. Natural Import Company (naturalimport.com) has a detailed glossary of ingredients and carries hard-to-find products such as amazake (a sweet rice drink) and kuzu (a root starch used for thickening soups and sauces), as well as Japanese cooking tools. South River Miso Company (southrivermiso.com) One of the original artisanal miso companies in the United States, South River has its roots here in Ohio. They only ship between mid-September and mid-April. For those brave enough to enter into the dizzying array of products that is the Japanese Amazon and pay shipping costs, Rakuten Global Market (global.rakuten.com/en), carries every hard-to-find Japanese ingredient.
repeat process to add more miso as desired. you have them). Serve immediately, topped
Nancy recommends sticking to macrobiotic brands when seeking excellent Japanese pantry items stateside.
until the miso is well incorporated. Taste and Ladle the soup into small bowls (lacquer if
A Japanese Pantry
dashi and swirl it around in the soup liquid
Variation: After adding the miso, drop in a few small squares of tofu cut into ⅓-inch dice from a quarter of a 10½-ounce block of Japanese-style “cotton” tofu. Heat gently (and briefly) to warm the tofu squares.
Sweet-Vinegared Daikon and Carrots Namasu From Japanese Farm Food Serves 4–6 Often served at New Year, namasu is a bright and crunchy dish that acts as a refreshing digestive during the holidays when there are guests and we tend to overeat. The sugar-to-vinegar ratio is one of taste, but I prefer these a bit astringent, with not too much sugar, since daikon and carrots are especially sweet in the winter. Namasu keeps for about a week and is a pretty splash of color on the table with almost any meal. The carrots are a dominant color that can overwhelm the dish, so keep the balance of daikon to carrot at roughly 2 : 1 (or 70 percent daikon and 30 percent carrots). This dish is best made in winter from freshly picked daikon and carrots at their peak of flavor.—
Nancy Singleton Hachisu According to Nancy, Japanese breakfasts always include vegetables, often repurposed from dinner the night before. For this recipes, she says not to cut your vegetables any larger than the recommended size (julienne or 1¾-inch matchsticks).—SL 1 cup organic rice vinegar 3 tablespoons organic granulated sugar 3 cups julienned daikon 1¼ cup julienned carrots 1½ teaspoons sea salt Zest from 2 small yuzu or 1 large Meyer lemon, cut into fine slivers
Heat together the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat to melt the sugar. Cool to room temperature before using. Keep the daikon and carrots in separate bowls. Sprinkle the daikon with 1 teaspoon salt and the carrots with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Massage the salt in gently and let sit for 10 minutes before squeezing out the excess water and dropping into a clean medium-sized mixing bowl. Toss the daikon and carrots with the slivered
yuzu peel and cooled sweet vinegar. Chill for 1 day before serving. From Japanese
Farm Food, by Nancy Singleton
Hachisu, reprinted with permission from Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC
Raw Egg on Hot Rice From Japanese Farm Food Serves 4 In the West, it’s a given that eggs and bread go well together, but I’d have to say that rice goes even better. When I first came to Japan, I tried not to eat any Western food and owned only chopsticks. I drank green tea with my breakfast instead of coffee and ate rice with eggs. I had not eaten much rice growing up and was struck by how well the eggs went with the rice. After a bowl of rice with an egg (cooked or not), my body felt clean inside. The hot rice cooks the egg just a smidge, but essentially it is raw, so do not attempt this method unless you are able to buy your eggs directly from a local farmer. Knowing your egg source and how the chicken lives assures you that your eggs can be safely eaten uncooked without qualms. —Nancy
2 cups cooked Japanese rice (hot!) 4 very fresh large farm eggs, at room temperature Organic soy sauce
For each serving scoop about ½ cup or more rice into a small bowl. Break the egg over the steaming grains and splash in a little organic soy sauce. Mix with chopsticks. Eat every grain of rice. Lick the bowl if you like. Variation: If you don’t find the idea of eating raw eggs appealing, you can make a couple of Japanese-style fried eggs to eat on top of the rice. Heat a teaspoon or two of rapeseed or sesame oil in a small frying pan over high heat with 1 small dried chili torn into 3 pieces. Break 2 farm-fresh eggs into the hot oil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the white is set but the yolks are still runny. Loosen the eggs from the pan with a spatula and set on top of a small bowl of rice. Drizzle with soy sauce and eat for breakfast (or lunch). From Japanese
Farm Food, by Nancy Singleton
Hachisu, reprinted with permission from Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC
A family-run homestead raising heirloom vegetables, heritage sheep, and more
By Nicole Rasul • Photography by Jodi Miller
ocated 25 miles south of Columbus in Orient, Ohio, is Prairie Fields Farm, a busy family homestead filled with four smiling children, six sheep, three goats, five beehives, as well as numerous gardens of heirloom flowers, and herbs. The homestead is owned and run by Matthew and Rachel Najjar, along with Rachel’s mother, Linda Carter.
Working sustainably with no pesticides or herbicides, Prairie Fields Farm aims to produce superior products and livestock while leaving behind a better environment for future generations. The goods produced at Prairie Fields Farm include soaps (more than 20 varieties), salves, balms, herbal oils, herbal teas, loose wool, and yarn. The Najjars also sell honey and beeswax, though most of the apiary products are used to make soap and other beauty supplies. Additionally, the Najjars are willing to take custom orders for products, entertaining requests from family, friends, and market-goers. Rachel is the shepherdess, spinner, and beekeeper. She lovingly cares for most of the inputs that go into her products on the 30 acre property and spends her free time crafting Prairie Fields Farm’s unique artisanal goods. Selling at the Clintonville Farmers Market during the 2014 season and at the Grandview Farmers Market for five seasons prior, Rachel brings her
Above: Matthew and Rachel Najjar of Prairie Fields Farm Opposite, clockwise from top, left: Hand-dyed and spun yarn from the Lincoln Longwools sheep, handcrafted soaps by Rachel Najjar, Rachel’s spool for spinning wool, Prairie Fields Farm makes tea from dried flowers
“We’ve got a thing for rare varieties,” notes Rachel.
Prairie Fields Farm is a member of the American Livestock Conservancy, which draws attention to threatened breeds such as Lincoln Longwools. The sheep grow long and curly hair in a range of hues. This trait makes the variety unappealing to conventional fiber mills that seek uniformity in their wool. In the fiber world, it is hand fiber processors and spinners, such as Rachel, that keep many heritage breeds alive. “Even if I wasn’t a hand spinner, I would still want to work with a threatened breed to do my part to help save them. We’ve lost breeds due to extinction, which is a shame,” Rachel remarks. Rachel, who taught herself to knit when she was eight, became interested in the fiber industry as a young adult. “About 10 or 12 years ago I wanted to learn to spin wool. I wanted to be involved in more steps of the fiber production process, and that’s also when I decided that I wanted a couple of my own animals. From there it was a trickle-down effect, growing into the operation that we have today.” This year the Najjars invested in new fiber equipment, which enables Rachel to work four times faster cleaning and preparing the wool. She still spins and dyes the yarn, however, by hand. “By this point it is an art—it’s really a oneof-a-kind piece, which many consumers seek out.”
natural beauty supplies, herbal teas, and fiber products to Columbus consumers each week. In 2015, she will also sell at the Worthington Farmers Market during the winter months. The Najjar family lives in a house that was built by Rachel’s parents, and it is where she and her brother were raised. “This has always been a hobby farm,” she notes, “In my youth we had goats, we made cheese, and had milk. I showed goats and lambs through 4-H.” Prairie Fields Farm is surrounded by 200 acres of land that is owned by Rachel’s grandmother and has been in the family for generations. The Najjars have a passion for heirloom plants and heritage livestock. “We’ve got a thing for rare varieties,” notes Rachel. On the farm they keep Angora goats and Lincoln Longwool sheep. Additionally, most of the produce and the flowers that they grow on the property are heirloom varieties. Though they don’t sell these items at the farmers markets, many of the plants are grown for use in Rachel’s teas and beauty products. The produce that is not used for her artisanal goods is eaten or preserved to feed the family year-round. Lincoln Longwools, which dominate their livestock collection, are an old English variety of sheep and are one of the largest natural sheep breeds in the world. With their size comes a huge appetite. “They are great lawnmowers. They will decimate the fields very fast,” notes Matthew. “If they are well-fed and happy, their fleece grows better, and we have a better product to work with, so they are very spoiled animals, but they make great wool,” Rachel continues. 36
Though their soaps and teas are currently their highest-selling products at the Clintonville Farmers Market, the Najjars see Prairie Fields Farm primarily as a fiber farm and hope to continue to expand their operations in this realm. Rachel has seen a change in the fiber marketplace in recent years. “The fiber industry is starting to resurge,” she notes. “It will be interesting to see how the market changes and grows in the years ahead.” Rachel adds that there is now a generational gap at fiber festivals due to an interest from younger consumers who have taken up knitting and crocheting. Additionally, this renewed interest in an age-old craft is helping to bring attention to the sheep that produce the wool, including threatened heritage breeds like the Najjars raise at Prairie Fields Farm. On their lively homestead the Najjars are doing their part to leave a better world for their children. “Even if I wasn’t selling fiber and I still had sheep, I would have a heritage breed because it’s a contribution that I can make to the world,” notes Rachel. Prairie Fields Farm; 13999 Darby Creek Rd., Orient, Ohio 43146; 614-5060922; prairiefieldsfarm.com. Rachel is working on her online marketplace with the goal of having a full Etsy store functional by spring 2015. Visit their website to learn more.
Nicole Rasul loves all things related to food and is especially inquisitive about food history and culture. She and her husband recently move back to Ohio, her home state, after many years on the East Coast. They live in Clintonville where they enjoy the farmers market and their backyard garden.
from the good earth
Bonhomie Acres Maple sugaring for over a century By Teresa Woodard • Photography by Robin Oatts
It’s 1936 and a sunny winter day on the Brown farm in Knox County. Eight-year-old Bill Brown pulls on his boots, ready to tromp through the snow to help his father and grandpa gather buckets of maple sap and load them on the horse-drawn wagon headed for the sugarhouse. Just days ago, they tapped the farm’s grove of sugar maple trees, and Bill cheered at the first “plink-plink” sounds of sap hitting the bucket. No doubt, the on-setting flow of sap brings many smiles as it signals winter’s lock is over, and spring is on the way. Back at the patchwork sugarhouse made of odds and ends from around the farm, neighbors begin to arrive and help as Grandpa feeds the wood-fired evaporator. He looks at the past 20 years’ yields marked on the sugarhouse wall and predicts this year will be a better one given all the snow and cold weather. As he cooks the sap, family and neighbors share updates on their winters and reminisce farm memories including ones from the popular Waterford Picnic festival, which attracted thousands of visitors to the maple tree grove at the turn of the century. Bill enjoys these stories plus larger-than-life tales of Native American hunters who first discovered the sweet liquid. 38
Opposite: The three grades of US Maple syrup—light, medium, and dark amber. This page, Left: Bonhomie maple syrup; Top: Kathie and Dan Brown walk through some of their 200year-old sugar maple trees; Bottom: Left to right: Kathie and Dan Brown, husband and wife; Kate Brown, mother of Dan and Kelly; Dane Brown, Kathie and Dan’s son; William Brown, father of Dan and Kelly; Brenden Reed, great grandson of Bill and Kate; Marcia and Kelly Brown, husband and wife.
ast forward 80 years, and the tradition of maple sugaring lives on at the Brown’s farm, now named Bonhomie Acres (that’s French for “good-natured”) and expanded from 600 taps on 45 acres to 5,600 taps on 120 acres with a sophisticated system of collection and evaporation equipment. Here, 250-year-old trees continue to provide that treasured sweet sap that has been gathered for generations on this farm since the 1800s.
“It used to be a slow pace, sitting around, feeding a fire,” says Bill’s son, Dan. “Everybody showed up, and congregated while making syrup. It’s always been a social, family thing.”
nephew, Brenden, who gathers the remaining 100 buckets they still hang the old-fashioned way. It’s a good job for this strong teenage apprentice, since the six-gallon buckets weigh 50 pounds each when full of sap. He’ll deliver them to the sugar house—the third and most modern one built on the property—to cook the sap into maple syrup, maple sugar, and maple butter. “It’s an apprenticeship, and I was very fortunate to have someone to teach me the artistry of maple sugaring,” says Dan.
Dan, his brother, Kelly, and their families have now taken on the responsibilities of sugar-making while Bill, now 88, and his wife, Kate, stop by to offer support. Bill’s become a bit of a sugaring legend, since he was inducted into the North American Maple Producers (NAMP) Hall of Fame—the only Ohioan to receive this honor.
Continuing the sugaring traditions, Dan and Kelly now divide responsibilities of running the family’s business. Dan is in charge of collecting the sap, while Kelly runs the evaporator. Over the years, technology has brought welcomed efficiencies to this labor-intensive process. In 1989, they installed the first tubing system with 500 taps in a woods leased from a neighbor. Taking sap directly from the trees to the sugarhouse, the tubing system proved to be so efficient that they gradually ran tubing to nearly all of the 4,600 trees. Vacuum pumps were added to further improve the tubing systems.
“There will be four generations in the sugar house this spring,” says Dan as he names off his sons, nephew and niece, their spouses, and even his great
On the cooking side, they switched from wood to gas fuel in 2000. “We spent lots of time cutting wood,” says Dan, explaining one person worked
full-time to provide the farm its annual supply of 25 cords of wood. Another efficiency milestone was reverse osmosis, which removes about 75% of the sap water without heat. “It’s the thing that has revolutionized the process the most,” says Dan. “We can now process 20 gallons in one hour versus two to three hours.” He explains they still cook the syrup to develop the distinct flavors and obtain the desired sugar concentration. They aim for a temperature around 7° above the boiling point of water and a 65% sugar content. They further boil down the maple syrup to create maple sugar, which is approximately 90% sucrose. Dan holds up jars of syrup that he’s preparing to enter in the NAMP annual maple syrup contest. He explains Bonhomie markets three types of syrup— an early season white amber, a mid-season medium amber, and a late season dark amber. The medium and dark ambers are two past NAMP award winners. Talk with Kate, the family’s syrup connoisseur, and she recommends the light syrup for pancakes and salad dressing. The more robust, dark amber syrup is better for baking and cooking.
“While we’ve modernized sugar-making to produce more syrup more efficiently,” says Dan, “a few things remain the same—our family involvement, our classic cooking process to add our unique flavoring, and our commitment to quality.” Bonhomie Acres; 7001 Quaker Rd., Fredericktown, Ohio, 43019; 740-501-4681; bonhomieacresmaplesyrup.com. Visit ediblecolumbus.com to learn how to do backyard maple sugaring along with a recipe for maple syrup candy.
Teresa Woodard writes home and garden stories for regional and national magazines. She also blogs with two other writers at heartland-gardening.com.
Maple Syrup Madness In late February and early March, see historic maple sugaring techniques at several central Ohio locations including Slate Run Historic Farm in
Besides the syrup’s flavor, the Browns also tout its nutritional value as a good source of manganese, riboflavin, and antioxidants. “If there’s a healthy sugar, it’s maple sugar,” says Dan.
Canal Winchester, Camp Lazarus in Delaware, Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, and Dawes Arboretum in Newark. For a day trip, check out maple sugar events at four Ohio state parks—Hueston Woods in Preble County, Malabar Farm in Richland County, Hocking Hills in Hocking
According to recent USDA statistics, Ohio ranks 6th in maple syrup production in the United States with 2,000 maple sugar producers contributing 130,000 gallons to the country’s 3.2 million gallon total. Among the country’s 12 maple-producing states, Vermont is the perennial leader with 1,480,000 gallons, followed by New York, Maine, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
County, and Caesar Creek in Warren County. The Ohio Maple Producers Association also hosts a Maple Madness Driving Tour, March 14–15 and 21–22. For details, see ohiomaple.org/maple-madness.html. Bonhomie Acres products are available at bonhomieacresmaplesyrup.com, through Green Grocer, and at Whole Foods, Weiland’s, Giant Eagle Market District, Lucky’s, Hoffman’s, Smith’s Farm Market, and Lynd’s Fruit Farm.
Flavor of the Forest Cooking with conifers for the winter season By Sarah Lagrotteria • Photography by Ryan Benyi • Styling by Bridget Henry
o forage is to pick edibles from non-cultivated spaces. The word evokes truffle hunts in the Italian woods or summer days spent plucking wild blackberries from roadside bushes. But what about that pine shading your backyard? Or the evergreen you’ll string with lights, popcorn, and cranberries? Their fresh, green scent is one with the season and their flavor, we’ve discovered, connects us to times past.
The tradition of foraging for and cooking with conifers—pine, fir, and spruce—originated with Northern European and American ancients who fermented pine into alcohol, steeped spruce tips into warming teas, and burned evergreen to smoke meats. Today’s chefs pick conifers for a taste of their local terroir. Needles, tips, and wood smoke currently flavor menus at haute cuisine restaurants such as Denmark’s Noma (called the best restaurant in the world; see sidebar on page 52), small farm-to-table spots in Northern California, and New York City’s celebrated Prune. Enamored by the simplicity of picking pine out our back door and bringing the beloved scent into the kitchen, we tried our hand with local eastern white pine, which bears long, soft needles in bunches of five. Garden Sage Debra Knapke shared more details with us on what to look for and what to avoid when foraging for conifers (see sidebar).
“I grew up like a lot of country boys and girls do— amongst the pine trees, dirt roads, farms, mules, and people who were real.” —Josh Turner
Perfectly Baked Potatoes with Pine Butter Recipe on page 59
“The greatest thing my father left me was a love for cutting wood—my love for sawing, especially pine wood.” —David Lynch
Pine-Roasted Beets with Yogurt Recipe on page 61
Pine-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Parsnips and Onions Recipe on page 59
Evergreen Tea Recipe on page 59
The Do’s and Don’ts of Cooking with Conifers With any new food or drink, be cautious about your first taste. Pine needle tea has a lot of chemical components; many are beneficial but others may cause adverse effects in sensitive individuals. Your sense of taste and smell are your first indication of whether or not a new food or beverage is right for you. With that said, you can gather pine needles from your own trees as long as no pesticides or herbicides have been sprayed in the general area. Also be cautious of using needles from trees that are close to major roads because of contaminants from car exhaust. Make sure you are gathering from pines and not plants that just look like pines. The species that is a safe bet for tea is our native eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). And, if you find pine tea to your liking, try spruce tea from the Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) and the white spruce (Picea glauca). (See page 59 for recipe.) One final caveat: drinking pine tea is strongly contraindicated for pregnant women as ingestion can cause miscarriages.
Evergreen Shortbread Cookies Recipe on page 61
“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” —Helen Keller
The story of the Cacklers and their generations-old Christmas tree farm By Nancy McKibben • Photography by Jodi Miller
ackler Farms, north of Delaware, sits on Cackler Road, which tells me that the Cacklers have lived around here long enough to leave a mark. Sure enough, the third person I meet on my arrival is 6-month-old Grayson, whose proud grandparents introduce him as “the fifth generation of Cacklers” to live on the farm. If Grayson’s happy face is the yardstick, this farm is a fine place to grow up.
“The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!” —Charles N. Barnard
“This was the dream” Bill Cackler is the 60-something owner of the Cackler family homestead, now Cackler Farms, which grows nine varieties of conifers for cut-it-yourself Christmas trees and wreaths. A high school agriculture and science teacher at Centerburg and Big Walnut until his retirement in 2006, Bill is tall, ruddy, and deliberate. His wife, Donna, is the farm’s accountant and an efficient, bustling partner who is bubbling with conversation. “From the day we met, this was the dream, to buy his grandfather’s farm, where Bill grew up,” Donna says, plopping Grayson on the table while we talk. In 1986, they did. With only 53 acres surrounded by decrepit fencing, Bill figured it would be “hard to compete in mainline agriculture.” Instead his thoughts turned to Christmas trees.
Opposite: The Serbian Spruce at Cackler Farms Above: Zebulon, the ewe at Cackler Farms for the live Nativity
Trained as a forester through a summer job with Greif Container Manufacturing before receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science from The Ohio State University, Bill knew what he was doing. And he knew that Ohio was deficient in Christmas trees.
To Grow a Tree “Our oldest daughter was 7 when we planted our first trees,” Bill recalls. “She was a sophomore in high school before the farm showed a profit.” From the beginning, the trees were a family effort. It takes seven to 10 years to raise a tree to a marketable height, and once you begin cutting, you must replant annually. “Everybody planted trees,” says Donna—3,000 a year, beginning the minute the ground thawed in April. Later the family hand-pruned or “set” the tops, mowed, fertilized, and weeded. (One especially prickly variety was referred to bitterly by the children as “the needle tree.”)
Shear Effort The three Cackler daughters, Audra, Amber, and Alyssa, have since grown up, but the work at the farm continues. In mid-June, the tops are pruned to prevent “goosenecking,” or crooked growth. Then comes the “shearing,” shaping the tree with an implement akin to a weed whacker. Shearing takes one to two minutes per tree. That’s times 20,000. Another time-consuming chore is mowing. Trees are planted six feet apart and mowed in a checkerboard fashion six times a year, using a small mower for maneuverability. “The last time I timed it, it took 60 hours,” Donna says.
Pre-Holiday In mid-October, the trees that are ready to cut are “pre-tagged” to display species, height, and price, thus preventing the holiday scenario in which the family tries to cram a 12-foot tree under an eight-foot ceiling. In early November, Donna moves to the wreath house, which Bill built for her last year, to produce her wreaths and pine roping. Wreaths are an appealing product because they use malformed and deer-nibbled trees whose branches would otherwise be wasted. Donna studied under a master wreath maker in New York, and her signature, prize-winning wreath features fir, a little pine, and some arbor vita. She has two standards, the traditional, and the Block O, and she custom designs her other wreaths to please each buyer. As zero hour approaches, Bill creates his tree education display: a sample of each variety of conifer, labeled with name and history. Families can decide which one they prefer, so that Bill can point them to the correct grove of trees. The Canaan fir, the best adapted to Ohio soil, is by far the most popular, but Bill also grows Fraser Fir; Blue, Norway, and Serbian Spruce; and the cheaper White or Scotch Pine to give his customers a choice. Just don’t call them evergreens. “That’s the wrong term,” Bill says. “They are conifers, which means cone-bearing.”
The Holidays By the weekend before Thanksgiving, the farm is gaily decorated and ready to open, with Gabriel, the miniature donkey and Zebulon, the ewe, manning the live nativity. Nine people stand ready to take money and hand out candy-cane-striped saws and sleds for cutting and transporting the trees. They also net the trees, shake out the loose needles, and drill them for tree stands, if the customer requires.
During the week, when customers visit the farm by appointment only, it’s time to restock tree lots in German Village and The Hills Market (“Cut weekly—the freshest in town”) and prepare the farm for the next wave of weekend customers. The holiday season itself is intense, but brief, with business plummeting after the second weekend in December, when most families have finished their decorations. For his own Christmas tree, Bill prefers the “soft needles and fragrance” of the fir. After Christmas, unsold trees are collected and sold to Price Organics for mulch, or to farmers who need fish cover in their ponds. Over the winter, the freshly-cut stumps are cut to ground level to make mowing easier come summer. Bill orders new seedlings and waits for April, when the whole cycle begins again.
“The girls’ colleges educations and my 401(k)” “Working on the farm instilled a tremendous work ethic in our kids,” says Donna. Audra, Grayson’s mother, still helps design brochures; Amber oversees social media; and Alyssa is their webmaster.
“I used to see the trees as the girls’ education,” Bill says. “Now I see it as my 40l(k).” But Donna and Bill also love their involvement with their customers, especially when they see three generations come in together to find a tree. “We get mostly suburban kids who haven’t been around livestock that much,” Bill adds. “It’s kind of neat to watch the kids play with the animals in the Nativity.” Then, in words that could double as their mission statement: “We’re here to make a memory, and start a family tradition with a real tree.” Cackler Farms; 4971 Cackler Rd., Delaware, Ohio, 43015; 740-524-5311; cacklerfarms.com.
Nancy McKibben is happy to combine her loves of eating and writing with the opportunity to advocate for local food in the pages of Edible suspense novel, The
Columbus. Her Chaos Protocol, the first book of The Millennium
Trilogy, was a finalist for the Ohioana Book Award for Fiction in 2000. The on Ice, followed in 2012 and the third is in the works. (The
The involvement of Audra’s husband, Shane Askins, was a bonus. As Audra’s high school sweetheart, “when Audra was working, Shane was working,” Bill says. It was only natural after they married for Shane to become a part of the family business, which he will eventually take over.
Pining for the Forest Floor In the coastal spa town of Pärnu, Estonia, at a lavish hotel in an Art Deco mansion, I ordered my first “forest floor” dessert, a mixture of native berries, birch syrup, ice cream, and lichens. The latter were dry and fizzed in the mouth. “Pop Rocks,” I thought, a lowbrow candy comparison for a highbrow cuisine. But this cuisine began as a way to use scarce resources, especially in Scandinavia, where snow covered the ground for more months than it did not. People scoured the woods and coasts for anything edible—not just berries and mushrooms, but leaves and bark and lichens and sap. Chef René Redpezi popularized forest floor cuisine in his Copenhagen restaurant Noma, named the best in the world for the past four out of five years. Now we have North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland, by Chef Gunnar Gíslason of Dill restaurant in Reykjavík. This coffee table cookbook tells the stories of 13 practitioners of the old ways, like fishing, baking, salt-making, and baking rye bread in geothermally heated underground ovens, accompanied by the chef’s new and complicated ways to cook Iceland’s time-honored ingredients. One of Gunnar’s ingredients is pine. The needles can be sautéed and ground, the twigs can infuse oils and vinegars or smoke meats. Pine is certainly a part of Ohio’s terroir. Could our recipe editor, Sarah Lagrotteria, take up the pine gauntlet and create some pine-flavored dishes? Check out her five pine recipes on page 42 and bring Ohio’s forest floor to your own kitchen.
series is set in Columbus, and the books are available at amazon.com.) She is also a poet and lyricist, the mother of six and the wife of one. View her work at nancymckibben.com; contact her at email@example.com.
From T Land to Look
he sugar maple and sycamore trees explode in green, russet, and amber. The hay shines like spun gold. A few cows amble across the pasture, and a little girl in overalls leans against a white picket fence. She’s buried her face in what must be the best cup of milk imaginable. As I stare at this idyllic scene—a recent ad for Snowville Creamery in celebration of the fall—it seems to me like most ads. Too perfect to be real.
Athens-based designer Kevin Morgan and Snowville Creamery owners Warren and Victoria Taylor take on the challenge of designing the look of local food By Eric LeMay Photography by Sarah Warda
Except, in this case, it is. I’m standing in Kevin Morgan’s studio and home, tucked in the rolling foothills of Southeast Ohio, and my eyes are shuttling back and forth between the ad hanging in front of me and the window right behind it. Outside, the fall trees are ablaze. Forested hills slope up from a lush valley, and long grass flickers in the breeze. I know Kevin and his family keep cows, so I’m trying to spot them, trying to see if Kevin made this ad simply by stepping out his back door and sketching the view. When he tells me later about his 10-yearold son, I’ll imagine a kid in coveralls, drinking a cup of milk and complaining to his dad about how everyone at school will know that girl in the ad is him.
“I’m a really bad sketcher,” Kevin says, laughing and shaking his head. (The girl, it turns out, came from a photo taken at Snowville’s Annual Open House.) I’m surprised, not only by what he’s said, but also by the fact that this guy with the cool tats, soul patch, and ponytail, this guy who, in faded blue jeans and leather vest, could be mistaken for a biker you wouldn’t want to mess with, has such happiness about him. I find myself laughing along, then wondering if I should be. Is he serious? My eyes glance over the prints that cover his studio’s walls, from gorgeous album covers in psychedelic colors to posters for local food initiatives that have the visual punch of Soviet propaganda and the charm of a hand-picked pawpaw. The talent on display suggests otherwise, that I’m talking to a very good artist. But Kevin isn’t kidding. He pulls out a few of the sketches he’s been working on and chuckles, as if to say, “Can you believe this?” What I’m coming to believe is that Kevin is no typical designer. Most pros don’t show off their doodles, much less laugh at them, but then
Opposite: “There are very few people like Victoria and Warren,” says Kevin, referring to Warren Taylor, Victoria’s husband and co-partner at Snowville. “They know what they want to see and they let me go.” This page: Athens-based designer Kevin Morgan in his studio. “I credit Kevin with a lot of our success,” says Victoria Taylor, the co-owner and general manager of Snowville Creamery.”
Kevin didn’t become the designer who’s given so many of Southeast Ohio’s local foods their signature looks by taking a typical approach to design. He didn’t get his start in art school or by apprenticing at some firm. He’s a self-taught, self-made success. Although he’ll be the first to insist that this success has to do with his family and the folks with whom he works. And this insistence of his, that his work is at heart a collaboration, helps to explain his refreshing lack of ego. It’s also what makes him unique. He’s a rare mix, a designer with a knack for envisioning what his clients need as well as an artist with a vision all his own. “I credit Kevin with a lot of our success,” says Victoria Taylor, the co-owner and general manager of Snowville Creamery. Victoria’s eyes beam from behind her glasses, and her whirl of curly hair looks charged with her sprightly energy. She’s sitting on the couch next to us, with the ease of someone in her pajamas. Except neither she nor Kevin is easy. As they talk about their work together, they fall into that rapid back-and-forth of old friends rehashing a crazy night out. “There are very few people like Victoria and Warren,” says Kevin, referring to Warren Taylor, Victoria’s husband and co-partner at Snowville. “They know what they want to see and they let me go.” “We’d rather inspire someone than whip ‘em,” Victoria says with a cackle, but she quickly clar-
ifies the truth behind her quip. “When Kevin is happy, we just step back and see what he’s done and be happy.” Then she leans toward me, as if to share a secret, “And if he’s not happy, you know it’s not good.” I ask them about the ad by the window. I’m here because I’m supposed to find out about their collaboration. How did they create the look for Snowville Creamery? This is a challenge for local famers and food producers, no less than for massive corporations heading to Madison Avenue. After all the planting, herding, milking, and harvesting, how do they make sure those of us looking at these products at the store or market can see the care that has gone into making them? How does the look of a local product tell us it’s not just another tasteless, soulless, mass-manufactured widget that happens to be edible? But Victoria and Kevin are now chatting about museums and their love for the Old Masters, and I wonder if I’m going to be able to steer them from oil painting back to dairy. “So these ads,” I say, “these seasonal ads that you’ve done…” Victoria doesn’t miss a beat. “Our original idea was that Snowville is ‘The Way Milk Used To Be.’” And by that, she means the way milk used to be before giant dairy companies began treating cows like cogs in a massive machine and pasteurizing their milk until it loses nearly all of its flavor and nutritional value. And here I should say that if you’ve never tried Snowville milk, it’s a revelation. I serve it with the zeal of a convert to everyone who visits me. The most common response I hear, once family and friends have gotten past the fact that I’m asking them to drink a glass of milk, is that it must be some sort of milkshake. I assure them it’s not. It’s Snowville milk, and it’s redefining what milk should be. Or more to the point, returning milk to what it once was. That goal, as important as it is, comes with a challenge. “You’re going to know it’s better milk,” says Kevin, his hands sweeping out to take us both in. “And I’m going to know it’s better milk, but nobody else is going to notice.”
three of them came up with what Kevin describes as an “old timey” look, “like one of those big old red barns that’s still there, still standing, and still rules.” He uses a scratch-art technique, in which he etches out the initial image by hand with a razor blade. The result is a work that looks like it’s been printed with woodblocks. The feel is rough and rustic, as though Kevin took something directly from the land to create these images of a food that’s tied so intimately to the land. And that look, both earthy and strong, leads me back to a question that had dogged me from the moment I walked into Kevin’s studio and saw that first ad. This land, right outside his window, is the same land on which the cows for Snowville’s milk graze. His studio and the pastures for Snowville Creamery are about 20 miles apart, set in the same rolling hills. I wonder if the land not only shows up in Kevin’s designs, but also inspires him as a designer. Kevin’s grin grows wider. “This place,” he says, nodding toward the tree line, “is magic!” He laughs and then shows me a surprising vision of what it means to think locally. Kevin shares the view that his fellow famers hold of the land as a living ecosystem, one in need of cultivation and care, but he also sees it as alive with its past. From a nearby shelf, he starts pulling down arrowheads and stone cutting tools, showing them to me and explaining how the valley below had once been a hunting site for early Native Americans. For Kevin, the land that he walks through as he imagines his ideas and the land he looks at while he works on his designs thrums with more than 1,000 years of human history. He’s constantly aware of a very ancient vision of what it means to live and eat locally, in harmony with the land. I’m moved by what Kevin has shared, and not knowing quite what to say, I ask if he sees a lot of stars out here. He looks at me with another smile, one full of the wonder that comes from looking up at the same sky that people on this land have seen for millennia, and he says simply, “Every night is a miracle.”
Eric LeMay lives in Athens, where he teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Ohio University, his
So how do you make them notice?
alma mater. Visit his website for more of his
To give Snowville a look that matched Victoria’s and Warren’s vision for the creamery, the
writing on foodie and non-foodie things alike:
â€œFor Kevin, the land that he walks through as he imagines his ideas and the land he looks at while he works on his designs thrums with more than 1,000 years of human history.â€?
flavor of the forest recipes
Perfectly Baked Potatoes with Pine Butter Serves 4
Pine-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Parsnips and Onions Serves 4
Baking potatoes on a bed of rock salt draws out moisture, giving you the fluffiest potato possible.
¼ cup Dijon mustard 4 large russet potatoes
2 tablespoons fresh eastern white pine needles, washed, finely chopped ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
3–4 cups rock salt
6 garlic cloves, lightly smashed with a knife
1½ cups heavy whipping cream (we recommend Snowville)
1¼ pound pork tenderloin
1–2 tablespoons fresh eastern white pine needles, washed and dried, finely
6 small yellow onions
2 pounds parsnips
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together the Dijon mustard, pine needles, ¼ cup olive oil, and garlic.
Preheat the oven to 450°.
Pat your tenderloin dry and spread the Dijon mustard mixture all over. Refrig-
Wash and dry the potatoes. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper then cover with a solid layer of rock salt. Place the potatoes on the salt bed, leaving space between each one.
erate overnight or at least 4 hours before removing from the fridge one hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut onions in half through the root end and peel. Lay
Use a sharp knife to prick each potato several times. Bake until the skins are crisp and the insides fluffy and tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
the onion cut side down and slice vertically, leaving the root intact, so that the onion halves fan out from the root but remain in one piece. Peel parsnips and cut in half lengthwise as needed so all pieces are roughly the same size. Toss
While the potatoes bake, make your pine butter. Pour the cream into the bowl
with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a baking sheet lined
of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Cover the top and sides of the
with parchment paper and roast, turning occasionally, until soft and lightly
mixer with a clean kitchen towel to prevent the cream from splashing out. Turn
golden brown, about 35 minutes.
your mixer to high and mix until cream goes past the whipped cream stage and breaks, about 5 minutes. You’ll hear buttermilk sloshing as it separates from the butter. Lower the mixer speed and let run, covered, until the butter has completely separated from the buttermilk and clumps together in the whisk
While vegetables roast, heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Without wiping off the marinade, season your tenderloin all over with salt. When the pan is almost smoking, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the tenderloin. Sear the pork on all sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes per
(you’ll need to peek under the kitchen towel).
side. Remove to baking sheet or rack and roast until the internal temperature Lift the head of the mixer and use a spatula to push the butter out of the whisk
reaches 140–145°. Remove and let rest, covered, at least 10 minutes before
and into a clean bowl. Gather butter into your kitchen towel and squeeze over
slicing. Serve over roasted onions and parsnips.
the sink to press out remaining buttermilk. Uncover and run cold water over the butter ball to wash any last liquid remnants away. Pat dry. Wash the pine needles, mix them in, and season to taste with salt. Two pinches of salt is a good place to start.
Evergreen Tea Serves 1
Let potatoes cool slightly before cutting open. Tuck pine butter into your po-
Steeping green needles in hot water brings the smell of the forest home. Rumor
tatoes and add pepper and more salt to taste.
has it that this pale tea, a cold-weather staple among indigenous Americans, protected the pilgrims from scurvy during their first New World winters.
—Recipes by Sarah Lagrotteria 2 cups water 2 small handfuls fresh eastern white pine needles, washed
Bring your water to a boil. Remove and discard any brown sheaths from the base of your needles. Roughly chop the needles to release their oils. Add to the water and let simmer until the liquid is a pale yellow, about 15–20 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and enjoy hot with honey and/or lemon.
flavor of the forest recipes
Pine-Roasted Beets with Yogurt
Evergreen Shortbread Cookies
Makes 2 dozen
½ pound red beets
¾ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ pound golden beets
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive, plus more for drizzling
Zest from 1½ oranges
6 sprigs fresh eastern white pine needles, washed and dried, roughly chopped,
2 tablespoons fresh eastern white pine needles, washed and dried,
plus 4 intact stems
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups Greek yogurt (2%)
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Remove the tops and the roots of the red beets and peel each one with a veg-
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together
etable peeler. Cut the beets in 1½-inch chunks. Toss in a bowl with 1 table-
the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla,
spoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, half the pine needles, 2 stems of pine,
orange zest, and pine needles. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and
salt, and pepper. Lay on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat the
salt, then add them to the creamed butter and pine mixture. Mix on low speed
process in a clean bowl with the yellow beets and lay on a separate sheet tray
until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour
lined with parchment paper.
and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roast for 40–45 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until the beets
Roll the dough ½-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch cookie cutter of your choice.
are tender. Remove from the oven and let cool. Season yogurt with a good
Some pine needles may poke out of the cut cookies—use your fingers to gently
drizzle of olive oil and salt. Serve beets warm or at room temperature with fresh
extract them. Place the cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment paper
drizzle of olive oil and yogurt on the side, keeping the red and golden beets sep-
and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until the edges just begin to
arate if you prefer the colors don’t bleed.
brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Visit ediblecolumbus.com for Sarah’s recipe for White Pine Vinegar.
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“Ach, you’ll know” By Michelle Herman
hef Boyardee canned ravioli, Swanson TV dinners, instant mashed potatoes mixed with Seabrook Farms creamed spinach—that’s what I ate, growing up.
I never returned that cookbook. To me, it was like a book of magic spells. Over at my grandmother’s, nothing came out of cans or boxes or packages. Grandma roasted chickens and made brisket and tzimmes (sweet potatoes, prunes, carrots) and borscht and chicken soup with kneidlach (matzo balls, of course) and lokshen kugel (noodle pudding) and stuffed cabbage and helzel (the stuffed skin of a chicken neck); she baked challah and sponge cakes and honey cakes and soft, fat, chewy cookies. She didn’t use a cookbook, and I didn’t wonder how she knew what to do (I thought she was born knowing what to do). Except for those chocolate chip cookies—which I quit making once the boy was out of the picture—I never cooked anything until I moved out of my parents’ apartment and into one of my own, in Greenwich Village. Once I was on my 64
Michelle Herman beside a tableful of food she cooked on Christmas in 1980
own, I had to start thinking about what I wanted to eat and how I was going to make that happen.
of recipe swapping, and a lot of conversation about what we were fixing on our nights.
I didn’t cook every night (no one in New York City does), and it still felt like an occasion (and a bit of an ordeal) when I did. But I began to try— tentatively, experimentally. I’m not sure why it occurred to me one night to try to reproduce one of my grandmother’s dishes. Not the helzel or the chicken feet, but maybe chicken soup. Maybe even the kneidlach.
By the time I had a family of my own, I was so comfortable in the kitchen and had so many recipes stored away in my mind, it was hard for me to believe that there had ever been a time when I hadn’t known how to cook. But when my daughter, who cooked with me from the time she was 2 years old, calls from college to tell me that she’d made my vegetarian chili or minestrone soup for “all her friends” and everyone had been amazed and thrilled, I pause to give silent thanks to Betty Crocker. And to my grandmother. And to my graduate school friends.
I called her. She was suspicious. “Don’t you have things to do?” she said. “I do,” I told her. “But I want to do this, too.” What she offered up, once I persuaded her, were “recipes” in which the directions were “add just enough water” or “keep the flame low until it’s done”—and when I asked how much was just enough, she’d say “about the amount of an egg,” and when I asked how I’d know it was done, she’d say, “ach, you’ll know.” Even so, I tried to follow her instructions. Sometimes I made something delicious, surprising myself. More often I failed. But I kept trying. And when I left New York for graduate school in Iowa, where the eating-out options were minimal, I gathered up the nerve to cook for other people. I discovered that people liked each other more and got to know each other faster when they sat together at a table eating a meal one of them had cooked. A little group of us started cooking for one another. There was a lot
My mother, when I visit her in New York, likes me to make a big pot of vegetable soup for her, so that she can eat it every night for a good 10 days after I’ve gone back to Ohio. She marvels over my cooking. I tell her it’s nothing—it’s no big deal. But we both know that’s not true. Visit ediblecolumbus.com and read Michelle’s full essay about her journey to becoming a cook.
Michelle Herman’s most recent book is Stories We Tell Ourselves. A Girl’s Guide to Life, her first book for children, due in January 2015. A new collection of essays, Like
A Song, is due in March.
She directs the creative writing program at Ohio State University.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELLE HERMAN
My grandmother cooked, but she hadn’t taught my mother how. She had shooed her out of the kitchen to do her homework or practice the piano—way ahead of her time, I suppose, wanting her to do “more important things,” she said—and it never occurred to my mother to teach herself how to do it, not even after she had children. There wasn’t a single cookbook in our Brooklyn apartment. I had to borrow one—the Betty Crocker Cookbook—from a friend of my mother’s when I was 15 and wanted to make chocolate chip cookies for a boy I liked, who had mentioned homemade cookies in a way that made me think I might win his heart with them. I had no idea where to begin and neither did my mother.