Submitted by The Timberland Regional Library
Writer Molly Wizenberg, whose blog “Orangette” was named the best food blog in the world by the London Times, will talk about her latest book, “Delancey,” Thursday, September 18 from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. at the Olympia Timberland Library.
The publisher’s synopsis sets the scene: “When Molly Wizenberg married Brandon Pettit, he was a trained saxophonist and composer with a handful of offbeat interests: espresso machines, violin construction, boat building, and ice cream making, to name a few. So when Brandon decided to open a pizza restaurant, Molly was supportive – not because she wanted him to do it, but because the idea was so far-fetched that she didn’t think he actually would. But before she knew it, he’d signed a lease.”
Wizenberg’s first book, “A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table,” was a New York Times bestseller. Her work has appeared in Bon Appétit and the Washington Post.
All programs at Timberland Regional Libraries are free and open to the public.
The Olympia Timberland Library is located at 313 8th Avenue SE. For information, contact the library at (360) 352-0595 or visit www.TRL.org.
By Kelli Samson
John Dillinger was the reason J. Edgar Hoover formed the FBI. The government needed a way to start cracking down on organized crime in the 1930s, and Dillinger’s gang was the biggest thorn in their sides. He was responsible for two-dozen bank robberies, four police station robberies, and the homicide of one police officer. He was known to be wild and proud of his crimes. Dillinger died in a shoot-out with police in 1934.
Dillinger got his start in the world of crime in the 1920s, a time known as the Prohibition Era – think “The Great Gatsby.” It was a time of flapper girls and secret bars (speakeasies) where alcohol was served illegally.
Dillingers Cocktails and Kitchen, located at 404 South Washington in downtown Olympia, is housed in the old Security Bank Building, which was built in 1927.
The building is on the corner of Washington and Fourth Avenue and was so tall in comparison to the other buildings at the time, people referred to it as a skyscraper. It’s a whopping five stories tall. Prior to the Security Building’s construction, the corner was home to Chambers and Swanton Meat Market, a full-service butcher.
The building’s designer was Abraham H. Albertson, an architect from Seattle who primarily designed buildings for the University of Washington and who also designed Cornish College of the Arts.
The Olympia-based construction company known as the Dawley Brothers, which was owned by Leo and J.M. Dawley, constructed the structure. They also built the Hart-Dawley house in the South Capital neighborhood, which was the home of Governor Louis Hart.
The Security Building was built in the Sullivan-esque Style (think rosettes and pineapple details) and boasts nothing but the finest materials available at the time. There is marble from Europe and granite from Canada, not to mention prized mahogany from the Philippines throughout. The structure has remained sound all these years later, even though it’s built on fill over the natural location of tidal marshes, it rests on hundreds of pilings, and it has weathered two major earthquakes.
The style of the building certainly makes an establishment like Dillingers seem like it truly belongs there.
Dillingers is owned by Lela Cross (of the former culinary gems Capitale and Cielo Blu), Denise Alonso (who formerly ran the bakery at Saint Martin’s University), and Sandy Hall (formerly of Batdorf and Bronson). “There’s nothing that compares to the fun, the vibe, or the stress of owning a restaurant,” says Hall.
Dillingers is full of swank. There are bold chandeliers and dark walls with custom-made wallpaper in places. There is a gorgeous bar, designed by Hall, that’s high on gloss. Everything is plush and fancy.
After leasing the space, Hall’s father took one look at the original teller’s booth and into the old bank vault in the back and declared that it brought to mind the days of John Dillinger. Thus, downtown Olympia’s melting pot of hipsters, legislators, and all kinds of people in between was given its name.
“The customers send us things about Dillinger all the time,” says Cross.
The old bank vault and the name helped shape and guide the vision Alonso, Cross, and Hall had for the establishment that opened this past winter. In a building with 1920’s architecture and a name harkening back to the time of bank robberies, and gin joints, there was only one direction to go: Prohibition Era cocktails.
The Prohibition Era is known more for cocktails than food, so the owners were free to bring in their own favorites when it came to planning a menu. The seafood is a nod to Olympia (and supplied by Olympia Seafood Company), while dishes like red beans and rice are reminiscent of Houston, from which Hall originates. Cross is from New Mexico, and she likes colorful foods. Hot Babe Hot Sauce is sourced from Sandra Bocas in Yelm.
The real star on the menu, though, is the whiskey bread pudding. Why? Well, there’s no bread in it, for starters. Instead, you’ll find doughnuts to be the secret ingredient in Alonso’s brilliant “creation that everyone loves.”
The authentically-crafted cocktail menu is divided by the darlings of the Prohibition Era: whiskey, cognac, gin, rum, tequila, champagne, wine, beer, and hard cider. Dillingers uses spirits from local distilleries and breweries. You can, of course, order whatever kind of cocktail you want. But why would you do that when you can put yourself in the hands of these master cocktail craftspeople and drink something called a Mary Pickford, named after America’s first sweetheart of film, instead?
“We have probably the best bartenders in town,” smiles Cross. “They have such a passion for what they’re doing.”
The bar manager is Sherilyn Lightner. She has researched the cocktails of the era by reading old cocktail books. If you’re unsure of what to order, here are the favorites from the insiders themselves:
Next up for Dillingers is their “Gin Punch Brunch,” which premieres September 14. They also have an artist-of-the-month. Pairing up with the community is clearly important to Dillingers.
Meanwhile, the ladies of Dillingers will continue to enjoy the little moments that make it special for them. For Cross, this happens every night. “I stand out on the sidewalk and I wait for someone to open the door to go in so I can hear the roar of the happy crowd inside.”
Adds Alonso, “I work in the kitchen, which is between the vault and the bar. I love how people stop by and introduce themselves.”
“I really love the way people come together here. They end up making friends or running into people they haven’t seen in years,” shares Hall.
While it’s true that John Dillinger never set foot in Olympia, it is also true that you are not John Dillinger. Lucky for you (for lots of reasons), because that means you can enjoy Dillingers Cocktails and Kitchen – perhaps even tonight.
By Cara Bertozzi
Fermentation is an ancient method of food preservation and flavor development. Fermented foods, such as bread, wine, and beer, have long been mainstream. However, raw fermented foods, often termed probiotics, have more recently been commanding real estate on shelves in traditional grocery stores, where they are popular as tasty vectors of helpful live cultures of bacteria.
Sash Sunday, an engaging food activist and the owner of OlyKraut, credits two primary trends in food with creating the market for her pungent raw sauerkraut and fermented brine products. One driving force is the foodie or artisanal demographic. These individuals are fascinated with the movement away from highly pasteurized, processed foods to more traditional methods of food preparation that result in tantalizing flavors, deemed worthy of the associated extra costs and time.
The second driver are people who are increasingly convinced of the link between the consumption of raw fermented foods with health and wellness. Many people struggling with food sensitivities, allergies, and disease have turned to cultured foods, including miso, kefir, kimchi, kombucha and yogurt, to replenish their gut flora and heal their bodies. Scientific studies also support the connection between a healthy gut microbiome and mental well-being.
Founded in 2008, OlyKraut has been doubling their production annually. Sash is quite pleased to partner with largely local farmers. Last year, she sourced 60,000 pounds of cabbage and employed local workers to handcraft a healthy food that not only electrifies the tongue but also nourish the body.
Sauerkraut was a natural draw for Sunday because of the increased bioavailability of the cabbage nutrients due to the bacterial breakdown, cabbage’s anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and the incredibly simple method of preserving the cabbage through acidification as the Lactobacilli produce lactic acid as a byproduct of their metabolism of lactose and other sugars. Did I mention that it’s delicious?
OlyKraut products are sold in 60 locations throughout Washington and in the Portland area and can also be sampled at a variety of farmers’ markets or purchased as an add-on through many local community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, such as those of Oxbow Farm and Helsing Junction Farm.
Consumers in the Olympia area are fortunate to have many high-quality fermented foods at their fingertips. There are also great resources available to get you started if your interests include culturing ferments at home as a low-cost way to add healthy probiotics to your family’s diet. Meghan Hintz, a certified fermentationist and LMP who is deeply interested in digestive healing, recently taught Sauerkraut 101 to a group of 20 budding home cabbage connoisseurs at Eastside Urban Farm and Garden Center (EUFGC). This is just one of their many great classes offered at the bargain price of $10.
Participants enjoyed tasting some of OlyKraut’s fare while Meghan shared the science behind sauerkraut ferments of anaerobic bacteria and their preferred environments, what types of ingredients work well in sauerkrauts and, correspondingly, which foods to avoid adding. Then she walked us through the actual method itself by preparing a green cabbage, fennel, daikon radish, and green onion kraut.
We each tasted the salted cut vegetables to familiarize ourselves with the proper amount needed to maintain the crispness of the vegetables – it should be tasty like a chip. I was impressed by the level of questions attendees had regarding the type of kraut equipment to use, the ideal temperature and light conditions for ferments, and tips for identifying unsafe ferments gone rogue. Interestingly, each type of bacteria has its own preferred pH level, and the pH of finished krauts, which typically ranges from 3.8 to 4.2, is incompatible with the dreaded botulinum toxin-producing pathogen Clostridium botulinum.
This feature of bacterial life contributes to the potency of sauerkraut because you are not only consuming colony-forming units (CFUs) of microbes but you are also ingesting their preferred environment, which may help them successfully traverse the stomach and establish colonies in the small intestine.
Meghan was a knowledgeable and pleasant educator, and the experience gave me one more reason to adore EUFGC, a fantastic local resource for people who want to grow and make their own food. Each day that I pass by my freshman ferment on the kitchen counter, my anticipation grows.
Another easy way to get started with home fermentation is to brew your own probiotic drinks using an organic, live-culture starter kit from Oly-Cultures, another local company started by Julie Kamin after years of helping friends culture kefir and kombucha. In addition to milk and yogurt kefir grains, you can purchase a kombucha symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), and using just tea leaves and sugar, you can propagate your own kombucha.
By performing a secondary fermentation in a closed jar, you can create a carbonated tea that can be flavored in endless combinations. Just don’t let it ferment more than a few days or the pressure may crack your container. Our blackberry sage kombucha was a hit, and the best part is that you can reserve a portion of the previous brew and have an endless supply after your initial investment.
Be adventurous; there are lots of tasty ways to experiment with raw fermented foods, and it just may improve your health.
By Giovanna Marcus
Joel Hart invites me back into the kitchen at the Page St. Cafe. He’s making béchamel sauce, the decadent mother sauce for their gravy, macaroni and cheese, and chicken and biscuit mix. While whisking equal parts butter and flour in a saucepan, he demonstrates the desired consistency, and then adds a gallon of milk heated to 175 degrees.
The restaurant is set up with a nod to the history of the 110 year-old building, with counter seating and about ten tables filling the floor. Several cooks move quickly inside the small, clean kitchen, perfectly in synch with each other so that they never crash, even during Sunday brunch.
Page St. Cafe’s story starts with Hart riding his bike along Rodgers Street, where, as a six-year-old, he often stopped in at Eddy’s, a tiny grocery store where he bought Swedish Fish and candy cigarettes. (This was back in the days when his parents founded the Olympia Waldorf School.)
As an adult, Hart returned to the spot that once housed Eddy’s, this time for breakfast at what was then Sage’s Brunch House. He had a nostalgic association with the historical building and loved going there to relax with friends. Meanwhile, after over 15 years as a professional cook, he opened Dino’s Coffee Bar on Harrison Street on Olympia’s west side in 2012.
When Sage’s owner announced her retirement, Hart, 34, was offered the chance to rent the space, and he signed the lease without even checking out the place. He says he wasn’t quite ready to become a full-on restauranteur, but opportunity struck, and like a true entrepreneur, he said yes.
After a total gutting and renovation of all plumbing, electrical, and floors, Page St. Cafe cut its ribbon for business in July.
“I’m not interested in creating multi-tiered international empires,” says Hart. “I’m more interested in creating spaces to raise families in, creating opportunities for local kids to learn a lucrative trade, and be productive members of our communities.”
Hart has a deep interest in creating a family friendly space, complete with Batman placemats, although he says the toys had to go due to an unfortunate skateboarding incident. I don’t press for details.
Hart is also passionate about doing everything from scratch. It’s not an accident that there isn’t a freezer, microwave, or deep fryer in the cafe. This is considered outdated and practically unheard of by modern food industry standards, but Hart smiles slyly as he boasts that their poached eggs are the best you can get. They source local produce from Wobbly Cart, and use OlyKraut in their Rueben sandwiches. Hart gets excited when he talks about Sous-vide, a superb cooking method used to cook NY steaks, seafood streaks, and lamb.
Culinary delights from the breakfast menu include the Page St. Tartane, an open-faced croissant topped with eggs, cheddar, and choice of bacon, ham or sausage patties; or the Chai French Toast, which comes with butter, real maple syrup and fresh fruit. A decadent and necessary option is the Page St. Poutine, comprised of grilled red potatoes topped with bacon bits, white gravy, and melted cheddar cheese.
Those seeking serious comfort food will love it here, while those looking for lighter meal can opt for the Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad, among other not-so-difficult choices. Vegan options abound, and for those with wheat sensitivies, sandwich can be ordered to come with the most perfect gluten-free bread from Essential Baking Company in Seattle. There is also a fine selection of beer, wine, and local hard cider.
The food is “authentically American,” with a hint of influence from the three years Hart spent living and cooking in Spain. “They treat food differently there. The relationship people have with food is different,” says Hart, speaking to the level of care that goes into food preparation in Europe. It’s somewhat of a rarity for a restaurant to be open all day from breakfast to dinner, and Hart’s made it enticing for people to linger (though you won’t find wifi here).
He kept much of the Sage’s staff on board for the new venture, while bringing in a host of new, smiling talent. This cafe’s waitstaff are hip without a hint of snootiness, and genuinely kind. When I call to ask a question for this article, the server who answers the phone gushes about how Hart is the best boss in town. It’s clear that they’re happy, having fun, and enjoying the open space and its big windows, as well as the jams on the stereo that keep them moving at a steady pace as they pouring bottomless coffee and dish up some of the tastiest, freshest, most earnest fare in town.
Zany, thoughtful, and masterful in the kitchen, Hart credits the people in his life for helping him get the unexpected project of a new restaurant going. He’s had loyal customers who he now calls best friends, and lots of help along the way from supportive family and fans.
“Not to sound cliche, but it’s really been a community effort to get this going. I can’t take much of the credit for it. Well—except for staying up 17 or 18 hours a day to make it work,” says Joel. He looks around as the dinner time crowd start filling the tables and pride at the family friendly space he’s created shows.
As for the future, Joel has one thing to ask the citizens of Olympia: “Who likes skeeball and Donkey Kong?” Let him know when you visit the Page St. Cafe. You’ll likely find him behind the counter cooking something delicious.
903 Rodgers St. NW
Olympia, WA 98502
Follow Hart and Page St. Cafe on Facebook.
Hours – Monday through Saturday from 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
By Kate Scriven
The Olympia Brew Fest returns to the shores of Budd Inlet on August 2 for what promises to be another terrific party. For the past two years, the fledgling festival has grown in size and popularity with over 2,500 people attending last year. This year promises to be bigger and better, both in size of venue and variety of offerings for those attending.
The brain child of local businessman Mike Mahron, the Olympia Brew Fest began in 2012 as a way to celebrate Olympia’s brewing heritage, showcase the best regional craft brewers, and have fun at one of the most beautiful outdoor venues around – the Olympia Port Plaza. “I’ve been to a lot of brew fests,” share Mahron, “and I haven’t seen a better location than this one.”
This year, festival-goers can look forward to the beautiful Budd Inlet view being even more appealing now that the Port of Olympia cranes have come down and the event will expand towards the dock area. “Last year it got a little crowded at the peak of the event,” explains Mahron. “We want people to have plenty of room, so we are expanding the footprint of the event space along with putting a cap on number of tickets sold.” And with a sell-out crowd predicted, now is the time to purchase tickets online.
Along with the increased venue size, the festival has streamlined entry with bar-coded tickets, allowing for quick admittance. Once inside, you’ll enjoy the same great quality beer, food and live music as in the past along with a few new faces.
In response to requests for gluten-free options, the Brew Fest has invited three area cider makers including local favorite Whitewood Cider. The number of breweries is up as well with 30+ options to choose from.
“This year I attended the BC Beer Awards and The Great Canadian Beer Festival,” says Mahron. “I had hoped to include more Canadian brewers in our event this year, but crossing the border with beer is apparently a little tricky.” He did however secure Central City Brewers from Surrey, B.C. as an international guest along with several new Oregon and breweries and even one from California.
Mahron is dedicated to including and supporting the local craft brewers here in Olympia and the event boasts four local breweries and one cidery including Top Rung Brewing, Whitewood Cider Company, Kastellan Brauerei, Fish Brewing and downtown new-comer Three Magnets Brewing Co. While still keeping the local brewer focus, Mahron sees the event growing in the coming years to include the entire region. “It would be ideal to have brewers representing Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and maybe even California. It would be a true Pacific Northwest Brew Fest,” he shares.
Casey Sobol, Operations Manager at Top Rung Brewing shares, “This is a great local event that certainly celebrates the wonderful brewing history of the community. The Olympia Brew Fest in a great location and in a region that embraces local and craft beer. This festival celebrates that. The craft brewing scene is picking up in the Thurston County area and we are proud to be a part of it.”
What should you expect if you attend? First and foremost expect a great party. The event is purely about fun and enjoyment of great food, drink, and company. However, all that fun is also for a great cause. The event is in support of the Thurston County Chamber Small Business Development (Incubator) program, helping small businesses get off the ground, adding value to the economy and community right here where we all live, work and play.
You can also look forward to high quality beers at each and every booth. “I personally sample and approve each entry into the Brew Fest,” laughs Mahron, a true lover of a well-crafted beer. Options will be plentiful and suit every palate with favorites like 7 Seas Brewing’s Life Jacket Session IPA , at 4.4% ABV and Top Rung Brewing’s Hose Chaser Blonde, at 5.0% ABV and more unique offerings like Brickyard Brewing’s SW Green Chili Blond Ale, at 5.0% ABV and Narrow’s Brewing’s Cardamom Coffee Stout at 8.0% ABV.
Along with the brews you’ll be entertained by three different live bands throughout the event along with delicious food from Marv’s Marvlus Pit BBQ, O’Blarney’s Irish Pub, The Blend Café and Hawks Prairie Restaurant. As in years past, the Lucky Eagle Casino will join together with the Chehalis Tribe to prepare traditionally cooked salmon for festival-goers.
The Olympia Brew Fest starts at 1:00 p.m. on August 2 ending at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, although a sell-out crowd is anticipated so purchasing tickets in advance is recommended. (Ticket information can be found here.) Your ticket buys you a commemorative mug and six, 5.5 ounce tastes. A $5 military discount is available at the door. Drink cards for six additional tastes can be purchased inside for $8. All designated drivers pay only $5 to enjoy the event. Ages 21 and over only and no pets allowed.
Come thirsty, come hungry, and come ready to have fun. The Olympia Brew Fest is quickly becoming one of the premier events on the Olympia summer calendar and one you don’t want to miss.
All photos courtesy of the Olympia Brew Fest.
By Alyssa Ramsfield
Mushroom enthusiasts from all over the globe will gather at Lacey’s Regional Complex Center July 26 – 27 for the seventh annual Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival. This year, the Hawks Prairie Rotary presents the culinary event with two days packed full of chefs, speakers, food, and fun with one goal…to enjoy fungi perfection.
“Every year the festival gets bigger,” explains festival co-chair, Corey Lopardi. “I’ve met people from as far away as England who made it out to enjoy the event. Every year we try to add more to satisfy so many people. We have a lot to offer our community this year.”
The fungi festival begins on Friday evening with a 5k Glow Run. The 5k race features four glow zones and festive glow items. “We added a kids run for ages 10 and under that will include glow water,” says Lopardi. “We even have Party Medics DJ playing music and food available after the run.”
On Saturday, children ages twelve and under are welcome to the Kid Zone. Admission is free for these kids, making the festival the perfect place to take the entire family. The Kid Zone includes Radio Disney at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, The Sounders Women Soccer Team, a fishing booth, Ronald McDonald, bounce house, balloon animals, and alpacas!
The featured speakers are one of the main event highlights. “These are people known for their vast knowledge of mushrooms,” describes Lopardi. Some of the experts hitting the stage include KING 5’s Ciscoe Morris, instructor Tom Keller, Christian Kaelin of Provisions Mushroom Farm, and author Langdon Cook.
Despite all this excitement, the focus of the Mushroom Festival is the food. Cooking demos from some of the best chefs around will be spotlighted all weekend long. There is also plenty of food to sample. The “Shroom Feast” features some of the best culinary offerings around. Just $10 will buy you seven tastings. Mushroom ice cream and Bacon Mushroom Bites are just two of the tantalizing offerings available during the feast.
The Mushroom & Wine Event is a major fundraiser for Hawks Prairie Rotary. For $25, guests will sample seven tastes and receive a commemorative wine glass. Beverages, including selections from Scatter Creek Winery, Hoodsport Winery, Stottle Winery, Stina’s Cellars, Mill Lane Winery, Northwest Mountain Winery, Kastellan Brauerei, and Top Rung Brewing will be paired with delicious mushroom hors d’oeuvres. Live music and a silent wine auction will also be part of this main event.
“The best part about the Mushroom Festival is what happens afterwards,” says Lopardi. “All of the money raised from the weekend helps local causes. Every dollar in profit is turned around and invested back into our community.” Some of these worthy causes include: The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Homeless Backpacks, Hawks Prairie Heroes, education scholarships, clean drinking water projects, and worldwide polio vaccines.
The Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival is so much more than an event to highlight mushrooms. “It’s a completely volunteered event,” explains Lopardi. “My favorite part of the whole weekend is when someone thanks me for putting it on. It gives a lot of families the opportunity to go out and enjoy what our community has to offer.”
To have fun with fungi, check out the 2014 Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival July 26 and 27 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. Complete event details can be found at www.pnwmushroomfest.com.
By Katie Doolittle
The ghosts of summers past haunt Gile Blueberry Farm. Ken Gile, the current proprietor, can readily recall the long-ago days when crowds of neighbors and school children hired on as summer berry pickers. Everyone’s bare feet would turn black and itchy from roving all day over the meticulously tilled earth. Back then, people picked for a nickel a pound, working towards their daily minimum of 20 pounds apiece. It’s how many local kids earned money for their school clothes. “I always got fired,” Ken admits. “I was kind of terrible. But it would only last a couple of days and then I’d get sent back to the field.”
The farm, says Ken, was his father Claude’s dream. Originally from New York, Claude Gile moved to the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s. He paid $500 for his first two acres of land. “This was all brush and trees way back when,” explains Ken. “Dad was a longshoreman and when there were no ships in he’d bring a crew over and they’d clear the brush by hand.” At that time, Claude paid his fellow longshoremen 15 or 20 cents an hour for their labor.
After a brief stint of blackberry farming–which was soon deemed too troublesome–Claude switched to blueberries. As the baby of the family, Ken doesn’t remember much about the early days of the farm. However, he can still recall the labor shortage they experienced during the Korean War. Claude solved the problem by hiring a company of soldiers from Fort Lewis. “That was quite a time,” Ken chuckles. They had a mess hall for the military blueberry pickers, and “there were always G.I.s trying to sneak off to town for a drink or two.”
Claude and his wife Laura had eight children: Juanita, Leon, Tiny, Marie, Jean, Betty, Ann, and Ken. At one time or another, everyone was somehow involved in the farm. Marie shares her memories with dry humor: “I was a row boss, riding my broom through the fields and telling them to pick their berries clean.” She took on her leadership position around age 14 and didn’t miss a single season until she was married. “And then I made the kids go out and pick berries,” she reminisces.
Marie and Ken both agree that their father Claude was quite particular in his expectations of pickers. He demanded meticulous attention to detail and “was kind of a tyrant about no berries on the ground.” When he blustered too much, the family would banish Claude to the house. He’d then hover in the dining room (which offers an excellent view of the fields) and bang on the windows if he saw subpar workmanship.
Throughout the 1950s, Claude took his berries up to the Sunny Jim plant in Seattle. Ken says, “He used to run the old Dodge up there, sometimes twice a day… which was a fete in and of itself.” Later, Claude joined forces with other local farmers to form the Producer Marketing Company (PMC). This cooperative effort was located in Mossy Rock. Until 2006, PMC processed local blueberries and then sold them to companies such as Smucker’s.
When Claude died in 1965, brothers Tiny and Leon split the farm. Ken took over Tiny’s portion in 1993, which is when the Giles first instituted U-pick.
Ken appreciates how U-pick offers berry lovers a chance to tailor purchases to their individual palates. “You can eat on the different bushes until you find one you like,” he says. He estimates that the property currently boasts 30 to 40 different varieties, if not more. “There are a lot of varieties that you probably can’t get anymore,” he says. Plants and their fruit evolve as farmers seek to improve berry yield, size, and taste. Yet some of the bushes on Ken’s property trace back a full century; they began as cuttings from Eberhardt’s on Steamboat Island, which some sources say was the first blueberry farm west of the Mississippi River.
Come for a taste from a bygone era and you’ll also see some old-style farming. The Giles planted their fields before modern irrigation practices grew widespread. And in contrast to the current common practice, the plant varieties on their farm are intermixed to promote cross-pollination. It means that berries in a single area ripen at varying rates, rendering large scale machine-picking impractical. Consequently, Gile berries get picked by hand. Ken describes the current pickers as “a senior citizens’ crew of six to eight.” Not surprisingly, that crew includes his sister Marie.
Want to enjoy the fruit of their labor? It’s $2.25 for pre-picked berries. But I recommend trying out U-pick or, at the very least, taking a walk around this beautiful old farm. The land and the people are well worth a visit!
Gile Blueberry Farm will open the week of July 21st for the 2014 season. Hours are 8:00am to 6:00pm. Updates and contact information can be found on the farm Facebook page.
May kind of just got swallowed up, didn’t it? Where’d it go?
I’ve been really enjoying the beautiful weather we have been having this spring. I’ve seen a ton of dragonflies sunning themselves on my pea trellis. I have been a super lazy gardener this year. I had a lot of things eaten by deer (which may have sent me into a mini-meltdown) but I rallied and decided not to worry about it.
That’s my gardening philosophy this year.
I have a confession. I love to mess up a perfectly good recipe, on purpose. I adore any recipe writer who is detailed and precise about their explanations and measurements. It helps me figure out how far I can veer before crashing into disaster. Becoming a decent cook is similar to any skill in life. Once you learn the basics you can begin tweaking, fiddling and meddling until you find your pulse. Your mark. Your touch. Typically, I try to follow a recipe exactly as written on the first attempt. Any attempt after, however, is fair game. Even at first attempt, I am liable to cut diagonally instead of vertically. I might add a handful of chopped basil instead of measuring it out precisely to 1/4 cup. I want to stay within the confines of the recipe without letting it confine my spirit, my passion for food. I, more than most, can become so lost in perfectly executing the details that I completely forget to enjoy myself. The final product may look and taste perfect but it will lack heart, soul and passion.
I’m really trying to remind myself of this lesson, especially lately. I fear I have gotten into a spell of looking a life as far to precise and perfect. As a set of skills I must develop and execute to succeed. As though anything in life that is executed perfectly, without heart, ever inspires anyone, including me. Inspiration is a feeling you get when you see someone else showcase a part of themselves that comes from a deep spark within. Perfection has nothing to do with that spark. This recipe falls right into that opportunity. Originally taken from Molly Wizenbergs book “A Homemade Life”, it is dictated with precision. She tells you how much to use, how thinly to slice and which way to cut and shape each vegetable. It doesn’t really matter. Really. I chopped and seeded with abandon. I measured and guessed. I threw in a bit of curry powered, garam masala and nutmeg. It still tasted delicious. In fact, I got so wrapped up in the process that I completely forgot to take a final picture. I think, in spirit, that is best. Then you never know what it was “supposed to” look like. You will only know what you created, how it tasted on your tongue and the way it made you feel when you were creating and that is all you need to know.
Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant rounds in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil in small bowl and brush onto eggplant. Flip slices and brush second slices as well, taking care that each as a thin coating of oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping slices halfway through, until soft and lightly browned on each side. Remove from oven and cool. (You can do this step a day or two ahead and refrigerate)
Warm 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 10—12 minutes. Remove it from the pan, taking care to leave behind any excess oil and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Add a bit of oil if pan is dry. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, but now browned, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, over and cook for 5 minutes. Add eggplant, zucchini, stir to incorporate and cook until everything is very tender, 15-20 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Discard bay leaf and stir in basil.
Serve hot, warm or room temperature, with additional salt for sprinkling. This dish is even better a day or two later, as the flavors get time to mesh.
1 lb eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds
1 lb zucchini, trimmed, halved, lengthwise and sliced in to 1/2-inch thick half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
I will begin this post with a great deal of apologizing. It will be the kind, however, that is done by any good friend that has been gone for far too long. The kind of apology that occurs after I knock the door, you open and I thrust a delicious dessert, still warm from the oven; begging to be drenched in vanilla ice cream and consumed. That is the only way to apologize for such an unexplained absence. I am not only apologizing to you, my dear friend, but to Molly Wizenberg. Writer of “A Homemade Life”, creater of the blog “Orangette” and my current personal hero. I believe the next few posts will be a direct copy of every recipe from her book. I can’t help myself. In my defense, she really should not have written such beautiful stories and recipes to match. As with any good idea, I want to try everything she writes about because she makes it all sound not only incredible, but familiar.
Familiar in the way you feel about your best friends spaghetti sauce and the way it always fills your house with the smell of love, comfort and safety. Familiar in the way that your favorite cookie recipe automatically makes everything feel right, even if they whole day fell to pieces. I want to make every recipe in Molly’s book because I feel like I know her and thus know the food she makes. I not only want to taste it all, I want to feel the way she feels when she eats it. Powerful stuff. So forgive the next few posts as I lavish adoration and attention. She may or may not be my idol right now, but I’m sure it will be evident the former is true.
I hope, only hope, to find some way to convey that feeling to everyone here. I want you to try these recipes that I create, not only because they will feed your bellies but because they will nourish your soul. I want to become familiar with y’all. In that spirit, I’m going to make it clear that my absence has occurred due to a family move to Austin, Texas. We are simultaneously settled, settling and unsettled. I’ve been inspired and found a renewed energy around being in the kitchen. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been doing. Tonight, however, I start with Molly’s Tarte Tatin.
It doesn’t look glamorous, and isn’t even the very first thing I would choose if waiting in line at a local bakery. I would be the fool in the end. This is astounding. My husband likened it to “creme brulee but better”. It is really best warm and served with a simple vanilla ice cream. I landed on this recipe because Molly described it as “a housewife in stilettos” and “it doesn’t dally with small talk. It reaches for your leg under the table”. Who wouldn’t want to eat something that is described with such passion? I know I am first in line. In fact, bakeries should really start describing their pastries in a similar manner…I would love to see what they invent.
Molly recommends puff pastry and I bought what I thought was puff pastry but was called Filo Dough. I’m not sure if they are really the same thing but it worked just fine. I just skipped the step where she asks you to roll out the dough really thin. I actually think I put to little dough in the pastry and would just put all of it in next time. It was still heart stopping and phenomenal…I can’t imagine how much better it would taste with even more dough. I may have just fainted from elation while writing that last sentence.
I also made a choice to buy whatever crisp, sweet apples I could find and used whole wheat pastry dough. Small changes but it didn’t seem to alter the incredible complexity of taste…as long as butter and sugar is involved…you are typically set. Since I don’t want to completely steal Molly’s thunder, I am making you go to her original post for directions. It’s the least I can do for a woman who talks about food the way a person might talk about a lover.
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5-6 large Apples
6 Tbsp (3 ounces) unsalted butter
About 14 ounces puff pastry
A friend of mine had posted a link to a recipe for home made goldfish crackers a few months ago. I tried the recipe and my son gobbled down the entire batch, along with an entire group of mom’s I meet with on Monday mornings. It was such an enormous hit I thought often about making them again. Just as I got up the motivation I saw another post by a food blogger I follow that made spinach crackers. Whoa. The two recipes began making love in my mind and made this little baby. It was born from a desire to make great crackers with even more nutritional punch. My first attempt was soggy and sticky. I added more flour and less water and got a winner.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Or just use 1 baking sheet and bake 2 separate batches like I did. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, dill). With a pastry blender (or two forks), cut in the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. In a blender, blend the water and spinach until smooth. Now pour this into the flour and butter mixture. Stir this mixture until it just comes together and then gently knead with hands until it forms a ball. Be sure not to over handle the dough.
Split the dough in half. On a non-stick mat or lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough very thin (1/16th inch). Cut with cookie cutters or with a pizza roller. Gently lift off with fingers and place on prepared sheet (no need to space far apart as they don’t spread). Repeat as necessary. Sprinkle with more salt (I used Herbamare and it tasted amazing!) Bake for 9-10 minutes, rotating pan half way through baking to ensure more even baking. Crackers should be lightly golden when ready. My crackers took 10 minutes, but watch closely after 8 minutes. Be careful because they burn quickly. Cool completely on baking sheet and serve immediately. Store leftovers in a glass container.
1 & 1/2 cups (5 oz) 100% whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/2 tsp), plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp dried dill weed (or other herbs/spices of choice)
6 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh spinach (30 grams)
2 Cups Cheddar Cheese, grated
I know at every post you read you deeply wish I would just show up on your door step with everything cooked and ready for your immediate consumption. I know your drool at every photo, short circuits your keyboard and you’ve bought 100 in the last two years I have been posting. I know you bookmark the recipes with every intention of trying them on some night when inspiration and energy consumes you, only to discover you end up falling asleep on the couch every night with a empty bowl of ice cream on the coffee table. Oh I know. I know because I do it to. I bookmark recipes from other blogs and tear out photos and inspiration from magazines and Pinterest. All the while wishing they would just materialize in front of me so I could eat it. Sometimes it is not the baking and cooking I enjoy so much. It is actually just the eating. I also know how excited I would be if some of my favorite bloggers were just happening to sell their baked goods. I would probably pee my pants due to complete elation if I knew I could buy these goods and the proceeds would go to benefit my local food bank. I just might have a heart attack if I could also meet these bloggers. Guess what? It’s happening. Jenni from The Plum Palate is putting together an incredible event to benefit the Olympia Food Bank. You should check out her write up for the full details but I can promise incredible food from eight local food bloggers at only 1$ per item. Seriously? You gotta do it. Oh and did I mention there will be a raffle to win gift certificates to some incredible local bakeries such as Bearded Lady, San Francisco Street Bakery, Blue Heron Bakery, 8 Arms Bakery, and Bonjour Cupcakes.
Both cash and food donations will be valid for tickets you can exchange for baked goods. And remember, the food bank accepts both perishable and non-perishable items. That means you can donate almost anything, from a package of pasta to a bunch of carrots. I will be there from 5-7 and I will be making the following:
Visit our Facebook event page. Come down. Enter a raffle. Donate and eat some food all for an incredible cause.
Friday, April 27 from 5-10
Located at Make Olympia street market at Arts Walk, 100 block of Columbia
All proceeds benefit the Olympia Food Bank
1$ or food donation for each baked good
Raffle with gift certificates from local bakeries
Bloggers that will be participating:
My son is at an age now where he can legitimately help out in the kitchen. The tasks must be simple and supervised but it is a fantasy fulfilled. When he was much younger my sister bought him a full chef kitchen kit. Even though he was no where near old enough to utilize the toys, I pulled them out and he used them as rattles and items to chew and drool upon. I still dream of the day he will pick the recipe and I will help him in his determination to make our family a meal. I’m far ahead of myself but these small moments prep me for a completion of that dream and fill my days with little moments of contented bliss and fulfillment as a human being.
There are days when I am multitasking a boiling pot, frying chicken and roasting vegetables that I wish he didn’t have such a keen fascination with what I was doing in the kitchen. On this particular day, however, I prepped the meal during his nap, excited for his participation once he woke up. I lined up all the ingredients and he stood on a chair and diligently placed one layer on top of another. The focus and concentration out of this kid at such a young age still astounds me. The meal was incredible and tasted even better with that special layer of dreams and fantasies fulfilled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make white sauce: Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon and cook until mixture darkens slightly in color, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Smash and peel garlic. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and add the garlic. Cook, whisking occasionally, until thick (about the consistency of yogurt), about 20 minutes. Season with salt, cayenne and nutmeg.
Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over high heat and salt generously. Add lasagna noodles to boiling water and cook until ardent. Drain, but do not rinse and lay each noodle out flat on a work surface.
Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with olive oil. Use hands to squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach (if frozen); set aside. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook meat or mushrooms with spinach and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until meat is no longer pink or mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Tear basil leaves over the mixture and toss.
Cover bottom of the prepared baking dish with 3 of the noodles. Top with 1/4 cup grated cheese, 3/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup white sauce and 1/3 of the sausage/mushroom mixture. Season with black pepper.
Add another layer of 3 noodles. Repeat twice and dot the top layer of noodles with the remaining tomato sauce, white sauce and grated cheese, making sure to dot some tomato sauce around the edges so that the noodles don’t dry out. Bake, uncovered for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let lasagna stand for 10 minutes before serving.
This will freeze really well. After baking, let rest and freeze whole or in portions.
Adapted from “How to boil water. Life beyond takeout” by The Food Network
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups milk
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
10 oz fresh or frozen spinach (if frozen, thaw)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
12 oz ground beef or chopped mushrooms
1/2 tsp salt
2 handfuls lightly packed fresh basil leaves (optional)
1 1/4 cups freshly grated grana-style cheese such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
3 cups prepared tomato sauce at room temp
Freshly ground black pepper
Tis the season that the weather begins to tease and taunt. Currently, the sun is out and I’m donning shorts and sandals. Tomorrow I could be in three layers of clothing and shivering as the rain pelters my face. This brings me no delight. It’s downright frustrating. It’s like someone giving you the most amazing bite of food you have ever had in your life and as you beg for more they just smile and say, “You will get more at some point but I’m not gonna tell you when”. Begin meltdown and an adult tantrum. This cake, however, is the ideal tantrum tamer. It’s like and flakey with a touch of apples, which happen to be in season at the farmers market, leftover from last September. It is also dense enough to go with a warm cup of coffee as the rain smothers your windows and you glare at the clouds.
I would love to try this recipe with whole wheat pastry flour, less sugar and butter and some flax in place of one egg. For now, however, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. Sugar and all. The original recipe is from Honey and Jam. She is incredible. I love anything I have ever made from her blog. Simple. Authentic. Perfect. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9 inch round baking pan.Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then stir in vanilla.
Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on a low speed just until incorporated. Pour (more like spoon, it will be very thick) into the prepared pan.
Score the peeled side of the apples with the tines of a fork and arrange the apples atop the batter around the perimeter with 1 slice in the middle (I cut each large slice into 3-4 small slices)
Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Sometimes the batter around the apples looks slightly underdone, but don’t worry; it’s just the moisture from the apples.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 6 pieces
2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar