Local Food Sound Food Blog

What kinds of food are grown locally?  When are they in season?  How can you prepare them?  Our writers share thoughts, information and inspiration about eating locally.

 

Chimacum Corner Farmstand - Eat Your Food From Here!

Open just eight months, the Chimacum Corner Farmstand already has that neighborhood meeting-place vibe. In one corner of the store there are tables and chairs where folks come to sit and have a coffee klatch or a bowl of homemade soup for lunch. Local farmers and residents mingle and chat, excited about the long overdue harvest of raspberries and strawberries.

Katy McCoy, along with co-owners Phil Vogelzang and Malcolm Dorn, leased the farmstand property with the intention of starting an indoor farmers market. Over the past several months the market has turned into a destination small grocery store and Chimacum icon. The owners' main purpose is to support local farmers, and the community has responded with enthusiasm. The farmstand now employs a staff of ten, and many more local suppliers are eager to join their farm roster.

The store is chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and dairy; all locally-purveyed of course. Dairy products are from Dungeness Valley Creamery, Mt. Townsend Creamery, Whiskey Hill Farm, Bishop Dairy and Mystery Bay Farm. New this week are Samish Bay's aged Gouda and Kurt Timmermeister's Dinah's Cheese - a brie cheese made from cow's milk. "The new cheese has been flying off of the shelf," says Lindsay Simons, retail manager.  Local meats available in the freezer section include Short's Family Farm grass fed beef, Westbrook Angus, Wildwood Farm, SpringRain Farm and Cape Cleare Fishery.

Local berries (raspberries and strawberries) have taken the spotlight at the market this week, along with cherries from Eastern Washington.  "All of the fruit, including the cherries, are organic," Lindsay confirms.  Vegetables offered include kale, garlic, salad greens, small radishes, tender beets and carrots.
 
In addition to the grocery items, local bread from Pan D'Amore is offered daily, with bagels and Bavarian-style fresh pretzels offered on Fridays and Saturdays. Pastries, wines, hard cider, gift and bath products complete the mercantile assortment - all made from local artisans. "We just received new t-shirts for adults and kids which are very cute," Lindsay says. Perfectly sized 7 oz. coffee mugs made by Millbrook Clayworks sport the signature Chimacum chick on the side.

True to their commitment to being a community hub, the Farmstand has local food purveyors offering grilled salmon sandwiches Friday afternoons and wood-fired, thin

Read more: Chimacum Corner Farmstand - Eat Your Food From Here!

Cottage Food Law Allows Sale of Food Prepared in Home Kitchens

Beginning in early 2012, people in Washington State will be allowed to sell food made in their own kitchens. Even though that might not sound revolutionary, it is a big change for those wanting to produce and sell food on a small scale. The "Cottage Food Law" (SB 5748) exempts food producers with annual gross revenues of under $15,000 from the current requirement for a commercial kitchen.

Sponsored by Senator Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island, the new legislation passed both houses of the Washington State Legislature almost unanimously before being signed by the governor last week. The law goes into effect on July 22, but then heads to the Rules Committee at the WSDA, where the final product list and inspection guidelines will be established.

Cottage food products are produced in home kitchens for sale directly to the consumer. These products, as defined in this legislation, include baked goods, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butters and other foods which may defined by the Director of Agriculture. Applicants' kitchens must be inspected prior to permitting, and every year thereafter. There are also special labeling requirments, and other regulations to inform and protect the consumer. There are also fees to cover administrative costs, including an inspection fee of $125, a registration fee of $30 and a $75 public health review fee.

We will continue to follow developments as the new law goes into effect. Watch for updates on how to prepare and apply for permitting under these new regulations. Sound Food thanks Senator Rockefeller and his staff for their work on this bill, as well as Representative Christine Rolfes who helped gain passage in the House. We look forward to a new crop of locally produced food at area farmers' markets!

Update August 2011: According to Felicia' s great Facebook resource for the Cottage Food Law , the Washington Department of Ag is not saying that inspections won't begin until early 2012.

Read more about the Cottage Food Bill in this article from the Bainbridge Review.




Finding the Elusive Local Egg

There was a time - not so long ago - when a Sunday surrey around Bainbridge Island included spotting  “Fresh Eggs” signs at the entrances of various countryside driveways.  These days, with local fresh eggs in high demand, those signs are fewer and farther between.  People who keep chickens are having a harder time keeping up with requests from friends and neighbors, and folks looking for fresh eggs are finding it harder to pick up a dozen or two on the weekend.

Fresh eggs from home-raised chickens are a wonderful example of healthy, year-round, locally-sourced food, and as the demand for them increases, people are finding ways to improve the communication and connection between egg producers and egg buyers.

Here on Bainbridge, locally grown eggs have traditionally been available, albeit in very limited supplies, at the Saturday Farmer’s Market.  The good news is that they are now showing up in small local markets around the island as well.  Pane d’Amore at Lynwood Center stocks fresh Island eggs, as does Bay Hay & Feed’s new Farm Stand (check in the refrigerator near the southeast door).  These kinds of retail outlets are much-needed supplements to the old-fashioned driveway signs, although supplies can vary from day to day, so check with store staff for delivery days.

Other tools are also being developed to make fresh eggs available in communities around the country - some, rather ingenious.  At Eggzy.net, Mark Thompson and his Pennsylvania crew have launched an interactive map and registry where small egg-producers across the country can register an “egg stand” - consider it the e-version of a “Fresh Eggs Here” sign.  Completely free and altruistic, this site contains no hidden fees or commercial angles.  Simply put, Eggzy’s mission is to “make our food system personal again.”  And why not use the creativity and connectivity of the internet to enhance opportunities to eat local eggs?  Check out the site - it’s amazing to see the differences in the price of a dozen fresh eggs around the country, and the blog has all kinds of good resource information for egg producers.

Another idea that has popped up in Brooklyn, NY - as a part of Backyard Farms, an urban farming network -  is to offer an annual subscription-style egg CSA to a limited group of customers.  This CSA offers a dozen eggs a week to members from May through October for an average annual fee of $100 (give or take, depending on income).   The egg CSA promises “delicious eggs laid by happy hens here in Brooklyn.”  For more information on what they’re up to, and a link to their application, go here. An egg CSA seems like a promising idea for Bainbridge Island  - we’ll see how it goes in NYC.  If it can make it there, well...  you know.

There are extra backyard eggs to be had on Bainbridge - but how do we get them to market?  The first step might be a little organization.  Last month, Sound Food circulated the idea of a forming Bainbridge egg co-operative for the purposes of making extra eggs available, sharing resources, etc.  Members could pool their extra eggs, buy organic feed in bulk, share equipment, ideas, experience.  Perhaps such an egg co-operative could run an egg CSA, once it organizes, gathers momentum and has a predictable number of eggs to sell during the season.  We had a good response to the idea of an egg co-operative and already have a healthy core group.  If you’d like to be on the email list, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .   We’ll keep you updated on progress here on the Sound Food website.

Increasingly, people are deciding to raise a few hens, and with friendly local ordinances and resources like Bay Hay & Feed’s “chick classes,” it’s easy to give it a try.  If you’ve got backyard hens and extra eggs, and you’d like to keep the old-fashioned “Fresh Eggs Here” signs going, there’s good news.  In this state, there is no licensing requirement to privately sell eggs from your own flock - just wash, box and sell.    If you’re interested in making your eggs available to local retail outlets, you may be required to obtain an Egg Handler’s license from the state.  This is actually just a Master Business License, which you can get by going here.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for fresh, local eggs and can’t find them, check out Sound Food’s farm map, which has information about local sources.  Many poultry farmers also offer duck eggs, which can be slightly easier to find than chicken eggs.  After you find some promising destinations, take that Sunday drive (or bike ride)... you might just get lucky. 

Fork & Spoon Brings Casually-Local Fare to Downtown Bainbridge

Blackbird Bakery is spreading its wings. On Wednesday Blackbird's owners opened Fork & Spoon, a new easy-eating spot right around the corner from Blackbird on Madrone Lane (next to Churchmouse).

The new eatery is open for breakfast, lunch and light dinner. The menu is built around local and seasonal ingredients, a logical outgrowth of owners Jeff Shepherd and Heidi Umphenour's longtime connection with local farmers. The hard-boiled eggs on the breakfast menu come from Bainbridge Island pastured hens. The list of local suppliers includes many familiar names: Butler Green Farm, Laughing Crow, and Persephone Farm.

What will all of that local bounty turn into? According to Floor Manager Lena Davidson, the theme is "Delicious and Responsible." "There's no hierarchy to that - our goal is to be as responsible as we can be," Davidson explained. "The BLT won't have tomatoes in it until it's tomato season, and we'll extend the season by pickling and preserving the harvest for the winter."

Davidson continued to say that the menu will always be built around seasonal ingredients, "and everything is made from scratch."

Currently the breakfast menu features the aforementioned hard-boiled Island eggs, plus a breakfast sandwich using Zoe's ham and herbed local goat cheese on a Blackbird Croissant. There's also Polenta with Roasted Veggies, Oatmeal, and a Smoked Salmon Quiche.

Sandwiches and salads populate the lunch menu. A Happy Hummus Sandwich includes goat cheese and Butler Greens. There's a PB&J using CB's peanuts, a Meatloaf Sandwich with Arugula, and Golden Beet and Farro or Quinoa and Roasted Root Salads.

Cheese plates featuring local cheeses and other "small bites" such as salads and meats will make up the dinner fare. All of this can be accompanied by a cold beer or a glass of wine or cider. Once the sun makes an appearance all of this can be enjoyed in an outdoor courtyard.

The restaurant is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm. For more information, or to place a call-in order, phone 206-842-FORK (3675).

 

Finding Food in the Forest

Are you starved for something fresh and green to eat?  If your vegetable garden still resembles arctic tundra, the best way to satisfy your craving might be to go for a walk in the woods.

Local author and wild food expert Langdon Cook recently taught a couple of classes in foraging for spring edibles. In addition to the familiar nettles and berries, students also learned about more exotic fare such as Devil's Club buds and Lady Fern Fiddleheads.

The first class was on Bainbridge Island, and focused specifically on the Stinging Nettle. Cook first made sure his intrepid students were well-armed with sturdy gloves and kitchen shears, and then led them into the Gazzam Lake wilderness in search of the "belligerent weed." The group warily snipped the top two sets of tender young leaves from each nettle plant, and quickly filled their bags. Then it was back to the kitchen to transform their venomous harvest into a harmless, and delicious, nettle soup. Cook said that nettles also make a great pesto.

Later that week he led another group into the Cascade Foothills near Tiger Mountain, in search of a variety of early-season wild edibles. Even though there was still frost on the ground, he was able to find plenty to eat. Students thoughtfully munched on leafy samples as they learned about the habitat and culinary uses of each.

First up was wild wood sorrel, also known as oxalis. It looks like a leprechaun's dream of a big lime-green shamrock, and grows prolifically wherever it gets started. It has a pleasing lemony taste that is a perfect complement to fish, or a sprightly accent to a spring salad. Cook offers a recipe for salmon with sorrel sauce that is the perfect way to try this common wild treat.

Next we sampled some bright pink blossoms of salmonberry. They were pleasingly sweet, and would make a nice color note in a salad or as a garnish to a spring plate.

Mother Nature likes to protect the best edibles with spines or stings. Beside nettles, another ferocious food is the Devil's Club, the official name of which ends in "Horridus." The tender young buds of this gigantic spiny plant are delicious when sautéed in butter, according to Cook. He suggests harvesting them when the tender buds just break out of their sheaf and are 1" to 2" long. Be very, very careful as you snap the buds off - the spines are very, very nasty. Here's more information on gathering and cooking this rare treat.

Fern Fiddleheads are another spring specialty. There's only one variety of fern that offers up edible fiddleheads in our part of the country, the Lady Fern. Sword and Deer Ferns are not fit for the table. Lady Ferns are small and delicate, and according to Cook the foliage usually disappears during the winter. The trick is to find where Lady Ferns grow by looking for their foliage during the summer when they're in leaf. Then go back to that spot to find the tender furled shoots early in the spring.

At the end of the walk, he pointed out the dainty leaves of Siberian Miner's Lettuce. These were the biggest hit of the day; their herby, bright flavor perfectly captured the taste of spring.

Cook promises to continue his series of foraging classes into the berry days of summer and the fungi days of fall. For more information, keep tabs on the classes offered by the Bainbridge Parks Department as well as Cook's own Fat of the Land blog, where you'll also find a wealth of foraging information and recipes. Cook's book on foraging, Fat of the Land, is available in hardback and paperback.

I'm on my way across the road now to harvest nettles for a dinnertime pasta dish with Mystery Bay Farm's lemon ricotta and spot prawns. As always, I'll admire nature's original permaculture, and be thankful for all of the good food to be found in the woods.

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