Monday, February 10, 2014

Growing a garden, farmers markets, preserving seasonal food for later use. All these lead to a more sustainable, creative way of thinking about food. My husband, Master Photographer Eric Tworivers, is on a journey to help build a transition to local, fresh food.

Why did you become a Master Food Preserver?

I became a Master Food Preserver mostly to make sure that I could save our food in the safest way possible. My wife encouraged me to look into the Master Food Preserver Certification after I realized the fun I have preserving foods. She (Deanna, my wife), is a Certified Master Composter, and directed me to the right place to begin the process, in this case it is Washington State University Extension Services.

What was the process?

The process is really pretty simple; I contacted the Extension office and signed-up, my application was approved and I took a very intensive, hands-on course over two months and received my Certification.

In exchange I give volunteer time during the growing season to others via the Extension Hotline and our own website.

How does this relate to your interest in farmers markets?

My interest in Farmer's Markets comes more from my early life, in that I loved going to 'Flea' markets and such, and when Farmer's Markets began to flourish I just kinda went right along with them. I grew to check-out any markets I could back in my younger days, when I was doing a lot of touring playing music.

Today, my interest in Farmer's Markets is driven very much by the concept of 'Farm to Table to Pantry' with our food. The food thats presented today in our stores is most often harvested WAY before it should be, to allow for travel of long distances, and many, many things are created and sold to us that are Genetically Modified, and that's NOT good news for anybody except the corporations controlling the bottom-line. As long as the stockholders make a profit, to hell with the people, seems to be the common thread.

Farmer's Markets fight this trend by bringing the LOCAL farmer's products to the LOCAL consumer, and in so doing the quality of the food is MUCH better, allergens are reduced (we are eating foods from our own area, not across the world, we are used to the local allergens), nutrients are higher in quantity and quality, and you can learn from the Farmer/Rancher EXACTLY what went in to creating the food you are about to enjoy.

What experience do you have, professionally, with farmers markets?

I have worked in booths at Farmer's Markets, selling on the Craft side (stained glass, many years ago), and on the Farmer's side, most recently I spent last summer working Farmer's Markets selling Organic Pork products and Organic Eggs.

I also have many year's of experience performing music at Farmer's Markets, giving me yet another take on how they work.

Today, I am Market Manager of Battle Ground Village Outdoor Market in Battle Ground, Washington, and this Market (which has been largely a Craft Market),will transition to a Farmer's Market beginning this season (2014).!outdoor_market/cjd6
Do you see farmers markets as part of a sustainable food movement?

ABSOLUTELY! As a matter of fact, now that you have me thinking about it, I see Farmer's Markets as one of the main tools we have to get people weaned away from the over-processed, GMO foods we are offered in the stores. Through the Markets we can not only bring fresh, healthy foods to the consumer, but we can also teach the consumer (remind them, really), what to do with the foods they have just gotten at the Markets. We (Markets) bring demonstrations, answers to questions, help in many ways, and it's ALL about creating and maintaining a healthy, sustainable food supply.

Tell us a little about the Food Ambassador program and how it relates to farmers markets.

The Food Ambassador Program (of which I am a Member), created by Chef Jamie Oliver, is primarily designed to help improve the quality of food served in our nation's schools. Within the framework of helping the schools, we refer to the Market's and the associated Farmers and Ranchers, to educate parents, students and school administration that LOCAL and HEALTHY are the best way to go when it comes to feeding our kids.

When we can succeed in getting fresh local foods into the schools, everyone benefits; the kids (eating better), the school (providing better nutrition), the community (local dollars spent seeding, growing, harvesting, distributing are all kept local), it becomes a win-win for all involved.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

In search of the perfect loaf.

About eleven years ago I became aware that my mother was sensitive to products made with wheat flour. She had several symptoms including bruising and digestive difficulties. At that time I began making baked goods with locally grown Spelt flour. As long as we kept away from modern wheat things went well.

As time and my mother passed I began to learn about sourdough bread and began the adventure of Spelt sourdough baking. We had great results with cookies, pancakes, cake and crackers but bread remained...a problem. I churned out doorstop. Handsome weighty loaves that often became bread crumbs for meat loaf and meat balls. Useful but not what I was hoping for.

Last month I came across a wonderful recipe at This recipe became the jumping off place for our Spelt sourdough bread.

During the last baking session I was unexpectedly called away to work during the last rise. So popped the loaves in the refrigerator and hoped for the best. When I got home I set them on the counter. Three hours later they were ready for the oven and turned out very well.

Following the recipe reflecting the changes we have made. As husband is allergic to honey we went to sugar, olive oil instead of coconut and only Spelt flour. I have used the both the milk or water options and melted butter instead of or half and half with olive oil. All of which have worked.

Thank you Tracy Vierra and Wardee!

Photograph by Eric Donaldson Tworivers

Sourdough Bread, Vierra-Style

Sponge ingredients:
  • 1 cup (active state and fed 2 to 3 times before use — this will lessen the sour taste)
  • 1 cup milk or water
  • 2-1/4 cups spelt
Soaked dough ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups water or milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
  • ½ cup sugar brown or white
  • 5 1/2 cups spelt flour

Additional ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • butter or olive oil
Makes 2 loaves.
The night before, mix the sponge ingredients together in a bowl. Loosely cover with a cloth to sit overnight. In a separate bowl, mix the soaked dough ingredients together, and also loosely cover to sit overnight.
The next morning, add 2 eggs to the soaked dough mixture and incorporate well. Put both the soaked dough and sponge in a stand mixer of your choice (I use a Kitchen Aid) and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until well incorporated. Let the dough sit in the mixer for around 30 minutes. Add the sea salt to the dough and mix for 3 to 4 minutes. Depending on the temperature, let dough rise for about an hour. Turn on mixer for 20 seconds. Let dough rise again for an hour, and then mix again for 20 seconds.
After dough has risen for the second time, remove from mixer, knead on a floured surface, and separate the dough into two separate halves. Knead each half just enough to remove excess air, and form each half into a loaf to fit your bread pan. With a knife, slash the loaves of bread with a few marks down the center. Brush each loaf with butter or coconut oil. Cover both of the loaves and let rise in a warm spot. In the winter in our kitchen, this last rise takes a couple of hours. It may be only an hour in the summertime.

I have found that if I put the loaves in the refrigerator over night the loaves continue to rise very slowly. Then I set them out and bring to room temperature (this takes a couple of hours) before baking. This creates a much better crumb.

Once the loaves have risen satisfactorily, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake loaves for 40 to 45 minutes until they sound hollow if you tap them. Remove bread from oven and cool out of pans. Do not slice the bread until it is cooled!!