August 25, 2014

FARMERS OF TASTE!



BLUE VISA FARM!



Blue Heaven

There's a soft plunk when the first blueberries hit the cardboard basket that Matt, Blue Vista's manager, Matt, hands me before I headed off into that lush wild blue yonder. The fields vary by berry -- some tall as my shoulders heavy with fat, dusty colored berries that are mellow and perfumy, then there are the lower bushes with tiny, purply intensely sweet tart gems. And who knows how long it takes me to fill the box to its brim for, always, I'm lost in time, amid buzzing bees, clouds lolling over the sun. One berry leads to the next and the next with endless bounty.

This farm's handsome weathered barn overlooks exquisite gardens of old fashioned favorites (gorgeous foxglove), butterflies feast and humming birds hover. You can see a corner of the lake over the old-growth trees.

Once we've weighed in and checked out, it's not hard for my sons and I to polish off several pints as we drive away, but pretty soon, hate to admit it, we grow a bit weary of these berry treasures. So we jam. blueberry jam, any jam, really, is perhaps the easiest preserve to put up. There's enough liquid in the berries that I just let them cook away until they're a lovely thick mash of their rich, summery selves. A splash of lemon or lime juice, a little ginger, a dash of vanilla or black pepper. That's it.

Simply Blueberry Jam
Makes 4 pints

6 pounds blueberries
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 tablespoon shredded fresh ginger, optional
1 cup sugar, or more to taste

Put the berries, lemon or lime juice, and ginger (if using) into a large pot. Crush the berries slightly with the back of a spoon and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and stir as the berries release their juices. Stir in the sugar to taste and simmer until the jam has reduced to your liking, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Spoon into clean jars. Allow to cool, then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or freeze.


August 5, 2014

Taste of the Apostles!

Blue Vista Farm
Bayfield Wisconsin!


Summer Sampler!


Taste of the Apostles is a kayaking, camping, and local food trip in the Apostle Islands based out of Wilderness Inquiry's camp at Little Sand Bay.  Nestles between the tiny port towns of Cornucopia and Bayfield, it's an ideal location for kayaking and touring farms. We wake to the scent of coffee and bacon sizzling, kayak to wide sandy beaches through ancient sea caves and picnic on local artisan cheese and farm cherries. Come evening we cook fresh lake fish over an open fire on the beach as the sun sinks in to the lake, next night, we grill at Blue Vista Farm overlooking Lake Superior and pick fresh berries for dessert. (Last trip, Matt, the orchard manager treated us all to a hard cider tasting.)

The experience is an immersion into this magical, legendary place through outdoor engagement and food. What's more, we dine with many of the local farmers who provide the vegetables, berries, meats, cheeses (sheep, goat and cow), whitefish and trout. 

Here are a few of the recipes:

Wild Rice Salad
Serves 6 to 8

            Real wild rice, “manomin” is a sacred staple for the Ojibwe people, harvested by hand using canoes. It is nothing like the commercial paddy rice often sold at roadside convenience stores along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Though it’s two or sometimes three times the price of paddy rice, the flavor is far superior and it cooks in just about 20 minutes.

2 cups cooked wild rice*
½ cup dried cranberries
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped toasted nuts
Dressing:
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup walnut or hazelnut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

            Turn the cooked wild rice into a large bowl. Toss in the dried cranberries, onion, parsley and nuts.
            Put the vinegar, mustard and oil into a jar with a lid, close and shake until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
            Toss the dressing over the rice and coat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

* 1/2 cup real wild rice = 2 cups cooked rice
**To prepare real wild rice, rinse it well under cold running water until the water runs clear. Put it in a pot and cover with 2-inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the kernels open up. Drain and serve hot or cool and use in a salad.


Power Bars!
Makes about 24 bars

            These make power packed bars that are great for breakfast or as a fast snack. Feel free to add dried coconut, different nuts, and other dried fruit.

1 tablespoon sunflower or coconut oil
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup granola (I use leftover)
1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans or cashews or a mixture of all
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup honey or maple syrup or combination of both
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with the oil.  In a large bowl, mix together the oats, granola, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and cranberries.
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, mix together the maple syrup or honey, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until it thickens to generously coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour over the dry mixture and stir to combine. Dump into the prepared baking pan and spread out evenly with a spatula. Bake the bars until slightly browned around the edges and firm, about 15 minutes. Remove and cut into squares while still warm. Allow to cool in the pan before removing. 

Kicking Kale Salad
Serves 4 to 6

            There are all kinds variations on kale salad, but this one kicks the flavors up a notch of two. Add more ginger or substitute jalapeno peppers instead. It will keep several days in the refrigerator.

2 bunches kale, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons dried cherries (or any dried fruit)
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds (or any toasted nuts)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

            Put the kale into a bowl and add the sesame oil working it in with your fingers.
            Toss in the remaining ingredients and season to taste.

Rye Berry and Bean Salad
Serves 4 to 6

1 cup rye berries
1 cup dried beans (navy beans are great)
2 bunches green onions, white part and 2/3 of the greens chopped
1 carrot, chopped
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
3 tablespoons maple vinegar or cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

            Put the rye berries and the beans into separate bowls and cover with water by 2 inches and allow to sit over night. Drain, rinse with cold water and turn into separate pots. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring both pots to a boil, reduce the heat, cover. Cook the rye berries for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until soft. Cook the beans for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Drain both.
            Turn the cooked grain and beans into a large bowl. Toss in the onions, carrot, and sunflower seeds. Toss in the pumpkin seed oil and the vinegar to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold.