Category Archives: WeBromances

WeBromance: Wheat unchanged at Butte Creek Mill

It had been a couple of months of nose to the grindstone life for The Bride and me until last week when we simply carved a day for fun. Little did we know we’d end up completely thrilled to be nose to the grindstone.

Or millstone more accurately, I think anyway. I’m still not sure how it all works. I just know that my quest to sift through all the Frankenwheat scare, carb bashing, flour flogging and all the hype that takes the fun out of dough got a hell of a lot of easier when we visited the Butte Creek Mill in Eagle Point, Oregon.

My latest WeBromance is really a fixation and fascination with the mill and shop and products itself.  But since everyone can’t get to the area to visit the mill, I can attest they will LOVE the products they can buy online, which earns this WeBromance status.

This “is the last water-powered grist mill, still commercially operating, this side of the Mississippi” the web site states. 

Historic Photo

They still mill the wheat and make their various products, powered by the creek just as its been done for more than 125 years. I chatted up the owners to find out more. They don’t use GMO seed, instead getting their seed from a natural ranch in Montana. I can enjoy the Zen of making dough with healthy products in a true Hoof-to-head synergy.

Freshly Milled Flours

Any Herb

The country store was… well, everything I hoped it would be. I kept snagging bags of different flours, yeast, spices and supplies. As soon as I got them home, I decided I simply had to display them on a shelf.

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(Confession: The Gold Medal you see on the shelf will be firmly replaced by Butte Creek once it’s gone. I’m that in love with these products. It’s an exclusive for me, but as is well documented, I can’t waste anything. I wouldn’t sleep for a week if I didn’t use the Gold Medal.)

Next, I started baking, a new recipe I’m toying with called Floral Seven Grain Bread, using Butte Creek’s Seven Grain Flour. It’s rising as I write, so…

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Well, if you see a post with that title soon, you’ll know I’m pleased. If not… don’t blame the flour, blame the baker.

The entire mill just fascinated us. We went into the basement to see the guts of the operation. The main beam is a tree carved into a beam by axes, oh, five generations ago?

The old mill was the retirement project of a married couple who moved south from Portland when they bought it a decade ago and pumped it back to life. The Bride — knowing something about a husband’s crazy business ideas — said the wife of the team looked tired. She wanted to offer to take her out for a massage while I volunteered to watch the store, which frankly, she should have. I would have loved that!

All I can say is I’m glad her husband had a thing for antiques and the vision to salvage this priceless mill for all of us. You can get their products online.

Since the vast majority of our readers won’t be able to tour the mill themselves, we pass it along virtually. Enjoy these photos and then click over to the store to stock up your kitchen. You’ll know why the Butte Creek Mill is our latest WeBromance.

Historic Mill Tour

The front room

Milling Room

The milling room

Grain Elevator

The grain elevator

Flour Chute

The flour “shute”

Mill Chute

The bottom of mill stone

Mill Turbine

The turbine

Wheat Polisher

The wheat scourer and polisher

Wheat Plot

A little wheat plot grows right outside of the mill

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WeBromance: About Andrew Wilder — Eating Rules

I’ve been doing a bunch of research for the Wheat and Chaff series that we recently launched. Granted, with only a couple of posts up so far, it’s hard to believe that I’m actually doing much of anything. But, do not despair, as Bill Murray said to his leaving girlfriend in Stripes, “Talk about mass potential for growth, I am the acorn that becomes the oak! Don’t leave… the plants will die…”

We can’t have the plants dying at EffinArtists.com so  hang in there. I will become the oak of the Wheat and Chaff series very, very soon.

BUT in the meantime, my studies (which by the way are nowhere near as fun as making chocolate and signs and restoring old furniture and rambling on about my neurotic needs to never throw away leftovers and avoid the big C at all costs…) led me to my latest and greatest WeBromance. But let me let my new imaginary best friend for life explain why you want to read his site, appropriately named “Eating Rules.”

The Really Short Version

I’ve loved real food long before the term “foodie” even existed, and recently decided to make healthful living and eating a primary focus in my life. In early 2009 I had my “ah-ha!” moment, and started eating better and exercising regularly.  It instantly started changing my life for the better, and I wouldn’t shut up about it.

Following my passion, I left a career in lighting design and started Eating Rules to help others find the same joy in healthful food (I now pay the bills by working as an internet consultant). In October 2011, I led more than 3,000 people in October Unprocessed, all pledging to eat no processed foods whatsoever for the month. In addition to the blog, I’m working on several related projects, including helping to end Food Deserts in Los Angeles and bringing healthier food to a popular Boy Scout camp on Catalina Island.

via About Andrew Wilder — Eating Rules.

You’ll be reading more of Andrew Wilder’s thoughts in upcoming Wheat and Chaff posts, but until then, check him out.

And come October, please join us as we join Wilder’s October Unprocessed. Very, very cool…

Back to work… back to the grind…

“baby steps, Bob, baby steps on the bus…”

(Name who said the above quote to whom and win absolutely nothing but a slow clap of Effin Artist appreciation.)

Springs bursts from the ground and branch

We didn’t get a winter on the West Coast. My snowboard gear remains packed and ignored. But even so, the first blooms of spring this year lost little of their luster. I noticed the explosions taking place on branch, vine from soil on recent runs through the wilderness I live near. I’m excited about planting the garden. I’ve already had to weed twice.

It’s exhilarating. No season bursts with the grandeur of spring. But this year I got a special spring surprise that made me feel like a kid again.

The story goes back a few months, longer than that really, back to when my daughter adopted for me an olive tree in Italy. A new webromance broke out. I love Nudo. I love their emails, I love their idea to adopt trees. And mostly I love their oil.

Next came the contest. The creative folks at Nudo experiment infusing oils with different flavors. To promote two new ideas — rosemary and coffee flavored olive oils — they held a contest for recipes using the oil. With my daughter’s help we submitted a recipe using both, Coffee Chicken Pizza with Rosemary Olive Oil Fried Apple Rings.

Well… yippee skippy, we were one of five winners chosen by the good folks at Nudo. They sent us samples of both oils and a letter that felt like a little gold medal…

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(I’m easily pleased as you can see).

Amanda became the Test Kitchen’s first visitor so we could put our recipes into action.

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We took our recipes and their oil and soon the kitchen was filled with goodness.

Like apples:

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And pizzas:

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And these ideas cooked up in our minds so cooked up deliciously in our kitchen.

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We ate like Romans!

OK, it’s easy to get distracted by great food, but I was writing about spring. Well, part of this tree adoption thing included an actual tree of my own… like a foreign exchange student. In the deep chill of our snowless winter I opened the can, followed the instructions and watered very, very little the little gravel base.

And I waited.

And waited.

And waited… and nothing happened.

And I felt sad. Like I had been a poor host home for a wayward Italian olive tree… until…

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Spring!

All is right in my world as my little tree awakens and stretches and makes her way upward, just like me this year, small and tentative and yet so filled with potential harvest.

What’s not to love about spring?

A match made in web heaven — Rosemary Apple Rings

When I enter my kitchen, I am happily surrounded by my roots. Every day I am reminded of who I am.

My grandparents worked from poverty to affluence by spending decades, six nights a week cooking in their restaurant. It started as little more than a pool hall in an out-of-the-way town on the Redwood coast of California.

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Then it grew. They moved it and built a place that would become a regional favorite.

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As a child, my grandmother babysat my brother and me in her kitchen. I am proud of the splatter-burn scars on my foot I picked up one day in her kitchen, though I’m sure Nonie and my parents were none to pleased to have a toddler howling like a devil with a burn on his foot. I’m glad it happened; it’s a momento to my heritage.

The Big 4 Inn was a Northern California landmark. When my grandmother finally sold out to make way for Interstate 5, the San Francisco Chronicle documented its passing into history. The menus and the napkins and photos of the Big 4 still decorate my kitchen. The recipes are the staple of my cooking, the heritage I pass along to my children and know they will pass along to theirs (if they’d ever buckle down and give me grandkids, damnit).

The Big 4 was beloved, Twenty years after it closed I met a guy in passing in another state. We swapped a few stories. We were both italian. We both had roots in Humboldt County. I mentioned the Big 4. His jaw dropped.

“My God, that was your nona?” he said.

I nodded proudly.

“I swear to God I still taste those raviolli’s in my mouth. I can still taste them, you know. Do you unnerstand?”

I did. I still do to. It was that kind of place.

As an appetizer my grandparents served apple rings with every dish. I grew up on these apple rings. Something about them, to me, goes perfect with the heavy meat sauce Nonie Mary was known for and I still do my best to replicate.

Anyway, I say all this becase I decided to bring back the apple rings the other day when I entered a contest to win some olive oil from my latest WeBromance. I mentioned there were two contests. Nudo’s rosemary olive oil and Nonie’s apple rings seemed like a match made in heaven.

For those keeping score at home, here is my entry in the second one. Try it. The apple rings are wonderfully simple and you’ll experience a small taste of what made The Big 4 Inn truly a magical place.

Rosemary infused apple rings.
Ingredients :
– Nudo Italia Rosemary olive oil
-Four granny smith apples, peeled and cored.
-1 cup 00 flour
– up to 1/4 cup 1/2 n 1/2 cream
-1 egg
– 1 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp salt, a dash of dried rosemary
– confectioner sugar for dusting

Directions
1) put flour in a bowl and create a well. Mix in a hint of dried rosemary.
2)crack egg into the well along with salt and vanilla.
3) use a fork to mix egg gradually incorporating some of the flour.
4) slowly add in cream until batter forms. Should be like pancake batter. Use a couple of tbls of milk if it’s too thick.
5) heat olive oil in a skillet on medium.
6 ) slice apples about 1/2 inch thick. Coat the apples in the batter holding aloft to allow excess to drain off.
7) put apples gently into heated oil. Cook until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel. Lightly dust with confectioner sugar. Repeat until all the rings are cooked.
8) arrange on a platter in a circle. Scoop ricotta cheese into the center for optional topping.
9) serve while still warm.

The perfect dough for the imperfect cause

I’ve been fiddle futzing with pizza dough for a long time. Friday night pizza night in our house has been homemade for a decade at least. My youngest has been smooshing dough since she was five. She’d toss it so hard it’d rattle the overhead light fixtures in the kitchen.

My bride keeps telling me how great it is. She doesn’t know I never ever make it the same way twice. I haven’t found the perfect dough yet, so I keep monkeying with the recipe.

Until, perhaps, now. This last Friday night I made the closest batch yet to the perfect dough. It was light and airy, yet still packed an aldente bite when I bit down. It didn’t get too hard. It was thin, but with a nice airy crust on the edge that tasted like a seasoned bread stick.

I could stop tinkering and have my dough. But as I said, perhaps. I’m not sure yet. It’s really, really great, but perfect? Hmmnn…

Perhaps, as today is another Pizza Night. We’ll see.

Nevertheless I thought enough about this dough to enter it in a contest hosted by my latest WeBromance, NudoAdopt.com.

The fine folks at Nudo artistically experiment with infused olive oils. I read about how they grind the rosemary with olives at the press, rather than soak the rosemary with oil, and I though, “Wow, they’re EFFin Artists, man!”

Then my oldest told me they were having a contest, casting about for recipes that use their rosemary olive oil and an experimental olive oil they made combining coffee beans with the olives. If you’ve followed me at all in the Test Kitchen, you know damn well I’m in awe here. Coffee olive oil, not infused to so to speak, but actually conceived in a blend before the birth of the oil. And a contest to boot?

I was speechless really. Then my daughter challenged me to submit my recipe ideas. I went from speechless to obsessed. I winnowed down several ideas. My daughter and I texted back and forth, all the while I smashed my perfect dough in my hands, pulling the zen artistry out of it.

I had to make a coffee pizza I decided. I seriously wanted to win this thing, just to connect with the artistry of my latest WeBromance. We’ll see. I’m saying a few decades of the rosary just to help the cause. (Note: the pizza pictured above is not this one. I forgot to take a picture of this and I didn’t have the actual coffee olive oil, which I hope to get when my Web crush folks at Nudo pick me, pick me! and send me some. I’ll post a real photo then, scouts honor).

My daughter helped create this. Here is the recipe we came up with, including, my nearly perfect dough.

Coffee Chicken Pizza

For the dough

  • 1 cup seminolla flour
  • 1 cup OO flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsps of active yeast.
  • 3 Tablespoonns Nudo Coffee infused olive oil

For the white sauce:

  • 3tbs butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp of nutmeg
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesean
  • 3/4 cup mozzerella cheese
  • splash of fresh lemon
  • Fresh chopped italian parsley
  • pinch of salt

For the pizza

  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup or so of romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup esspresso
  • 1 grilled chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1 tbls of red chili flakes
  • 2 tbls of coffee-infused olive oil by Nudo

Make the dough at least two hours ahead by:

  1. Mix flours, salt and sugar in a glass bowl.
  2. Mix warm water and yeast and let stand for 6-8 minutes until disolved
  3. Pour olive oil and water/yeast into flour. Swirl into a ball.
  4. kneed until smooth, adding a little flour as needed.
  5. Oil up the bowl, put the ball in it and cover to rise.

To make the sauce:

  1. Melt the butter and sautee the garlic, chili powder and nutmeg, 2 minutes
  2. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. whisk often, for 2 minutes
  3. Add the parm cheese and whisk often. Simmer 5 or so minutes more until thickens.
  4. Add the mozz and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the splash of lemon, salt and fold in parsley. Keep warm. (you’ll have extra for alfreado in coming days)

To make the pizza

  1. Whip the coffee into the ricotta, using more ricotta or a bit of cream cheese if it gets too runny. Set in refrig until needed.
  2. Treat pizza stone with light dusting of cornmeal and warm up in oven, heated to 500 degrees.
  3. Hand toss pizza to make thin crust with thicker rounded edge. Spread out on a pizza board or the stone (careful not to burn yourself and work quickly if you do this option).
  4. coat with a thin layer of white sauce
  5. cover with a thin layer of thick- shredded romano cheese
  6. Drop dollops of coffee-flavored ricotta throughout
  7. Sprinkle shredded chicken, diced tomatoes, roasted garlic and chili flakes over the pizza.
  8. Drizzle coffee-infused olive oil over the top of everything.
  9. Slide onto pizza stone for 10-11 minutes.
  10. Let cool for five minutes before cutting and serving.

WINNER, Winner Chicken Dinner? Come on Nudo… don’t break my heart!

As it turns out… we won! Coffee and rosemary flavored olive oil on the way. I love it when a WeBromance works out like a rom-com starring Adam Sandler.

WeBromance — Olive tree adoption both global and local

I’m not a global citizen. I’m a local citizen. Always have been really. For years I’d get gifts where people would make donations to causes in my name and I’d be bummed because I don’t really do global causes. That’s for folks like Bono and Angelina Jolie, I reasoned. One year I got a donation for a cow or a goat, I can’t remember, to a farmer in West Virginia. I lived back East at the time. I liked this better because it felt closer. But still, I wanted it more local. I used to joke about going to West Virginia and getting my goat, damnit. It’s mine, after all, right?

When I worked in newsrooms this used to completely annoy my staff of writers because by definition, reporters are usually global thinkers. They dream about working for the New York Times or serving as a war correspondent. Nobody grows up thinking about breaking city council news. So the banter would always lean toward some global issue or story line. I’d shoot them down like an expert at a skeet shooting range.

“I don’t care about Bosnia unless Bosnia invades this town, right here,” I’d yell out.

“Iraq, Iran? I don’t give a damn. I care about this town, right here.”

It made me a great editor, if not necessarily a great person. But the trend stuck. Now, it turns out, I’m in fashion. Local is in. Localvore is a word. (really?!) I’ve always been local-centered and suddenly I’m fashionable. Cool, right?

Well, that’s why today’s WeBromance goes — once again — against the grain, because its all about giving back to farmers in Italy. It’s called NudoAdopt.com. Not exactly local, but I can at least claim that my people hail from there. It’s in my local roots at least, even if Lucca is local to this farm like Atlanta is local to the nation’s capital. Why quibble about details, right?

The site shows you how you can adopt an olive tree and get regular shipments of olive oil. It’s local farming at its best, even if the local is across the globe and involves shipping across the globe. Basically it’s the olive farmers’ answer to free trade coffee.

I use a lot of olive oil. I use a lot of Italian products, like OO flour, Buffalo Mozzerella, San Marzano Tomatoes, etc. I love local farming, even if its not exactly local to me. For all these reasons I love this web site. Besides, unlike my West Virginia goat that they kept protected from me, these gracious hosts will let me come hug my tree anytime I want!

I’m doing that. Count on it.

Sign up to adopt a tree. The italian locals will love you for it. Hey, if you say I referred you, I think I win a prize, too, so this WeBromance is truly a win/win, even if its not the most local thing on the globe.

WeBromance- Breaking my own rules for Sorted

I’ve written before how I try to avoid the really successful foodie websites and shows. I’m not a fan of the whole cult of personality of cooking. I mean it’s food, right? It should be inclusive, not just another area where the stars burn brightest and the rest of us bow to their greatness.

BUT… there’s always a but… I found a hugely successful foodie website that is successful because its awesome. If you want to see how to make a thing good, watch this. The food is great. The videos are excellently produced and well, they crack me up. Seriously, food is fun and this site makes it fun.

What is it about an English accent that’s so funny? God I wish I knew. I wish I could get away with faking one so people would think I’m funny. A swarthy Italian with a British accent? Crikey that’s funny!

Anyway, I stumbled on to these when I steered the Test Kitchen toward Cronuts. When they talk about the “pansy” rabbit about to get skinned, I nearly wet myself.

They just seem like guys who back in my drinking days would be fun to hang out with. I realize that’s idealistic. They will probably sue me once this posts because of some copyright law and I’ll think they’re a bunch of A-holes. But for now, the WeBromance continues.

Enjoy.

Also, the Test Kitchen finished phase one of Cronuts. The dough looks like its supposed to as its “gone off to have a sleep.” We’ll see what the next step brings.

Another new WeBromance- Yogaglo

My yoga teacher told me about a pretty kick-ass (to use a decidedly non-yogi term) web site that offers a vast array of yoga classes online. It quickly became one of my new favorite weBromances.

I love yoga. But I’m not a huge fan of yoga classes. But I’m also not the best at leading myself through a period of yoga practice without the encouragement and guidance of a yoga instructor. All of this far too often gives me built-in bullskat excuses to avoid yoga.

Then I wonder why I’m all bunched up and losing my patience. I never said I was the smartest guy in the world.

So here’s where yogaglo.com steps in. For $18 a month — the cost of a couple of classes — I can do all the classes I want with exceptional teachers. It’s a stunning smorgasbord of delights all available to me with a click of a button.

Apparently this company has endured some very non-peaceful criticism of late (I included a link below if it interests you… I doesn’t me to be honest). I don’t know much about that and maybe touting them here will put me in a storm I don’t want to be in. I just really like the classes this site provides me and that’s plenty enough for me.

I just do go in for yoga politics.

I also discovered a teacher very similar to the classes I’ve taken, offering a style of yoga I’m comfortable with. Her name is Jo and she’s a pretty kick-ass teacher as well.

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Have you ever noticed how beautiful female yoga practioners are? Of course you have. But have noticed how not-so beautiful the men are? What’s up with that? Perhaps its proof that God is indeed feminine. But alas, I digress.

Yoga is double-down on my day for me. It provides the spiritual quiet, calming, grounding and focus on the present that does more for my outlook than most other spiritual disciplines. It also kicks my ass most days, so I get my physical exercise in at the same time.

I admit to a bias here, but I’ve watched a lot of those cable TV workout shows and most are incorporating a good deal of yoga movement. The problem is they are sooooo Western. It’s like they rip off the physical side of yoga and trash the entire foundation of how it works — a practice that has been developed and nurtured for about as long as evolution. Then they package it with ripped bodies cheering you on to have your own ripped body too, with a whole lot of western rah rah and some serious “cardio” to get those nasty fat cells exploding.

My bride loves these shows and doesn’t really like yoga. I think she’s all wet. But that’s what makes love what it is right?

Yoga is Eastern. It is ritual and practice and breath and not a bunch of jumping around in pursuit of six-pack abs. It goes beyond the physical to a more holistic approach to well-being, with all the physical benefits packed in.

Try it. Really it’s as simple as that.

Expiration Dates: Should You Pay Attention? | StillTasty.com – Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide

My WeBromance with Still Tasty continues. Continuing on my “thou shalt not waste” neurosis, check this out:

The dates on food labels can be confusing. The truth is, they often have nothing to do with food safety. Here\’s what you really need to know.

You’ve assembled everything you need for the perfect deli sandwich: Genoa salami, prosciutto, some thinly sliced provolone and a crusty baguette. To top it all off, you reach into the fridge for your favorite spicy mustard.

And then you notice it. The “Best By” date on the mustard bottle was 4 months ago!

You might think you’ve got to ditch the mustard and settle for a ho-hum sandwich. But that’s not the case

via Expiration Dates: Should You Pay Attention? | StillTasty.com – Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide.