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Dear Veggie Lovers,

We are working hard up at the farm – moving leeks from their nursery bed to their permanent growing spots, and much, much more.

You’ll see the fruit (or veggies, rather) of our efforts at the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market each Saturday from 8-1:00.

And thought we don’t sell grain products, I thought it would be interesting to share a bit about Emmer.

Emmer

Emmer is an ancient grain originally cultivated in Mesopotamia – aka the birthplace of human civilization, found between the the Tigris and Euphrates River systems in the Middle East. (Don’t you like how I work that in so often?) Like so many old, old, things (my Pinto Station wagon, for instance), Emmer cultivation eased as newer, higher-yield grans came to the forefront, such as Barley. And later of course, wheat.

Emmer is genetically different from wheat. And if you taste it, you’ll agree! It’s got … a more rye-like taste than regular flour. I know, because I had some locally-grown biscuit mix from Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop, WA.

Emmer Biscuit Mix

And I have to say, I would eat it again!

Now, Emmer as a grain is not as high in gluten as wheat, so it lends itself more to flatbread-type things, and here’s a good recipe for just that: Emmer flatbread. I’d like to try that, since it seems as though making actual bread might be more difficult. But here’s a blogger who’s done it and lived to tell the tale!

Not only that, there’s a whole old-grain baking movement in the works from the looks of things – 

and after all, Emmer is still around with us today – still cultivated in various regions for many reasons. One variety of Emmer you may have heard of is Farro. It’s grown in Italy and is sometimes used to make Risotto, although this site has a Farro and Beet Salad recipe that looks delicious, if you happen to have some Tzatziki sauce lying about. (Which if you’re Greek, you inevitably do!) But if not, hey, take a chance on the biscuits or the muffins and see how you like the flavor.

You never know – you might be eating more of it some day!

Emmer’s claims to fame includes a tolerance to rust disease and bad weather conditions, something which may come into play in the future – you just never know… food security for much of human existence has not been a certainty.

Due to bad cherry growing conditions in the Wenatchee area this year, growers are concerned about a bad fruit fly year in 2013. What will happen to the price of cherries next year, it’s too soon to say.

So, grow what you can, and make biscuits!

See you at the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market on Saturday!

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Dear veggie eaters,

Local cookbook author Morgan Fraser has offered the following recipe for your upcoming tomato explosion – where they ALL ripen at once! Morgan’s cookbook is called, Savoring Chelan: Pairing Local Wines with Regional Recipes. You can order the book from Amazon.com here.

And here’s a shot of Morgan with her book!

Morgan and her cookbook at Hastings.

Heh, heh. I’m sure she’ll be glad to see that! (She might even throw a tomato at me!)

But, without further ado — here’s the recipe:

Spicy Tomato Soup

Prep time: 15 Minutes

Cook time: 1.5 Hours

Serves up to 8

12-15 fresh garden tomatoes (about 3 pounds)
1 small can tomato paste
Olive oil
Tapatio, or your favorite hot sauce
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter
2 large shallots or half a red onion, finely diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream or whole milk
Fresh garden basil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Start your largest pot boiling with water. Score the bottom of the tomatoes and drop in boiling water for 15-20 seconds, followed by a minute or so in cold ice water. Remove from ice bath and peel off skins. Cut in half and place cut side up on a rack and baking sheet to go in oven. Drizzle each tomato with olive oil, a shake or two of salt and pepper, and a good dash of your hot sauce, depending on your preferred level of heat; you can also add more later. Roast the tomatoes for about an hour. Remove and let cool.

While the tomatoes are cooking, begin heating a large pot; I prefer a 7-quart Dutch oven. Sauté shallots for a few minutes until they begin to turn translucent, then add tomato paste and stir for a few more minutes. Add chicken stock and cream, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes.

Transfer to a large food processor or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. For those who like a creamier texture, run the soup through a strainer.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with a lot of fresh basil and serve.

Recipe Tips

Using an immersion blender makes this recipe a breeze.

You can skip roasting the tomatoes by substituting canned stewed tomatoes.

Ripe, locally grown produce greatly improves the quality of this dish.

Contributed to Savoring Chelan: Pairing Local Wines with Regional Recipes by Shane Collins, winemaker at Tsillan Cellars Winery.

Tsillan Cellars is located at 3875 Hwy 97A, Chelan, WA 98816. Stop in and see them on your next visit, and thank Shane for the wonderful recipe!

Bon appetit!

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