Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nick's Microgreens

As  you know, Nick works at The Hickories, an organic farm near Ridgefield CT.   Cindy and Larry visited the Connecticut DeBrock household from Nov 1 - Nov 8 of 2016 and we had the opportunity to visit The Hickories one beautiful day in the fall, after the World Series ๐Ÿ˜€.

In addition to his various other tasks on the farm, Nick has been devoting some attention to his brainchild, producing microgreens. (Click here for a nice New York Times story about microgreens popularity and/or here for an NPR story about the science behind these healthy little plants.)  Right now, he is growing them in a greenhouse on the farm.

In this photo, you can see three cohorts of greens.  The first is lush.  The middle is covered with plastic flats to create more warmth.  The third is also lush. There is actually a fourth cohort on a lower palette all the way back in the photo.  Here is a better shot of this last cohort of flats relative to the higher table with three cohorts.

So what does Nick do with these microgreens?  Well, if you clicked through on the NYT story above, you will note that top chefs in top restaurants are CRAZY about these young, delicious, healthy additions to their plates.  Nick showed us how it works.  In the picture below, Nick is demonstrating the process.   He creates the cohort of greens looking for a mix of flavors.  In the cohort below he is using basil, cilantro, radish and others.  To harvest he takes the flat and "snip" with a scissors, mixes the greens into a box for sale (notice his sharp finger-scissors).  After harvest, the flat gets emptied into the compost, refilled with fresh soil and Nick chooses the next cohort of pure-gold microgreens.

SO COOL.  We are so proud.

And, just to make your mouth water, here are some other pix of organic greens in the greenhouse.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Our New 1715 Pet

1715 LR Sourdough Starter - Day 3
Over the years, two of 1715's favorite foodfolk, Mark Bittman and Alton Brown, have extolled the virtues of "growing your own" sourdough starter, a ready resource for producing your own fresh bread, homemade pizzas, etc.  Stories of legendary bakeries husbanding sourdough starters that were decades old were just that in our minds: legends.  But, our recent love affair with a small bakery/pรขtisserie in Madison (Madison Sourdough is worth the trip, folks.....truly amazing breads and pastries) renewed our interest in simple but exceptional bread.

Then, three weeks ago our favorite subscription EVER arrived with a special 3-page story, complete with graphic timelines, written by Andrew Janjigian about starting, nourishing, and loving your very own sourdough starter.  And, as is often the case when the newest Cook's Illustrated hits our doorstep, the 1715ers were off to the store to lay in the needed supplies.

The picture at the top of this post is our little pet on Friday, August 12th, just three days after it was started.   This was the end of the crucial 3 day start/incubation.  It started with a simple mixture of 1/2 cup King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, 1/2 cup King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, and 2/3 cup room temperature filtered water (the filtering is important because chlorine would inhibit the growth of nasty bacteria as well as yeast, both crucial ingredients in the maturation process for the starter).  When we removed the plastic wrap after these first 72 hours, we were warned by Janjigian that the smell would be bad...that was an understatement!  But, every 24 hours since that first opening we have reopened the fermenting pet, carved out some of the old, added some new flours and water, stirred well, resealed in plastic, and returned the jar to its warm resting spot on the counter.  And each day it has bubbled and grown and smelled better and better when we removed the plastic for the daily feeding, just as Mr. Janjigian had predicted. Each day now, as we draw near the end of the maturation process, the starter grows about double in size.  In the picture below, the black line on the masking tape stuck to the Weck jar shows the starting size 24 hours earlier.

Sourdough Starter - August 19 (Day 10)
Sometime this week we will move our mature starter to the fridge where it will then "rest" and need feeding just once per week.  Forever.  Unless, of course, we decide to use our new friend to grow the ingredients for a loaf of actual 1715-baked bread.  Stay tuned....