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Local duck eggs are a seasonal delight
We’ve passed the Vernal Equinox, and spring is definitely in the works–daffodils are blooming, leaves are unfolding, and–inevitably–rain is falling. Birds, responding to longer hours of daylight, are laying eggs–and this includes domestic fowl like chickens and ducks.
Duck eggs are, in general, not extremely different in flavor and use from chicken eggs–both can be eaten fried, boiled, scrambled, or used in baking or salads. The flavor is similar, though duck eggs are stronger and richer. People who have had a bad experience with duck eggs with an unappetizing taste may have had a stale egg, or an egg from ducks whose feed imparted an off-flavor.
The Kiva carries duck eggs from Rainshadow El Rancho and Egg It On, which are both farms where the poultry are not only free-range, but pastured in a natural setting. Due in part to the fact that ducks have not been as intensively bred for egg-laying as chickens, they don’t produce eggs as consistently–seasonal temperature and light variations mean their eggs are much more plentiful in the spring, and tend to get scarcer as the weather warms up.
Gram for gram, duck eggs are significantly lower in water and higher in protein than chicken eggs, so they’re more easily overcooked, which can make them tough–and because they are larger and have a thicker texture than hen’s eggs, they take a little longer to cook, so some experimenting may be in order. (Remember that the rules for safe handling of eggs applies–cooking eggs all the way through is the rule of thumb.)
The timing doesn’t have to be so fussy when using duck eggs in baking, and their thicker consistency, higher protein and fat content are all characteristics that make them great for baking. (Duck eggs are about 30%–nearly one third–larger than chicken eggs, so factor that in when substituting. One blogger recommends substituting duck eggs for chicken eggs one to one anyway, on the grounds that a little more egg will usually just make a recipe better). Duck eggs have a thicker shell and membrane, so they’re a little harder to crack neatly, and their thicker nature makes them a little more work to beat, but the loft they add to baked goods is worth the minor added effort. Try them in omelets, frittatas, cakes–anywhere you want the fluff and body of eggs.
Recipes specifically for duck eggs aren’t hard to find–here’s one page I found with some great tips for cooking duck eggs in general, and their use in gluten-free cooking specifically.
But to keep it exclusive, here’s a recipe from our winebuyer’s family that she preferentially makes with duck eggs:
Mom’s Best-Ever Waffles
2 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, well-beaten
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoon melted butter
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt and sift again. Combine egg yolks & milk; add to flour, beating until smooth. Add butter in a thin stream (it shouldn’t be so hot that it cooks the batter on contact!). Fold in the beaten egg whites. Bake in hot waffle iron or on hot, greased griddle. Serve with maple syrup and/or fruit and/or jam.
Cattail Creek Lamb Returns to Our Meat Section
The Kiva’s meat selection focuses on local, naturally-raised products. Our knowledgeable buyers Emma and Will deal directly with the farmers and ranchers who raise the animals rather than a central distributor, so their relationship with the food we sell is up-close and personal.
Local lamb producer Cattail Creek was one of the first suppliers the Kiva added when we first started carrying meat. The mild flavor and tender texture made it an immediate hit with both families and restaurants in the area.
After a hiatus of one and a half years, Cattail Creek Lamb is back on our shelves this month, and maybe better than ever.
John Neumeister, Cattail Creek’s founder, has been a familiar face at the Kiva for a long time. He was glad to answer all my questions when I called him last week, and had a lot of interesting things to say about food and how it’s produced. John’s agricultural resumé is impressive: he grew up on a mixed sheep and cattle farm in Ohio; he has been raising lamb for thirty years since moving to Oregon; and has been involved in organic farming since the 1970’s. He has degrees in animal and crop sciences from Oregon State University. He co-authored the Certified Organic Standards for livestock which were adopted by Oregon Tilth and the National Organic Standards.
Now in partnership with Farmland LP, a U.S. private equity fund whose mission is to acquire farmland and convert it to organic production, John is primarily in charge of marketing, while partners Craig Wichner and Jason Bradford oversee most of the operations, and the farms are managed by shepherd Mac Stewart–an all-star team whose qualifications are as formidable as Mr. Neumeister’s.
I was impressed to find that Cattail Creek is more than a business enterprise–it’s a vision of community-supported, sustainable agriculture. “We’re not looking for loopholes just to sell a more expensive product,” John told me.
It’s very literally a grassroots effort. In John’s opinion, Cattail Creek has the strongest raising claim of any of the larger lamb-producing farms in the valley (most of which pasture their lambs on seed-producing or after-harvest fields that have been treated with chemicals), with 800 of its 900 acres–comprised of three properties between Corvallis and Philomath–certified organic, and the remainder transitional.
Sheep are designed by nature to be grazers, and better pasture produces better meat, so the conversion of commercial farmland to high-quality organic pasture is an important step. Cattail Creek’s system encourages a wide variety of plant species in their pastures, such as cold-tolerant and drought-resistant grasses, legumes (which fix nitrogen in the soil), plantains, and chicory. The land is never treated with chemicals, and rock powders are used as fertilizers. The sheep make their contribution too, in the form of manure which cycles nutrients back into the soil.
Starting from the ground up, Cattail Creek is dedicated to humane care and handling of its animals. They use no synthetic crop treatment and no GMO crops; lambs are 100% grass fed and free of antibiotics or hormones.
Although it’s a new enterprise, their breeding program assures that not only the lambs but their mothers as well eat a chemical- and GMO-free, 100% vegetarian diet, and are also free of hormones and antibiotics (animals which become sick and require treatment with antibiotics are removed from the program). It’s their intention to find breeds of sheep which thrive best under local conditions and raise them through generations rather than buying lambs from brokers.
The advantage to consumers is obvious–the 100% grass-fed meat tastes better than the “muttony” lamb from a feedlot operation, but the benefits go beyond flavor. Cattail Creek is diversifying their operations toward a goal of integrated holistic farming. In addition to developing markets to utilize the byproducts of lamb production, they’ve incorporated a new poultry-raising project and added vegetable crops. Some land is also leased to a hog farmer. John hopes that Farmland LP may be a vision of the future of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), where instead of having a farm subscription, the participants would be involved in a cooperative effort to acquire the land on which their food is grown.
The Kiva is currently carrying Cattail Creek’s ground lamb, stew and kabob meat, lamb chops, and shoulder steak. Sausage is expected to be available in November.
Cattail Creek’s meat is processed and packed by Century Oak Packing Co., a local company owned by Lonely Lane Farms. http://centuryoakpacking.com/html/contact_us.html
We’re lucky to live in an area with an abundance of sustainable agriculture, offering readily-available organic produce, meat, eggs, and dairy products. It’s a luxury to be able to buy fresh, healthy food just one or two stops from the farm. Welcome back, Cattail Creek!
For more information on Cattail Creek and Farmland LP, visit http://www.farmlandlp.com/
The drama! The intrigue! In a battle of the taste buds who will survive?! *cue dramatic Iron Chef-type music*
Huh? Are we watching reality television? Is this thing on?
Fortunately (or unfortunately) there will be no Kiva reality series. (Although, I tend to think it would make for some very entertaining material!)
There will, however, be another monthly wine and cheese pairing featuring notes from Ziggy and Josh, our wine and cheese buyers. This one is particularly interesting because of their difference of opinion. There is only one way to settle this dispute and that is to taste for yourself!
Ziggy: Since it’s beginning to look like spring is here, everything is coming up rosés.
If you think sweet and sickly when you see pink, you might want to rethink your drink. Rosés are often misunderstood and their versatility can be under-appreciated.
A rosé wine can vary in color from palest pink through peach and orange hues to varied shades of clear, vivid red; and can vary in palate from delicate to bold. Some, yes, are sweet, and some are dry with varying degrees of tannin. The right rosé can complement a mild fish dish or take on a grilled steak, and the color alone won’t tell you a great deal about the character of the wine.
There are several ways rosés arrive at their rosy hue. Most are made from grapes used to make red wine, either as a single varietal or a blend, and colored by being allowed to remain in contact with the skins, where the pigment resides. Others may be produced by blending white and red wines. While this is not a popular method in many regions, there are some very tasty wines that result from it.
Most rosés will be crisp and have vivid fresh fruit notes like strawberry, cherry, apricot or melon, and, served chilled, will complement and enhance a summer afternoon or evening.
We chose Territorial’s Pinot Noir Rosé for our pairing this month. The Kiva has carried Territorial wines for many years, and their Rosé has shown consistent quality and been a steady seller.
We are currently stocking the 2010 Rosé; and the 2011 is expected in soon. I and my tasting partner found it to be drinking extremely well. While the usual advice about drinking rosé fresh is good, many will continue to show well for at least one or two years after bottling. Don’t throw ‘em away without uncorking a taste.
We found the 2010 to have a bright, deep rose color. On the nose, I found notes of violet and strawberry lollipop. The palate was light, bright, and crisp with lots of soft, icy fruit including cherry and stone fruits. We drank it chilled but not iced.
My tasting partner and I particularly liked the rosé with the Fern’s Edge Pleasant Hill cheese, which has a young, sharpish cheddar-like flavor, a crumbly texture, and a bite on the finish. This cheese brought out fresh fruity notes in the wine. Of the Fern’s Edge cheese we tried, this pairing was by far our favorite.
While Josh and Emma especially enjoyed the Mt. Zion with the rosé, I have to disagree. The cheese is excellent–earthy, meaty, and scrumptious–but I wanted to pair it with a big, rich, full-bodied wine (like a Washington Cabernet). I found that it made the rosé taste alkaline and overpowered its bright and fruit notes.
The feta was fresh, rich, mild, and, while salty, it was not overpoweringly so. We thought it went well with the Territorial Rosé and brought out some tannin on the palate.
The Five Corners was soft, initially mild, but with a complex buttery musk on the finish. The Territorial Rosé was a pleasing accompaniment, but the butteriness of the cheese seemed to blunt the wine’s acidic crispness a little.
Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Pays d’Oc 2011: Less than 1000 cases produced. I found this to be crisp and lucid, with clean, clear berry fruits. Quite dry but not acerbic. Made from a blend of Grenache and Cinsault grapes from the Roussillon region. Many pairings are possible, but grilled chicken and vegetables is a top choice. $15.50
Calcu Rosé 2010: A perennial favorite of mine from the Valle de Colchagua, Chile. Made from 50% Malbec, 40% Syrah, and 10% Petit Verdot, there is some complexity to this round, slightly magical blend. It deserves its name, which means “magician” in a local language. $11.75
Druid’s Fluid Pink 2009: Lightly sweet, fruity, and easy to drink, Druid’s Fluid wines hail from Oregon’s Troon Vineyards in the Applegate Valley. If you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser, it’s “the wine for everyone”–in their own words. $12.00
Hey Mambo Kinky Pink 2010: A California Pinot Noir Rosé. A tasty, dry rosé that will cool off a hot afternoon, accompany salmon on the barbeque, or otherwise serve any function you desire of a dry rosé. Good value–and a fun name. $10.50
Melrose Two Dog Red 2009: Sweet but not too sweet, with a residual sugar of 1.7%, this rosé contains a fair amount of Pinot Gris. Another easy quaffer for a warm summer night, it would also make a good aperitif with many hors d’oeuvres. $12.00
Cardwell Hill Rosé of Pinot Noir 2011: From a small producer of excellent Pinot Noir, Cardwell Hill’s Rosé is dry and bright with a cherry/berry nose and a fresh finish. A fine value and versatile dinner guest from the Willamette Valley. $10.50
Charles & Charles Rosé 2011: Yes, you can drink rosé and still be bad… Edgy packaging and copy, and a solid mouthful of dry, bright syrah rosé. A bucket of ice is all it lacks. $10.50
Del Rio Rosé Jolee: A rosé that tastes sweeter than its official figure of .5% residual sugar because of the predominance of the heavenly fragrant Early Muscat that makes up 63% of the blend. 17% Riesling and 20% blend of red grapes makes up the rest of this salmon-colored wine that would be equally at home with spicy Asian food or a cheesecake dessert. $11.75
This list is not exhaustive, and it doesn’t even touch sparkling rosés, which also come in a spectrum ranging from the fascinating, complicated, and elegant to fizzy pink grown-up soda-pop. As the season warms up (yes, it will–I think it will…) we’ll be seeing more rosés from France, Spain, and Italy. Ask Ziggy to tell you exactly what’s in stock!
Josh: “I don’t have to go away for the weekend, I’m already here, ” says Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy owner, Shari, as she casts a proud glance across her farm indicating her view of Dexter Lake through the trees. She has been raising award-winning dairy goats at her beautiful farm in Lowell since the early 1970’s.
Happy goats produce good-quality milk, and her goats have every reason to be happy. Each goat is named and cared for as a member of the family, grows up on organic feed, dutifully produces milk, and then retires with her fellow “beloved old ladies” to live out her days in the bucolic pastures of the farm. She pays to have each goat’s milk tested every three weeks to ensure the health of the animals and the quality of the milk. Her impeccably-clean dairy results in fresh, clean-tasting cheeses that would never be described as “goaty”.
I chose to celebrate this devotion to sustainable farming, happy, healthy goats, and high-quality local cheese, by selecting Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy’s pride and joy, their Mt. Zion aged goat cheese, for this month’s wine and cheese pairing:
The Wine: Territorial Vineyard’s Rosé is fruity, bright and clean, portending of lazy summer evenings to come.
The Cheese: Mt. Zion is a raw, toothsome aged artisan farmstead goat cheese in the style of a Spanish Manchego. This cheese serves as a showpiece for a great collaboration between the goat herd owner and cheese-maker that brings together decades of of dairy goat experience with generations of cheese-making experience.
The Pairing: A good, straight-ahead, innocently refreshing rosé meets an older, more seasoned cheese and suddenly becomes more interesting.
It’s a tale as old as time. An unlikely duo teaming up to save the day and teach us all a valuable lesson. Our hero’s: Tom Hunton and Charlie Tilt, owners of Hunton’s Farm and Hummingbird Wholesale respectively. One a grower of grain, one a distributor. Both located here in the scenic Willamette Valley. So what is it that brings these two businessmen together?
What comes to mind when you think of fermented foods? Perhaps it is that dusty old jar of sauerkraut you keep pushing around the pantry shelf. After attending the Fun with Fermentation Festival last Saturday, I can tell you that the fermented foods of today are fresh, abundant and exciting. With over a dozen local food and beverage producers in attendance, there was certainly some sauerkraut to be seen, (and tasted), and a whole lot more.
Held at the historic WOW Hall, the festival is hosted by Willamette Valley Sustainable Foods Alliance (WVSFA) and is a benefit for Food for Lane Countyand WVSFA. What a great way to have fun and do good!
After donating our cans of food and getting our hands stamped for admission, our first tasty tidbit was some of Cousin Jacks Steak and Ale Pasty.
We got to chat with owner, Kim, who reminded us that the ale in their delicious pasty, courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing, is one of the oldest known fermented beverages!
Our next stop was at the Pickled Planet table where we tried one of their seasonal specialty blends, Blueberry Love Bomb.
Fermented blueberries? Yes. This will take your next salad to new heights.
Moving on, we sipped some Love Potion #9 from Herbal Junction Elixirs, an intoxicating fermented herbal beverage with saw palmetto.
Love bombs, love potions, love is in the air… ah yes, Valentines Day is not far off!
One of the best things about events like this one, is discovering new things. This happened when we came across the 8…9…Tempeh booth, formerly Magi Fungi. This gluten free and soy free tempeh was amazing! With garbanzo, black bean and quinoa varieties, it was versatile and delicious. Unfortunately they don’t have retail packaging yet, but they do take direct orders.
There were so many more good things, including Holy Cow tempeh sandwiches, Cafe Mam coffee, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Premrose Edibles Chocolates – (one of our favorites here at the Kiva), and Grateful Harvest Farms who make my personal favorite, Garlic Kraut. The cabbage is crunchy, not soggy, and the garlic flavor is robust! We also spent some time with the ladies of Mountain Rose Herbs and their loose tea leaves.
Ever wondered what the difference between black tea, green tea, oolong tea, or any of the other varieties is? It’s about the fermentation!
On our way out to pick up some Take Root Magazines, (winter issue now available at the Kiva), we ran into Molly of Mckenzie Mist Water. While the water isn’t fermented, it is a necessity, and it’s also the best stuff out there.
She was excited to tell us about her artesian well that provides so many of us with pure, unadulterated drinking water.
We made our way downstairs to find fermented beverages of the adult variety in abundance. Ninkasi had brought their record player for the enjoyment of all. Oakshire was there with four beers on tap and also Hop Valley. We got a sneak peek at Falling Sky Brewery, opening soon! We didn’t partake, except with our eyes, since we were working of course. It was great to see all the craft brewers of our fine city together in one place!
We came to the end of our fermented field trip, happy to have seen friendly faces and tasted so many vibrant flavors that come from so near us!