A unique and viable approach to establishing local food self-reliance and building stronger communities.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Crumb-Free Cornbread Recipe

Autumn Beauty sunflowers at harvest time
Here are two adaptations of a sweet cornbread  - one, a whole-grain traditional cornbread to serve as a side-dish and the second is more like a corn-cake/dessert. We make a big batch of the dry ingredients for both these recipes and keep them on hand for last-minute guests, potlucks or a yummy breakfast treat. Just add the wet ingredients, pop them in the oven and they're good to go.

Crumb-free, Whole-grain Corn Bread


Makes enough for five 9" x 9" square pans, five round pie or cake pans, or five batches of 12 muffins

2 cups Corn Meal
2 cups Corn Flour
3 cup All Purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat flour (use regular or bread  flour, not pastry which has less gluten and will make the bread less spongy)
1 ½ cups Brown Sugar - packed
1/3 cups Baking Powder
2 1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup flax seeds (grind them in a coffee grinder – this will make your corn-bread spongier and more nutritious)

Mix flours together first. Mix other four ingredients together and add to flour. This will assure that all your ingredients are evenly distributed. Since you'll be using it for multiple batches, you don't want all the salt in one batch and none in the others.

 



To bake batches of the bread/muffins:
Makes one 9" x 9" square pan, one round pie or cake pan, or one batch of 12 muffins. 
Preheat oven to 375 – oil pan/muffin tins

In a mixing bowl whip together with a fork:
2 eggs
1 cup soymilk (vanilla or plain) or milk 
1/4 cup (4 TBS) light cooking oil

add 2 cups of dry mix

Stir just enough to moisten all ingredients and remove any big lumps. Baking powder works by making bubbles and if you mix too briskly, you release the bubbles and your bread won't rise as well. Consistency should be thick like a batter. If too dry, add a little more soymilk. If adding dried fruit or other ingredients, fold these in gently after the batter has “bubbled” for about 5 minutes.


Bake 25-30 min. till top is springy, lightly golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out dry.

Variations: To add extra springy-ness, fresh-grind 1 TBS. flax seed and mix thoroughly with wet ingredients (before adding dry).

Southwest variation: add canned corn, diced peppers, little cheese cubes.
Sweet and crunchy: Dried fruit and chopped nuts is yummy too!

Veggie Corn Pot-Pie - in a well-oiled casserole dish combine cubed potatoes or yams, carrots, onions, celery, peas or green beans in the bottom. Pour corn-bread batter (1/2 batch). Bake at 375 for 25 - 30 min. (till bread is done).

Yummy Sweet and Crumb-free Corn Cake

4 cups Corn Flour
2 cup All Purpose Flour
4 cups Whole Wheat flour (use regular or bread  flour, not pastry which has less gluten and will make the bread less spongy)
2 1/2 cups firmly packed Brown Sugar
10 TBS Baking Powder (1/2 cup + 2 TBS) - be sure there are no chunks - mix thoroughly.
2 1/2 tsp salt

The rest of the recipe is the same as above:
Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly. Since you'll be using it for multiple batches, you don't want all the salt in one batch and none in the others.

Makes enough for five 9" x 9" square pans,  five round pie or cake pans, or five batches of 12 muffins

To bake the bread/muffins, follow directions for corn-bread above.

Recipe for delicious: Dried Tomato/Walnut Pesto - Recipe

Monday, November 16, 2015

Real People STILL doing real things


Llyn, slicing Ropreco tomatoes for dehydration.
The title of this post refers back to an entry we made in July of 2009 quoting our dear friend - Lodie as she remarked on how we at the Sharing Gardens were, "real people, doing real things."! Well Lodie, we're still going strong! Here's a newsy update about how some of our partnerships with other agencies are faring; our property-tax exemption appeal and an uplifting "Gallery of Givers"!

Nasturtium blossom.
Court Update: In June, of this year, the Sharing Gardens had its day in court, building the case for a full exemption of property taxes for the land and farmhouse that host the gardens. We needed to demonstrate that we are a legitimate charity, serving the public. We are very pleased to report that we received a 50% exemption! Magistrate Tanner was very honoring in her written "decision" and, though she did not feel that the farmhouse qualified for exemption, all of the land containing the Sharing Gardens, the orchards and outbuildings was included. Thank you to the dozens of people who wrote letters for us to include in our court materials. We feel that your heart-felt support really tipped the scales in Tanner's decision. she said:
"Plaintiff's charitable work through the Sharing Gardens was well documented by Peabody's testimony and numerous written statements from local beneficiaries of the Sharing Gardens' output. The overwhelming community support for the Sharing Gardens is evidence that Plaintiff's principle of generosity is more than an aspiration; it is practiced."
Connecting with other agencies: As we have mentioned in recent posts, our connections with other agencies is expanding and deepening. Here are some updates:
OSU students transplanting starts.

Oregon State University (OSU) Service Learning Projects: As many of our readers already know, the Sharing Gardens has been offering opportunities for OSU students to complete class requirements to do "service-learning" projects in the community. We began hosting one to two groups per term in 2012 and have expanded our offerings to four groups (of 4-6 students) every Fall, Winter and Spring! These students can get so much done in the four hours they're here that we often have to discourage our regular volunteers from coming for a week or two ahead of time to be sure we have enough to keep them occupied! We bring students for service-learning from two classes : Geo 300 and Soil Sciences.

Grant Partnership: Last June, we were approached by OSU's Soil Science class to see if we would like to partner with them in submitting a grant proposal. The funds had to directly benefit a project related to service-learning. All we had to do was give the writer (Deanna Lloyd) some details about our project and a list of how the money would be spent. She filled out the forms.

Koltavary GH, before dismantling.
We got it! The grant went through without a hitch. The $3,445 will cover the materials' costs for re-erecting a 50' x 30' professional-grade greenhouse on SG grounds. The greenhouse framework was donated by our neighbors - the Koltavary's. With the help of volunteers we have already dismantled and moved the frame to our site. The grant will cover the cost of the plastic "skin", lumber, screws/fasteners, cinder-blocks and soil for raised beds. In short - everything we need to expand the garden's capacity to grow food year-round and provide "indoor" classroom space for rural-arts classes.

Watering plants for sharing. The Sharing Gardens typically gives away over half of the 'starts' we grow.

Cindy helps Bella with her gloves.
Calapooia Food Alliance: A few weeks ago we were invited to give a slide-show presentation at a neighboring town's "Munch Night". The CFA coordinates a Farmer's Market and community-garden that combines your typical "pea-patch" (separate family plots) with a sharing-type plot that grows food collectively with several volunteers. The slide-show was a big success -- the largest turn-out they'd ever had. Don Lyons, president of CFA said, "Your visit was informative and inspiring. We hope to continue to learn from you and that your visit will spread a web of Sharing Gardens through the valley." We hope so too! Thanks to Gini Bramlett who invited us to be presenters. Over the years she's been a fairy-god mother of networking for the SG; helping us spread the word to diverse and widespread communities of folks here in the Willamette valley. Link to CFA

Monroe Health Clinic, Benton County Health Dept., Dr Kyle Homertgen and the Behavior-Change Class for Pre-Diabetics: Monroe was host to its first series of classes to help participants learn and adopt healthier lifestyle habits. Topics included: shifting to a more plant-based diet, increasing exercise, drinking more water and weaning off of diet- and regular-sodas. Participants were weighed and had blood-pressure checks at each session so they could track their own improvements. Each session also included time for them to share amongst themselves about challenges and successes.   

"Detroit" beets. Yumm!
The final session was held at the Sharing Gardens. We gave them a brief tour and provided the lettuce for a potluck salad bar. When Chris was asked how we deal with pests in the garden he drew a metaphor between plant health and human health. He said, "We don't use any pesticides or herbicides in the gardens. We nourish our plants from the ground, up; feeding the soil using mulch and compost. Plants raised on a healthy diet are able to withstand and resist invasions from bugs and diseases. This is as true for people as it is for plants. A healthy diet creates a healthy body and a strong immune system."

Dr. Kyle Homertgen, DO is a family medicine physician who focuses on plant-based nutrition for the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. Dr. Kyle encourages all of his patients to eat a local, nutrient-dense, plant-based diet. He tells his patients that they can "pay the farmer or pay the doctor," and that their most important form of health care is what they decide to put into their bodies. To borrow from Michael Pollan, it should be whole, not too much, and mostly plants. If you are curious to learn more about Dr. Kyle Homertgen and his philosophy of medicine, here is a link to his site.

Sabine, Chris and Cathy weeding.

Now, doesn't that look nice?
Ten Rivers Food Web (TRFW):   Another partnership that has begun to take root and blossom is with Ten Rivers Food Web. This is a local non-profit agency that works as an advocate between small-scale, local farmers and consumers (through farmer's markets, their annual Fill Your Pantry event, and Oregon’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (providing coupons and support to connect low-income folks with fresh, local foods). Their website has many links to resources for locally produced food.

Another great season of giving. After our volunteers (share-givers) have harvested the food, and taken what they can use for their families, the rest is distributed weekly to (primarily) two local food pantries: the South Benton Food Pantry and Junction City's Local Aid. We don't have the season's total from SBFP but we delivered 1,592 pounds to JCLA. We are very grateful to Dave Cook for faithfully driving our delivery to them each week.

Gallery of Givers: The 2015 season is basically done. We're still harvesting a trickle of tomatoes from our greenhouse plants each week but that too will soon end. It's been a great year.
Sifting manure to add to potting soil and transplant-holes.

Adri and Sabine planting beans.

Seed-planting with OSU-Sam
Maiya weeding in the greenhouse.

Potato planting in Spring.

...and Fall potato harvesting.
Sabine and Elisa transplanting melons.
...which grew into these beauties! 2015- A great year for melons.

Adding lots of straw-mulch...
...leads to bountiful harvests and fewer weeds.
Heather - our summer intern from OSU and Calla in the beet-patch.
Gini making compost "tea".

The McDougals (Chris' daughter and family) enjoying garden-time together, potato-hunting.

Re-purposing gallon pots to use as collars around young plants.
Chris with grand-daughter Calla, picking beets.

Guys in the potato-field.

Gals in the beet-patch

OSU students "turning" compost piles.

OSU gals picking Scarlet Runner Beans
Students, shelling beans.

Picking flowers is a favorite task for young and 'young-at-heart'.

Elisa and Maiya bring the bounty to the Food Pantry next door.

Fruit smoothies with kale at snack-time. Even the little kids liked 'em!

Llyn picking tomatoes in our newest greenhouse. The canopy is formed from the leaves of just two gourd plants held up with netting. Better than "shade-cloth", this natural covering kept the greenhouse from becoming too hot on those record-setting, scorcher-days in July and August. We'll make rattles and bird-houses from the dried gourds.
We are grateful for another wonderful year. Hard to believe that we'll be starting seeds again in about ten weeks! We're glad for the slow-down of winter; time for indoor-creativity and a slower pace. Thanks to everyone for your participation and support. Llyn and Chris