Stumped.

Before last Thursday around 7pm, I’d never cooked an eggplant.  Never.  Somehow, I’ve consistently “ducked and dived” the bulbous purple vegetable all my life.  Bare truth is I’ve got nothing against ’em; I just don’t know how to use ’em.

Which typically doesn’t stop me, considering lately I’ve been eating something called a Dinosaur Gourd, and liking it, before learning it’s mostly used as decorations around Thanksgiving.  But, something about people always saying you need to salt eggplant to bring out the bitterness screeched me to a stop.  This rule somehow made it seem like you have to know what you’re doing to do it right. 

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A wonder I have since often loved.

Our rented Uhaul truck pulled into the alley behind our new California home in the welcome embrace of late November, over 3 years ago. No words can describe the crisp beauty that is Southern California in early winter. Nature goes to the eye doctor that time of year, and she wears her newly prescribed spectacles for all of us to see. It was soon after our arrival, on one of those crystal clear mornings, that John and I were first introduced to The Sourdough Bread Man.

A sharp contrast to the playful energy of periwinkle skies, The Bread Man stands stern under a very faded & worn red canopy in front of an off-white van with a vintage navy racing stripe and behind his industrial carts of bagged bread, which provide a wall for him to rest his rather threatening and abundant signage. Mr. Jack Bezian of Bezian Bakery occupies a stall at the legendary Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, and he uses his plot to inform the world about the dangers of ill-prepared bread. His signs discuss dead food and how gluten will kill. Rather somber for a early morning stroll, he’s not subtle.

John wouldn’t eat it or even go near the Bezian stand this day. The whole thing screamed offensive propaganda to him, and if anything, my John is consistently leery of a scam. I on the other hand, with a touch of optimistic naivete and a consistent interest in a little lively food banter, walked up, read the signs, asked a few questions and duly appeased… bought a loaf. I didn’t understand my Bread Man, yet, but to be frank, once within range, I smelled the bread and pretty much caved.

Obviously oblivious, I waited to take my first bite until after the bike ride home, which honestly, hasn’t happened since. Back in my not-yet-worn-in, sunny little kitchen, I casually toasted and buttered a slice. I then experienced the first pleasing and dense crunch of a wonder I have since loved often. I’m sure it was one my favorite flavors like, Zucchini Onion, Eleven Grain, or Kalamata Olive, but it wasn’t just the intense flavor, there was a slow & sour tang that simply can’t be described as anything less than deeply addictive. Your mouth sings after a slice of this authentic sourdough bread, and you are left with a feeling of deep satisfaction, like eating one of Mom’s best meals. (John, by the way, caved quickly.)

After a few years of education, I now understand that the root of the Bezian Bakery signage is a deeply personal passion and commitment to the traditional ways of bread-making. Mr. Bezian is not kidding around that ill-prepared bread can do serious harm to a body; there are an increasing number of Celiac challenged people in our world who have a story to tell. I’m not saying that all Celiac patients could eat properly prepared bread. It’s an extremely complicated disease, and much like dairy, many cannot tolerate even the purest form.

But, some can. Like this personal testimony from the Weston A. Price Foundation website of a Celiac sufferer, who learned he could eat his son-in-law’s authentic sourdough: http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/496-our-daily-bread.html To find a source for your own authentically prepared bread, I suggest purchasing the $1.00 Shopping Guide from the Weston Price Foundation – here. And, if you still can’t find a source, try here for an authentic sourdough recipe.

One of my favorite qualities of true sourdough bread is the incredible shelf-life. This bread can sit on the counter for 2 weeks before molding. The resiliency enables this bread to become a household fixture, purchased with an abundance that fears no waste. Because upon closing in on the two week mark, the leftover bread transforms easily into delicious & versatile Sourdough Breadcrumbs, far superior to the store-bought variety and can be kept in the freezer for an additional two months of enjoyment.

Click HERE for the Homemade Sourdough Breadcrumb recipe…

xo – Organic Spark

Featured Farmer – Jose Baer

A secret food weapon sits quietly in my semi-clean fridge. Behind the organic hot sauce and unsweetened ketchup hides a delicate bottle of unrefined walnut oil that turns every salad leaf it touches into pure gold. Guests come to dinner and fall madly in love. I share the secret, but most brush past and lavish praise on the cook. Bewilderedly accepting the glory, I breathe a heavy sigh and quietly acknowledge evidence that the applause doesn’t always reach it’s proper recipient. Ask a book editor or film producer. They’ll tell you.

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Featured Farmer – Shu Takikawa

 

The Garden Of…

That’s the name of Shu Takikawa’s farm. The dot, dot, dot is very much a part of the title. With a thick Japanese accent and a permanent eye twinkle, Shu said the name made him feel free. Like he didn’t have to farm this land forever if he didn’t feel like it. He could leave at anytime or maybe (my interpretation) that the land could continue being farmed for many generations, simply plug a name into the dot dot dot. I met Shu when I was calling around for farms to feature on the pilot of Farm to Table. I visited a couple of great farmers, but narrowed it down to Shu and serendipitously enough, a man who apprenticed with him, Jacob Grant. Both fit the small-medium size “farm with soul” bill.

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