Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bailey's Buying Club - Ordering is now open for June 5, 2009

Hi Folks,

Wow! Friday's pick-up went pretty smoothly! We have a list of things to improve and are always looking for feedback on what we can do to make it work well for you and your family. (For example, shall I order the rhubarb pies again? They were runny. Erma says she'll thicken them up this week.) I'm wondering how we'll fit all the food in the hall come September. The hall already felt full of so much good food!
Local peanut farmers
I'm loving this peanut butter. It is made with Valencia peanuts which I think are the yummiest. I also like that they don't use fungicides as the peanut farmers in the Southern US do. If you ever are driving near Simcoe, take a half hour to stop at Kernal's in Vittoria - the farm and store that Nancy and Ernie Racz run. The store is surrounded by peanut fields. Real peanut plants! They have a bazillion different flavours of peanuts to sample. The great thing about Kernal's is that their store carries about 90% local instead of 10% like Picards. My kids love the little containers of vanilla ice cream that they sell with a swirl of chocolate sauce and peanuts. We eat it with a little wooden paddle at the picnic table outside next to the elephant statue. We have some of Kernal's peanut butter available still, so order while it lasts. We are able to sell at the same price that they sell it in their store.

If you're looking for a protein-rich snack, try Kernal's peanuts. We are offering salted, chili & lime (very tasty), and garlic. We'll have them on the spontaneous table with samples if you want to taste them first.
Buying locally means planning ahead?
Eating via Bailey's Buying Club means thinking in new ways, eh? In order to eat a local feast on Saturday when your in-laws are coming over, you have to think ahead and place the order the previous Monday or Tuesday. It makes us plan ahead. Not a bad thing. I wish I was one of those people that has the menus planned out for the whole week but I'm not. I just order a pile of food that looks good with a few vague ideas about meals in mind and then create meals out of a well-stocked kitchen. It's easy to cook when I have plenty of good food on hand. Hmmm, maybe one of you organized cooks out there could plan a local weekly menu for the rest of us and you could email us a list of what to order.
Here's my meal ideas for the week:
  • cranberry beans cooked with garlic into a soupy savoury mixture,
  • corn tortillas (with lime juice and salt sprinkled on them),
  • fresh salsa with tomatoes and green onions,
  • side salad from Antony at Soiled Reputations with cheese curds on top,
  • salad dressing? Wine vinegar infused with blueberry, salt and pepper.
It's Bean Season!
You may have thought that it was asparagus season, but I declare it bean season. Now is the time to bake and cook beans before it gets too hot. Last week we sourced local beans from Steve and Dianne Rounds (near London) for the first time. Hilbilly Beans does a great job of making handy mixes, including a recipe on the bag and cleaning the beans so you don't find a stone in your baked beans. So, while you're waiting for the sexier fresh fruits and vegetables to ripen, how about putting a big pot of beans on to simmer. I don't have to tell you that beans go really well with tortilla chips, right? Or bacon, or tomatoes, or just about anything. Ham, bean and asparagus soup?

When your favourite foods are offered

The short answer to this question is that we have not figured out a schedule for this yet. The long answer is that we cannot offer EVERYTHING every week or we would not be able to fit it all in the church. So that means that when Millbank Cheese is offered, you usually won't be able to buy it again until two weeks later. So buy two weeks worth of cheese. Does it seem foreign to you to buy two week's worth of food? Our grandmothers used to go to the grocery store once a month. My friend Jane still does - but she's Amish so she doesn't count :) Can you IMAGINE getting groceries once a month? Now, you don't need to go to that extreme to get local food from Bailey's but you do need to think ahead beyond a day or two. Many things will be offered every other week: Oak Manor flours, maple syrup, honey. Other things will be offered even less such as Tortillas from Doug and frozen meats which may cycle through only once a month.

We drive to Simcoe for peanut butter, popcorn, and oil every month. We'll try to let you know how soon something will be offered again so you know when to stock up. We have a few boxes of beans, popcorn and peanut foods for the next week or two but get them while you can. I don't know when we'll make it to Simcoe again.

Baked Goods
The localness of baked goods can be confusing. We've said that none of them are all-local except for the Spelt Bread from Golden Hearth.

Bread & Bretzel is picking up flour from Dover's mill in Cambridge so it is at least milled locally but the hard flour (bread flours) are from the prairie provinces. They get their eggs and other products from a food distributor. It is hard to trace the farm of origin on eggs because the grading facility is usually the name on the carton.

Eggs and milk are highly regulated which makes it a pain to figure out where they come from but they are also heavy enough and perishable enough that we can assume that they are from somewhere in Ontario. It is just not profitable to truck milk very far. I'm working on sourcing local eggs.

Golden Hearth also uses flour from the prairies. I've learned from Aura, of Golden Hearth, that Ontario-grown hard wheat usually doesn't have a high enough protein content to make the kinds of breads that bakers want. She explained that it takes intimate knowledge of dough and bread-baking to use a flour that has a little different texture or protein (or whatever) than the mass-produced and mass-milled flours. Bakers who use machines want all of their doughs to come out exactly alike with the exact same ingredients and kneading and temperature and all that. At Golden Hearth where they make the breads by hand, they can adjust the kneading or rising time or temperature to accommodate the local flour that responds a bit differently in the dough.

Why bother buying from a local mill when it is all so confusing? The two mills we buy from (Oak Manor and Arva - both offered next week) do not fumigate their mills. They do not add preservatives to the flour. They are both passionate supporters of local food and local farmers and buy local grains whenever they can. When we buy from them we are supporting some of the last local small mills. We need these mills so that we have an alternative to the flours from mega-companies. The small mills also give local grain farmers a steady market for their grains.

Pfenning's is able to deliver Mapleton's yogurt to us this week! Mapleton's is a GREAT organic dairy farm near Arthur (sort of). They make amazing ice cream and it is a fun place to visit with kids. They have a petting barn, a maze, a labryinth and a big play-boat. Visit sometime. The yogurt is very tasty. I prefer the cream on top because it is rich and delicious. I feed the cream to my one year old. We eat about 5 containers a week at our house. Yogurt and pearsauce is almost always the bedtime snack. It lasts at least four weeks in the fridge if you want to stock up.

Millbank Cheese
It is so popular we are going to offer it again. Find it under Dairy and then click on Cheese in the order form. You have to try the Sundried Tomato Garlic Organic Cheddar. Melted on an egg wrap was something a friend recommended.

We will be offering more beef from Jeff Stager this week. Jeff's beef will not be offered again until the end of June, though organic beef will be offered before then.

Pork, Chicken, Eggs and More
We are offering meats from a new supplier this week. Traditional Farm Foods is a group of farmers (about 90% Amish) working together to raise animals naturally and marketing their meat to nearby cities. They live near Egmondville, Ontario. I've met one of them, Noah, who has an impressive long black beard and kind eyes. They do not use vaccines, hormones or chemicals in the raising of their animals. From them we have convenient boxes of pork chops (boneless) for the BBQ, sausage, and Breakfast Sausage (wouldn't want to eat breakfast sausage at supper now...). We need to order enough from them to justify them delivering on Friday. So if you like pork, consider stocking up. If we don't get enough orders to meet their maximum, we'll cancel your order and try again another week. They also raise chickens and offer whole frozen chickens (free run - indoors) and eggs. Eggs!

We may have some very early local strawberries to order this week. We don't know yet if it will work for the farmer to deliver them from near Simcoe. Go ahead and order them if you want them and if it doesn't work to get them, we'll cancel the orders. And wait for strawberries to ripen closer to home.

I know I should keep these emails shorter but there are just so many stories and details behind these foods that we are sourcing. If you are the kind of person who wants to know more about your food, you'll like long emails. If you just want food - FAST. You can skim the headings and go order. I'll include important logistics at the bottom of these emails.

Still in love of local food and farmers,
Bailey's Local Foods

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