Janie’s Farm at Terra Madre & Salone del Gusto

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Since Harold was unfortunately unable to attend Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto, the international meeting of farmers and food artisans, with his Slow Food Chicago scholarship, I (miller and mill manager, Jill) was able to attend in his place.

This will be the first of a number of blog posts about this incredible experience . . . but before I tell you about some of the Italian millers and farmers I’ve met and learned from, I thought I should briefly introduce the international organization called Slow Food, the huge gathering of farmers and food artisans called Terra Madre, (Mother Earth) and the 10 or more football fields of booths staffed by many thousands of food producers from all over the world who proudly present their local, authentic, pure, simple, and delicious foods.

Slow Food was founded in 1986 when the first McDonalds in Italy opened at the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Carlo Petrini, who was a food and wine journalist at the time, was appalled. But instead of having an angry demonstration, he organized a positive protest that proved the pleasures of Italian food. To do so, he invited grandmothers from every region of Italy to prepare and share their local specialties at a long table outside the new McDonalds. His message was that instead of rushing to consume fast food, we should all pause and enjoy “slow food”—the food of our region, our families, our cultural heritage.

Carlo Petrini founded Slow Food based not only on the principle of slowing down and finding pleasure and conviviality in eating and sharing food, but also on the important principle of seeking out and supporting food that is good (tasty!), clean (no chemicals), and fair (pays the farmer and farm workers fairly for their labor.

 A local farmer from Tuscany demonstrates ancient stone mills. Thank goodness we at The Mill at Janie’s Farm have more modern stone-grinding technology!

A local farmer from Tuscany demonstrates ancient stone mills. Thank goodness we at The Mill at Janie’s Farm have more modern stone-grinding technology!

A few years after founding Slow Food, Carlo Petrini held the first Terra Madre, inviting farmers who grew “good, clean, and fair” food to attend a conference to share their knowledge and their products. Over the years Terra Madre melded with Salone del Gusto, the Hall of Taste, which features fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses, meats, olive oils, vinegars, wines, pastries, and much, much more.

But it’s so much more than just food and drink. It’s the people and their passion. They pull you in and share not only a taste of their food, but in-depth stories about what they’re growing and making and the who, where, when, how, and why of it. We already know the history of a number of mills and millers from all over Italy, the history of Sicilian marzipan, the story of a special hand-made, air-dried liver sausage — both the savory version, and the honey-preserved sweet version. The pride in the process is always apparent — from the way a plant is grown or an animal fed, to the way the millstones are hand-chiseled, just the way your grandfather taught you.

It’s the same pride and passion that all of us at Janie’s Farm and the Mill at Janie’s Farm have in our process and our product, and we can’t wait to tell you more about what we’re learning here at Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto . . . a presto!

  La filiera corta del grano  means “the short chain of wheat,“ which we at The Mill at Janie’s Farm also believe in and work towards each day — shortening the distance and making clear the links in the chain from field to mill to table.

La filiera corta del grano means “the short chain of wheat,“ which we at The Mill at Janie’s Farm also believe in and work towards each day — shortening the distance and making clear the links in the chain from field to mill to table.





Introducing . . . Heritage Baking by Ellen King

 Hewn Bakery co-owner Ellen King holds an advance copy of her book,   Heritage Baking.   It’s available for pre-orders now, and will be in bookstores on October 23, 2018.

Hewn Bakery co-owner Ellen King holds an advance copy of her book, Heritage Baking. It’s available for pre-orders now, and will be in bookstores on October 23, 2018.

We are thrilled to inaugurate our “What’s New!” blog by announcing that baker, local organic grain booster, and historian Ellen King’s first book, Heritage Baking, is now available for pre-orders, and will be in bookstores by the end of October.

We first met Ellen when The Mill at Janie’s Farm was still a gleam in farmer Harold Wilken’s eye. In fact, Ellen came downstate to see the farm and talk with Jill, who would become our head miller, just after we had gone on a fact-finding field trip to Farmer Ground Flour in Trumansburg, New York. It was a very cold day in late winter/early spring, but Ellen brought warmth and joy, along with practical advice and encouragement.

 Our miller Jill Brockman-Cummings confers with author Ellen King at The Mill at Janie’s Farm.

Our miller Jill Brockman-Cummings confers with author Ellen King at The Mill at Janie’s Farm.

Ever since that first meeting, Ellen has been an important and supportive person as The Mill at Janie’s Farm evolved. She provided us with invaluable feedback during our early attempts to grind grains into quality flours at different extraction rates. The truth is that she is in large part responsible to getting us to where we are today: providing consistent, high-quality, organic, stone-ground flours to home bakers and professionals alike.

Heritage Baking, like Ellen herself, is full of passion for grains and breads, and full of fact-based, down-to-earth information and advice presented in memorable ways. For example, most people know that salt is one of the ingredients in your sourdough starter and in bread. But did you know what crucial role salt performs? As Ellen explains: “Without salt, the starter would party all night and literally eat up all the sugars in the flour before having time to properly ferment.” In other words, as Ellen puts it, salt is the necessary “buzzkill.”

This book is the opposite of a buzzkill — with bread and pastry recipes that run the gamut from a basic Heritage Country Loaf to a Cinnamon Roll Brioche to a Sourdough Tart Cherry Coffee Cake. These great recipes by Ellen are accompanied by gorgeous photographs by John Lee, and lots of background information about grains and flour by Ellen and her co-writer Amelia Levin. In fact, we are so jazzed about this book, that I’m sure we’ll have future blog entries about it.

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For now, we’d like to quote one of our favorite sentences, in the Primer at the beginning of the book: “When you buy freshly milled local flour, you’ll find that the taste is so distinct, so beautiful and nuanced, that it will be difficult to go back to the bagged stuff aging away on grocery store shelves.”

We couldn’t agree more, and are honored to be part of the “grain chain” that, like this book, brings delicious, wholesome joy into your life.

Ellen’s book tour to spread the word about baking with local and regional stone-milled grains starts in October. All the details can be found at the Hewn Bakery website: http://www.hewnbread.com/