Posts Tagged ‘brandon jaeger’

30 Mile Meal Pizza: Asparagus, Bacon, Feta and Gruyere

After my time at the Chesterhill Produce Auction, I got to thinking about the 30 Mile Meal Project here in Athens. These are people who, in a very short time, have promoted the use of sustainable local foods in a 30-mile radius of Athens. Thanks to them and Rural Action, I ended up with some great veggies and the resulting pizza below. If you wanna taste one just like it, come to Avalanche Pizza the week of July 17th and I’ll make you one. That’s Restaurant Week in the 30 Mile Meal Project.

My pizza, topped with local vegetables and ready for the oven.

Like I said previously, the auction is run by Rural Action and Tom Redfern and Bob Fedeski. They get the word out to guys like me who want the freshest vegetables around.

Brandon Jaeger, Co-Owner of Shagbark Seed and Milling Company (left) and Matt Rapposelli, Executive Chef at Ohio University (right)  are proponents of local foods here in Southeast Ohio. They’re great guys (despite those evil looks).

This day at the auction, I see some tough bidding competitors like Matt Rapposelli, the Executive Chef of Ohio University. I also see the chefs from The Wilds. Matt has retooled his prep kitchens to wash, peel, shave, chop, package and freeze all these local vegetables for students eating at the University.

All sorts of people showed up for the first produce auction of the year. There was no  fruit to be seen but lots asparagus, garlic, chard and radish.

Here are the ingredients  for this local pizza:

Shagbark Spelt pizza dough using a 50/50 blend

Easy Dough Recipe

3 medium leaves multi-colored Swiss chard

7 young Chesterhill radishes

2 spring garlic sprouts

4 to 5 slices of lean King family bacon

1/4 cup of Integration Acres goat feta

A big fat slice of Laurel Valley Gruyere

5 spears of fresh asparagus

Quick Marinade for the radishes and chard:

2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar,

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

Slice the ham, then peel the skin of the asparagus.

Slice the asparagus lengthwise.

Slice the radishes thin or on a mandoline, toss them in a bowl with the vinegar, salt and sugar.

Cut the stem out of the chard, roll the leaf lengthwise and cut in a thin chiffonade.

Toss the chard with the chopped garlic and the radish.

Form the spelt crust round on parchment paper. Add the goat cheese and gruyere.


Add the ham, then the chard-garlic-radish mix. Then top with the asparagus. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the bottom is crisp. Serve immediately.

Nothing is better than a 30 mile pizza.

Here’s Tom and Bob explaining the Chesterhill produce auction

Local Corn Flour for Pizza and Bread

On a cold December morning, I ducked out of my pizza business long enough to accompany Brandon Jaeger to Chesterhill Ohio see some “Dent corn”  stripped off the stalk by our Amish friends. This same corn was used by the Fort Ancient Native Americans, and kernels have been found in several burial mounds right in this region. Brandon would process it, and I will have a chance to make a non-gluten bread with it.

October 3rd and pear pizzaii 028 October 3rd and pear pizzavvv 008

The horses bring in the corn, and the (slightly) modified “Farmall M” is ready to strip the corn off the stalks.

I met Brandon  last summer, when I trekked to Joe’s farm to get some Northern Ohio Spelt for my Purple People Eater, a combination of 20% high-gluten pre-ferment, (poolish) with 70% spelt flour and 10% stone ground whole wheat. This bread has similarities to those annoying but delicious Christmas cookies that stick to your teeth, especially as I put a sticky blueberry, mango, apricot compote on top before the bake.

Illinois 2009 and food blog picsii 231 October 3rd and pear pizzaii 002

Purple People Eaters, and the Goon (Sounds like a new Harry Potter movie) in Chesterhill.

Brandon and his partner Michelle Ajamian have dedictated themselves to the long-forgotton growth, production and use of local high-nutrition bean, grain and seed crops.

preppingforbuckwheat amaranth

Michelle Ajamian prepping soil for buckwheat planting. Brandon and Michelle’s field of amaranth.

Through Appalachian Staple Foods Collabrative (ASFC) they’ve forged a new way for small businesses like mine to offer these local, fresh, foods. Plus, they keep the money local at the same time. This team has a laser-beam focus on bringing local sustainable grains and beans to the people and businesses in the area.

That summer, as I approached the Hirshberger acreage, Joe was on his 4-horse binder contraption that looked like it was from the 18th century. This machine cut the spelt, gathered up the stalks and bound them with string. As my eyes followed this wild rig driven by Joe in his buttoned up white shirt, black overcoat, black hat, rolled up pants and bare feet, I saw someone following him who was not Amish. It was Brandon, grabbing the bundles and stacking them in the hot late-day steam.

rich organic 001ii

Brandon Jaeger stacking spelt after Joe cuts it the old-fashioned way.

“That job sucks,” I said to myself as I watched both men work toward the horizon. I walked into the field of spelt, hoping that they wouldn’t ask me to help, and introduced myself to Brandon and waved to Joe. He looked familiar and I remembered that I’d read about him in the newspapers. Ever since, he had tweeked my interest in using local grains in my day-to-day menu mix.

Brandon 001 Brandon 002

Summer harvested spelt, and Brandon stacking the spelt bundles for drying.

As you can see in the video, it was winter now, and I was watching the corn being stripped off the stalks by an ingenious contraption that takes the stalks right up to the top of the barn for use later. This is done with the engine of a “Farmall M” and alot of back-breaking work, which is par for the course for these guys.

When we got back to Michelle and Brandon’s mill, he took me on a quick tour of his new milling equipment and showed me some of the corn he was going to turn into flour.

I am truly grateful for Michelle, Brandon and all the people bringing back locally sourced grains for small businesses to choose to serve their customers. Soon I’ll have some recipes using this local corn flour for pizzas and breads. Yum.

October 3rd and pear pizzaii 039 October 3rd and pear pizzaii

From raw corn kernels too usable corn flour.