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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dazy Finds the First Truffle of the Season!!

Dazy was one excited little dog when she found the first truffle of the season last Monday!  Her mama was pretty excited, too. We were out there doing a training exercise and it was pretty warm.  I really thought it was too early to find anything but Dazy was all for it and she was very focused.  The truffle she found was not edible (unfortunately) because it had frozen at an immature state but we will keep it for reinnoculation at some point in the spring.
Truffle in the Center

Ice on the pond
The exciting thing about it is that it is the first truffle ever harvested anywhere in the world with exactly its beginnings.  You see, it's a "Friday" truffle.  When we harvested truffles in the original orchard way back when...................., we gave Franklin Garland a truffle and he used it to innoculate 20+ trees for us.  This truffle came from one of those trees!!!   That really makes it special to me.






The tree where Dazy made her find is 6 years old.  Let's just hope there are LOTS  more where that came from.  Keeping my fingers crossed!!  Friday was very disappointed that he wasn't the one to find it but I'll give him a chance to find one like it when the weather cooperates more next week.
Truffle on the Scale - 3.14 oz.




I really have no idea (as  usual) what this truffle season will bring or when it will start in earnest so I have ordered truffles for sale until something really begins to happen here.  I want to have truffles to enjoy while we wait.  The season has begun in France and our connections there are already shipping.  http://www.truffesgaillard.fr/  Even though it is a little early, I have been very pleased with what I've seen so far.

The big truffle mystery gets a little old sometimes but this is always a very exciting time for me.  It actually rivals Christmas!!

For Thanksgiving, I decided I wanted to cook a turkey using the sous vide method.  The food editor at the Winston-Salem Journal, Michael Hastings and a local chef who knows a lot about that method Christian Froelich  agreed to provide some recommendations and it turned out pretty good.  What I learned was that even though it's good to be able to say I tried it and it worked, I could have enjoyed the truffle flavor almost as much if I had just added truffles and truffle butter to my basic turkey gravy recipe and smothered that turkey in it.  If you haven't tried turkey gravy with truffle butter, believe me, you're missing something delicious!!  But, if you just have to try sous vide, look here for information and remember to add truffle and truffle butter inside the vacuum sealed bag.  http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/how-to-cook-sous-vide-at-home

In January, I'll be travelling to France myself to visit a truffle festival, hunt for truffles, eat truffles every meal and learn from a French chef how they honor the delicacy in France!  I hope to come back with lots of recipes to share!

That dog!! You'd think she actually had to work for a living.........

Well, that's all the news from Keep Your Fork Farm for now!  Have a wonderful, safe holiday season and, For Goodness' Sake -- put some truffles in it!!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Truffle Season Approaching!!!

Well, Here it is November and I'm wondering where the time goes.  I'm sure you can all relate.

The truffle orchards look good overall.  We had so much rain this past summer that I have actually used the irrigation system more since Labor Day than I did the whole previous season.  That's a first!  Now that the trees and truffles are accustomed to having that much water, I don't dare let them get dry.  If that much water doesn't bring us a basketful of truffles, I don't know what will.

Here are some pictures I took last week of the trees in the big orchard in varying stages of dropping their leaves.
Upcoming work here over the next 30-45 days will include removing almost every original limb from the filbert trees in the big orchard as 99% of them are totally infested with Eastern Filbert Blight.  Phase 2 will be the pruning of half the little shoots (sucker branches) that have come up as a result of the previous pruning. Those new shoots are what give me hope.

 Yep, All those big limbs will be going away.
The little limbs that shoot up as a result should be blight free.  At least, that's been my experience so far.  I'm just hoping that continues to be the case.

If that theory pans out, we could extend the life of these trees substantially.  The filberts typically have a life span of 15-20 years at most.  These are now 9 years old and, with the new shoots taking over, the future for them could be very bright.

I have absolutely no one to corroborate my findings so, you heard it first here.

As of this writing, I see our farm as a research station.  So far, that's been our experience.
Note the 2 "missing" rows between the forward most and rear most rows here.
They are small trees whose leaves
have ALL dropped off already.  All the trees are the same age.   Go figure!
If you've been with this blog for a while, you will remember that back last year we started a foliar feeding program spraying Growers Mineral Solution on the leaves a couple of times a week (when it wasn't raining continuously).  That was done to strengthen the tree and root system without changing the pH.  Rarely do you want to use fertilizer as a soil application in a truffle orchard for that reason.  So, here we are with the hope that instead of losing this truffle orchard like we did the first one, we will be able to continue to prune, feed and keep the trees alive.  We don't care if all the branches of the mother tree are gone and we are left with just the sucker branches as long as we keep the roots alive.  So far, so good.  Thanks heaps to the agronoman who suggested we take this route.  Even though I am very tired of pruning, it sure beats pulling dead trees out of the ground and starting over.  That, my friends, I will not do again.  No way, no how!

As I plan for 2014, I have decided to increase the number of farm tours offered.  We will open the farm on the first and last Saturdays of each month from May through October next year (if all goes well.)  Advertising in Our State Magazine has brought us a new customer group prompting the printing of a little catalog of our products.  Email me if you'd like a copy of the farm tour brochure or the catalog.

 It's time to update the website again and decide whether or not I can pull off a Truffle Trifecta 2014 (keep your fingers crossed and save the date February 21) just in case I'm able to work it out.
See all those little bitty skinny limbs there?
I think they may save this tree  

Working as Executive Director for the North American Truffle Growers' Association (NATGA) has been a little more demanding than I anticipated.  The organization itself is taking on a more professional presentation and growing more substantial with the work of a very dedicated group of volunteer officers.  I'm excited about that.

A friend told me a couple of weeks ago that I must have the "farmer gene" which is the one that keeps me believing "Next year will be the best year yet."  I have to agree.

From Keep Your Fork Farm, Think Truffles!!


Friday, August 2, 2013

It's Been Waaaay Too Long!

I have been missing my blogging time but you wouldn't believe the RAIN we have been having here in Truffle Country!  We barely have time to catch up on the mowing, weedeating and pruning in between showers!!@  It has truly been the wettest spring and summer of my life.  I just hope the truffles are lovin' it!!!

In the meantime, lots of truffle butter and stuff going out the door even though I haven't been present at my usual Cobblestone Farmers Market during the monsoon.  Last night's market at Diamondback Grill was a good time.  Thanks to everyone who came out and to Chef Mac Parker for featuring our truffles and butter on his main course for the wine dinner.  We treasure every opportunity to work with local chefs.  Also, we will be selling our products again at Let It  Grow Produce here, in Winston-Salem.  Go in and say "Hi" to Becky and ask her where the truffle butter is :-))  Her store will be The Place for Truffles when the season rolls around.

Also, if you're in Winston-Salem next week, Spring House Restaurant's Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival will be featuring more fabulous dishes by guest chefs for the fourth year!  Check it out.

Another opportunity, August 9-11 at Washington Duke Inn in Durham, I'll be representing Truffles NC at Our State Magazine's week-end of food and fun.  With Chef Jason Cunningham overseeing the preparations for every morsel.  He's one of the best.  North Carolina is blessed with some wonderful chefs!!

Surely there is always something good cooking in North Carolina.  Go have some fun and maybe our paths will cross somewhere along the way.  I hope so.

So, since I don't have much time, one more opportunity to eat and drink and enjoy some good times, the wonderful food and wine festival coming up again in Asheville later this month.  I will be there over the week-end, 8/23-24, representing the North American Truffle Growers' Association and talking truffles to anyone who will listen.

Here's the info:  Share it with all your food and wine loving friends!!

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Eat, Drink, Love!

Don’t miss the bites, sips, and brews at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival this month

In WNC, we celebrate local flavors, from the sweetest blueberries and apples, to the über savory ramp. Our evenings are filled with wine tastings and dinner reservations at the latest epicurean havens. Entire meals, from appetizer to dessert, revolve around the goodies carried home from the abundance of farmers markets. And we happily and fanatically raise a pint glass to every new brewery to open its doors. Ours is a self-fulfilling community food scene, and it all comes together during the annual Asheville Wine & Food Festival, August 20-24. Check out the feast of happenings on the schedule, and then visit www.ashevillewineandfood.com for tickets.

WNC Chefs Challenge
Four chefs face off in the Iron Chef-style semifinals, and you get to dine and decide who wins!

August 20
Semifinal: Daniel Wright of Tomato Jam Café vs. Steven Goff of Zambra

August 21
Semifinal: Anthony Cerrato of Strada Italiano vs. Brian Ross of DOUGH
The semifinals will be hosted at Pack’s Tavern, 20 S. Spruce St.; Tuesday & Wednesday, 6 p.m.; $49

August 24
Finale
The last two chefs fight to the finish in front of the crowd during the Grand Tasting, with a panel of judges deciding who is crowned the Best Chef in WNC. Free to all Grand Tasting ticket holders.

ELIXIR
August 22
Mixologists shake, stir, and blend their way through this cocktail showdown. The creations will highlight North Carolina distilleries, including Troy & Sons Moonshine, Cardinal Gin, and Carriage House Apple Brandy. Partygoers witness all the action and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. The Venue, 21 N. Market St., Thursday, 6-8 p.m.; $45

SWEET
August 23
Think of SWEET as the most decadent dessert cart to ever roll your direction, with chocolate, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, and more from local producers, all accompanied by wine, beer, and spirits. The Grove Arcade, 1 Page Ave.; Friday, 7:30-10 p.m.; $45

Grand Tasting
August 24
You can quit your day job and spend a year getting acquainted with the vast regional culinary scene, or you can be smart and get tickets for the Grand Tasting. Farmers, bakers, cheese makers, vintners, brewers, restaurateurs, and distillers turn the house into an oasis of local eats, sips, and pints. U.S. Cellular Center, 87 Haywood St.; $75 V.I.P., $55; Saturday, V.I.P. noon-5 p.m.; general admission 1-5 p.m.; www.ashevillewineandfood.com


Enjoy!!

Think Truffles!

Jane





Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring Finally Arrived!! Trees Budding out Like Crazy!!

These trees are looking so good!! All the pruning, fretting and hand wringing must have done the trick~!  I get totally excited when the leaves come out and every tree begins to green up.  It's such a feeling of renewal!

Baby Hazelnut Trees Budding
More 9 Year Old Trees - Gorgeous!

9 Year Old Pruned Hazelnut



Here's what's been going on here at the farm.

1.  We pruned every single cotton picking limb that showed the signs of Eastern Filbert Blight out of every single tree.  We watched as the sucker limbs sprouted up and will watch them VERY closely for signs of the dreaded EFB but, so far, so good.  We believe it is possible for us to manage this disease in this orchard in a different way from the way we treated the original orchard and keep these trees alive.  We started last week with the foliar feeding program that may be our salvation.  Keep your fingers crossed!!

2.  We tried working with a high school senior as an intern.  Not a total waste of time for us - but almost.  I don't think he had a clue how much hard work and repetitive (sometimes monotonous) farm work can be.  We will try again with a longer interview process if another candidate presents next year.

3.  I accepted the position as Executive Director of the North American Truffle Growers' Association as of March 1.  That's my excuse  for not writing here since the Truffle Trifecta Dinner.

Now, about that dinner -- It was a huge success.  We managed to raise $3600+ for the BackPack Program of Second Harvest Food Bank.  (See separate post for all the details)  Stay tuned to this blog for posts regarding the Truffle Trifecta 2014 -- next year's bigger and better event in Winston-Salem.

In other news from Keep Your Fork Farm, we might start having regular farm tours on the last Saturday of the  month.  Lots of folks call or email about farm tours and sometimes they schedule a time to come visit.  We spend an hour or so with them and share our experience allowing plenty of time for their questions.  Then we sit down and share some of our truffle products with them and it's always enjoyable.   If we offered these tours on a regular basis and kept the numbers to around a dozen, I think that would be fun.  What do you think?

OK, Back to work.  Let me hear from you and remember..............

Think Truffles!!!






Monday, April 29, 2013

About the Truffle Trifecta and our Most Fabulous Chefs

First, check out our amazing talented chefs:  

This truffle-loving truffle farmer has never eaten a better meal than these two chefs and their able-bodied assistants (me among them) prepared and served.  Beginning early on the morning of the event, we gathered in the kitchen of Beta Verde Farm.  We washed.  We chopped.  We laughed until we cried.  We had a good time and the spirit of cooperation that flavored every morsel was truly amazing.  Just ask anyone who was there!!

Get a load of this menu!


Truffle Trifecta
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Chef Susi Gott Séguret
Chef Harrison Littell

Truffled Champagne
  Truffled Gougères
~~~
Velouté de Carottes au Gingembre et aux Truffes
(Truffled Cream of Carrot and Ginger Soup)
Truffle Tartine
~~~
Truffled Rainbow Trout Filets
Baby Arugula Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette
~~~
Truffled Roasted Leg of Lamb
Truffled-Whipped Potatoes and Sunchokes
Baby Leeks with Truffle Butter
~~~

Truffled Chocolate Truffles 

with
Truffled White Chocolate Mousse

Strawberry Coulis & Truffled Honey

We fed 50 people some of the most delicious food they had ever eaten.  In the spirit of giving to the BackPack Program of the Second Harvest FoodBank of NWNC,  they were welcomed into an alternate universe by our hostesses at Beta Verde, fed like kings and queens and shared the meal with like-minded folks.  You could comfortably talk with the folks at your table but when you rose from you seat (which I did frequently) you could hear this warm buzz of conversation all around the room.  It was really fun to be a part of and I look forward to next year.  Let me tempt you a LITTLE MORE........
Yes, those are sliced truffles on those trays!!!!
Gorgeous leaks served with the truffled lamb


First, Susi instructed us in making own truffles (yes, decadently delicious chocolate truffles with grated black winter truffles.) 



Then the fun really began as we joined in the feast!  

We raised $3600 for the BackPack Program this year.  Thanks so much to EVERY FARM that grew the food and EVERY PAIR OF HANDS that prepared it and EVERY DONOR who made the whole thing possible.

See you next year!!




Thursday, January 24, 2013

Truffle Trifecta 2013 Begins to Take Shape

February 23, 2013, we will once again celebrate truffle cultivation in North Carolina and raise some money to feed  hungry kids in our region.  http://www.hungernwnc.org/about-us/our-programs.html#backpack  Truffles NC supported and organized this dinner last year and it was our greatest pleasure to see this event so well received.  Again, this year, we will provide truffles for everyone to enjoy as we educate guests, prepare dishes and enjoy some truly fabulous food all for the ultimate objective -- feeding hungry kids.  http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-studies/child-food-insecurity-econ-impact.aspx

Last year, the event grew out of the story "Sleeping With Bread" (see below) about how much it helped orphaned children to have a small loaf of bread to sleep with to help with their tremendous fear that they wouldn't have food the next day.  It touched my heart so deeply that, when I read the newspaper article about the extreme food insecurity issues in our own backyard, I couldn't let it go.  People (and especially children) must have good food to thrive.  I simply had to do something, so my annual truffle dinner idea was born.  To ensure our continued commitment, Truffles NC pledged to donate a percentage of our total sales for 2012 to this program and we now hope it will be an annual event for decades to come.  This problem isn't going away. 
 
Together, we can do something about it.



This Year's Fundraiser for the BackPack Program of
Second Harvest Food Bank
Join us if you can and, if you can't -- Please consider donating to the cause.  Use the link to Upcoming Events at the websitewww.TrufflesNC.com

In case you weren't with us last year, here's the story taken from the book, Sleeping With Bread

During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve.  The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care.  But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night.  They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food.  Nothing seemed to reassure them.  Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime.  Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace.  All through the night the bread reminded them, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”
Page 1

Giving Our Bread Away
This book began with the image of World War II orphan children sleeping with bread to reassure them that they would eat tomorrow as they did today.  Many of them survived the concentration camps only because other prisoners had given their own last piece of bread to these children.  Viktor Frankl wrote of how this bread brought not just survival but also hope and interior freedom:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They may have been few in number…but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of his freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

When we sleep with bread we are empowered to choose our own way under any circumstances.  We become like the men and women in the concentration camps who could give others the bread of life they held.
Page 44
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (New York:  Washington Square Press, 1963), 104

Taken directly from the book Sleeping with Bread, Holding What Gives You Life
By Dennis, Sheila Fabricant and Matthew Linn, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ 1995
Think Truffles!!
Jane