Growing Up: Seed to Plate

Sometimes the best childhood memories we hold are the simplest: riding a bicycle for the first time, attempting to win the 6th grade spelling bee and placing second, or being rewarded with your favorite warmed drink after working hard on a snow day. There is a moment in every adult’s life where we look back and wonder how much more simple things were in our youth when one day could be filled with never-ending amazement.

As our lens on the world gets older, we can sometimes feel the urge to make things more complicated then they need to be. It is then we need to remind ourselves that sometimes the smallest changes can have the greatest effect.  In our current food system we see ammonia being added to our meat to achieve a “more appealing pink“, chemicals previously being used in bombs for World War II as fertilizers for our crops, and heritage breeds of pigs are being considered “invasive”. Should the days of naturally pink meat, food grown from healthy soil, and healthy animals die with our memories?

As Cocina Campesina works on a menu full of tender love and care to incite those delightful memories of childhood, we request that you ask yourself: “what would your childhood self think of our food system today?”


A Message from Jim Brett of Slow Food Western Slope

ImageWestern Colorado’s North Fork Valley is under attack! The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has put 22 oil and gas lease parcels, totaling 30,730 acres, up for sale in August 2012. All of these parcels surround the Valley.

Act now! Use our template or send your own comments to the BLM before the January 9th deadline!

This Valley is an agricultural gem that embodies Slow Food’s principles of envisioning a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the planet, and good for those who produce it.

There are over 70 winemakers, farmers, orchardists, ranchers and agricultural businesses in North Fork Valley – all of which depend on good and clean water, air and soil. If oil and gas interests start production on these leases, the very lifeblood of the agricultural producers will be seriously threatened and probably ruined since the parcels include the watersheds of the entire Valley. And just as damaging, air pollution will engulf the Valley. This is totally unacceptable.

Because of the high concentration of naturally-grown and organic farms and the resultant rural quality of life that has existed for over 100 years, the North Fork Valley needs to be preserved. The growth and persistence of the Valley’s food/wine sector has stimulated growth in agri-tourism, which has sustained the Valley economically during the period of a national economic downturn. If oil and gas interests start production on these leases, the rural quality of life will be lost. We need to take action to stop this from occurring. The North Fork Valley is a prime example of a working sustainable economy, which would be sacrificed if the land were to change.

Anyone who supports sustainable agriculture must take a stand.

It is imperative to send comments to the BLM by January 9, 2012. Click here to send a message – feel free to personalize it.

Thank you,

Jim Brett 
Slow Food Western Slope

To learn more about what is at stake, visit:
Citizens for a Healthy Community
The Conservation Center
North Fork Fracking
Don’t Frack the Fork [Video]

Let’s celebrate the Year of the Dragon together!

January 23, 2012: Year of the Dragon Feast

To start off the 2012 Lunar New Year this Cocina Campesina will be set in a slightly different format. The table will be communal and a free-for-all (family style) of bio-regional spins of traditional New Year’s fare*. The key word in all of this is probably: FEAST. So prepare your stomachs to start the Year of the Dragon with what this South Platte watershed has to offer!
*This is not a vegan event, though there will be some vegan options.
Take a peek at just a few of the ingredients that will be making an appearance in the meal:

Teaser List

January 2012

Acorn (Quercus alba)
Source: Foraged
Flavor profile: Like sunflower seeds, buttery, nutty, dense

Chicken Eggs (Gallus gallus domesticus)
Source: Cocina Campesina Garden
Flavor profile: Earthy, grassy, free roaming Denver yard

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
Source: Waiting on source name
Flavor profile: Earthy, nutty, starchy

Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia)
Source: Foraged
Flavor profile: sweet, bluberry-like, pleasant mouth feel

Spirits and Libations provided by:

Randa Duffy of The Speakeasy

Cash Bar& Drink Pairing Options available for the meal

November 2011 Menu

First Speakeasy Drink Pairing:

Blackberry liquor hot toddy.

Sweet Action Ice Cream Duo:

Brown butter sage ice cream with a fried sage garnish.
Plum and black and white peppercorn ice cream with a pickled ginger garnish.

Shredded Roasted Root Salad:

Purple potatoes, parsnips, sunchokes, and carnival squash shredded and roasted with a pineapple sage brown butter sauce.

Second Speakeasy Drink Pairing:

 Naked, 2009 Riesling, Columbia Valley

Snoqualmie’s Naked wines are produced from 100% organically grown grapes from USDA-certified organic vineyards in the Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area.

Fall Pracas and tomato consommé:

Stuffed cabbage with basmati rice, sunchokes, dried cherries, filbert nuts, onion and a sweet sour tomato gravy. Nestled in a clear tomato broth.

Third Speakeasy Drink Pairing:

Randa Duffy of Speakeasy’s rendition of eggnog. The twist: A rum soy nog of course!

Dessert: “Meat Pie”

Braised lamb and goat tart topped with whip cream, crushed baynuts, fried garlic chips, and shallot caramel sauce

Ingredients sourced from:

 Cocina Campesina’s Garden,  Full Circle Farms, Grant Family FarmsHardpan Horticulture, High Plains Food Coop, Leopold Bros, Prairie House Herbs, Savory Spice Shop, Simminger Variety Farm, Snoqualmie Vineyards, Sweet Action Ice Cream, and Trout Gulch Farm.

An Oakland and Denver Connection

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

James Beard

November may be one of my favorite flavor months (at least one of twelve). White acorns are ready for processing and gray pumpkins are in abundance. The ingredients that are available are complex and rich in history. Because of circumstance, I will be gone for the first part of the month presenting at the Community Food Security Coalition’s 15th Annual Conference. The theme of this year’s conference will be, “Honoring our roots and growing a movement”. I hope to bring the flavors of our South Platte watershed there and some of Oakland’s history back. I have also employed Sweet Action Ice Cream to be helping out with this month’s menu. It should make for an interesting November Cocina Campesina dinner. Please mark your calendars and reserve a spot for the November 19, 2011 meal. Teaser menus this month will be sent out via e-mail instead of post.

No Rioting Chillis

Recap of the October 21, 2011 dinner:

I suppose how the launch would go played in my mind to a point of obsession. Nightmares of chilli peppers rioting the dining tables and burnt pots of rice plagued me the week preceding the October dinner. Much to my relief, the meal was free of miscreant vegetables and the foul smell of charred basmati. In comparison, the evening went magically. Ninety-six plates of food were consumed with over seventy drink pairings and finished with twenty-three cups of pour-over elixir. The conversations at the table (via word-of-mouth) were engaging and connections were forged. Like stone soup, everyone played a role in creating something delicious. Many thanks to Elyria-Swansea’s GrowHaus, the farmers, the food team, and the diners for letting a dishwasher start this endeavor. My experience was in short, an honor and a delight to have served. My excitement for the next meal is barely containable. I do hope you dine with Cocina Campesina soon, it is sure to be memorable.

Some serious foodies from the dinner.