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Elizabeth Dyck explains how a grain tasting works: “I will serve spoonsful of heritage red and white wheat, buckwheat, rye, barley and also the ancient grains spelt, einkorn and emmer, all of them steamed, just as you would rice."People are surprised and delighted by flavors they find--or don't find,' she says. "Rye for example, you might associate with an aggressive flavor. Instead it's delicate and sweet." Getting to know the grains this way, she says, can serve as an 'opening wedge,' tempting people into the kitchen to prepare them in delicious, uncomplicated ways. She says these blind tastings have won over chefs, bakers and home cooks alike at New York events. She expects a lively discussion, which she'll guide. Tasters in Pittsburgh will also blind-taste two loaves, baked with two of Dyck's special grains grown on one farm, trying to discern differences between them. They’ll blind-taste three crackers, each baked with a different ancient grain.
Meet contributors to the Sunday potluck: Trevett Hooper, chef/owner of Legume, Beth Zozula, executive chef, Ace Hotel, Casey Shively, pastry chef, Ace Hotel, Kate Romane, chef/owner, E2, Kevin Costa, chef de cuisine, Root 174, Chris Galarda, of Chatham's Eden Hall campus. Bakers include: Nick Ambeliotis' Mediterra Bakery, Geof Comings' Five Points Artisan Bakery, Neil Blazin's Driftwood Oven and Shauna Kearns and her students at Braddock wood-fired bakery. Grain derived beverages: Program participants will sample beverages from Wigle Whiskey, Hop Farm, known for growing its own hops, and the estate brewery, Sprague Farm and Brew Works, growing hops and barley and malting their barley. Bonus: Millie's Homemade Ice Cream's Chad Townsend will send his soon-to-be-launched butter for the event. Participants will be among the first to savor the new product. The table should be laid for a memorable discussion to boost consumption of Western Pennsylvania grains, a sector that Elizabeth Dyck views as "on the cusp."
Elizabeth Dyck is a champion of the “new” old grains—“species and varieties that were cultivated in times past for superior flavor, nutrition and sustainability. Some of them,” she says, ”were grown in the western Pennsylvania region and now, after years of work by farmers, they are becoming available here again.” A long-time owner of an organic farm, she is equally eloquent supervising a threshing demo as she is generating quotes for the New York Times regarding collaborations with New York chefs and bakers. She has been to Western Pennsylvania several times, collaborating with Nigel Tudor at Weatherbury Farm in Avella, on his organic crops of half a dozen rare and ancient grains. She's a participant in a multi-million dollar USDA value-added project for regional grains. She and Mr. Senders have spoken at PASA's annual Farming for the Future conference. She is founder and coordinator of OGRIN. She has been growing organically for almost 50 years, and has been conducting participatory research for many years with farmers in Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Kenya. At Crimson Clover Farm, which she co-owns with her family, and which is certified through Global Organic Alliance, she conducts research and demonstrations on organic management and grows vegetables.