Posts filed under Blog

Meeting Martha

It was about this time last year that I started to get emails and texts from friends and longtime customers—“You should put in an application for this!!”

It was the announcement for the 3rd annual Martha Stewart American Made contest. It’s a national search for outstanding American makers.  I dismissed the texts and emails.  I said, we aren’t a good fit. We don’t make crafts. We make flour.

And, to be perfectly honest, the only time I had ever read Martha Stewart Living Magazine is when I visit my grandma’s house.

My Aunt Julie, a long time Martha devotee, had to set me straight. She gave me the abridged history of Martha Stewart Living. It went something like this: “Did you know that Martha started the whole idea of a lifestyle business. There was nothing of its kind and nothing this beautiful before she started this magazine. And over the years she has featured heritage chickens, heritage gardening, heritage flowers. What you are doing, bringing back an old craft and heritage grains—it’s perfectly in line with what you are doing.” She even pulled out old issues of the magazine to show me how it had hardly aged; the older issues as timelessly stunning as the most recent ones.  

Let’s say this history lesson pretty much convinced me to apply to the contest. So I spent a whole day filling out the application (you can see it here).  By the time I was done I really wanted to win! But there were more than  3,000  applicants, so I kept my hopes at bay. And besides it would still be several month before they would announce the 10 winners.

My dad and I are notorious for being hard to get a hold of. But there are some days when you are glad you answered your phone. Like when the food editor from MSL calls to tell you won the American Made contest in the food category. We literally couldn’t believe it. After we hung up, my dad and I kept asking each other if we had heard the same thing. And we are pretty much still pinching ourselves today.  

Part of winning was being part of the American Made Event at the beginning of November. My youngest sister and oldest brother live in NYC, so we made a family trip out of it. And after 3 years of hard work and sacrifice we decided to just celebrate how the business had grown as a family. (Although we were sadly missing one sister and brother-in-law).

We started the day out my taking a tour of the MSL offices and meeting the 9 other winners. The other winners were incredible people, it was actually my favorite part of the event to meet these other makers. But the highlight of the tour had to be the prop room. Imagine a whole shelving unit devoted to cake stands. Swoon.

The main event kicked off with a cocktail party featuring delicacies from around the country. It goes without saying, but the MSL team throws a good party. There was the most incredible spread of food. They even featured our White Sonora berries in a salad at the Southwest table.  And if my stomach wasn’t so nervous I would have eaten my weight in Oysters at the endless oyster bar. But my dad and I were going to be interviewed by Martha, along with the other 9 winners later that evening—I couldn’t eat a thing! (We also got to wear these state-fair type pins that said “Winner”-I still wear mine every day. Too much?)

And by the time the event was over I had a new found respect for Martha and the whole MSL team—their hospitality was so genuine and we felt spoiled the whole time.  Beyond her image as an accomplished homemaker, I saw Martha as an incredible business woman. Seeing what she had built—that was very personally inspiring. But there were also some touching down-to-earth moments that left an impression. Once when Martha was giving an introduction, she saw her grandson in the audience. She stopped everything and cried out for him. It was so precious.  

Like a whole family of country mice, we were the last people to leave to the 2 day event with very full bellies and big eyes. The big city was great but it was time to get back to our real, not-so-glamourous lives back at the mill.  By the time the event was over, I think that the entire MSL staff had met my entire family and knew that my youngest sister played basketball at Columbia—proud mom and dad right? 

Posted on June 18, 2015 and filed under Blog.

EcoMonegros

It's so reassuring when we see people and families that have the same dreams that we do. While doing grain research, we stumbled upon this BBC piece about a family in Spain. They brought back an old wheat variety (Aragon 03) and are making bread for their community.

"Many people told us we were crazy for trying to run a business like ours in a place like this. But we found that the seed we grow is perfect for this climate. This is a very dry region and bringing water from other areas is not an option and so the most sensible thing to do is to use seeds that adapt easily to this land and so we can create growth here."

We're going to get in touch with the Marcen sisters. Maybe they will trade some grain with us or even come visit. I think they would feel right at home in our Arizona dry heat.

Ecomonegros Panadería

Posted on October 26, 2014 and filed under Blog.

reap what you sow

Plant in January, harvest in June.  It's how we measure time at Hayden Flour Mills. Right now it's time to plant. 

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One for the rook, one for the crow, one will wither and one will grow.

Planting is my favorite time of year. Not only because it's 30 degrees cooler and one of the most beautiful times of the year in Phoenix, but because its a time to dream, a time to discover new and unusual grains, and a time to hope and pray for an abundant crop. 

Last year we added Red Fife to our repertoire of heritage grains, and this year we've added about 4 new heritage grains. 

Hand Sowing Event

As part of a plan to beautify Phoenix and re-purpose empty plots of land, we are growing 3 acres of wheat in Downtown Phoenix. Right on the corner of Indian School and Central. Not even one mile from the mill. Over the past few months we've been preparing the land; removing big boulders and the buried slabs of cement. And then on New Year's Day some of you all came out to help us plant the field! 

We were so delighted with the number of people that showed up. Since it's only a three acre plot is made more sense to plant it the old fashioned way--throwing big handfuls of seed as evenly as possible.  We all filled up tote bags with White Sonora Seed, formed a human chain at the North edge of the field and threw seed as we walked to the Southern edge. 

Now we wait.

And with luck, we'll see bright green blades emerge in a few weeks.

Posted on January 30, 2014 and filed under Blog.

holiday springerle

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My family has German roots, but this is the first year we've included Springerle cookies as part of our holiday traditions. Last week, I learned how to make these gorgeous anise-flavored cookies with my aunt and cousin. The cookies keep well in airtight containers so it's good one to get done before things get too busy.

I picked out a 17th century Swiss replica of a harvest scene. Look at all the details-- the squirrel in the tree, the spokes of the wagon wheels, the scythes in the hands of the harvesters. 

We got our molds from House on the Hill and used their traditional Springerle recipe with our White Sonora Type 00 flour. It was the softest dough; so easy to work with and to re-roll when we made mistakes. 

I think that these will make great holiday gifts. Or maybe fancy place setting decorations. 

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Posted on November 22, 2013 and filed under Blog, Recipe, Dessert.

pat-a-cake pancakes

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Last week a few little friends came over to help me test out our new pancake mix. Besides having a lot of fun, I learned that with a little help a two year old can mix up the batter! He took his task very seriously-- just love that focused expression. 

What are ways that you let your children participate in the kitchen?

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And, this little guy was happy to eat them hot off the griddle. 

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Posted on November 21, 2013 and filed under Blog.

Whole Foods Market!

 We've been pretty quiet this summer. We've had our heads down, working hard to bring you some very exciting news...

Are you ready for it?

You can now find our flours across Arizona's Whole Foods! This means that it just got a little easier for you all to have access to locally grown, no-nonsense, freshly milled flour and grains.

They even made this little film to celebrate the White Sonora grain project. 

Posted on October 10, 2013 and filed under Blog.

freekah

Earlier this summer Ramona Farms hosted a Freekah Party out at their farm. No. It wasn't a dance party. It's an old food tradition practiced by the people of the Fertile Crescent. Wheat is harvested early, while the grains are still immature and green. Then the chaff is burned off to reveal a smokey green wheat berry. We'd only even read about it in books, so we were eager to see what this Middle Eastern delicacy tasted like. 

We met up at the Ramona Farms Barns early in the morning and headed out the the fields to collect heads of wheat with our hand tools. (Luckily someone had googled how to use a scythe). When we had filled a large bin with our efforts, we brought the wheat back to the barns and used a flame thrower to burn off the chaff. Because the wheat is so moist it didn't burn with the chaff. We were left with only the charred heads of wheat. We rubbed them between our hands and soft green berries fell out. So sweet and chewy. Even better than what we'd read about.

We ended the morning with an incredible spread of traditional foods, all grown on Ramona Farms. We really hope that the Freekah Party becomes a yearly tradition. Thank you Ramona Farms for a beautiful food culture experience!

in the field freekah in hand cutting wheat burnt heads
Posted on September 16, 2013 and filed under Blog.

if i had a million dollars...

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...I would invest in some of the other entrepreneurs who presented along side us in the Slow Money showcase. (If you are interested you can watch our pitch here.)

Slow Money is all about investing money at home. And you don't just get a monetary return on your investment, you take part in creating the kind of place you want to live and play in. It's about thinking long term, and investing in businesses that don't just take, but give back. To the community and the soil.

Here's a few of my favorites. If anything, we need people doing similar projects right here in Arizona.  

1. Salume Beddu. The guy that started this company trained with Mario Batali. It was just one of the many presentations that made me drool. Who doesn't love artisan Salume? 

2. Fermented sauerkraut is completely different from the pickled stuff. And it's much better for you--all that good bacteria. There were two companies doing some great work in fermentation: Zuke in CO and Farmhouse Culture in CA.

3. Recipe food boxes from Out of the Box Collective  in L.A.. It's like a CSA meets menu planning.  I think this is perfect for a busy family who still wants to eat healthy home-cooked dinners.  And I love the holiday themed boxes. 

4. Sea to Table. I loved this one because it is so confusing buying fish at the grocery store. If you know just a little bit about over fishing, buying a fillet of salmon can cause some serious anxiety. This business proposes to get you the freshest and most sustainably caught fish. 

5. We presented right after Paul Schwennesen from Double Check Ranch. Another AZ business. And it was a hard act to follow. Paul's looking to converse land in the West by ranching on it. So more delicious grass fed beef and more open land. Good idea, right?

6. Kitchen Coop. Here's one that small food producers in AZ would love to see in their own backyard. A shared commercial kitchen space and packing facility. 

7. Revision International. This group is working to combat the food deserts in Denver. They are working with communities to grow their own food. Reminds me of the good work that IRC is doing in Phoenix. 

8. St Benoit Creamery in CA. This French style yogurt comes in the most beautiful ceramic cup which can be returned and re-used by the creamery. The passion and craft that goes into this product is inspiring. 

Luckily you don't need an extra million dollars to invest in these businesses. Of the $25 million invested in Slow Money businesses so far, most of them have been smaller investments from many indvidual investors. 

And for those that have been asking about the prize....

We were absolutely delighted to receive the People's Choice award. It was a generous donation from Slow Money conference attendees and matched by Jannie Hoffman of Mamma Chia.  So thank you to all those who voted for us on Facebook and at the conference. 

Posted on May 9, 2013 and filed under Blog.

anatomy of a seed

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Marco took these beautiful close-up shots of the White Sonora. And we noticed some things that we couldn't see with the naked eye.

For one, wheat is fuzzy.

Every grain is surrounded by silky strands, that form a little tuft of hair at one end.After some reading, I learned that this is called the  'brush end' the of the grain. And the little hairs act like straws and pull water around the growing grain.

There is one grain in each spiklet. And you can see from the 2nd and 4th pictures that those are fuzzy too. The 3rd picture is of the stalk. And you can see the individual veins that pull water from the ground to the wheat head- almost 1 meter up.

The grain is still green. Just coming out of its soft 'milk stage'. All it needs is a few more weeks in the field and it will be ready to harvest. 

Posted on May 8, 2013 and filed under Blog.

break bread together

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(Pictured: Marco Bianco's famous country loaf. We know someone who drives an hour, just to get a slice of his bread!)

Did you know that we started the mill because we were on a hunt for really good bread flour?  

As we've delved into the diversity of grains, the mill has grown beyond just bread flour. We've discovered colorful old-world corns, whole grains delicacies like farro, and my personal favorite-golden semolinas for pasta. 

But sometimes it's good to get back to our roots. Remember where we started and enjoy a good loaf of bread as it should be enjoyed; around the table with family and friends. 

Posted on April 24, 2013 and filed under Blog.

slow money

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***Update: The results are in! Hayden Flour Mills came home from the Slow Money gathering with the People's Choice award. We are thrilled that so many people were excited about our home-state grain movement. 

So here's the story. Our work has been nominated to receive national recognition! We are in the running to be named Entrepreneur of the Year at the upcoming Slow Money National Gathering. The winner will be chosen by a combination of jury selection, voting at the event and popular vote online. That's where you come in. You can help us win this award, which includes a cash prize of $50,000 to be invested in our sustainable business.

You all have helped us get this far. With more than 50 acres of heritage and ancient grains in productionn locally, we are already way beyond what we every dreamed of. It wasn't too long ago that we were milling whatever wheat we could find in our garage. 

But, now we have an opportunity to grow and establish a long-lasting local grain economy in our beautiful state. 

Slow Money is all about investing moeny in projects that are good for the community and the land. 

If you think Arizona is a better place with locally grown heritage grains give us your vote!

Click here to vote. It's easy. And you can vote every day. 

If you don't have Facebook, vote here.

Posted on April 13, 2013 and filed under Blog.

markets

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It's Spring in Phoenix. That means it's perfect market weather. And there are so many good markets happening in the Valley. 

Besides getting up early and beating the afternoon heat, one of the reasons we love doing farmer's market is YOU. We love hearing how you used our flour (and we really love it when you let us sample your creations). We love learning what we can do better and what we should be milling more of. We love getting to tell you our story and hearing yours. 

Here's where you'll find us on Saturday mornings. 

1. Old Town Farmer's Market, Saturdays from 8am-1pm

2. Gilbert Farmer's Market, Saturdays 8am-12pm

3. Central Farmer's Market, Saturdays 9am-1pm

Let us know if you'd like us to be at your neighborhood market!

Posted on March 12, 2013 and filed under Blog.

grain school #2

The best thing about being part of the Heritage Grain Coalition is Grain School at Native Seeds/SEARCH. People come from all over the country and state to learn how they can start grain movements in their communities. We heard from bakers, growers, anthropologists, and most importantly we feasted on local grains every day at lunch.

We did a milling demo and even pulled out the metates to try milling flour by hand. 

A glimpse of Grain School below:

grain school 2013
Posted on January 14, 2013 and filed under Blog.

wedding wheat

Since starting this business two years ago, grains and local foods have become a way of life in my family. So it was natural that they were woven throughout my wedding. 

Bouquet Drinks Pretzels Epi Bread Centerpiece

(Photo Credit Mike Olbinski

I gathered my bouquet of White Sonora during this summer's harvest. 

Robbie Tutlewski from Pane Bianco made a rustic Italian feast. He has such an understated talent with flavors. It was incredible and a simple reflection of the ingredients that surround us.  All I know is that he started preparing the pork for five days before the wedding and that I am indebted to him for the rest of my life. 

Marco Bianco sculpted loaves into wheat so they could be easily broken and shared at each table. 

The Brat Haus made smaller versions of their house pretzels using our flour. I heard that they were amazing but I never got to taste one myself. 

My cousin Jason made a special brew using White Sonora Wheat.  I did get a glass of this amazing beer and I think my cousin needs to start a brewery.

And my talented aunt designed all these wheat and fall vegetable centerpieces which made the tables look like renaissance still lifes.

And my dad gave an eloquent speech about the Supper of the Lamb and the symbolism of the wedding feast.

It was a perfect day (well me and my husband thought so) and we were so blessed by so many talented friends and family. 

Posted on December 19, 2012 and filed under Blog.

fall farro salads

Is it just me, or is farro showing up everywhere? So I've been stockpiling recipes. Here are a few that I have been dying to try. 

1. Maria Speck is the queen of ancient grains. When she touches farro it turns to gold. If you don't believe me, just look at the picture on her blog: Saffron Scented Farro with Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.

2. Food and Wine has a whole collection of fall inspired farro salads. This one could go on the Thanksgiving table: Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower and Prosciutto.

3. With so many good apples in season right now, this recipe from Whole Foods made me very hungry. 

 

Note: If you have cooked with our farro you will notice that some of the grains are still wrapped in their hulls. Many ancient grains have this extra hull whereas more modern wheats are hullless. Hulless wheat are easier to process but we are more interested in nutrition and flavor so we don't mind this paper thin hull. Before you cook the farro cover the grain in water and these hulls will float to the top and they can be easily skimmed off. 

Posted on October 18, 2012 and filed under Blog, Recipe.

fol epi

Fol Epi
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The craft of stone milling has been forgotten. To re-vive this lost art we read a lot of books. Study academic papers on the history of wheat and search ancient art for clues and techniques. And of course we make a lot of mistakes and learn from those.

But our best source of knowledge comes from other modern millers. All over North America, small scale stonemills and local grain economies are popping up as alternatives sources of flour. And this small group of millers and grain farmers is slowly recovering the pieces of the craft. 

Back in February I visited Fol Epi, a stonemill and bakery started by Cliff Leir. Cliff has been milling and baking for more than 15 years. Compared to what Cliff is doing we are just miller-babies. He designed his own mill and the big flakes of bran in his whole wheat flour mean that his stones are perfectly dressed. His Canadian grown wheat is kept in silos out back, milled daily, and turned into about two hundred rustic baguettes and rounds everyday. Cliff was kind enough to answer my questions about milling and share some tricks of the trade. But mostly, he supplied a big dose of inspiration for what our little mill could be someday. 

If you every find yourself within even one hundred miles of Victoria, BC, find a way to make a pilgrimage to Fol Epi. 

Posted on August 13, 2012 and filed under Blog.

a taste of local grain

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After this article came out many of you are wondering where you can taste our flours. Here are a few places around the Valley that turn our flour into delicious creations. 

You can find it in pastas and biscotti at Chris Bianco's Italian Restaurant. In pretzels and date cake at the newly opened Brat Haus. In pizza's and breads at the world class Musical Instrument Museum Cafe. In festival crackers at The Breadfruit. In focaccia at Noca. As creamy polenta at Lon's at the Hermosa Inn. As brownie bites and cupcakes at the Hyatt Regency. In muffins and cookies at the Royal at the Biltmore baked by the Cookie Bitch

Posted on July 24, 2012 and filed under Blog.

grain in the desert

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For those who couldn't make it out for harvest. Here's what you missed:

1. Standing in 110 degree heat and getting covered in all-organic dust and dirt.

2. Riding in the John Deere combine with Mossy, the continental combine driver.

3. My dad getting a feather in his straw hat from the farmer. Well earned!

4. A beautiful Queen Creek morning: an amber field, the songs of soldier birds and the San Tan Mountains in the background.

5. Seeing truck-fulls of plump wheat berries grown in the desert. A miracle!

6. Making huge bouquets of White Sonora Wheat. 

7. Meeting chefs and friends who are passionate about reviving the local grain economy. 

Thank you to everyone who braved the heat and came out to see the harvest. We are beyond excited to have our first crop of local and heritage grain. Now, to mill it all into flour! 

Posted on July 17, 2012 and filed under Blog.

from the field

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There are some forgotten photos from the field. They were taken back in January. 

The harvest is finally here. It looks like the combine will come out and cut the field on Friday.

From seed to loaf. What an incredible journey.

Posted on June 25, 2012 and filed under Blog.