Sunday, December 21, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake…and Drink Beer!

Eight Cakes a Week & Elevator Brewing Company

Even though my sister and I were born 19 months apart, as children we were often mistaken for twins. Regardless of our physical likeness, but we still had our share of differences and disagreements, especially as teenagers. Being younger, I naturally wanted to tag along on her every adventure, and it more than exasperated her when our parents often gave in to my pleas to be included in my big sister’s plans. Despite the sibling rivalry that existed, there has always been an underlining bond between us, something special that is shared by sisters who grew up with lives intertwined so closely together. Recently, I was introduced to sisters that not only mirror the connection my sister and I share, but who also decided to turn their love of baking, local ingredients, and family traditions into a business they could build together.

I caught up with Olivia and Lindsay Timperman at Elevator’s 13th Floor Taproom & Brewery to learn how this locally made brew has played a role in helping shape their company - Eight Cakes a Week. After a tour of the brewery, we sat down and the Timperman sisters told me their story. The duo grew up with nine other siblings, but despite their large number of brothers and sisters the two were always close. About two years ago, they decided to bid farewell to their day jobs and start a home-based bakery using quality, local, non-GMO ingredients. Besides coming up with a clever name, the ladies chose to differentiate their baked goods by incorporating beer from their stepfather’s company Elevator Brewing…can you say genius? The pair took advantage of their connection with the brewery and introduced their sweets at the Elevator restaurant space off of High Street. It wasn’t long before the orders started rolling in, but they haven’t forgotten their humble beginnings as the restaurant’s “feature dessert” and the precedent their stepfather set for building a business in Columbus.

As mentioned, a few of their key ingredients come from Elevator Brewing Company which was started in 1999 by father and son team Dick and Ryan Stevens. Their operation grew out of an old grain elevator in Marysville that was part restaurant (run by a separate father/son team) and part brewery until they decided to move downtown and open a restaurant of their own. In March of 2000, Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus opened their doors, and although neither father nor son had brewing or restaurant experience they followed their gut and went all-in. Sadly, in 2003 the unexpected loss of his son left Dick with the difficult decision of whether to close up shop or keep moving forward. Dick chose to build upon the foundation laid by him and his son, and today, at the age of 76, he is still very much an active part of the business; conducting tours, marketing, and putting his own creative spin on their branding. When I inquired as to Dick’s favorite beer his lighthearted response was “the one in my hand” and that sentiment also carries over when choosing his favorite of Olivia and Lindsay’s confections.

When the menu includes a “Dirty Dick’s Nut Brown” Beer & Pretzel Cake and a “Heiferweizen" Cake, made with - you guessed it, Elevator’s nut brown and heiferweizen brews, it’s easy to see how picking a favorite could pose a challenge. Offerings also include Bourbon Roasted Peach and Brown Butter Raspberry cakes as well as a variety of cupcakes and cookies. Gluten allergy? Don’t worry, you can still have your cake and eat it too by ordering off of the completely gluten-free, corn-free menu. If that wasn’t enough, I have to mention that Olivia and Lindsay make everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, from scratch; caramel, toffee, and yes, sprinkles too! You can find Eight Cakes a Week at The Hills Market downtown, Growl in Clintonville, order off their website, and in the near future visit them in their new brick and mortar space. If you want a brew to wash down your dessert, Elevator’s 13th Floor Taproom is open every Saturday from 12 pm – 8 pm, with tours being conducted every 3rd Saturday at 4 pm. Listening to Dick, it is evident that he is extremely proud of his stepdaughters, and I have to agree that they are building a business facing a very delicious future.

Seasonal Beer

The Elevator Brewing Company seasonal winter beer (pictured left) traveled 0 miles to Columbus, while the beer (pictured right) traveled over 2,570 miles to Columbus.

Chocolate Espresso Caramel

Recipe by Eight Cakes a Week. They recommend using Elevator’s Dirty Dick’s Nut Brown Ale, Procrastinator Dopplebock, their seasonal Winter Warmer or experiment with one of your favorite flavors.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

One Recipe: Blueberry & Pistachio Holiday Bark

This post is another in the “One Recipe” series in which, in between destination visits, I am sharing recipes featuring previous Local Choice ingredients.

The holidays are a time for baking, eating, and indulging in foods you normally limit or avoid during the rest of the calendar year. If you are going to treat yourself, what you choose to consume before the new year should be calorie worthy. For me, these foods include, but are not limited to, cookies and candies made from scratch with as many local ingredients as possible. My family recipes always prove to be delicious, but each year I like to mix things up by throwing in at least one new recipe such as this delicious chocolatey holiday bark.

This recipe combines 70% fincaChocolate layered with white fincaChocolate and sprinkled with dried Blueberry Patch blueberries, pistachios, and a bit of vintage merlot sea salt I picked up at Celebrate Local.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Recipe: Spicy Spiked Cider

This post is another in the “One Recipe” series in which, in between destination visits, I am sharing recipes featuring previous Local Choice ingredients.

Fall is an extraordinary time of year in Ohio; the foliage turns to stunning hues of yellow, orange, and red and the fall harvest brings a cornucopia of squash, pumpkins, dark greens, apples, and indulgent flavors that reflect the season. As a crisp chill starts to be felt in the air, shake things up with this sweet and spicy cocktail that, regardless of your preference to serve over ice or hot with a cinnamon stick, will treat you to a pleasant warmth on its way down.

This recipe combines Middle West Spirits OYO Whiskey with spicy Brothers Drake Hot Shot Mead and sweet apple cider.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Taste the Memories

Cherry Orchards

This story begins and ends with grapes; an ingredient that plays the starring role in my grandmother’s grape kuchen (pronounced koo-khuh n) and one of the dishes I tend to crave as the seasons morph into fall. Her recipe combines dense yeasty dough with tart Concord grapes and although this fruit is plentiful along the shores of Lake Erie, trying to find them growing within 100 miles of Columbus has been a bit of a challenge. It’s not often I seek out a destination specifically for an ingredient they grow, but I was on a hunt to find these grapes in order to remember what fall tasted like in Northeast Ohio. As a child, we would set out to pick our share just as the trees’ foliage begin to take on a colorful coat. After our harvest, my mom would quickly put us to work helping her make homemade jam by squeezing out the clear jelly-like pulp to separate it from thick deep purple shell, and my grandmother made baking grape kuchen a tradition we couldn’t live without. In order to follow my grandmother’s handwritten recipe, it was a necessity that I found locally grown grapes, and thankfully, I discovered a small family owned u-pick orchard just south of Zanesville that grows my sought after ingredient and more.

My husband accompanied me on my journey to Cherry Orchards because, to be honest, I believe picking seasonal fruit with someone you love helps to create lasting memories. We pulled up to the picturesque grounds and were welcomed by owners Neil and Faye Cherry, as well as their two kittens Carl and Walnut. After a quick introduction, we accompanied Neil on a walk to the koi pond as he began to share the story of his farm. Along the way, we stopped as he pointed out two particularly special apple trees on the property. Their weathered and splintered trunks ran parallel to the earth and although they were not nearly as pretty as the trees that have been added to the property over the last 40+ years, he explained how his great grandfather, Solomon Springs, planted these trees know as Roman Beauty in the 1800s. These trees, which act as symbols of his lineage, are still producing beautiful fruit which help to keep this heirloom variety alive. Neil continued on, telling us that his father purchased the 400 acre property from his uncle in 1947 and started planting fruit trees of his own around eight years later. At his peak, Neil’s father had 500 u-pick cherry trees, but as customer demand for this fruit diminished, he set his sights on more popular fruits such as apples and grapes. In 1971, Neil graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Botany and returned to the farm. Although he never intended to come back and eventually take over the responsibilities of the orchard, at the age of 21 he found himself enamored with the land on which he grew up as a child. He helped his father restore the woodlands and planted 70,000 hardwood trees (tulip poplar and red maples were amongst some of the new additions) and he began filling the 20 acres of land with an assortment of fruit trees.

Today, when you visit Cherry Orchards, you can pick from 54 varieties of apples, 13 types of grapes, and 7 different specifies of pears. In case you are longing for even more, they also grow pumpkins, plums, melons, and blackberries. Neil drove my husband and me around the property in his four wheeler, taking care to point out the aforementioned offerings. He made sure to give special attention to the unique heirloom varieties such as the Stayman apple trees; a tart and crisp variety dating back to the 1800s. He also pointed out the grape vines, which were planted back in the 60s. We learned as we zoomed along and hoped to soak it all in during the short period of time we were there. During the tour, we approached a rustic looking barn on the southwest side of the grounds. Neil explained how his father built this structure when he was in high school. He cut several yellow poplar trees from the land, hauled the logs down to a neighbor’s sawmill, and piece by piece constructed the building entirely by himself. Nearly 25 years ago, the Cherry’s orchard had double the apple production, but Neil concluded our tour by mentioned that they are in the process of downsizing. Faye chimed in that despite the desire to cut back, Neil still continues to plant new varieties including a series of dwarf rootstock apple trees he affectionately dubs his “retirement orchard”.

If you are looking for a short and scenic road trip out of the city, and want to connect the dots to where your food comes from, I urge you to head to Cherry Orchards. Their u-pick season begins in mid-July with peaches and early apples and goes until late fall, but if you aren’t in the mood for picking your own fruit, search for their stand at either the Athens, Reynoldsburg, or Zanesville farmer’s market, where everything is picked and ready to purchase. Throughout the years, I have talked a lot about eating the seasons and this experience is exactly what I am referring to. Concord grapes embody fall, and Cherry Orchards is now my go to place to find this special ingredient. Food can take you on a journey, and I noticed that on the ride home even the aroma of the grapes transported me back in time.

Concord Grapes

The Cherry Orchards Concord grapes (pictured left) traveled 69 miles to Columbus, while the Concord grapes (pictured right) traveled over 277 miles to Columbus.


Power of the Concord Grape

Grape Kuchen

Kuchen, which is German for cake, is traditionally a yeasty dough filled with fruit and baked similar to a coffee cake.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pursuing a Passion

Paige’s Produce

As I sat down to write the story of my 40th destination visited, I began by reflecting on prior posts. I realized over the past three-plus years each food grower or producer I have had the pleasure of meeting has their own unique tale to tell, but more often than not their stories have similar beginnings and details tend to overlap. Most were born and raised in the great state of Ohio and had a strong connection to the land. For this particular destination, I discovered a farmer who, like many I have spoken to in the past, was a third generation grower who had agriculture running through his veins. I thought about how his story paralleled others, and after spending an evening with him and uncovering his personal perspective on the ups and downs of the profession, I began to question why anyone would willingly choose this career; one that demands time spent on nights, weekends, and every hour in between. One that is based on a fluctuating pay scale with minimal financial upside, one that is full of competitors big and small, subject to trends and demanding consumers, one where every day presents a new challenge and in which a rolodex of experience in agricultural and/or biological science, mechanics, sales, and meteorology is a must. The one seemingly unspoken explanation is the passion that internally drives these dedicated individuals. Young or old, male or female, farmer or brewer, their food and products weave a story that together makes up the local food movement of Central Ohio, and Brian Helser of Paige’s Produce is no exception to the rule.

The village of Stoutsville, with a population of less than 600 residents, is where Brian grew up and where his 15 acre farm resides today. His grandparents were farmers and he can credit them for teaching him the business at an early age. After graduating from The Ohio State University and spending time in the corporate world, Brian knew a life behind a desk wasn’t for him and decided to get back to the land, get his hands in the dirt, and devote his life to growing food. He and his wife Kelly started their family farm in 1999 and named it Paige’s Produce. Not only was it easier to pronounce than their last name and contained a nice alliteration, but it was their eldest daughter’s middle name. It was important for Brian and Kelly to have their two daughters maintain an active role in the family business and teach them where food comes from. Whether it be working at farmer's markets or picking apples in between soccer practice, the girls understand the hard work and sacrifices that are made in planting, harvesting, washing, and packing the quality food they grow.

As I sunk my teeth into the raw, pale yellow and white checkerboard ear of fresh sweet corn, Brian laughed and said that this was my rite of passage. We toured the farm and sampled as we went along. As he walked me through the varieties of colorful apples they grow, he reached out and plucked one off a tree for me to try. Juicy and delicious, these apples were some of the first of the season. Next Brian brought me to the field where he plants nearly 15 acres of green beans and yes, we tasted these too; bright, crisp, and grown with love. We continued on, walking the grounds and discussing how Mother Nature can be a farmer’s best friend or worst enemy. Although this year the peach trees didn’t bear any fruit due to our harsh winter, he pointed out the growth of the limbs and how he hoped for a good yield next year. This is the life of an Ohio farmer. You roll with the punches and you keep moving forward…even when nothing is growing. During his “off time” Brian’s late fall/early winter projects include erecting a deer fence to protect his crops from this farmer’s bane and begin his planning for next season.

Today Paige’s Produce grows a variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, utilizing the land on their farm as well as 55 acres they rent from neighboring farmers. They are always up for rotating in something new and this year’s experimental crop was edamame. Brian explained how some markets weren’t interested in his new offering and some were, but that this doesn’t stop him from trying something different that he is eager to share with his customers. If you elect to sign up for their weekly CSA program it is available in full or half shares, with the option of vegetable, fruit, and/or flower types. You can also find Paige’s Produce at the Clintonville, Upper Arlington, downtown Pearl, Hilliard, and Pickerington farmer’s markets. Perhaps Brian answered my question of “why” in the only manner which could be expected from a true devotee of his craft when he wrote in his own blog - “I realize I love doing all this and I try to keep my mind on one day at a time”.

Green Beans

The Paige’s Produce green beans (pictured left) traveled 33 miles to Columbus, while the green beans (pictured right) traveled over 1,100 miles to Columbus.


What's New and Beneficial about Green Beans

Bloody Mary Pickled Green Beans

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