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Thursday, July 28, 2016

07/25/2016 - Indiana Stories, Slowly, with a Cheesemaker and Chef

Slow Living Radio takes a slow look at Indiana, talking to a cheesemaker whose farm dates back to the 1800’s and use only grass farming. We then discover a chef’s life coming to Indiana and exploring the food scene and local farming community.  A real taste of Slow Living.

Matthew Brichford
French Cows + Hoosier Grass = Legacy Cheese
Ever consider what your legacy will be? A family heirloom, a traditional dance? “Dirt”, says heartland dairy farmer and cheese producer Matthew Brichford. “The Jacobs-Brichford family’s legacy is our farm’s terroir. The unique characteristics of this earth and its grass, expressed through raw milk cheeses, assure the rigor of our Indiana roots.”
The family’s 440 acres of lush pasture in southeastern Indiana contribute unique grassy notes to Jacobs and Brichford’s Farmstead Cheeses. Rotational grazing on carefully balanced grass varieties brings the flavor to the aging room. Whether subtly perfumed or outright audacious, the hand-crafted cheeses hit the terroir nail on the head: barnyardy Ameribella, tangy Everton, herbaceous Briana, earthy Adair, sweet Tomme de Fayette, and youthful JQ.
“The Jacobs-Brichford family’s legacy is our farm’s terroir. The unique characteristics of this earth and its grass, expressed through raw milk cheeses, assure the rigor of our Indiana roots.”
Brichford and his wife Leslie Jacobs took over his family’s 200-year-old Hoosier Homestead farm in 1981. In 1995, they converted a grain and cattle operation to relevant, next-generation growth stock: dairy cow pasture. The idea to someday produce cheese motivated changes on the farm. Management Intensive Grazing, introduced in 1988 to mitigate the effects of drought, boosted the milk’s creaminess, flora, and flavor.  For 17 years, the farm sold premium grass fed milk to the milk coop – without the premium prices. An unpredictable commodity market, with its unstable revenue stream, brought the future of the farm into question. One way to add value to the milk production was cheese making.

The milk from a selected herd “allows us make cheese that will carry our farm into the future,” asserts Brichford. However, he adds, when it comes down to it, “I am a grass farmer who makes cheese.” A boisterous, can-do attitude and fine tuned palate complement the farm’s resources and mission.
The slow, methodical route to crafting the cheese Brichford had in mind was driven by experiential learning. He began with cheese making workshops at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls (2001) and the University of Guelph, Ontario (2002).  In 2003, the Jacobs-Brichfords plunged into a French tour du fromage, genetic cow profiling, New Age aging technology, herd management, and regulation rigmarole. Construction of the cheese plant began in 2010, and production began in 2012.
Flavor profiles emerged: a blend of Indiana terroir and French Tarentaise, Normande, and Jersey cows. The herd was reduced in size to a manageable number. Currently, around 85 French cows produce copious quantities of high-butterfat milk, which is the gateway to luscious, high-protein, vitamin-rich, gut-healthy Good Food Award winners.
Holistic approach to cheese making
Beneath Brichford’s bushy beard – started around the same time as his Indiana farming venture - are the guts to roll with Mother Nature. “We follow the natural rhythm of the herd,” he explains. The cows move from pasture to pasture, and are exclusively grass fed.   Cheese is produced only when cows are    naturally lactating, typically between March and December. The New Zealand-style open-air milking parlor promotes a comfortable cow lifestyle. The whey separated out in the cheese making process is fed to the farm’s Berkshire hogs, which are fattened and sold to an artisanal
charcuterie producer. All cheeses are processed with raw milk sourced only from the
farm’s own cows.
Matthew and Leslie’s three daughters were all raised on and contributed to the family farm. Other family members lent their names to the cheeses: Great Grandmother America Arabella inspired Ameribella, and Adair was named for Matthew’s mom and her considerable Scottish forebears.
Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheeses 2957 South State Road 1
Connersville, IN  47331

Chef Sam Merenda
Executive Chef
Kahn’S Catering, Indiana

What was the main reason you decided to be a chef?

Growing up my grandmother was Italian. She taught me at a very young age how to make gnocchi. Since then I always had a passion for cooking. Grilling out was always fun as a teenager. During high school I took food services courses which enlightened me to want to pursues the chef profession after graduation.

What inspires you the most?

Flavorful combinations that intertwine into an awesome dish.

What is your favorite thing about working in the catering industry and for Kahn’s Catering? What about the most challenging?

My favorite thing about working in this industry is all the great food you get to create and eat. The most challenging part of the chef profession is the long hours worked and holidays you miss while you’re at work, but I love the amount of satisfied clients and guests that we feed on a daily basis.

This industry, whether it is restaurant or catering, is always changing. How do you keep up with all the cooking trends?

It’s important to stay in the loop with social media, magazines, research, food shows and dining out. Pinterest is huge in understanding what others are finding an interest in and through that we can expand and explore our menu based on what is trending.

If you had one weekend to travel anywhere, which city would you dine in?

Sicily. Hands down.

Is there any ingredient you think is under-appreciated in dishes?

Obviously salt, but mirepoix is underutilized. It’s a mixture of chopped onions, celery, and carrots. Surprisingly it is a basic that gets overlooked often.

For the newly engaged, what kind of questions should they be asking their caterer?

You want to trust your caterer and it’s important to understand their experience. Ask how many weddings they cater in a year and how many chefs they have on staff. It isn’t unlikely for us to have six weddings on one Saturday during the busy wedding season, but we have an amazing staff that knows how to prep and serve large numbers of people.

Any advice you can give them?

Always challenge your caterer to provide you with a tasting prior to the event. Kahn’s offers tastings three times a year. Our wedding clients have the opportunity to attend one of those once they book with us. Tastings are a huge part of the planning process. It gives you the opportunity to try a variety of different food and also an opportunity to experience the service you can expect at your wedding.

If you had one weekend to travel anywhere, which city would you dine in?

Sicily. Handsdown.

About Chef Sam Merenda

Chef Sam Merenda began his career at the American Culinary Arts Academy in Lakeland, Florida in 1997. By the year 2000 he had both his Culinary Arts degree and a degree in Hotel Resort Management. His talents were recognized early as he became a corporate trainer for the growing seafood concept Bonefish Grill. After a two-year stint, Chef Merenda moved over to Walt Disney World Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Florida to work as Sous Chef in three different world-class resorts: The Boardwalk Resort, The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and The Coronado Springs Convention Hotel. Continuing to advance his career, in 2007 Chef Merenda had the distinct pleasure to work as Senior Sous Chef in the Wolfgang Puck CafĂ©, downtown Disney. Relocating to Indianapolis in 2009 Chef Merenda worked tirelessly as Sous Chef at Oakley’s Bistro and then Chef de Cuisine at Charbonos in Avon before coming to Kahn’s Catering as Executive Chef in 2012.

Monday, July 18, 2016

07/18/2016 - Birds and Bees: The Way Nature Intended

Slow Living Radio gets back to real living through the land and how food is meant to be, from birds to bees.  We hear from Jesse Solomon, Co-founder of Emmer & Co. who raise heritage birds in the way nature intended.  No factories or cages in sight.

Next we get a sneak preview to our upcoming full bee show with Rob Keller, founder and owner of  Napa Valley Bee Co. who is working to restore the bee population to where nature needs it to be for a healthy planet.

Jesse Solomon | Founder + CEO
Emmer & Co.

Jesse Solomon founded Emmer & Co. to rebuild our agriculture system by starting with the right sources. Jesse is an avid outdoorsman who started hunting so that he could connect directly with his food and know he was eating the purest, most natural meat. With Emmer & Co. Jesse wants to provide that “as close to wild as possible” experience for as many people as possible by going back to heritage sources; meat that has the most amazing flavors, is the best for the animal, the healthiest for us, and allows the land to thrive. 
Jesse has a significant amount of experience as an entrepreneur and investor. His first company, Booklr, was acquired in 2014. Prior to launching his own ventures, Jesse established a Middle East office for an international hedge fund, where he sourced and managed investments across the region. This came after working in the sales and research divisions for HSBC in London, Hong Kong, and Dubai, where he spearheaded the bank's efforts to enter new emerging markets. Toward the end of his time abroad he was living in Africa, obsessing over how to create a sustainable agriculture system in Ethiopia. Jesse received his BA with Honors in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Emmer & Co. is rebuilding the poultry industry with 100% heritage chickens; the best tasting, most humanely raised birds that existed before the industrialization of agriculture. Their birds take at least 112 days to grow - 3-4 times longer than the industry average - and naturally develop strong balanced muscular, skeletal and immune systems. Emmer & Co. birds are raised entirely outside on unrestricted, lush pastures.

Emmer & Co. has partnered with family farms in Northern California who share our environmental values. The growers have a holistic approach to farming, and their pasture rotation techniques allow the soil, vegetation and the natural ecosystem to prosper.

Some background:

In the not-too-distant past, our eggs came from our own back yards, our meat came from our local butcher, and our fish from our nearby river. Everything we ate came from someplace, or someone, we knew. There was no such thing as eating "local" or eating "organic"—it was just called eating.

Emmer & Co. believe in rebuilding a bond with honest food by mending these simple connections with what you eat, working to ensure that everyone can eat chicken as it used to be—all over again.

Emmer & Co. flocks are the oldest continuous strain of standard-bred heritage birds in the country, and have been maintained by dedicated growers for generations. By starting with the best, truly delicious, naturally growing birds, lost infrastructure can be rebuilt, and provide great economic opportunities for the farmers while enabling them to raise chickens they’re proud of.

Firstly, New Hampshires were brought to market, but as Emmer & Co expand operations, they'll introduce some of the other incredible birds—breeds like the Plymouth Barred Rock, Cornish, the Silver-Laced Wyandotte and the Delaware.

Every day more people are choosing heritage.  The vision of Emmer & Co is of a rebuilt poultry industry and regional centers of production. They never want to be centralized in one location, instead partnering with family farms that share a commitment to the best husbandry practices, environmental stewardship, and incomparably high welfare standards.

What is a heritage bird?

A heritage bird must fit four specific requirements designated by The Livestock Conservancy. All of Emmer & Co.'s chickens are certified standard bred by the American Poultry Association (APA)—the oldest agriculture organization in the U.S. The APA defined its original standard breeds back in 1873. If you see a bird labeled as heritage without the APA seal, it doesn't meet the first requirement of heritage.



Heritage Chicken must be from parent and grandparent stock of breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) prior to the mid-20th century; whose genetic line can be traced back multiple generations; and with traits that meet the APA Standard of Perfection guidelines for the breed. Heritage Chicken must be produced and sired by an APA Standard breed. Heritage eggs must be laid by an APA Standard breed.


Heritage Chicken must have the genetic ability to live a long, vigorous life and thrive in the rigors of pasture-based, outdoor production systems. Breeding hens should be productive for 5-7 years and roosters for 3-5 years.


Heritage Chicken must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating. Chickens marketed as Heritage must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.

3. LIVE A LONG, PRODUCTIVE OUTDOOR LIFESPAN.Heritage Chicken must have the genetic ability to live a long, vigorous life and thrive in the rigors of pasture-based, outdoor production systems. Breeding hens should be productive for 5-7 years and roosters for 3-5 years.HAVE A SLOW GROWTH RATE.

Heritage Chicken must have a moderate to slow rate of growth, reaching appropriate market weight for the breed in no less than 16 weeks. This gives the chicken time to develop strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass.

And the flavor?
Only heritage genetics allow for slow, balanced growth. Letting muscles naturally develop, in sync with all other facets of the bird's growth, leads to incredibly tender meat with rich boldness and mouthwatering umami—the same savory taste found in oysters, truffles, or a perfectly seared steak.
You'll also taste the love of the farmers, who dedicate their lives to caring for the birds. It's a fact—happy chickens provide happy flavors. The joy with which they lived is reflected in flavors that are vibrant and complex.



Rob Keller
Rob Keller received his MFA from UC Davis in 1999, where he became interested in incorporating bees into his art practice. As the owner of a small bee business, The Napa Valley Bee Company, his goals are to build a community of beekeepers in his area that practice responsible, sustainable hive management with the bees’ best interest in mind. These days the bees are working less for Rob’s art, and he’s working more for the bees – becoming one of the leading sustainable beekeepers in his area. Rob currently manages three large scale apiaries in Napa Valley and teaches beekeeping at The Solar Living Institute in Hopland and San Francisco, Nimbus Arts in St. Helena, and Napa Valley Adult School. He lives in Napa with his wife and nine-year-old beekeeping-son Davis.

A few words from Rob:

My mission with bees is simple; they come first. I don’t hustle my bees for honey, pollination, wax, propolis, royal jelly, pollen or publicity. I look after the bees. They are under tremendous environmental stress. I don’t medicate bees, but rather let them build their own disease resistance. I rear queens responsibly from the strongest local stock I can isolate. I feel a strong sense of responsibility to not only my managed colonies but the feral population as well. I understand that they’re not “my bees” they are “our bees” and open mating affects all the bees in a three mile radius of all my apiaries. I do my best to keep any used comb or honey inaccessible to other bees in an effort to prevent spreading pathogens. I work with the bees, not against them. I believe the backyard beekeeper will be the one that survives the species. I simply love bees and believe that they will thrive if cared for properly!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

07/11/2016 - Autism and Oak Hill School

This week Slow Living Radio takes on the very important subject of Autism, a disorder which is seeing a rise over recent years.  We welcome Susan Andrews, past Executive Director of Oak Hill School in Marin, a school dedicated to children with autism that is having huge successes.  We then hear from Professor Robert L. Hendren, Professor of Psychiatry, USCF Department of Psychiatry and Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, and also a board member of Oak Hill school to learn more about the condition and current research findings.

Oak Hill School

Oak Hill School was founded in 2000 by a small group of parents with children on the autism spectrum. After forming a Board of Directors, advised by special educator and founding clinician Dr. Barbara Kalmanson and several community educators, they purchased a school site in a wooded former estate behind Marin City in Sausalito. School began with five students and steadily grew after certification as a non-public school. Oak Hill is licensed by the State of California to accept students with school district funding as well as private tuition.

With a growing student body, Oak Hill moved in 2008 to its current home on the Sunny Hills Services campus in San Anselmo. Now with 36 students and growing, Oak Hill benefits from extensive campus opportunities, including 7 classrooms, speech and psychotherapy rooms, an occupational therapy studio, offices, an organic vegetable garden, a chicken run, gymnasium, natural and synthetic turf athletic fields and an outdoor swimming pool.

Susan Andrews
Past Executive Director
Oak Hill School

Susan has been a school director and non-profit board member for most of her working life, most recently as the Executive Director of Oak Hill School, serving families affected by autism. She remains a longstanding board member of the Eva Gunther Foundation. Susan was the Director of Presidio Hill School in San Francisco for 17 years, and a board member and director of The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley.  Earlier leadership includes that at SF Cross Cultural Family Center, and The Playgroup in Inverness. She remains co-owner with her husband of Buddy Rhodes Studio. Susan is an active grandparent, and a resident of both San Francisco and Mendocino County.


Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
Professor of Psychiatry
UCSF Department of Psychiatry & Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute
UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences
Neurodevelopmental Translational Outcomes Research Program (NTORP)
Co-Director, UCSF Dyslexia Center
STAR Autism and Neurodevelopment Program
Oak Hill School Board and Research

Robert L. Hendren, D.O., is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science; Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Co-Director of the UCSF Dyslexia Center; Director, Program for Research On Neurodevelopmental and Translational Outcomes (PRONTO), and Medical Consultant, STAR Autism and Neurodevelopment Program. Dr. Hendren is Past President of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2007-2009). He has published over 100 scientific papers and 5 books and has been listed in “The Best Doctors in America”, each year since it was first published in 1996.

Dr. Hendren took his residency in general psychiatry at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, and his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center. He is board certified in General as well as Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  He has been on the faculty at the George Washington University School of Medicine, the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutger’s)  - Robert Wood Johnson and New Jersey Medical Schools. From 2001-2009, he was Professor of Psychiatry and Executive Director and Tsakopoulos-Vismara Chair at the University of California, Davis M.I.N.D. Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders).

His current areas of research and publication interests are translational interventional outcomes research including clinical pharmacology, nutraceutical and nutritional trials using biomarkers (MRI, measures of inflammation, oxidative stress, immune function and pharmacogenomics) to enhance resilience in neurodevelopmental disorders. He is currently applying a targeted outcomes research approach in collaborative projects with the Oak Hill School for youth with severe autism and neurodevelopmental spectrum disorders in San Anselmo, CA and at the Charles Armstrong School for youth with dyslexia in Belmont, CA