Shamira Heinz, Heartfire Bakery

Update — it looks like Heartfire Bakery is closed…

Shamira Heinz is a baker, but she hasn’t chosen a easy subject — she is a gluten-free baker!  My one experience making a gluten free pizza was to create something that was closer in texture to playdough, and honestly, from my childhood recollections it might have tasted like that too!

So I am very fascinated by people who have blended the art of bread products with the relatively new science of getting them to behave like their gluten-filled cousins.  Sure, tortillas have been around for a very long time and have always been gluten free, I’m talking about quickbreads and muffins and loaves of crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside breads.  Shamira is one of our local entrepreneurs who has found the sweet spot.  Listen here to the interview.

Heartfire Bakery is located in Arcata!

Rabia O’Loren, Honeycakes

My first taste of Rabia O’Loren’s honeycake was pure magic.  First, it was a small (but giant)) slice that was given to me by my good friend Henry Robertson.  Of course everything tastes better when shared.  It was beautifully constructed and super dense with honey flavor, a tiny sliver was enough to satisfy, but no worries — we eventually ate all of it.

So, while she had me at the texture and flavor of the cake, I was further intrigued by the idea that she bakes these cakes to raise funds to educate girls in Pakistan.  When visiting Pakistan she wondered what she could do to help.  The people at the educational center said $200 a month would really help a lot.  Rabia thought to herself, I could do that!  And so it began.

Rabia came by the studio to talk about the project and how she makes the honeycakes, you can listen here.

Alexandre Dairy and Eggs, Stephanie Alexandre

If you are like me, you were surprised to see our very own and very local Alexandre Kids eggs in our local Costco.  These Alexandre Kids are the children of Stephanie and Blake Alexandre, a couple living up in Crescent City who operate a dairy.  Their children began a more modest egg operation which has blossomed into a larger regional operation with the chickens being pasture raised on the sustainable farm.  So much to say — I suggest you listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview.  There will be more to come as Alexandre Dairy expands services in the coming months!

Jeanine Cava, Hungry for Change

Talking with passionate, articulate, bright young women always gets me charged up for our future.  I know — it’s easy to get pessimistic about that these days, but really, I’ve found it so rejuvenating to talk with young women.  Jeanine Cava is no exception.  She is wanting to educate people about hunger in our society using a curriculum called Hungry for Change which uses the  North West Earth Institute’s discussion based course and materials.  This course discusses issues of food security, climate change, agroecology, and sustainable food systems.

Interested in finding out more, listen here!


Karen Solomon, Author

My good friend Michele turned me on to Karen Solomon by sharing her book Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves (the title has me salivating…how about you?).  I had been playing with fermenting foods for quite a while, doing the standard sauerkraut, vinegar, lemons — delving into miso and other koji ferments, but I had no idea how deep the dive could be!

Karen is from my old stomping grounds, the Bay Area, a place with a rich diverse culture and access to ingredients and expertise from around the world.  And, my favorite part is that it is obvious that she actually prepared everything that is in her cookbook (which she confirmed when I interviewed her).  You have probably picked up beautiful cookbooks before, and then looked at recipes and photos and seen that there are ingredients in the photo that doesn’t appear in the recipe — so frustrating!  Well, not a problem with Karen’s books.  In fact I felt like she was looking over my shoulder as I read — when I’d read something and say what?! — she would then explain that while right now you were saying what?!  the explanation is coming – and there it would be in the next sentence.

And there are more books -Yes, books plural!  Because while I was happy to find that the Asian Pickles book was her most recent endeavor, she also wrote Can it, Bottle it Smoke it — and her other book, Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it.  She makes fun things like sauces, dressings, dips, pasta, pickles, preserved meats and fish, jams, cheese, sweet treats and frozen popsicles, savory granola, nut milks — Cheese Weasels anyone?!

If you are into being a food geek, you can listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of this interview!

Kyle Shamp and Travis Franco – Eureka High School Ag Program

I still can’t believe my unbelievable luck making contact with Alissa Sarvinski.  The daughter of local farmers and an Agriculture instructor in Humboldt County, Alissa has been my mentor in all things Agriculture in the schools.  A while ago she invited me to a meeting of Ag teachers from Humboldt and Del Norte counties, and introduced me to them.  I was able to share the information about the Food for Thought film series which will be completed this fall (with any luck and about a zillion hours of film editing).

Anyway, I digress.  Alissa hooked me up with Ag instructor Kyle Shamp and his student Travis Franco.  Travis is working on a beekeeping project for his class at Eureka High School. While many children throughout the US are laying on the couch playing video games, Travis is learning about bee biology, harvesting honey, and tending his hives.  To hear more about Travis and his teacher “Mr. Shamp”  listen here!