Author Archive | Edible Tulsa

RHUBARB: Thinking Outside the Pie

rhubarb

Words by Valarie Carter
Photography by Brooke Allen • Carole Topalian

Rhubarb, possibly the quintessential summer vegetable, is anticipated by many and a mystery to many more. Strawberry-rhubarb pie is as common as it is delicious but we wanted to expand rhubarb’s resume in this Triple Take series. We tasked an accomplished home cook, Nina Butkin; a culinary professional, Michelle Donaldson of Tallgrass Prairie Table; and our own Edible Tulsa kitchen crew to create a rhubarb recipe that lands outside the crust.

RECIPES

RHUBARB-BEET TARRAGON SALAD

RHUBARB FREEZER JAM WITH CITRUS AND THYME

TALLGRASS PRAIRIE TABLE’S RHUBARB COMPOTE

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EDIBLE GARDENING: A Conversation with Rosalind Creasy

gardeningRosalind

Words by Maurie Traylor
Photography by Rosalind Creasy

My conversation with Rosalind Creasy began in a cool corner of a library. My children and I made our weekly trek to the local library to dodge the hot arrows of a fierce Oklahoma sun. Our rule was to each select one book that was new to us.

Nathan, age 4, selected Where the Wild Things Are. He picked out Goodnight Moon for his sister Ellen, who at 2 was still a little young to choose on her own.

Then it was my turn. Lunchtime approached and I knew I had to act quickly. As the kids settled into their books I asked the librarian, “Where are the gardening books?”

“What kind of gardening?” she asked.

I thought for a moment. Most of what I knew about gardening came from Grandmother. She handed down her books on roses and perennials to me, her preferred garden genre in her later years. Though she knew a great deal about vegetable gardening, an edible garden reminded her of the dusty years of the Great Depression. Not only had her family fed themselves from their family farm, they had fed migrant workers and other neighbors.

She made new memories with Tropicana roses and lush lavender plants and taught me as we walked and watered in my childhood summers. When I asked her about growing tomatoes she responded, “Oh, just go down to the Piggly Wiggly and get some there.”

I looked at my children engrossed in their books. “How about something about vegetables?” I asked the librarian.

She led me to a row of books and pulled from the stack a slim blue volume called The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy. It didn’t have the heavy, encyclopedia look to it. A quick glance told me that it was small enough to lug around with toddlers, yet meaty enough to keep me occupied. I added it to our book pile.

My grandmother and I, like other gardeners, identified edible gardens in the traditional way: rows of corn, peppers and tomatoes kept in the back yard, far from the splashy and stylish flower gardens. Rosalind’s way was different.

Her ideas of using edibles throughout a landscape, even in a front yard, were a radical new approach. Instead of relegating edibles to the usual long rows or brown raised beds, she incorporated her edibles throughout her designs. The results were a stunning array of color, design and function.

From that first encounter, I have continued to read Rosalind’s books, almost all 18 of them.

Rosalind has always been ahead of her time. It was she who said “We can go back to basics; there were fabulous gardens before the invention of gas-powered machines and artificial chemicals and there will still be fabulous gardens after these accouterments of modern gardening have been set aside.”

As my children grew, so did my garden. Each time I began a new phase, started a new garden or just needed inspiration, I consulted Rosalind in one of her many books. My children are now 24 and 26 and they have been a part of all my gardens. They have even started their own.

So the conversation continues.

I’d like to report that with Rosalind’s books by my side, my gardens looked just like her award- winning photographs that adorn her books. While I have had successes I have also had my disappointments. At each opportunity to seek advice from her books, I found her ideas creative, her style straightforward and her advice approachable.  is inspires her students to believe in themselves. She gives encouragement where others might give lectures.

Gardening is a dance with nature and often I trip over myself with questions. I find Rosalind’s answers easy for me to hear and to want to try again. I take comfort in quotes such as “Your garden may appear to be a quiet place, but in reality it is an arena where hundreds of life-and- death dramas are played out every day. Birth and death, killing and nurturing, even intrigue and cunning are all part of the complex community of life waiting to be discovered—and sometimes struggled with—in your garden.” (Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy. Sierra Club, 1982.)

Such insight reminds me that gardens often teach us more in our failures than they do in our successes, a lesson that helped me not only to garden well, but to live well.

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Rosalind in a real, one-on- one discussion, where she could hear me and answer my questions in “real time.” I found her to be as helpful and encouraging as her books.

Rosalind began gardening at the age of 5 when the gardening tasks were delegated to her by her father, who traveled on business a good part of the time. “It fell to me by default as I was the only one interested in gardening.” Her father gave her five-by-five-foot plot, right next to his, and allowed his daughter to do whatever she wanted, even moving plants around.

“I treated it like my dollhouse and I learned the best way: by doing. My father never told me ‘don’t do this’ or ‘don’t do that.’ I just learned by watching him and by learning alongside him.”

Her gardening education has evolved over years of watching gardens from Israel to Milan, all fueled with a desire to create beautiful, yet functional edible gardens. She spends three to four months a year on the road, giving presentations, doing research, taking photographs and visiting folks passionate about homegrown edibles—especially gardeners who cook and cooks who garden.

Her ideas have not always been well received. When the horticulture communities scoffed, she decided to show, not tell. She removed the sod from her front yard and set about designing a front lawn edible landscape complete with chickens.

Rosalind contends that design must take a starring role in the creation of edible gardens. “You have to show your neighbors that you have a plan, a design that is artful. You don’t simply just take rows and beds and move them to the front. You use skill.”

She advocates gardens with solid design principles of unity, line, scale, balance and simplicity. Perhaps this is why Rosalind’s ideas are so appealing: She gardens where art and science intersect.

Little wonder that visitors find their way to Rosalind’s garden. In fact, she joked in our telephone conversation, “If you don’t want your neighbors in your yard, don’t landscape with edibles.” It is common to find the neighbor children in her front garden, especially since her chickens are housed there.

Edibles used in a front yard challenge even the most skilled gardeners.

“What does it look like in the winter?” is often asked in Rosalind’s classes. Her response? “Much better than a big patch of brown grass in midwinter.” The use of low-growing plants combined with well-designed beds and paths make any landscape more appealing.

In person or on the page, a conversation with Rosalind always brings me inspiration and new questions. What could happen if the lawns of today were reconsidered to be places of community and shared food? How many families might find solace and comfort as they shared the day’s events while munching on fresh strawberries picked from the vine?… Read More

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BUILDING THE MOVEMENT: THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE

buildilngMovementMiddle

Words by Don Drury
Photography by Barry Jarvis

Edible Tulsa exists to showcase the amazing diversity of local food we have in our area.  e ingredients get a lot of attention, but let’s not forget where they come from. Kale doesn’t just grow itself, you know.

Our meat, dairy, eggs, mushrooms, fruits and vegetables are all produced within a community of growers ranging from the backyard garden to the 10,000-acre ranch, and everything in between.

Right now, in June, the vegetable growers are getting ready for the potato and onion harvest. They are picking the last of the spring greens and hoping for that  rst  eldripe tomato. Our dairymen and dairywomen are milking twice a day and keeping up with all the new calves and kids. Our strawberry growers are hoping that it doesn’t get too hot too fast. Farmers and ranchers are strong people. They  nd beauty in growth and change.

As a farmer myself, I’ve had to grow and change every year.  is year was the big push, though. The Tulsa Farmers’ Market has created a business model that I believe is so perfect for Tulsa that I decided to sell my farm to a friend and work for the farmers’ market.

Now I am the wholesale coordinator for the whole market. I get to be the connector between farmers and chefs. I am passionate about farming, and meat, and produce, but now I get to be Tulsa’s ingredient concierge. When chefs ask me, “Where and when can I get ground cherries?” and “Can you please  nd somebody that will grow ramps for me?” I get to track down the answers.

We have discovered that there is an immense potential in the wholesale business.

Chefs are very willing to work with a centralized distributor. It cuts down on their time spent ordering, they only have one price list to look at and one invoice to pay, which is a lot easier than keeping up with multiple vendors throughout the year. Farmers bene t for the same reason.  ey can bring all their products to one location, instead of driving all around town to distribute a few bags of baby greens here, and some sweet potatoes there.

As much as I don’t care for all the driving, keeping track of all the accounts and paperwork, it is worth it. It is worth it because I know my three hours of driving is saving my farmers 10 hours of driving. It is worth it because I know my time spent on accounts receivable is more time our farmers can be planting, irrigating or sitting with a chilled lamb. I love that they are able to spend more time on their farms, doing what they love, while I make sure their product gets to where it’s supposed to be.

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IN SEASON: STRAWBERRIES

strawberryGazpacho

Photography by Brooke Allen

When strawberries, typically the first fruit of our growing season, finally make their debut, we just about can’t wait for their chin-dripping goodness. But not just with the traditional preparations of jam, shortcake and fresh strawberry pie. We adore strawberry desserts and other sweet treats but we enjoy savory strawberry recipes, too. They can serve as slightly sweeter and more fragrant tomatoes. Try them in a caprese salad this summer as well as in this refreshing strawberry gazpacho.

RECIPE

STRAWBERRY GAZPACHO

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EDIBLE PROFILE: HERO WEARS NO CAPE… BUT MANY HATS

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Words by Catherine Wagner
Photography by Brooke Allen

Through every issue of Edible Tulsa you have seen that the Tulsa area has so many opportunities to expand your palate and to enjoy the labors of the local food community. But Katie Plohocky is shedding some light on the parts of Tulsa you might not yet know about. She is slowly changing the landscape of food accessibility and health in and around Tulsa.

Whether they have only seen first-hand the effects her good works can do or have been fortunate enough to work side by side with her in one of her many responsibilities, anyone involved with the food community in Tulsa has probably encountered Plohocky. She is one of those people who sees a problem and does everything they can to change it.

“I probably am involved in so many things because they’re all integrated,” said Plohocky. “I feel that you can’t just pick one thing and fix it to fix everything. You have to be involved in all of it.”

And involved she is, because Katie wears lots of hats. Not cowboy hats, ball caps or those silly floppy gardener’s sunhats, but a specific hat that is an advocate for our community, another hat to educate the community, and yet another hat that is slowly but effectively quenching the hunger of a barren food desert.

THE ADVOCACY HAT

As a partner with the Tulsa County Wellness Partnership, Plohocky had the opportunity to speak in front of the City Council to encourage them to pass a Healthy Eating, Active Living Resolution. This resolution initiative deals with the importance of food accessibility, city walkability and employee wellness, just to name a few issues. This involved her and her team meeting with counselors and explaining to them why this initiative is important to the Tulsa community. They provided obesity numbers for kids, discussed diet-related diseases and more, all while explaining how these problems have lead to the necessity of taking these steps towards a healthier city.

“Hopefully this enamors them to look at health in all policies.”

If the resolution passes it would mean that, for example, when the city is deciding to do a zoning update they would consider how it affects health.

She also serves on the Tulsa Food Security Council and through this group she gets the opportunity to speak to different community leaders about the importance of healthy food accessibility and a healthier life.

THE CONSULTING HAT

Through the partnership with the Tulsa County Wellness she is also a consultant for the health department and provides technical assistance on everything food. This allows her the opportunity to cater events at the local and state health department and OSU Tulsa, and bring her healthy eating ideas and food to these groups.

The health department holds a lot of summits and conferences about health outcomes and someone noticed that they would have these breakout sessions about health and then lunch would be this horrible, unhealthy meal. So Plohocky decided they had to fix it. She began donating her time to events, like a Fit To Learn summit last year. At the cost of only the food, she created a beautiful, healthy, all locally grown lunch for everybody in attendance.

“We had a beet salad, a chicken salad and a kale salad, sweet potato salad. It was kind of like all these different salads all with local foods. Very colorful. I believe you eat with your eyes before you eat with your stomach, so presentation is very important.”

Not only does this consulting give her the opportunity to cater food, but also to teach people the importance of the food they are putting in their bodies. Through the consulting she gets the opportunity both to provide meals and to educate the community.

She teaches classes to students at OSU who want to learn how to eat healthy on a budget, offering a cooking demonstration and then a tasting. The meals are all easy things they can throw together, on a budget, without sacrificing their health. She gave a demonstration to graduating medical students on obesity and health concerns and cooked them lunch and even gave a demonstration to an elementary school and discussed childhood obesity.

THE DESERT QUENCHER HAT

Of all of the hats Plohocky wears, she talks of this the Healthy Community Store Initiative (HSCI) with the most admiration; after all she is the founder.

Their mission is to provide quality, fresh food to the Oklahoma community through providing access to healthy community stores. Their original plan was to build grocery stores in communities that were considered to be food deserts.

“A food desert is a geographical area where there is little or no access to real groceries,” said Plohocky.

“In an urban area, if you’re more than a mile away from a grocery store you’re in a food desert.”

But after they interviewed a woman who said it was easier to find a gun in her neighborhood than a fresh apple, they knew they could not wait to get those grocery stores up and running. A decision was made to “Take the food to them [the communities] and work backwards.” So she and her partner, Scott Smith, have converted a nine-horse trailer into essentially a miniature, one-aisle grocery store with refrigerator, freezer, produce and dry goods. The Mobile Grocery Store makes 15 stops every single week to food deserts in and around Tulsa.

“Fresh produce is our niche, because they don’t have access to it,” said Plohocky.

But fresh produce is not the only thing the Mobile Grocery Store is providing because they carry over 600 products. They are also providing prepared foods and samples. Because her customers are on a fixed income, they are typically wary of trying new things, but because she provides samples they can be less circumspect of newer, healthy ingredients. They can buy the prepared food, try samples and even get recipe cards to make it at home.

A lot of these recipes are healthier versions of foods that they might already be used to, like a chicken salad, but instead of mayonnaise, it has Greek yogurt in it to drop 95 calories per serving, plus Plohocky includes grapes and celery, so they are getting more nutritional value out of it. And remember those caterings and consulting hats Katie wears? If any of that food is left over it goes to the mobile truck as well. That consulting and advocacy hat is also put back on with HCSI.

She just met recently with the mayor and community leaders in Sperry to figure out how to bring a grocery store back to their town. They are in the process of trying to establish a community-owned grocery store and have the luxury of using the mobile store to test the waters for the best location.

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The Mobile Grocery Store

THE HARVESTER HAT

As if running a mobile grocery store, being a health advocate and consulting were not enough, Plohocky actually harvests the majority of the food for the grocery store as well.

“During the summer peak season I go down twice a week and I harvest. I pick all the food, I bring it back and wash all the food and then package all the food,” said Plohocky.… Read More

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WE FOUND OUR THRILLS

weFoundThrills

Words by Judy Allen
Photography by Brooke Allen & Judy Allen

There are a few weeks out of the year in which our part of the state is close to perfect: The days are warm and the nights still carry a slight chill, the school year is coming to an end and berries of all kinds are ripe for picking o of bushes all over Oklahoma.

We decided to take advantage of this abundance and headed out for a morning of blueberry picking and—who’s kidding who?—a bit of eating!!

There are U pick ’em locations all across northeast Oklahoma and, lucky for us, thanks to a mild winter the berry bushes were loaded. Picking your own supply can be a fun (and less expensive) way to accrue a good amount of fruit, so we packed up the kids and headed to Thunderbird Berry Ranch in Broken Arrow.

We arrived, slathered on sunscreen and insect repellant, grabbed our pails and headed out to find the best row in which to start. Our young assistants were eager to pick, but came with quite an appetite, creating more work for us all. After an hour or so our buckets (as well as theirs) were too heavy to carry, and the sun’s rays were getting to us, so we paid for our load and sat on a picnic bench to plan what we might do with our sudden windfall of blueberries. Up first, we will freeze the extras on rimmed baking sheets lined with paper towels then transfer them to zip-top bags to use when the urge strikes.

These recipes cover all the bases—barbecue, snack time, breakfast and, of course, pie!  is is not your typical blueberry pie, however. We took a pan full of ripe berries and turned them into a luscious curd, poured it into a flaky pie shell, then topped it all with marshmallowy meringue.

RECIPES

BLUEBERRY MERINGUE PIE

BLUEBERRY-BOURBON BBQ SAUCE

BLUEBERRY BUTTERMILK PANCAKES WITH BLUEBERRY SYRUP

PICKLED BLUEBERRIES

 

LOCAL U PICK ’EM LOCATIONS:

As much as we would love to have a field of wild berry bushes, with unlimited picking rights, the reality is that we have neither the space nor the knowledge to care for them. Luckily there are several willing growers around the area who literally do the dirty work for us. All that’s left to do is arrive with a big, empty bucket for picking.

Here are some of the best “U Pick ’em” spots around. It’s always a good idea to call ahead, to verify that the berries are ready to pick, and to make sure eager pickers haven’t already taken the day’s supply. For the best picking, we like to head out in the early morning … less sun and more berries. We see pie in our future … or at least some blue-stained fingertips!

NOTE: Most of the locations we contacted hinted that it would be the end of May to the ­ rst weekend of June before blueberries are ready. Strawberries and raspberries will also be available starting in late May, but you’ll have to wait until late June and July for juicy blackberries.

  • Blueberry Acres is located in the Ozark Plateau, rolling land in east-central Oklahoma that is well-suited for growing berries. 10151 N. 510 Rd., Tahlequah, 918.456.5407
  • Canyon Berry Farms, in the beautiful rolling hills of Claremore, offers naturally grown blueberries as well as honey from their own hives. 20126 S. Dickerson Dr., Claremore, 918.344.9191, Facebook.com/CanyonBerryFarms
  • Cedar Blu­ Raspberries offers sustainably grown raspberries from June to July. 3101 Stan­field Rd., Sapulpa, 918.227.3589
  • Endicott Farms, a 30-acre farm located south of Tulsa in Liberty Mounds, will have two acres of blueberries and blackberries available for picking starting in late May. 211th Street South between Harvard & Lewis, 918.344.4582, EndicottFarms.com
  • Meadow Blackberry Farm will be ready for their ­ rst blackberry harvest in early June. 3200 Westgreen Way, Sapulpa, 918.227.1987 Facebook.com/pages/Meadow-Blackberry-Farm/743368605688942?sk=timeline
  • Owasso Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm offers blueberries as well as three varieties of blackberries: Kiowa (produce largest berries), Natchez and Osage (both thornless) Their season normally starts in early June and runs for 4–6 weeks— weather permitting. 11039 N. 129th E. Ave., Owasso, 918.272.9445 or visit OwassoTreeFarm.com
  • The Toomey’s Black n Blue ‑ Thornless Berry Farm is a great place for picking blackberries because, you guessed it, no thorns! 22629 E. 61st St., Broken Arrow, 918.595.5881
  • Thunderbird Berry Farm is a family-owned and -operated business that has been growing blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries since 2005. Pick berries yourself or partake in the “two for me, the third one’s free” deal, where customers pick three pounds of berries, give two pounds to the farm and take a pound home for free! 7515 S. Hansen Rd., Broken Arrow, 918.640.7168, Facebook.com/thunderbirdberryfarm
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TECHNIQUES & INGREDIENTS: GROUND RULES

For better burgers, take matters in your own hands

techniqueGround

Words by Barry Jarvis • Photography by Brooke Allen

If you want to have the best burgers on the block this summer, it’s not going to come from exotic pickles or the crock of kimchi bubbling away in your basement. The real ticket to the burger hall of fame is to take the most important ingredient and technique into your own hands, literally:

It’s time to start grinding your own meat.

The best part, other than superior taste, is that it’s easy. Condiments and toppings will almost be afterthoughts and the lucky mouths you’re feeding will thank you. Firing up the grinder is also super fun. This technique allows you to achieve broader flavors and textures by combining different meats, cuts and fat types. Beyond that, you get to see the quality of the meat and know it’s from a single source.

Ground meat is essentially the suspension of a type of fat inside of protein—a meat emulsion. Grinding meat is the best way to distribute fat evenly throughout lean, flavorful cuts. For burgers, meatballs and meatloaf, 20% fat is a good target while sausages typically end up between 25% and 30% fat.

If you add salt plus seasonings, spices, aromatics or liquids to meat before or while grinding, then technically you are making sausage whether it takes the form of a patty, loaf, ball or link. Adding at least some seasoning before the grind allows you to get deeper flavor without the over-handling and compaction that results from hand mixing in seasonings and spices.

A meat grinder or grinder attachment for a stand mixer can be a valuable and versatile tool in any kitchen. While a brisket or a pork shoulder may take hours to smoke or braise, with grinding in your technical arsenal you can raise your ground-meat game on short notice out of the less expensive cuts.

If you don’t have a meat grinder, go order one today. Seriously, a food processor works almost as well. We used all three tools to cover our Ground Rules.

TIPS TO A GOOD GRIND

Keep your equipment cold. This is as much about safety as craftsmanship. Chill any equipment that will come into contact with the meat. You can use the freezer or a bowl of ice water to keep everything below 40°. If you’re doing large batches and the equipment starts to warm up, rinse it in ice water to chill quickly again.

Keep your meat cold. Cut up your meat into cubes that will fit through the tube of your grinder or about 1 inch for the food processor. Trim away sinew, silverskin and connective tissue. Season your meat lightly (about 1 teaspoon of salt per pound) and put in the freezer for 30–40 minutes until firm but not solid.

Get ideas on how to dress up these burgers in Building the Local Burger, page 20. We like a maximum of 3-4 toppings on our burgers. Choose a few of your favorites for a truly local and seasonal burger.

RECIPES

LAMB BURGERS

CHICKEN BURGERS

MEATLOAF ON THE GRILL

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THE BEST OF WHAT’S AROUND: 100 YEARS OF FAMILY FARMING

Blakley clan keeps things the
same while making them different

bestHundred

Words by Sarah Szabo
Photography by Brooke Allen and Barry Jarvis

It’s a rare business that can back up the quality of its wares with more than 100 years’ worth of history, and even rarer to find such a business in practically your own backyard. You can’t achieve a lifespan like that without a tradition of high quality, and this author can independently testify that the product here is just delicious. For the carnivores of northeast Oklahoma, the meat of Oologah-based Blakley Family Farms is some of the best of what’s around.

Sausage, bacon, liver, bacon, ribs, shoulders, steak, steak, steak—what more could you want? Seriously—because the Blakleys probably have it. Beef, pork and lamb in abundance—but the biggest part of their operation is beef. And while most of their business comes direct from consumers, they do sell their ground beef at two stores: the Rogers Square Herbs and Health Food Store in Skiatook, and Martha’s Health Food and Herb Store in Broken Arrow.

The quantities? Whatever you want—they sell it in custom cuts by quarters, halves or wholes for people who want to stock up for the year. It’s bang for your buck and your body will thank you; Blakley livestock are all naturally grass- and grain-fed and hormone-free.

The “Family” aspect of the name is no played-up marketing ploy. Save for two farmhands and two or three part-time greenhouse employees, this operation is run by 10-odd members of the Blakley family, stretching over three generations and three distinct businesses.

Blakley Family Farms is the newest offshoot of what is still known today as Diamonds in the Rough Cattle Company, which was joined by Rae and husband, Lyle, Blakley’s Creekside Plants and Produce, which began operating in 1988. Rae is the manager, operator and founder of the produce portion of the Blakley family triad, but for the most part, their organizational structure is very relaxed and loose.

“It’s all together,” says Rae. “We’re not an LLC. Maybe we should be?”

Between the cattle, the meat, the produce and selling the stuff and market, everyone in the family—around 10 of them—has fallen into some sort of role. You’ll find Rae’s mother- in-law, Nancy, at the farmers’ markets; Lyle leans toward managing the farm; her brother- in-law works full-time taking care of the show cattle. Together, they’re the stewards in charge of Diamonds in the Rough Cattle Company—the original Blakley business.

Some 126 years ago—or six generations— great-great-great-grandpa Blakley arrived in Garfield County, Oklahoma, and staked his claim on Skeleton Creek. Vincent Blakley, direct descendent, is the organization’s sage overseer, and his story of the family farm is compelling in its simplicity, its purity. These are Oklahomans, these Blakleys, born from the red dirt through-and-through.

“My great-grandpa Anderson staked the place a mile down the creek from Blakley,” says Vincent, detailing the family company’s origin story. “Anderson’s daughter married him—and that was my grandpa and grandma.”

Vincent is a grandfatherly man with an easy laugh and a learned economy of words—the kind of man who exudes contentment, satisfied with how things have gone for his family in life so far. 126 years tilling the earth in Oklahoma—how does it feel to be a part of that? He reacts with a rising chuckle, as though he’s never considered the thought before.

“I guess I’m a part of it,” he says. “That’s all I ever wanted to do, so when I got out of high school, that’s what I attempted.”

The Blakleys are a constant presence at the Owasso and Tulsa Farmers’ Markets, selling their meats and produce as the seasons dictate. According to Vincent, this diversification came about for no reason less than absolute financial necessity.

“No matter how big you are, or what you do, you’ve got to have the money to operate in the morning. So many people get on a limb and they’re not diversified enough to keep all the gates open.”

Good advice. And while Vincent plays down his role in the family organization—in response to a question regarding his duties, he’s quick to say that his biggest job is “staying out of the way, now!”—he has a lot of smart ideas about how to monetize the farm. They already sell hay, local honey and hand-knit scarves in addition to the meats, the produce and the cattle, and they’re looking to expand just about everything, from selling hay to the growing population of people raising horses in the Tulsa area, to selling meats directly to restaurants, and becoming involved with the incoming Tulsa Food Hub, a collective initiative still in its planning stages from the movers of Tulsa’s culinary culture.

There’s a long, considerate pause when he’s asked if he sees another hundred years ahead, eventually beginning with a tentative “If … ” “Everybody in agriculture is going to have to be diversified,” he stresses. “We had a good year in the beef business last year, but we’ve had about five or six months since. You’ve got to be able to survive those. I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to do it with one enterprise.”

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From a man who never could have imagined doing anything else, this comes across as a valuable, considered approach. But beyond business, there’s a happiness to this lifestyle that’s easy to envy. He was raised a mile and a quarter north and a mile west from where the family farm has been, in Oologah, since the 1930s, when the Blakleys of Garfield County began to split off to their own farmlands. “I’m right here,” he says.

“This was my grandparents’. And we were real close to them.”

“I feel fortunate to be able to do, all my life, what I wanted to do. To be successful, and raise my family, and now my grandkids. And some of them are getting out of school now, and they’ve been successful, so. What more could you ask for?”

Heavy supporters of 4-H and the FFA, this is a farm family that wants to spread its gospel, share the wealth. In spring, the second Saturday of each April, they put on their annual open house, where they open to the public with free barbecue and drinks. “We just like people to come out and see what we do, where we’re at,” says Rae.”We also have school groups come out, usually in May, and they tour the greenhouse. We talk about the plants and how they’re grown, and talk about the meat, and we take them up to the farm and we show them the cattle and what the di erent cuts of meats are, and my husband brings the farm equipment down because lots of kids don’t get to see that kind of thing.

“I just think that opportunities given to youth in the field of agriculture are so great. Even just to grow up in it, the things it teaches you, the responsibility.”

Blakley Family Farms is located north of Tulsa and south of Oologah, along Highway 169 and NS 4090 Road, and their newsletter and pricing information can be found online at DiamondsInTheRoughCattle.com.

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NEWS & NOTABLES MAY-JUNE 2015

June is Local Food Month in Green Country and there will be many activities all throughout the month in Tulsa and surrounding communities. Find out more at LocalFoodWeek.org. Events include:

Brookside Farmers’ Market

Opening day is Wednesday, May 6. Market continues every Wednesday through October 14.
7:30–11am, Whole Foods Brookside east parking lot

newsMJ15

Memorial Day Bash with Kent Rollins: Food, Fun, Friends

Monday, May 25, 4–7pm
Camp Okiwanee (Camp Fire Green Country)
11340 S 177th West Ave, Sapulpa

Booksmart Tulsa partners with Camp Fire Green Country and Edible Tulsa for an unforgettable day. Whether he’s beating Bobby Flay or winning “Chopped,” Kent Rollins makes comfort food that satisfies. This gifted cook, TV contestant and storyteller takes us into his frontier world with simple food anyone can do. Enjoy a variety of activities, food and much more. Free and open to all.

Cooking with Edible Tulsa

Wednesday, June 3, 8:30am

The team from Edible Tulsa will put on their chef ’s coats at the Wednesday Brookside Farmers’ Market, creating a delicious recipe with locally sourced ingredients.

75-Mile Wine Dinner

Thursday, June 18th 6:30–9pm at the Canebrake Resort & Spa in Wagoner.

Enjoy six courses paired with wine using ingredients procured within 75 miles of the Canebrake. $85 with wine $65 without.
TheCanebrake.com

Tulsa Farmers’ Market Dinner

Sunday, June 28

Mark your calendar for a fantastic Tulsa Farmers’ Market farm-to-fork dinner. Experience local dishes prepared by some of Tulsa’s finest chefs dedicated to local food. Check EdibleTulsa.com and CherryStreetFarmersMarket.com for developing details.

1st Thursdays with Sustainable Tulsa

Thursday, May 7 and Thursday, June 4
Lunch and networking 11:30am–noon, presentation noon–1pm

1st Thursday is Sustainable Tulsa’s monthly, free, open-to-the-public meeting offering individuals an opportunity to network, enjoy lunch and hear presentations from local, regional and national sustainability leaders. Meetings are held at Foolish Thing Coffee Company at 10th and Boston in downtown Tulsa

Proud of Our People

  • Congratulations to Mark Brown, author of “Stainless” in our holiday issue. His personal essay was nominated for an Eddy Award, presented annually by the Edible Communities group of more than 80 locally owned and edited Edible publications.
  • We are thrilled to announce that Brooke Allen, our leading photographer, was nominated for Photographer of the Year in the Great Plains Journalism Awards, presented by the Tulsa Press Club & Benevolent Association.

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Keep in Touch: Be sure to check our website and social media pages for upcoming events and announcements.

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