Editor's note: Today starts a new series featuring local products and local food.
TRAVERSE CITY -- Spotted at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in Traverse City: crusty, organic sourdough loaves by 9 Bean Rows, a husband-and-wife baking/farming team from Omena.
Jen and Nic Welty use only wild yeast in their bread, something Jen says imparts a richer flavor to their wood-fired loaves.
"I ferment the rye grains myself, using the rye berry to create my starter," said Jen, who not only bakes but runs a CSA farm as well. "It's just such a better alternative to commercial yeast, which lacks flavor."
Although she often bakes on a whim using ingredients at hand, staples such as ciabatta, sourdough and baguettes are available at Hansen's Foods in Suttons Bay, the Saturday farmers market in Traverse City and Black Star Farms, where the Weltys lease their space.
Despite her French baking background, Jen confesses to a current favorite she's baking right now.
"The sea salt fennel sourdough is so good; I love it with pate or salami," she said.
To contact the Weltys, visit www.9beanrows.com.
Locavores in northern Michigan look to Myles Anton, executive chef at Trattoria Stella, for seasonally inspired menus. Anton sources the majority of his ingredients locally when possible, crediting the farms he uses at the top of each menu, which changes weekly.
"During the summer months in our area, the freshness and beauty of the ingredients should be allowed to shine unclouded by garnishes or intricate sauces," said Anton, who buys from up to 50 different farms during the growing season. "That's why I like keeping the ingredients as simple and local as possible."
Although Anton has long-standing relationships with many area farms like Zenner, Werp and Halpin, he suggests combing the area farmers markets for goodies like green beans, tomatoes and basil.
"August and September in northern Michigan is prime time; pretty much everything in the garden reaches it peak during these two months, especially tomatoes," he said. "We are truly blessed with the best in the state at the Golden Rule Farm in Kaleva."
Enjoy summer's bounty with these simply delicious recipes, courtesy of Chef Anton.
Trattoria Stella's Tomato Bruschetta
6 large tomatoes
20 leaves fresh basil
5 cloves garlic
4-5 ovoline (balls) fresh mozzarella
3 T. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Chopped flatleaf parsley
A crusty sourdough baguette or ciabatta bread
Halve tomatoes, dice into large one-inch chunks. Shave garlic cloves as thinly as possible. Roughly chop basil and combine with garlic and tomatoes in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice, olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Let stand for one hour.
Meanwhile, cut baguette in 1/2-inch thick slices, drizzle with olive oil, and toast in 425 degrees oven.
When ready to serve, tear mozzarella into chunks and add to tomato mixture. Serve on large platter with toasted baguette crostini. Finish bruschetta mix with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped parsley. Makes 4 servings.
Anton recommends blueberries from Buchan's Blueberry Hill on the Old Mission Peninsula for the following recipe.
Blueberry and Arugula Insalata
1 pint or quart blueberries
1/2 lb. baby to adolescent arugula
4 ozs. crumbled goat cheese
1/4 c. toasted pinenuts
Splash extra virgin olive oil
Pinch salt and pepper
Toss all ingredients and serve. Makes 4 servings.
The salt and pepper are what make or break this next dish, said Anton.
Green Bean Insalata
1 lb. clipped green beans
1 T. chopped garlic
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 lb. gorgonzola cheese
Salt and pepper
Blanch green beans by placing in boiling, salted water until al dente (still crisp and firm), then immediately shock in ice water to stop cooking; chill.
Toss with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, gorgonzola cheese and generous amount of salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.
Becky Kalajian is a local writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.