Cookie recipes to kick start your week

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June 5th, 2011 by Admin

How about we finish off this gorgeous weekend with some sweets? Urban Grains member Meg Whetung has kindly shared two cookie recipes with us. Both came to her via Molly Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette, a delectable little corner of the internet written from Seattle, Washington (where you can also find more background on these recipes).

Meg has used Urban Grains flour in both of these recipes, which call for whole grain flours, with great results. If you’re trying either of them out, why not send us a note or photos to share your results!

Whole Wheat Sablés with Cacao Nibs

From Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies

2 cups (9 oz.) whole wheat pastry flour, OR 1 cup (4.5 oz.) all-purpose flour plus 1 scant cup (4 oz.) whole
wheat flour
14 Tbsp. (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (3 ½ oz.) sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup (about 1 ¼ oz.) roasted cacao nibs

If using the two flours, combine them in a bowl, and mix with a whisk or fork.

In a medium bowl, with a large spoon or an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, salt, and
vanilla until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, about 1 minute (with the mixer). Scrape down the sides
of the bowl with a spatula, and add the nibs. Beat briefly to incorporate. Add the flour, and mix until
just incorporated. Scrap the dough into a mass and, if necessary, knead it a little with your hands to
make sure that the flour is completely incorporated. Form the dough into a 12-by-2-inch log. Wrap and
refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets
with parchment paper.

Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1 ½ inches
apart on the prepared sheet pans.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges, rotating the pans
from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies for a minute
on the pans, then transfer them (with or without their parchment) to a rack to cool completely. Repeat
with remaining dough.

These cookies are good on the first day, but they’re best with a little age, after at least a day or two.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.

Yield: about 48 cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce

3 cups whole wheat flour (see note above)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes (see note above)
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into ¼- and ½-inch pieces, or bittersweet chips

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets
with parchment. (If you have no parchment, you can butter the sheets.)

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to blend.

Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer
on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides
of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the
vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate, and mix on low speed until evenly
combined. (If you have no stand mixer, you can do all of this with handheld electric beaters and/or a
large, sturdy spoon.) Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use your hands to turn
and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour is absorbed.

Scoop mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size onto the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches
between each cookie. (I was able to fit about 8 cookies on each sheet, staggering them in three rows.)

Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly
browned. Transfer the cookies, still on parchment, to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

These cookies are very good while still warm from the oven, but I find that you can taste the wheat
more – in a good way – once they’ve cooled.

Yield: about 20 cookies

Final share pick-up is this weekend!

October 12th, 2010 by Admin

This is the exciting part, folks! Over the past weekend more than half of our 2010 shares were picked up by members at our east Vancouver distribution spot. We hope that some of you have already enjoyed a batch of rolls or pumpkin pie made with this year’s Urban Grains bounty.

The fun continues this coming weekend, which will be the final chance for members to pick up shares.

Final distribution times: Friday Oct. 15, 4-8pm and Saturday Oct. 16, 10-4pm. (Check our previous email announcement for location details.)

As always, contact us if needed at

Event with Chris of Urban Grains!

October 8th, 2010 by Admin

This guy knows grain...

Chris knows a thing or two about grain…


Sat Oct 16, 3pm at the Roundhouse Cultural Centre, Room C, $10

This workshop will explore emerging and existing grain chains in Southwestern B.C., in addition to looking at some of the history of grain growing in the province. Opportunities to purchase freshly milled local grain available. This presentation is part of Farm Folk / City Folk’s Sustenance: Feasting on Art & Culture Festival (Oct 8-16)

Register at

2010 Grain CSA: It’s here!

April 9th, 2010 by Admin

Wheat head bowing

Today we are delighted to be able to share  the details of this year’s CSA with you. Shares are being offered to mailing list subscribers according to the order in which they signed up, and last year’s members will be given first priority. Please note that sales are not open to the general public at this time but we are keeping a waiting list. To sign up, email us at


New for 2010:

  • Option to receive half or all of your grain whole and unmilled!
  • New grains in the mix!
  • More shares added!

The Details

This year there will be a total of 300 shares – 225 individual shares, and 75 shares for commercial customers (bakeries and restaurants). We are very excited to be adding the option to receive half of or your entire share as whole, un-milled grain. The option to receive all 20 kg as milled flour is still available as well.

All of the grain will be grown in Agassiz, B.C. by Jim, Diane and the kids at the beautiful Cedar Isle Farm. Roughly 100 acres in size, the farm has been organically managed for years, and is currently undergoing organic certification.

Another exciting piece of news is that Jim and Diane will be growing a few new grains this year. Along with the winter wheat, hard red spring wheat and Triticale (a non-GMO cross between wheat and rye) that we had last year, they will also be growing rye and soft white spring wheat. Everyone will receive the same grains in their share, but for now the amounts and varieties that make up your 20 kg are to be determined, based on how each planting fares throughout the season.


After the grain has been harvested in the late summer/early fall, it will be cleaned on-site at Cedar Isle Farm, where some of it will be bagged as whole grain. The portion destined to turn into flour will be shipped to Anita’s Mill in Chilliwack for milling and bagging. It will then continue on to Vancouver for pick up by members.

We have heard your feedback that the UBC Farm was not an ideal distribution location, so we will be moving the pick up point to a more central location in Vancouver, still to be determined. Pick up times will once again be spread over two weekends in the mid-fall.


Each 20kg share will cost $85, plus an additional $10 development fee which will go towards building grain growing infrastructure and capacity within B.C., bringing the total to $95 per share. A full $1/lb of every purchase will be paid directly to Jim and Diane, the growers. A per-pound rate like that is practically unheard of in the grain industry, and we are proud to be able to pay them a rate that makes grain growing a viable source of income.

Half shares are not available at this time. If you are unsure of your ability to fully use 20 kg of milled flour (remember, 10 kg is typically the largest size one finds in a grocery store), or if cost is prohibitive, we recommend that you split the share with another friend or family.

Also Included

Included in your CSA membership will be the opportunity to visit Cedar Isle Farm in Agassiz during the summer to meet Jim, Diane and the kids and see the grain in person. You’ll also be able to track the progress of the CSA throughout the year via periodic updates on the blog.

The CSA model & risk

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Urban Grains uses this model because we believe it is ideal for fostering a strong consumer/producer relationship. It supports the farmer up front with capital to grow the crop, guarantees a market and helps to cultivate a local, sustainable food system.  Grain production in B.C. has fallen dramatically in the past half-century and we believe the CSA model is a way to make grain farming a viable option.

It is important to be aware that the CSA model has an inherent degree of risk built into it. As a customer paying the share cost before a finished product is delivered, an investment is being made in the entire process. It is possible that because of uncooperative weather shares will not measure a full 20 kg following a sub-par harvest. We are happy to report that last year our members received their full 20kg share, but with each year comes renewed risk.

In the event of catastrophic crop failure which left us unable to deliver shares to our members, members will be reimbursed 50% of the share cost. Jim and Diane at Cedar Isle Farm are very appreciative of the support of the Urban Grains customers, but have been clear that they could not keep full payment if they were unable to deliver the shares. The 50% that Urban Grains retains will cover administrative costs and the time already put in at the farm.

Please bear in mind that such a situation is unlikely, and that we will do everything we can to make sure you receive your grain and/or flour at the end of the season.

How to become a member

Shares are being offered to our mailing list subscribers according to the order in which they signed up, and last year’s members will be given first priority. Only those who receive a share offer via email will be eligible to become members for 2010. Your official share offer will contain detailed instructions on how to register for a membership. We will announce the start of share offers here on the blog. Last year the majority of our CSA memberships were sold within three weeks, with a few additions made later in the season.

We wish we could offer a membership to everyone who is interested but  we are still a small operation and demand is greater than what we can supply. Please note that sales are not open to the general public at this time, but we are maintaining a waiting list. To sign up, email us at


Thank you again for your interest in the CSA and local grain – your tremendous support is what makes Urban Grains possible.

Urban Grains is a collaboration with Farm Folk / City Folk


How to care for your share: storage and spoilage

September 30th, 2009 by Admin

While it is a great pleasure for us to know that Urban Grains members have just welcomed 20kg of freshly milled flour into their homes, such a large amount can be intimidating for even an earnest baker. Complicating matters, whole grain can go rancid eventually (marked by a decidedly “off” smell). No one likes to waste good food, or lose an investment, and we’ve gotten a lot of questions about what is the best way to store your grain as you work your way through it. The short answer is threefold: in the dark, airtight, and cool (or cold). The ideal conditions for lengthening the life of whole grain flour are found in a freezer, but if you don’t have enough space there a fridge, cellar, or cool cupboard will work too.

The longer answer, if you care to read more about what exactly you should be concerned about, is below…

Read the rest of this entry »

Members, meet your wheat.

September 25th, 2009 by Admin

I love what this set of photos tells about our members – look at all the ages, all the types of families and individuals, all of them smiling as they receive their flour. And check out the modes of transportation! We’ve got Agassiz wheat taking rides in wheelbarrows, panniers, bike trailers, on shoulders and in buckets. Way to make it work, guys. Big thanks, again, to all who helped haul flour for others. Your generosity is much appreciated.

If you haven’t yet seen it, check out the new Recipes page on our site, and submit your favorite to share.

Distribution success, posts to watch for and a new ‘Recipes’ page

September 23rd, 2009 by Admin

We are so excited to have reached this point – last Saturday the first wave of CSA shares were picked up by this year’s members. Many thanks to UBC Farm, who generously agreed to act as the distribution site. There are still roughly 70 shares to be picked up, and this Saturday should see the majority of those going home with the rest of our members.

In blog news: Keep your eyes peeled for two posts in the coming days. First, Chris took photos of the first pick-up excitement, which we’ll be sharing soon. We’ll also be posting some advice on how best to store your flour, as requested by many of you.

And if you’ve got any questions about using that flour… It’s great to see the recipes and cookbook suggestions flowing in through the comments, and to see all of the discussion happening. In order to give you easier access to these member submissions, I’ve created a “Recipes” page on the Urban Grains site. You can access it by clicking the “Recipes” link on the page header, or by clicking here. If you’d like to add a recipe or resource (which I encourage!) submit it as an email to, and I will move it up to the main text area.

Packing party: the flour gets bagged

September 11th, 2009 by Admin

Scenes from Anita’s Mill in Chilliwack last week…


The masked man bags again! Christiaan uses the large hopper to fill bags


Chris with winter wheat


The hopper, in all its glory


Totes of grain being lifted by the crane


Christiaan and Chris weighing out triticale bags


Christiaan using the sewing machine to seal the sack


Bags being loaded for transport


Boxes on the pallet, all ready to go

We’ve been wandering…

May 25th, 2009 by Admin


…far away on the other side of the continent. Martin and I were visiting Nova Scotia last week, and have just returned. Thanks for your patience as we catch up with emails, cheques in the mail, and messages on our answering machine.

We did manage to check out some pretty cool spots while we were there, despite being pretty wet for half of the week. Most notable in terms of grain relevance was the LaHave Bakery, in – where else – LaHave, Nova Scotia. Apparently this place is an institution, and it’s easy to tell why. We had a fantastic lunch there (I had a veggie pizza on doughy goodness; Martin, a veggie sandwich on slices of fresh-baked cracked wheat) and grabbed some photos to share. The “local flours” they mention on the sign are from Speerville Mills, a Maritime company that’s doing great things with local grains, and has a mission that fits so well with the Urban Grains philosophy:

Why? Because less than 1% of this area’s available cereals and flour products are actually grown and processed in this region. It is critical to promote a regional food system, while encouraging organic farming, and a nutritious food supply. Speerville Flour Mill has always been a strong supporter of organic agriculture. From working with farmers with production issues, to marketing the results of their efforts, Speerville Flour Mill strives to produce top quality products, as well as, supporting the local economy by helping build strong rural communities.”

We encountered Speerville products a number of times during the trip, and were very excited to discover that local flour was being used all over the Maritimes. We even managed to steal a few bags from our friend Shelby, who graciously hosted us at her home, which I will whip up into loaves sometime soon.

The photos below are all from LaHave Bakery, where we hope to end up again someday.

case-signThe dessert case. Yum.

weavingTapestry above the stairs.

flour-bagsThe raw ingredients.

bakery-signGood motto.

blowfishEven better mascot.

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