Grand Opening plans set for Blue Oven Kitchens
The last installment of the Local Digest was in September, as I was busy getting Blue Oven Kitchens’ new kitchen incubator facility together for its soft opening. Well, we are still working on the kitchen as time and funds are available but Blue Oven is officially open for business! If you are interested in teaching a cooking class, having access to a commercial space for those oodles of holiday goodies you need to bake, or to create delicious products to sell, please contact me or visit the Blue Oven website for more information.
I would like, however, to focus in this edition of Local Digest on the many things I am grateful for, especially the wonderful meals and good times I have shared over the past week.
First, I am grateful for serendipity and the generosity of Imperial Stove Corporation and a local, anonymous donor that allowed us to receive two, brand-new, six-burner ranges - photos right - with full size ovens at no cost to us. These are real beauties! They came at a time when our esprit de corps was low with all the work we had done and all that yet had to be done, and I am reminded of the gift of many levels every time I look at their gleaming, stainless steel: all 1,200 pounds of them.
Second, I am grateful for all of those who have helped us at Blue Oven, either with elbow grease, or a word of praise and appreciation, or your dollars and in-kind donations, for you have created this project just as much as the board has. We would not have made it without the generous donations of time, effort, and little discounts along the way from our volunteers, and local businesses such as Moses Fire and Safety, Peacock’s Paints, Kabler Moreno LLP, ProActive Tax & Accounting Inc.
Third, I am grateful for all the relationships that my work through Blue Oven allows me to foster. Local and independent businesses and farms such as Northwest Seafood, Cognito Farm, Crones’ Cradle Conserve Foundation, The Top, Frogsong Organics, Popenoe Ranch, Tracy Lee Farms, The Jones, Tempo Bistro-to-Go, Satchel’s Pizza, Blue Highway Pizza, Dorn’s Liquors, The Bagel Bakery, Renaissance Printing, and others do more than give generously when we ask for assistance: my knowing them enriches my life on many levels, and helps me to enjoy my work. They inspire me to keep going.
And lastly (so this doesn’t turn into The Local Novella) I am grateful for our local flavors and the farmers who grew them or those who made them that allowed me to have two, amazing Thanksgiving dinners. My boyfriend’s parents are separated, so we have two dinners, one with each parent and a day of recovery between. We cut the turkey in half and revel in the special dinners each half is a centerpiece of. This year, we had a pastured, Midget White turkey from Bear Wolf Ranch; sage sausage stuffing with pan sausage from Cognito Farm, eggs and homemade bread from my boyfriend’s mother’s farm, sage and rosemary from Crones’ Cradle Conserve Foundation, and chicken stock I had made from a Cognito chicken and organic onions from Ward’s; a variety of organic greens (broccoli, asian mustard, cabbage) from Crones’ Cradle cooked down in the same stock; cornbread made with Leitner Sisters’ Farm ground corn grits plus a little extra fine cornmeal from Ward’s, the same stock, and lard I had made from Cognito pork fat; and of course, wine and cheese from Dorn’s. The small amount of leftovers we had from each meal turned into great lunches for working at the Blue Oven facility, and for a relaxing day of freshwater fishing.
Blue Oven has several events coming up in December. Here is a brief summary, including our online, crowd-funding campaign that runs through December 21, 2012. Please consider supporting us for yourself, or as part of your holiday shopping:
Friday December 7th, 6:00 P. M. – 8:00 P. M. - Sneak Peek during ArtWalk. 1323 South Main Street, Gainesville. This is a chance for the public to take a look at our refurbished and newly-opened kitchen incubator facility. Come see what's cooking as our President, Val Leitner, whips up some goodies for our Winter Gift Fair (see below). There will be a small exhibit of photos by Stefanie Samara Hamblen, owner of Hogtown HomeGrown and Blue Oven board member, depicting produce and farmers markets from North Central Florida, as well as various locations in the United States and Europe. Some tasty samples available on a first come, first served basis.
Saturday December 8th, 2:00 P. M. – 5:00 P. M. - The third annual Winter Gift Fair. Outdoors at The Jones B-Side, 203 SW 2nd Avenue, Downtown Gainesville. This fundriaser's yearly theme is "Think outside the big-box gift box" and this year is no exception with food and craft artisans from all over North Central Florida. Enjoy an afternoon under the trees as you sip some hot cider and finish your holiday shopping in local style! You may even want to enjoy a locally-sourced special dish at The Jones afterward.
Sunday December 9th, 3:00 P. M. – 5:00 P. M. - Blue Oven Kitchens Grand Opening Celebration. 1323 South Main Street, Gainesville. Mix and mingle while exploring Gainesville's first non-profit food business incubator. Enjoy a few tasty morsels created "in-house" and try your luck in our door prize drawings. Imagine all the ways you and your community could use a commercial kitchen. From making large family meals or big batches of holiday treats to developing a food business or teaching a cooking class, we are proud to open our doors to the public and to help you to build your food dreams! We will have stations set up describing our most immediate equipment needs and how you may be able to help. Have new or gently used kitchen wares sitting around, cluttering up your cabinets? If you are happy to donate them, please bring them by as we may be able to use them!
Online Fundraising Campaign November 21, 2012 – December 21, 2012 - Through indiegogo. Did you know that turning Granny's delicious jam recipe into a thriving business can be much more difficult than simply figuring out how to make larger batches and selling them? Most food products – even those that may run under the Cottage Food Bill in certain circumstances – still need to be produced in an inspected kitchen, which is costly to create and maintain. Show your support for this asset to our local food system, which provides that kitchen space for rent for food entrepreneurs and for our community's cooking education needs. Proceeds from this campaign will help carry Blue Oven Kitchens through its start-up months and buy some much-needed equipment. Donations are tax deductible.
I am hoping that next month’s Local Digest will update you on some of the fabulous things that have been cooking at the incubator for the rest of the holiday season!
Please look for full updates on the BOK website, Facebook page, and through the Gainesville Lunch Out Blog of course! With this facility, we will create new ways for you to support new and expanding food entrepreneurs and small farmers who want to create delicious food products for your enjoyment. Contact Blue Oven Kitchens Director Val Leitner if you would like more information on how to volunteer your elbow grease, if you would like to become a sustaining sponsor to Blue Oven, or if you would just like to help us buy a stand-up mixer for our facility!
Want to know more about what’s local and what local means in our community? The Local Digest is a monthly piece on all things local in North Central Florida, from food to economics to environment to community. Local, you see, isn’t just a way of buying or a way of eating: it’s a whole system of the social, economic, and environmental values that mark the character of where we live, and how we seek to improve the health of those values. It is a column about sustaining our region and what we love most about it.