I love the fact that there are so many great food things going on around Central New York that I can hardly keep up--I've had to stop trying. But lucky for me--and all of us--there are great foodies willing to share their experiences and help us all keep up. Emilee Lawson Hatch is one such person. She took time out of her busy life of being a lawyer and an amazing home cook and baker to give us an inside look at the Technology Farm.
On May 5, 2011, I had the opportunity to be a guest at an Open House for the Technology Farm. What is the Technology Farm, you ask? A venue for electronics aficionados? A science museum for kids? Nope. The Technology Farm (also known as the "Farm") is funded by Cornell University, with the mission to assist business owners with research and development in the areas of food and agriculture.
Up to this point, my interaction with agricultural business owners has been on a mostly professional and legal basis, as I assist them with their business succession planning, contracts, or general estate planning. However, I was grateful to attend the Open House, and literally taste some of the amazing ways these savvy folks have put our local agriculture to good use.
I have to start with one of my favorite products developed by some of my favorite people:
Stony Brook Wholeheartedfoods
Meet Greg and Kelly from Stony Brook Wholeheartedfoods. In their immaculate kitchen at the Farm, Greg Woodworth and Kelly Coughlin work with Alaric Strauss (a/k/a "The Roaster") to produce a creative and relatively new culinary delight - squash seed oil! As a team, they roast various squash seeds and expel the oil to give us a variety of cooking oils. Currently, their oils include Butternut Squash, Delicata Squash, Pumpkin, Kabocha Squash, and my personal favorite, Acorn Squash. They are able to produce and store the oil at the Farm and manage their business from their office just down the hall.
Alaric Strauss "The Roaster"
Squash seed oil is considered a finishing oil but can also be used in cooking, which lends itself to many dishes. Stony Brook even has recipes listed on their website and a very helpful note attached to each bottle that gives ideas on how to use the oil. At the Open House, some of the culinary offerings included goat cheese crostini with acorn squash seed oil, southwestern winter squash hummus, and rosemary & chive focaccia with butternut squash seed oil. In addition…drum roll please….chocolate ice cream drizzled with butternut squash seed oil. Kelly commented that the ice cream with the oil tasted similar to a peanut butter milkshake. Yes, like the best one I've ever had! The oil with the ice cream was surprisingly delicate and so flavorful that I could see serving this to a crowd anytime, anywhere.
Stony Brook has taken a CNY product that was previously wasted (squash seeds) and they have transformed it into a wonderfully tasteful product (culinary oil!). Plus, the remnants of the expelling process are 100% recyclable. A fun fact for you - the seed waste is pressed into pieces which are sold to local farmers who use it as pig feed.
Stony Brook is devoted to using a batch processing method, to ensure purity and quality, however, I have a feeling that Stony Brook is going to grow quickly. I found their products back in 2009 when perusing the shelves at Max Market in Rochester. In a short amount of time, they've made their way to a variety of retail stores, tasting rooms and restaurants. You can also purchase their products online.
More fun at the Tech Farm in Part 2.
Editor's Note: Stony Brook's seed oils can also be found at the Mumber's Pantry in "A" Shed at the Saturday CNY Regional Market.