from Local Author Sara Rishforth
Sara Rishforth released Bend Food: Stories of Local Farms and Kitchens on June 25, 2018, going behind the scenes to present the story of the local farm-to-table movement.
Tell us about your latest book, Bend Food: Stories of Local Farms and Kitchens. It’s about the thriving farm-to-table movement here in Central Oregon. Each chapter highlights a different farm, chef, food-related business or organization such as High Desert Food & Farm Alliance. People share a fond food memory or talk about how food shaped their path in the culinary industry. I especially loved the story from Dan Butters at Dump City Dumplings. His food memory was making epic, creative sandwiches for his cousin. Dan and I immediately bonded over our favorite sandwiches in Bend.
How did you select farm-to-table as your topic? A publisher found out about my writing from my previous fiction books, and my love of food really showed through. They approached me with the topic. I chose a timeline, signed a book contract and began researching right away. I love food, baking and cooking, so it’s a topic I’m already interested in.
What are a few takeaways from interviewing farmers? The book features many different types of farmers. Bob Camel at Tumalo Fish and Vegetable Farm raises barramundi and uses the fish waste to grow turmeric and ginger. It’s such a unique set-up and not at all like a traditional farmer. It was so interesting to learn about his farm and realize how much research he did to make it successful. I also learned farmers deal with much more than planting, watering and harvesting. They must be able to fix irrigation, learn payroll, deal with rodents, huge temperature swings and unpredictable high desert weather on a daily basis. Farmers are also busy building relationships with other farmers and customers using social media and other avenues.
Talk about the food you ate at some of the restaurants. This was one of the best parts of research and meeting with chefs! It was my first visit to some of the restaurants featured in the book, so it was a real treat. One of the standout dishes was the Vegan Pesto Flatbread from Deschutes Brewery & Public House. It has basil pesto, roasted tomatoes, artichokes, roasted eggplant, cashew parmesan, microgreens and balsamic reduction. I’m not a vegan, but I found this dish super fresh and flavorful.
What was the photo selection process in the book? My husband, Emil, is a talented photographer. I “voluntold” him to accompany me on interviews and take photos. After each interview, we looked at the photos together and selected our favorites. We sorted through 2,000 photos to whittle it down to about 100 photos for the book. It was tough!
What was one of the most difficult parts in writing this book? It was hard to narrow down who to include! There are so many incredible farms and chefs in Central Oregon. I was limited to a word count, so I had to be selective and try to highlight a diverse group. It would be fun to do another book, so I can include more folks.
Have you made any of the recipes from the book? Yes, I immediately made the beet pickles, submitted by Anna Witham from 123 Ramen. They are fantastic. It was hard to be consistent on my cutting without a mandoline, so I added one to my Christmas list. Looking forward to trying the Pork Ragu recipes from Brian Kerr from Deschutes Brewery & Public House.
You’re an avid cook. What’s your favorite vegetable to cook? Cauliflower! I love drizzling olive oil on cauliflower and roasting it until it’s a deep golden brown. I joke with my husband and tell him it tastes like candy. He vehemently disagrees.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks or culinary websites? Wow. I have so many favorites! My most used cookbooks are Smitten Kitchen (Deb Perelman), One Pan and Done (Molly Gilbert) and Baked (Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito). Every day, I read How Sweet Eats and Damn Delicious websites. Their recipes always turn out well.
Talk about your personal gardening experience. In my old rental house, I grew rhubarb and cucumbers. I love making pickles! Now, I’m renovating a home, and the yard is a work-in-progress. This summer, I’m growing an herb garden. Having fresh basil, cilantro and mint ready to go is wonderful! My husband bought wood for raised beds, so those will go in next summer. Fresh, sweet carrots is on my list to grow. We also bought a compost bin, so we’ll have soil ready by then.
Has your experience writing this book influenced your lifestyle? Definitely. I dine at many of the restaurants featured in this book, plus make careful choices when I shop. Buying local produce and fruit is a topic of conversation with my friends. Small changes make a big difference in the local community.
Where can we purchase a copy of the book? Roundabout Bookshop, Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe, Central Oregon Locavore, Tumalo Farmstand, Costco, your favorite local bookstores and many other retailers in Central Oregon as well as the usual on-line retailers. The community support has been wonderful!
Sara Rishforth plays ukulele, loves good food and adores her Kitchen-Aid mixer. After growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, she moved west to Alaska, where she worked for nonprofit organizations, made great friends and wrote for Alaska’s Best Kitchens magazine. Moving to Central Oregon in 2010, Sara self-published two novels, Adventures in Dating and After We Met, loosely based on her time in the Last Frontier. Drawing from life experiences, she was a winner of the 2013 Central Oregon Writers Guild Literary Harvest, Memoir Category.
Sara, her husband and their fuzzy orange cat, Yam, are remodeling a home in Bend, Oregon. Yam does all the hard work. Sara prints season passes and sells tickets by the millions at Mount Bachelor ski resort in the winter, along with supplying baked goods for her co-workers and friends.
photos by Emil Teague