All posts by adice

CB’s Nuts in Kingston grinding and growing

Peanut butter making at CB's Nuts in Kingston
Photos by Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun

KINGSTON — If people had told Tami Bowen a dozen years ago that she could make a living selling peanuts, she’d have told them they were crazy.

Crazier still might have been the notion that not only could she make living but be on the verge of greatly expanding a nut business.

That was before Tami met Clark Bowen, the CB in CB’s Nuts.

It was 2003 and Clark was both running a family outdoor advertising business and selling roasted peanuts from a tent on Occidental Avenue in front of Qwest Field.

He’d been hooked on peanuts since munching on them during Mariners games, and decided to make a business out of them after falling in love with a bag of fresh-roasted North Carolina peanuts at Camden Yards in Baltimore. From there, he traveled through the South and convinced family peanut businesses to share close-held information.

Tami described her husband as a student, intense in his research.

“If I get interested in something, I’m going for it,” Clark said.

Clark Bowen fills the hopper with peanuts to be ground into peanut butter.

After they married, they prepared the nuts together in a roaster that screamed like a jet engine from a steel outbuilding at a friend’s house in Kingston. When neighbors couldn’t take it anymore, they moved the operation to their own home in Hansville.

By then, they were working with several grocery stores. Clark would go out and sell nuts and Tami would take care of deliveries in between their first child’s naps.

As sales grew, Clark sold off the sign business and in 2007 they bought a 1,000 square-foot building off Highway 104.

There, they expanded to other nuts and offered shelled nuts to stores with grinders for peanut butter.

Along the way, they developed a relationship with Whole Foods, which got them buying organic peanuts from New Mexico.

After a distributer accidentally delivered 10,000 pounds of shelled nuts, they found themselves in the peanut butter business too.

Much of the early peanut butter work was done in small batches with a lot of hand work.

Protective wraps of plastic on the peanut butter jars were shrunk with a hair dryer and labels were pasted on by hand.

Clark at first utilized an old Hobart industrial baking mixer to rub off the papery skin from the nuts. Batches were then shaken by hand on a screen to let the skins fall out.

Eventually, Clark got a lead on an old industrial skinner form the South that he had rebuilt and shipped to Kingston.
To make the butter, peanuts were ground in small batches in a grinder about the size of a microwave with a two-inch in diameter grinding wheel.

“It’s been really fun to figure out how to grow within our means,” Tami said. As one part of the business grows, they’ve built up around it.

The peanut butter has been selling well as customers grow comfortable with a fresh product with a suggested four-month shelf-life.

Add to that a growing desire for fresher and locally produced foods, and the company hit its peanut butter processing limit.

They applied for a business loan to buy a larger grinder, but were turned down.

That’s when Whole Foods suggested they apply for one of its local producer loans.

Still smarting from the costs involved with the other loan and the current state of the economy, “I thought maybe we shouldn’t do it at all,” Tami said.

But apply they did, and in mid-April they had their new, refurbished grinder up and running.

“This will really allow us to expand,” Clark said.

At full capacity, the machine, which has an 18-inch girding wheel, can process 16,000 pounds of nuts an hour, 20 times the peanut butter they were making before.

“It’ll take us awhile to get to full production,” Tami said.

Peanuts don’t grow overnight.

Clark will soon set out to visit their peanut growing partners in to see how much more they can supply CB’s going into 2012.

For now, they’re adjusting the grinder, seeing how much production they can manage. One of them goes in early in the morning, the other joins in the work in the afternoon.

“I consider this (business) the third kid … something we’ve grown from an idea,” Tami said.
And they’re planning for July, when they’ll take their first vacation in four years.

Food news roundup: pop-up restaurants, oyster wine, knife-making, tequila

Oyster Wine

It seems I’m not the only one with shellfish on the brain lately. Edible Seattle recently wrote up a piece on the annual search for wines to pair with oysters. The winners of the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, sponsored by Taylor Shellfish Farm also were posted. And I should also mention that Seattle Weekly’s food writer Hanna Raskin was also there with the harvesting group on Sunday. Read her take on it at

One-night Restaurant Stands

The Associate Press wrote recently about the trend of pop-up restaurants, places that open for short periods, sometimes only a night, as chefs test new dishes or new markets. While the phenomenon has been written about before, the first four sentences of the story show that it’s not limited to New York and Los Angeles:

“If you missed the fried rice with pungent shrimp paste at Shophouse Seattle on Monday night, well, too bad. The down-home Thai joint has already shut its doors.

Shophouse creator Wiley Frank spends most nights as sous chef at an upscale restaurant called Lark. But once a week, Frank and his wife transform a nearby bar called Licorous into a short-lived eatery dedicated to simple, authentic Thai street food.”

Greens and Local Cookbook

Brandy Williams, over at the always busy Kitsap Cuisine blog recently went to the Stillwaters Environmental Education Center’s annual Ecofest and reports, in addition to other things going on there, they also have a cookbook with things like deviled beats. She also is apparently taking advantage of the greens newly available from local farmers markets and offers tips on braising them.

Quick Lunch Fix

Also on the Kitsap food blogger front, Leah at Leftovers 4 Lunch offers up a quick, healthy lunch recipe of black bean smothered sweet potato.

Coveted Knives

Seattle Food Geek recently went to Olympia to meet master bladesmith Bob Kramer and explains in a blog post a little about the process and made this video of Kramer at work:

History of Tequila

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, which seems to give American writers an excuse to write about anything having to do with Mexico or Mexican food, has an article by Felisa Rogers of The Evergreen State College. She takes an historical look at tequila from early trade through the invention of the margarita.

Mother’s Day

Just a reminder that Sunday is Mother’s Day, so if you can be with your mother, take her out to brunch or cook up your own brunch and let her know how special she is.

Shellfish harvesting: Shucking oysters and steaming clams

Wiggle a shucking knife into the hinge of an oyster and turn to pop it open.

We had spent nearly two hours on the beach plucking oysters from their sandy clusters and filling our buckets with 40 clams each as part of a Bainbridge Island Metro Parks and Rec outdoors program on shellfish foraging.

As some of us were starting to show the first faint blushes of a sunburn, we gathered our gear and our buckets and slogged our way back up the tide flats. A few of us barely missed losing our boots to the sucking sand beneath.

Once back at Dosewallips State Park, we set out to replenish those calories spent digging and harvesting.

The shellfish we’d harvested were set aside as they filtered through fresh seawater and spit out their grit. (They ideally do this for about 24 hours before cooking).

John Adams, manager of Taylor’s Dosewallips property, brought along iced buckets of ready oysters and showed us how to shuck them. On a towel, he set an oyster cup-side down and wiggled the blade of an oyster knife into the hinge at the pointed end, turned it and popped the shell open. He then swiped the blade under the flat side of the shell to unstick the meat.

Here’s my bad cellphone video of the process:

Shucked oyster

Many of us practiced shucking then eating the oysters raw, dressed with either a squeeze of lime or a mignonette as described by Langdon Cook, author of Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager.

The mignonette consisted of diced shallots, pepper, lemon zest and champagne vinegar all shaken in a baby jar and spooned onto an awaiting oyster.

Meanwhile, Cook had set others to chopping onions, garlic and herbs to be used on two recipes for steamed clams. As onions softened in pools of hot oil in pan set over camp stoves, people commented on just how hungry they were.

The first batch of clams were cooked with the aforementioned onions, Italian sausage, tomatoes, wine and herbs. Cook has the recipe on his blog.

The second recipe, which also is on Cook’s blog started with butter, onions, garlic, thin-sliced fen, wine, herbs and cream.

We filled our bowls and dunked slices of baguettes in to soak up the juices. But even as our bellies filled with the bounty, Adams had yet another addition to the meal. He had set several dozen oysters onto a charcoal-heated barbecue and covered them with foil.

As we finished the clams, these roasted oysters were just finishing. He popped the mollusks open, then squeezed over them the juice of key limes.

At the end of the day, with sun shining and images of eagles and elks in my mind, it seemed almost an embarrassment of riches to be had along the shores of Hood Canal. But that didn’t stop me from dreaming of how I was going to cook that remaining bucket of shellfish in my backseat.

Coming Next Week

How I cooked up the oysters at home (and a couple things in-between so you don’t get too shellfish-ed out).

Shellfish Harvesting: A morning at Dosewallips in photos

BRINNON — The Olympic Mountains and a bald eagle perched in a tall tree stood guard over a wide expanse of tideland near the estuary of the Dosewallips River.

“Welcome to my office,” said John Adams, Taylor Shellfish Farms’ Dosewallips manager.

He was talking to a group of a couple dozen people plucking oysters from the beach as part of an outdoor program on shellfish foraging with Bainbridge island Metro Parks and Recreation District and Langdon Cook, blogger and author of “Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager.”

It was among a series of classes (I also went to one on nettle foraging) designed to get people outdoors and get people reconnected with the bounty around them.

We had started the day at Dosewallips State Park, going over what kind of clams we might find on the beach — butter, varnish/mahogany, manilla and native littlenecks.

“Digging for oysters and clams is super easy and cooking them is even easier,” Cook reassured everyone before we headed just north of the park to Taylor Shellfish property to forage.

Before you go:

To harvest clams and oysters on a public beach, you need a permit, which is sold online or at most sporting goods stores, Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart and Kingston and North Mason chamber of commerce offices. You must be 15 or older. Cost is $12 annually or cheaper for a one-day permit. How many shellfish you can harvest varies from beach to beach.

Clam Rules: Most species must be 1.5 inches wide. Fill in your hole when you’re done digging in it.

Oyster rules: Bring your shucking knife, because on public beaches, you’re required to leave the shells there (the backs of those shells are where new oysters will grow).Oysters must be 2.5 inches or larger.

Where to go: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has lists of public beaches where you can harvest shellfish. You can search by county or click on the map, then click on a beach to see whether it’s open and to find links to the Health Department for any toxin concerns.

When to go: Low tide is the best time to find oysters. Consult your favorite tide chart or try this one, which has a clickable map with links to that area’s high and low tides by month and day.

Up Next on The Food Life: How to cook ’em

Food news roundup: weakened wine, magic mushrooms, special salt

Here’s a peppering of food news from around the region and nation:

Farmers markets

The Port Orchard Farmers Market opens Saturday, joining  Bainbridge Island, Gig Harbor,  Olalla, Port Townsend and Poulsbo, Silverdale and Suquamish in the weekly chances for local food and goodies. Next up on the opening list is Bremerton, which begins May 5, and it apparently has grown and will be in the grass this year at Evergreen Park. Following that will be Belfair and Chimacum.

Washington wines

This year’s late freeze may hurt the quality of this year’s Eastern Washington wine crop, reports Crosscut. The late freeze likely damaged grape plants’ primary buds, the ones responsible for most of the fruit, a wine expert explains. While the secondary buds also produce fruit, vineyards may have a mix of both, making ripening uneven, which has an adverse effect on the wine’s quality.

Modern dinner

Seattle Food Geek was invited to and photographed dinner at the lab where the contents of the mighty tomes of “Modernist Cuisine: the Art and Science of Cooking” were researched, tested and photographed. Since the six-book collection was released earlier this year, the food world has been abuzz over them and rekindled the conversation over more scientific approaches to cooking. The authors, including former Microsoft chief technology officer turned modern chef Nathan Myhrvold, have been inviting food experts to the lab to sample the foods. I’m sure my invitation is in the mail.

Magic Mushrooms

The (Tacoma) News Tribune reports that Lacey-based Ostrom mushrooms are offering “magic” mushrooms boosted with Vitamin D. How do they do it? The mushrooms get it the same way people can: with a little sunshine-like UV rays.

Is culinary salt worth it?

The Curious Cook at the New York Times takes a look at culinary salt and asks, can people really taste the difference? The answer: they can for some and writer Harold McGee leaves it up to readers to decide what and whether it’s worth it.

Cheap Eats: 31-cent ice cream scoops in Bremerton and Silverdale

From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. today, Baskin-Robbins — on Sixth Street in Bremerton and in the Kitsap Mall — brings back its now-annual “31 cent Scoop Night.” You get a 2.5-oz scoop, up to three scoops, for 31 cents plus tax.

As part of the national promotion, some stores will host firefighters, who will scoop ice cream and ask for donations

Who has the best grilled cheese sandwich in Kitsap?

This is a $10 Grilled Cheese Sandwich #Grahamwich
Flickr photo by BrentDPayne

Today, April 12, is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. Yes, there’s a day to celebrate practically any kind of food, but today’s — actually a book with 50 grilled cheese recipes and a food truck in Portland dedicated to it. Beacher’s in Pike Place Market hosted the author of aforementioned book Monday afternoon

On Thursday, Poulsbo’s Central Market will host a cooking demonstration titled, “Grilled Cheese á la Pain du George (bread)”

Need I make any further case for waxing on about grilled cheese?

Admittedly, one of the additional reasons this food holiday piqued my interest enough to write about it is my recent pining for some downtown Bremerton grilled cheese offerings. Two Blocks Up on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton has an “ultimate grilled cheese” sandwich, with cream cheese, cheddar, well-buttered bread and more is a regular Monday special, and tomato soup always is on the menu then. The Coffee Club Diner on Park Avenue also serves up a “Grown-up” version with three cheeses and onions. They haven’t stopped serving it, I’ve just stopped working downtown, and making it from my home office just isn’t the same.

This all brings me, though, to the questions (this is the interactive part of the blog, folks):

What are your criteria for a good grilled cheese sandwich? Should it purely be cheese or contain extras? And where is your favorite place to have one and what makes it so good?

I’ll try to kick off a discussion by answering the first two: It has to have a lot of cheese all gooey and melting out the sides between two thick slices of white bread buttered and crisped to a light brown, not too hard toast. I’m a big fan of ones containing cream cheese and cheddar, but once you put anything non-cheese on it, it ceases to be a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s just a grilled sandwich; the world must have rules. Except if it has bacon, because everything is better with bacon.

As for the last, my grilled cheese ordering experience has been pretty limited to Bremerton. I’ve heard tale of offerings elsewhere, such as a grilled cheese and panini sandwich with Fontina at MorMor in Poulsbo.

Poulsbo farmers market’s opening day packed

box of parsnips

Weather predictions through the week seemed to bode ill for the opening of Kitsap markets (Poulsbo and Bainbridge) on Saturday. But on the actual opening day itself, gray steeled the sky, but luck held the rain at bay.

Caleb Heinig of Colinwood Farm of Port Townsend sells greens to a customer during openign day at Poulsbo Farmers Market.

And out in Poulsbo, 39 vendors were had tents out and ready for the dozens who still were coming through the market when I arrived around noon. I hadn’t expected to see much so early, especially considering our soggy start to spring, but some spring greens and many vegetable starts and grow-your-own salad bowls were out. At least one farm offered some of the last of its potato stores.

Perennial Vintners had offerings of their newly bottled Frambelle dessert wine, made from Suyematsu Farms raspberries as well as its regular selection of wines. They also had something new to me called verjus, which is non-alcoholic and made from pressing unripe grapes. Cooks use it as a sour component in cooking, particularly when they don’t want the flavor to compete with he wine being served with the meal, as a lemon or vinegar can. Ah the things you learn by talking to people at the market!

I look forward to hearing the stories of the new farmers and vendors at local markets. I’ve also been talked into soon trying the morning offerings of Swedish pancakes, made with an authentic — and secret — family recipe.

The season, it seems, is off to a good start.

Now lets all hope for sunny days ahead and good harvests.

Farmers market season is upon us

Weekend after next, Kitsap County will welcome back farmers markets in Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island. (Yipee!)

But if you can’t contain your need for fresh spring greens and vegetable starts that long, you can make the drive out to either Port Townsend or Gig Harbor starting this Saturday. Port Townsend’s opening celebration includes a goat parade. You read that right, a goat parade to celebrate the return of three goat dairies to the market. A note for those, who like me, are suckers for baby animals: this parade includes baby goats. With bells.

Either way, I’ve compiled a map with opening dates of markets from Port Townsend to Belfair, which also is included on the local foods map, which also includes area farms, etc., in the food resources section of this blog. Click on the name or a point on the map for more information on the market.

Food News Roundup: Trader Joe’s, another Bremerton restaurant, 2 Blackbirds

This week offered a fair amount of food news for Kitsap.

On top of news that already this year, two new Bremerton restaurants have or will soon open, we learn that there will be yet another. Early this week, Carlos Jara solved for the Bremerton Downtown Association the mystery of what’s behind the visqueened windows  in the old Filippis-then-Badda Bing spot on Pacific Avenue. He has taken over the spot and plans to open a tapas and martini bar. He told reporter Steven Gardner that he couldn’t offer details this week, but that he’ll talk about it more soon.

On Bainbridge Island, owners of the popular Blackbird Bakery announced that they will open a restaurant, according to the Bainbridge Conversation blog.

Also on Bainbridge, Northwest foraging guru Langdon Cook visited to teach a class on foraging for and cooking up stinging nettles. It’s part of a new series of classes, which opened this week, introducing people to the “Bounty of the Land.” Tristan Baurick had a story on nettles for Sunday’s paper.

Trader Joe lovers are eagerly awaiting the new store planned for Silverdale, and this week, Brynn Grimley learned that it may open as soon as this summer.

Brynn, who also teams up with local wine afficionado Mary Earl on the Cheers to You wine blog, also reports that several Manette restaurants will host a wine walk on Thursday.