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Grokfeast in Oregon

On September 13th I asked Mark’s Daily apple readers to host a Grokfeast (a picnic/party celebrating the Primal lifestyle) and to send me the results. The following is one of 13 amazing submissions, the best of which will win an entire cow [1] courtesy of US Wellness [2].

When we heard about the Grokfeast challenge, we were already in the midst of preparations for our 2nd Annual Yurtville Harvest Party. Since we attempt to live and eat primal and were already planning a party along those lines, it seemed like a fun idea to share our party with you and submit it for the contest.

As you might guess from our party title, my husband Ben, son Solomon and I live in a yurt. We’re located in Willamette Valley region of Oregon where we raise ducks, geese and chickens. Last year, we started what we hope will be a long tradition of celebrating the summer’s bounty by roasting up some of our pasture-raised duck and inviting a bunch of friends and family to come join us for a feast and games. If I had to pick 2 words to describe the mood we tried to create with our party it would be “Primal Elegance.” We wanted a long feast table full of beauty – beautiful people, beautiful food and beautiful nature. But, elegance doesn’t preclude fun in my opinion and there was certainly a lot of that as well.

September 24 was the last warm, sunny day before the Oregon rainy season began. The party started around 3 in the afternoon as guests arrived and started to explore the farmyard, kids played the sandbox, toddlers chased ducks and chickens, and everyone cuddled the kittens. Chicharrones were nibbled. Wine, water, and kombucha were sipped. After a while, folks formed teams and began exploring Yurtville in order to complete all of the “Hunt, Gather and Play,” tasks on their sheet. Some of the required tasks included:

-Find 3 wild foods
-Find and list as many medicinal plants as you can
-Find the Yurtville structure that houses the most occupants (answer: the bee hive)
-Gather 3 sticks and take to the fire pit for the bonfire
-Do the log toss

For the complete list of the tasks, you can see the attached Scavenger Hunt document [3].

After the hunt, it was time for the feast. Candles were lit and twinkly lights turned on. As the duck finished roasting, we enjoyed an appetizer of Yurtville grapes and honeycomb paired with local cheeses. Finally, we filled our plates with duck and all sorts of amazing, local, seasonal dishes and sat around a huge, long feast table to savor the flavor of summer. For dessert, we enjoyed a grain-free, hazelnut-pear cake topped with whipped cream (recipe below).

After the feast, the festivities continued with a Giveaway. Each guest had the opportunity to enter at least once, and then for every 5 points earned on the scavenger hunt, they could submit their name one more time. Prizes were mostly made or harvested in Yurtville and included 1 dozen duck eggs, a small jar of honeycomb, several bottles of Ben’s homemade wine, Janine’s homemade kimchi, and a small jar of home grown, sun-dried tomatoes. Solomon also contributed some books from his collection. I believe every child and every household ended up taking home at least one prize from the giveaway.

After the giveaway, we gathered around the bonfire for more laughter and conversation while children ran everywhere, making up game after game to play in the dark. I have to say, it was one of the most fun and most delicious parties I have ever participated in. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Actually,  if we win the cow,  it will probably be a good excuse not to wait a wait a whole year before gathering for another party 🙂

The Feast

Homemade Chicharrones (pork rinds) made from local, pastured pork,  local cheese plate with “Yurtville” honeycomb and grapes ”  Yurtville Duck roasted with Rosemary and Persimmon Wine Glaze,  Hazelnut-Pear Cake (recipe below). Plus many amazing potluck contributions made with local, seasonal foods including: chicken liver pate and pickled veggies, beet salad, kale salad, stuffed zucchini, apple sauce, roasted veggies and much more.  Beverages were water, home-brewed wine, and homemade kombucha.

Hazelnut Pear Cake

Honey Poached Pears (Make ahead and cool completely)

Toss pears with lemon juice in large bowl. Set aside. Combine 1 cup water, wine and honey in medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Stir over medium heat until honey dissolves. Add pears. Cover mixture with round piece of parchment paper. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pears are just tender when pierced, turning when half-way through cooking, about 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to large bowl. Boil poaching liquid until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Cool syrup. Pour syrup over pears. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 8 hours or overnight.


Fold dry ingredients into wet and pour into well-greased baking pans. Drain poached pears and arrange on top of batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour until set in middle. Cool completely and glaze with poaching liquid.

The Tribe

The 2011 Feast Participants ranged in age from infant to grandparents and included both primal and non-primal oriented folks: Hosts Ben, Janine and Solomon Martinhorst and our guests: Kari, Dan, Nico,Celeste, David, Hailey, Ayla, Noah, Maya, Rachel, Dan, Chloe, Cyndy, Beverly, Bethany, Carrie, Kirsten, Johnny, Karl, Carolyn, Caleb, Joshua, Boone, Claudia, Jeremy, Shirley, Lloyd, Erica, Jeff, Carole and Mark