‘Share With The World’
Oh Nohm Serving Gluten Free In Fredonia
“Development of my business was slow,” says Jessamine Daly-Griffen. “I started baking gluten-free for my family. It took a while.”
She started on her gluten-free journey about 10 years ago, when her child was diagnosed with Celiac disease. She had been in the habit of cooking from scratch, so the transition was difficult, but she did not like the unusual ingredients and low nutrition she saw on the labels of factory-made gluten-free products. She found them to be low in protein and high in starch.
“The grains are so expensive, but when it’s our kids, we’ll do anything. I wanted food that was high in nutrition and was satisfying.”
Once she made the changes at her house, the progression was smooth. Eventually, she was asked by friends to prepare some gluten-free recipes for them. After that, she started supplying a restaurant with baked goods, which grew by two more restaurants, and eventually she started taking her goods to farmer’s markets. Last year a food truck was added. After renovating a space with the help of an Ignite Buffalo grant, she moved into her Om Nohm Gluten Free bakery/cafe in Fredonia in February 2019.
“It doesn’t matter how you say Om Nohm. Just as long as you say it,” she says through a smile. “It feels like we finally have our home, instead of being all over the place.”
She tells how some of the people who walk through her business door feel lost and isolated, due to their restrictive diet.
“When you have something to share with the world in order to be served, you either share it and run the risk of being considered different or you hide it. We try to approach the conversation with dignity. That’s how we humanize or dehumanize a person.”
If someone has a need, she’ll see if she already has a recipe to meet that need.
“I strive to end food isolation. People that are gluten-free aren’t the only people who come here. I see egg-free, dairy-free…,” says the caring baker. “I will create recipes for them and have developed over 150 recipes.”
She sees customers who cannot have certain fruits, flours or spices and speaks of one she calls whenever she makes a double-crust pie that she knows can be consumed without worry of an allergic reaction.
“We develop a relationship with our customers and call them by name.”
She likes to build what she refers to as “story food,” food with a beginning, a middle and an end. These are taste, appearance, texture and smell.
“That’s where the balance of gluten-free flours comes into play. You need a balance to achieve desirable food,” she explains. “We want the food that we pay a premium for to have premium taste and nutrition.”
She tells how previous generations of women in her family cooked for her.
“Food was an emotional time for us. I watched the women cooking while I was growing up. When I’m cooking, I try to attach emotional feelings to the food. It’s almost like putting a blessing on the food. I try to feel the presence of nurturing, care-giving, welcoming, generosity, comfort by feeling the presence of my grandmother and the mothers that have come before.”
She enjoys using browned butter and what she refers to as “old-fashioned spices,” such as allspice, cardamom, mace, nutmeg and thyme.
“When you combine with pure maple syrup or honey, there’s an alchemy there. Sometimes when people eat my food, they cry. It’s like a song they’ve forgotten. Food connects us through generations. Sometimes it’s the sizzle of an onion in a pan or using a secret taught by a grandmother.”
Having her mother, Cathy Shaffer, be part of her four-person staff makes her happy because they get to spend time together that they would not have if her mother was still working as a supervisory nurse.
“We bake together. We laugh together. We take care of people. People call her Nana here. She’s a very fun person to work with,” says the daughter, who thinks of her business as “us working together” and wants her employees to be treated with respect.
She says her step-mother Val, a “bonus mom,” was a wonderful comfort (food) cook.
The cafe has a rotating menu of sandwiches, salads, quiches and baked goods and sells coffee, tea and grab and go drinks. Commonly found baked items are Honey-Potato-Oat Bread, 3-Seed Ancient Grain Rolls, Multigrain Chia Sourdough Bread and Rainbow Bread, as well as Tuesday Pizzettes, Mayan Moon Cake, Annie Oakley Cookies, Oat bars in various flavors and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles Cakes. Weekly batches of granola and many other taste treats are also regulars.
They offer a different quiche or strata each day, featuring fresh vegetables, which are mostly local and often made with some local cheeses and always made with delicious local eggs. Many options of open-faced sandwiches are on rotation, including Honey Bear made with house peanut butter, fresh fruit on maple coconut, house bread. Other offerings are Steeltown Toast made with shredded braised Buffalo tofu, vegan mayo, sunflower seeds and grated carrots and Emerald City Toast made with pesto edamame smash, local arugula or spinach and extra-virgin olive oil. House Hummus is served on Pesto Tomato Toast with fresh greens or tomatoes.
Weekly Sandwiches made on weekly rotation are Glow in my Hand Burger, a house chickpea-carrot burger, nooch or vegan mayo, greens, pickled onions on a house-made grain roll. There is a barbecue version of the Glowburger. Other sandwich options are made with herb baked tofu, Buffalo baked tofu and pesto edamame with their famous Nooch (house cashew cheese spread). Salads are made on a weekly rotating basis with fresh produce and house-made dressings, nuts, seeds and sometimes tofu.
The cafe decor has had many contributors, including at least a dozen local women artists. The table tops, each different from the next, were designed and covered with various types of art from area contributors and put on a variety of bases that the Daly-Griffens supplied. A vintage piano sits in a corner for use by whoever would like to tickle the ivories.
“There’s a special place in my heart for old things, like old instruments, old spices, old names.”
There is an open mic or scheduled musician(s) every Friday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., when the cafe makes a variety of pizza, both with traditional dairy cheese and vegan options, which is sold by the slice. Common dairy options are Pesto Spinach Party, Triple Olive, Mixed Veggie, Saucy Cheese, Mushroom Veggie and Dill Pickle Pizza. Vegan options could be Buffalo Tofu with Onion and Nooch, Mushroom Saucy Nooch, Spinach Pesto Almond and Dill Pickle Nooch.
Wellness events are hosted regularly with Kristian Reiber, a certified wellness coach and Joseph Murray Myers does chair massages at the cafe from time to time.
The baker’s husband, Jeremy Daly-Griffen, is a Pre-K teacher at Pine Valley Central School. They have three children. Willow is 15, Ezra 13 and Hazel is 9.
“Another example of using hardship to create opportunity is our family learning to deal with Tourette Syndrome. Approaching Tourette Syndrome with dignity and using it for a tool for developing compassion instead of thinking of it as an affliction,” says the mom. “When life throws us a complication, we use that for opportunity for growth or for sharing or we can have the sense that it isolates us.”
The couple has worked at a camp for children and teens with Tourette Syndrome for eight years. Their children have been trained as youth ambassadors and can train peers in other schools.
“In our life, the things other people think of as hardship, we think of as an opportunity to serve other people and as a method to develop a deeper compassion in our relationships with other people.”
Besides providing restaurants with baked goods, doing the weekly Fredonia farmers market, running a food truck and the new cafe, Mrs. Daly-Griffen and her staff take private orders.
Om Nohm Gluten Free is located at 45 Temple St. in Fredonia, and can be reached by texting (585) 322-6864 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their hours of operation are Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 8 PM and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m..
Six recipes have been shared by Mrs. Daly-Griffen including one for her French press coffee.
“Enjoy these recipes from my heart and home to your family,” says the baker. “Trust me, start with a spoonful of the broth of Grandma’s Beans and Taters.”
She describes her porridge as “savory and luscious.”
Grandma’s Beans and Taters
2 qts fresh small green beans (maxibel haricot verts)
1 qt fresh baby red or white potatoes
1 fresh summer onion, peeled, cut into eighths
3 T butter or olive oil
2 tsp good salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Put the washed potatoes and chopped onion in the bottom of a large pan with 1 quart water. Add salt and pepper and then put beans on top of potatoes. Add butter. Cover and steam approximately 12 minutes at high heat or until a fork tender.
Any Day Massaged Kale Salad
Large bunch kale greens, washed with ripped off stems in large pieces
1/4 c good olive oil
1/4 c good vinegar or citrus (maple vinegar, organic apple cider vinegar, lime or lemon juice)
Dash of honey or pure maple syrup (skip this, if using lemon or lime)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 head garlic, peeled and crushed or chopped
1 tsp kosher or Himalayan salt
Fresh black pepper
Optional seasonal favorite embellishments: sunflower seeds, tamari almonds, toasted walnuts, toasted sesame seeds, thinly sliced green apples, blueberries, cherries, fresh citrus sections, halved grapes or raisins, currants, pomegranate seeds, pepitas, different salts or peppers, hard aged cheeses, soft chevre or smoky bleu
Put kale in a large bowl. Add other ingredients. Massage with all your love in your clean hands until combined and wilted. Pack leftovers in a clean mason jar. Refrigerate and eat every day with love in your heart until it’s gone and then make some more.
Daly Griffen Porridge
1 c dried millet and brown rice blend
1/2 c nutritional yeast (not baking yeast)
1 tsp sea salt
1 quart water
Fresh chives, optional
Grind 1 cup dried millet and or brown rice in a blender until the texture of coarse meal. Bring to boil with all other ingredients (reserve fresh chives to top at end), whisking often until it comes to a rapid boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer 12 minutes until thick. May top with fresh chives, cheese, hot sauce, more salt and pepper, more olive oil.
The Perfect French Press Coffee
For a 24-oz. French press, bring water almost to a boil. Grind a heaping 1/3 c organic French roast coffee beans to a medium fine grind. Put in bottom of press. Pour heated water to half full. Let rest 2 minutes to “bloom” the coffee. Stir with an old hand-me-down chopstick, while adding boiling water to fill. Think nurturing thoughts about the one with whom you will share the coffee as you place the lid.
Two cups, one press, all the conversation.
Really Good Pintos
1 lb dried washed pinto beans
1 peeled whole yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
3 dried guajillo chiles, toasted over oven flame first
1 splash olive oil
1 T each cumin, coriander and paprika
Put beans in crockpot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Add water until it is 2 inches above ingredients. Cook overnight, on low. In morning, add 1 T kosher salt and keep warm until ready to eat. Mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon for taco night. The amounts are arbitrary, all an approximation.
The Break-Up Cookie
(as in a relationship)
1 c good salted peanut butter
1 fresh egg
1 c raw sugar
1 c organic chocolate chips
Mix all above ingredients. Press out onto parchment-lined pizza pan to make a big cookie. Bake 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees. Honor the break-up-ee with words (maybe embellish the cookie with words written in melted chocolate or simple frosting) and break up the cookie to share. Bring the tissues and share stories.