More Than Just Great Food
Fruits of Labor Cafe & Bakery... and the Monte Cristo
Based in Rainelle, West Virginia, the Fruits of Labor Café & Bakery is so much more than a place to stop for a bite to eat. Sure, the food is tasty and the service is impeccable, but it’s what you don’t see that has really made a difference to so many.
Trained in agricultural and scientific research, Tammy Jordan worked for over a decade with the Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center ARS-USDA while residing in Greenbrier County. Growing Fruits of Labor in her “spare time,” she set out to fulfill her life-long dream of owning her own farm. The “fruits of that labor” were realized in 2008. Tammy left USDA and focused all her attention on her business and the many expansions that have led to the Culinary and Agricultural Educational Center it is today.
Meeting Tammy in person, you sense right away she is driven by so much more than her own goals. Soft spoken and with a warm, inviting smile, her faith is at the core of everything she sets out to achieve.
Not only does she run a successful café and bakery, but she is providing a certified culinary and agricultural program for West Virginia adults recovering from drug addiction and at-risk youth and young adults aging out of foster care. These 3-month programs, Seeds of Recovery and Seeds of Hope, are led by Tammy, Chef Roy Lynch III, their staff and a host of volunteers on a mission to provide these students with a sense of purpose and direction for their future.
Not far from the café, Tammy’s staff also runs a 218-acre “culinary” farm. Their specialty -- mushrooms, maple syrup, berries, and a wide variety of orchard fruits from peaches and plums to apricots and nectarines. With seasonally fresh produce as a core component in Tammy’s culinary curriculums, these foods are used in recipes ultimately enjoyed by diners at the café.
The farm also doubles as a retreat and gathering venue for groups of all shapes and sizes looking to find balance in their lives. And more recently, she has added culinary and agricultural training for educators, students and anyone else interested in learning more about the farm-to-table movement and how to incorporate it into one’s own dining regimen.
With such a full plate, we were honored that Tammy and Chef Roy were able to spend some time with us and share a full-flavored recipe that requires only ordinary items. An excellent choice for Sunday brunch, the Monte Cristo is a hot ham and Swiss, stacked on French toast with the added bonus of dipping sauces.
We hope you enjoy this delightfully satisfying recipe. If you’re looking to visit the café, it’s open Monday through Friday from 11-3 each day. It’s worth noting, diners and those who hire the Fruits of Labor’s catering team are directly contributing to Seeds of Recovery, Seeds of Hope and the success of an amazing group of young people.
MONTE CRISTO (serves 4)
1 LB Deli ham, thinly sliced
8 Slices Smoked bacon (cooked)
8 Slices Baby Swiss cheese
8 Slices Whole wheat bread
½ C Whole milk
1 TSP Ground cinnamon
¼ C Granulated sugar
½ TSP Vanilla extract
Pinch Kosher salt
1 TSP Powdered sugar (for garnish)
1 C Strawberries, washed, thinly sliced
1/8 C Granulated sugar
Pinch Kosher salt
½ TSP Lemon juice
1 C Maple syrup (to be used separately)
Directions for Sauces
- In small sauce pan, combine strawberries, salt and lemon juice.
- Allow to cook over medium heat until warm.
- Stir in granulated sugar.
- Continue to cook until sugar is dissolved and the sauce starts to slightly thicken.
- Reduce heat as needed to prevent scorching.
- Once the sauce has slightly thickened, strain through a sieve to remove seeds and pulp.
- Set aside until ready to use.
- Warm maple syrup in microwave just before use.
Directions for Sandwich
- Preheat oven to 350 °F.
- Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt.
- Dip the bread into the egg mixture one by one making sure to evenly coat both sides. Tip - Use homemade or bakery fresh bread and slice 1 inch thick.
- Once oven is hot, spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and arrange ham in 4, 4-ounce portions and top each with 2 slices of Swiss cheese.
- Place in oven and bake for 6 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted.
- Heat a large nonstick saute pan to medium high heat and sear each piece of bread until golden brown on both sides. Tip - Lightly season skillet with soy and olive oil instead of butter which can brown the bread too quickly, leaving the inside slightly uncooked.
- Place 4 slices of bread on a plate.
- Place hot ham and cheese on each piece of bread, then 2 slices of cooked bacon, topped with another slice of bread.
- Serve with a drizzle of syrup, warm strawberry sauce or maple, a sprinkle of powdered sugar, and sliced strawberries for a splash of color.