Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Thursday June 03, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Farmer Val Thursdays!

Farm Girl Farm

The name is so telling. All women. There is chemistry, drama, and mind blowing teamwork. All five from dramatically different backgrounds drawn to one place, thrown together at this point by the Green River under the leadership of the quiet understanding Laura. The restaurant orders are heavy, the sun strong, and the dirt sticky on skin as we strive to get seedlings in the ground and weeds out of it. They're just trying to reestablish equilibrium: there are nutrients in the ground, water in the soil pores, space for roots and leaves. Their seeds are there, waiting to recover the bare ground so prone to erosion, deformation. The root vegetables are the first to come, radish shoulders poking their shoulders through the muck from afternoon showers: "send me to Allium! A salad, a salad, that is where I belong!" Small white turnips, begging to be shined and scrubbed, gleaming like a pale child's cheeks, wishing to be photographed.

The weather has a way of playing with our minds, we are driving to the tilled earth through bright grey-white fog, thicker than our skins, but we do not know that the sun will easily burn through the curtain within an hour and sear our skin more than the previous ninety five degree days. We lay plastic in many beds, creating order out of freshly rough-tilled chaos with stakes, mallets, and string. Squash, cucumbers, and melons will be emerging from the course ground in just a few months. Ollie leaps among the beds, inspiring consternation as he tears up just-done work indeterminately in his dominant pursuit of fun.

We are all thinking and learning as we use our bodies in pursuit of feeding the Berkshires.

--
thou mayest...timshel

Thursday May 27, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Local Ag Thursdays with Farmer Val

Every Thursday Farm Girl Farm intern, Valerie Anderson, will be joining the Heirloom Meals blog to share her food n' crop wisdom and connections so we can all be up to date on local Ag goings-on in the Berkshires.
(above: Val and her horse, Cherokee!) 
An organic farming major at the University of Florida, Val is hoping to become a soil conservationist so that communities around the world might be able to establish more eco-friendly crops and farming methodologies that are appropriate for their social, environmental and, perhaps, political circumstances.  She's got the brains, the humor, the drive and much much more so be sure to check in on Thursdays and every day!

The Main Event:
This Saturday, from 10 to 3 Farm Girl Farm will be having their annual seedling sale in Egremont MA so head on down and say hi to Farmer Val- she'll be workin' it!
http://farmgirlfarm.com/

Monday February 08, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Big Bird - Raising Meat Chickens to Eat!

Last summer I decided it was time to really know the farmer. And that farmer was me. (On a very small scale of course.) I wanted to raise our own meat chickens for a variety of reason. I wanted to be in control of everything they ate - all organic feed, fresh spring water, grass, worms and bugs!! I wanted them to be truly pasture-raised. And I wanted to see if I could eat those adorable day-old chicks once they were ready to be harvested. Well the answer to that question is a resounding YES. Those birds were bred to grow. We jokingly called them the oven-stuffer-roasters. They were eating machines and preferred to eat, then sit.

Once they were fully-grown we brought the birds to real farmer friends, Sean Stanton and his brother Jeremy to be "harvested."  Our birds weighed about 7-8 pounds and can feed a family of six, no problem!!

I just roasted one of the chickens for dinner on Saturday.  
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 sprigs of rosemary, minced
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix together to form a paste and infuse under the skin. Rub any leftover on the skin of the chicken. Cut up an onion and lemon and place in cavity. Bake in oven at 375 for an hour or so - I use an instant read thermometer to be certain it is done. I roasted sweet and russett potatoes and onions along side the chicken and served some steamed broccoli as well. A yummy and delightful meal.





What's best, however, is that I have gotten more than one meal out of the big bird! For lunch the next day, I chopped up the white meat and mixed it with some chopped shallots and a dab of mayo and served it on a baguette with a spinach salad.





And today, the soup was on!!  I put the carcass in a large stock pot with 8-10 organic carrots, chopped, 2-3 onions, chopped, celeriac, peeled and chopped, 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and a can of diced Muir Glen tomatoes.

I added some cooked rice and it was the perfect hearty soup for a cold winter weeknight meal.  And best of all - there's plenty for lunch tomorrow.

Thank you BIG BIRD!!



Wednesday January 27, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Sustaining Berkshire Grown

Berkshire Grown's mission is to support our local farmers and promote locally grown food, which results in strengthening our local economy and preserving open spaces.   It's a winning mission and one that I support whole-heartedly!

Last night I hosted the newly formed Development Committee for Berkshire Grown.


Our goal is to make Berkshire Grown "sustainable" without state funding.  In 2010 we have to do without a $50,000 state grant. And personally, I think that is OK.  We just need to do and think differently.

Our goals are to run events that are meaningful and in line with our objectives of helping farmers connect with food buyers - both restaurants through the farm to table program; and people through farmers markets and CSA's.  We need to reach out to the community and build membership, and pursue corporate sponsors who want to align with our message.  Restaurants play a key role for Berkshire Grown.  Their commitment to buying local ingredients and serving them is critical to the sustainability of our local small farms and our local economies.  If you are a local or own a second home in the Berkshires, please consider sending a donation to preserve the connection between farmers and eating.  I do.  I do it through my membership to Berkshire Grown (www.berkshiregrown.org), my membership to 2 CSA's (www.indianlinefarm.com and www.farmgirlfarm.com), raising my own chickens for meat and eggs, and using my land to raise Scottish Highland Cattle for grass fed beef for my family's consumption and ultimately for sale.

Food glorious food!  Don't we all live for that? Don't we all want to put what's best in our bodies and lower our carbon footprint?  If you answer YES - then support Berkshire Grown or support your local farmers wherever you live -  DO IT TODAY!!

And, yes I did serve food.  Our meal consisted of organic rice, chicken breast with chick peas and tomatoes and a green salad.  Laura Meister (Farm Girl Farm) brought chocolate chip cookies and local ice cream.



Chicken with Chick Peas and Tomatoes 
2 whole boneless chicken breast, cut into 8 pieces
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup minced cilantro
1 cup plain yogurt (I like 2% greek but any will do!)
1 can chick peas
1 can of diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix the garlic, oil, paprika,cumin, red pepper flakes. Spoon 1 tablespoon in the yogurt and set aside.  Place chicken in a baking dish and spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the spice mixture on the chicken.  In a bowl, mix the chick peas, tomatoes, remaining spice mixture and 1/2 cup cilantro.  Pour over chicken.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Serve over rice with a dollup or two of yogurt and sprinkle with cilantro. Enjoy!!

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