Friday, May 31, 2013

Animal Grief

While not strictly within the confines of grass and sustainable agriculture, this article intrigues me. I've seen animals grieve, horses and cattle, especially when cows lose calves. Having seen their grief helped me find my way through my own when we lost our daughter at twenty days old.

How Animals Grieve

Thursday, May 30, 2013

One True Ingredient

The meal started with rice. And I’m talking long grain brown rice, no white Minute Rice or Rice-A-Roni here, my friends. I’ll admit to keeping Rice-A-Roni around for emergencies, but there’s no monosodium glutamate or hydrolyzed corn gluten in this food story.

I let the rice cook while taking care of the baby in another room and almost burned my One True Ingredient before the food story really started. (Stir before fifteen minutes are up, and use low, not 2, for realsies. Just a warning.) Luckily, The Prince of Fuss (as my father has dubbed my dubious dairy low-tolerant offspring) and I made a quick save on the rice. I added more water and when it finished cooking, added some frozen peas, letting it sit covered on the cutting board to prevent further scorching. While that settled, I chopped onions to caramelize while taking out the trash and writing intermittently on a short story. (This really has nothing to do with the meal, I’m just using it to set the scene. Most days don’t go this well but His Majesty was content to chew on his giraffe and watch from his bouncy chair.)

The key to good caramelized onions is patience, low heat, a generous amount of salt, and a good talent for keeping a screaming baby occupied while flipping onions with the other hand.

The Prince soon tired of his chair-bondage and decided being a barnacle on mommy was much better. I like that my son is part of our kitchen experience, and usually also a part of our food story. I like that he puts his hand on the bottle of olive oil I use to sear asparagus. Since its hot and he’s naked except for his diaper, I should probably wrap him in Saran Wrap from toes to neck in order to keep him safe from getting splashed by hot oil or grabbing a hot pan.

I’m just not one of those kinds of mothers.

I believe in letting kids figure things out, do what you can to keep them safe, don’t get me wrong, but the sooner you realize the stove is hot, the electric fence is on, and no one is responsible for your attitude or happiness except you, the better off you’ll be in life. As anyone whose cooked bacon topless knows, (male or female, I don’t judge), cooking is pain. (Cooking here being a metaphor for life.) My trick is grabbing hot cast iron pans out of the oven either bare-handed (“How can that be hot? It’s a pan.”) or with a wet kitchen towel as a potholder. Some people never learn.

Cooking, I find, helps you find out what kind of parent you are.

I scraped my lovely, rich caramel-colored onions into a bowl and reheated the pan for asparagus, searing it lightly before turning the heat down to cook the veggies all the way through. In also goes salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. This last is the key and why, I finally discovered, my Spousal-Type Creature’s seared asparagus trumps mine. But no longer!

I felt like drinking a beer for the first time since our First Family Stomach Virus Extravaganza some days earlier, and selected a smooth porter we’d used to baste a brisket on Mother’s Day. I deglazed the asparagus with a little of the porter, and when that cooked down, added it to the onions and rice with peas, letting it all cook together and harmonize for a couple minutes. I had enough for quite a generous dinner and more than enough to reheat and scramble eggs into after work the next morning. 

So while The Prince fussed, alternatively kicking me and showing me how he could now grab both of his feet (serious stuff), and the cow grazed in the backyard, I drank my beer and ate my supper.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Farmers and Climate Change

Being among the first generation of farmers dealing with climate change is a frightening prospect. What kind of world am I leaving to my son? The most important things to remember if you're in the same boat is think of original solutions, think globally, micormanage your own property, and stay on your toes. We're in for a wild ride.

Reinventing Farming for a Changing Climate - NPR

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Grass v. Grain: The Debate Continues

Why choose grass over grain? Here's some thoughts.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A few things you always wanted to know about burgers (but were afraid to ask)

National Burger Month Did you know the original hamburger came from the regions of the Mongols and the Tartars, before gaining its name from the region of Hamburg in Germany? Now you do. But if you want a really yummy mustard recipe, the above link is still worth checking out.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shirred Eggs and Spinach

We grow eggs, we grow spinach. I'll be sure to try this recipe when I can eat eggs again without wincing. (Curse you, stomach flu.) Anyway, here's the link and happy Memorial Day all!

Shirred Eggs with Spinach and Paprika

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nitrates, it's what's for breakfast

Processed Meats and Nitrates

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Can't Fix Stupid

Latest installment at Words from the Root Cellar. Don't forget to check out the great book reviews at Portland Book Review to help you find your next summer read!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How We Eat

Dear Barclay Farms,
You talk about farm food, grass-fed, and the importance of eating local, how does that actually look on the plate?
Hypothetical Blog Reader

Dear Hypothetical Reader,

You ask how we eat. As Michael Pollen points out, every meal has a story. Here is one of ours.

I had too many guinea eggs. Like over three dozen. With more pilling up daily. Since (grievously) have to cull dairy from my diet (see Dairy Low-Tolerant Offspring), I try to eat a lot more eggs, hoping that one day my eggs turn into blueberry yogurt. (Sadly, thus far, this has not been the case.) 
Anyway, the challenge is Keeping Eggs Interesting. Because, let’s face it, grass-fed free range homegrown brown local natural wonderful or not, an egg’s a freakin’ egg.

I find that it’s easier (and safer with aforementioned Offspring going through a grabby stage) to bake rather than boil hard boiled eggs. (325 degrees for 30 minutes in a muffin tin or straight on the oven racks, 10 minutes in an ice water bath.) So I had two dozen hard baked guinea eggs and a recipe for Scotch eggs. I’ll spare you the sordid details, but this recipe, in terms of guinea eggs and proportions, requires some tweaking.

So we had eggs wrapped in ground beef and bread crumbs but decided our meal required more. While my Spousal-Type Creature took charge of the Dairy Low-Tolerant Offspring, I added a flannel shirt with sleeves rolled up to my tank top and capri pant ensemble, finishing off the look with chunky cowboy boots sans socks. Looking both ways for the fashion police, I crossed the road and went to the garden for spinach and asparagus.

It was a cool May evening of very pleasant temperature, and the wind was in my hair while I filled my basket with fresh spring veggies. The sky was a mix of blue, setting sun, and huge puffy pastel clouds that looked like rain in the distance. The air smelled of lilacs, with an undertone of grass cattle manure. I strolled back to the house where the STC balance an Offspring on one hip while caramelizing onions for the spinach.

I love a man who can multitask.

He sautéed sweet onions and spinach with a little balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, all in olive oil. He did the same with the fresh asparagus, leaving out the vinegar. He sautéed the spears first on nearly high, then turned it down to medium to cook through.

The meal was superb.

And thankfully, our beautiful little bundle of need waited until mommy and daddy were finished with their meal before he vomited, all over mommy and the chair.

But it really was a wonderful dinner.

Until next time, Gentle Reader, eat well and strive for one true ingredient.

Ax of Barclay Farms

While I realize that it is not possible for everyone to create a meal in which 90% of the ingredients come from within two thousand feet of the stovetop, I encourage knowing where your food comes from. If there is a new cause to believe in in the 21st century, its food. (And crop diversity, but that’s for another day.)

In 1776, Americans fought for freedom from tyranny. In 2013, the new tyranny is that of the Twinkie, so to speak. Processed, pre-prepared, preserved foods have become the norm. When your rice has more ingredients on the label than just rice, that might be considered a problem. What do these additives do to our bodies? To our kids? To our brains and health? Let’s take the fight from the battlefield and down to our plates. Demand to know what is going in your mouth as well as where it’s been, how it’s been handled, what it’s been treated with, and how it’s been prepared. Demand to make yourself informed. If we want better health, we have to work to make ourselves healthy. No one controls what goes into your mouth except you. If you want high quality, nutritious food, vote by what you buy. Don’t dump tea in the river, buy quality meats and eggs from a trusted local source. Pay the farmer not the trucker, the packer, the corporation, the grocery store, and the bank. Vote with your food choices. Eat well, eat local.

Vacating soapbox now. :)

On Crop Diversity

Monday, May 20, 2013

Modesto area grass-fed beef making inroads in industry - Agriculture -

Modesto area grass-fed beef making inroads in industry - Agriculture -

Food for Thought

Friday, May 17, 2013

Flax Fed Beef

Flaxseed: The Next Superfood For Cattle And Beef?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Grass-fed meat business includes herd of Dexters

Grass-fed meat business includes herd of Dexters
Mary Ann Stevenson entertains a three-week-old calf. |  Barbara Duckworth photo