Sunday, December 25, 2011
Meat Contamination Widespread
Acres, June 2011
According to a nationwide study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), drug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus are present in meat and poultry from United States grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates. Nearly half of the meat and poultry samples -47%- were contaminated with S. aureus, and more than half of those bacteria -52%- were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics. This is the first national assessment of antibiotic resistant S. aureus in the U.S. food supply. Researchers collected and analyzed 136 samples -covering 80 brands- of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 26 retail grocery stores in 5 U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Flagstaff and Washington D.C.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Here are some pics taken through the summer.....
Some of the tomatoes I was harvesting at the time....heirlooms-Mr. stripely & Black Krim, green zebra, regular red slicing, and red romas. The orange slicing and yellow romas weren't ready when the pic was taken. All this color makes for a very interesting salsa! Using just the old standard red ones is boring now.
It was a pretty good year for strawberries given the absolute horrible spring we had. The bad spring pushed everything else back and when the berries started getting ripe, we were still messing with other things and they kind of got ahead of us.
Storm clouds moving in.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Farmers' Markets Today, May/June 2011
Three Senators attacked USDA'S "Know Your Farmer" Campaign
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack received a sharply worded letter against the ag department's Know Your Farmer program from Sen. John MaCain (R-AZ), Sen. Ag Comm. Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and House Ag Comm. Member Pat Roberts (R-KS).
Argi-Pulse reported that the contents of the the letter included, "while the concept of educating consumers about production agriculture is a worthwhile endeavor, we have serious misgivings about the direction of the Know Your Farmer program." The letter charged that the Know Your Farmer initiative also included "Subsidizing the so-called locavore niche market" with $65 million this year, and claimed that the USDA 'pledged to deliver more in Fiscal Year 2011."
The Senator's letter charged that 'this spending doesn't appeared geared toward conventional farmer who produce the vast majority of our nation's food supply, but is instead aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets."
Additional charges are related to spending "rural Development funds on feel-good measures" and how 'propping up the urban locavore markets addressed their [American families and rural farmers] needs." The letter also requested that USAD provide proof of congressional authority to spend money for Know Your Farmer purposes along with a full accounting of all spending.
Agri-Pulse has posted the MaCain/Chambliss/Roberts letter for public review online http://www.agri-pulse.com/20100429H1.asp -- use the link there to see the full letter.
Friday, June 10, 2011
From: the New York Times
World Briefing | ASIA
China: Acres of Exploding Watermelons
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: May 17, 2011Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state news media called fields of “land mines.” About 20 farmers in Jiangsu Province have been affected, losing up to 115 acres of melon, China Central Television reported. High prices over the past year prompted many farmers to enter the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth stimulator forchlorfenuron, which has been widely available for some time, the report said.
Now do we really need growth stimulators for produce??? Come on now...it's bad enough it's in our dairy & meats!!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Hanna Kroeger, Ageless Remedies from Mother's Kitchen
If you don't know, that natural ingredient that she mentions above is gelatin-rich meat stock...and in this case, chicken stock.
Since it is close to stewing hen time, I thought it would be a good time to post a recipe for chicken stock. Chicken stock can be used for more than making chicken soup, of course, and by doing so, we can get more of this gelatin-rich broth into our system to bring about healing and health. Use it in places that call for water, like stir fying & making rice.
Making stock isn't hard (the stove does most of the work), it just takes a little bit of time....but it's time well spent!
The best (easiest) way to make stock is to make a big batch and then freeze it into freezer bags in the size amounts that you use most. If you have a really big stock pot, you can double this recipe.
Farm-raised, pastured/free ranged chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.
6 lbs chicken scraps *
4 qts. water
3-4 carrots, peeled & coarsely chopped
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
2 leeks, including green part, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, with leaves, coarsely chopped **
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs parsley
2 Tbs. salt
3/4 cup dry white wine (or 1/4 cup vinegar) ***
Place chicken into a stockpot and add water. Bring to boil, removing scum that rises to the top. After scumming subsides, put the rest of the ingredients into the pot and bring everything back up to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook covered for 4-24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.
Remove from heat and cool some.
Remove the chicken pieces and big chunks of veggies from the stock with a slotted spoon.
Strain stock through several layers of wet cheesecloth over a strainer.
Reserve chicken meat for soup or other uses. Discard everything else but the liquid.
The test to whether your stock contains good amounts of gelatin is done by chilling the broth. It should thicken, and thicken to the point of jelling completely like a bowl of jello, when refrigerated.
The whitish stuff on the top is the fat, scrap it off and discard.
Scoop out the amounts needed and put into a covered container or freezer bag.
Use immediately, refrigerate (for up to several days) or freeze.
* Chicken scraps can be bones, necks, backs and other scraps (chicken feet are loaded with gelatin so don't be afraid to use them!). If using whole chicken, cut it up into pieces.
** Using the center of your celery bunch works well as that is where the leaves and the 'not as pretty' stalks are. If a bunch of celery is going bad before you can use it all up, put it into the freezer and when you make stock, pull it out and use that.
*** Don't be tempted to leave out the wine/vinegar thinking it is not important; you need this acid to pull out the minerals from the bones.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Now aren't you glad you didn't lay that one!?!?!?
I put this x-jumbo egg (really it's almost a double jumbo) next to a reg jumbo egg and a quarter just to compare.
Then a few days later I got another one. It was almost the same size but not quite as big, but both were a handful as you can see. I believe this eggs is coming from the same hen as the shell types are the same.
So I decided to make breakfast out of that one really big egg. I usually do 2 regular eggs (if I have any regular ones to eat as we usually keep the really big ones, really small ones, cracked ones or the weird shaped ones for us so regular isn't something we have often in the frig) or I could use 4 small ones or a combo of 1 big and 1 small.....but I thought that this time the 1 super big one would be enough. Sure enough it was! I was wondering if it would be a double yoker. Notice the color of the yokes? The bright orange color comes from the grass that the hens get to eat. You won't see that in any store egg! I cooked it up with our grass-fed, nitrite free pork bacon.
Time to eat!
The toast has homemade strawberry/blueberry/red raspberry jam made from our organically grown strawberries, blueberries and red raspberries using the pectin we sell that allows me to choose the kind & amount of sugar to add to it, so it is low-sugar mixed berry jam. The toast is a bit darker than I would like but everything was yummy just the same.
A great start to a busy day.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
We have the smoked ham and the maple syrup, all you need to supply is the butter and apples. How easy is that! Our hams (and bacon) are smoked and cured the traditional way without the use of nitrites. Enjoy!
Smoked Ham with Apple-Maple Glaze
serves 6 to 8
3 to 4 pound, semi-boneless cold smoked ham
1 to 2 large tart baking apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 325º F.
Rinse the ham well with cold water and pat dry. Place in a baking dish or roasting pan large enough to comfortably hold the ham, and cover tightly with foil.
Bake the ham until completely heated through, about 20 minutes per pound. About 10 minutes before the ham is done, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until it begins to foam. Saute the apples in the butter until tender and golden, about 5 minutes, and add the maple syrup. Increase the heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the syrup begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Remove the ham from the oven and increase the temperature to 350º F. Carefully pour the juices from the ham into the skillet with the apple/maple syrup mixture and stir to combine. Spoon the glaze back over the ham and return to the oven. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 to 20 minutes to glaze the ham, basting it every 5 minutes.
Remove the ham to a cutting board and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes before carving; reserve the glaze from the pan. Carve, spoon the glaze over the slices and serve.
Recipe variation: Want to try this but don't want to get a big ham? There is only goint to be 1 or 2 of you eating at this meal? Why not try some of our ham slices and put them in a baking dish, cover and then bake. Add other ingredients as above and drizzle over your slices. You won't even need to cut it up with this version.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Ye Olde Cow Path, Watch Thy Step......
Have you heard that saying before? It's true, cows do have paths.... and ours are no different. They are creatures of habit. Ours have a path from the pasture barn to the bigger pasture area where John feeds them everyday when they can't get to the grass themselves. We can see them walk this path from our kitchen window. We've seen them do this many times but today was rather unique. It was 11am and still snowing but apparently they were tired of waiting for us so they made the trek out themselves hoping we'd notice and bring lunch. Sometimes these guys act just like children!
Gabriel (our bull) lead the way this time plowing through the snow for the crew...and it really did look like he was plowing. I missed getting a pic of that before he went behind the trees. Everyone is in single file with their heads down headed for the food area.....moving no faster than the one in front of them.
This is what they call herd mentality....one leads and the rest just follow--following and not really thinking about what they are doing.
First part of the herd coming out from behind the trees on the left with the tail end still on the other side.
Coming into the area where they get fed.
Then they stood there waiting for the food to come. If we opened the window, we could hear them calling us. John when out a bit later. They will munch for a while then, as they usually do, make their way back to the barn using the same path that got them there.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Our 4 generation farmer (we hope he enjoys farm life) has finally arrived! He was 11 days late and it took 36 hours to get him here....mom and dad were exhausted. Owen's debut was Jan 19th, weighing 8 lbs 2 oz.
A proud mom and dad
This one cracks me up as when Chad and I arrived at the hospital the 2nd day, we found him wrapped up tight like a mummy. The look on his face almost says "help me"---'AH... Grandma, finally--get me out of this straight jacket!'
So, of course, we had to help....and we let him go free. Seems happier doesn't he?!?!
He was actually quite interactive while we were there. It wasn't long after freedom that he found his hand, fingers and thumb, then he tried to get them into his mouth. Uncle Chad helped coach him though the process in getting the thumb in there and not the knuckles. He did OK for a beginner but still needs practice.
Then it was time to leave, so we had to give him back to dad. I think after we left, he then got that mummy wrap again. We hope he enjoyed his time while being out and about.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Here are some of the processes we need to go through to get strawberries ready to have an berry harvest to offer you the following year. I didn't get the planting part, so you will have to imagine that.
Want to know what is better-- organic or conventional? Be sure to go to the end of this post to see the organic vs. conventional strawberry study.
Here we have the beginning stages after planting. We had it somewhat 'easy' this summer as we didn't have much rain and as you can see we don't use black plastic (for various reason) so the lack of rain did keep the weeds at bay for a time. Because we don't use weed stray, we need to keep the weeds out manually so this was a God-send.
Since you don't want to get berries the first year , we did have to come through here periodically and pick off blossom stems. After a while the plants start to send out runners (and this year they seem to have sent out a ton!). We need to clip most of them off because if you don't it will be too thick come next year and that will cause the berries to rot and it actually cuts down on productivity if things are too tight. While down there pulling, we needed to reset the runners we wanted to keep and place them were we wanted them (if they weren't already there) as they grow whatever way they feel like it and that is not always where we want them to grow. In this pic the runners hadn't started very much yet....we were still picking blossom stems.
We have runners now. Our lack of rain ended in September and everything (that being the weeds) took off even more. Between the runner overgrowth and the weeds can you still tell where the rows are? It was a jungle in there!
We were all assigned 2 rows a piece to de-weed and de-runner. Somehow Chad seemed to get out of his 2 rows but my mom was willing to come out. Chad did offer to rototill when we were finished so we let him do it. You can see in the 2nd isle all the runner that were pulled out....and remember this is not the first time we had pulled runners
Starting to look a bit more respectable.....5 rows done and 3 to go (1 Nathan's and 2 Chad's) . I took the last 2 rows on the right as that was by the garden and while I was already over there clearing things out for that, I just worked on those while I was there.
AAHH! now that looks A LOT better. Done and ready for straw after they harden a bit from the cold. John got a few new mid-season varieties this year to try and they didn't get as big as the rest of the varieties. You can tell which ones they are just by this pic. We are curious to see how things go with them when it's picking and tasting time.
Finally time to cover them for the winter. Covering them helps to keep the weeds out for next year as we won't be rototiling again and also protects the berries from ground diseases and helps keep the bugs from getting into them as bad.
Here comes the last of the straw. Leftovers from a church hayride we had this fall.
Done and ready for the snow.
We'll uncover them come spring so they can get sunlight and start to grow again and probably (well it just about a given) that at some point we'll cover them with frost cover to protect the blossoms from frost damage.
Then we'll pick, pick, pick, pick, pick, pick, pick and pick some more until you can't stand strawberries anymore. Funny how that works.
So why go to all the work to make berries like this? A few months ago I can across a study that was done on the quality of organic vs. conventional strawberries. It was nice to see something in print that we had known already.
If you want to see the whole study you can go to:
but if you want the condensed version, read on....
Side-by-side comparisons of organic and conventional strawberry farms and their fruit found the organic farms produced more flavorful and nutritious berries while leaving the soil healthier and more genetically diverse.
"Our findings have global implications and advance what we know about the sustainability benefits of organic farming systems." said John Reganold, Washington State University Regents professor of soil science and lead author of the paper published in PLoS ONE.
The study is among the most comprehensive of its kind, analyzing 31 chemicals and biological soil properties, soil DNA, and the taste, nutrition and quality of 3 strawberry varieties on more than 2 dozen commercial fields--13 conventional and 13 organic.
Among their findings: the organic strawberries had significantly higher antioxidant activity and concentration of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds. The organic strawberries had longer shelf life. The organic berries also has more dry matter, or, "more strawberry in the strawberry".