Thursday, April 28, 2011

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
By Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

From The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Recipe For Easter: Deviled Eggs

Longer days and warmer temperatures has gotten our hens back in the habit of cranking out eggs. As they glean bugs from lush spring grass and forage for worms and little seeds, their yolks have taken on a deep shade of orange.
Easter is a time to reflect on Life both religiously and earthly. We stuff Easter baskets with chocolate eggs and marshmallow peeps to represent the new life many of us will be celebrating this weekend. While your kids run around fishing brightly dyed eggs from bushes and secret hiding places, here is a recipe to help with the loot.
Deviled eggs have always been a favorite of mine. When a tray of them appear at a picnic or party I get weirdly excited. This may be because they are such a rare treat. It's not often I make them just for the fun of it. But I should. They are so easy, economical and quite possibly the perfect snack. Great for diabetics and all the rest of us, nibbling on a pastured deviled egg will deliver a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B, B12, D, E and K, folic acid, 7 grams of protein, iron, phosphorus, calcium and important heart and brain healthy cholesterol. Can't get that from a handful of goldfish crackers.
So don't toss all those hard boiled eggs once the fun is over. Whip them up into a healthy treat. Happy Easter!
May there be reminders of newly emerged life all around you.

Deviled Eggs: (this recipe can easily be doubled)
*6 eggs from pastured chickens
*1/3 cup homemade or high quality mayonnaise
*1 1/2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
*1 Tablespoon very finely minced onion
*1 Tablespoon very finely minced celery
*pinch cumin
*sea salt and pepper to taste
*paprika and chopped chives for garnish

Place whole eggs in a saucepan. Cover eggs with cool water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for 12 minutes.
Remove from heat. Rinse eggs under cold running water. Once cooled, crack and peel away shell. Rinse eggs to remove any shell bits. Towel dry.
Using a sharp knife, slice each egg lengthwise in half. Gently remove yolks and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients except the paprika and chives. Whip until smooth.
Spoon or pipe mixture into well of each egg white. Top with a sprinkle of paprika and garnish with chopped chives. Chill covered until ready to serve.

Note: You can add any spices or fillings appealing to you. If using very fresh eggs, add a splash of white vinegar to boiling liquid to help encourage shell to more easily peel away from egg.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Slow Simmered Local Goat with Yogurt, Tomatoes, Spices and Cream

With farmers market back in full swing, meals have been a bit more exciting around here. Thankfully, Walter and Wendy from Imladris Farm are raising another round of goats this year. I was so happy to grab a package of stew meat from them on Saturday, along with an absolutely perfect bunch of leeks from Gaining Ground Farm.
Slow simmered with raw cream from a local Jersey who has been grazing on lush spring grass, a few simple spices, yogurt, tender garden spinach and cilantro- t
he goat was ridiculously tender and mild.
It's safe to say I will come back to this recipe for more.

Slow Simmered Local Goat with Yogurt, Tomatoes, Spices and Cream:
*1 pound goat stew meat
*2 Tablespoons butter
*2 fresh leeks, rinsed and chopped (white and light green portions only)
*1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
*2 celery stalks, chopped
*3-4 cloves garlic, minced
*2 medium gold potatoes cut into 1 inch chunks
*1 can organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes
*1 cup plain whole yogurt
*1 cup fresh raw cream
*2 Tablespoons ground cumin
*2 teaspoons mustard seed
*6-8 whole cardamom pods
*sea salt to taste
*1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
*4-5 cups loosely packed fresh spinach leaves, chopped
*1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
*1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Note: This dish is fairly mild. If you are a lover of heat, add your favorite chillies while the dish simmers for more kick.

Place a large enameled cast iron cook pot (such as Le Creuset fitted with a lid) over medium heat with 1 Tablespoon butter. Allow to heat. Rinse and thoroughly dry goat meat using paper towels. Divide in half.
Sear first half of meat making sure not to crowd pan, turning once to brown each side. Remove from pot and transfer to a bowl (meat does not need to be cooked through). Repeat with remaining meat.
Add the leeks, onion, and celery with an additional Tablespoon butter to pot. Allow to soften and brown stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic. Stir. Add potatoes. Cook briefly before adding the crushed tomatoes, yogurt and cream. Return goat meat to pot. Stir in spices.
Reduce heat to low. Stir before covering. Allow to simmer for 3 hours or until goat meat is tender.
Gently stir in the spinach. Cover and cook until wilted, about 7 minutes. Add peas and cilantro. Serve over basmati rice.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Market Kicks Off. . .

A huge storm front didn't keep farmers from their stalls this morning. Despite the rain, familiar faces once again returned, setting up booths to kick-off the season. The clouds eventually broke giving way to crystal clear Carolina blue skies. Thanks to East Fork Farm for the first lamb meal of the season, Gaining Ground Farm for onion starts and the prettiest leeks imaginable, to Farm and Sparrow Bakery with their rustic sourdough loaves, Imladris Farm for the lovely sample of homegrown-homemade fruit leather (the best fruit roll-up I've ever had) and a package of tender goat meat (recipe to follow), among all the many others committed to bringing the fruits of their labors to hungry townsfolk. We are so lucky to have you all; to have the opportunity to hand our cash directly to the growers who deserve every penny most, and for knowing the people behind the food that fortifies our health.

*For local readers, tune into my friend Ruth's Tailgate Market Fan Club homepage for weekly updates on all the growers markets in the area.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fried Chicken

Alright dear readers, time to get to know one another a little better. I like fried chicken. Yes, I am still in the field of nutrition and I still like kale, but I will never swear off crispy poultry. Here's what gets me about the health gurus who would scowl at this confession: in general they need to work on keeping it real.
I agree that our food supply is greatly. . .no, dangerously tainted by the food industry. I oppose factory farming. I do not like vegetables from thousands of miles away. I think eating liberal quantities of foods grown in good soil a grand idea. And I also think the term "health food" conjures up the wrong images. This may be because frozen food brands calling themselves "Healthy Choice" taste about the same as the box they are sold in, and are about as good for you.
Or because mainstream junk food brands want you to think life is full of deprivation when seeking a healthy diet. I also think overly-health obsessed individuals would like us to think they are stronger than the rest of the population; some sort of super human who never falls victim to any cravings what-so-ever while their fantasies about pints of Ben and Jerry's would be enough to make most of us blush. Granted, they may not indulge, and rarely do I, but it's not because I am better than everyone else. It's because I truly understand the satisfaction of real food, not the overly sensationalized brief moment alone with a sleeve of Oreos. I can think past the affair and know how it will make me feel. Like crap.

How is it then that I can "get away" with eating fried chicken and still consider myself healthy? Or butter for that matter? Or pastured pork?
The answer is quality. When I make fried chicken (which in truth is pretty rare), I crisp free-range fillets in organic coconut oil. Stable at high temperatures (unlike the vegetable and seed oils used commercially for frying), and containing lauric acid, a antibacterial-antimicrobial property also present in breast milk, coconut oil is satisfying and nothing to feel bad about, a very different beast than the fried chicken at your local greasy-spoon. In fact, I think so highly of coconut oil, I try and incorporate it into my weekly diet on purpose to gain its many benefits. It's true.

So while we all strive to eat as healthy as we are able, I'd like to remind everyone that such a quest in actuality is more satisfying than a million pints of Haggen-Dazs stacked to heaven on a spoon. Quality food, even including occasional quality fried chicken, satisfies a true desire without compromising the vessel that houses our souls.
My advice: Eat well. Make some fried chicken. And keep it real (in every sense).

Fried Chicken:
*7-10 free-range chicken tender fillets, pounded thin
*refined coconut oil for frying (amounts will vary)
*1 egg
*splash of water
*1 cup natural panko bread crumbs or bread crumbs of your choice
*1 cup fine ground cornmeal or white wheat flour
*sea salt
*fresh ground black pepper

Rinse chicken. Place on a piece of parchment paper in a row. Cover with another piece of parchment. Pound each fillet with a meat tenderizer or heavy spoon until thin.
Whisk egg in a bowl with a splash of water. Set aside.
Stir together the bread crumbs, flour, sea salt and pepper in a shallow dish.

Place a small cast iron pan over medium heat. Coat with ample coconut oil.
Dip each fillet into the egg mixture before dredging in bread crumb mixture, turning to coat each side. Place coated fillets in hot pan being careful not to crowd the pan. Work in batches. Allow chicken to brown before flipping. Add more coconut oil as needed.
Transfer to a lined sheet while repeating with remaining fillets.
Serve with homemade honey mustard sauce and a big green salad.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grilled Asparagus with Pancetta and Local Jersey Milk Feta

Asparagus may easily be one of the most elegant vegetables to arrive in early spring. I would go so far as to say it is one of the most elegant vegetables of all time. Tender, mild and distinctly seductive with its sweet, uniquely earthy flavor.
You don't have to do a thing to make fresh garden asparagus any better than it already is plucked straight from the garden. Yet, here is perhaps the next best method. Harvest young shoots, rinse, grill and sprinkle with local jersey milk feta and cubes of crispy pancetta. Serve with poached eggs straight from the coop or toss all components into a quiche. The creaminess from the eggs is a perfect accompaniment to the salty pancetta and feta, without overwhelming the vegetable's pure springtime pleasure.
This dinner may be simple, but absolutely unforgettable.

Grilled Asparagus with Pancetta and Local Jersey Milk Feta:
*1 bunch freshly harvested asparagus
*olive oil for grilling
*1/4 cup crumbled local sheep or cow milk feta
*1/4 pound thick slice pancetta, cubed
*black pepper

Rinse asparagus. Chop shoots in half.
Place a grill pan over medium heat. Coat with olive oil. Meanwhile, heat a separate pan over medium heat and add cubed pancetta, stirring occasionally until golden and crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Begin grilling asparagus while searing pancetta, turning once or twice until slightly tender.
Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with the feta, pancetta and freshly ground black pepper.

Asparagus facts:
One of the oldest known cookbooks from the third century, De re conquinaria, contains a recipe for asparagus. Its diuretic properties have been praised since early times for medicinal use. The list of minerals and vitamins found in asparagus is long including: vitamins A, B6 C, E and K, calcium, magnesium, zinc, niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, iron, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and copper.
Asparagus is notably high in dietary fiber as well as protein. Special to asparagus is a property known as chromium which has been shown to enhance insulin's ability to deliver glucose to the body's cells from the bloodstream.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Top Ten Guide To Creating A Healthier Kitchen

I was asked by a fellow blogger to guest blog on her beautiful site: Aprons and Blazers. She is posting a series on "Spring Cleaning" with a focus on healthier living. I am honored to appear on her thoughtfully crafted pages. Please drop by her site to read my Top Ten Guide for making your kitchen a little healthier, shopping a little easier, and home cooking a little more approachable.
Happy Spring everyone, and thank you Monica for the meaningful collaboration!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Early Wonders

Somehow the kale made it through the winter. As did the cilantro. This is a first. As the fruit trees begin to entice pollinators with their newly hatched blooms, we are enjoying forkfuls of tender spring greens daily while preparing the garden soil for seeds. Mesclun mix, arugula, garlic, mustard greens and spinach are beginning to emerge.

This is just the beginning. . .