Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Another Fabulous Farmer’s Market Morning January 30, 2010

Filed under: Farmer's Market — realfoodmama @ 1:29 pm

I know I have said this before, so at the risk of repeating myself and boring all of you to death – I LOVE my Farmer’s Market!

This morning was particularly wonderful because I was privileged enough to meet one of the vendors. And this wasn’t just any vendor – Rose Trujillo, owner of Trujillo farms in Nambe – has been selling at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market for forty years. Yes, that’s right. FORTY years. In fact, she was awarded a plaque recently by the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute in recognition of her long standing participation.

She has been growing her own corn, making her own masa (an impressive feat indeed) and selling her tamales this whole time. She walked me through the process of making masa – she harvests her corn, roasts it, drys it, cooks the kernels in lyme in order to remove the skins, skims it, refrigerates it, rinses it, drys it a second time, grinds it, then makes her tamales. Keep in mind this woman is 75 years old and works a 2 acre farm!

Additionally she was full of experiential information about gardening. She suggested growing cosmos around your plots in order to provide shade, since they grow so high. She also explained to me how to distinguish the male flowers from the female flowers on squash so that if I want to pick squash blossoms I don’t work against myself by picking all my fruit. Rose also shared tricks and tips on how to conserve water, companion planting, and most importantly, how to get rid of ants! The trick, she explained, was to sprinkle hot chile powder on the ground. I will definitely be trying this one!

All in all, it was a very wonderful conversation and it really brought home to me, once again, the sense of community that is created by food and by local markets. I hope that I continue to create these kinds of relationships when I go to my local market – the sheer amount of information that can be shared and traded is, in my opinion, worth as much as the goods themselves.


Edible Institute, 2010! January 29, 2010

There is something inspiring about community.

This week Santa Fe was host to the inaugural Edible Institute – a gathering of food writers and activists from across the country who came together for discussions on a variety of issues. Topics included how to educate the public about SOLE food (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) without sounding preachy, specific ethical issues affecting food politics, and of course a panel discussion on the Southwestern Foodshed.

Perhaps the conversation most relevant to this blog was the panel discussion on the Southwestern Food Shed. The discussion was focused primarily on seed sovereignty and the work people have put into legislation here in the state that will protect farmer’s rights as concerns their ability to not only save their seeds, but also to be safe from biotech lawsuits in the event that GE crops cross-pollinate through no fault of the farmers.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask a question of the panel about the GE chile mentioned in this post. Unfortunately I failed to get an answer as to whether or not the chile was in production, but I did get a long history of the chile. Apparently the research is being conduced at NMSU, located in Albuquerque, and began in 2005.

Additionally, it appears as though while originally New Mexico was breaking ground in seed sovereignty and farmer protection, this is no longer the case. A Seed Sovereignty Declaration was originally written here in New Mexico and has since been signed by not only all the major Native tribes, but also by International groups. Unfortunately the state that launched this movement is now watering down the original language thanks primarily to a million dollar donation by the biotech company in favor of continuing research on the GE chile.

Additional information on the Seed Sovereignty declaration as well as up to date information on the status of the legislation in question can be found here at the New Mexico Acequia Association web site. I highly recommend all readers in the state of New Mexico read the information contained on this site and, if inspired, contact your representative to express your concerns over GE crops, especially the chile.

And while this conversation was most relevant to me given its local flavor, the other thing of extreme interest to me was a discussion on the rights, or lack thereof, of farm workers. Particularly those workers who may be illegal immigrants and who are working for large commodity growers.

There is a lot of discussion about how disenfranchised small and medium farmers are in the current economic situation, but the rights of the workers are frequently overlooked. In fact, there have been 7 cases of farm worker mistreatment that have been successfully prosecuted under this country’s slavery laws! The most famous of which involved workers actually being chained to farm equipment.

The conversation was specifically focused on the Imokalee Tomato Workers and their struggle for rights. More information can be found on their web site here.

All in all, the experience was fabulous and I really enjoyed participating. These kinds of community events are so important – to share information, connect with others and generally feel as though the momentum of the SOLE movement is going strong.

This post has been my contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays blog carnival. Check it out for more Real Food info!


Applesauce buckwheat pancakes January 27, 2010

Filed under: Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 11:06 am
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Good Morning!One of my old standby’s for breakfast is pancakes. They are remarkably simple and incredibly versatile. You can use a multitude of different flours, a variety of dairy products, and you can add almost anything to the batter. In fact, I regularly disguise fruits and vegetables as pancakes in order to get my two year old to eat them – my favorite is pumpkin season…mmmm, so good! But that is another post.

In fact, pancake batter is one of the few grain recipes where I regularly remember to soak my flour before using it. The reason is simple: You can make pancake batter the night before and refrigerate it until the morning. Not only does this make the whole process much quicker in the mornings (helpful when you have a very hungry toddler demanding pancakes) but it also allows the batter to sit in buttermilk (or yogurt, or kefir) for 12 hours before cooking.

This time of year, with the pumpkin mostly gone, I tend to start using my applesauce as the fruit. Homemade, with very little sugar, it adds just enough sweetness to the batter.

My basic recipe comes from The Joy, but it has been so long I have multiple modifications. For the apple sauce buckwheat version, the recipe is below. As for others, as long as you stick to the basic wet/dry ratio (i.e. 1.5 c flour to 1.5 c dairy), you can experiment as much as you like! I tend to use at least 2/3 c of unbleached all purpose flour however, as otherwise the pancakes can get dry. Experiment though, and see what you like! Adding honey to a pure whole wheat batter, for example, would compensate. Generally, however, I never add more than 1/3 c of pureed fruit or veggies, otherwise the texture is off.

Applesauce Buckwheat Pancakes

1 c organic unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 c buckwheat flour
1 1/2 TBSP aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c raw goats milk + 1/2 c goat kefir*
3 TBSP organic grass fed butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/3 cup unsweetened (or lightly sweetened) applesauce – recipe here

*I have dairy goats and make my own kefir. I have found that I like the combination above. You can always use all buttermilk or kefir or yogurt, however if you do this you will need to adjust your leavening to 1 tsp powder and 1/2 tsp soda to compensate for the higher acidity. You, of course, can also use all milk, but then any benefit you would get from soaking the flour would be lost.

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the dairy. Stir until fairly well mixed, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. This will lead to a rather sticky mess, to be honest, but trust me! It will work. Do not forget to cover, however, otherwise a nasty skin will develop.

The following morning, go ahead and combine the eggs, applesauce, melted butter and vanilla, if using, then add to the soaked flour mixture. Stir until just mixed – any over mixing at this point will lead to very heavy pancakes.

Heat a griddle to medium low and grease it. I used to use canola oil for this, but have since experimented with other things. Butter does not work well! You need some other oil, such as sunflower or safflower, or if you want the flavor of it, coconut oil. I do not like olive oil, even though it has a nice high smoke point, simply because the flavor is too obvious for me. Experiment until you find one that works for you.

What you want to do is put about a TBSP of oil in the pan and use a paper towel as a grease mop. Lightly brush the oil around the pan, being careful not to burn yourself, and set the now greasy paper towel aside for the next one. Ladle in about 1/3 – 1/2 c of batter and cook until the edges start to get glossy and the center bubbles, then flip. Re-grease your pan with the paper towel before starting another pancake.

Load them up with more grass fed butter and some organic grade B maple syrup and enjoy!

This post has been my contribution to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.


Goat trauma January 23, 2010

Filed under: Animal Husbandry — realfoodmama @ 8:48 pm
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So I woke up this morning and made my daily pilgrimage down to the goat pen in order to warm up the girls’ water only to discover a horrible scene of carnage. My poor Eek managed to find a weak point in the metal siding of her barn and sliced open her hoof, leaving a bloody mess and causing her tenderhearted caretaker (me) to pretty much burst into tears.

Hobbling up on three hooves, I brought her into the house (we have a solarium that doubles as a veterinary clinic when necessary) and proceeded to ascertain exactly what had happened. Aside from the aforementioned bloody mess, her hoof suffered a clean slice from a loose piece of siding (which has since been fixed). After rinsing with warm water and wrapping with clean gauze and other first aid supplies, she is back in her cozy barn hopefully recovering well.

The reason I am relating this tale is two fold. Firstly, as a woman new to the world of livestock, I am constantly amazed at how much work it takes to care for these animals. It isn’t like having a dog or a cat, at least so far. They are larger, they do not live with me, meaning their environment is constantly suspect simple because I am not in it, and it is rather difficult to throw one in a carrier, put it in the car and rush off to a vet. Although it should be noted, I have a wonderful vet who will come to me if necessary.

Secondly, I find that even though the above things come into play and these animals are basically a food source, my concern for them is no less than my concern for my companion animals. In fact in some ways it is heightened because I do not live intimately with them. They are outside, exposed to the elements and without my company for extended periods of the day. Which inclines me to worry more, not less.

All this is simply an elaborate way of sharing my concerns about my animal husbandry career. I am not the kind of person who can simply write my goats off as being “just livestock” and proceed to treat them as such. I worry about them hurting, I worry they are cold, I am concerned at this point that I have not adequately anticipated the safety of their environment, and I hate the thought of anything else bad happening.

The reason this is relevant to this blog is that it really makes me wonder how people, particularly those people involved in big ag, can treat the animals with such insensitivity and lack of compassion. How can you not thank your animals for providing for you? How can you have such a lack of respect for yourself and your food? It boggles my mind.

I may be a basket case come kidding time, and god help me if and when my animals get really sick and eventually pass away, but at least I respect them and strive to treat them well. I am thankful for every quart of milk my goats give me and I want them to know it. And that is why I will no doubt wander down to the pen this evening after I put my son to sleep, just to make sure my girl is okay.


Genetically Engineered Chile? January 19, 2010

Filed under: Eating local,Fight Back Fridays,Food Activism,Politics — realfoodmama @ 6:39 pm
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GE or not GE?My local Co-op publishes a monthly news letter that is chock full of information on local food issues. Everything from information on state legislation to updates on the successes of local products.

This month, one of the more disturbing themes was about genetically engineered crops and the lawsuits brought against individual farmers by GE giant Monsanto.The most upsetting part of this article, however, was the disclosure that the NM state legislature has been funding the development of a genetically engineered chile since 2006. New Mexico is a huge chile producer (anyone who has seen Hatch green chile in their supermarket is buying from a town named Hatch in the southern part of the state – at least in theory), and apparently this research is being done on behalf on the NM Chile Association, web site here. Why is unclear and merits more research.

The really upsetting part of this is noted in the Co-op newsletter, that being that chiles are used so extensively in the state of NM as both food and decor that the potential for contamination is mind blowing. Chile seeds everywhere on ristras and plates all over the state…

Of course, the NM GE chile no doubt does not contain the roundup readiness of Monsanto’s famous grains, and an argument could be made that the act of creating hybrids is crucial to the evolution of agriculture – domestication of wild wheat, etc. However it still makes me nervous, and rightfully so.

In either case, it has certainly inclined me to do more research on the topic. I dislike the idea of a group such as Native Seeds SEARCH going to all the trouble of saving heirloom and historical varieties of chile just to have the state of NM undermine their own agricultural heritage by actively funding a GE crop.

This post has been my contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday‘s blog carnival.


Real Food Remedies? January 15, 2010

This week our whole family was downed by a terrible stomach flu and it had me thinking: What kind of home remedies do people create using real food?

During my studies in Chinese Medicine, we had a whole semester course dedicated to healing with food. Chinese Medicine utilizes nutrition to help people bring themselves into balance and recover from illness. As a result my reliance on food as medicine is somewhat ingrained at this point. However, aside from understanding the energetics of certain ingredients, my recipe box is somewhat limited in terms of “healing foods”.

One of my standbys is certainly chicken noodle soup – there is nothing better than a really rich chicken broth loaded with carrots and celery and chicken fat to really make you feel like you’re healing yourself. Another thing I have only just recently added to my repertoire is home made pro-biotic foods such as kefir and yogurt using the goat milk from my girls. This has come in handy recently due to the bout of stomach flu. I have also been known to make congee – a traditional Chinese porridge made of rice or a combination of rice and millet that is cooked until the grains become gelatinous. Typically done in my crockpot overnight, this can be a great way to get nutrition in a person recovering from an illness or even to wake up the digestion in the mornings the way a bowl of nice oatmeal or hot cereal does. The Chinese frequently add protein to their congee in the form of fried or scrambled eggs and pork, as well as vegetables.

However, aside from the above list, my “healing food” recipe box is empty. Bone marrow soup, for example, is something I have learned is a great tonic, but I’ve never made. I’d be curious what other healing recipes people out there have in their cupboards. This winter has seen some pretty virulent diseases, including H1N1 and as a person who does not vaccinate, I must seek out other defenses against these things. Please feel free to add your favorite healing dishes! I would love to see what other people have up their sleeves 😉

Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 chicken (approx 2 lbs – bone in and skin on! very important!)
4 c water
1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots
2 stalks of celery (or 1 stalk + 1 tsp celery seed)
1/2 onion, skin on
2 inch fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp dried, crushed)
4 inch fresh thyme (1 tsp dried, crushed)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb noodles (home made or otherwise)

To begin, make your chicken stock. Place the chicken in a large stock pot and add the water, half the carrot cut into large pieces, 1 celery stalk cut into four pieces OR 1 tsp celery seed, and the onion, quartered. Also add the fresh herbs and salt and pepper, to taste. I prefer a more salty stock, so I typically add about 2 – 3 tsp of sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for about an hour.

The key to this stock is to use chicken that has skin and bone. Typically I buy my birds whole and butcher them at home. I like to cut them right down the middle, unless I am making something that calls specifically for breast meat. That way when I make my stock I have a nice bony, fatty carcass to boil up. The real secret to good chicken stock is the fat. Many recipes call for skimming after the stock has been made. I never do this – why get rid of all that fat?

Once the chicken is cooked through and you have a nice oil slick of fat on the surface of your stock, go ahead and remove your chicken, placing it to cool on a cutting board nearby. Then strain the stock in order to remove the now overcooked veggies. I use a colander for this and simply pour the stock from one pot to another rather than trying to strain it into a jar.

Once your chicken has cooled enough so that you can handle it without burning yourself, remove all the meat and set this aside in another bowl. You can dice the meat if you’d like, but I tend to just leave it in it’s shredded state.

At this point you can reconstruct your soup. Go ahead and put the chicken back in the stock, along with the second celery rib, diced, and the rest of your carrot, sliced thinly. In a separate pot, boil the water for the pasta. You don’t want to try to cook the pasta in the soup as this will result in a loss of too much stock and will lead to soggy noodles.

Once the noodles have reached al dente consistency, strain them and toss them in the chicken soup. Let everything cook at a low simmer for a few more minutes and you are ready to serve!

Look for my experiments with raw goat kefir at a later date. Until then, Happy Eating!

This blog has been my weekly contribution to Real Food Wednesday’s, hosted this week by Cheeseslave.


Local Food Events! January 12, 2010

Filed under: Events,Food Activism — realfoodmama @ 7:51 pm
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I was pleased to discover this week that Santa Fe is host to two very exciting food related events in the next six weeks. First, Edible Communities is hosting it’s first annual Edible Institute here on January 28th!

For those of you unfamiliar with the publication, Edible Communities focuses on local, seasonal food from coast to coast. Each separate publication highlights local fare and food news. To find a publication in your area, go to this website and check out the offerings. Publications are listed alphabetically.

The Edible Institute will be a gathering of writers, eaters, and locavores coming together for a discussion on a variety of topics affecting local, sustainable agriculture.

Additionally, the Santa Fe Alliance is hosting a Local Food Growers and Buyers Expo in the beginning of February. This will be an opportunity for these two sides of sustainability to connect with one another and learn how to get locally grown sustainable foods on the tables and in the kitchens of local food businesses.

I will definitely be attending the Edible Institute and I am hoping to be able to make the Santa Fe Alliance Expo as well, although this is primarily for people in the “biz”…not sure my dairy goats really count!

In either case, it is just fabulous to be living in a place that hosts these kinds of events! Coming on the heels of the last year’s Slow Money conference, it is definitely a joy to live in the city dipherent!

Happy Eating!

This post has been my weekly contribution to Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.