Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Weening the kids June 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 3:24 pm

The time has come, once again, to ween my goat kids before selling them. There really is nothing quite like the horrible screaming to make me realize how quiet my goats usually are. As the owner of an urban farm I am always very aware of the proximity of my neighbors and do what I can to minimize any loud interruptions. Unfortunately there really isn’t much to be done when weening the vocal toddlers!

This year I bred my lovely Snubian girl, Amelia. Her mom is a full blooded Nubian goat (I call her my Papered Princess) and her papa is one of the many handsome bucks down at South Mountain Dairy, a local goat milk dairy near Albuquerque. Amelia was blessed with airplane ears and is absolutely adorable as a result. See, Nubian goats have pendulous ears that hang down, whereas the Sable Saanen goats, like nearly all the other breeds, have upright ears. The combination of a Nubian dam and a S.Saanen sire resulted in ears that stick straight out, like the wings of an airplane!

I’ve been antsy to have my goat milk supply back, since we’ve been forced to drink organic cow milk now since the beginning of the year. So while I appreciate that the kids may be driving my neighbors bananas, I’m more than willing to make the sacrifice in order to have my raw milk back. I miss the flavor and amazingly I also really feel a difference in my energy level. I realize that goat milk has higher B vitamin concentrations than cow, but I’m always amazed by what a difference it makes in how I feel.

In the past it has always been difficult to find buyers for my kids, and I hate the idea of them going to someone with no experience with goats, or who would be using them for rodeo work, so I struggle with offloading them. If I had 10 acres of pasture I’d just keep them until I was overrun, but given the size of my yard, that really isn’t possible. Luckily this year I have found them the absolute perfect spot. A local college is using goats to manage their landscaping and I was able to get in touch with the man in charge of the project. He will be taking the kids in about a week, once they are fully weened, and they will go on to live only a few blocks away with two other goats where they will be able to roam relatively freely and graze on a variety of plants while maintaining the beautiful campus. It sounds to me like the perfect place and I am so pleased to be able to help out this new project! I love the idea of using goats as landscape labor and I imagine they are pretty happy about it as well.

In either case, I still have to put up with about another week of loud noises until the kids are fully weened and ready to go. Let’s just hope the neighbors are able to tolerate it as well as I!

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Spring 2012 February 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 9:27 am

I have been sadly neglecting this blog for some time now, and keep intending to come back to it but life has gotten very busy for me here at the urban farm. This morning, however, I have some quiet time and a few thoughts rolling around inside my head so I decided to post an update!

First, my two girls (Eek and Eve, the dairy herd) are both pregnant and due to kid in about a month. It is very exciting and requires a bit of preparation. Mucking the pen, making sure the girls are healthy and getting enough to eat, and building a separate birthing pen are all on my list of things to do. They both seem happy, although Eve reminds me very much of myself in the third trimester…she radiates an attitude of “get these things out of me!” Lots of groaning and waddling!

The chickens are doing well in the cold, and are enjoying their new coop immensely. We had a fully insulated coop build before the winter snows came and they seem much happier. They are now right up next to the goat pen and have free reign of that area. They are no longer allowed in the main yard due primarily to the havock they wrecked on our gardens this year. Sadly, we have lost one of them to an unknown illness, but the other nine are happy and healthy and we are still drowning in eggs!

Our fruit trees suffered a bit this last season, the combination of the extreme cold and the dry summer was very hard on them and I have a bad feeling the cherry will not recover and will have to be removed. One of the apples was completely devastated and has already been taken out. I am hoping to buy some local heirloom variety trees to replace them this spring, but there is still work that needs to be done in the orchard before then. Primarily, we are looking into cover crops and the possibility of building a wall in order to help the micro-climate out. We will see what happens when the weather turns!

Due to some poor yields last year with a few plants we have really simplified our garden plans for this year. We are going to stop trying to grow potatoes and some of the root veggies (carrots and beets seem to do very poorly in our gardens), and we will focus on more native plants. Tomatoes, flint corn (for cornmeal), beans, squash if we can manage to avoid the vine borers, maybe some melons depending on what we can find seed for, and some chiles. We are hoping that if we move to just a few crops we will get more of everything.

Aside from that, all is well here on the urban farm. I am hopeful that baby goat pictures will be coming soon! The girls are both due around the 20th of March so hopefully I can get some photos shortly thereafter. Happy Spring to all of you!

– RFM

 

So Inspiring! August 27, 2011

Filed under: Events,Food Activism,Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 10:04 am
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Last night I had the opportunity to listen to Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface farm and author of several books including one titled “Everything I want to do is Illegal”. He has been a long time proponent of organic, sustainable, locally grown food and is an icon of the Real Food movement. I was really excited to hear him speak and he did not disappoint. The lecture he gave last evening was focused on local food sheds and the things necessary in order to have a successful and sustainable local food system.

The things he mentioned were relatively straightforward – farmers, obviously, and then distributors, processors and consumers. He spoke of the need for local processing plants and how the lack of local butchers and canners has a huge impact on the ability of local, small farms to get their product from farm to table. The same problem arises with transporting the product. Rather than having each farmer drive in their own vehicle to the farmer’s market, he suggested a cooperative transport system.

What was so inspiring about this was that here in Santa Fe we actually have some of that infrastructure already. We have something called Santa Fe Farm to Restaurant Delivers, where a truck goes to the farms, picks up the produce and then delivers it to the restaurants here that participate in the Farm to Restaurant project. All of this is made possible by the Santa Fe Alliance. It is so wonderful to live in a place that is working to move towards a more sustainable local food system.

I was able to walk away from the lecture last night feeling not only inspired, but also hopeful and confident that the local food movement will be successful. I only hope that I can take my small backyard farm and turn it into a sustainable and healthy place to raise my animals and our food. And while not everyone can raise their own food, everyone can support local farmers and their local food shed. So Happy Eating!

 

Drought July 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 8:59 am

Drought!

This year has been particularly difficult from a gardening standpoint here in fair Santa Fe, NM. While we do technically live in the desert and are used to dryness and all the things associated with it (dust, giant poisonous insects, bad skin…) we are also used to a monsoon season. Sadly this year it just hasn’t kicked in. In the past, our monsoons typically start up in early July, sometimes earlier, and give us a break from the heat in a form of nice, regular afternoon thunderstorms. Not so much this year. We have had three rains so far, and while the clouds start and try to build up every afternoon, they tend to disperse without dropping any of the wet stuff on us.

As a result our food plants are very stressed. The orchard is a mess. Our trees, which suffered some severe cold this winter (think 20 below) are now suffering from severe drought combined with extreme sun. While we can water them, we really can’t give them shade. Suffice it to say we only have one bearing fruit at the moment (a nice little plum that is hidden and shaded by the location of our RV) and the others look sickly. Our cherry tree doesn’t even really have leaves anymore.

We lost both of our red raspberries and while the black one is doing okay it isn’t happy. Our tomatoes, which I started from seed, suffered from a late frost and only about four survived so we bought replacements for them. And while our salad garden did great, our corn is pathetic, our squash still has borers and our carrots and beets never came up.

This has been a very hard year for gardening here in the high desert and it makes me realize how much work needs to be done in this climate to feed oneselves. Our chickens are doing well, although they started molting with the heat, and our goats are dusty but content so at least our milk and egg production is stable.

Suffice it to say one of the reasons I haven’t written here in some time is simply because I haven’t had anything from our garden to write about! It has been a hard year and I am hoping that the monsoons will come finally (the forecast has been for a higher chance of rain this week) and that our plants will start producing some delicious foods. We do have tiny zucchini’s, and some green tomatoes so I am hopeful we will be able to have a few harvests before too long.

In the mean time, I will continue to hope for rain and look toward the skies.

Happy Eating!

 

Tomato Tragedy! May 19, 2011

Our tomato plants did not fair well with the transplant from pot to garden plot the other day, and now it looks like we are expecting weather in the low thirties this evening which, I am afraid to say, may be the final blow to the already stressed plants.

I will be really disappointed if they don’t survive. We had four different heirloom varieties and I have been fantasizing about all the things I will be able to do with them come late summer. At this point it really only looks like about three of the plants will pull through, but I haven’t entirely given up hope yet. Of course, we will have to see how things are tomorrow morning after our cold snap. I fear the worse.

The most distressing part about this, of course, is the fact that I like to think that our gardens can feed us. This is probably unreasonable regardless of circumstance, but when something like this happens it really highlights how fragile the balance is. If we WERE totally dependent on the garden, we would now be down a whole crop. And while that isn’t necessarily the end of the world, it does mean that one of the best foods for canning and preserving would be completely missing from our winter cupboard. It makes me really appreciate and understand how hard it is, and how much luck goes into, being able to survive without the convenience of readily available supermarket variety food.

It is easy to forget that even our farmer’s at the local farmer’s market here struggle with that and are also subject to the whims of nature, regardless of their experience or skill at keeping their crops happy and alive. Just this year one of the local tomato growers lost almost all their plants due to a natural gas shortage which killed the heaters in their greenhouses. So please, think good thoughts tonight while the temperatures dip. I am hopeful that the plants will pull through, but if not I will have to replace them with some other varieties. I hope that your gardens are doing well in spite of the weather here!

Happy Gardening!

 

Spring has Sprung! May 16, 2011

Filed under: Eating local,Garden Fresh,Recipe,Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 5:50 pm
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There is nothing quite like finally have warm days after a long winter. The rise of spring and the desire to spend days outside always seems to be accompanied by certain cravings. I can’t eat salad when it is snowing, but as soon as April and May roll around all I can think about is spinach and lettuce and arugula. And don’t get me started on things like asparagus and rhubarb! I’m making myself hungry just writing about it…

According to Chinese Medicine, spring is the time for cleansing and for renewing. The liver, the organ responsible for the smooth flow of qi, loves spring and can be both nourished and frustrated during this time of year. Wind, another spring favorite especially here in Santa Fe, is another symbol of the liver. As a result, many of those spring cravings can be linked to the bodies desire to naturally detoxify and move all that rising energy!

Great spring foods can also be found in the oddest of places. Dandelions, those pesky weeds, are a great spring tonic. Pick the greens (making sure they haven’t been sprayed!!) and add them to your salad for a nice change. As previously mentioned asparagus can act as a diuretic, pulling toxins out of the body with the excess water. Rhubarb, another favorite of mine, also has cleansing actions and can be a great addition to spring treats – like a fabulous rhubarb pie, for example!

There are lots of great greens and other things that I have missed over the winter and I encourage everyone to get out to your local farmer’s market to get some. One of my favorite ways to get all the spring veggies together is to make a nice pasta primavera (remember, primavera means spring!). Here is my version of the classic dish.

Pasta Primavera

1 lb home made pasta, or dried pasta of your choice
1 C asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 c onion, diced (approx 1/2 medium)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c summer squash or zucchini, julienned (approx 1 small)
1/2 c red or orange bell pepper, julienned (approx 1 medium)
1/4 c carrot, julienned (approx 1 medium)
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1/2 c heavy cream
2 TBSP olive oil

Begin by placing the pasta water on to boil. While you wait, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until aromatic. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the asparagus and carrots and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the carrots soften and the asparagus starts to change color. Add the peppers and the summer squash and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are done. Add the heavy cream and the cheese and stir to mix and turn the heat to very low. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the past water has boiled add your pasta and cook until al dente. Fresh past should only take a minute or two, but dried pasta usually takes between 7 and 10 depending on the style. Strain the pasta and add the noodles to the pan of sauce. Toss several times to coat the noodles and serve!

Happy Eating!

 

Kitchen Remodel makes for interesting cooking! April 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 5:56 pm

This week we have been involved in doing a remodel and repair on our kitchen floor. The house, built in 1946, has stood the test of time and bad home improvement projects proudly, but the floor in the kitchen really needed to be replaced.

Without going into too many boring details about the specifics, we spent a day tearing up three layers of floor until we finally hit the subfloor only to discover that the dishwasher, which was no doubt installed upwards of 15 years ago, has been leaking since then. Luckily, there was no major damage done to the subfloor structure, however it has seriously set us back on our schedule. The consequences? I am now without a stove until this coming Friday.

I imagine this is really going to test the limits of my creativity in terms of crock pot cooking, as that is pretty much the only way my family will get a hot meal in the coming days. We can’t afford to eat out until the stove comes and I wouldn’t want to anyway, as restaurant food is always more expensive and never as good as what I can do at home!

I have a few recipes which I can definitely use for the next two dinners, but after that I may have to improvise. Any and all suggestions are welcome, as I am willing to try most anything! In the meantime, here is one of my favorite, and most simple, crock pot stew recipes:


Crockpot beef stew

1 lb stew beef
2 cups water
1/2 onion with skin
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 small or 2 large potatoes, chopped
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 oz cognac

The instructions are very straightforward. Basically you put everything in the crockpot and cook on the higher setting for 4-6 hours or until the beef has reached the preferred level of tenderness. The real key is to keep the onion skin on the onion, as it imparts better flavor and color to the finished product. I don’t add pepper because my son doesn’t like it, so feel free to add some to your meal if you like. Other suggestions include using a bay leaf to add sweetness or rosemary to add a bit more spice.

Happy Eating and enjoy!