Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Frantically Cleaning up! July 21, 2013

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Events,Garden Fresh,Home Made — realfoodmama @ 3:16 pm
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So….next weekend (July 29th to be exact) is the local garden tour here in Santa Fe. Home Grown New Mexico, in cooperation with Edible Santa Fe, will be hosting this tour as an opportunity for local gardeners and enthusiasts to view a variety of different set ups here in the drought stricken southwest. Luckily for all attendees, my wreck of a yard is on the tour this year! Yahoo!

Unfortunately, my back yard has a tendency to dissolve into chaos without really trying, so this weekend has been designated “clean up weekend” with the expectation that it will actually continue through Friday and become a clean up WEEK. Pretty sure the baby daddy has already made three trips to the dump…

In all honesty, though, the “clean up” is really more of a beatifying than it is an actual cleaning. Things like making sure the weeds are below ankle level and ensuring that the fly population down by the goat pen is manageable – or at least well dressed. In addition to cleaning up and organizing we are also going to be installing a lovely piece of art work that has been relegated to the basement of a family member for the better part of two decades. Made years ago by the woman who I consider my second mother, the piece is a gorgeous “map”, made from slate and hand painted with poetry. It was decided that the piece would be placed in the orchard, a part of the yard that gets little foot traffic, and would provide a nice little meditative place to sit and enjoy the sounds of our urban farm. I fully anticipate actually using it even, long after the hordes of Santa Feans have left. The installation will not occur until Wednesday of this week, but I will endeavor to put up pictures of it as soon as we have it down.

And while I am nervous about potentially hundreds (OMG HUNDREDS?!) of people traipsing through my yard and eliciting curious glances from the goats, I am feeling quite privileged to be on the tour this year so I can share my version of self sufficiency with the public at large. Hopefully those of you who are local can swing by! Until then, Happy Eating!

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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!

 

Meet dinner! May 16, 2010

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Eating local,Events,Food For Thought — realfoodmama @ 8:15 pm
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Mo the steerThis is a picture of my new steer – he’s the one looking at the camera. Yes, I officially own a cow.

Of course I don’t have to feed him or take care of him or even see him until he’s been ground up and put in my freezer. Yes, readers, I came face to face with my dinner. And it smelled a little.

This weekend I drove for about two hours, over 15 miles of bad forest service dirt road in order to arrive at a ranch located in what most people would consider the back of beyond in order to pick out my own Black Angus beef. My steer will graze exclusively on the grasses and shrubs of the New Mexican desert until the end of October, at which point his delicious self will be butchered and packaged to order for myself and my family. And then he will be dinner.

I admit to being surprisingly unfazed by the whole experience, but that may have a lot to do with my upbringing. My father hunted when I was young and our family friends would slaughter hogs every year. I frequently saw the progression from animal to food and I have always made the connection in my mind between the roast chicken I’m eating and the clucking bird in the yard. It has never bothered me and I am hopeful that my son will feel the same.

Because his father decidedly does NOT. It took some serious begging in order to get him to even come along on the adventure and he has yet to look at the picture of the cow I selected. Of course he’s the person who eats the most meat in the house and regularly asks for steak, but such is life. Admittedly watching them being castrated, branded and tagged wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience, but, no offense to any cow lovers out there, they don’t have much of a long term memory. And they all ran off happily afterward, so I am pretty sure they will survive.

I certainly hope that my cow has a happy life up there on the mesa’s, running around and playing with his other cow friends. I suspect when it comes down to it, he won’t know what hit him.

 

Spinach and Sausage Fritatta March 17, 2010

The Farmer’s Market here has finally started producing some green stuff! After a winter of root vegetables, I am terribly excited about this prospect. The primary crop includes greenhouse spinach and salad greens. Two things which I have been craving like mad. I have made spinach ravioli, spinach alfredo sauce, spinach quiche’s and most recently, a lovely spinach fritatta. Sadly the photos I thought I had seem to be MIA at the moment so you’ll have to use your imagination!

Fritatta’s are similar to quiche, but require less work. Instead of baking a crust, making a custard and then waiting nearly an hour for the results, you simple put a frying pan over medium heat, beat the eggs and cook them on the stove top with a quick finish under the broiler.

Spinach and Sausage Fritatta

1/4 lb chopped spinach (about 1 cup)
6 large eggs
1 c diced cooked sausage (I used breakfast link, but anything would work, including Italian!)
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Fritatta’s are very easy to make and are a quick way of using leftover meat and cooked vegetables on those nights when you need an break from long cooking times. You want to make sure that the pan you are using can go in the oven – a well seasoned and well greased cast iron skillet works the best.

Begin by whisking the eggs until they are uniform in color. Add them to the well greased pan over a medium heat and scrape and mix a bit to create some texture and height. Add the already cooked sausage and chopped spinach. Turn the heat to low and let cook on the stove top until the top of the eggs sets. Sprinkle on your Parmesan cheese then place the pan in the oven underneath the broiler for about 3-5 minutes or until the top starts to brown. Serve hot!

This post has been my contribution to Real Food Wednesday, hosted this week by Kelly the Kitchen Kop. Happy Eating!

 

Food For Thought Tuesday March 16, 2010

Filed under: Food For Thought — realfoodmama @ 1:45 pm
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Apologies to those of you who may have been looking for this post last week. Things have been crazy here and I just dropped the ball.

That being said, however, I have a number of interesting things to talk about this week in an attempt to make up for it!

First of all, everyone should check out the current “Dirty Dozen” list, as well as the “Clean Fifteen” list here. The first is a list of the most contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables. The second is, alternatively, the cleanest or least sprayed conventional crops. If you are new to organics this is a huge help as it allows you to prioritize!

Santa Fe has a Farm to Restaurant project and a Farm to Table project, but have you heard of the Farm to School project? Check out the web site to see if there are any participating communities near you! http://www.farmtoschool.org/

More news about school lunches – the growth of a small lunch provider who insists on using organic and even local ingredients as well as nixing HFCS and artificial flavors and colors. While the article about the company, called “Revolutions” was fascinating, I was more than a little appalled by this excerpt:

Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says she’s slightly concerned with Revolution’s insistence on natural, local ingredients.

“You can have full-fat cheese from a local farmer, and it’s still going to clog your arteries and give you heart disease,” she says. “Having the food be natural is nice, but a bigger threat to children’s health is making sure that there’s not too much salt and not too much saturated fat.”

Banishing high-fructose corn syrup, Wootan says, is “a waste of time and money” – better to limit children’s total sugar intake. As for hormone-free milk, she says, most milk is hormone-free. “And if it isn’t, it’s not a health problem.”

Seriously Mrs. Wootan? It makes me wonder whose payroll these people are really on! For one thing I’m not sure that most milk is hormone free at this point, and as for the rest…well, I think the verdict is still out on whether or not it is harmful.

For the local readers, I urge you all to check out the new Santa Fe Alliance web site. It has been completely revamped and, if I may be so bold, looks so much better! Take a look at www.santafealliance.com.

Lastly, I highly recommend everyone check out this video, a well illustrated short about how the established global food market starves the poor. Interesting to say the least.

Happy Eating!

 

Locally Grown Grass-Fed Beef and the Problem with Eating Meat. February 26, 2010

Filed under: Eating local,Fight Back Fridays — realfoodmama @ 1:40 pm
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This last winter we bought about 50 pounds of grass-fed beef to store in our freezer. It lasted us about 3 months and while we didn’t get a lot of variety, we did get some fabulous meals out of it.

It was such a success that we have decided we really want to buy more this year and as luck would have it, there is a local ranch doing a special in May. For $600 you can buy a cow, and then take it to the butcher for a pre-negotiated price. I am incredibly excited about this for a few reasons. First, I can request some very specific things from the butcher such as suet and organ meats. Secondly, it has given me the opportunity to meet a local butcher. This will come in incredibly handy in the event we ever want to process any of our livestock for meat. Lastly, I love the idea of meeting the animal beforehand. The whole point of the special this ranch is promoting is that you actually go there and pick out your steer. And this is where the whole thing fell apart when I was explaining it to my partner.

My son’s father is more tenderhearted than he cares to admit. He won’t hunt, he doesn’t like the idea of eating any male chickens we end up with, and he absolutely refuses to let us raise our male goats for meat. The idea of going to a ranch and coming face to face with his Rib Eye steak literally made him get up and leave the room. He just can’t help but personify his animals, and that makes it hard for him to eat them if he thinks about it.

Now I have a totally different take on the situation, of course. I think that coming face to face with your food really forces you to realize how important food is for life. I like the idea of coming to terms with the sacrifice, so to speak. I think that the biggest problem modern food production has is the unwillingness to look into the eyes of our food and recognize that the animal before us is giving its life to feed us. I personally am incredibly grateful to all the birds and cows I’ve eaten. However, I can understand that people don’t always see it that way.

However, I think it would be easier to support eating animals that have had a nice life rather than the de-humanized industrial existence that most of them get. The irony is my partner doesn’t like grass-fed beef. He prefers the grain fed variety in terms of flavor and texture. Whats a girl to do?

Well, this girl is going to leave the baby daddy at home, drive 100 miles to pick out a happy cow (no, not like the ones from California) and then quietly serve her partner a Rib Eye steak without pointing out how cute said steak once was, and leave it at that.

Life requires sacrifice, and that’s just the way it is. The only reason why people don’t cry over vegetables when we harvest them is because they don’t have faces. I bet if a rutabaga looked like a bunny rabbit, people would have a harder time rationalizing vegetarianism as a cruelty free way to eat. I personally think the ability to thank your animal in person for his or her flesh will make every meal taste better. However I appear to be alone on this one.

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

 

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.