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Egg Production – Part 2

Researchers are apparently going to research whether chickens are happy in cages or not?  Sadly, I think that Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “nothing is more uncommon than common sense.” I have raised chickens and they do like to keep close quarters, but only when they are Roosting (sleeping), not all the time.  I also know that chickens love being chickens. They are created to scratch and eat bugs. 

So we, the tax payers, are going to pay a researcher at some university to study if the chickens are really happy in cages or not!  I can save us a lot of money and answer the question.  The answer is quite obvious, the chicken is not happy.  Sadly, the research is not about chickens, it is about egg production.  If we respected the design and nature of a chicken, it would be easy to conclude  they are not happy.  Chickens wouldn’t choose to live in a cage with 9 other birds, never seeing the light of day, never being able to stretch their wings and never scratching for some delicious bug!  Organic and cage free chickens get to live more like they were created.

Join the good food revolution, vote with your dollars.

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The Year in Review

 Supporting Local Farms  Since the inception of our home delivery business in1999, we have always focused on purchasing our fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers first. Every week, I call my farmer friends to find out what they currently have available that I can add to our boxes. If I need to find more produce, I then source it from farms outside our area. This year, however, was a great year for local food! As your personal farmer, I really appreciate your dedication to the local farm community. With your box of good purchases this last year, you have blessed several local farm families:

Rents Due Ranch, Skagit Harmony Farm, Ralph’s Greenhouse, Motherflight Farms, Hedlund Farms, Cascadian Farms, Blue Heron Farms,  CJ’s Grassfed Beef, Munks Farm, Anselmo’s Organic Gardens, Paul and Janice Madden Orchards, Ponderosa Orchards, Goose Tail Orchards, River Valley Organics, Filaree Farms, and of course, the Klesick Family Farm.

 Helping Local People  Another core principle at Klesick Family Farm is to give back to our community. Last year, with your help, the Klesick Family Farm delivered 463 boxes of good to the Stanwood and Snohomish food banks. That is $11,000.00 of quality organic fruits and vegetables. There is no way our farm could meet this need without your help. This is one of the most satisfying aspects of our business. I love meeting local needs with local resources! Thank you for partnering with us to meet this local need. If you would like to join us to help provide quality organic produce to local food banks, visit the “How To Help” page of our new website.

Thanks for a great 2009!

Looking forward to next year!!!!

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Cabbage Patch Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, (or shallot!)chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
½ head of green cabbage, shredded
1 cup sliced carrots
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 lb. fingerling potatoes cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup sour cream 

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion or shallot in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until onion is tender. Stir in the flour to coat well, then quickly pour in the chicken broth. Stir constantly for 3 minutes, or until somewhat thickened.

Next, add the chicken, cabbage, carrots, red bell pepper, fingerling potatoes, salt, ground black pepper and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the sour cream 1 minute before serving. Allow to heat through and remove bay leaf. Serve with some slices of warm crusty bread, such as garlic bread.

Serves 6

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

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Maple Glazed Acorn Squash Rings

A lightly spiced brown sugar and maple syrup mixture makes a delicious glaze for these baked acorn squash rings. These baked squash rings make the perfect fall side dish.

Ingredients:
2 medium acorn squash, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup apple juice
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter

Directions:
Line a large baking pan — such as a large jelly roll pan or two smaller pans — with foil; lightly grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Heat oven to 350°.

Slice the squash into 1/2 to 1-inch rounds. Cut centers out of each squash slice with a knife or a biscuit cutter about the size of the seed area.

Arrange slices on the baking sheet, overlapping slightly if necessary. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and pour apple juice over the rings. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or just until the squash rings are tender.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, and butter. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Spoon the mixture over the squash and continue baking, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until squash rings are tender.

Serves 6

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Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients:

2 large eggs.

2 large ripe bananas, mashed.

1 stick of butter, softened.

2 cups of all-purpose flour.

1 cup of sucanant, or granulated sugar.

1 cup of buttermilk.

½ cup of chopped pecans.

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

1 teaspoon of salt.

1 teaspoon of baking powder.

½ teaspoon of baking soda.

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and grease 12 standard size muffin-pan cups.

Beat together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.

One at a time, add the eggs, beating thoroughly after each is added.

Beat in the bananas until the mixture is smooth.

Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Alternately stir the flour mixture and the buttermilk into egg mixture until the dry ingredients are just moistened.

Stir in the chopped pecans and vanilla extract.

Spoon the batter into the greased muffin pans, filling about two-thirds.

Bake for around 20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Egg Production – Part 1

Something happened along the way that has changed agriculture from farming to food production.  It is a subtle shift, but nonetheless profound and impactful.  Farmers have always been interested in increased production and efficiencies.  Farming is like all other business, you have to have a profit to stay in business or in the language of today “sustainable.”

Let’s take egg production as an example.  94% plus or minus, as quoted in a recent Capital Press article, comes from chickens that live in a 24 inch by 25.5 inch cage that contains 9 chickens.  Doesn’t that seem a bit crowded? Somewhere in the past a researcher or farmer or both discovered that chickens can produce eggs in close confinement, never seeing the light of day. It doesn’t really matter if the chickens see the light of day because they are destined for the stew pot at some massive soup manufacturer in 24 months anyway. 

But why does the egg producing industry (I have purposely shifted from using term farming) choose small cages?  It is simple, it’s more efficient.  The closer the birds are in proximity to each other, the easier it is to harvest eggs, feed them, clean up after their messes and ultimately catch them when it is time to butcher.  Pretty straight forward and the consumers are letting the egg producers continue on with this production model simply because they are buying the eggs raised that way.

So why should the Egg producers change their manufacturing (farming?) practices?

What is going to cause the industry to change?  Profits!!! If the consumers choose to only buy eggs from chickens that are cage free or Organic then the egg producing companies will change their practices.  Pretty strait forward, it really is that simple.

Join the good food revolution, vote with your dollars.

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Spiced Poached Pears

Recipe provided by Ashley Rodriguez

You can replace the wine with all pear juice, apple juice or simply water – although the flavor won’t be as rich.

 

Ingredients

1 750-ml bottle dry white wine

2 cups pear juice or pear nectar

1 1/4 cups sugar

12 whole green cardamom pods, crushed in resealable plastic bag with mallet

4 1-inch-diameter rounds peeled fresh ginger (each about 1/8 inch thick)

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

5 large firm but ripe bosc pears (3 to 31/4 pounds), peeled

 

Directions

Combine first 6 ingredients in large saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add pears and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until pears are just tender when pierced with knife, about 35 minutes. Transfer liquid with pears to large bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to plate. Boil poaching liquid in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until slightly thickened and reduced to generous 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain into 2-cup measuring cup; discard spices in strainer. Cool. Cover and chill pears and pear syrup until cold.

Serve your warm poached pears on their own, over vanilla ice cream (oh and caramel sauce!) or over this very creamy and deliciously easy panna cotta (see recipe below).

 

Adapted from Epicurious

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Ginger & Cardamom Panna Cotta with Spiced Pears

Recipe provided by Ashley Rodriguez

Feel free to leave out the ginger and/or cardamom – the recipe remains to be incredible.

 

Ingredients

4 cups (1l) heavy cream (or half-and-half)

1/2 cup (100g) sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

7 whole Cardamom pods, cracked

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into four pieces

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)

6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water

 

Directions

1.   Heat the heavy cream, sugar, ginger and cardamom in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

      (If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)

2.   Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.

3.   Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

4.   Pour the very warm panna cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

5.   Divide the panna cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours but I let them stand at least four hours.

6.   If you’re pressed for time, pour the panna cotta mixture into wine goblets so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding.

7.   Run a sharp knife around the edge of each panna cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.

Serve with poached pears and a drizzle of their poaching liquid.

 

Adapted from David Lebovitz

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Chilly days and warm fragrant ovens

This time of year my oven is rarely off. My mind swells with satisfaction as the scent of cinnamon and ginger dance through the air mingling with the subtle pine scent wafting from our Christmas tree. It’s a joyous time when something inside me longs to bake each and every day. Rather than acquiring the extra holiday pounds that jiggles like a bowl full of jelly, mimicking that of ol’ St. Nick, I happily share my homemade treats spreading sweet joy to family, friends and neighbors.

 

This season offers a bounty of flavors that love being folded into a rich batter or snuggling up under the heat of the oven. Apples rest under a blanket of sweet and nutty crumble or lay on a bed of buttery-rich dough. Pumpkin gets folded into everything from pancakes to loaf cakes. And my most recent spicy obsession is poached pears. After shedding their skin they get dunked into a warm bath of wine, juice and spices. They tumble around in a simmering broth soaking up the fragrant liquid and return with a soft and tender texture.

Poaching is simply the process of gently simmering food in a liquid. This basic cooking technique is often reserved for fragile food items such as eggs, fish, poultry and fruit. Because of the fragile nature of these foods it is important to keep the heat low and to watch for overcooking which can cause toughness or, in the case of fruit, cause them to fall apart.

Poached pears are impressive and delicious served on their own with a drizzle of warm caramel. They also make a wonderful accompaniment to any sweet custard.

I hope this season finds you in your kitchen warmed by the heat of the oven joyfully creating dishes to be shared with the people who love you and the food you’ve prepared.

Happy Holidays!

 

by Ashley Rodriquez

Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. You can read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com