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"Soil"

I overheard  my daughter Maddy (8) correcting her younger sister Maleah (5) last week.  Maleah was using the word “dirt” as they were playing with BRIO train tracks, a Lincoln log house and a few little people. Maddy, in the casual course of conversation, responded to the word “dirt” by saying that it is actually “soil.” Maleah agreed and they went on playing. 

As their farming father, I was particularly happy to hear my 8 year old refer to “dirt” as “soil.”  For me, my soil is everything. It determines what kind of farmer I am and what crops I can grow. Yes, I am a farmer that raises vegetables, nuts, fruit, cattle and hay, but for the most part those are the crops that my soil allows me to raise. Essentially, I am a soil farmer. Soil is a gift from God. It holds all the essential minerals that plants need to grow. With the addition of some water and sunshine, I have the perfect environment to farm. Yeah!!!

So when Maddy uses the term “soil” instead of “dirt” I pay attention because she is showing respect to the building blocks of life.

Dave Hedlin of Hedlin Farms has said more than once, “Dirt is what you sweep off the kitchen floor and soil is what you grow food in.” Amen!

~   ~   ~

Have you noticed that we are now on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr?! We are taking advantage of these new forms of media to keep in touch with you, let you know about special promotions and clue you in on what’s happening on the farm. We’re uploading scenery photos from the farm every month. Join us and watch the seasons change! I have posted a picture of my little ones playing with their BRIO train tracks and Lincoln logs. Go and check it out and feel free to share with us a picture of your kiddos having fun.

Facebook.com/KlesickFamilyFarm

Twitter.com/boxofgood

Flickr.com/photos/klesickfamilyfarm

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Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables

by Ashley Rodriquez

For pot roast
1/2 cup canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 pounds boneless short ribs, denuded (all surface fat removed; have your butcher do this)
1 cup dry sherry (you may also use red or white wine or even stock)
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
8 stalks celery, peeled and roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
About 8 cups (2 quarts) chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

For roasted vegetables and caramelized onions
3 medium carrots (about 2 pounds) peeled, halved lengthwise, then halved horizontally
4-5 medium parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, then halved horizontally
1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes, halved
1 yellow onion, medium diced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare pot roast
Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°F. Season beef liberally with salt and pepper. In large Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot over moderately high heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add beef and sear until dark brown and crisp on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer beef to large plate. Pour off oil in pan and discard. Add sherry, wine or stock and simmer uncovered, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour reduced sherry into heatproof liquid measuring cup.

In same pan, combine carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and bay leaf. Lay beef on top of vegetable mixture and pour reduced sherry over. Add enough chicken stock to cover 3/4 of meat. Cover and transfer to lower rack in oven. Roast until fork-tender, about 3 hours.

While beef is roasting, prepare roasted vegetables
During final hour of roasting, in large bowl, toss carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onion with olive oil until well coated. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread on baking sheet and transfer to upper rack in oven. Roast until slightly tender and browned, about 45 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and keep warm.

Finish dish
When beef is tender, transfer to serving platter; tent with foil. Skim fat from liquid in pot. Strain liquid through fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids with back of spoon to extract all juices, then discarding solids. Return liquid to pot, set over high heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Season juices to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour half of juices into bowl with roasted vegetables; toss to combine. Pour other half of juices into gravy dish. Arrange vegetables around beef on serving platter and serve immediately, with extra juices on side.

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Cows Need Greens Too

by Ashley Rodriguez

Last April, I was invited by the director, Robert Kenner, to attend a screening of Food, Inc. in Los Angeles. This invitation was all thanks for my brother who filmed much of the movie. I jumped at the opportunity to see the film.

Food, Inc. “lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA” (www.foodincmovie.com). It does so in a way that is honest and not intended purely for shock value but to inform and educate the often misguided and undereducated consumer. If you haven’t seen the movie yet I highly recommend it and as a very proud sister I have to point out that Food, Inc. has an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary.

What struck me the most while viewing the film is that food works best if we let it do what it was created to do. Tomatoes left to ripen on the vine are sweeter, have a much greater nutritional value and a flavor that cannot even compare to the tomatoes that were plucked while still green and left to ripen on the truck while in transit. The same goes for cows.

Cows were created to eat grass. Their digestive systems were designed to consume grass and yet lately, due to ease, cost and control, many cows are being fed grain. Now we all know grain in and of itself is not a bad thing but when cows start eating something other than grass things start to go wrong.

As things have started to go wrong for cows because of their unnatural diet, science has solved the problem by creating antibiotics that combat the diseases that arise. Rather than solving the problem by changing their diet, which would eliminate the need for antibiotics, we are now consuming meat from “cows that are essentially being kept alive by drugs” (baronbeef.com).

So now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus on the benefits of grass-fed beef. For me the most important part is that it just plain tastes better. Richer, meatier and more complex in flavor. But there are other reasons as well. “The animal itself thrives because it is getting the food it was designed to eat and it converts that food to muscle and fat that is higher in minerals, vitamins, CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega 3 fatty acids, and lower in cholesterol and fat” (baronbeef.com). Even though grass-fed beef isn’t injected with antibiotics you have a much lower risk of getting diseases associated with beef such as E-Coli and Mad Cow Disease.

To learn more about this and in general where our food comes from I can’t recommend the film Food, Inc. enough. Also, any of Michael Pollen’s best-selling books like the Omnivores Dilemma provide a very thorough look into the world behind the food on our plate.

In the meantime, I highly encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity to purchase and enjoy grass-fed beef. Not only can you eat it in good conscience but you will be thrilled with the wonderful taste that comes from cows who eat a diet that they were created for.

Ashley Rodriquez is a chef, food blogger, and full-time mom.
You can read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com

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Stir-fried Burdock and Carrots with Sesame and Soy

Ingredients

2 cups prepared burdock
2 cups prepared carrots
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons dashi (Japanese stock) (optional)
1 tablespoon water, as needed

Directions

1. Prepare the burdock and carrots in the same way, by washing and scraping the outer skin (they don’t have to be peeled). Then cut into matchstick-sized pieces. As you’re cutting the burdock, throw the pieces into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from turning brown in the air.

2. In a large skillet or wok, heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil. When it’s hot, sprinkle in the sesame seeds and cook, stirring it for about a minute.

3. Drain the burdock and add it and the carrots to the pan. Cook and stir over medium high heat for about five to seven minutes.

4. Add soy sauce and continue stir-frying. If you wish, add the dashi (available in Japanese and other Asian markets) and water and continue stir-frying until liquid has evaporated. The total cooking time for this burdock recipe is about ten minutes. The burdock will change color from milky white to shiny gray/brown. This burdock recipe will give you a crisp, crunchy, earthy, and delicious dish.

Recipe from /www.herbalmusings.com

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What a Great Spring!

We are tentatively firing up the tractors and getting ready for spring.  I have called the lime spreader and hopefully he will be ready to lime our fields this week.  In farming, timing can be critical and for the Klesick Family Farm, with all of our diversity, we need to lime as early as possible.  This year, based on soil samples and crop observations from last year, we will need about a ton of lime per acre to raise our calcium levels up. The reason I want to apply lime now is because we raise grass for hay and grass for our beef cows and we raise vegetables and fruit.  With all of these different cropping needs, early spring applications allow us the greatest flexibility.

Calcium has been called the “trucker” of nutrients – you could even call it the “life of the party.”  Plants really love adequate calcium and many nutrients attach themselves to it and follow it up into the plant from the soil.  I wish farming was as simple as adding calcium, but then there are magnesium ratios and manganese ratios and nitrogen needs as well as trace micro nutrients like boron and zinc, which are some of the minerals needed to grow the plants. I also have to keep track of the soil bacteria and make sure they are happy because they feed the plants the minerals that I am applying to my fields.

As a rule, I try and keep my soil profile full of minerals for this simple reason: if the minerals are not present in the soil, the minerals will not be in my crops and, sadly, not in your food.  America has too many empty calories on its plate already and my customers are not going to be getting any empty calorie food from me.

Whatever happened to the good old days of adding manure and barnyard wastes to your fields, working it in and growing food?  I think what has happened is technology.  We now can add just the right amount of this nutrient or that nutrient because through soil sampling we now know what we are missing in our soil.  I am happy that the technology exists, but for some reason I still hasten back to Grandpa’s gardens and he never soil sampled. He just cleaned out the chicken house and loafing sheds and worked it into the garden and, voila, green beans and green peas coming out his ears.  I know, because I remember sitting on the back porch snapping beans and shelling peas.

I suppose I have blended both worlds—Grandpa’s and mine.  I use a draft horse for some of the work and I compost lots of materials which I add to our fields in liberal amounts.  I raise beef cows and and so did he. He raised vegetables and fruit for his family and I raise them for my family and your family.

I guess you might say that my farm has a lot of my Grandpa in it.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tristan

Posted on

What a Great Spring!

We are tentatively firing up the tractors and getting ready for spring.  I have called the lime spreader and hopefully he will be ready to lime our fields this week.  In farming, timing can be critical and for the Klesick Family Farm, with all of our diversity, we need to lime as early as possible.  This year, based on soil samples and crop observations from last year, we will need about a ton of lime per acre to raise our calcium levels up. The reason I want to apply lime now is because we raise grass for hay and grass for our beef cows and we raise vegetables and fruit.  With all of these different cropping needs, early spring applications allow us the greatest flexibility.

Calcium has been called the “trucker” of nutrients – you could even call it the “life of the party.”  Plants really love adequate calcium and many nutrients attach themselves to it and follow it up into the plant from the soil.  I wish farming was as simple as adding calcium, but then there are magnesium ratios and manganese ratios and nitrogen needs as well as trace micro nutrients like boron and zinc, which are some of the minerals needed to grow the plants. I also have to keep track of the soil bacteria and make sure they are happy because they feed the plants the minerals that I am applying to my fields.

As a rule, I try and keep my soil profile full of minerals for this simple reason: if the minerals are not present in the soil, the minerals will not be in my crops and, sadly, not in your food.  America has too many empty calories on its plate already and my customers are not going to be getting any empty calorie food from me.

Whatever happened to the good old days of adding manure and barnyard wastes to your fields, working it in and growing food?  I think what has happened is technology.  We now can add just the right amount of this nutrient or that nutrient because through soil sampling we now know what we are missing in our soil.  I am happy that the technology exists, but for some reason I still hasten back to Grandpa’s gardens and he never soil sampled. He just cleaned out the chicken house and loafing sheds and worked it into the garden and, voila, green beans and green peas coming out his ears.  I know, because I remember sitting on the back porch snapping beans and shelling peas.

I suppose I have blended both worlds—Grandpa’s and mine.  I use a draft horse for some of the work and I compost lots of materials which I add to our fields in liberal amounts.  I raise beef cows and and so did he. He raised vegetables and fruit for his family and I raise them for my family and your family.

I guess you might say that my farm has a lot of my Grandpa in it.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tristan

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Cinnamon-Ants-on-Sticks

Ingredients

1 large stalk celery, cut into 3 pieces
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins

Directions

Place the celery pieces on a clean surface, hollow part facing up, and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon. Spoon peanut butter into the hollow, and arrange raisins on top.

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How are Your New Year's Resolutions Coming?

I have been trying to stay on track myself, spend more time with my family, lose a few pounds, get a little more sleep and exercise daily.  I have been measuring my goals using an excel spreadsheet. It is amazing the accountability that comes from journaling your successes and, need I say it, yes, setbacks.

I have one of those scales that measures pounds the old fashioned way.  Have you ever noticed that 1 inch on that scale looks like a mile, even if it is only 10 lbs.  Losing 10 lbs. is not hard, but keeping it off is the real work.  Keeping weight off requires diligence and a change of habit.  For the last two months I have been pretty religious about getting up at 5:30 a.m. and doing a 30 minute workout.  I don’t have any exercise equipment and I am only using 5 lb. dumbbells, but it is working.  My hope is to encourage you that you can simply affect your goals with an at home exercise program that doesn’t cost a lot of $$$$.

I also use that time when I am finished working out to make a fresh glass of vegetable and fruit juice.  I absolutely love the colors of fresh juice. I posted a picture of this morning’s juice online at my blog.  The picture is straight from the juicer before I pour it into the glass for my wife and me.  The colors in fresh juice are incredibly vibrant, almost neon. The reds, the pinks, the oranges, and greens are bursting with flavor and with vitality.

I have had increased energy, more time on my hands and kept off a few of those pounds that tended to hang around during the holiday seasons (especially since I am a forty something now).  The nice thing is that I have gained some traction on my goals and I have measureable results to document, and more importantly to encourage me to press on.

The success I was personally feeling from juicing fresh fruits and vegetables and exercising was the inspiration for our newest “box of good” – the Juicer’s Box. The Juicer’s Box has the old standby juicing fruits and vegetables with a few weekly menu changes (to spice it up) to make about 12-14 glasses (10-12 oz.) of juice a week.

Keep up on those New Year’s resolutions and if necessary “fire” them up again and start with a slightly different plan than the last one.  You, and only you, can ultimately affect your personal health and your family’s health. Here, at Klesick Family Farm, we appreciate being a part of those healthy lifestyle choices and changes.

Cheers to good health,

Tristan

Posted on

How are your New Year's resolutions coming?

I have been trying to stay on track myself, spend more time with my family, lose a few pounds, get a little more sleep and exercise daily.  I have been measuring my goals using an excel spreadsheet. It is amazing the accountability that comes from journaling your successes and need I say it, yes, setbacks.

I have one of those scales that measures pounds the old fashioned way.  Have you ever noticed that 1 inch on that scale looks like a mile, even if it is only 10lbs.  Losing 10 pounds is not hard, but keeping it off is the real work.  Keeping weight off requires diligence and a change of habit.  For the last two months I have been pretty religious about getting up a 5:30am and doing a 30 minute workout.  I don’t have any exercise equipment and I am only using 5 lbs dumbbells, but it is working.  My hope is to encourage you that you can simply affect your goals with an at home exercise program that doesn’t cost a lot of $$$$.

I also use that time when I am finished working out to make a fresh glass of vegetable and fruit juice.  I absolutely love the colors of fresh juice. I posted a picture of this morning’s juice online at my blog.  The picture is straight from the juicer before I pour it into the glass for my wife and me.  The colors in fresh juice are incredibly vibrant, almost neon. The reds, the pinks, the oranges, and greens are bursting with flavor and  with vitality.

I have had increased energy, more time on my hands and kept off a few of those pounds that tended to hang around during the holiday seasons (especially since I am a forty something now).  The nice thing is that I have gained some traction on my goals and I have measureable results to document, and more importantly encourage me to press on.

The success I was feeling from juicing fresh fruits and vegetables and exercising was the inspiration for our newest “box of good” the Juicer’s box. The Juicer’s box has the old standby juicing fruits and vegetables with a few weekly menu changes (to spice it up) to make about 12-14 glasses (10 – 12oz.) of juice a week.

Keep up on those New Year’s resolutions and if necessary “fire” them up again and start with a slightly different plan than the last one.  You, and only you, can ultimately affect your personal health and your family’s health,  here, at the Klesick Family Farm we appreciate being a part of those healthy lifestyle choices and changes.

Cheers to good health,

Tristan

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Sauteed Cauliflower with Turmeric

The best way to prepare this dish is to cut cauliflower florets in quarters and let them sit for 5-10 minutes; this allows time for the production of phenethyl isothiocyanates, which form when cruciferous vegetables are cut, but stops when they are heated. Then sprinkle with turmeric and healthy sauté (see description below) on medium heat in a few tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and top with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste.

Start your Healthy Sauté by heating 1 TBS of broth in a stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Once the broth begins to bubble add onions and sauté stirring frequently. After the onions have cooked for about 5 minutes, you can then add other ingredients such as garlic, or fresh ginger. Once they have had a chance to cook together for just another minute, add other vegetables. This method enables you to have flavorful sautéed vegetables without heating oil.