Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tomatoes and Carrots

If you look really closely you can see it, right there, a true leaf. Not the two big ones on the sides, but that little one growing up in the middle. This is the start of a real life honest to goodness tomato plant. A few more leaves and then we start harding off.

This is what our carrots are doing.

I am going to transplant them this weekend with the nice weather.

In other news we got our worms. Just the worms not the bin. Hopefully that will get here tomorrow and we can get those bad boys working on some compost. More pictures to come.

Floyd has the best spinach

I think it should be on the brochure for the city. It is the best. It looks different from the stuff you buy n bags at Kroger.

I have to do some research into this farm see how we can get more….lots more. We really could eat this everyday.

I would like to point out the price, it is more expensive for less spinach, but if you think about the nutritional loss from the shipping and storage time you would need twice as much from the regular grocery to equal the nutritional value of local spinach. And the stuff in the Keep-Crisp® bag isn’t nearly as tasty.

Burger Night

We decided to have burgers tonight. Since it is one of the staples in the house, we know a good burger from a not so good burger. This is the first time trying the Broadview Ranch ground beef. Once the beef thawed out I noticed right off the bat that it looks different.

This is what grocery store ground beef looks like.

How it looks is just one difference. When I was making up the burger patties I didn’t have that thick coating of fat on my hands. It usually takes a few passes of really hot water and Dawn to get it off totally. With this stuff It was barely noticeable. I mean I had some fat/grease on my hands, but it was gone in one pass with soap and water.

I added some Mrs. Dash and some onion powder and tossed them in the pan. This is the 3rd difference I noticed. It just smells different. I can’t describe it, it is just different, not just an oily greasy diner smell, but like beef cooking. How novel when it comes to burgers.

They do cook at a different rate, has MUCH LESS fat, in fact, I was shocked to see that I didn’t have to get my jar of fat out of the fridge out of the fridge to add the left over grease. So you would think with a low fat content the burgers wouldn’t be good, but they are great. Even Madigan said it was the best burger she ever had. Boomer was surprised by the flavor, that they actually had a taste, other than the condiments.

Even a 3rd grader knows when something has been G-M

When I picked my daughter up from school on Tuesday she said they were giving away cabbage starter plants in the school. “All third graders get one, and the winner gets a $1,000 scholarship.” When I asked her if she wanted to go back in an get one she said “Nah, they are probably genetically modified anyway, they say they grow HUGE.”

So Bonnie Plants does this contest for 3rd graders to grow a ginorous cabbage. I told Madigan she could do it if she wanted to. When I looked at the “take home” sheet in the backpack, you need to have 4 feet of space for this freakish plant. I gave her the option of growing our own cabbage, of normal size and girth, from safe seeds in safe soil. She is still unsure. We are growing plants anyway, so I don’t know if we need Bonnie’s freakish cabbage to help us

Bonnie Plants distributes free cabbage plants to third graders across the country to foster an interest in gardening and the environment. Cabbages are delivered to students whose teachers have signed up to participate. Students in these third grade classrooms each get their very own cabbage to plant, take care of and harvest. The cabbages produce oversized heads, making the process even more exciting for kids.

We really don’t need a cabbage this big to get more excited about planting…Thank you very much!

Freezer Joy

Warms the heart seeing the food we have in the freezer, raised on a farm less than 5 miles from where we go camping. From animals that are treated well, and given a good life. As Michael Pollan said on Oprah “They live a good life and have one bad day…”

Tuesday night eating within 100 miles.

I have Tuesday night off and that is one of the 3 nights that I am in charge of dinner and I do my best to make it as local as possible. The idea of the 100 mile diet was exciting but I thought it would be impossible. The more we look, the more we research, the more options there are.

We started with local wine. There are about 40 vinyards within that 100 miles. We starting finding local meat, Wright Bros and now Martin Farms in Fincastle. The trip to Floyd last weekend we found some local spinach. We started this at the right time, it’s just going to get easier and the food is going to be more accessable the more we are in the growing seasons.

Tuesday night’s dinner….

Local–Pork Chops from Fincastle, processed in Lexington. Spinach from Floyd. Wine from Fincastle. Butter the carrots were cooked in.
Not local–Organic Carrots, brown sugar, salad dressing for spinach, bread crumbs, seasoning.

I would say 80% local. The carrots will be something we can get locally soon. I do have to say I didn’t pick the prettiest chop to take a picture of, this one was mine.

I am having to adjust my cooking a bit, since the meat isn’t dried out from the packaging. We have talked about the diaper that you get when buying meat in the grocery store. That absorbs any and all liquid that might apprear to be blood. The beef and the pork we have cooked so far apprears to be juicer. There is a real difference in theflavor.

Broadview Ranch was a hit!

We headed out to the ranch after school, I sat in the back with Madigan and the cooler. She did homework and got a good chunk of it done by time we pulled in. When we got there Carol was standing holding the lead of a horse and a few dogs met us. Jack being the most friendly. We got a display of the type of horse training they do out there, it was very cool.

We hopped into the truck to get a tour. I was worried about how muddy our shoes were, Carol laughed and said its a farm truck. Madigan wanted to get buckled in, but Carol pointed out that we arent gonna be on the road so she didn’t have to. It was the first time Madigan has ridden in a vehicle without seatbelts, booster or car seat. We first met up with the chickens. She got a quick lesson in holding a chicken.

This picture makes me so happy. Our little daughter getting to experience things that we didn’t get to as a kid. I can only remember seeing chickens and farm animals at the fair. The box (I am sure it has a name) where the chickens lay the eggs had been cleared out before we got there, but we were lucky to be able to find one and Carol let us have it. I am cooking it right now for breakfast.

We loaded back in the truck after shooing away some chickens in the bed, and went out to see where and how the cows live.

We learned about how they rotate the herd, how they are identified and saw a calf that had been born the night before. I was neat to see how the truck and Jack worked together, I thought for sure we had run over the dog more than once but then he would pop up over on the other side. Carol sent Jack to move the herd. One of the cows was not having any of it and tried to whack him with his head, but ended up going where Jack wanted. Dog-1 cow-0.

I would like to say that we were in a pasture, with cows and cow poop, but it didn’t stink. If you have ever driven around and get hit with the smell of a catle farm you know what I mean. It was just one of the differences we noticed that made this ranch better than we expected.

We headed over another ridge to get a look at the pigs. Again I have really only seen pigs in pens at the fair, cleaned up and ready to get a blue ribbon. The pigs are rotated every 10 days, giving them lots of room to root and run. Broadview Ranch gets the piglets when they are 50 pounds. These guys were about 450. Carol said when the pigs get to the ranch their feet have only ever touched concrete.

We got back to the farm store, bought some meat, she sent us home with a dozen eggs.

We will let you know about the flavor and taste. FYI–I just ate my egg sandwich from the egg Madigan pulled out of the box. I think I need to eat one that doesn’t have pepper and on bread to see if I can taste the difference. If you want to read an article about this very thing from a professional writer, click here.

Road Trip

We are heading up to Lexington after school today to tour a farm and buy some grass fed beef. Broadview Ranch does deliveries into Roanoke, so we could have a supplier of the beef we would like to start eating. Since most cattle are grain fed the meat has a flavor that we are familar with. I have heard people say that grass fed beef tastes different, and not in a good way. I know that grass-fed cattle have less fat and fat makes things taste good. Also with that, if someone likes well done steak I could see how that would be a tougher piece of meat.

Before we go out and buy a side of beef we want to try the beef. See if we even really like it. I know we liked the flavor of the Wright Bros beef. Tonight we are having pork chops from Martin Farms in Fincastle. We will have the spinich that we bought in Floyd and add…..not sure yet,but I am sure it will be great.

A decision has been made

We can not do conventional composting. We don’t have the space between our living space and the compost. The amount of food scraps vs yard waste, we have little to no yard waste or brown material to put in with the food. Our compost would end up being a container of wet rotting food…add in swarms of fruitflies and well, it’s not happening 2 feet from my door.

So in researching all the options, tumbling composters, rolling, super fancy/decorative composters we have decided to go with an unconventional solution.

We will be using worms to compost our food. They are a natual solution to our food scrap problem. WORMS, WORMS, WORMS. Madigan will have 1 cat, 1 fish and 1000 worms as her pets. Cool thing about the worms, a pound of worms can consume 1/2 pound of food scraps per day. And the castings turns into rich natual compost for the plants.

I am not sure if I will be in charge of the worm bin, that might be a job for the husband. I am hopeful that I won’t turn into a little girl and screech and run out of the room when they show up. If so it will make for a funny video.