Monthly Archives: July 2009

On eating

Last night I ate alone.  My son was asleep, my hubby was out, the radio was off, the computer was closed, the dog was quiet and I intentionally didn’t pick up the Sauce Magazine on the table even though I really wanted to. Tonight, I thought, I will really taste my food.

The meal was simple.  A grilled cheese sandwich with thick slices of fresh tomato from the garden, Mangia pesto, Companion Bread and Morningland Dairy sharp cheddar. The sandwich was perfectly browned and the cheese melted just right. 

I cut the sandwich in half and stared at the layers for awhile.  I was happy that I could still see the separateness of each ingredient.  The white of the cheese, the slightly cooked, but still firm tomato, and the pesto which was dripping its aromatic green oil over the rest of the sandwich.  I was ready.

The sandwich met all my expectations. I appreciated how warming it  melded the flavors together into summer goodness. I savored each bite. And at the end of the meal I felt truly satisfied. 

I wish I could say that I took time everyday to really savor  my entire meal.  This little exercise reminded me that I need to put away the newspapers more  often. I need to be more quiet while I eat–perhaps even in the company of others. That I need to finish one bite before I take the next. That I can take time to really enjoy what I’m putting into my mouth.

Yep, the “slow food” movement would be proud.

Yours in taking a minute,

Maddie

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This is What an Heirloom Tomato Looks Like

not for the faint of heart

not for the faint of heart

I have the honor of buying extra produce from Tower Grove Farmers’ Market for Local Harvest Grocery. I can’t believe someone did not snap up this huge and beautiful Cherokee Purple last Saturday at Spikenard Farm’s stall. Folks were probably intimidated, as it was larger than my two fists put together. It was so intimidating that no one bought it at the store, either. Though it was a great showpiece, its window of opportunity was drawing to an end: tomatoes need to be appreciated at their peak. I was going to send it over to Local Harvest Cafe so they could share the wealth, but then I decided that I couldn’t resist and bought it for myself.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the beautiful bounty that comes our way. It is a pleasure to work with the local farmers and be surrounded by their healthy produce. But there comes a point when it is time to stop looking and start eating. And eat we did! Both my man-friend and our neighbor did a double-take on this one. We divided it up and ate it like an apple, juice dripping down our chins. My man-friend doesn’t even normally like raw tomatoes, but he said with awe that it tasted like the essence of Tomato…If you want to impress someone, bring them an heirloom tomato! (just for reference, that’s a teaspoon, next to the half of the fruit that i remembered to photograph just in time)

Anne

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Farm Aid in the Lou

Maddie Earnest and Carolyn Mugar, Executive Director of Farm Aid

Maddie Earnest and Carolyn Mugar, Executive Director of Farm Aid

 

You’ve probably already heard that this year’s Farm Aid concert is going to be in St. Louis on Oct. 4th.  We are all very excited by this news and look forward to Farm Aid bringing more awareness to issues facing family farmers. 

We had the chance to meet the fine folks who run the Farm Aid organization at the press conference and again when they came to dinner at the cafe last night. Seriously, these folks could not be nicer or more dedicated.  They seemed to thoroughly enjoy the food–trout was a favorite, along with the cucumber bisque, shiitake bruschetta, and Jayne’s Lemon Cake.  Oh, and also a shout out to Claverach’s Chambourcin wine which we all drank with delight. 

Local Harvest Grocery and Cafe plant to help promote and be involved in anyway we can.  Yesterday was another reminder of the importance not only to keep doing what we’re doing, but to let folks know why we buy from local family farms.

More to come surely.  In the mean time please check out the website and see how you can get involved.   www.farmaid.org

yours in farming,

Maddie

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Stuffed peppers

I know it’s summer and it seems stupid to turn on the oven, but I couldn’t help myself tonight.  The peppers at the store looked too good and called out to me to stuff them. I did not say no.

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used Martin’s long grain rice from Missouri and cooked it in Better Than Bouillon for a little extra flavor)

4 bell or poblano peppers with tops and seeds removed  (local from Columbia, MO)

2 portobellos finely chopped (Organic)

3-5 stems of swiss chard (optional)  (from my garden)

1 small red onion finely chopped (local from Columbia, MO)

2 cloves garlic minced

fresh herbs–I used a few TBLS of chopped dill and parsley (from my garden)

1/4 cup cream cheese (used Organic Valley Cream Cheese)

salt to taste

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute onion and garlic until soft in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add portobello and swiss chard and saute.  Cook until tender.  Add chopped herbs and cooked rice and cook a minute or two longer.  Add cream cheese and stir until fully melted. Should be very creamy.  You may want to add more cream cheese if your mixture seems too dry. Add salt to taste.

Fill peppers with mixture.  Lightly grease the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.  I had to place the peppers on their sides but if your peppers will sit upright then by all means place them on their bottoms.  Cover dish with foil and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove foil and let them bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve with a side of sliced tomatoes and fresh bread.

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Missouri Rural Crisis Center

I had the pleasure of attending the documentary “Farming Was My Life” and the discussion that followed. I am going to try to get the video onto our website so more people can see it. I thought I knew a lot about CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), but truly I have a lot more to learn.

The Missouri Rural Crisis Center assisted with the film. This 24-year old organization works to address the challenges faced by rural Missouri families and CAFOs are a big challenge. Here are some of the highlights (Facts taken from handouts from Missouri Rural Crisis Center and these facts were highlighted in the documentary.)

1. A Missouri study found that corporate contract operations create a net loss of employment. While creating 9 jobs for every 12,000 hogs produced, corporate contract operations displace 28 jobs.

2. Corporate concentration in the hog industry does not benefit consumers or independent producers. In the last 20 years, hog number in Missouri have stayed the same (2,800,000), while the number of hog farmers has decreased by nearly 90% from 19,000-2,000. From 1985-2006, the retail price of pork increased 64% from $1.71 to $2.81. During the same period, the hog producers’ share of the retail dollar decreased 39% from $.49 to $.30.

3. According to an EPA study, a CAFO with 4,000 hogs can generate as much waste as a city of 16,000 people. A Class 1A Cafo (17,500 hogs and above) can generate as much waste as the City of St. Louis.   (I’m not an expert on this, but my understanding also is that the CAFO’s are rarely if ever responsible for clean up of the polution caused by their operations.  This expense is passed onto everyone else.)

Some CAFOs house as many as 50,000 hogs. These animals never step outside for fresh air and sunshine. CAFOs strip the “animal” out of the animal!

There’s tons more information to share.  If you’re interested, get involved with Missouri Rural Crisis Center.  A great organization with an important mission.

Patchwork Farms is affiliated with Missouri Rural Crisis Center. We sell their brats, deli ham slices, bacon and we serve their  ham at our cafe. A great group of hog farmers who are doing it right!

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