How long has it been??? What’s happening on this city-girl’s farm.

What happened?? Where did the summer go?
Well, if your life’s anything like mine, your Monday-Friday went to work and family. And your weekends, if you planned well and were able to add a dash of good luck, were spent doing lots of chores. You know – the laundry, food shopping, buying school supplies, banking, and repairing this-and-that. Hopefully you took some time for coffee with friends, and maybe dinner out with your sweetie.

A few 2016 calves

A few 2016 calves

The growing season started with the arrival of our spring calves. All our new little BueLingos were born out on our pastures and unassisted. This season also required that we up our game and manage our pastures for a slightly larger herd. This summer’s frequent rains helped keep the much-needed grass growing.
We began harvesting in July, and will take our final two beeves to the custom USDA processor in a month or so. (Those two animals will go exclusively for ground beef and summer sausage.)
Today, we get ready for an annual right-of-passage – tagging every calf, and castrating the bull calves. Once castrated, the male calves are called steers, and they’ll graze for two years to harvest age and condition. Until that time, all the cattle will enjoy the best of care: 365 days a year on grassy fields, sunshine and fresh air, a 100% grass diet, and the company and calm of their herd. It makes for contented, healthy cattle, and, ultimately, great-tasting and highly nutritious beef.
And that’s the heart of it: health and happiness – for the the cows, the land, and for you and me.
We all benefit from farming and living with a tiny carbon hoof print (TM)*, truly sustainable farming.
Thank you for visiting the farm and sharing the story of your food journey. I really enjoyed making frequent deliveries in Amery, Polk and St. Croix counties, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.
I look forward to meeting you. Please visit. And until then, enjoy the cooling fall weather.
Sylvia

*tiny carbon hoofprint is a US registered trademark belonging to Bull Brook Keep.

Audio

Chefs for sustainable food – James Beard Foundation VP Kris Moon on the new Impact Programs

We all know that chefs can cook, some of them extraordinarily. And we know that what they cook can reflect and flavor local culture. But did you know our chefs can – and increasingly do – play a role in redesigning a more sustainable, healthful food system in America?
I really enjoyed this conversation with Kris Moon, Vice President of the James Beard Foundation because the foundation’s Impact Programs spotlight and promote chef-led efforts to rebuild a more nutritious and regionally-sourced food system in our country.
Experienced and trained in restaurant management, nutrition and major networking events, Moon is leading programs true to the values and heart of the foundation’s namesake, James Beard – the chef and cookbook author who was lovingly regarded as “America’s favorite chef.”
I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio conversation.
Sylvia

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

Beth Dooley, live, Sat. Jan. 30 – local winter recipes in the land of ice and snow

In last Saturday’s (Jan 13, 2016) Deep Roots Radio interview, chef/author/journalist Beth Dooley described how she came to live in the chilly Upper Midwest, and how it’s not only possible, but delicious to cook with local ingredients in snow-covered Minnesota. This history and grounding is at the heart of her new book, In Winter’s Kitchen.

This Saturday, Jan. 30, Beth will take us to the next step and describe actual recipes – ingredients and spices – for winter cooking. Join us!
What: Deep Roots Radio conversation with Beth Dooley on winter cooking in the land of ice and snow
When: Saturday, January 30, 9:00-9:30AM CT
Where: Broadcast and streamed live from the studios of WPCA Radio 93.1FM, www.wpcaradio.org

Here’s a sample recipe for Curry Potato Salad from Beth’s website, Beth Dooley’s Kitchen,Curry Potato Salad Beth Dooley So many others can be found in her cookbook, The Northern Heartland Kitchen.
Beth’s other cookbooks include: Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmer’s Market Cookbook; Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland (with Lucia Watson); with Tracy Singleton and Marshall Paulsen, The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook); Meat and Potatoes; and, The Heartland: New American Cooking.

#GrazingItalyUK – B&B breakfast and Slow Food at Casa Visconti

Nov. 19 Not all food is authentic Bolognese
The Casa Visconti B&B in the heart of Bologna is proving to be a find, in great part due to lively proprietress Claudia Visconti. Our room and sitting area are bright and art filled, the bathroom tidy and efficient, and the breakfast lovely and tasty. (What’s not to like about frothy espresso, sliced stawberries and Kiwi, and an assortment of pastries?)
The gem, however, is Ms. Visconti herself: energetic, enthusiastic about her city, and discerning about the origins and preperations of meals.
Not everything is “authentic,” she asserts, and she goes out of her way to point us to bistros and restaurants grounded in sourcing from local farms anchored in sustainable practice and in excellent preparation. I’m hoping I can connect with the Slow Food leaders she recommended.
Dessa and I shared our table with a couple from Luxemburg, owners of a store dedicated to artisinal foods from around the world. Real food devotees, they were in town for a Dillan concert. They shared their outlooks on the slow appreciation of links between agricultural practice, nutrition, taste and the cost of good food.
More on these conversations in a future posts.
Sylvia

#GrazingItalyUK – at Derbyshire grass-fed dairy. And rain. Of course.

November 14th.
In Wisconsin, it’s about the snow. In Derbyshire, rain’s the thing
Especially after last night’s misadventure (missed plane), today’s farm visit felt like a special gift.
My early morning flight out of Dublin brought me to the East Midlands, a place of fat white sheep on rolling hills, ancient stone walls, and lovely thick-walled houses hugging narrow, winding roads. Low, stone buildings, many of them hundreds of years old, are home to families, small shops or public services.
The day was grey and chill as I exited the terminal and made my way to a platform where frequently running buses provide convenient and very economical transportation to a wide network of towns and villages.
Robert Thornhill, grass-based dairy farmer, is a 2014 winner of a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, an award and grant given to farmers who want to conduct practical research about sustainable farming on their home turf and by visiting foreign farms. He met me at the Bakewell bus stop and drove us back to his 300-acre Standhill Farm. I am so grateful for the time he and his wife devoted to converation and comfort. He pulled on boots and walked out into the rain to show me his milking parlor and pastures. It was wet out there. Then he and his wife introduced me to their two young sons (just back from a rock climbing lessons) and we all sat down to lunch and steaming tea.
This post will be short, but I promise a longer report on this particular visit because Thornhill is nothing if not both committed to sustainable grazing and to thorough research about how to make this work on his farm. Again, more later.
Right now, I’ll say that Thornhill is a successful dairy farmer for what I observed to be key attributes: thorough, curious and experimental, steadfast and forward thinking.
Thanks, again, Robert.

#GrazingItalyUK — Stranded in Dublin Airport.

…”the best laid plans…”
Nov. 13. Dublin Airport. 10:30PM
Today’s itinerary stated: 7:30PM fly from Dublin to Derbyshire.
We’ll here it is, 10:30PM and I’m sitting in – drum roll – a McDonald’s in Dublin Airport.

McDonald's busy while rest of food court sleeps

McDonald’s busy while rest of food court sleeps


And guess what? It’s crowded. It was fairly quiet 30 minutes ago, but I’m guessing hungry customers will come in waves as planes arrive and depart.
I gotta say, I appreciate the noise and activity. I’m a bit nervous about that time of night when all foot traffic stops. I think it’ll be a bit scary. We’ll see.
Well, I’ve chowed down on a chicken sandwich, fries and a diet soda. Yes, every food rule broken. In my own defense, McD’s was my only choice because the rest of the food court, a fairly large area, is shuttered for the night. Go figure.
Boy, I hadn’t had McD’s in a long time, so it was interesting to note everything tastes exactly as it did years ago. Consistency – yes. Nutrition? A different story.
Stomach full (if body not truly fed), I’m plugged into an outlet, charging up laptop and phone, and talking to you!
Things could be lots worse.
Oh, and how did I end up in this pickle? My bus from Wexford to Dublin took an hour longer than scheduled because of traffic tie-ups. Why all this congestion in small seaside towns? Who knows. I can attest to the fact that there were at least a couple of other bus riders who were very fearful of missing flights. I hope they didn’t.
Ah, my devices all charged up. I wonder if there’s a pub around here?
Sylvia

#GrazingItalyUK – Dublin, and then Wexford

Day 2 in Ireland – a second day of great travel, friendly people, very poor Internet, and non-existant international phone service (although it had been arranged much in advance)
I lost an hour’s worth of writing earlier today. Let’s try this again.

Dublin
My daughter Maggie and I were wheels down in Ireland 8:30AM Nov. 11 and were treated to a ride to our hotel by two bright musicians, entrepreneurs in the local scene. The ride was unusually long (lots of haulted and rerouted traffic) but conversation was lively, so, no complaints.
We made it to the Grafton Hotel, situated in the heart of a busy downtown shopping district. We spent about an hour checking out small shops and a vertical shopping maul a stone’s throw from the hotel. Any American would be comfortable here.
The narrow, winding streets were crowded. The pace was fast and the look very sharp indeed. Dublin is a big city, make no mistake about it. Black is the color, and tight is the mode. Skinny pants, black hose and leggings paired with leather boots – ankle or knee high – or 3″ heels. Long scarves around necks of both men and women, and light-weight jackets the standard issue.
The population, at least in the city center, is surprisingly young, mid-20s to early-40s.
Our initial needs met, we both crashed for a couple of hours.
After a refreshing shower, we dressed for the evening out. It was a 10-minute walk on rough brick and cobblestones, and across a quaint foot bridge to the Winding Stair restaurant. Mag (who performs as Dessa with the rap crew Doomtree) used smartphone navigation to get us there. Much needed given the twists and turns on streets and alleys that change name every other block.The street fairly throbbed with the energy on the street. Lots of people out on a weekday evening. Felt a bit like NYC, although I felt a bit of New Orleans in the mix – a definite upbeat vibe.
True to it’s name, the Winding Stair features a circuitous staircase from the first to second landing. The spot was suggested by Bill and Sharon Gunter, the conveners of Slow Food Dublin. It proved a good choice – local foods put to their best advantage in creative dishes. I washed mine down with a local hard cider. Yum.
I’ll review lots more of the Slow Food Dublin in an upcoming Deep Roots Radio show. Throughout this trip, I’m hoping to gain some understanding of how different countries feel and demonstrate the good-food-good-agriculture connections.

On to Wexford
This morning, I got to the Dublin Connolly rail station with 30 minutes to spare. Lots of time to grab a yogurt and watch the crowd surging through the turnstyles. Connolly Station is an intersection for commuter trains, rail travelers, bikes and buses.
DublinWexfordI love UK rail service: comfortable sitting, picture window views, smooth and quiet travel, and Internet service. (I’m having an awful time with both Internet and International cellular service so far, so I think I’ll bite my tongue on this for the moment.)
The rails from Dublin to Wexford hug Ireland’s eastern shore and so I was treated to spectacular views of waves crashing just yards from the road bed. And when I looked to the west it was to farm fields gradually sloping up to hills dark against a grey sky.
It’s a wet landscape of puddles, creeks, shallow wetlands (I could almost see the trout), and ponds. Wooded hedgrows marked field boundaries, and houses nested into hillsides.
A good trip.
Now, I’m sitting in a small coffee house in windy, raining Wexford. The forecast is more wet with lots of wind. Raincoats are ubiquitous. I picked one a slicker in Dublin.
I expect a call any second. It’ll be from William Considine, organic farmer/owner of the Nicharee farm in Duncormick, about 20 miles from Wexford.
It’s at this farm that my farming research begins. How are organic/sustainable farms in Ireland the same or different from those I’ve come to know in the U.S.? How are they the same?The adventure continues.
Sylvia

When it’s too hot: Get ready…set…ferment!

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It feels like 150 degrees out there; way too hot for picking beans, weeding beets and thinning carrots. And the thought of putting huge pots of water to boil to blanch greens and can veggies is crazy-making. But that’s what summer’s about, isn’t it – enjoying what you can now of the fruits and veggies from your garden, CSA box or farmers market, and preserving the rest for the much cooler days we know are ahead.
Fermentation is a great way to preserve veggies without heating up the kitchen. For example, yesterday – when it was 84 degrees – I put up kimchi (think of a very spicy Asian version of sauerkraut) and swiss chard stems. It was easy.
What is fermentation, you ask? It’s a method of preserving foods that’s been used for thousands of years by cultures the world over.
In a nutshell, and at its most basic, what you do is submerge your chopped, sliced or whole veggie in salted water (a brine) and then let the action of anaerobic bacteria do their work to “sour” the food. The beneficial micro-organism harnessed for this work is lactobacillus bacteria. That’s why this process is sometimes referred to as lacto-fermentation.
By the way, although the terms sound similar, lacto-fermentation has nothing to do with milk and lacto-intolerance. Instead, lacto refers to the lactic acid produced by the bacteria which acidifies the food, releases additional nutrients from the veggie, and keeps it safe to eat. Think of sauerkraut – fermented cabbage. Fermented foods can be ready to eat in a handful of days or after several weeks, and then stored for months more. Key to this process is constantly keeping the veggies submerged.

Napa cabbage kimchi and swiss chard stems ferment

Napa cabbage kimchi and swiss chard stems ferment


Oh, and what did I do with the chard leaves I stripped from the stems? I blanched them in boiling water for two (2) minutes and then plunged them into ice water to stop the cooking and ready them for the freezer. Again – easy.
So what’ll it be this weekend (after it cools down enough to head out to the garden)? I think I’ll pick green beans to ferment with a brine and a variety of other spices. Fennel? Caraway? Dill? What will work best with my grass-fed beef burgers, pot roasts and steaks?
Here are some of the books I’m using to build my fermentation skills:
– The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor E. Katz
– Fermented Vegetables, by Kristen K. Shockey & Christopher Shockey
– The Kimchi Cookbook, by Lauryn Chun
– The Nourished Kitchen, by Jennifer McGruther
– Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning, by The Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante
What are you fermenting?
Sylvia

July 11, 9-9:30AM CT. The power of the Hungry Turtle (Institute) to re-invigorate local food culture.

What: Deep Roots Radio interview with Kristen Lee-Charlson, new Executive Director of Hungry Turtle Institute in Amery, Wisconsin.
When: Saturday, July 11, 2015, 9:00-9:30AM Central Time
Where: Broadcast and streamed live from the studios of WPCA Radio, 93.1FM and worldwide at www.wpcaradio.org.
Why: Consumer demand for local, sustainably-produced food continues to climb. Food lovers are also searching for information about the farms, nutrition, taste and preparation of the delicious and nutrient-packed veggies, fruits, and pastured meats. Ah, that’s were the Hungry Turtle Institute (HTI) comes in.
In its second year, HTI is a nonprofit dedicated to connecting food lovers and food growers to practical info and experiences, lively discussions, and other useful and fun resources. An example is the Hungry Turtle Weekend coming up July 18th.

Deep Roots Radio, 91.3FM and www.wpcaradio.org

Deep Roots Radio, 91.3FM and www.wpcaradio.org

How to find your local farmer – July 4, 9-9:30AM CT, Deep Roots Radio

What: Deep Roots Radio interview with Julien Roberge, co-founder of Agrilliance, a website that quickly helps consumers find their local, sustainable farmers.

When: Saturday, July 4th, 9:00-9:30AM Central Time

Where: WPCA Radio, 93.1FM and streamed live at www.wpcaradio.org

Why: The demand for high-quality, sustainably-grown foods continues to grow in the US and worldwide. Consumers are concerned about herbicides, pesticides, GMOs, sugar, salts, and processing chemicals in their foods. Food lovers are also increasingly interested in the systems behind their foods: the environmental impacts, use of energy, antibiotics used in industrial livestock operations, and fair wages on the farm.
Agrilliance also sees these local markets as strong and viable ways to meet the needs of a growing world population, the challenges of climate change, and the political pressures felt around the globe.
Agrilliance is a new effort, web-based, to make it easier for thoughtful farmers and consumers to find their local markets. The idea is to build local connections in every community – worldwide.
I hope you’ll tune in.
Sylvia

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how it's grown

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how it’s grown