Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Balance

Wow its been a while since I have written. My life has been super busy since my recent return from Georgia. I came home to my nephews who were here for 2 weeks from Colorado. There was no time for me but only time to play with them. On top of that I have been catching up with work, friends, family, and school which is ending this Thursday. This was the first weekend I was able to catch up with myself and it has been so nice. Thus the reason I am able to finally write. Once class is over this week I should be able to get on a normal consistent pattern to bring you everything tasty I encounter.
I have been wanting to go to my favorite farmers market in Hillcrest since my return from my southern sojourn and start my journey and devotion to a new local-good-clean life. I was able to go today and it was awesome. I purchased my first pasture raised whole chicken from Spur Valley Ranch located in San Diego. When I got home I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and my own fresh thyme that I am growing. I plan to roast it this week. I can't wait.
I also purchased my first pasture raised eggs from Womach Ranch Farms which I will use for my breakfasts this week.Some beautiful baby daisy's to brighten up my house.Beautiful fresh organic dill for my Wild Alaskan Salmon Salad which I am making for my lunches this week. It is made with non-fat plain yogurt, non-fat mayo, dijon mustard, fresh dill, lemon juice, capers and caper juice. I tried some for lunch on top of peppery arugula and it was so light and so good.
Wild Alaskan Salmon Salad with Dill & Capers
1 pound wild Alaskan salmon fillets roasted with salt, pepper, lemon juice & olive oil
1/2 cup non fat mayo
1/2 cup non fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
1 tablespoon capers and a little juice
1/2 fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
Roast salmon at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, set aside to cool, and mash with forkWhisk all other ingredients together and add it to the salmon. Season with salt & pepper.It's all about getting balanced before the hectic week starts which is filled with work, business plan projects and finals. I think I am finally getting there. I hope your Sunday is balanced and you are taking the day for yourself before the busy week starts.
Have a great week ahead.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Morning Harvest

Today was an awesome day. I headed out early this morning to Full Moon Farm to help Jack Matthews with the harvest for the restaurants in Athens and his CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it connects the FOOD one eats, the LAND where it is grown, and the FARMERS who grow it.
There is something so therapeutic about farming. Don't get me wrong the work is labor intensive and probably the hardest work you could ever do. I have a new respect for farmers after today and the work I did today was just the easy stuff. I really loved this morning. It was a leafy greens harvest and they were was the garlic harvested by methe most amazing and full bok choyfarmer jack admiring a whole lot of bok choy, yumfull romaine lettuce
sun peaking through trees and shinning down on this stunning batavian leaf lettuce
lettuce is washed and ready to pack up
the best arugula undercover i ever tasted

rainbow chard
leafy kaleFind the local farm in your area and volunteer there. It will give you a new appreciation for our farmers hard work and again you will see where your food comes from.
Happy Tuesday from Athens, GA.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My First Chicken Kill

I don't even know where to begin as today was an overwhelming and intense day for me. I guess I will start at the beginning. Today I was at the farm Backyard Moon and I participated in their first chicken kill. It sounds gruesome and disturbing and at first sight I got anxious, teary eyed and wanted to run. I held it together and I just asked a ton of questions. I cant say I jumped right in to the very humane ritual but I eased in slowly starting at the beginning.The chickens are kept in portable chicken pens which fertilize the soil for future chickens & pastures. They are moved everyday and get a fresh square of grass, bugs and weeds to eat. They are in a living environment where they are closest to being to their natural outdoor environment which end results in the best chickens you could possibly have.
They were grabbed by Jason and friends (including a 5 year old kid) from the pen which they would never see again and handed to me. I grabbed them by their feet and put them in portable crates and made sure there was 12 to each crate. That was actually the hardest part for me and I was a little afraid of the chickens. They totally sensed my fear and when I was calm they were calm. I told Jason I thought they were all the screaming the word "NO" as Jason was quickly grabbing them by their feet and Jason assured me they were not saying "NO" but rather "MUTHER FUCKER". That put a smile on my face for a minute.
They are then brought over to where the killing takes place. They are individually put inside metal cones head first which keep them really calm. They are killed by one person who carefully and skillfully cuts the carotid artery and Jason did most the killing. Its a slow peaceful death where the blood just pours out of them into buckets.
They are then scaled by a volunteer in hot water very quickly which loosens up the feathers and then into a machine that kind of looks like a clothing dryer which efficiently removes almost all of the feathers. Next they are slid across the disinfected stainless steel table stations where happy eager volunteer's are removing limbs, beheading, and eviscerating them. I was at the end of the line in quality control and was making sure all the organs were removed, plucking the last of the feathers that need to be plucked, checking for lacerations, cleaning and then chilling them.
At the end of the day I did kill one myself. Jason held the head for me as I couldn't do it myself but I did cut. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.
I learned so much today and am blown away about how much I really don't know about the chickens I eat, where they are coming from and how they are killed. We all need to educate ourselves because society does not do it for us. When I get back to San Diego I am going to purchase pastured raised chickens from a local farm like Backyard Moon. It increases the health of our chickens and our land and they have no hormones or antibiotics fed to them. I did some research and found a farm in San Diego called Womach Ranch Farm and they are at the Hillcrest Farmers Market every Sunday.
Now I see why the farmers and volunteers I was surrounded by today are smiling and listening to Bob Marley playing in the back ground during the chicken slaughters. They are participating in something humane, something they believe in, and teaching eager learners like me. We all achieved something today.
Thank you Jared from I'm High On Cooking for having me participate. If I am ever lucky enough to be back here I will volunteer to help again.