Have you wanted to find a local source for goat meat or simply wanted to try it? Goat meat, like most meats, has it’s own distinct flavor. While not a common choice of meat in the United States, in other parts of the world such as India and Ethiopia goat meat is popular and can be a central element to cultural cousins. And not surprisingly so. It’s delicious! As you may have read in one of our recent newsletters, EB Ranch has been working toward expanding their flock of critically endangered San Clemente Island goats for milking, and now also meat production. Here is an update from Erin Link:
“EB Ranch is of course happily busy and in full goat pasture rotation. We are thankful for the heat and humidity to have lifted. I’m personally working on website updates and getting pedigrees and lineage filled in with my group of 50ish San Clemente Island Goats. I currently have about half a dozen breeding stock for sale. I also plan on taking another five goats in to butcher and processing in early August. If you are interested in a whole goat meat share, let me know!
I’m also ordering meat bird chicks in early August for early October harvesting. Again, let me know if you want to sign up for a whole chicken share.
Other than farm work, I’m busy working at my other farm job at Spring Hill Community Farm. And, guess what!!? Bob and I will be taking on a rough collie puppy in about a month! I hope to train this pup to help me move goats and do “farm dog” stuff with me. So welcome Anders to EB Ranch!!”
This week in Local Choice CSA
Essence Homestead – Bell Peppers, Green Beans, Cabbage
Hexagon Projects Farm – Carrots, Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Onions
Towering Heights Farm – Ground Beef, Hotdogs
Valley Pasture Farm – Pork Brats, Eggs
Winnowburrow Farm – Fennel, Basil, Parsley
Mary Dirty Face Farm – Black Currants, Blueberries
Bifrost Farms – Smoked Black Pepper Chevre
Fennel cooking tip: Use the stems and leaves as you would a bay leaf to season soups! The stalk is too tough for eating, but it will flavor your broth!
Digging deeper into nutrition – a bit of food history – with Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
Until the early 1900’s, people in this country were eating wild blueberries, not the domesticated ones we are familiar with today. With the vast move to larger towns and cities began at the turn of the century, the favorite family berry patches were left behind. Berries had to be purchased. The larger the berry, the less expensive it was because the labor cost to pick a container full was less. Thus the domestication of wild blueberries began.
Elizabeth White, a self-taught scientist and daughter of a large cranberry farmer in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, and Frederick Corville, a USDA fruit researcher who had developed an effective way to propagate blueberries, managed to domesticate the wild blueberry in just eight years. White offered $3 (~$75 today) to any professional berry picker who found berries over 5/8 inch in diameter. One hundred superior berry bushes were located, but after eliminating those whose berries had inferior taste, were more susceptible to disease, or had less attractive berries, only six plants remained. Hybridization of these six plants led to the more than 75 varieties available today.
Blueberries, more than most other fruits and vegetables, show great promise in fighting many of the diseases of modern civilization. The potential of blueberries to slow age-related dementia is probably the most exciting of them. The cost of caring for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients is skyrocketing and the side effects of many of the antidementia drugs cause other serious health problems. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if eating more blueberries was the solution?
Tomatoes have an interesting history. Technically, tomatoes are a fruit although we consider them a vegetable. Originally, they were small and berry-like growing on long sprawling vines in the plateaus of South America. They made it into some of the earliest recipes in hieroglyphics about 2000 years ago which included tomatoes, chili peppers, and salt (the original salsa recipe). Over the next millennium, they spread into Central America, Mexico, and the Galapagos Islands.
Cortes and his crew brought several varieties of tomato seeds back to Spain along with their pirate treasure of emeralds and gold, and within the next twenty years, tomatoes were growing in gardens in Spain, Italy, and France. The French enjoyed them so much they called them pommes d’amour (love apples).
Tomatoes took several hundred years longer to catch on in Northern Europe. Their resemblance to deadly nightshade, mandrake, and jimsonweed (all toxic relatives of the tomato) convinced northern Europeans to avoid eating them.
In the late 1700’s, Thomas Jefferson, a passionate foodie and gardener, brought tomato seeds back from France to plant at Monticello. They became popular, but despite Jefferson’s encouragement to eat the fruit, they were mostly grown as an ornamental plant. The secretary of the Connecticut Board of Agriculture wrote, ”we raised our first tomatoes about 1832, only as a curiosity, made no use of them though we had heard that the French actually ate them.”
Today, tomato production is a billion dollar industry. Unfortunately, the common supermarket tomato has lost much of its nutrition, aroma, and flavor. They are harvested before they are fully ripe (even the vine-ripened ones). They have to be in order to be shipped without damage. Force ripened tomatoes are less sweet, more acidic, and less nutritious than those ripened under the sun. Getting your tomatoes from local farmers is like growing your own—without the work.
What you do with your tomatoes once you bring them home can also affect their flavor and nutritional benefits. Storing your tomatoes in the refrigerator makes them start losing their flavor and aroma. The longer they are kept in the refrigerator, the more they lose. Eat them right away or store them in an area that is between 50 and 70 degrees. Store them stem side up to slow softening and darkening. Cover them with cheese cloth or fruit netting to keep fruit flies away or store them in a paper (not plastic) bag if they are semi-ripe.
Tomatoes contain vitamin C, lycopene, antioxidants, and glutamate (a flavor enhancer which makes tomatoes go so well with other foods). And like some other fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are better for you when cooked. In fact, the longer you cook them, the healthier they get. So cooking them is another way to store them.
These are the old-fashioned type of hot dog – the ones that have a ‘snap’ when you bite into one. They are uncured – don’t have any added nitrates or nitrites – those toxic chemicals that you test for in your well water because they cause kidney problems and birth defects). They also don’t have any preservatives, so they won’t last as long in your refrigerator as most of the store-bought ones. They will keep just fine for over a year if kept frozen in their vacuum sealed heavy plastic. And they do have plenty of flavor from the natural herbs and spices used. They are made from 100% grassfed beef so are more nutritious than the conventional supermarket hotdog.
These hot dogs are already cooked, so they just need heating in a small amount of water or in the microwave. I use the water that the hot dogs were heated in to flavor my greens when I cook them.
This week’s meal plans are provided by Rachel Henderson of Mary Dirty Face Farm
Cabbage Rolls with Ground Beef and Rice (adapted from The Spruce), with French Grated Carrot Salad
- 1 head cabbage (about 1 dozen large cabbage leaves)
For the Filling:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3/4 cup cooked rice
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup milk
For the Sauce:
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomatoes (diced, undrained)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (mixed with 1/4 cup cold water)
- Gather ingredients.
- The night before you will be making the cabbage rolls put a head of cabbage in the freezer. Take it out the next morning to thaw during the day.
- Peel about 12 to 15 large leaves off of the cabbage head. They should be flexible enough to fill without blanching.
- If you are not working with a frozen, thawed head of cabbage, carefully peel off about 12 to 15 large leaves from the raw cabbage. Drop the cabbage leaves into boiling salted water; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well.
- Heat the oven to 350 F
- For the filling, combine ground beef, rice, onion, parsley, egg, and salt, pepper, and milk. Mix well and divide into 12 portions.
- Place a portion of the beef mixture onto the center of each cabbage leaf.
- Roll the leaf around the filling, burrito-style.
- Fasten the rolls with toothpicks. Place the rolls in a baking dish or oven-safe Dutch oven.
- For the sauce, combine the tomato sauce, tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water.
- Pour over the cabbage rolls. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour.
- Remove the rolls with a slotted spoon and discard the toothpicks.
- Place pan with juices over medium heat or transfer the juices to a saucepan and place over medium heat; stir cornstarch and water mixture into the sauce; bring to a boil and cook until thickened.
- Serve the cabbage rolls with the sauce.
French Grated Carrot Salad
- 1 pound carrots, peeled
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
- 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons honey, to taste
- Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 finely sliced scallions (or 1tablespoon finely chopped shallots)
- Grate the carrots in a food processor or box grater. Set aside.
- In a salad bowl, combine the dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey, vegetable oil, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the carrots, fresh parsley and scallions (or shallots) and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Caramelized Fennel with Fettuccine and Goat Cheese (adapted from Blue Kitchen)
- 1 whole fennel bulb
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, sliced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese, about 2 ounces
- 8 ounces dried fettuccine or other ribbon pasta
- Start a large pot of salted water for the pasta.
- Using a sharp knife, slice off the root end of the bulb and the stalks with the fronds. Reserve the stalks and fronds. Slice the bulb in half lengthwise and peel off the tough outer layer. Cut out the inner core and slice the bulb halves lengthwise into about 1/4-inch slices.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium flame.
- Add the olive oil, then the fennel bulb slices, arranging in a single layer. Cook for about 2 minutes, then turn the slices.
- Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the onion and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook until fennel is nicely browned, another 3 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally and stirring the onions to avoid burning them. When the fennel is sufficiently browned, turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and cover the pan.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions, being careful not to overcook it. Reserve some of the cooking water and drain the pasta quickly, returning it to the pot while still dripping.
- Divide pasta between two shallow bowls. If it seems dry, drizzle a teaspoon or so of the reserved cooking water over it.
- Top with caramelized fennel, being sure to include some of the olive oil.
- Top with goat cheese and lemon zest. Using scissors, snip some of the reserved frond over each bowl. Serve.
Black Currant BBQ Sauce, to serve on hot dogs and brats
- 1 pint fresh black currants
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup finely diced fresh onion
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Combine the currants, raisins, ½ cup water, brown sugar, vinegar, onion, mustard, and cayenne pepper in a medium saucepan, and stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
- Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Strain the sauce though a fine mesh strainer, using a rubber spatula to push as much sauce as possible through the mesh.
- Season the sauce with salt to taste.