Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Good News About Food!

As far as I'm concerned, food is always good news. But on to the particulars, the New York Times has a great opinion piece by Mark Bittman entitled: Food: Six Things to Feel Good About. Not surprisingly, several of these things have to do with the rising local foods movement and the increasing awareness of people about the quality and sources of their food. Some highlights:

All of these things are exciting to see. Where I would like to see more of is affordability and consumer access to fresh local foods. I think we have made inroads to access but not so much affordability, as our culture has turned local produce from a necessity into more of a niche market for people who can afford to pay a premium. If you see good examples of how fresh local food is being made affordable, send them to me and I will share them.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Local Chef for Hire

I gave birth to twins three months ago. So exciting! And as predicted, my boyfriend and I had no time to do any of the things we used to do. Which, for the most part is no big sacrifice. However, we always ate really well before, and one night I found myself grumpily eating a can of beans and thinking something had to change.

People who know what it is like to raise twins will often tell you to hire help. And we thought, before we had the babies home, that this was a ridiculous idea. Then the babies came home, and we were exhausted. We didn't have much money. And we didn't want to hire someone to take care of the babies- we wanted to take care of the babies. Someone else might have hired someone to help them clean the house. But we never cared that much about a clean house to begin with. Sick of eating peanut butter for lunch and spending money on takeout, I hired Jeremy Ward to help us to have fresh homemade meals at home.

"What a novel idea," said my boss. Yes, and a good idea. All of the food I had bought that was sitting unused in the cabinets and refrigerator suddenly got made into fabulous cuisine that was so good I could weep for gratitude. Jeremy came a couple of times per week, made several dishes including dinners and a fritatta for breakfast, and we could pop things in the oven, premade, from the refrigerator or the freezer. There was chicken cordon bleu, and pork piccata. We had risottos made with fresh butternut squash I had hoarded from the last farmer's market of the season. There were mushroom marsala soups and spinach and feta-stuffed chicken breasts. I got about four meals out of what I would have paid for one meal out for all of us. And I was able to take advantage of sales at the grocery store and surprise Chef Jeremy, who would cook whatever I gave him. Jeremy would also make lists for us to go grocery shopping for special meals. For Valentine's Day, Jeremy made us an exquisite leg of lamb.

That was a good month, and it got us feeling human again. We also attracted a number of friends and family, who would happen to show up when they knew that Jeremy would be cooking. We had good times in the kitchen holding babies, chatting, and smelling the delicious smells of homemade meals. Eventually we transitioned back to cooking for ourselves. But I sure do miss it.

To talk to Chef Jeremy about your needs for a private chef for home cooking, private parties, cooking instruction, weddings, etc., contact him at 240.446.4503.


Fresh this Week from Rohrer's Meats

Greetings from the farm. I will be returning to Frederick on Saturday March 17. I will be at the Dutch Plant Farm from 10 AM until noon. I will have my full line of beef, pork, lamb, cheese, and eggs as well as Cornish hens. Also, the lamb sausage is available.

Hopefully I will be able to stay awake as I have not yet recovered from Wednesday night. I went to a brood cow sale in Winchester, VA. that night. Had I bought a cow or two, I would not have landed in this situation. I was ready to leave the sale around 9 PM when a cattle trucker asked what I was driving. There was a man who had purchased 15 cows that needed a trucker. Charlie asked if I could help him out and haul 6 head. I asked how far the haul was and he said around 100 miles. I really did not want to do it, but 5 years ago Charlie helped me out. Back then a friend and neighbor had purchased a herd of cows and asked me to help haul them. That roundtrip was just over 300 miles and took 7 hours to complete. The fact that Charlie helped me out back then save me 2 more trips. So I agreed to haul that load for Charlie on Wednesday.

I went to a gas station and topped off my tank, it only took 27 gallons. Then went back to the stockyard and got the cows loaded. My truck is tagged for a 10,000 pound maximum weight. The cows and trailer exceeded that so I had a too big load. We started up the road just before 10. We went through Virginia, into West Virginia, and crossed the river into Maryland. The roads were windy and hilly so we could travel too fast without jerking the cows around. We entered Maryland at Hancock and headed west on Route 68. Talk about hills, we had to go over Sidling Hill. I went up that mountain at 40 miles per hour so that my truck's engine would not be over worked. Having finally crested the hill, we started down the other side. I had to keep my foot on the brake to keep the load from pushing me too fast. Then there was the sign. "Runaway truck ramp." That was all I needed. I just imagined the load getting out of control and me having to head there. But I made it down the mountain with nothing more than warm breaks. We made it into Cumberland, then drove the rest of the way on back roads, top speed of 30. Now in Pennsylvania, we drove through Berlin and a few minutes later arrived at the farm. To reach the barn, we had to back in off of the road and go about the length of 2 football fields. In the dark. With me holding a flashlight and guiding Charlie, and then Charlie guiding me. And the edge of the driveway was full of obstacles. But we made it and got the cows safely unloaded.

Now ready to leave, Charlie thought we should take the main road rather than risk finding our way back the way we came. There was only 1 turn until we were on the main highway. Smooth sailing all the way into Grantsville where we picked up Route 68. The only thing was we were about 20 miles west of where we would have been if we had taken the back roads into Cumberland. But since we did not get lost, it was a success! Now nothing but major highways all the way back to Hagerstown, I finally reached my driveway right at 4 AM. I went straight to bed but the phone started ringing just before 8. That made for a short night for an old geezer like me. Tonight, being the night before market day, will be a long one as well.

Eat fresh, be well, and I will see you at the market. And if you need to wake me tomorrow, please do so gently, I'll be very happy to see you.

Rohrer's Meats


North Market Farmers Market is no more!

Unfortunately, we will not be doing the North Market Farmers Market this year. I want to thank everyone who came out to support us last year. It is our hope that the landlord is able to find a full time, long term tenant for 331 N Market Street. I can speak for all the farmers that participated last year when I say we really enjoyed being a part of the community in 2010 and hope that you will come see us at either the Saturday Boughman's Lane Farmers Market or the Thursday, Shab Row market. Thanks for buying your food locally and supporting your local farmers!

Farmer Will
Whitmore Farm


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fresh this Week from Rohrer's Meats

Greetings from the farm. I will be returning to Frederick this Saturday, March 5. I will be at the Dutch Plant Farm from 10 AM until noon. I have some product in my freezer that I would like to move. I have an abundance of pork ribs which will be offered this week at buy 2 get 1 free. I also have a few turkeys which I will offer at 20% off. Weights are 12, 16, 20, and 22 pounds. These specials are good as long as my supply lasts, so it might be a good idea to order ahead.

I have some other "unusual" meats which I can bring if you ask in advance. I have beef heart, tongue, and liver; pork heart, tongue, and liver; lamb kidneys and liver; and chicken hearts, liver, and 1 pack of gizzards. These meats make good pet food as well.

Lamb sausage and Canadian bacon, popular products that I don't always have, are supposed to ready this week as well. Joan plans to make ham salad and red velvet whoopie pies.

Beef this week will include strip, ribeye, porterhouse, sirloin, skirt, and flank steaks; sirloin tip, eye round, and chuck roasts; steak burgers, ground round, stew cubes, and shin bones with meat. Pork will include boneless loin roasts, pork chops; spare, country style, and baby back ribs; boneless butts, ground pork, bacon, Canadian bacon, and a limited amount of pulled pork. Applewurst, maple, and country sausage are fresh while mild Italian, hot Italian, bratwurst, and sage are frozen. Lamb will include butterflied leg, boneless shoulder roasts, kabob cubes, loin chops, arm chops, racks, shanks, ground lamb, and lamb sausage. I will also have chicken wings, back/necks, Cornish hens, eggs, and cheese, including Caprikorn's goat's milk cheeses.

Eat fresh, be well, and I will see you at the market.


Rohrer's Meats


Fresh This Week from Summer Creek Farm: CSAs

I know it has been a cold winter. Up here on the farm this weather makes everything we do tougher and we spend more time cutting wood just to stay warm. It makes everyone just want to crawl under the covers and wait for spring! But while everyone is in their long winters nap the world is a changing. What has been going on in Egypt is just the tip of the change. Much of us do not realize that in other countries people spend a much larger percentage on income on their basic food. In the US we spend about 9.8% of our income on food, and a fair percentage of that is the cost of pre-prepared food. In Egypt they spend about 40% of their income on food, and it is not microwavable dishes either. On top of that they have experienced 17% food inflation just this year. No wonder they march in the streets.

World food prices have risen sharply and yes those prices are coming to your neighborhood store soon. Not only that but the price of fiber, cotton, is rising to its highest price ever! Your jeans are going up too. This is caused by many items, weather, currency devaluation of the dollar by the fed (most world commodities are priced in dollars on traded exchanges), fuel costs and increase worldwide demand, especially from China. As third world countries become more affluent through trade they want more diversified diets that include more meat. A bland diet of mostly rice is just not acceptable anymore. This raises the cost of corn and soybeans especially. This has created increased demands on the food production systems, raising costs.

As a CSA member you are a valued customer, a partner in each season. It is our desire at the farm to buffer these price increases to you our preferred customer. While we are seeing significant price increases in seed, fertilizer and supplies it is my goal this year to provide about the same amount of produce to you this year as last for your CSA membership fee. I want to help buffer these costs to you, but you’ve got to sign up! Our CSA is around 30% full at this time and the need for us to continue purchasing the supplies for this year is ongoing. Your CSA membership help gets us there. It also helps us provide jobs for local people too. I already have three part-time people working to get things ready for the year. So if you are thinking about joining again, get the form in. The number of memberships is finite, don’t miss out.

This year we also are planning to run a couple of seminars at the farm on how to preserve food for storage. Canning, drying, and freezing are time-tested methods and becoming lost skills. This is to help you take advantage for bulk discounts during the peak of the season and eat our healthy products longer into the winter months, as well as to help buffer your budget. Stay tuned for our summer schedule; this and other new events are to be included.
So as our latest employee at the farm, Henry the Cat, is long asleep in his winter nap. Don’t get caught napping and miss your chance at fresh food all summer long. We are blessed to live in an area that provides such a bounty of local food. Sign up and partake in the bounty!
-- Farmer Rick