Thursday, November 29, 2007

HOMEGROWN Thanksgiving Menu Winners Part 3

Hope Course sent us this menu that includes Red Bourbon Turkey with Fresh Aromatics!

Hello Farm Aid Folks!

We had a lovely homegrown Thanksgiving this year, and this is a direct result of your organization. I attended my first Farm Aid concert on 9/30/06, right next door to my “office”, the Battleship New Jersey museum. My husband and I already appreciated our local farmers in the Garden State, patronizing the many farm stands that still dot southern New Jersey roads. We also have a small garden behind our little 1921 dutch colonial, which itself was built on the site of an old pear orchard (we actually have one of the old pear trees in our backyard- it must be very old). Anyway, this past year we managed to grow many varieties of tomatoes and peppers, along with a wonderful herb garden, much of which went into our Thanksgiving dinner this year. Even our kitchen itself was a “homegrown” project. My husband and I, along with the help of friends spent the past 10 months renovating our kitchen. We went out of our way to restore and reuse what we could, including ripping up 5 or 6 layers of vinyl flooring to reveal the original wood, restoring the original woodwork and even building our own cabinets. This was the first big meal cooked in our new kitchen!

I’m attaching our Thanksgiving menu that was given to each guest. Our heritage turkey was a big hit, and it was great to drive up to the farm to personally pick it up from the people that raised it and see the environment in which it was raised. Even better was to see how easy it was to have a locally-sourced and hormone-free meal, because in the past year we’ve made these practices become a habit. When I shop now, I want to know who made my food. I look for sources that grow food I want to eat. I’ve become more aware of what is grown in my state and how. And I have Farm Aid to thank for that. So this Thanksgiving, you were on my list of what I and thankful for.

Pictures: Tom Corse- master turkey fryer, Thanksgiving table (l-r around the table: Shirley Malitz, Ed Malitz, George Corse III, George Corse, Jr., Tom Corse, and our cat, Koko).

We hope you think our entry deserves to win!

Thanksgiving 2007 Menu

After attending the Farm Aid concert on the Camden Waterfront in September of 2006 and learning more about family farms vs. factory farms, Tom and I decided to make an effort to buy more local products. Buying locally means not only supporting neighbors but it leaves a smaller impact on the environment. If I buy an apple at a farm stand across the road from the orchard, that apple doesn’t have to be packed up in a box and shipped elsewhere- meaning less gas burned on fuel to ship and less packaging needed to get the apple to the consumer. If we want to reduce our environmental impact on the world, we need to change the way we think about a lot of things, including food.

This Thanksgiving dinner was put together in that spirit. Nothing here is a departure from the classic Thanksgiving dinner. The difference is that for every dish we tried to find each ingredient as locally and as healthfully as possible. The meats are all free-range, grass-fed, hormone free and from small, local farms. The produce is mostly organic and all locally grown- much of it purchased at the Collingswood Farmer’s Market. The dairy and eggs are hormone-free and from the state’s “Jersey Fresh” program, which strives to support small family farms and dairies, many of which are disappearing rapidly.

This year we’re giving thanks that we live in an area where we can have access to food that is both good for you and good for the planet. You gotta love the Garden State!

Kennett Square Mushroom Caps

Stuffed with grass-fed ground lamb

(Hillacres Farms, Lancaster County, PA)

and fresh herbs from our kitchen garden

Autumnal Tortillas with Tom’s Red Pepper Hummus

Peppers from our garden

Aunt Arlene’s Root Veggie Soup

Turnips (Flaim Farm, Vineland, NJ), parsnips,

celery, carrots, garlic

Burly Bread

Great Harvest Bread Company, Cherry Hill, NJ

Barbara’s Beans N’ Greens

Rainbow Chard (Flaim Farm in Vineland, NJ),

garlic and organic white northern beans

Nancy’s Cranberry Sauce

New Jersey cranberries with a touch of Hudson’s Sweeties (NJ) cinnamon flavored honey

Sage, Apple and Turkey Sausage Dressing

Turkey Apple sausage (grass-fed, hormone-free

from Griggstown Quail Farm), Empire Apples

(Larchmont Farms, Elmer NJ), Challah (organic,

Whole Foods, Marlton, NJ), chicken stock (free-range organic chicken from Griggstown Quail Farm), sage and herbs from our garden

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Red Bliss potatoes (Formisano Farms, Buena, NJ), milk (Jersey Fresh organic), garlic and fresh herbs from the garden


Red Bourbon “heritage” free-range organic antibiotic-free turkey from Griggstown Quail Farm in Princeton, NJ, aromatics from our garden

Mom’s Apple Caramel Cake

New Jersey Apples

Flying Fish Beer - Grand Cru Winter Reserve

Brewed in Cherry Hill, NJ

HOMEGROWN Thanksgiving Menu Winners Part 2

The Hileman Family sent us this great menu!

Hello. We'll take your challenge and raise you one! We are the Hileman family of Kistaco Farm in Apollo, PA, a small town about 30 miles slightly north and east of Pittsburgh. My husband, Tim, and I are third generation farmers on land purchased in 1922 by Tim's grandfather. Our children, Miranda, Alex and Leah, are the up-and-coming fourth generation. We grow small fruits and vegetables, specializing in apples and apple cider. Currently we produce 24 different varieties of apples, as well as peaches, plums, sour cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and just about every summer vegetable imaginable. We have our own farm market which is open year-round and we attend The East Liberty Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings in Pittsburgh, PA. Challenging your members/readers/fans to plan a Thanksgiving menu around local, family farmed and/or organic foods was an excellent idea. We've raised the stakes by including as much of OUR OWN homegrown produce in the menu as possible. Where that wasn't possible, we made our usual effort to support other local farms and businesses. Read on; see if you wish you had been here!

Coleslaw: Tim prepared the coleslaw with OUR OWN homegrown cabbage, hot banana peppers, and cubanelle peppers. His dressing came from Betty Crocker and included sour cream from Turner's dairy and Vidalia onion vinaigrette salad dressing.

Applesauce: This is a staple at our house. Made with OUR OWN Jonagold apples overnight in the crock-pot, our Thanksgiving applesauce also served as Thanksgiving breakfast! (Fill your crock-pot with peeled, cored and sliced apples, nothing else; put it on low overnight, and in the morning smash your cooked apples into a wonderfully thick and chunky sauce.)

Peaches: These were OUR OWN homegrown and deliciously sweet peaches canned in mid-August during the height of our peach harvest.

Main Course
Turkey: Since there were only four of us here for Thanksgiving (Miranda is studying Environmental Sustainability at Utrecht University in The Netherlands this semester), we chose to have just a turkey breast for the main focus of our meal. This we purchased from Pounds' Turkey Farm, our neighbors and friends in Leechburg, PA.

Stuffing: I prepared the stuffing from fresh jalapeno cheddar bread from Wood Street Bread Company while the turkey was baking. This was a new experience for me; I've always used one of those quick and easy boxes of stuffing mix. However, in an effort to use as much locally produced foods as possible, I searched the Internet for a stuffing recipe, cut my jalapeno cheddar bread into cubes, got them toasting, sliced OUR OWN leeks, added Turner's butter and eggs and the remainder of the ingredients. I didn't follow the recipe exactly; I never do! But the end result was FABULOUS, best stuffing I ever made, although it did have a bit of a kick!

Smashed Butternut Squash: The last year we grew potatoes here on Kistaco Farm was the year I married Tim -- 1985. Worn out equipment and low, low prices, led us to abandon potatoes. Some years we are able to purchase potatoes to sell in our store from "hobby farmers" in the area. However, this year none of them produced potatoes either, so, we opted for smashed squash instead. For this we used OUR OWN homegrown butternut squash. Baked and whipped with Turner's butter and brown sugar, these were a suitable alternative for mashed potatoes.

Sour Cherry Sauce: Once again, trying to rely on homegrown/family farm grown produce, we chose to replace the traditional cranberry sauce with sour cherry sauce. We grow sour cherries, but lost ours to late frost this year. So, I substituted canned sour cherries from King Orchards in Michigan, a family farm which produces multiple sour cherry products. We offer several of their products for sale in our market. King Orchards sour cherries mixed with OUR OWN Jonagold apples, a pureed lemon and orange plus sugar made a tasty garnish for the turkey.

Kale: This was OUR OWN kale freshly picked Thanksgiving morning! Our cole crops -- cabbage, kale, collards... -- are still alive and well, so we steamed kale with OUR OWN leeks and organic garlic from Wendel Springs Farm, then sautéed them with Turner's butter and Pounds' turkey bacon.

Broccoli: Again, this was OUR OWN picked fresh Thanksgiving morning and steamed to a crunchy perfection!

Beets: We still have fresh beets available, but in order to save some time, I chose to use OUR OWN beets which I had previously canned. These were prepared with Turner's butter and cinnamon and served warm.

Tomatoes: Actually, it was one tomato. But, it was OUR OWN fresh tomato picked prior to our first hard frost and allowed to ripen at room temperature. We only had one because not all of us like tomatoes and I saw no need to waste one of those delicious fruits!

Pickled Beans: Yep, these were OUR OWN beans which I pickled during the summer. Everyone in this family LOVES pickled beans -- I can never "put up" enough to get us through the year.

Pickles: OUR OWN pickling cucumbers canned during the summer. I'm still not satisfied with the end result, but each year the pickles I preserve come closer to the crunchy ideal I imagine.

Apple Cider: This is one of our specialties. OUR OWN cider produced here on our farm with OUR OWN apples. Tim is the master mixer of this delectable drink which we served both hot and cold.

Apple Pie: Every apple will bake, and I've used just about all of them to make a pie, but given a choice, I will always go for either the Golden Delicious or Northern Spy. This Thanksgiving I chose OUR OWN Northern Spy for my apple pie. (No rhyme intended!) Slightly tart and fairly firm, mixed with unrefined sugar, apple pie spice and Turner's butter, this pie was wonderful.

Pumpkin Pie: Made with OUR OWN pie pumpkins, Turner's eggs and whole milk, this pie, too, was delicious.

There you have it! Did we raise the stakes enough to become one of your winners? We certainly hope so...but not for ourselves; it's for our friend that we want to win. I mentioned earlier that we attend a Saturday farmers' market in Pittsburgh. This indoor, year-round market begins at 5 AM, yes, five o'clock in the morning, and runs until noon. During that same time, we have our store on the farm in Apollo, PA, open, also. Finding dependable employees is EXTREMELY difficult, especially for Saturday mornings from 5 - noon in Pittsburgh, and with our kids growing up and going to college -- Miranda's a junior at Berea College in Berea, KY, and Alex is a freshman at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA (John's alma mater) -- we often have stressful and trying times, especially on Saturday mornings in East Liberty. Thankfully, though, John Lovelace walked into our lives. A former customer who became an adored volunteer one totally chaotic morning, John Lovelace has continued to offer his help Saturday mornings in East Liberty for nearly FIVE years. VOLUNTEER! John refuses pay and accepts very little of the free produce we offer. He comes to our kids' plays, musicals, parties, and takes them to the Benedum or Heinz Hall when he has extra tickets. He shows up 48 out of 52 Saturdays a year, and he's often there before Tim and, now, just Leah, get there. We could not manage Saturdays without him (or his sense of humor), and it's to him the Whole Foods gift certificate would go, should we win.

Thanks for the homegrown Thanksgiving suggestion. I hope many, many others made the effort to support local agriculture and enjoyed, as we did, delicious and healthful Thanksgiving meals.

Suzanne Boyce Hileman, wife of Tim, mother of Miranda, Alex & Leah

PS - The beautiful Desert Rose Franciscan Ware was my grandmother's.

HOMEGROWN Thanksgiving Menu Winners Part 1

Here are two of our winners! Be sure to check out all four fantastic menus by reading the other two blog entries!

1. Matt Scheibe of Sunriver, OR sent us this menu which includes Juniper and Herb Roasted Turkey:

2. Melissa Miller blogged all about her Thanksgiving menu which included turkey with roasted root vegetables!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Laura's Thanksgiving dinner

We are working hard to choose the winners for our Homegrown Thanksgiving menu contest.

The entries look really good at this point and picking the winners is going to be tough. In the meantime, here is a little update about how my menu shaped up:

My first Thanksgiving was a great success! The bird was fantastic, thanks to brining and a hot, fast trip to the oven. We were able to stay pretty close to the menu that I laid out last week.

The only ingredient that I couldn’t source locally or organically were our sweet potatoes. I was surprised by that one) and um... the crescent rolls that I couldn’t bear to part with. I suppose I’m not a purist after all! Other changes included using butternut squash instead of pumpkin in my pie because I didn’t store the pumpkins from my CSA properly and they rotted. Everyone enjoyed the meal, the stories about the food and where it came from and, most importantly, we all ate too much!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Willie's Op-Ed in the Austin Statesman

Check out what Willie has to say about Farm Aid and food and Thanksgiving!

This op-ed ran on Thanksgiving day in the Austin Statesman newspaper.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Joel’s Hotline Story of the Month: From Factory Farm to Sustainability

Among the many compelling hotline stories in the last month was one from the adult son of a Midwestern farm family. I’ll call him Josh. Josh’s inquiry concerned getting help for his parents in transforming the family hog farm into a more diversified, sustainable operation. I hear this kind of question more and more as the good food movement deepens across the country and family farms seek to make themselves viable for the long haul. But the context out of which Josh’s question arose is especially interesting.

Josh’s parents are contracted factory hog farmers. Ten years ago, his parents, having struggled financially for years, contracted with a corporation to build a factory hog farm on their own land. They borrowed heavily to build the facility, and signed a 10-year contract to raise hogs for the owner. However, even as contracted factory hog farmers, they steadily lost money, and both Josh’s parents had to take jobs away from the farm. Three years ago, they had to re-finance with the corporation, extending their debt even further. Most recently, Josh’s father got hurt and must now go on disability, so Josh’s mother is doing all the work at the hog farm as well as working full-time away from the farm. All this, and the farm is still losing money. They do have the option of selling the farm, land and all, to the corporation, but the farm has been in the family for generations. Like all family farmers, the last thing Josh’s parents want to do is lose their land.

They are also fully aware of the deplorable conditions in which they must raise the owner’s hogs. The hogs never see direct sunlight or grass. The barn holds a maximum of 2,700 hogs, but the owners frequently “double-load” the barn on short notice, cramming 5,400 hogs into the barn. Delivery trucks arrive at night so that the hogs do not go crazy from experiencing sunlight and die on the spot. Some arrive dead, and are pulled out and pushed into a separate “dead shed” for up to a week. Many arrive already sick, which Josh’s parents attempt to separate out into sick pens and nurse them back to health, but they are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of hogs, which sometimes attack, kill, and even eat the sick and the weak. As Josh said, “Other factory hog farmers I have spoken to have faced similar issues, and hate the conditions that they have to raise hogs in.”

Josh has witnessed these and other scenes too many times, and is now trying to help his parents move away from this industrial model of hog farming. It has proven to be a losing proposition not only for the farmers themselves, but for the animals they are contracted to raise, and, of course, for the surrounding environment. The giant waste pit directly underneath the barn is constant reminder of situation they are in.

Contracted factory farmers (and the animals they care for) are often caught in precisely this kind of corporate trap, and the escape route, short of giving up the farm entirely, seems narrow indeed. But the escape route is widening as more and more farm support organizations within the Farm Aid Resource Network are offering direct services for transitioning to sustainable practices. Farm Aid will continue trying to find help for families like Josh’s, and anyone else (farmer or consumer) seeking viable alternatives to an industrial model of food production that depletes human, animal, and environmental resources.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The unofficial press release about Mark


Communications Director/Campaign Director/Whatever-He-Did Decides He Should Be The Lord of His Own Estate

SOMERVILLE—The long-term well-known communications executive of Farm Aid, best remembered by the public for his genial quotes and striking image reminiscent of a young Paul Newman, was lured to a better position by a crock-pot of $20 million. Smith leaves Farm Aid after a seven year term, headed for greener pastures.

The new position for Smith remains undefined, and that’s just the way he likes it. “I’ll be freer to do whatever I want,” said Smith with the typical grin. Smith’s full resume, which probably was not disclosed to his new employer, includes many illustrious positions, most notably lingerie salesman, dolphin corpse sorter, baby saver and gym teacher to the deaf.

Smith leaves behind a pristine office space (a miracle!) and a stack of press releases and board communiqués. Farm Aid staff offered accolades upon his leaving, while privately they disclosed additional information that might lead his new employer to wonder what in the heck they’ve gotten themselves into.

Jen Fahy had this to say about Mark’s leaving: “Well, lunch time will be a lot quieter; less groaning and ‘mmmmms.’ Actually, everything will be a lot quieter without Mark’s terrible repertoire of songs from decades long ago--you know, the ones that get stuck in your head for weeks on end and torture you? With Mark will go the dehydrated-fruit-science-projects-cum-art-installations and, hopefully, the immense fruit fly colony he’s fostered. Really, Mark will leave a hole in this office that may never be filled (God willing).”

Joel Morton, FA’s hotline guy, said, "We're all sad to see Mark go. Who else but Mark would whistle the theme from Love Story five or six times a day? He's like one of the seven dwarfs, whistling while he works all the time. It's beautiful." Morton added ruefullly, "I guess I'll have to wait for Mr. Myth to call the &#!%-ing hotline to get him to go out for a beer with me."

Laura Freden will miss his early morning calls for a ride to work and regular mispronunciations of her name. While she is sad to see him go, she also has a scheming eye towards that recently scrubbed office.

There is now also a huge gaping hole where his human garbage disposal used to lie, ie his mouth and stomach. The remaining courageous and pioneering (but feeling very left behind) Farm Aid staffers fear the unsolvable problem of how the heck are we ever gonna dispose of all the garbage Mark would eat for us. Innovative Farm Aid staffers recommend that we build our own composting worm CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation; see “Factory Farm”).

The remaining Farm Aid staff will be upping the dog visits to the office to serve as a salve for our withdrawals. Unbeknownst to Mark, the staff has been recording his “OH LORD’s” and “How’s it going’s” and will be publishing a limited edition mp3 collection for future “quiet days” at the office.

Ed Benz, Farm Aid’s IRA advisor, hopes that Mark will continue his dire predictions of the end of the world and frequent phone calls asking if now is the right time to pull his money out of his accounts and put it in a coffee can to be buried in an undisclosed location in the backwoods of Maine (“Ya cahn’t get thahre, from hahre.”).

The drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians of Somerville are just relieved that Mark, on four wheels or two, will no longer terrorize their streets with his unique driving skills.

Mark Smith’s mission is to build a vibrant wood-stove centered system of leisure in Roslindale. Mark Smith’s hobbies include embarrassing his kids, stealing firewood, atomizing capitalism, and enjoying burritos. He truly is one of a kind.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Laura the Horse Whisperer!

Some of you might remember a blog I wrote quite some time ago called “Laura’s Family Farm” where I described my aunt’s horse farm and my childhood summers there. Living in the city, it isn’t always easy to find a special place or even some manure to shovel but a few weeks ago I took a plunge. I made a childhood dream come true. That’s right. I bought a horse. A big, black, shiny beast. Now there is plenty of manure and a 1,300 pound excuse to leave the city and get some fresh air whenever I can.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Farm Aid (and Wendy) on the front page of the Boston Globe

The phone rings. It's 6:30am. I scramble out of bed in
search of my cell phone. When I find it I'm too late- I
wonder who could possibly need me that early in the morning
and for what.

I check my messages and hear "Wendy. It's Mark. Front page,
above the fold, check it out!"

I toss the phone down and run to the front door to get the
newspaper, I tear off the plastic bag and there it is.

Farm Aid (and me) on the front page. The youngest addition
to the Farm Aid family has helped raise awareness for Farm
Aid- 6 months and she's already working for the team.

For your reading pleasure here it is.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jen asks "Where else but Farm Aid can you use this excuse to take a day off?"

I’m taking next Tuesday off. And here’s my excuse: I have to drive to Western Massachusetts to pick up my Thanksgiving turkey! And not only is this allowed—it’s encouraged! I’ll be picking up my organic, free-range, heritage-breed Bourbon Red at my friend Dominic’s farm in Sheffield, MA.

Heritage breeds are livestock breeds that have been traditionally raised by farmers but have fallen out of favor with the rise of industrial agriculture, which tends to select one breed for uniformity, transportability, and production. What’s missing is that all-important quality: FLAVOR. I’m looking forward to the challenge of preparing this bird as heritage breeds are a lot different from your standard mass-produced Butterball. For one, their genetics haven’t been so manipulated by industrial agriculture that they actually retain a distinct, delicious flavor; they haven’t been bred to be so busty that they can’t stand on their own two feet; and they can still procreate on their own (if you don’t understand that last reference, you’ve got to read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!).

I’ve been doing a bit of research and have found that I can expect intense flavor and more dark meat. But I’ll have to be sure to brine the bird to keep it moist, since pastured-raised turkeys will have less fat. I’m thrilled to start planning the rest of my menu, which I’m hoping to source from my CSA and a few local farms. If you’re planning a killer family farmer meal too, make sure you check out our Homegrown Thanksgiving contest!