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Transparency

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Yesterday was lambing day at Meadowood Farm, an annual invitation to the community-at-large to shower love upon  this spring’s strapping newborns. Aside from baby chicks – my unyielding bias towards them is widely known – baby lambs are quite possibly earth’s cutest invention.

And the crowd of a hundred plus who came to see the babies clearly agreed. Farm managers patiently described the lambing process to group after group and placed wiggling, gangly lambs into the outstretched arms of children and adults alike.  Age, it seems, is irrelevant the instant baby farm animals are involved.

It struck me as I waited my turn to hold a wiggly little scamp how easy it is to take for granted the significance of a farmer’s open-house. Not many corporations would allow this level of exposure; it is akin to rifling through someone’s underwear drawer. Yet this spring I’ve been invited to a number of local farms, primarily for our Friends of Skaneateles Farmers Market Facebook page (please do stop in for a visit, we are so proud of our farmers!). My approach is simple: I call up farmers and say, “Hi, I’m a customer, can I come to your farm and take pictures of what I see and post them on the internet?”

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The implications of the unhesitating ‘yes!’ are profound: it means transparency, a food-system commodity more precious than any organic label or certification, than any marketing campaign or packaging design.  Allowing the consumer to see the steps between origin and plate – to see how the animal is treated, how the food is grown – is the cornerstone of a vibrant and thriving food community. Transparency breeds trust.

Hardly ever does a business invite you home. We are lucky, so lucky, to have an abundance of transparency woven into our local food culture in Central New York.

Meadowood Farm’s open house, April 12, 2014:

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Buffet

Football Food for the Forty-Six Percenters

Like forty-six percent of women in the United States I love American Pro Football. Especially the Super Bowl. I love crowding with my peeps around a spread of tasty morsels. I love lively conversation straight through the big plays. Which is why I/we dislike watching ball with our guys. Their flailing elbows are a hazard, their flying mouth crumbs super gross. Plus they’re know-it-alls who think we don’t ‘get it’ and shush us during two point conversations. Fun fact: chatting during the play doesn’t impair anyone’s ability to SEE the  screen nor does it impact the outcome of the action.
We do get the game, btw. We get the blitz schemes. The trick plays. All mostly stupid. If the offense hadn’t mishandled the ball for the last six possessions an angel stunt wouldn’t be necessary. Kay? Kay.
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Savory Turkey Tart

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This savory tart will have the family vying for the last crumb and demanding to know when you’re preparing it again. Turkey acquires new flair when smothered in cheesy kale and feta filling and topped with a layer of twice-baked caramelized baby carrots. The pastry shell is a tried and true recipe that pairs just as beautifully with savory fillings as it does with sweet.

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Chicken Treat Recipe

Homemade Chicken Treats Homemade Treats for Chickens

Oh words, how they matter. Example: when you type “homemade chicken treats” into a search engine you’ll get an altogether different result than when you type “Homemade treats for chickens.”  In one case the chicken is the treat and in the other it is the recipient of one. An important distinction, particularly from the fowl’s perspective. Or is that foul? This recipe speaks to the latter: a winter treat for your backyard hens involving categorically non-chicken ingredients.

Thyme Infused Dinner Rolls (with homemade cultured butter)

 
These herbed pull-apart dinner rolls, with their rustic crust and fluffy sweet interior, possess exactly the right density and flavor for sopping up pan drippings and gravies at Thanksgiving. The dough comes together like a velvet symphony when ingredients are allowed to reach room temperature and the mixing bowls warmed before combining. The secret to the light and fluffy interior is to add only as much flour as necessary and not a pinch more.

Madison County Open Farm Day

Yesterday The Husband and I traveled an hour south-east to take part in Madison County Agriculture’s 6th Annual Open Farm Day. The schedule of events showed thirty-six farms participating – 36! – offering free samples, educational interactions, door prizes, and fresh food. We trekked out across some of the most beautiful territory in New York determined to experience as much as we could take in. Continue reading