Monthly Archives: January 2011

Why is Joel Salatin More Supportive of Men in Ag?

Joel Salatin is consider by many people to be a “rockstar” of the local food movement. Books, movies and articles are written about him. He claims he uses unconventional methods with the goal of “emotionally, economically and environmentally enhancing agriculture” ( His farm, Polyface Farms, offer’s an apprenticeship, well actually, “an extremely intimate relationship” with Joel. The apprenticeships offer young men the opportunity to live and work with the Salatin’s. This men only policy has recently been changed to include 6 men and 2 women (due to accommodation limitations).

This pissed me off.  First, I’m going to have issue with the fact it was men only in the first place. Apparently I didn’t get the memo that only men work in agriculture. I guess the first 29 years of my life I spent working alongside, the “cowboys” was wrong. And the majority of women that were in my ag classes? Our mistake, guess we couldn’t find the home economics classroom.

What made me even angrier were the people that defended this policy. Some were even women. Basically it was implied that being a woman was a liability on a ranch. (Pause – let that one sink in for a moment).

 I guess this is so shocking to me because I grew up an only child on a commercial cattle ranch. As far as everyone was concerned, I was a boy. I hunted, I was a better shot then most of my Dad’s friends, I built fence, I drove tractors, pulled calves, castrated steers, got in fist fights, I got dirty, bloody and sweaty, I bucked hay. The fact that I was girl didn’t even factor into my world. Not only would I work as hard and do the very same work as the men I was also expected to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for the men and keep a clean camp, all while being sweet and happy. I’d say that is the definition of an asset.


I think it is understandable that I would be upset when I see people treating women like a liability in agriculture. We prefer to have women on the ranch. The majority of the time they are better than men (there, I said it). But why? Think about it, women are usually more sensitive, we are patient, we are compassionate, and we don’t have the “I’m a cowboy” attitude around the animals. We have smaller hands that better fit into cows to pull calves or artificially inseminate. We have quieter voices that aren’t as scary to the animals. Again, this is just my personal experience from working on the ranch.

I remember learning in college that “decades of research and experience prove that when women earn extra income they are more likely than men to invest it in education, food and health care for their children, creating a positive cycle of growth that lifts entire generations out of poverty. So when a “rockstar” farmer, that markets himself by using “unconventional methods (” with the goal of “emotionally, economically and environmentally enhancing agriculture” has a no or minimal women policy, I think we should all take offense and question, why in the hell not?


Filed under Ag, Rants


3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 running over teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla, or coconut, ect. ect.  – almond is traditional)
1 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped* (or dried fruit, pecans, coconut, chocolate chips. Also good is lemon or orange zest.)

*if you divide the dough use 1/2 cup in each dough ball.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. If you don’t use parchment or a sil pad, lightly grease your cookie sheet.

Combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the lemon zest (if using) and almond extract. Add the flour mixture, mixing until smooth.

Divide dough into two separate balls, adding two different mixtures of fruit, nuts or what have you, if you feel like it. (You don’t have to make two different flavors, I just like to, cause it’s fun)

Shape each portion into a loaf about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Place loaves onto the cookie sheet about 4 inches apart, and flatten slightly.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until light brown. Cool on baking sheet for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cut baked loaves into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay slices cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, or until crisp. Cool on wire rack. Make several
days before serving.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, photos, Ranch life, Recipe

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

4 lemons (I use Meyer, because that is what we grow on the ranch)

1 3/4 cups vanilla sugar (it’s just a jar of sugar that I have placed a few vanilla beans in)

1/2 cup butter (at room temp)

4 eggs (at room temp)

3/4 cup lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler, be careful not to get the white pith, it’s bitter.


While you’re at it, go ahead and juice your lemons. Just get all the messy parts out of the way.

Add the sugar and lemon peel to your cuisinart and pulse until the lemon is finely minced.

It should look like this! And it smells super good!

Cream the butter and lemon sugar. Add the eggs, one by one, until fully incorporated, then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

(It looks curdled! But it’s ok, it melts together.)

Add the curd to a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over medium/low heat until a thermometer reads 170. Stir constantly, being careful never to let the mixture reach above a simmer. The curd will thicken at 170 degrees F. It should take around 10  minutes.

Let cool and refrigerate. I love to use lemon curd with puff pastry, in filled cookies, on toast, off the spoon.


Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Recipe, Uncategorized

Homemade Marshmallows

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I use vanilla sugar – recipe below)
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • The guts of one vanilla bean
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


Vanilla Guts
Vanilla Sugar (add the used vanilla pods to a jar of sugar, let it live there =Vanilla sugar)
Mix the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.
Mix the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook over high heat until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin.
Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is thick and fluffy, about 15  minutes.
Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

Dust a 9×13 with the powdered sugar.

Turn out the marshmallow fluff into the dusted pan. Dust with powdered sugar and let it set overnight.

Cut into cubes, roll in powered sugar and share.

Feel free to add other extracts or liquors. Also dip in melted chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. Experiment, you can’t go wrong with these bad boys!

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Filed under food, photos, Ranch life, Recipe