Tag Archives: food

Mexican Homestyle Soup

Being from California, we are graced with stellar Mexican food. Over the years I’ve taken advantage of this, and taken cooking classes, and sampled as many Taco Trucks as I could, you know, in the name of science and stuff! Actually I have this deep seated fear that when I move to Tennessee someday, I won’t have access to the same quality of Mexican food. I want to make sure I can re-create all my favorites, just in case. This is one of my favorites, something about potato with meat in a spicy broth just makes me happy. This is perfect for a cold day, it’s deeply comforting with a nice little kick.

Like a hug for your belly.

Like a hug for your belly.

Mexican Homestyle Soup

  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 serrano chiles, stems removed
  • 1 poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • Half of a head of garlic, paper left on
  • 1 pound carne asada, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3.5 cups beef broth
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cumin
Blistered peppers make me a very happy girl!

Blistered peppers make my taste buds pay attention!

Place the tomatoes, Serrano chiles, poblano pepper, onion and garlic in a 375 degree oven. For about about 20 minutes. Remove the garlic after 15 minutes and turn the other ingredients halfway through cooking time. Let cool. Remove the blistered skin from the poblano and paper from garlic. Add all the roasted ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

Meat and potatoes make this cattle rancher happy.

Meat and potatoes make this cattle rancher happy.

Season the beef with salt, pepper and cumin. Preheat the oil in a large pot. Cook the beef until nicely browned. Add the potatoes and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring once. Add the broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.
Add the pureed mixture to the boiling beef and potatoes. Simmer for 25 minutes. Add beans, corn, cilantro to taste and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Serve with tortillas, avocado, limes and sour cream.

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Spring Sausage Breakfast Casserole

A major part of growing up on the ranch was food. I guess it is because we work so hard. We need to replace those calories! It was safe to say that whenever we had a big work day or a super busy time, my Mom would fire up her oven and keep everyone fat, dumb and happy.

I’m pretty  much the same way. Whenever I know I am going to have a crew of people out here, I start planning a menu. I recently had the crew from FarmHer come out to the ranch for their show. Needless to say, I was 30 kinds of excited.

When I travel, I have a tendency to eat poorly. So a few days in, I crave fruit, fresh veggies, I was anticipating the FarmHer crew might be feeling the same way. So I told them I would have a breakfast ready for them when they came out. I planned on lots of fruit, nuts, this casserole, since I raised the eggs, pork, leek and asparagus and cookies, because cookies.

Fresh squeezed oj, fresh fruit, cookies and casserole is a typical "big work breakfast" here.

Fresh squeezed oj, fresh fruit, cookies and casserole is a typical “big work breakfast” here.

 

Every time I make this casserole, it is met with rave reviews. So I am sharing it in hopes your family will enjoy it too! It’s super easy to toss together the night before and seems like more work than it actually is, perfect for a crowd!

Spring Sausage Breakfast Casserole

  • 1 pound Brown Ranch pork sausage
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into bite sizes
  • 9 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 7 slices sourdough bread, cut into bite sizes
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I prefer a nice melty cheese like an Asadero Or Oaxaca)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
Fresh ranch eggs, leftover bread and spring asparagus!

Fresh ranch eggs, leftover bread and spring asparagus!

 

Liberally grease a 9×13 baking dish. Layer the sourdough bread in the dish.

In a large cast iron skillet, crumble and brown your sausage. When the sausage is no longer pink, layer it on top of the bread cubes. Use any leftover grease to caramelize your leek, then layer those on top of the sausage. Do the same thing with the shredded cheese and asparagus.

I love a good melty cheese!

I love a good melty cheese!

Meanwhile, add the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and mustard in a large bowl and beat until well  mixed.

Add the egg mixture to the baking dish. Top with parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Caramelized leek in pork fat is amazing.

Caramelized leek in pork fat is amazing.

 

The following morning, remove casserole from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake i until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

This actually makes me happy to be awake early in the morning.

This actually makes me happy to be awake early in the morning.

This is great topped with some hot sauce, or even better, California avocado!!! Also you could add jalapenos, regular onion, or a variety of other veggies! This recipe is easily adaptable to your taste.

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Alabama White Sauce

Remember last year when I went to the South a whole bunch? And discovered how amazing it is down there? One of the many, many things I loved about The South was the food. I mean, it changed my life (cough, cough Traeger makes an amazing smoker). One thing I’d never had, but heard about, was Alabama White Sauce. My first experience with it was at Saw’s (GO THERE).

My very first Alabama White Sauce experience. It.was.glorious.

My very first Alabama White Sauce experience. It.was.glorious.

After my initial mouth joy, I kinda got pissed that I went this far in life without it. It’s just not a thing in California. Before I came home, I made sure to try it as many times as I could. I bought it by the bottle and brought it home too! I also asked for recipes. I got many. I know the purist claim real white sauce is only salt, pepper, mayo and vinegar. But while I was down there I found that everyone had their own variation. I tweaked it and kinda came up with a California version, I love this sauce and make it all the time.

My second White Sauce experience. It.was.glorious.

My second White Sauce experience. It.was.glorious.

Alabama White BBQ Sauce:

2 cups mayonnaise (I think Duke’s is the best)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon (at least, I use more) freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste

This is it. So easy.

This is it. So easy.

Put everything in a mason jar and shake to mix. I like to give it at least 12 hours in the fridge to “meld” before serving.

I'll smoke ribs and chickens at the same time. I'll save the chickens for the next day and make pulled chicken sandwiches with the white sauce.

I’ll smoke ribs and chickens at the same time. I’ll save the chickens for the next day and make pulled chicken sandwiches with the white sauce.

Learning how to smoke has been one of my favorite things from this year. I’ve made everything from smoked potato salad to bacon candy in my smoker. It adds a whole new flavor and texture to meat and vegetables. And again, I get kinda pissed I’ve lived this long without having a smoker in my life. Don’t make the same mistake I did friends. Go get yourself a smoker, and make some white sauce. You’re welcome.

 

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I Went to the South, Y’all!

You might have noticed I took a little break from blogging life for the past few months. It wasn’t planned, I just got so busy I haven’t had the drive or time to do much for The Beef Jar. I’ve written some freelance articles, participated in an AgChat conference and the coolest thing is I went to the South. Twice!

The menu from Saw's. I weep at the memory.

The menu from Saw’s. I weep at the memory.

I haven’t traveled for a long time. In fact, the last time I took a vacation that was away from the ranch for more than two nights in a row was back in 2007. It was time to leave the ranch. The guy I was dating is from Alabama, so I was able to visit him. I went once in December and since I had such a good time, I went back in January!

Coosa County, Alabama

Coosa County, Alabama

It was a wonderful experience both times. I’ve always been fascinated by southern food and culture so needless to say, I was in heaven. I got ushered around the Southeast by a local, eating amazing food and having the time of my life. I got to see several southern places, including Nashville, Lynchburg, Atlanta, Birmingham, Asheville and Washington County, Tennessee.

My ex-boyfriend’s family has a plantation in Coosa County, Alabama. That was home base during my time down there. It was an amazing farm with totally different agriculture from what I was used to. I got to spend several days on their farm learning about local agriculture, history and again, food.

Conecuh sausages are amazing! Try them!

Conecuh sausages are amazing! Try them!

Until this point in my life, my knowledge of southern things comes from Paula Deen, Jill Conner Browne, Alton Brown, and other various southern authors. Oh and Reese Witherspoon movies. I imagined magnolia trees, dripping with Spanish moss, acres and acres of cotton, tobacco and sweet potatoes and BBQ everywhere. I’m sure it’s like when people think of California and think we are just beaches and movie stars. The South was so much more varied and different than what I expected (I mean, except for the BBQ part, and that was super cool)!

 

The Places

I was amazed at all the pine trees in Alabama. For some reason I had no clue Alabama had so many pine trees! I was expecting it to be far more open farmland and magnolias. I did see a cotton field and lots of cow/calf operations. However, one thing I noticed that really bummed me out was it seemed like there was a lot of abandoned farms. It kinda made me want to buy one and move to the South.

I went white tail buck deer hunting. It was so different from hunting here!

I went white tail buck deer hunting. It was so different from hunting here!

Since I did get to see several different areas of the southeast, that means I also got to see some of the Smoky Mountains. They were beautiful. I’ve seen enough photos and movies about them that I knew what to expect, and they did not disappoint. I want to go back and take pictures and poke around – I might even consider camping there. Maybe.

One of the happiest moments of my life happened in Nashville.  I was in a boot store on the strip. The smell of new leather and BBQ was in the air. I had a slight Pabst beer buzz. I had just seen an amazing country band. I was eating chocolate because, of course, there was an old fashioned candy store next to the band and bar. I actually had to stop and ask if that was real life. The Country Music Hall of Fame was also a major highlight! So many neat costumes, cars and instruments! 

My Nashville boots.

My Nashville boots.

I think my favorite though were the rolling green hills of Tennessee. The farms were all gorgeous, stuff of dreams. I had serious agriculture envy the whole time I was there. I was seriously looking up the farms and ranches I saw for sale, because I really could live there and happy raise pigs and cows.  

I was also shocked at the water. The rivers and lakes seemed to be everywhere and they were huge! Coming from drought stricken Nor Cal, it was almost overwhelming!

The cemeteries were a trip to me. They were everywhere. And the were old. It was a good reminder just how “new” California is. Many families had their “own” graveyard on their family farms. My goal when we were in Washington County was to find my family graveyard. I was so close, but that is for another post.

I was amazed that they could park against traffic, still had cigarette machines, and awesome fire works!

I was amazed that they could park against traffic, still had cigarette machines, and awesome fire works!

Birmingham was awesome. It was there where I had real BBQ for the first time. I got to go to Good People and Avondale Brewing. Just getting to walk down the streets and see some of the amazing old homes was enough to make me really happy.

I almost had a come-apart in Atlanta when I finally saw a real alligator and an albino one at that! One of my major goals while in the South was to see an alligator. I’d been to Florida in September, and was sorely disappointed I didn’t get to see one then. The alligator I did see was at the  Atlanta aquarium. It was amazing, really. It breathtaking. I missed the Coke experience by a few minutes (it closed), but I’d like to see that at some point.

Oh Atlanta.

Oh Atlanta.

Asheville. I understand why the second Sierra Nevada is there. It has a Chico vibe to it. I made the treck to the second Sierra Nevada, like all Chico natives should. It was a glorious building and the food was fabulous. We went out on the town after Sierra Nevada and again I had a ball! It was freezing and snowed while I was there, but the amazing music and people made the cold bearable. I’d love to go back to Asheville and spend a few days, it deserves it.

Sierra Nevada, Asheville

Sierra Nevada, Asheville

 

The Food

Let’s talk about the food now. Southern food is better. There I said it. I can simply never go back to how I was before. I actually ate skin from fried chicken and loved it. Sweet tea is nectar from the gods, and BBQ is mana.

I miss the food.

I miss the food.

I actually tried to experience as much regional food as I could. Blue Bell Ice Cream? Check. Duke’s mayonnaise? Check. Boiled peanuts? So good. White Lily Flour? Took 10 pounds home. 30 pound Country Ham?  It was in my carry-on. Okra, I love it now. Fried pickles? I have a recipe. White BBQ sauce? White yum.  (if you send me Duke’s or Lily White, I’ll send you jam, jelly, pickles or California olive oil).

I did my best to bring as much home as I could.

I did my best to bring as much home as I could.

I’ve experienced SAW’S, Dreamland BBQ and Jim and Nick’s. BBQ is not a joke down there. It changed me. Southern’s do magic with a grill and some smoke. Magic, I tell you. If you haven’t experienced real southern BBQ go ahead and just book yourself a flight and go find some. Do it. I’ve been working very hard on recreating many of the dishes I had while in the South, I’m getting good, but it’s just not the same.

My first time at Waffle House. I was very, very, excited.

My first time at Waffle House. I was very, very, excited.

Waffle House. Oh my Lawd, I did not know.  I mean, I’d heard some great things from Anthony Bourdain. But Waffle House is something you must experience to understand completely. Drunk college kids in California do not know how amazing Waffle House is and what they are missing. I was urged to try and have a drunk Waffle House experience, I did, in Birmingham, and was again one of the more glorious experiences of my life. Drunk southerner’s, amazing waffles and smothered hash browns – it should be a reality show.

I loved it there.

I loved it there.

Cracker Barrel – food, candy, clothes, games, all the things. Cracker Barrel is like the mecca of the South. Go there, rock in a rocking chair, eat some chicken and dumplings, and pay your respects.

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The People

Southerner’s are nice. They are friendly. Pleasantries are exchanged at every opportunity. They buy you a lot of drinks when they hear you are from California. They have manners. Door’s are held open, ‘bless you’ said after a sneezes, polite chat is made.

I loved it. I always embarrassed my friends and family because I will randomly start conversations with people. In the South, it felt like you were rude if you didn’t. I’m pretty sure I belong there.

The homes!!

The homes!!

I never really harbored the idea of ever living anywhere but on the Ranch, here in California (this is God’s country after all) but after seeing the southeast, I daydream about owning a little farm in Tennessee. Or Georgia, or anywhere. Seriously, The South is America’s travel secret.

I just renewed my passport and was starting to plan another trip back to Europe. But I’ve decided I’d rather spend my money and time in the South. Learn more my own history and culture.

So I’ve started planning my trip back this winter. A couple of my girlfriends are looking into going back in December or January. I’m in my early stages of planning but I’m thinking maybe about flying into Nashville, doing a bourbon tour, going up to Bristol, Asheville and leaving out of Atlanta. However, I know I have lots of Southern friends, so I am open to suggestions. Is there something I need to experience? Tell me! Give me advice!

But in the meantime if you an agricultural organization and you need a speaker, panelist or moderator, let me know. I’ll waive my fee, just pay for my flight and a bed and point me to the nearest BBQ joint when we are done.

 

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Recipe: Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

Bones are a big deal in my household. They are never thrown away, ever! I use them in broths and soups.  They add so much flavor and texture it’d be such a waste not to use them. I feel very strongly about food waste. Somewhere, a farmer or rancher worked hard to raise that food on your plate, it’s an insult to everyone involved to flippantly waste it.

So good on a rainy day!

So good on a rainy day!

I had a lovely ham bone left over from a ham dinner I had this week. Ham bones are great because there are about 100 delicious soups you can make with them. After much agonizing I decided this bone would be a lovely split pea soup.  This is an easy and fairly cheap recipe to make, enjoy!

 

Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 meaty ham bone (Table Mountain Ranch pork is preferred)
  • 1 pound split peas
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • water
Yum......ham bone!

Yum……ham bone!

In a large pot, over medium heat, add bone, broth and peas. If the broth doesn’t cover the bone – add water until the bones is covered by liquid.

I love how this soup changes from brothy to thick!

I love how this soup changes from brothy to thick!

Bring to a boil. Meanwhile add onions to a frying pan and saute until translucent. Add smashed garlic and stir to mix. Add onions, potato, and carrots to your pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally for two hours or until the soup is thick and the peas have no form left. Mix in thyme. Remove bone (you might have to pick some meat off it), any unsavory meat pieces and bay leaves before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you have leftovers you migghhhtt need to add a whisper more water when reheating because this soup does have a tendency to thicken.

 

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Recipe: The Best Freaking Snack Mix Ever aka “AgHag Chex Mix”

If you are into “clean” eating, low calorie, or unprocessed food, move along, nothing to see here. However, if you are into delicious snack food, that brings you a great sense of joy and happiness, you are in the right place.

Chex mix has always brought me inner food peace. From my Great Aunt Mary’s mix as a child, to the stuff you buy in the store, I have never met a chex mix I didn’t love. Whenever I have felt ill or not hungry, chex mix can usually be counted on to make me feel better. It’s my spirit food animal. If I am ever on death row, this will be requested as part of my last meal.

Oh, chex mix, how I love you.

Oh, chex mix, how I love you.

Lately I have been on a huge Chex Mix kick. I’ve been making about a batch a week. My friends are getting care packages of it. Every time I make it just a whisper different. You see, that is the beauty of making your own chex mix. You can do anything you want! You can add your favorite things! This is currently how I am making my favorite batch.

AgHag Chex Mix

For “The Mix”

3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
2 cups cheese-its
2 cups Bugles
2 cups cheerios (I prefer the store brand actually, it has more nutritional value, read the label!)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup cashews
2 cup pretzels

 For “The Sauce”

1 cube of butter
1/2 cup worcestershire
1/4 cup hot sauce (tapatio, rooster sauce or tabasco sauce work just fine)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 package of ranch mix (keep this separate)

Don't make it all pretty like this, just dump it in a big pile, it makes it easier to mix. I did this purely for a pretty photo.

Don’t make it all pretty like this, just dump it in a big pile, it makes it easier to mix. I did this purely for a pretty photo.

 

1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

2. Melt the butter. Add the next 7 ingredients for the sauce to your melted butter.

3. In a large 9×13 sheet cake pan, mix together all 9 of the cereals, nuts and chips.

4. Toss “the sauce” and “the mix” together until coated. Be gentle, as you don’t want to crush your cereals. After everything is coated, open up your ranch mix and gently sprinkle that over your sheet pan, gently toss again.

Step 4: the dry ranch mix being incorporated. This is an important step, don't skip it!

Step 4: the dry ranch mix being incorporated. This is an important step, don’t skip it!

 

5. Bake for 1 hour, stirring the mixture every 15 minutes.

6. Store in an airtight container, that is if you have any left.

Again, Friends, use this recipe only for good. It has great and powerful juju. It is also perfect for Ranch Days, soccer games, movies, Super Bowls and field trips.

 

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Cold Blue Mountain: The Strongest Will

Chico is one of those little towns with a pretty awesome art’s scene. We have music, theater, galleries, famous people – there is a thriving little culture here. Unfortunately, despite my fondest wishes and feeble tries, it is not a culture I am apart of. My talents are more agricultural based. However, I think this has worked to most of our advantages. I often supply various food items for various shows. In fact, I got to cook for this video!

Seriously, you wish you were here.

Seriously, you wish you were here.

My goals for this summer was to swim and fish – regularly. I’ve swam twice and I guess you can say I fished when I used a bucket to scoop out a fish when I was irrigating (I released it back into the creek). It was a busy summer on the Ranch.  But when I heard Cold Blue Mountain was filming a video, I demanded a day off from the cows so I could cook for this video! Plus I knew I could swim. In chlorine. Perfect.

Pay no attention to my rancher's tan. Pay attention to the BEEF!

Pay no attention to my rancher’s tan. Pay attention to the BEEF!

In addition to Brown Ranch Beef, I made potato salad and tomato, onion and cucumber salad from our garden veggies! I also got to bust out some pickles and peppers I canned, and some jam and jelly. I simply love to cook for a crowd. It’s a good challenge. It ended up being a really awesome day! I got to hang out with fun, artistic people, I got to cook and swim!

My favorite picture from the day.

My favorite picture from the day.

Cold Blue Mountain is yet another band Daniel Taylor is a member of, (as you recall he’s posted here before). This band is a whisper more, um…..heavy….than I am used to, which is funny to me because these are some of the nicest, most sensitive dudes I know! Please enjoy this video and thank you, CBM, for letting me be apart of it!

Seriously, they sent handmade thank you cards.

Seriously nicest metal band I know, they sent handmade thank you cards.

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Cry Me A River

I spend my summers in Indian Valley, California. It’s a beautiful valley nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, located in Northern California. This valley is perfect for cattle and hay, since the growing season is too short for most food crops. It’s a great symbiotic relationship, we make hay, then turn the cattle out. The cattle poo, fertilizing the ground, then we make more hay for the cattle to eat. Rinse and repeat.

On the left used to be a ditch, we changed it to a buried pipe to conserve water. On the right is our laser leveled field.

On the left used to be a ditch, we changed it to a buried pipe to conserve water. On the right is our laser leveled field.

This is the one ranch where we have irrigation. Many of the ranches in this valley have water shares from the local river. We use the water to irrigate the hay and water our cattle. Over the years, we’ve gotten rather high tech when it comes to our water share. Since we only get a limited amount of water, we know we must be as efficient as we can with it. This has led us to bury our ditches in underground pipes so we can limit evaporation and waste. We have laser leveled our fields so we don’t waste water in holes or on poor grades. My point is, we understand what a precious and rare resource water has become, because our life depends on it.

California is in the middle of a major drought. This is terrifying for a number of reasons, but mainly because California produces more than half the nation’s fruit, nuts, and vegetables and we can’t grow these things without water. This drought is directly impacting people like me: farmers and ranchers. Let me remind you that 98% of farms and ranches are family owned.

My family has been working extra hard this summer. We’ve practically lived in our fields, watching our water. Because it is so precious and rare to us, we have to use it as wisely as we can, in order to survive, we simply must. Imagine my shock and awe, as I was sitting in a field, waiting for the exact instant the water was ready to be changed, I saw a local environmental group post on their social media page:

It’s hard to stomach the giant agribusinesses whine about lack of water when they have made the poor business decision to grow luxury orchard crops (pistachios, etc) in a dessert (sic). Cry me a river about your dust bowl.”

 

This is a pretty tough thing for agriculture to read when we are drying up.

This is a pretty tough thing for agriculture to read when we are drying up.

I started crying, right there in the field. I may not be in the central valley of California (where that vile comment was referring to), but I certainly understand the anxiety and fear this drought is causing. Our neighbor’s well had just dried up the that very morning, our water share is the lowest we have ever seen it, our fields are starting to brown and die. How could a group that claims to be “devoted to environmental education and information referral services, and advocacy” say that about the very people that work for a better environment everyday of our lives?

I couldn’t sleep that night, I was so upset over that comment. Giant agribusinesses? Luxury crops? Dessert (sic)? This is how many of the misconceptions and fallacies that plague agriculture start. By people that, I think, do have their heart in the right place, but don’t have enough understanding of a topic to fully communicate both sides. Beyond that fact, I was hurt that the writer chose to take such an inflammatory and hurtful tone – “Cry me a river about your dust bowl”. Ouch. That is a hurtful and horrible thing to say when farmers and ranchers are literally crying over the loss of our way of life.

I decided that I needed to join this group and I needed to say my peace about their comment. As someone that lives to advocate for my life, I would be a hypocrite to not take the 10 minutes to have a conversation. As soon as Dad could spare me, I jumped in my truck with my cowdogs, drove the hour and half to Chico.

 

A felfie. I was on my way to Butte Environmental Council's office. I haven't showered in two day, I had no make up on, the same pants I wore the day before (saving water!), I had both my dogs and our neighbors well just went dry. I wanted to show them the face of giant agribusiness crying them a river in my dust bowl.

A felfie. I was on my way to Butte Environmental Council’s office. I haven’t showered in two days, I had no make up on, the same pants I wore the day before (saving water!), I had both my dogs and our neighbors well just went dry. I wanted to show them the face of giant agribusiness crying them a river in my dust bowl.

Because of the heat, I was forced to take my cowdogs in the office with me. I can only imagine the sight and smell of me as I walked down the streets of downtown Chico with two dogs on a leash made of bailing twine. I arrived at their office, introduced myself, and proceeded to cry them a river. All the anxiety, emotion and fear I’d been feeling lately about our water situation boiled over. Their office was so nice and cool, such a change from the heat and dust I’d been working in. The women in the office seemed very nice, concerned, and thanked me for coming in and talking to them. They said they would speak to the people that had administrative access to their page. I urged them to remove the comment and maybe issue an apology because alienating your active environmentalists (farmers and ranchers), is not a good way to foster communication.

My dirty, smelly self, crying in BEC's office.

My dirty, smelly self, crying in BEC’s office.

I also paid my $20’s and became a member. As I said, I want my voice to matter, so I felt like paying my dues, would prove I am serious about working together for the greater good. I left their office feeling hopeful. Hopeful that their comment would be removed, perhaps an apology given and hopeful that a new partnership could blossom.

I walk the walk. I am serious about my love for our environment and agriculture and making those things better for everyone.

I walk the walk. I am serious about my love for our environment and agriculture and making those things better for everyone.

 

When I checked their page the next day, I was dismayed to find they had not removed the offending post. In fact, they edited it to reflect a spelling change. I realize that the women in that office do not have the same experience as I have with water or our environment.  Their income, their very way of life, all they have ever known isn’t on a cattle ranch that five generations before them worked so hard for. Their friends, family and peers aren’t facing uncertain futures like mine are. As a new member with these insights, perhaps I need to show and tell, so this council can start to fathom what we are facing.

My comments on the initial post and the day after I went in, paid for my membership and cried.

My comments on the initial post and the day after I went in, paid for my membership and cried.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share more about how this drought is affecting agriculture. I’ve reached out to some other advocates in hopes that their stories can help put a face to what people think are “giant agribusinesses”.  They plan on sharing about their farms and ranchers and the “luxury” crops they produce. I sincerely hope that with this new information and ability to communicate with agriculture, the Butte Environmental Council will re-think how they talk about farmers and ranchers. Perhaps this would be an excellent time for everyone to start over again, and work together for the great good. All of our futures depend in it.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Field Trip, food, Know a California Farmer, Media, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Croplife America 2014 National Policy Conference

About a month ago I got an email inviting me to take part in a National Policy Conference in Washington D.C. As a speaker. For CropLife America. I immediately disregarded it. You see, I tend not to leave the Ranch. In fact, the last time I successfully left the Ranch and the general Chico area for over a night was in 2007.

The reason for my lack of traveling has been anxiety. I suffered from chronic anxiety for several years, traveling was a guaranteed panic attack. But therapy has helped me overcome that obstacle, so it was no longer a valid excuse.

Another reason I don’t like to leave the Ranch is, we’re busy. Like 97% of other American farms and ranches, we are family owned. Leaving my Parents here, while I tra la la in the big city, doesn’t sound like a nice thing to do. But I shared the e-mail about attending the Conference with my Parents, and they said “go, you need to do this”. There goes another valid excuse not to leave.

The more I thought about attending, the more it sounded like a good idea. I love to talk about agriculture. I love policy. I think it is important for farmers and ranchers to tell our story to anyone that will listen. I need to practice what I preach on a grander scale. It’s time for me to move beyond speaking to high school classes and local government groups.

 

Look! It's me!

Look! It’s me! (and famous people!!! OMG)

I received another e-mail urging me to respond. I did. The e-mail turned into a phone call, the phone call turned into a decision. I am going to Washington D.C. to talk about Ag policy. I haven’t been to the East Coast since I was 15!

Look! It's 15 year old me!

Look! It’s 15 year old me!

I never imagined that I would ever do something like this. I feel like all my years dedicated to telling my story, talking about agriculture and urging others to do the same is being noticed. I’m excited. And determined to make my supporters (you, reading this) proud.

If you are in the greater DC area during this time, won’t you consider joining this conference? I would love to see some “familiar” faces in the crowd!

 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, Field Trip, Know a California Farmer, Media, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Candied Ginger, Vanilla-Blueberry Jam

I reached the zenith of my canning with this recipe. Local blueberries were on sale at our market and I couldn’t help myself, I had to buy some! Blueberries are my favorite. I could eat them everyday and still love them. Silly pig agrees with me, she loves them too. It was only natural I made jam with them.

Glorious blueberries. For cheap.

Glorious blueberries. For cheap.

I searched the internets for a suitable blueberry jam recipe. But I wanted something special. Something unusual. And I couldn’t find what I was looking for. So I had to mash-up a couple of recipes to create something that sounded  amazing to me. Enter candied ginger, vanilla-blueberry jam. I found a great recipe for blueberry jam over at Food in Jars (I love them, so much). But I wanted something more. I had some candied ginger in my pantry and some old vanilla beans I needed to use up, so I decided to combine them all, and I’m glad I did.

Candied ginger and vanilla beans. Heaven.

Candied ginger and vanilla beans. Heaven.

About 6 cups of smashed blueberries (this is around 8-9 cups of whole berries, it kinda depends on the size of your berries)
6 cups sugar
1 cup candied ginger, chopped fine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 vanilla beans, the guts scraped out
two packets liquid pectin

Smash your blueberries.

Smashed berries with sugar. Brought to a boil.

Smashed berries with sugar. Brought to a boil.

Add to a large pot. Add sugar.  Bring to a boil and add cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla guts, lemon juice and ginger and let jam continue to cook (simmer) for about fifteen minutes. Add pectin and bring to a rolling boil for a full five minutes.

Full, roiling boil.

Full, roiling boil.

Remove from from heat and fill sterilized jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids. Wipe rims and apply lids that have been cleaned and placed in a warm water bath. Screw on the bands and lower into the water.

My jam, ready for it's water-bath.

My jam, ready for it’s water-bath.

Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Enjoy this yummyness on pankcakes, biscuits, toast  or, my favorite standby, over cream cheese with crackers!

The finished product. It's good. I'm not going to lie to you. It has a very complex flavor that I really enjoyed.

The finished product. It’s good. I’m not going to lie to you. It has a very complex flavor that I really enjoyed.

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