May Cooking Classes: May 1 Cinco de Mayo and May 15 Hands on Tamales

The Grilled Pizza class was a real hands-on experience and outstanding pizzas both savory and sweet. This was a class that should be repeated and would make a great private class for a group of friends or a team building exercise for co-workers.

There are two cooking class opportunities in May, both on Latin American cuisine.

May 1, 2010
Cinco de Mayo Fiesta - Authentic Mexican
Class Price $70  
Yucatan chicken lime soup with avocadoes and tortilla strips
Appetizer salad with chicharones and spicy pumpkin seeds
Garnachas con frijoles y repollo en vinagre
Enchiladas smothered in red mole
Flambéed mangoes

  Saturday May 15, 2010
Hands on Tamales
Class Price $70
  Tamales made with banana leaves and various fillings both savory and sweet

This will be a hand-on class for all participants  

Special Cooking Class June 5: Sweet & Savory: Cooking with Greer Farm Blackberries and Blueberries

Cooking classes during the berry season are filling up quickly. To meet demand, Chef Eva will offer a special class Saturday June 5 at 11:00 am for $70.

Sweet & Savory: Cooking with Greer Farm Blackberries and Blueberries

Black and Blue Lemonade
Blueberry Pesto Appetizer
Blackberry Salsa, Goat Cheese with Wonton Salad with blueberry Dressing
Pork Tenderloin with Curried Blueberry Sauce and Sauteed Portabella Mushrooms
Blueberry Fried Pies

The Flim-Flam Man: Texas Governor Rick Perry

In 1967, George C. Scott starred in a film about a con man that almost got away with his crimes. You may have seen it; The Film-Flan Man. Today, Texas has as its governor its own con man. Before you vote in November, consider his record and what is best for Texas. Will we have more of a con game or do we want good government, honest leadership and a governor tackling the problems our state has head on instead of covering them up or passing the buck to local tax boards?

This article from the Somerville Country Salon pretty well lays out the issues I have with Rick Perry. It is too bad the voters in the Republican did not turn him out when they had the chance. Perry has run a very good con on the tea party and religious right folks. His 38% right wing base is holding firm for him. I hope they wake up and realize what they are supporting is doing them more harm than good.

Gubernatorial Election 2010
Will Gov. Rick Perry Have A Bad Reelection Hair Day In November 2010?

Look, I know I have written a lot about the governor and how during the past 7 years of his reign he mercilessly and maliciously has "flim-flammed" the good people of Texas.

"Mr. Good-Hair" has been a long-time topic of mine. I know you folks out there must be saying, "Wow, this guy really has a vendetta against the governor." You know what? You’re correct!  But it's just business and personal. That’s what happens to me when someone in power with political muscle and clout abuses and takes advantage of his position and of hardworking Texans.  And that’s exactly what Perry has done since the first day he took over George Walker Bush’s place in the Governor’s Mansion when the latter evacuated Texas for Washington D.C.

During the past 7 years Gov. Rick "Special Interest" Perry did NOT lift a finger to help hardworking Texans.  In fact, he did a lot to hurt them — where it REALLY hurts — in their wallets! So, you may say, "What did Perry do that was so bad?" Well, here you go! 

Approximately 4 years ago, the governor  put on his 10-gallon white Stetson and "galloped" around Texas pushing legislation to eliminate "frivolous" medical malpractice lawsuits with the promise that doing so would lower medical and health care costs; however, after voters took him for his word and voted for the legislation costs are still high and are continuing to rise

Four years ago Perry cut important social services, including children’s healthcare, to balance the state budget; one year later, he replaced some of the funding for these programs while boasting that he increased health care tax dollars for more Texas children --- Perry's claim was bogus! 

Year after year Perry and "his merry band of legislators" have diverted more of the state's responsibility to finance education onto local county governments, who in turn placed the burden onto already struggling homeowners Why did Perry promise Texans that deregulating the electric industry would translate into less costly monthly electric bills from a more competitive industry?  In reality, currently monthly electric costs for Texans  are the highest ever in the state's history

Perry, legislators and appointed officials promoted a Teacher Incentive Plan to focus on getting students to pass the state exam(s) as the measure of success; our children are NOT commodities on an assembly line and such a ludicrous piece-work pay incentive is an insult to teachers and their honorable profession — furthermore, if the state provided teachers with a more professional and reasonable salary with adequate benefits there would be no economic reason to provide extra perks via an incentive program that won't work for educating our children

Four years ago, after forcing teachers to accept pay cuts and the loss many of their health and retirement benefits, Perry and officials returned a small share of that money and claimed they increased teacher pay an average of $2,000 per teacher --- another bogus claim by Perry! 

Perry continues to promise Texans "NO NEW TAXES," but continues to push his toll road agenda --- what are toll roads if not new taxes?  In addition, Perry maintained the freeze on gasoline taxes and gave TxDOT his approval to spend tax dollars however it needed to push toll roads.  TxDOT became a runaway state agency and was provided omnipotent powers by Perry's legislative cohorts.  In addition, gas tax revenues still are being diverted to other interests, including higher education institutions and the Department of Public Safety.  Gasoline tax revenue must be used to build and maintain our roadways!
Overall, Gov. Rick Perry has been "a VERY bad man" for most Texans and their families. The Governor's wealthy campaign contributors and big business constituents have made higher profits and more money by abusing the pockets of most Texans.

Currently Perry is supporting and approving all sorts of positive things, e.g., more affordable low income housing, freeing up some tax dollars so low income folks can get homes, secession from the U.S., creating some jobs here and there, etc. "So," you may say, "what’s wrong with that?"

Well, I’ll tell you ——
The former comedienne and actress Mae West once defined a 'Fox' as... "a Wolf bringing gifts."

Remember, 2010 is a reelection year for Gov. Rick Perry.  With only 17 months left of his term as governor, he is already felling the pressure by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's efforts to win in the GOP Primary.  Perry has nothing to lose and has everything to gain by driving home this "Good Governor" impression in the people’s minds just before the election.

The circus magnate P.T. Barnum stated that, "There’s a sucker born every minute."   And that exactly is what our governor is hoping... that the majority of Texans are suckers.

This definition may be applied to our governor’s self-proclaimed efforts on behalf of the people of Texas.

Perry promised to help Texas homeowners with high insurance costs; however, 4 years ago home insurance premiums doubled overnight due to lax legislation and officials looking the other way and currently Texans pay the highest premiums in the nationWhen home insurance premiums doubled, the governor and [at that time] Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor and later current TDI Commission Mike Geeslin promised to force the insurance industry to reimburse homeowners at least 10 percent of the recent 100 percent jump in costs — has anyone gotten a check back from an insurance company — except for the industry's campaign contributions to our special interest officials? Perry promised to help homeowners get relief from high taxes; however, during the past 7 years property taxes have sky-rocketed more than 800 percent for homeowners in some districts

Will Perry Finally Take the Ferry From the Capitol? In November 2010 voters need to make a strong statement to the governor. We know what he has and has not accomplished during his lackluster 7-year reign. We know all the promises he made to us and how few he has honored. We know how his poor leadership of the Texas Legislature has hurt hardworking Texans and their families. But most of all, we are NOT suckers!

We must NOT permit Perry to scam another 4-year term that will cause further harm to future generations of Texans.

It's time to "Make Perry take the Ferry!"   Sounds like a great bumper-sticker

Will I Get Mercury In My Fish?

We have started to be proactive to grow larger fish in our lake at home. We have a lot of fish, but too many of the wrong size. We are asking cabin quests to remove certain sizes of bass and all other species they catch. This has one advantage for us. Most do not want to keep the fish, so they give them to us. We clean them and they go into our meals.

Most of the lakes in Texas have high levels of mercury and that gets into the fish. We have a relative new lake, so this is not a problem yet. It is a concern and I was thinking about it as i read the news of the terrible mine explosion in West Virginia. Coal is the cause of mercury pollution.

Texas is the largest producer of coal in the middle of the country and in our area coal is king for power production. We are surrounded by large coal fired generation plants that have pollution controls, but obviously not enough. Some are very bad. Our state government is very lax on really cracking down on pollution. All of the lakes in our area actually have restrictions on the number of fish you can eat from them. The local state park lake is limited to just a few ounces a month.

In my study of this, I found that it takes 714 pounds of coal to power a 100 watt light bulb for a year. The chart below indicates a lot of pollution is created to do this, but is not specific to mercury. Texas gets 49 %of its electricity from natural gas and 37% from coal. Nationwide it is the opposite with coal being 48% and natural gas 21%.

The University of Texas Health Science center in Tyler, Texas has an excellent presentation that should scare anyone that likes to fish and eat what they catch in
Texas. This is a must read article if you are concerned. The amount of fish you eat is the key indicator of what harm mercury can cause to you and your family. In our area, many families get a significant portion of their protein from fish. It is low cost food.

There is not much your or I can do as an individuals to affect this, but collectively our voices can influence the state legislature and regulatory agencies to not allow more coal power plants in our area and to get those here to reduce pollution, especially mercury, to levels that are acceptable. In Texas, big business most always wins unless environmental groups through the courts bring relief. It has never come from the legislature and for sure not from Governor Rick Perry's buddies on the state regulatory commissions.

An article from the Dallas Morning News today indicates how out of touch Texas state government is with the reality of pollution as the state continues to be forced to do what is right for its citizens instead of being proactive and doing it without pressure form the EPA. Why would Texas sue the EPA so it can continue to have an unsafe environment for its citizens?


Total for Power PlantOne Light Bulb-Year's Worth

Sulfur Dioxide - Main cause of acid rain

10,000 Tons
5 pounds
Nitrogen Oxides - Causes smog and acid rain
10,200 Tons
5.1 pounds
Carbon Dioxide - Greenhouse gas suspected of causing global warming
3,700,000 Tons
1852 pounds

Keeping the Bulls In

For close to ten years, we have only used a barb wire fence to separate our west paddock often used for bulls from the corral around the barn here at home. Many times over these years we have had to re-stretch the wire and repair breaks. We moved in the herd bulls from Rocky Branch Monday to join the three bulls in this 9 acre paddock. Yesterday morning we had no fence. They had taken down all of the wire just leaving the t-posts.

Another non-planned project. All of the t-posts were pulled up to be re-set. Additional steel pipe braces are set in concrete and cross pieces welded. Tomorrow we will stretch 48 inch high woven wire topped by several strands of barb wire. Will it work? I wonder.

Bulls have a mind of their own. If any females are any place near them they will take down all barriers between them or climb over the fence. Only a very hot electric wire will deter them. We are learning this at Rocky Branch and next breeding season will have more electric wire up so we do not have to repair fences rolled over by 2,000 pound bulls.

Is the Beef You Buy in the Store Fed Chicken Crap?

Do you really know what the animals you buy for meat eat... chicken, beef, pork, turkey, fish, etc.

For some reason, I thought after all the mad cow scares and meat recalls the FDA had banned the feeding of chicken litter (crap) to beef cattle. I was wrong. It is SO GROSS to even think about! Oh my was I wrong.

We were getting a load of pine bark mulch for the berry plants a week ago and the driver said he had really been busy with chicken house clean-outs. A clean out can be one of two things. A scraping of the top layers of pine shavings, waste feed, ammonia, and chicken crap, plus andy dead chickens, rats or other dead animals that decomposed into the chicken house floor, or other stuff that falls on the floor like nails, wire or glass. It can also be a total clean out down to the dirt floor of the poultry house. Different chicken producers do it differently. Some require a total clean out every five batches of chickens while others let it build up to as many as fifteen batches. Chicken growers often take off the top layers pretty often and sell it for extra income. In any case, the stuff is pretty rank. The driver said that the clean out material (poultry litter) is greatly desired by cattle feed-lot facilities. I was really shocked. He said the cattle love to eat this crap mixture.

The University of Missouri has an article that treats feeding this crap to cattle as a normal way of doing business for cattlemen. Apparently the FDA approved feeding chicken litter-crap to cattle in 2005. The Bovine has an article that takes a different approach and opposes feeding this stuff to cattle that produce beef we buy in the grocery store. Care2 suggests that up to a billion pounds of this product is fed annually in cattle feed lots. As a final point, Consumers Union has filed for a ban by the FDA and details why this is an important issue for consumers of beef.

If you want to take action, check out this link for a way to voice your concern, and write your Senator and Congressman. There is also a video at this link. The FDA has to follow laws if passed by Congress and signed by the President. I sort of suspect if it ever came to a vote, even Congress would not have the guts to approve chicken crap as a feed for beef animals.

Poultry litter also is used as a fertilizer. A lot of it, especially from deep cleanings, ends up spread on pastures animals graze on. The pro side of this is fairly straight forward. Fertilizer is expensive and chicken litter saves money. The view of those that see problems with water and land pollution by the use of chicken litter is explained in this article. The Rocky Branch Grass Ranch had 1.2 million pounds of this poultry litter spread on it the year before we purchased it. We have never used it on any of our land. I think the problems out weight the cost savings. The biggest concern I have is arsenic in chicken feed. This is in chicken feed and eventually in the litter from chickens. Not enough is known about this to not be too careful.

We raise our own beef to eat and are raising our own chickens to eat. After finding out that most of the beef in the store has been produced using some chicken crap, I will not be buying any beef when we run out of a cut. We will do without or I will find it from another producer using natural production methods.

School Speak

On the wall of Room 68, Math, Daingerfield High School

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary"

"Failure is not an option"

This could apply to everything, but it means a lot to me as a farmer. It is a good reminder of what has to be done to be successful.