February Newsletter

This is our February Newsletter. You can sign up for it on our homepage.

Eva's Culinary Commentary
There is still room to participate in this Saturday's valentine cooking class, Love Around the World. The flavors in the shrimp piri piri will have you licking your fingers and begging for more.  I love the spices of African and Middle Eastern dishes; the tantalizing tastes that linger in your mouth.  Much of these cuisines are influenced from explorers, traders and settlers from Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia. You will see that the African jollof is very similar to a cajun jambalaya,  which was probably derived from it.  The seasoning is much more intense in the version we will prepare. The salad on the menu is so refreshing and you will experience a different spice; sumac which has a fruity aroma and citrus flavor. The apple and squash fritter is a great accompaniment to the chicken dish with a cinnamon sugar topping. The asparagus is roasted then drizzled with freshly roasted red pepper sauce that imparts wonderful flavor. Pink peppercorns are very much loved in Turkish cuisine and are light and fragrant. They really enhance the meringues which are crispy and spicy. This compliments the smooth, creamy, and mild panna cotta which is a custard made without egg yolks. What's valentines without chocolate? So we will garnish our dessert with rich chocolate shavings. Hopefully, you will leave feeling satisfied and loved. After all scrumptious food is the way to someone's heart.
February 11, 2012    11:00 AM at the farm Love Around the World   $75 Shrimp piri piri lettuce wraps Pink grapefruit avocado and pomegranate salad African jollof rice with chicken South African apple squash fritters Asparagus with roasted red pepper sauce Panna cotta with chocolate shavings and Turkish pink peppercorn meringues
Our next class, Mardi Gras, will also be loaded with flavor and excitement as we prepare the dishes greatly influenced by the French settlers in the south. We will jump start it with brandy milk punch giving you that warm feeling inside. The crawfish beignets are so tasty with Eva's new rendition of remoulade with pink peppercorns. The  Jambalaya is also tweeked with the black beans, a take off from my Caribbean background, also a very flavorful cuisine. The Oyster artichoke soup is not overpowered by a roux as there isn't one.  Instead, the true flavors of the artichokes and oysters emerge all on their own. New Orleans barbecue shrimp is my old favorite and I can still remember the occasion where I was first introduced to it and was instantly hooked. Of course you have to sop it up with French bread. King cake can be rather bland so we will enrich it with the Greer farm blueberry cream filling and then put the traditional colored sugars on it. So let the good times roll. Let's have our own Mardi Gras at the Greer farm.
February 18, 2012 11:00 AM at the farm Mardi Gras: Laisse le bon Temps Rouler  $80 Brandy milk punch Crawfish beignets with pink peppercorn rémoulade Chicken and sausage black bean jambalaya Oyster and artichoke soup New Orleans barbecue shrimp and French bread King cake with Greer farm blueberry cream filling
Farm Life
Winter should be a time of quiet, resting before the hard work of summer.  I think that is a myth from a seed catalog company.  If you live in Texas, after last summer's drought and the mild temperatures that have not even killed flies, you know that mother nature did not take a vacation.
Our big project is a CSA where we will be offering vegetables on a subscription basis starting March 31 running at least to August 1.  A lot of details need to be worked out on the administration and publicity of this venture, but the planting has started.  We are in the process of setting out over 4,000 onions (different varieties).  Potatoes are in the cool room setting eyes and will be planted in the next ten days.  Included are Yukon Gold and several types of heritage large potatoes and fingerlings.  This includes Peruvian Purple. The greenhouse is full of seedlings that are just starting to emerge.  Many different types of greens will be in our weekly boxes along with traditional and heritage veggies.  Our goal is to deliver in the Longview- Tyler area, have vegetables at the farm and go to the McKinney Farmer's markets on Thursday afternoon and Saturday mornings.  We are adding more information on the CSA on our website early next week, including how to subscribe. 
Out in the berry fields we have replaced 300 blackberry plants that bit the dust in the summer heat.  Next up is replacing 60 blueberry bushes.  Our stock will come from Louisiana and Georgia.  Trying to avoid the problems we experienced last summer keeping the plants alive, we are laying 2,000 feet of 2 inch water distribution line and new controls.  If the system works as planned we can water the plants through drip hose with the equivalent of receiving 3 inches of rain.  This project started in late summer with a total replacement of the lake water filtration system.  Now we just have one tiny problem.  The plants think its late March and the buds are swelling and in a few instances we have a few in flower.  This is not good.  The last thing we want is for the plants to go into bloom before the last frost. 
Grass Fed Steers
Our main cattle herd is in the middle of a change of life cycle.  Some are with the bulls to be bred, some are going through a process to be flushed (harvest their eggs) to artificially inciminate them, the new baby calves are just having fun and staying on mama's milk while the young steers and heifers are doing their best on the rye grass and hay, growing into mature cattle. 
In the steer paddock, we are continuing to grass feed the last of the steers we will sell for grass fed beef until the fall.  The first steers harvested have been picked up by our customers.  Some of the steers in the paddock are sold, but we still have split quarters and halves available.  The total cost per pound, based on hanging weight, is about $4.50.  We noticed an advertisement by a Dallas vendor asking $7.50 per pound.  I think we offer as good or better quality as these guys that are asking too high a price.  Call us for more information or check out our website.
What Else
We could ramble on about it being time to make your lakeside log cabin rental reservations sooner than later so you will not be disappointed or how the chickens in the egg mobile are doing great (they just need summer pasture). Also how we anticipate new baby chicks in mid-March.  We can talk about that and much more in March.  You can also keep current by reading our irregular blogs and wall notes on Facebook.  The important thing is that you know we keep all of our customers and friends in mind in all that we do.
Think about a February Farm to Fork Cooking Class either this Saturday or on the 18th as a way to start off the new year with a bang.  From our farm to your home we wish you all the best.
Sid, Eva and all of us on the farm
February has arrived on the farm.  The super bowl is over and no more college football.  What are we going to do for entertainment.  Basketball maybe.  How about a winter retreat staying in a lakeside log cabin, sipping wine by a camp fire on a starry night.  Perhaps a Saturday cooking class having fun learning new techniques and recipes, while enjoying a gourmet meal you helped prepare course by course.  It's all possible if you visit our farm in February.

40 Years Ago

I recently ran across a photo of me taken 40 years ago. I am not as young as I was then, but the cowboy in me is still alive and well.
2012_01_24_13_00_35 (dragged)

Organic vs. Ugh- the Bad Way

Have you ever wondered why potatoes, fruit and vegetables last so long when you bring them home from the store? The truth is not so pleasant. In a elementary school science project video another of corporate America’s factory food supply secrets is exposed. BUD NIP is behind it all.
Bud nip is really a chemical called
chlorpropham. About 75% of all the potatoes we eat have been treated it. This link is a detailed review of the laboratory effects of this chemical on living things.
Once again, it only makes us more focused on the farm to raise what we eat and sell the surplus to others. There are more and more organic or non-certified organically grown meats, fruit and vegetables available. What is your family eating?

Why the Bees are Dying

The Dirt Doctor (Howard Garrett) has a regular newsletter and a radio program in Dallas. He recently had in his newsletter a short video on one reason why the bees are dying. It is once again the shocking truth that our government serves the interest of big business over the 99%. Bees are essential to our having a reliable and low cost supply of food. It is amazing that nothing is being done to protect this system that feeds our families.

Our vegetables and berries depend on bees for pollination.

At the end of the video are some links you can go to. If you are concerned, follow them and make your voice heard. Write your Seantor and Congressman too!

Mid-Winter on the Farm

It is mid-winter on the farm and a year ago we still had snow piled up in the shade. This year it is more like late March. Except for a couple of nights near 20 degrees, we have not had any cold weather. The rain we have had has been a blessing and the Rocky Branch Grass Ranch lake is full now. At home, the lake has recovered half of its summer loss. It may be adequate for berry irrigation his summer.
Being milder has not lessened the appitite of our cattle. They seem to be eating hay at a fast and furious pace. The rye grass planted in the fall is starting to grow and that gives them a bit of fresh forage. Clover is also starting to sprout. If it remains mild, we will perform soil test samples this week and fertilize the rye grass the end of the month. Warmer temperatures will kick start it and really cut back on our hay needs.
A set of beef steers have been harvested and customers picked up their beef. We will have more available in a month and then more even later. The steers are eating fresh rye grass and clover in the paddock they are in so less dependent on alfalfa hay now. They look good.
The chickens are doing great, but we can not wait to move the egg mobil to fresh green grass as soon as we have some to go to. We are currently getting about 8 dozen eggs a day. They get large buckets of alfalfa hay every day to supplement their diet. We have ordered more day old chicks for March delivery. Shortly we are ordering 50 meat chickens that will be processed at a near-by farm that has a licensed facility. These we will sell. They are not the normal Cornish Rock chickens most raise, (ugly and after 5 weeks can’t walk) but free range red ones that are derived from French stock. It takes an extra 3-4 weeks for them to reach harvest weight and they relay in large part on pasture grass and bugs for their diet. The breast is smaller, but the meat succulent.
Eva’s minature pot belly pig is doing great. She thinks she owns the barn yard. She get a good belly scratch several times a day. Before summer, we hope to have some meat pigs to raise and harvest. If we do, some of the meat will be sold. After watching
Food Inc again, I am really turned off on factory farm meats.
Our Farm to Fork Cooking Classes are popular. They gives folks a chance to brush up on their cooking skills, have fun and enjoy some very good food. The classes are small and as hand-on as you wish.
Bryan has been very busy planting seeds on the greenhouse for our vegetable CSA. There are thousands of little dirt cups with tiny seedlings sprouting out of them. March 31 is our target for the first delivery date. We have planted aobut 3,000 onions and have maybe another 1,000 to plant. Potatoes go in the ground next. We will have both regular Youkon Gold, a selection of heritage large potatoes, and also fingerlings.
Cabin bookings have startedt o pick up and sevceral weekends are fully booked. We are fully booke dthis weekend.
In Eva’s flower gareden she has started to prune her roses (over 100) and we pruned 5 truck loads of old seasonal plants this past weekend. Spring bulb flowers are coming up on schedule. We are not planning any additions to the flower garden this summer except flowering annuals.
Winter breeding of cows continues. Our plans to flush older cows is behind schedule and one of them had to be put down this week. The vet did what he could and so did we hand feeding and watering her for days, but she could not get up and walk any longer. So sad.
Well that covers recent event on the farm.