Sep 18, 2011

Chicken Salad: How I Make It

Everybody makes chicken salad differently.  This is how I make it.

First cook your chicken.  The odor of chicken first thing in the morning isn't so appetizing to me, so I plug up my slow cooker outside.  It cooked overnight.  I unplugged it first thing the next morning, let it cool and de-boned it at lunch.
Above, left to right: bones, meat, broth.  You can buy local chicken through ASN in Little Rock or Russellville.
Other ingredients: celery, carrots, Nancy's sour cream, lacto-fermented mayonnaise, onion. Not pictured: mustard. This is not a paid advertisement, but we really like Nancy's sour cream which is cultured (has probiotics in it).  I get it from Azure Standard.
I shred the carrots, celery and onions in my food processor this this attachment.  For a 3.85 pound whole chicken, I used 3 big carrots (I don't peel them, but do remove the ends), half bunch of celery, and half the onion.  Chicken salad is also good with: horseradish, green onions, jicama, and parsley but I didn't have any of those in my fridge.
Dump the chicken in the food processor with the blade attachment with a big dollop of mayo (you can make your own!) and a generous squirt of mustard.  You could chop the chicken by hand, but we like it the consistency of canned tuna.
 Mix the veggies and chicken, add salt and pepper.  At this point I usually add a big scoop of sour cream until it reaches the consistency I like.
I failed to take a final final picture but you're smart enough to imagine it looking all yummy without my camera phone pictures.

We ate it in tortilla wraps for lunch on Saturday and in lettuce wraps on Sunday.

What do you like in your chicken salad?


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Sep 13, 2011

Your Opportunity for Community Supported Agriculture

This article has been written by both Julie and Lisa.

Julie writes: Yesterday we explained about CSAs and tempted you with the mention of an opportunity to join one. Eddie Stuckey of Kellogg Valley Farms is an extremely hard worker. He grows vegetables chemical free. {Read: organic for all intents and purposes, only the government won't let him label it that way because he doesn't want the paperwork hassle. No chemicals are used on his farm.} My husband and I have bought produce from him for 3 seasons and have enjoyed getting to know him and his family.

This season he provided 10 shares of his farm through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

I've talked with most of the shareholders (because we're all friends) and everyone has been more than happy with their baskets.

Lisa writes: My husband, Mike, and I visited Eddie’s farm last fall and talked with him about his vision for the future of the farm. You can see pictures and read about our visit here. For his first year CSA program Eddie wisely decided to keep it small. His goal was to have a manageable, quality program. He made relationships with 10 individuals and families and did his very best to provide a variety of farm products for them in weekly boxes throughout the growing season.

These are the reasons Mike and I decided to be one of Eddie’s shareholders:

  • We really want farmers like Eddie to succeed, so we are not left at the complete mercy of Big Ag.
  • We like investing in other people’s dreams, especially when we get a return in Real Food.
  • We like Eddie.
  • We like the “small community” aspect of a small CSA program. We’d like to know the other shareholders.
  • Eddie won’t be getting any government subsidies to help with the projects that need to be done for expansion on his farm, because he’s growing “specialty crops” on a few acres rather than GMO corn and soybeans on 100s of acres. (Believe it or not, 'specialty crops' is a USDA designation for any fruit, vegetable, herb or plant grown in the U.S. that is not one of the five “program crops” directly subsidized by the federal government. Running a traditional, diversified small farm means you are a specialty crop producer.)
  • We want first dibs on our limited supply of chemical-free local produce.
  • I am more motivated to prepare produce that I already have then to make a meal plan in advance and go purchase the food at the market (I like fewer decisions in my life).
  • I am especially bad at standing in front of a farmer’s stand and figuring out what I will use during the next week (and remembering if I already have some or not at home.)
  • I like “having my farmer’s ear” so I can make suggestions about what crops might be nice.
  • I like the idea of getting a good deal on chemical-free local produce without being unfair to the farmer who has worked so hard to grow it.
Eddie would like to sell these this month so he can proceed with the farm plans, like ordering lime and compost to enrich his soil.

Julie writes: Would you want to invest in a local farmer? Would you be willing to invest now and reap the harvest next year?

I see heads nodding YES!

Here are some FAQ:

1. How much is the investment? $500

2. What's in it for me? 12 bountiful baskets of seasonal organic produce, one a week from June-August. Eddie will be networking with other farmers who can provide produce that he does not grow (like corn, melons, rice, etc.) In all likelihood, these farmers will not be chemical free but they will be local. I, Julie, am going to provide kombucha for the baskets. :)

3. When and where's the pick-up? It will be on Tuesdays from 4-5pm. Where: mid-town Little Rock, near Whole Foods.

4. We have a small family, I'm not sure we could use that much produce. Can I buy half a share? YES! Just find a friend to buy the other half with you. Eddie asks for simplicity's sake that one person sign the contract and be the contact person. If you can't find someone to go half with you, contact Kim Meldrum [email: lcalumni AT comcast DOT net] and she will connect you with another person to go half.

5. What happens if I'm out of town a week? You can either pick up produce earlier in the season at the Argenta Market (in April or May) or ask a friend to pick up your basket for you.

Let Eddie know ASAP that you want to support him, his family and his farm by printing this contract and taking it and a check to him on Saturday mornings at the Argenta Farmers Market. To contact him otherwise, call him 501-773-3905, e-mail Kelloggfarms AT yahoo DOT com or check out his Facebook page.

Excited about fresh and local food,
Lisa and Julie

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Sep 12, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture

If you are new to the local food arena, you may have heard the term CSA tossed around and wondered exactly what that is, so I'm going to explain and then tell you about a great local CSA opportunity. Here’s the basic definition of a CSA program and a few details from Local Harvest:

a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.

Advantages for farmers:
  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it.

Another important aspect of CSAs is the concept of “shared risk.” Local Harvest says: Many times, the idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and the farmers. If a hailstorm takes out all the peppers, everyone is disappointed together, and together cheer on the winter squash and broccoli. Most CSA farmers feel a great sense of responsibility to their members, and when certain crops are scarce, they make sure the CSA gets served first. Still, it is worth noting that very occasionally things go wrong on a farm – like they do in any kind of business...

I agree that this sense of “share bounty and shared risk” can bring the shareholders together as a community, in a way that is just not going to happen when the grocery store gets extra carrots or the shipment of chips is delayed. A small group of shareholders can visit the farm, encourage the farmer, and pray for rain. They can celebrate the bounty and mourn any loss. It is a risk, but the potential rewards, in both fresh produce and local community, seem great.

If you would like additional information about the CSA model you can view the full article on Local Harvest here.

Local CSA Opportunity:

If the idea of investing in a small farmer and being part of a small community that receives weekly food boxes appeals to you (like having your own garden without the work), tomorrow we'll let you know more details about an opportunity with Kellogg Valley Farms that is currently available.
Eddie Stuckey at Kellogg Valley Farms is a chemical-free farmer who has a small farm about 30 minutes outside of Little Rock. Last year, he offered 10 shares and I purchased a share in his CSA and was very pleased with it.  This year he is expanding to 20 shares.

Tomorrow, I'll explain more details.

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Sep 8, 2011

How Do You Do It All?

Yes, I know this is a food blog.  Why am I writing on time management?

Keeping real food in the fridge and on the table takes T-I-M-E.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me, "How do you do it all?"  I think that friend was referencing the fact that I'd written something on my personal blog, on a homeschool blog, as well as posted something on this one.

I didn't really know how to respond.

My bumbling response was something along the lines that my mom is a busy body, a true work horse, so I learned it from her.  The truth is that I have to work to relax.  When I sit down, I am thinking of what I should be doing.

Later in the day I thought more about my friend's question.  Because the truth is: I don't do it all.  There are many things that I don't do.

I don't
- work outside the home
- Facebook or Twitter
- own a TV
- exercise
- have an immaculate house
- like to talk on the phone
- operate a taxi service for my children -yet
- do many evening activities

Here are a few things that I do:

1. Making real food is my hobby.  There is an element of creativity to it (hardly do I make the same recipe the same way twice.)  Knowing that I am providing healthy fuel for my family and friends encourages me to stand long hours in the kitchen.  I love it when my BFF and I cook together.

2. Blogging for me is energizing.  It is an overflow of my love of teaching people.

3. Make a weekly meal plan.  Someone once told me, "Fail to plan (then) plan to fail."  Without a meal plan is is virtually impossible to keep real food in the kitchen.  I've posted some meal plans on my personal blog.

4. I'm OK with an imperfect house.  If you come to my house between the hours of 8am and 6pm there is a very good chance that it is a wreck.  There will be dishes all over the counter. My husband gets home around 6 and he is very willing to help me straighten up.  He is amazing at washing dishes and loading the dishwasher.  Almost anytime that you come over you will probably be able to write your name in the dust.  I'm OK with that.  My bathrooms are not sparkling and it doesn't bother me.  

5. My family is my priority and my life revolves around their needs.  I don't always get this right but it is my desire to put them first.  Having real food available to them is one way I express love to them.

Let me be the first to say I don't do it all.  I don't want to give the impression that I could do it all.  No one can.  For me it is a matter of prioritizing then working like crazy while I'm awake with hopes that the baby sleeps all night so I can, too!


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