fall newsletter

 
 

Regional

Seasonal

Sustainable

Convivial

Shorter days and cooler nights clearly indicate fall is here, but the continuing sunshine is providing great abundance from the farmer’s fields. Sure, there are a few height of summer things that are only a memory, but visit a Farmers Market this month and you will find the widest variety of produce of the year. Apples, pears, winter squashes of all sizes and shapes, green beans, shelling beans, potatoes, and blueberries are all in peak supply. Support your markets and farm stands in this harvest season. I am including a link to information about The Festival of Family Farms, October 6 and 7, in this newsletter.
 
The wise among us are also beginning to think ahead to Thanksgiving turkeys.
Grocery store, frozen, commodity turkeys are cheap, but that does not mean they are a good buy. Good, clean, fair food is not cheap, but if you value great taste, environmentally friendly practices, and helping your local economy the choice is not hard. I know it still seems well down the road, but if you want to enjoy a local bird, raised with care, especially a delicious heirloom variety, now is the time to act. Laura Faley of Hidden Meadow Ranch in Mount Vernon answered my inquiry with this note “Unfortunately for this year I have no more turkeys available.  I am adding more for next year.  Tell the folks that to get the Heritage turkeys from a local farm, they need to get on a list really early in the year.  Like January. Most of my customers place themselves on my list a year in advance, when they pick up their turkey, or shortly thereafter.”

Luckily, some others still have availability. I am including all the information that I have to help you secure the bird you want. Let the cooking commence!


That’s all for now, but please visit our
website regularly to get all the latest information.

Thanks,
Burk


All About Turkeys


Heritage, Broad Breasted, and Free Range

 

What’s the difference?

As you went shopping for your Thanksgiving turkey this past November, you probably noticed a wide range of pricing. There were turkeys labeled “farm-raised”, “free-range”, “Heritage”, “Heirloom”, “water-injected”, “broad-breasted”, “organic”, and “all-natural”. What do they mean and does it make a difference?

These words describe three different aspects of turkey (or any food product) production.

First of all is breed or type. From the producer’s perspective, there are just two types of turkeys: Heritage (or Heirloom) turkeys, and broad-breasted turkeys. This is a genetic difference. Broad-breasted turkeys (BB) are exactly what their name describes: they have been selectively bred and hybridized (but not genetically modified) to grow an enormous amount of meat on their bodies in a very short time. There are no hormones or chemicals involved; they simply grow very fast. In fact, growth hormones are banned in the production of turkeys. A BB turkey takes just 4 months to reach 20 lbs (carcass weight).

Heritage Turkeys

In contrast, a Heritage turkey takes at least 7 months to reach an eatable size of 14-18 lbs, has a trimmer profile when “finished”, and tops out at about 32 lbs (live weight) at its very largest. I have enclosed photos, but the visual differences are subtle. Perhaps the easiest difference to see is the comparative size of their leg bones. The BB turkey grows on the same bone-structure as the heritage bird, but puts on more muscling.

 A Heritage turkey can fly, mate, set on its own eggs, and live to a ripe, old age of 14 or 15 years. A BB bird grows to over 50 lbs at 26 weeks. They cannot fly. They grow too large for their own legs to support them. The toms crush the hens if they try to mate; the hens crush their own eggs if they try to set on them. They cannot naturally reproduce. In humaneness, a farmer is not supposed to allow them to live past 26 weeks of age.

Management Methods

“Free-range” just means poultry are uncaged; some have access to outdoors. The reality is that as soon as you pen poultry, whether indoors or outdoors, they proceed to eat all of the vegetation and insects within their pen. Some farmers have innovated and developed moveable pens so that the birds have fresh grazing every day. This requires muscle or machine because the structures are tall and heavy, and is more practical for chickens. “Pastured” means a larger space with grass. The standard guidelines are 75-100 turkeys per acre, or about 400-500 sq ft per bird (20 x 20).

The wild turkey diet is about half grass, the rest seeds and insects. My Heritage birds keep my lawn nicely trimmed, and I have no crane flies. The BB turkeys also enjoy grass, but they can’t be bothered to walk very far to get it. They will eat any unfortunate insect that comes within their reach, but they would really rather hang out at the feeder and, well, feed. I place their water as far from the feeder as I can to encourage them to get some exercise.

Heritage turkey hens can raise their own baby turkeys (poults), but I find that they step on too many in the excitement of new motherhood to be cost effective. Much to their displeasure, I take their hatchlings away from them, raise the poults in a safe, warm box for a week and a half, and then give them back when the babies are bigger and sturdier.

 

Laura Faley

Hidden Meadow Ranch

Mount Vernon, WA

(360) 202-5023


Roasting Heritage Turkeys

Courtesy of the web site Epicurious.com

 

With longer legs, a leaner breast, and a more diminutive size compared to a standard supermarket turkey, heritage birds look, taste, and roast up differently than your average Thanksgiving fowl. Heritage birds generally top out at 14 to 16 pounds, so if you plan on serving a larger crowd, you might want to roast two side by side. An added bonus is that smaller birds cook more quickly than their fleshy cousins, so you don't need to rise at dawn if you like to eat Thanksgiving dinner at noon.

Because of their more natural, active lifestyle, heritage turkeys must be roasted differently in order to avoid toughness. Opinions vary on how to achieve this: Some farmers recommend cooking the birds at a higher temperature (425°F to 450°F) for a shorter period of time (no more than 2 hours for a 12- to 14-pound bird). Other people swear by the opposite, roasting their birds more slowly and at a lower temperature than the standard (325°F, 3 1/2 to 4 hours for a 12- to 14-pound bird). Both ways will work—the most important thing is not to overcook the meat. You might even consider undercooking—the cleaner, drug-free living conditions of heritage birds make them less likely to be infected with the kind of bacteria that require cooking to a higher temperature, and an internal temperature of 140°F to 150°F will yield moist, juicy, more tender meat. Be aware that this could leave the meat with a pinkish hue that may be unappealing to some diners, but a quick fix is to toss their pieces under the broiler for a minute or two if they complain.

A curious difference between a heritage and regular bird concerns the neck fat. While heritage breeds are typically leaner, many have more neck fat than the Broad Breasted White. If you decide to stuff your heritage turkey before roasting, don't put the stuffing all the way up into the neck cavity. The excess fat will render into the stuffing, making it soggy and greasy. Instead, stuff vegetables like carrots or onions into the neck cavity. The vegetables and fat will add flavor to the extra drippings, ideal for gravy making.


Availability


Skagit River Ranch

We have a few hundred turkeys this year. They are organic and free range. Their are both white turkeys and Heritage turkeys. They have gotten plump and most sizes are 16-22 lbs. We sell them  at $7.45/lbs. Due to the extreme grain price hike, we had to raise prices this year. We ask for $40 deposit and will be ready to be picked up starting 1st weekend of November. (We do Saturday pick up at our farm store or participating Farmer's Markets only)

28778 Utopia Road, Sedro Woolley - (360) 856-0722

eiko@skagitriverranch.com

www.skagitriverranch.com


Osprey Hill Farm

Anna Martin

360.595.9134

We've got both heritage turkeys (Bourbon Red) and the standard broad breasted whites. We're just starting to take reservations so we've still got plenty of turkeys available for the time being. 

We don't take deposits or pre-payments.  Birds are sold frozen only.  Giblets are sold separately at time of pickup.

ospreyhillfarm@yahoo.com

http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M29401

 

Skagit Valley Food Co-Op

We provide free range, organic broad breasted whites and some heritage birds from the well respected California firm Diestel. They come to us fresh. Pre orders begin on November 1. We are usually sold out by the second week of November. They are available for pick up beginning Monday, November 19.

202 South First Street

Mount Vernon, WA 98273 

360-336-9777

www.skagitfoodcoop.com


Links of Interest


SKAGIT VALLEY FESTIVAL OF FAMILY FARMS
On this weekend, you can have a hands-on-experience learning what it takes to run a farm, from growing crops to feeding animals. It is an opportunity to talk to your farmers and follow your food from the fields to the table.

CELEBRATE THE FARMER!
Mark Bittman
With all due respect to my chef friends (many of whom will agree with this statement), most cooking is dead-easy and pretty quick: it takes 20 minutes to roast a marrow bone, and an ambitious fifth-grader can get it right on the first try.
But raising and butchering the cows and pigs that produced the marrow bones and meat for the chorizo? Growing the corn? These are tasks that take weeks, if not months, of daily activity and maintenance. 

DO FOODIES CARE ABOUT FOOD WORKERS?
Sally Kohn

If food lovers are serious about bettering the world, they should pay more attention to the people who serve them.


Recipes

SPICY ROAST FIG COMPOTE


1 pint fresh figs

1 large tomato

1 sweet onion diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup basil coarsely chopped

1/4 cup basalmic vinegar

salt and pepper


Trim the stems from the figs, then cut them in quarters. Core the tomato, and cut it into eighths. Spread the figs and tomatoes on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 degree oven until edges are browning.

Sweat the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in olive oil until very soft. Toss in the roasted figs and tomatoes and all accumulated juices. Add the vinegar and basil and stir until well blended. Cool.

Use  at room temperature as a condiment for meats, or as a topping for crostini with cheese.

from Burk


MULTI-BEAN SALAD WITH CHARRED RED ONION


FOR THE VINAIGRETTE

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, grated

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


FOR THE SALAD

1 pound fresh shelling beans (fava beans, butterbeans or cranberry beans)

1/2 pound small green beans

1/2 pound romano beans

1/2 pound small yellow wax beans

1 medium red onion, in 1/4-inch slices

A few sprigs fresh marjoram

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley.


PREPARATION

To make the vinaigrette, stir together vinegar, mustard and garlic in small bowl. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper, then whisk in olive oil. Taste for seasoning, then set aside.

Shuck and cook the fresh shelling beans by simmering in lightly salted water to cover. They should be tender in about 30 minutes. Let shelling beans cool in their cooking water. (May be cooked ahead.)

Cook the green beans, romano beans and wax beans separately. Simmer each type in lightly salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until just tender. Spread them out on plates to cool to room temperature.

Heat a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lay onion slices in the skillet and let them char and soften slightly on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and char the other side. Set aside to cool. Toast marjoram on the hot skillet until it chars slightly, about one minute, then remove. (You may char the onions and marjoram on an outdoor grill or under the broiler.)

To assemble the salad, drain the shell beans and put them in a large serving bowl. Add cooked green beans and charred onions. Season with salt and pepper. Add vinaigrette and toss well. Crumble marjoram and sprinkle over salad. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. 


David Tanis, New York Times


PUMPKIN GRATIN 


2 lbs cubed raw pumpkin

1/2 tsp ground coriander seed

2 onions diced

1 Tbs chopped mint (or any other herb)

8 Tbs butter

1/2 cup grated local cheese

2 tsp flour

1/2 cup half and half or milk

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs


Melt 6 tbs of the butter over low heat in a heavy fry pan with a lid. Add the pumpkin, onion, coriander, salt, and pepper. Cook slowly, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to medium, and sprinkle with the flour. Cook for 10 minutes, and then add the half and half in small batches until a thin sauce forms around the pumpkin. After about 10 minutes cooking, pour into a buttered gratin dish, sprinkle with the cheese, chopped herb, and then the crumbs. Dot with remaining butter, and bake, uncovered until browned and bubbly, about 45 minutes. 

from Burk


STUFFED SAVOY CABBAGE


1 head savoy cabbage

3 slices country white bread

1/4 lb bacon

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 lb ground pork or pork sausage

4 sage leaves

1 onion

12 oz tomato sauce

2 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper


In a pot large enough to comfortably hold the whole cabbage, bring salted water to a full boil. Blanch the cabbage for about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a colander.

Dice the bacon and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until softened. Turn up the heat and add the pork. Fry until the meat is lightly browned. Remove the crust from the bread, and break it into small pieces. Add it to the meat mixture. Chop the herbs, and add them along with salt and pepper. Allow to cool a bit.

Place the cabbage in a large baking dish, core end down. Gently fold back the leaves flat. Place the stuffing mixture into the center of the cabbage. Fold the leaves back into their original shape, forming a closed head. Tie with twine to hold the shape. Pour the tomato sauce around the cabbage. Cover, and place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. Bake for thirty minutes. If the sauce seems to thick, thin with a little water. Bake for thirty more minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest about 10 minutes. Remove the twine, and cut the cabbage into wedges. Serve with the sauce spooned liberally over the top.


Membership

$25 per person

JOIN TODAY


Why should you be a member of Slow Food USA?

To join a grassroots movement of people like you who believe in a world where everyone can enjoy food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet. As a member of Slow Food USA you will have opportunities to connect, get informed and engage with the Slow Food community. You may not know that the cost has been reduced to just $25 per person. 

Slow Food USA members are part of a network of more than 200,000 members and supporters in the United States, and part of a growing domestic and international movement dedicated to making good food a reality for all.

I am sure most of you are familiar with Alice Waters, restaurateur and food activist. I would like to share with you her impassioned reasons for joining:

“I just renewed my Slow Food USA membership. Why? Because this movement that we are all a part of is a patchwork quilt. Slow Food is the thread that brings all of those different, beautiful patches together—all over the country, and all over the world. In a time when so many of our communities feel divided, this thread reminds me that I’m not alone in believing a better future is possible - Slow Food’s community is leading the charge to support the farmers who are working to raise food that nourishes us, and the planet. They are finding the beautiful and rare foods that we are so at risk of losing. They are working to build gardens in public schools all over the country. Because our children deserve to grow up healthy, knowing how to grow, cook and share real food, your renewal will help Slow Food to continue bringing this movement together, to build a world where everyone can eat good, clean, fair food. ”