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Archive for the ‘Farm Fresh’ Category

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey

This is a lovely Autumn recipe that my good friend April shared with me years ago. It is a staple in our house once the cooler weather hits, perfect with so many meals. It is super easy to throw together and it’s very tasty. The sweetness from the honey, the salt and the tang from the lime all match-up so perfectly, then the distinct flavor from the cilantro finishes it off so nicely. If you are vegan and want to skip the honey, a nice organic brown sugar would be nice, too.

I had my parents over for a delicious Autumn dinner last night and this was the perfect side. Our entire meal was made from either our gardens, the farmers market or Sojourner Farms. We had a baked smoked ham from our pork share at Sojourner, these fantastic sweet potatoes, a green salad and southern-style green beans. My mom even made her delicious gluten-free apple crisp from the apples growing on the tree in their yard. (Recipe to follow).

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes
serves 4

2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 4-6 potatoes, depending on size)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey (You can find great local honey from your farmers market)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest
fresh lime juice from one lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss sweet potatoes with oil, honey, lime juice and salt in a shallow baking pan. Top with lime zest. Arrange potatoes in 1 layer and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until tender, about 30 minutes total. (You can taste halfway too to see if you need more of any of the ingredients – sometimes you may need a bit more of something) Remove potatoes from pan to a serving bowl, top with a bit more fresh cilantro, lime juice, lime zest and kosher salt to taste. Toss slightly and serve.

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey

Here is a photo of the beautiful smoked ham that we baked from Sojourner Farms. Hands down, the tastiest ham I have ever had.
The beautiful baked smoked ham from Sojourner Farms

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Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic and Basil

Considering I had so many tomatoes, I decided that I wanted to make a big pot of tomato soup and I thought that roasting the tomatoes would bring even more flavor to the soup. I had a bowl of this soup for lunch today, it was rustic and had so much flavor. I had a bit of a stuffy head today, so the heat from the soup and the hint of spice from the red pepper flakes really did wonders for me. This is a very simple recipe, with just a few ingredients and it could be served hot or if you like gazpacho, it would also be great cold.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic and Basil
serves 4

3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
6 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon (or more) dried crushed red pepper
6 cups low-salt organic vegetable stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle tomatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Transfer tomatoes and any accumulated juices to processor. Using on/off turns, process until slightly chunky.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, about 1/4 of the fresh basil and dried crushed red pepper. Add vegetable stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until soup thickens slightly, about 25 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

If you want to make it a day or two ahead of time (it keeps very well), remove the soup from heat, save the fresh basil. Rewarm the soup over medium-high heat before continuing. Then stir in the remaining basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

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Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce

This time of year, as soon as the temperatures start to drop, and the leaves start to fall, I begin thinking about all the things I can make in a large pot. Soups, stews, sauces, etc. – I love it all. Seeing as the tomatoes I planted in my garden this year have been getting eaten by an unknown little critter and I didn’t get nearly the amount of tomatoes I thought I would, I bought an 8-quart crate of plum tomatoes from the farmers market this past weekend. I decided I would make tomato sauce and soup.

Though this seems like a complicated and time-consuming recipe, it really isn’t. It is somehow very therapeutic and calming to peel and squeeze all the tomatoes one at a time and to have a big pot of sauce, made entirely from fresh ingredients. The smell of this sauce simmering is incredible and I really can’t see myself ever buying jarred sauce again.

If you have a food mill you can run your tomatoes through them on a fine setting and it will remove both the seeds and the skin. Then you can skip the first two steps.

Obviously, everyone has their preferences on their tomato sauce, sweet, spicy, chunky, smooth, etc. – this recipe is very versatile so play around.

Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce
makes about 4 cups sauce

4 quarts plum tomatoes (or any variety of tomato you prefer)
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion
3 small cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
2 bay leaves
red pepper flakes
fresh thyme
fresh oregano
fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
glug of red wine
Slivers of fresh basil, to finish

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for approximately 30 seconds, and shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes will now be very easy. If any of them give you trouble, toss it back in the boiling water for another 10 seconds until the skin loosens up. Discard the skins.

If using plum tomatoes, halve each lengthwise. If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. (Discard the seeds.) Either coarsely chop the tomatoes or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as they cook.

Prepare your vegetables by finely chopping the onion, celery and garlic. Heat your olive oil in a large pot over medium. Cook the onion, celery and garlic until they just start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fresh thyme, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and bay leaves, bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer. I also added a glug or two of some red wine that I had open. At this point, if you haven’t chopped your tomatoes yet, use a potato masher to break them up as you cook them. Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. Allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, longer if you have it.

If your sauce is thicker than you would like, you can add back the reserved tomato juice as need. If your sauce is too lumpy for your taste, use an immersion blender to break it down to your desired texture. I prefer a chunky, almost marinara type sauce, myself. Season with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt to taste. Scatter fresh basil over the pot before serving. Taste again.

8-quarts of plum tomatoes from the farmers market for Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce

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Open-Face Chicken Salad Sandwich

On more than one occasion after roasting or grilling one of whole chickens from Sojourner Farms, we have taken the leftovers and thrown together the tastiest chicken salad we’ve ever had. I decided to take one of the chickens this week and roast it, with the sole purpose of making the best chicken salad ever! I roasted it very simply with just salt and pepper, no oil or anything else.

Simple Roast Chicken

One 3- to 4-pound farm-raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.
Salt and pepper the cavity. Now, salt the chicken— try to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I left it alone—I didn’t add butter or olive oil; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I didn’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Chicken Salad
4-cups (or thereabouts) of chicken from a whole roast chicken
1 cup of homemade aioli (or any mayo of your choice)
2 to 3 green onions, sliced thinly
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

After the chicken has cooled enough to handle it, remove all of the meat and skin. Put the skin to the side or give it to your husband as a late night snack, like I did. Using kitchen shears or a knife and fork, cut the meat into bit sized pieces or shred it. I placed the chicken in a bowl and allowed it to cool overnight in the refrigerator.

After the chicken is cooled, add the aioli and green onions to the chicken, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to coat all of the chicken. Add more aioli if needed. This can be made ahead of time, covered and chilled.

The Sandwich

2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread (see my recipe for gluten-free sandwich bread)
Aioli
1 plum tomato, sliced thinly
Arugula or Lettuce
Salt and Pepper
Any other condiments of your choice

Toast the bread to your liking. Spread a thin layer of aioli on each slice of bread and top with the chicken salad, top with a bit of fresh ground pepper. Place two thin slices of tomato on top. Add lettuce or anything else you might like. Enjoy the tastiest chicken salad you will ever have.

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Beef Pho Noodle Soup (Pho bo)

I have been wanting to make traditional Vietnamese Pho forever and finally made the time to do so this weekend. I can’t get over all the depths of flavor and how easy it is to make. I used two different recipes as reference and consulted a Vietnamese friend, who is an incredible chef, known for his world-class Pho. The two recipes I followed are both traditional and have just a couple of small differences. The first, which I followed the closest was from Viet World Kitchen, the other recipe that I used more for tips and a couple of spices that weren’t in the first recipe, was from an article about Pho, that was in the Washington Post back in 2005.

The only thing I would change next time around would be to possibly simmer the broth even longer, not that it needed it, but I can only imagine how much more intense those flavors would be with more simmering. Also, I really wish I had taken more photos of the process and all the beautiful ingredients, but I was way too excited to sit down and eat that I couldn’t be bothered with taking photos. Plus Saturday was a marathon cooking day in my kitchen, beside the Pho, I was making tomato sauce from scratch, gluten-free sandwich bread and I preserved Meyer lemons. (Recipes to follow on all of those)

I was unable to get soup bones at the farmers market from Hanova Hills Farm, as I had liked, since they were sold out, but I was able to get both a beautiful piece of chuck for the broth and a 1lb cut of sirloin to slice thin for the bowls. I ended up buying the soup bones at Wegmans, I was happy at the great selection they had.

Beef Pho Noodle Soup (Pho bo)

Beef Pho Noodle Soup (Pho bo)
serves 8

For the broth:
2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound total)
4-inch piece ginger (about 4 ounces)
4-5 pounds beef soup bones (preferably marrow, knuckle and shin bones, with some meat on them)
6 star anise
6 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 pound piece of beef chuck, rump, brisket or cross rib roast, cut into 2-by-4-inch pieces (weight after trimming)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar (I just used about 2 tablespoons of organic raw sugar)

For the bowls:
1 pound (16 ounces) rice noodles
1/2 – 1 pound raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice) We bought a lovely 1 pound piece of grass-fed sirloin from the farmers market.
1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, left to soak for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water
3 or 4 scallions, green part only, cut into thin rings
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper

Optional garnishes arranged on a plate and placed at the table:
Sprigs of spearmint and Asian/Thai basil
Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)
Sliced green chili peppers (jalapeño or serrano)
Lime wedges
Red chili sauce (such as Tuong Ot Sriracha)

Prepare the pho broth:
Char onion and ginger. Use an open flame on grill or gas stove. Place onions and ginger on cooking grate and let skin burn. (If using stove, turn on exhaust fan and open a window.) After about 15 minutes, they will soften and become sweetly fragrant. Use tongs to occasionally rotate them and to grab and discard any flyaway onion skin. You do not have to blacken entire surface, just enough to slightly cook onion and ginger. You may also instead roast the ginger and onions on a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, this is what I did.

Let cool. Under warm water, remove charred onion skin; trim and discard blackened parts of root or stem ends. If ginger skin is puckered and blistered, smash ginger with flat side of knife to loosen flesh from skin. Otherwise, use sharp paring knife to remove skin, running ginger under warm water to wash off blackened bits. Set aside. (I’ll be honest, since I roasted the ginger in the oven, and it was far too hot to peel, I just halved the big piece in two and dropped it into the stock, peel and all.)

Parboil bones. Place bones in stockpot (minimum 8-quart capacity) and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to boil. Boil vigorously 2 to 3 minutes to allow impurities to be released. Dump bones and water into sink and rinse bones with warm water. Quickly scrub stockpot to remove any residue. Return bones to pot.

Simmer broth. Add 4 quarts water to pot, bring to boil over high heat, then lower flame to gently simmer. Use ladle to skim any scum that rises to surface. Add all remaining broth ingredients and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. Boneless meat should be slightly chewy but not tough. When it is cooked to your liking, remove it and place in bowl of cold water for 10 minutes; this prevents the meat from drying up and turning dark as it cools. Drain the meat; cool, then refrigerate. Allow broth to continue cooking; in total, the broth should simmer a minimum of 3 hours, I simmered mine for around 6 hours. If I had the time, I would have simmered it even longer.

Strain the pho broth through fine strainer. If desired, remove any bits of gelatinous tendon from bones to add to your pho bowl. Store tendon with cooked beef. Discard solids.

Use ladle to skim as much fat from top of the pho broth as you like. (Cool it and refrigerate it overnight to make this task easier; reheat before continuing.) Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, fish sauce and yellow rock sugar. The pho broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted. (If you’ve gone too far, add water to dilute.)

Assemble pho bowls:

The key is to be organized and have everything ready to go. Thinly slice cooked meat. For best results, make sure it’s cold.
Heat the pho broth and ready the noodles. To ensure good timing, reheat broth over medium flame as you’re assembling bowls. If you’re using dried noodles, cover with hot tap water and soak 15-20 minutes, until softened and opaque white. Drain in colander. For fresh rice noodles, just untangle and briefly rinse in a colander with cold water.

Blanch noodles. Fill 3- or 4-quart saucepan with water and bring to boil. For each bowl, use long-handle strainer to blanch a portion of noodles. As soon as noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10-20 seconds), pull strainer from water, letting water drain back into saucepan. Empty noodles into bowls. Noodles should occupy 1/4 to 1/3 of bowl; the latter is for noodle lovers, while the former is for those who prize broth. We used a thicker noodle, so I went with the package instructions which called for adding the noodles to boiling water, and to boil for 6-8 minutes until cooked to your desired doneness.

If desired, after blanching noodles, blanch bean sprouts for 30 seconds in same saucepan. They should slightly wilt but retain some crunch. Drain and add to the garnish plate.

Add other ingredients. Place slices of cooked meat, raw meat and tendon (if using) atop noodles. (If your cooked meat is not at room temperature, blanch slices for few seconds in hot water from above.) Garnish with onion, scallion and chopped cilantro. Finish with black pepper.

Ladle in broth and serve. Bring broth to rolling boil. Check seasoning. Ladle broth into each bowl, distributing hot liquid evenly so as to cook raw beef and warm other ingredients. Serve your pho with the garnish plate.

Note: Yellow rock sugar (a.k.a. lump sugar) is sold in one-pound boxes at Chinese and Southeast Asian markets. Break up large chunks with hammer.

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Mexican Frittata

Andrea and I decided on a whim to whip up this Mexican Frittata the last morning we were all together at the beach house and I have to say, I am super impressed with how it came out for completely winging it. I really love cooking for people, I could have stayed at the beach house another week and just continued to cook, enjoy that view and relax. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible, we leave again in a few days for Seattle, then Chicago. I guess we will have to just make this a yearly trip, then.

My measurements are not exact on some of this, we were trying to use up a lot of the food we had on hand from the week at the beach. I only used half of a green pepper and 11 eggs, because that’s what we had. You can definitely improvise with frittatas, use what you have on hand and get creative. There really are no wrong ingredients. Frittatas are a great way to make breakfast for a large group of people with very little effort. For us, it was a great way to put a lot of the fresh leftover ingredients to good use. I had some ground pork breakfast sausage from Sojourner Farms that I really wanted to make something with, so we came up with the idea to do a Mexican inspired frittata.

Later that same day, we took a trip out to Sojourner to pick up our chickens for the rest of the season, it was so awesome to be able to show our friends the farm where a lot of the food they ate over the week came from and introduce them to the man who grows it all. We even got to meet and pet a bunch of the pigs. Pierre took us around and we really got to spend some quality time on the land. I really cannot recommend enough that you find a pasture-raised farm close by you, that you truly love, that raises safe, healthy and natural animals. Sojourner Farms has pasture-raised chickens, pork, beef and eggs, he also raises bees and makes honey. We are so lucky that it is a short trip to get there and we are rewarded with supporting a sustainable farmer who raises his animals from birth to market and has a great love not only for his practice and the animals, but also for the land he raises them on. It is so important to see where your food comes from and how it is raised. Find a grass-fed farm near you using Eat Wild

Sam and Black at Sojourner Farms

This is Sam and Black from Sojourner Farms, they are huge lovable adults used for breeding.

Mexican Frittata
serves 8

3/4 lb ground breakfast sausage, I use pastured-raised, antibiotic and hormone free, pork breakfast sausage from Sojourner Farms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
12 fresh farm eggs, I use brown eggs from Painted Meadows Farms
1 cup mexican blend cheeses, grated (Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Colby, etc)
1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
2 or 3 scallions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat large oven-safe non-stick skillet (or cast iron skillet) over medium heat until hot, add sausage and cook until browned. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain off most of the liquid, leave a bit and add olive oil. Once hot again, add garlic and shallot, cook and stir until tender. Add in green pepper, zucchini, squash and red pepper flakes, stir and sauté until tender, about 5-10 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the sausage and butter to the vegetable mixture in the skillet, allow the butter to melt. Add the beaten eggs to the skillet, fold gently to combine. Allow the eggs to begin to set. With a spatula, lift up an edge of the frittata and tilt the skillet to allow the uncooked mixture to flow to the bottom of the pan. Continue to lift until the egg on top is barely runny. Top the frittata with the halved cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with grated cheese and slide the skillet into the oven. Bake the frittata until it is firm to the touch, about 5-10 minutes. Slide the frittata out of the pan onto a serving platter, top with red pepper flakes, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and a bit of kosher salt, cut into 8 wedges. We served a bit of salsa verde on the side.

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Since we’ve found Sojourner Farms and have bought a bunch of fresh pasture raised whole chickens direct from the farm, we have really been enjoying butterflied grilled chickens. This is such an effortless and delicious summer meal, perfect for those warm summer nights where you just want to relax on the patio with a cocktail and grill out. By butterflying the chicken, it takes less time to cook and you certainly don’t have to worry about it rolling off the grill or falling off of that sticky beer can. We usually get at least two meals from each chicken and once you’ve done the simple work of butterflying you can just sit back and enjoy the evening while it cooks.

I know I have already said this before about everything we have bought from Sojourner, but nothing can describe the taste of the food we are buying from them. Their chickens taste better than any chicken we have ever eaten before. It is unreal. I really cannot recommend enough buying your meats directly from a farm that raises their animals on pasture and without all the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics. You really can taste the extra love and care.

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Start with a whole broiler/fryer chicken weighing approximately 4 pounds. Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity, then trim away any excess fat from around the cavity opening. Position the chicken so the breast side is down and the drumsticks are pointing towards you.

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Using a pair of kitchen shears (you can use a sharp knife, but I really recommend the shears), cut all the way down one side of the backbone from the tail to the neck. You’re just cutting through the small rib bones, not through the center of the backbone itself. Cut close to the backbone so you don’t lose too much meat.

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Next, cut all the way down the other side of the backbone, removing it completely.

I have read that some people like to cut down only one side of the backbone, leaving it intact. We remove the backbone completely, since we aren’t going to eat it. Reserve the backbone for making stock, if you’re so inclined.

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Flip the chicken over, breast side up and simply press firmly to full open the carcass, break the breastbone and flatten out the chicken. We prefer to leave the breastbone intact for less fuss and less steps. We could probably get ours even flatter, but it cooked wonderfully so we have no complaints.

Many people prefer to actually cut the breastbone out for better presentation, we don’t mess with the extra steps. If you wish to do that, after you remove the backbone, keep the chicken breast side down, position it with drumsticks pointing away from you (turned 180 degrees from where you started). Use a paring knife make a small cut in the white cartilage that conceals the top of the breastbone. Bend both halves of the carcass backward at the cut to expose the breastbone. It should pop right up through the cut.

Run your thumbs or index fingers down both sides of the breastbone to separate it from the meat, then pull the bone out. If the breastbone breaks into two pieces when you are removing it, it could just mean you haven’t separated it well enough from the meat, just remove both pieces and you are good.

Now you are ready to grill!!

Preheat your grill by turning both sides all the way to high. Pull the hood down and allow the grill to get to a very high heat, this takes about 5-10 minutes, or use your temperature gauge if you have one on your grill.

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Brush both sides of the chicken with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. You can definitely use other seasonings, add lemon or use butter instead of olive oil, we just prefer to keep it simple and not overwhelm it with tons of different flavors. You could also add chips to your grill to get a smoked flavor. Feel free to experiment with different things.

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Once your grill gets to a high heat, turn one side off and leave the other on high. Place the chicken breast side up on the off heat side. Allow it to cook for 45 minutes, leave the hood down, don’t play around with it.

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After 45 minutes, as long as you kept the hood down and the heat of the grill stayed at high, your skin should have already started to brown and crisp up. Turn the direct heat side down to a low flame and move the chicken over to the flame side, breast side down. Close the hood and continue to grill about 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 160°F. Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve the chicken by removing the wings, legs, thighs and breasts from the bird. If it is a bigger bird, you can cut each breast in half.

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All done. YUM!

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There she is again, Derby was especially loving this photo session.

Dinner. Grilled chicken, pasta salad, grilled veggies
Dinner is served.

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I am very excited to tell you about this great farm we took a trip to this past Friday. It was just over an hour drive from Downtown Buffalo and worth every minute of it. Sojourner Farms is located in Olean, NY, run by Pierre and Lesa Dionne.

From their website:

Having both grown up on commercial (i.e. chemical and fertilizer-intensive) potato farms, Lesa and I for several reasons, had no interest what-so-ever in that type of food production. Serendipity would have it that we would become owners of an abandoned dairy farm and the question was what to do with all that fallow land. We sure didn’t want to go into the type of farming we had grown up with but again, fate stepped in and a few years ago Cornell Co-op extension brought a gentleman by the name of Joel Salatin as a guest speaker at an alternative-farming seminar in Alfred and he planted the seed in me to seek further information about this up and coming “radical” approach to farming called pastured meat production.

This type of farming seemed much more user-friendly and sustainable ecologically, and as a practicing Physician, it was obvious to me that this was a much healthier way to raise meat both for the consumer and the farmer.  Not knowing if this was something we wanted to pursue in a big way, we followed Mr. Salatin’s suggestion and began with pastured poultry since it was seasonal and not capital intensive to get into.

IMG_3281The laying hens

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The moveable, open-air, chicken houses, which allow them plenty of room and constant fresh pasture to feed on.

I did a lot of research on what I was looking for in a farm, I knew that although we really didn’t eat meat often, when we did, I wanted to know where it came from and how it was raised. I want the meat I eat to be without hormones and antibiotics (or any chemicals for that matter), I want to know that the animals are raised humanely and given room to roam and fresh grass to eat. Having learned about Sojourner Farms a few months back, exchanging many emails with Pierre and subsequently placing an order for four chickens and 1/5 of a pig, this brought us on the journey to see the farm and to pick up our food this past Friday afternoon. What a fabulous and life-changing, short trip we were lucky enough to take. It is so incredibly refreshing to see the happy animals roaming the many acres of grassy farmland and to know that they are all well-treated and living the lives they deserve to live. We were able to speak at great length with Pierre about how he acquired the 260 acres of land he owns, how he got into farming in this manner, which (as you would guess) it isn’t easy and it is very costly to run. Pierre is still a practicing physician in town (two days a week) and has a full-time daily farm hand on staff. Lesa is a full time school teacher. Pierre and Lesa feel “…that if more people knew how most of our food is produced commercially, they would demand significant paradigm shifts. We, as a society, have delegated the task of monitoring food quality to others and they may not always have the consumer’s best interest at heart.”

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Happy cows, grazing on delicious pasture at Sojourner

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One of the very many beautiful views.

Being able to shake the hand of the man that raised the food we would soon be eating, asking questions about how the animals are raised and fed, seeing the land they live on and feed off of, it is an experience that really cannot be put into words. I truly feel that if more people were aware of the foods they eat and where it comes from, more people would take action to ensure that same food is of the utmost quality, both ethically and otherwise. We owe it to ourselves to be educated about what we consume, what it is doing to us, the animals (if you choose to eat meat), and the environment. Your actions can speak louder than you know and supporting the places that share those beliefs is the only way to help make the changes you seek, a reality. The trip to Sojourner was probably the single most emotional food related experience I can ever recall from my lifetime. I feel so lucky to have found their farms and to be able to support them and what they are doing.

On the drive back to the city, we stopped at a farmer’s stand bought some tomatoes, baby potatoes, and fresh from the field, strawberries and lettuce. From those two stops we were able to make an amazing dinner. We butterflied and grilled a whole chicken along with some baby potatoes for grilled herb potato salad and I threw together a delicious green salad with tomatoes, walnuts and feta. Since, I know we will be making this exact meal again, I decided to forgo the photos and recipes this time. Mark and I were so happy to not be rushing off somewhere and to be together (alone), that we wanted to enjoy a beautiful dinner, slowly and quietly without interruption. That chicken was hands-down, THE best chicken we have ever eaten in my life. So fresh, so flavorful and I truly feel like you can taste the love and care taken every single step of the way. Thank you Pierre and Lesa, for all that you are doing.

Us at Sojourner Farms

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