Friday, July 25, 2008

Kiwis & Crustaceans

Many of you know that Judy and I are partners in a start up large scale New Zealand style grazing dairy in the boot heel of Missouri. Last weekend we welcomed the general manger, Peter Gaul, and his family for their first visit to St. Brigid's Farm. In fact, it was their first visit to the Delmarva Peninsula so we decided to highlight their vacation with some local favorites. No doubt a proper July dinner in Kent County must include steamed crabs and corn on the cob. We served both followed by St. Brigid’s burgers on the grill. You can see from the photos that everyone seemed to enjoy the mess even though I got the impression Peter was not so sure about the idea. Jo on the other hand dug right into the tasty bay scrubbers while comparing them to large crayfish from ‘back home’. Lance thought the Sam Adams was a perfect fit for the crab while Theo enjoyed our new favorite soft drink, Dr. Bob. The evening on our deck over looking cows munching their evening grass was lovely time to share with friends from abroad.
Visitors are always welcome here but particularly it is enjoyable for us when they have an interest in grazing. Within in minutes after the Gaul’s arrived we marched out to the field to study the grasses. Mom, Dad and two teenaged boys all engaged in a walk over the entire farm discussing and debating the pasture based system we employ on St. Brigid’s Farm. Their comments and suggestions, as with other visitors from grazing corners of the world, are a valuable tool in our learning process.
The following day the Gaul’s had to make a flight connections from Dulles airport but not until late in the afternoon. So, what best to share with them in Kent County? Judy and I both had obligations so Pop Fry stepped up to the plate and toured them around the county. No one could do the job better so off they went to the Jones Family Dairy followed by a BLT lunch (thank you BTF) on the beach at Ken & Bronwyn’s. I can only imagine the stories Pop was able to share with them for a full half day drive around the county!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dealing With Summer Drought Condititons

Often we are asked, "how do you graze your cows in the summer if there is not enough rain for the grass?". Well, the summer of 2008 makes us answer that question. We had very adequate rain going into June but then it stopped. Less than an inch in June followed by only 1/4" so far in July is putting a lot of stress on the grass, the cows, and the farmers in our region. The tassling corn that is nearly 6' tall with no ear is indicative of the situation.

On St. Brigid's Farm we manage times like this from several different angles. First,we have a variety of grasses and some of those are very drought tolerant. One of those is Reed Canary Grass (RCG). Another is a warm season annual, Sorghum. This grass is a cousin to corn except it has no ears and will regrow after each pass of grazing in only about 3 weeks. And finally, were are fortunate to have irrigation water available for the pastures that the milking cows graze.

Time for bed, and dreaming it will rain tonight!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Organs! - New Amsterdam Market

When we were trying to decide which cuts of veal to take with us to the New Amsterdam Market I thought there might be some slim chance that we'd sell some 'organ meat'. Who would have thought that we'd sell out of tongue, sweet breads, cheeks, etc. and return home with some lovely standing rib roasts. This morning I found a recent post by an un-identified blogger from Brooklyn. His story is cute...

If I wasn't already psyched about this market after the oysters, this did it. The fine folks from St. Brigid's Farm in Maryland came all the way up here to sell their meat, including tons of off cuts that made me incredibly happy.
They had me at Sweetbreads for $3. My jaw dropped. I've never seen Sweetbreads available anywhere but on a menu. I almost got them and still sort of wish I had, but I wasn't going ot have the time to devote to learning new cuts that evening, so I passed.
Instead, I bought veal cheeks and a veal tongue. I braised them both, cooking the cheeks in a mixture of veal stock and veal demiglace. The tongue I simmered in rich pork stock. Mmmm.
This is definitely something I've never seen at the Greenmarket:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Amsterdam Market


NEW YORK, NY - JULY 2, 2008 - On Sunday, July 29 2008, an ongoing stream of 7,000 enthusiastic New Yorkers and visitors crowded the aisles of New Amsterdam Market, which met in New Market Square - the public plaza fronting the historic New Market Building at the Seaport in Lower Manhattan. By attending the market they expressed their support for:

• preserving and rededicating the Seaport's two public owned market halls - Mayor LaGuardia's New Market Building (1939) and the adjacent Tin Building (1908) - as a civic institution dedicated to regional and sustainable food systems; and

• transforming the Seaport into a vibrant market district, where private retail is anchored by public commerce.

Over 1,200 market goers signed a petition supporting a request that the next New Amsterdam Market be held within the New Market Building, in the fall of 2008.

"The ongoing popularity of New Amsterdam Market proves that New Yorkers support regional food and innovative distribution channels, and that they also value the legacy of historic, public spaces which give soul and character to our city" says Robert LaValva, Director of the New Amsterdam Public Market Association - the non-profit organization spearheading the transformation of the Seaport into a world-class civic, cultural, and retail destination. "By preserving the New Market Building and Tin Building and continuing their use as public markets, we can create a unique and compelling market district that will become a home for the regional and sustainable food movement and bring New Yorkers back to the Seaport."

"I was reminded of London's Borough Market" said Jacob Dickson, proprietor of Dickson's Farmstand Meats, one of more than 60 vendors present on June 29th. "When I lived in London I would travel 40 minutes by subway to Borough Market at least once a month, making a day of visiting the market as well as neighborhood shops and eateries. As a distributor of regionally-sourced products, I see a market like this as the perfect venue to connect NYC's food-lovers with nearby farmers and producers."

"The New Amsterdam Market was a huge success from our perspective and from the view of many who attended. I can't tell you how many people asked us if we were coming back next weekend" wrote another vendor, Judy Gifford of St. Brigid's Farm, Kennedyville Maryland. And Mo Frechette of the famed Zingerman's Deli of Ann Arbor signed the petition by stating "New York should have as great a food market as London, as Barcelona, as any of the world's capitals."

New Amsterdam Market included visitors from all five boroughs, upstate New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Spain, Italy, Japan, and Britain, including traveling delegations from Borough Market and specialty food retailer Marks and Spencer.

An alternative proposal for developing the Seaport was recently released by General Growth Properties, the Seaport's tenant. It calls for the demolition of the New Market Building and removal of the Tin Building from its historic site, the 1836 birthplace of the world-renowned Fulton Fish Market, to make room for a 42 story waterfront residential tower. The Seaport neighborhood has been a public market district since 1642, when New York was still New Amsterdam.