The Peterson Farm Bros Sing About Agriculture’s Worth

Peterson Farm Bros.

The USDA tells us to: “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” The American Farmland Trust reminds us: “No Farms, No Food.” Powerful messages indeed.

And then there are the Peterson brothers — Greg, Nathan, and Kendal — from Kansas.

They farm. They sing. And they’ve gone viral to the delight of millions.

After writing funny, farm-friendly lyrics to LMFAO’s hit “I’m Sexy And I Know It,” these three brothers — who’ve branded themselves as The Peterson Farm Bros — have found a fresh way to focus a well-deserved spotlight on the people who grow our food. With the help of their 11-year old sister, they recorded a video of “I’m Farming And I Grow It,” posted it on YouTube, and garnered more than 2.8 million views in a little more than a week. You’ll smile as you watch these hardworking brothers sing about their lives on the farm and the fact that they: “Gotta feed everybody. Gotta feed everybody. Gotta feed everybody. (Uh-huh) I work out. (side!)” They dance too — in the fields, on tractors, and with their cows. (Just wait until you see them do the sprinkler.)

The brothers’ message is incredibly relevant: Agriculture is important! On a Fox and Friends interview, Nathan shared: “We really want agriculture to be promoted. I think a lot of people overlook it — how important it is where everyone’s food comes from.” News outlets and bloggers from as far as Australia have covered the fab farmers. And enjoying the video is the best 3 minutes, 32 seconds I’ve spent in quite awhile. So watch it. Share it with your friends. Like them on Facebook.

It’s amazing how three young guys can make farming look so good. Way to go.

– This page was originally published on Eat Drink Better. –

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Too Much Produce? Learn To Preserve Your Bounty Through Two Community Events

Jarred Peaches

 

I’m fascinated by folks who can can.

No, silly — not people who dance in spicy Parisian dance halls. I’m talking about folks who can can — jar, put up, preserve — fresh food for later.

I covet experienced food preservationists’ serious skills. They’re master planners with supreme attention to detail. They know what to preserve and which techniques to use. They know how to manage food safety, and they have confidence in their abilities to prevent food borne illness. They have to be smart.

And blissfully, I’ve been on the receiving end of the preserved harvest often. My grandmother spoiled us with pickled beets and okra from rations she put up in her cellar. Our friends, Deb and Festus, share their plenty every year. But I’m a bit fearful of preserving the fresh cucumbers that fill my own crisper drawer. Do I know enough about food safety? What if my pickled treasures contaminate loved ones? Yikes! I need a mentor.

Fortunately, help is around the corner with two upcoming “we can help you learn to preserve” events. Can you can?

Ball sponsors National Can-It-Forward Day

The Ball brothers started manufacturing glass jars in 1884. Today, their company is a go-to resource for home preservation wannabes. On Saturday, July 14, 2012, it aims to help as many of these wannabes as they can (both literally and figuratively) on National Can-It-Forward Day. Students can watch preservation demonstrations online, join or host a local canning party, or attend the day in person at Minnetrista, a Muncie, Indiana-based cultural center.

One day not enough? Check out a weekend Can-A-Rama

Canning Across America (CAA) is an ad hoc collective of passionate preservationists that hosts a web site filled with how-to resources and canning recipes. From Friday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23, 2012, CAA wants you to “Join The Canvolution!” during their three day Can-A-Rama. The event, in its fourth year, boosts education and community interaction by promoting local canning events. Although the group’s web site is out-of-date, its collection of hearts is in the right place.

Don’t have time to preserve? Don’t waste it! Share your wealth with neighbors, CSAs, local food banks, and soup kitchens. But if your curious nature compels you to tackle the challenge, go for it. Not only will you reduce waste — you’ll enjoy your summer bounty all year long.

I have a drawer of cucumbers ready to go. Who’s in? Let us know where you’ll be!

– This page was originally published on Eat Drink Better. –

Image Credit: jaimekop via photo pin cc

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Real Food Inspiration: “You Will Be The Makers Of Your Own Future”

Carlos Petrini

 

If you’re into growing, cooking, and eating, you probably know about the Slow Food movement. But you may not be familiar with its founder, Carlo Petrini, and his brilliant writing. I’m reading his book, Terra Madre. Simply put, Signor Petrini inspires me. I thought a few of his quotes might do the same for you.

He recognizes that growing food is about more than just growing food.

“Agriculture isn’t just another sector of industry like iron and steel, say, but something much more complex than that. In reality, it is the fruit of a holistic vision that takes in ‘sacredness’ of food, respect for the environment, sociality, conviviality, and culture.”

He understands the connections between food, people, and the earth.

“In the near future, politics and economics will grow aware of the vital relationship between food, agriculture, climate change, and health care, of the landscape and of the beauty of ecosystems  all interconnected problems.”

He believes we are empowered; we have a choice.

“Consumers will help us in our task. Many are worried about the consumption crisis, but I believe that consumers are simply getting ready to make important choices. They will start looking for local, healthy, fresh, seasonal food; it will be a virtuous, large-scale process.”

He has hope for the future. Do you?

“My final words go to the young people among us. You are the future of the earth. Save the memory of farmers, save the memory of your elders. There can be no future without memory. Make your memory of the elders and farmers of your villages a cornerstone of the new frontier; allow the traditional wisdom of your elders to converse with modern science, and you will be the makers of your own future.”

– Quotes from Carlo Petrini’s speech at the “Terra Madre World Meeting of Food Communities” event in October, 2008.

– This page was originally published on Eat Drink Better. –

Image Credit: Festival della Scienzia via flickr/CC license

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Abundant Herb of the Moment: Basil

Basil

In Texas, the basil is rockin’. I’ve nurtured three plants this spring, and they are happy indeed, but I know as the summer heats up, their tender leaves will suffer. So I’m doing my best to enjoy as much of their bounty as I can now and preserve like a pioneer woman for colder times.

If you love basil, I hope you’ll enjoy my quick tips for growing, using, and preserving this wonderfully spicy-yet-sweet herb.

Growing And Harvesting

My not-so-green thumb manages to grow basil with high success rates — and if I can do it, most anyone can. After about a decade of basil growing experience (with some years yielding better results than others), I’ve learned it’s important to:

  • Put basil in its proper place. Plant basil transplants in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot in well-drained soil. Keep them well watered and beware of heat stress. You’ll know when it’s thirsty or sunburned by its leaves’ body language: A happy basil plant’s leaves are perky. Sad leaves droop toward the soil.
  • Harvest regularly. Don’t fear clipping your basil! Clipping a stem above a set of leaves drives two new stems to grow from that spot. Doing so early (before the plant gets too tall) encourages a fuller plant as opposed to a leggy one. My rule of thumb is to clip stems back to about five to seven inches from the ground once they’ve become taller than ten to twelve inches. For maximum flavor, harvest in the morning after watering heavily the night before.
  • Watch for insects. Not a year passes without aphids and other assorted culprits plaguing my precious greens. To combat pests, I spray the plants with a homemade mix of water with small amounts of soap and Frank’s Hot Sauce. That seems to do the trick most of the time. You can also buy organic insecticides from your local hardware store.
  • Pluck basil flowers as soon as they appear (if desired). Once basil starts to flower, it uses all its energy nurturing the buds instead of those delicious leaves. Basil flowers look good and attract bees, but if you let them grow, your plant will eventually run out of steam and wither away. I find myself balancing my harvest to-date with my admiration of basil’s natural lifecycle. If I want more leaves, I nip the flowers. If I’m satiated with my summer’s basil bounty and I’ve preserved as much as I need, I’ll let them die a natural (and beautiful) death.

What To Do With Basil Now

Oh, the endless possibilities! You can use a large harvest of basil leaves to make pesto. Chifonnade a smaller bunch to top bruschetta, pizza, or pasta. Chop some up to throw in spaghetti sauce. Toss leaves in a salad or introduce them to some vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper as part of a homemade dressing. Add to your favorite chicken, pork, or fish marinades for a new flavor punch.

One of my favorite — and most simple — ways to enjoy a couple of freshly plucked basil leaves is to skewer them with a toothpick accompanied by a cherry or grape tomato and a nibble of fresh mozzarella. Or to make a caprese salad uniting sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Truly summer on a plate.

How To Preserve It For Later

Basil freezes well for future use in sauces and marinades. I’ve come across two very successful freezing methods:

  1. Chop clean basil leaves in a food processor with enough olive oil to make the concoction relatively smooth. Fill ice cube trays or small muffin tins with the pureed basil mixture. Freeze overnight and then pop the frozen nuggets into a freezer-safe bag.
  2. Pick and wash individual basil leaves. Lay them on a sheet pan in a single layer, and toss the pan into the freezer overnight. In the morning, throw the individually-frozen leaves into a freezer-safe bag.

Either technique allows you to forage in your freezer in the deepest winter months to boost the flavor of sauces, stews, and soups with a bit of summer basil brightness.

Got other techniques for using and preserving your basil harvest? Share, please?

– This page was originally published on Eat Drink Better. –

Image credit: pizzodisevo via flickr/CC license

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For Those Who Love to Cook: Discover Food Republic’s New Recipe Section

Food Republic's Recipe Section

I have no idea how many food e-mails I get. Though the quantity overwhelms at times, I’m compelled to read messages that deliver recipes. I covet cookbooks. I relish trying new ways to make food. And I don’t want to miss out on the new dish my family and friends will request for the next few decades. (I know I’m not the only one with a knee-high stack of paper and magazine pages filled with new food loves waiting to be kitchen-tested.)

If this resonates with you, check out Food Republic’s new recipe section which launched a few days ago. While the FR site has long boasted individual recipes, this is its first attempt to organize them into a semi-searchable “cookbook.” Each page shares a title, photo, and catchy tag for 16 recipes. You can filter by category (dinner, lunch, and small plates to name a few) and by “special feature” (which is basically another category type enabling you to narrow your search down to comfort food, vegetarian, killer sides, main meats, and a handful of other attributes). Click a pic, and let the menu planning begin!

I dove into the site recently, wondering how it would compare with some of my faves. Here’s what I found.

The Goodness

The pics snagged me. Beautifully cropped, interestingly focused, and wonderfully colorful, the food photos drew me in as any good food photo should. The site boasts a healthy number of diverse recipes, so if you’re in a generalist-sort-of-mood, you’ll find  at least a few intriguing ideas. The search filters worked well, and I was able to sort recipes to see those most popular according to other readers.

I love the fact that you can access a recipe with one click; so many sites take you on a perilous, user-unfriendly journey to get to the actual treasure. I’m also grateful beyond belief for the pre-formatted print version of each recipe. Hit the tiny black printer button above an entry, and you’ll see a text version without loads of extraneous information and ads. Straightforward, clean, simple — as printing should be these days, don’t you think?

Finally, if you’re into Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, it’s easy to share the recipes you like, want to try — or just love the photo of — with your friends.

Room To Grow

To be truly valuable, the site needs a much more robust recipe search option. In its current state, if I want to find vegetarian and seafood recipes for lunch and dinner, I have to search multiple times. Readers need the ability to hone in on recipes using a mix-and-match set of attributes. FR also needs to grow the list of recipe characteristics past the dozen or so it uses today. (Many of my friends would be disappointed by the lack of a vegan search category.)

Recipes (at least most of them) lack nutritional information, which in today’s environment is table stakes. And because the site doesn’t have a sign-in feature, you can’t save recipes (except through your browser’s bookmarking functionality), and you can’t save searches.

Having been in the web and software development business for awhile now, I’m betting they have a roadmap to address many of these shortcomings.

The Bottom Line

The appeal of the recipes I’ve seen coupled with the fab photography will keep me going back to Food Republic’s recipe section when I’m in the mood to cook something new, but I have other, more robust sites that will continue to sit at the top of my recipe search list for now. I’ll wait to see how FR moves its new recipe search site forward and take advantage of its content when I can for the foreseeable future.

What sites do you search when you’re on the prowl for a new recipe? So many exist. They all have strengths, and they all have opportunities for improvement. What do you want to see from sites providing recipe search functionality for those of us that love to cook?

– This page was originally published on Eat Drink Better. –

Image credit: www.foodrepublic.com/recipes

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