With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, I thought it would be a great to share a quick recipe that should be on every kitchen table!
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Plimoth Plantation Farmers Market. At the market, I was set up in the same room as the cooking demonstration, so I learned how to make a quick and easy cranberry sauce. Melissa from Fresh Meadows Farm put on the demonstration. Fresh Meadow Farm is located in Carver and one of the only certified organic cranberry growers in the state. Although Melissa’s farm stand is closed for the season, you can still find her berries through several local restaurants, markets, CSAs, and bakeries or you can call her to place an order . Not in Carver? Cranberries can be found all over the state. Massachusetts is the 2nd largest producer in the USA aside from Wisconsin. With almost 12,000 acres of bogs in Plymouth county alone, it’s easy to find farm fresh berries around here!
I’ve cooked with cranberries before, but I’ve never made a cranberry sauce. If I had known it was so easy, it would have become a staple on my table years ago. I started with 2 cups of cranberries. These cranberries were placed in a saucepan with ½ cup of sugar (white or brown are both tasty), a few tablespoons of water, and the juice of ½ a lemon. Keep this on medium to high heat for several minutes, stirring occasionally. The cranberries will begin to burst after a few minutes. Just keep cooking and stirring as the cranberries are bursting and the sauce will begin to thicken. Once the sauce had reached a good consistency, you can remove from the heat. I didn’t use exact measurements, and my sauce came out a little thin. This is easily fixed by adding more cranberries or even just a little bit of flour. I found that this is a recipe that can be played with. Some people like cranberry sauce really sweet, and others prefer something a little more tart. This is all controlled by you! Feel free to change things to suit your family’s taste buds. Maybe add some fresh orange juice instead of lemon or a little bit of cinnamon for a nice spicy taste. There are plenty of different recipes out there. Not a fan of whole berry sauce? Jellied is simple enough to make too.
I hope you’ll take advantage of the abundance of cranberries grown right in our backyard. Have a happy Thanksgiving!
Introduction to HACCP
December 2-4, 2014, UMass Campus Center, Amherst, MA
Course: This course covers the fundamentals of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) taught by certified International HACCP Alliance instructors. This particular course will have an emphasis on fresh-cut produce, beverages (including juice and cider), baked goods, and dairy products. The concepts will be reinforced by breakout group activities in which participants will have the opportunity to prepare a HACCP plan. All participants will received an International HACCP Alliance certificate issued through the University of Massachusetts upon successful completion of the course. Register here
Better Process Control School
Course: This course will train food processors principles of acidifications, and container closure evaluation programs for low-acid and acidified canned foods as required by FDA regulations in CFR 108, 113 and 114. The purpose of these regulations is to help ensure the safety of consumers by training producers. This course will satisfy both USDA and FDA requirements. Better Process Control School will be taught by faculty members from the Department of Food Science at UMass Amherst. Dr. Sam Nugen, Dr. Julie Goddard, Dr. McLandsborough and Extension Specialist Amanda Kinchla, M.S, bring together academic and industry experience as well as expertise in food microbiology, processing and packaging. This event is sponsored by UMass Extension, UMass Department of Food Science and Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA Science). Register here
MA Farm Scholarship
If you are a MA grower that produces specialty crops there is a scholarship opportunity available. Please contact Amanda Kinchla for details and application: email@example.com
The crisp airing biting as you pull the blanket over your face…the feeling when your feet first hit the cold floor in the morning…scraping that layer of frost from your windshield. Yes, November mornings in our little corner of heaven have all the subtlety of an ice bucket challenge. The only thing on most of our minds is the first coffee of the day (and, perhaps, some of us have drawn plans for the second by that time). Don’t feel bad: by the time most of us have reached for that first cup, the folks at Dufort Farms in Rehoboth have already been up for several hours applying their craft.
Year round, John and Carolyn Dufort care for the Angus and Hereford cattle (about 60 head this year) and very happy hogs that roam the over 120 acres of farmland the operate. They first established the farm on 32 of those acres in 1990 on land with an agricultural history dating back to 1865, and have steadily expanded via leased land to accommodate a growing need for locally raised beef and pork. They also feature homemade jams and jellies at their farm store and offer “pick your own” blueberries from their over 1000 blueberry bushes in season. Beef and pork are the stars of the show though, and I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with John and Carolyn about what they do and why they do it.
“What’s a vacation?” John laughed. “We haven’t taken one in five years!” Year round is year round at Dufort Farms and, as some in local agriculture start to scale back in the fall or begin the important work of planning for the next spring, the Duforts are out in full force, both on the farm and at markets. They are always a presence at the Holly Hill Farm (Cohasset) and Plymouth Farmers Markets and their products can also be found at Lee’s Market in Westport, The Good Seed in Seekonk, The Breakfast Place in Attleboro, Martha’s in Plymouth and Simpson Spring in Easton. Additionally, they operate their own farm stand on Saturdays from 8am to 4pm. Thankfully, John and Carolyn’s son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Sydney, also pitch in to help get their products to market.
While a good chunk of time is spent shuttling cattle and hogs to process or bringing finished product to market, being on the farm and properly raising the animals is the part of the equation in which the Duforts shine. It take from three to three and a half years before cattle can be brought to market, about a year as calves and, after calving, two to two and a half years before grass fed steers generally reach market weight. As you can imagine, the regulatory responsibilities are many for a farm that produces beef and the Duforts, who maintain a very close relationship with their customers, are always doing their due diligence to insure the highest standards. Their grass fed beef and foraged pork is USDA approved (and, may I say, delicious) and they are always focused on improving quality and customer satisfaction.
Most consumers these days buy meats from large chain supermarkets and it’s either difficult or impossible to ascertain the chain of custody from farm to table. Buying locally is a great way to know with certainty the quality of product you have and, just as important, the quality of the producer…but does it taste any better? Spoiler alert: yes. When I visited the farm, I bought two pounds of ground beef and packages of sweet Italian and spicy Cajun pork sausages to do my own “scientific research”. As homage to my Italian roots, I did my best to replicate my grandmother’s meatball recipe for the first test. Some minced garlic, pepper, seasoned bread crumb and farm fresh eggs and, with a little bit of shaping, they were ready to go to the frying pan. After a few minutes, I tossed them in a homemade sauce thrown together with some late season tomatoes and served them on rigatoni. What really struck me was the juiciness of the meatball. Every bite was consistently juicy and both the texture and natural flavor of the meat paired well with the ingredients within and surrounding it. While it certainly exceeded my exacting standards, the true test is always “will the kids eat it?” Well, they gobbled them. There really wasn’t anything left after we were done, so mission accomplished. A few days later, I used the other pound to make hamburger patties without any added flavoring, and THAT is when you can really tell the difference between beef shipped from a different time zone and beef raised down the road. The juiciness was there once again but that natural beef flavor, unfettered by ingredients, fillers, or any other by-products, really struck me. The pork sausages left the same impression, needing absolutely no additional flavoring or condiments. Truthfully, I didn’t share the sausages. Sorry, I’m not sorry.
After enjoying these wonderful meats, I touched base again with John. I asked him what challenges do the Duforts face that people outside of agricultural might never consider. “Life on the farm…today’s current population (urban and city life) has been removed from the family farm for two to three generations. They have little concept of the time it takes and the workload everyday throughout the year to bring products to the table,” he said. “It’s not instant. Some days are 18 hours. You deal with the weather, ice and snow, frozen water, hurricanes, and wildlife dangers.” A lot of farmers are in that predicament but, when raising cattle, the variables increase, according to John. “We also deal with one hundred percent of the risk. If we lose a calf (or a cow and calf), that is a big financial setback.”
John’s point about educating the public about local agriculture is well made, and certainly something to consider when venturing out to the buy groceries. As a follower of SEMAP, you know how important that effort is. It’s why we do what we do here, but if you have friends or family who have never tried locally-raised meats, try to make this point to them: quality, safety and taste don’t spontaneously appear. They are painstakingly crafted over time and, like many things in life, you get out what you put in. Given the choice between a faceless factory from a far-flung flyover state or the farmer down the road whose top priority is making sure you come back satisfied, isn’t that choice obvious? Moreover, don’t we, as consumers, deserve that quality when it comes to the food we eat? The answer is a resounding yes, and that’s why we buy local.
Dufort Farms is located at 55 Reservoir Avenue in Rehoboth. They can be reached by phone at 508-252-6323 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For an up-to-date list of products and markets, visit DufortFarms.com.
Tell them SEMAP sent you!
MDAR offers three course levels for participants who are 1) thinking about farming, 2) gearing up to start, with secure access to land, or 3) already operating Massachusetts agricultural enterprise. Our courses are not offered online because participants confirm greater benefit when they have a peer group to share ideas with over several consecutive weeks. Enrollment is limited to facilitate discussion. Attendance by the registrant (or an informed substitute) is required at all scheduled sessions. Fees are kept low through MDAR support, and a partner may attend at no additional cost.
Explorers – For those who are just thinking about getting into farming or are expanding a hobby to an income-generating scale: “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” offers guidance and feedback to help make informed decisions about whether or not to take the plunge – and how to proceed in the first stages of feasibility. Five sessions over 6 weeks on weekday evenings. Cost per enterprise – $100. Amherst 2014 November 5, 12, 19, December 3, 10 – and Marlborough 2015 March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
Planners – For those a step beyond Explorer who have a strong sense of what they intend to do and where: “Planning for Start-up” is a gut check before making significant investments of time and money. It requires completion of Explorer, or equivalent programs and experience. Planners have already made the decision to farm on a revenue generating scale, and have secured the land and initial finances to do so. Six sessions over 8 weeks on Saturday mornings. Cost per enterprise – $150. Amherst Only 2014 November 1, 8, 15, 22, December 6, 13
Established Farmers – For those already operating a commercial agricultural enterprise and in need of a comprehensive business plan. “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity” offers a chance to assess, regroup, plan 5 years ahead and finance expansion, or clarify transfer/succession. The course draws on peer experience, Instructor knowledge and guest speakers. This course is USDA/FSA certified for “Borrower Training”. Graduates may qualify for individual post-course technical assistance. Ten sessions over 11 weeks on weekday evenings. Cost per enterprise – $200. Dates and location to be determined between November and March 2014-15
We offer each course once per year, sometimes both in eastern and a western locations if local demand exists. Registration is rolling, so those who have completed an application (no payment until enrollment is complete) receive priority when locations and dates are finalized.
Email information/application requests to email@example.com