We at Niman Ranch have many friends who have a breadth of knowledge about sustainability, food and farming. We occasionally ask them to share their expertise so we can share a wider range of thoughts and topics with our blog patrons. You'll find pieces by Simran Sethi and Michael Schwartz, as long as tidbits from members of the Niman Ranch team.
Chef Michael Schwartz, chef/owner of Michaels Genuine, Harry’s Pizza and The Genuine Kitchen, uses Niman Ranch meat on the menus of his restaurants in Miami and the Cayman Islands. In 2011 he honored our farmers by cooking at the Niman Ranch 14th Annual Hog Farmer Appreciation dinner.
He recently published Michael’s Genuine Food Down-To-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat, in which he shares recipes for dishes you know and love from Caramelized Onion Dip with Thick Cut Potato Chips to Crispy Sweet & Spicy Pork Belly with Kimchi and crushed peanuts. Find a delicious recipe for leg of lamb perfect for your holiday or summer grilling celebrations.
Marczyk’s Fine Foods is a specialty retailer in Denver, CO, owned by two brothers, Pete and Paul. Ten years ago they began their “Burger Night” tradition. This summertime affair is best described as one part BBQ and one part block party.
I ran into Chef Martin Murphy of Canoe Club (Hanover, New Hampshire), one of the featured chefs at the Niman Ranch Farmer appreciation dinner, on a Saturday afternoon at the Gateway Market in Des Moines and he told me he brought butter from New Hampshire to share with everyone. He said, “We have to break bread as family.” And he was right.
That’s what food does. It brings us together as one. As heard during recent Rosh Hashana services, “There is holiness when we share our bread, our ideas, our enthusiasm.” For this, I give thanks.
The first time I was in Iowa, Paul Willis took me to see his hens. He put a warm egg into my hand and I don’t know if he knew at the time – it was the closest I’d ever felt to the origins of my food. Paul gave me some eggs and sopressetta to take home with me. I savored it for weeks. Each night I would cut a small piece of meat and eat it with a peach or some cantaloupe. When I was sad, it took me back to a place of joy.
Yesterday was a perfect spring day, except that we were out of cat food. I had been watching my granddaughter, Sophia (who is 9 years old), for the day. I asked her if she wanted to go to Mason City to go shopping and pick up some cat food to which she replied, “Can we go to Tractor Supply Co and get some baby chickens?” Here is where the real story begins. Baby chickens are quite the responsibility and I wasn’t sure I was up to the task. They need heat, a safe place to sleep out of reach from natural predators as well as food and water. We already have two flocks of chickens in our yard now with two separate houses. Where would we put these new babies if I agreed to allow Sophia to get them?
It’s officially spring! Here on our farm we’ve been seeing the signs that spring was on the way for a couple of weeks now. We’ve spotted the first Sandhill Cranes on the pasture and an early Robin flying through the backyard. The Bluebirds have been staking their claims on the birdhouses that we have provided for them and two of our Chantecler chickens have gone broody and are sitting on a clutch of eggs. In the garden, the crocuses are in bloom and the daffodils and tulips are starting to emerge. For me, the beginning of spring is bittersweet. After the long winter I’m certainly ready to welcome this change and look forward to the growing season that is ahead. At the same time, however, I realize we are about to become extremely busy with field work and planting! We’ll be putting some long hours in the next few months, so right now we try to concentrate on enjoying the weather and spending as much time together as possible.