~ AUGUST 2009 ~

Recipe Box
Corn… off the cob.

Take your seat — For summer concerts, picnics, camping trips, backyard cookouts, and so much more, you need the fold- up sports chair that features the name and logo of your favorite store, Ranch Foods Direct. These durable canvas chairs include a cup holder and an over-the-shoulder carry bag. $15 each.

Food for thought

New books encourage shoppers to think — and shop — outside the box. CLICK HERE.


Cowboy cookin' equals really good grub

The rich pot of Callicrate Beef simmered and bubbled and stewed for hours, until the chunks of meat were fall-apart tender. All as expected. But what was unique was the surroundings: the stew was cooking in a heavy cast iron Dutch oven pot over a real fire in front of a 100-year-old chuckwagon and canvas sleeping tent.

Kit Haddock and his dad Phil (left) are chuckwagon cooks of the tallest order. Kit estimates he puts on about two events a month for family and friends, everything from wedding parties, reunions and anniversaries to bible school picnics and brandings. “We’ve served everybody from cowboys to four-star generals,” he says.

He is the only outside chef he knows of who has been invited to present a meal at the Air Force Academy commander’s home, which is fully staffed for such occasions. Last summer, he played host to a special “board of visitors” dinner, which included the brass from Washington D.C. The menu was comprised of bacon- wrapped jalapenos called “rattlesnake bites,” ranch beans otherwise known of as “cowboy caviar” and a peach cobbler with whiskey butter sauce.

When asked to provide some chicken, Kit says he thought for a moment about the wagon’s tie to the beef industry, and then cheerfully suggested a roping contest, where a live chicken and some lariats would be provided, and if anyone could rope the chicken, he would cook it.

Kit’s usual meat of choice is the Callicrate Beef rib-eye steak. “It’s always a nice cut with a lot of marbling,” he says, adding, “I love going into the store. I love sweetbreads. It’s good to know where you can get them.”

An affordable cut like the beef chuck can make a mean stew. And Kit’s skill in that area was on display during the chuckwagon cookoff held during the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, where competing teams were provided with Callicrate Beef chuck rolls and challenged to work their magic. A perennial favorite here, Kit’s team dazzled the judges again, laying claim to the overall grand prize of the contest by serving up the stewed beef chunks, fluffy buttermilk biscuits and bread pudding in a Colorado whiskey sauce.

Chuckwagon cooking is true to the spirit of the 1800s cattle drives. However, fine steaks were a rarity on the trail, Kit says. “The first thing they would do would be to make a stew with all of the organ meats in it,” he says. “There were usually beans and biscuits and vinegar pie.” Vinegar pie? “I’ve heard it’s actually pretty good,” he says.

The cowboy life, one of economy and simplicity, is something Kit knows by heart. His dad Phil started out cowboying in South Park in the 1950s, later taking jobs near Jackson Hole and Ft. Collins. Now Kit has his own Heart Bar Ranch near Ellicott. “I built it up one cow at a time,” he says.

When Kit and crew put on a chuckwagon dinner, it’s a near 3-day affair, including set-up. “Chuckwagon cooking is a whole different range of creativity,” he says. “It’s not a barbecue. We don’t smoke a pig or do a brisket. That’s not our thing.”

The thing they do exceptionally well is to add a taste of genuine Western history to the juicy rich flavor of naturally raised beef from Ranch Foods Direct. As the judges agreed at this year’s chuckwagon contest, it’s the perfect partnering and a wonderfully memorable eating experience.

Contact Info:
Kit Haddock
P.O. Box 332
Monument, CO 80132
(719) 338-0125
kithaddock@minds pring.com

August food preservation class —
Put pickling in your plans

Ranch Foods Direct will hold the next canning demonstration on Saturday, August 22 at 10 a.m. Rachel Zimmerman will discuss pickling, and the store will have cucumbers galore. Come by and spend the morning at the store learning more about how to preserve the summer’s bounty. No charge, and no need to register in advance.


Beets and Beans: Special Picking and Canning Session

Saturday, September 19 at Ranch Foods Direct

Tentative Schedule: Morning through approx. 1 p.m.

Meet at Ranch Foods Direct for a canning demonstration and a trip to Venetucci Farm
to pick produce (WEATHER PERMITTING). Lunch included.

Cost $20. Pre-registration required and participant number limited. Sign up at the store.
Credit cards accepted. Beets and beans, dill and garlic, picked at Venetucci that morning can be
purchased at wholesale price. Learn how to preserve them back at the store.

Venetucci starlight dinners start in August

Classic caprese salad with fresh grilled sweet corn? That was one of the many pleasures last year at Venetucci Farm’s twilight dinners. Another: Patrick’s hayrack ride around the farm behind a team of beautiful blond draft horses.

The popular event returns this year, with local chefs preparing culinary surprises from the bounty of fresh produce at the farm. The first one is Monday, August 10, featuring chefs from Bon Appetit Management Company at Colorado College and Pizzeria Rustica. The cost is $100 a person, and all proceeds benefit the farm. Call (719) 389-1251 (or CLICK HERE, for contact info and directions.)

Ranch Foods Direct is proud to offer lots of fresh produce from Venetucci, the last working farm within 30 miles of the Colorado Springs city limits.

Over the mountains and through the woods…
To Glenn Austin’s orchard we go

By Melissa Marts

To visit Glenn Austin’s orchards, you have to drive to Paonia, a little tucked away spot in the heart of Colorado. Glenn and his family have been farming organically since 1971. All of the farms in that area are organic now — Glenn actually set a precedent.

He grew up on a dairy, so he has a farming background, as does his wife. He was a teacher, but quit because he wanted to do something different and that’s when he started the orchards.

Paonia is a little on the hilly side and has a natural, organic landscape — very different from the Palisade or Delta area, which is considered the fruit-growing capital. To get there, you climb out of a little river valley, onto the beginning of a small mesa. He farms on the hillside as well as on the mesa. As you climb, you pass by a little farm home on the left, and the fruit sheds where they process the fruit. At first you see apple trees and grape vines (which produce table grapes that he sells locally.) You continue down a formal lane to his house, which has a stellar view of the valley.

Cherry picking is done under a cool canopy of leaves. Folks can come right off the street and pick their own. Picking is done everyday, 7 days a week.

The coolest thing about picking cherries was hearing the boys singing cute little made-up songs in the orchard. You couldn’t see them, but you could hear them, in the canopy of the cherry trees. In the afternoon, we ‘ran’ the cherries, which involved lining up on each side of a conveyor belt to ‘glean’ them. Glenn prides himself on the perfect sized cherries.

Most people don’t realize what Glenn has to do to bring us that precious fruit. Once a week he gets in a big refrigerated truck and drives a dirt road to Crusted Butte, and then over the Continental Divide to Colorado Springs. He often returns home the same night, which makes for a very long day.

Cherry season is ending, but the peaches, apples and plums have just begun! I recommend you ask at Ranch Foods Direct about how you can special order “seconds” for canning and freezing at a price discount from Glenn. That’s what I did on my trip to Paonia, and after my visit, I spent the weekend canning cherries.


NOTE: Local food enthusiast Melissa Marts — who formerly worked in the sales department at Ranch Foods Direct — is now the director of partner agency development for Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado, where she is in charge of the on-site gardens and orchard. Part of her job is working with partner agencies on grants and community outreach. She also has responsibility for a half acre of gardens and fruit trees adjacent to the new warehouse on North Constitution. Tours of the site are encouraged. Melissa has taken eight months of training in permaculture practices and is eager to offer workshops for the general public on such things as run-off water catchment and reuse, garden site construction, composting and dry climate gardening strategies. What she grows is a tiny fraction of the food distributed by the regional food bank. She says 28 semi-trucks come and go from the Care and Share warehouse everyday.

Make a cake that’s just peachy

Glenn Austin supplies many of the fresh produce items at Ranch Foods Direct, including two current seasonal favorites: the sweet corn and the peaches.

Our recipe box is full of ideas for how to cook with fresh corn kernels sliced from the cob. Another way to celebrate the season is with a gorgeous peach cake filled and topped with freshly whipped cream. CLICK HERE for recipe.


... Under national organics law, 5 percent of a USDA-certified organic product can consist of non-organic substances, provided they are approved by the National Organic Standards Board. That list has grown from 77 substances to 245 substances since it was created in 2002. Companies must appeal to the board every five years to keep a substance on the list, explaining why an organic alternative has not been found. The goal was to shrink the list over time, but only one item has been removed so far. The original law's mandate for annual pesticide testing was also never implemented — the agency left that optional.

“… Corporate firepower has added to pressure on the government to expand the definition of what is organic, in part because processed foods offered by big industry often require ingredients, additives or processing agents that either do not exist in organic form or are not available in large enough quantities for mass production,” writes the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the newspaper quotes Alexis Baden- Mayer, national political director for the Organic Consumers Association on the effect of bending or broadening organics standards: "The truly organic dairy farmers, who have their cows out in the pasture all year round, are at a huge competitive disadvantage compared to the big confinement dairies."

Good films, that are good for you

Don’t forget: Food Inc. opens July 31 at Kimball’s Twin Peak Theater in downtown Colorado Springs. Reviewers have deemed it “a civilized horror movie for the socially conscious” and one that “nourishes your knowledge of how the world works.” Others have called it “required viewing,” describing it as the most important film ever made about American food production. Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate, who saw an early screening in Denver, calls it “extremely revealing... it will awaken and motivate us all.”

To read more, CLICK HERE.

The Ranch Foods Direct screening of FRESH in July was one of 300 arranged following its release in communities and homes worldwide. The goal now is to reach 1 million people with the film. “FRESH is not just a movie, it’s a platform to raise awareness and to turn inspiration into action,” says Ana Sophia Joanes, the film’s director. Copies of the DVD are available at Ranch Foods Direct for $20, which includes a license to have a screening of your own.

Becoming a
community of farmers

In their new book, A Nation of Farmers, Sharon Astyk and her co-author Aaron Newton argue that small-scale farming provides the answer to the challenges our planet faces today, from reversing climate change to conserving energy to restoring economic stability.

"We raise our own milk and eggs with chickens and goats and most of our own produce,” Sharon Asktyk says. “My kids eat almost every vegetable you can imagine because they get to help plant them and play with them.

We get to eat food we could really never afford any other way - I mean, the best food there is - simply because those ripe strawberries and those delicious tomatoes are coming from our yard." She hopes A Nation of Farmers will help people understand the importance of becoming more self-sufficient in raising their own food.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Colorado Springs is already becoming a community of farmers! The otherwise anonymous Pat, who recently gave me an impromptu tour of the Old Farm Community Garden, told me that three years ago when she first started gardening there, lots of plots were available. Now there’s a waiting list of 40 people. She thinks food safety scares and e-coli and salmonella outbreaks are one of the reasons people are rediscovering the importance of growing their own food.

Avid gardener Larry Stebbins helped to start the Old Farm Community Garden and many others as well, with more in the works. To learn about his Pikes Peak Urban Gardens program — which is helping to plant new community gardens all over town  — CLICK HERE.

In late July, Larry appeared on a local food panel at Colorado College with Ranch Foods Direct’s Mike Callicrate, Peak to Plains Alliance Coordinator and holistic health and gardening consultant Michele Mukatis and Arkansas Valley farmer Doug Wiley, whose grass-fed beef is custom-processed by Ranch Foods Direct (one of among about 40 small farmers who need processing and packaging services to direct-market their own labels.) The group was asked to respond to a screening of The Real Dirt on Farmer John, shown during the college’s Windrider Film Forum. Bon Appetit hosted a pre-movie reception featuring wonderful appetizers and fruit desserts from local farms. If you missed it, CLICK HERE for a summary of the moving, inspiring and knowledgeable comments made by the excellent panel.

“We, as humans, have not been given roots as obvious as those of plants. The surest way we have to lodge ourselves within this blessed earth is by knowing where our food comes from.” —Author Gary Paul Nabhan



... Your local source of natural beef, poultry, buffalo,
pork, lamb, eggs, wild seafood, deli meats
and cheeses, meals and more!

Member, Peak to Plains Alliance (www.peaktoplains.com)

Store and Meat Plant
2901 N. El Paso, Colorado Springs 80907
Retail Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sunday
(719) 473-2306 or 1-866-866-6328

Mike Callicrate, Owner

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