~ AUGUST 2009 ~
Corn… off the cob. CLICK HERE.
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
New books encourage shoppers to think
— and shop — outside the box. CLICK HERE.
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
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.
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
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
P.O. Box 332
Monument, CO 80132
August food preservation class
Put pickling in your
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
COMING UP IN CONJUNCTION WITH PEAK TO
PLAINS LOCAL FOOD WEEK
Beets and Beans: Special Picking
and Canning Session
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
“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
... 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
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
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