December 2010
"For the spirit of Christmas fulfills the greatest hunger of mankind."-- Loring A. Schuler
Holiday open house and tasting party Saturday, Dec. 4

GottaLoveIt gourmet food co-op to sample local artisan products
GottaLoveItA holiday tasting party is planned at Ranch Foods Direct from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 4, to allow customers to sample exciting new products from GottaLoveIt!, a commercial kitchen/retail outlet that recently opened in Old Colorado City. "We love doing tastings," says owner Jerry Downing, shown here with his wife Debbie in their new space. "We'll be doing a lot of them."

When the Downings decided to rent their new storefront, they had a chance to make a dream come true. And not just their own.

"I was praying for this and along came Debbie," says Tina Peters, a caterer who sells Mama Tina's chutneys, cheese balls and more.

Involved with marketing Jerry's Gotta' Love Garlic! gourmet garlic butter through farmers markets as well as Debbie's specialty cookies and cakes, the Downings knew many local food artisans still needed an outlet for their products when the farmers market closed for the season. As early as 1996, Debbie had wanted to start a food business, even sketching out ideas on paper. Now, with a storefront identified, the couple immediately began teaming up with other local food makers to create what they envision as a gourmet cooperative kitchen.

Carol Hildebrand subleases a bakery space in the back for her new business focusing on creative wedding cakes. She has done nearly 100 cakes since September. Many other small food artisans are entering into cooperative arrangements for prep space, retail space and co-marketing, including Mya Bella Cupcakes, Mountain Lightning Salsa and Wally's Tamales. "This list will be ever-changing, as businesses grow and move on, and new ones come in," Debbie says.

Their kitchen storefront at 2521 W. Colorado will carry Ranch Foods Direct meats along with an array of other items. To place special orders, call Debbie Downing at 322-7143. Keep them in mind for the holidays: her plates of decorated cookies are a work of art, and the Mya Bella cupcakes are gorgeous too.

They've also begun providing products to Ranch Foods Direct, which has a community-oriented size and scale that Jerry prefers to a mega-store like Whole Foods. Ranch Foods Direct will feature the signature garlic butter, creamy spinach pestos and dips, made-from-scratch pies and other items.

Come by the t
asting party Saturday to sample these unique local products.

 CLICK HERE for the PDF with additional photos.

While sampling... shop these December specials

Ground round (95% lean), ground sirloin, and one and a half pound packages of 90% ground beef are 10% off; top sirloin and chuck roasts, 10% off. Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday buy two packs of ground beef, get one free (85% lean and 80% lean only.) Marrow bones are $2.50/lb. Pet food $1.50/pkg; $1.25 in bulk (over 40 lbs.)

Here's a great idea for using up leftover sweet potatoes. These would also be nice for serving on Christmas morning or for New Year's Day brunch.

Sweet Potato-Pecan Pancakes

Recipe provided by Hethyr Pletsch

1 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
    (or all-purpose)
1/4 c. chopped pecans, toasted
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 T. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 lg. eggs, lightly beaten
1 lg or 2 small sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 T. pecans, baking powder, spice and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine milk and next 4 ingredients (milk through eggs); add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Stir in sweet potatoes. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Put about 1/4 c. batter into skillet for each pancake.

May your holidays be blessed, not stressed

Hethyr Cooking ClassNot only did Hethyr Pletsch (above) hand out some wonderful recipes for holiday appetizers and easily freezable vegetable sides during last month's cooking class, she had tips galore for making sure holiday cooking is fun and bless-filled (rather than stressful):

★ Why serve appetizers with a big celebratory meal? "At my house, nothing ever comes out on time," super-organized Hethyr says. Having some light finger foods gives people something to do, takes the edge off their hunger and helps prevent over-indulgence in holiday cocktails.

 ★ By using Belgian endive leaves for your appetizer (see the recipe when you download the PDF; the link is at the bottom of this article) you eliminate the need for utensils. The mild flavor won't overwhelm. And it's a way to get more greens.

★ You can substitute thinly sliced roast beef, sliced turkey or prosciutto (Italian ham) for the bacon in many dishes. Substitute, substitute, substitute! Try cranberryLeona December tips relish in place of cranberry sauce, or trade goat cheese for cream cheese. Experiment with an exotic grain like quinoa in place of rice or risotto pasta.

★ Mashed potatoes freeze beautifully, Hethyr says. She makes hers by first sauteing garlic and rosemary in butter, and they tasted phenomenal. And here's an alternative for warming and serving them: after thawing them in the fridge for a day or two, put them in the crockpot for a couple of hours to reheat and serve. Try to think of alternatives to making or warming everything in the oven: "Don't put yourself in a box," she says.

★ Hethyr offered this quick recipe for making a garlic paste: put a tablespoon of minced garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with kosher salt. Using a large knife, press down on the flat side of the blade and bring it across the garlic, pulling it toward you. The garlic and salt mix will turn into a paste, presto!

 ★ Hethyr reminded everyone that a CSA is a great way to incorporate more vegetables, including some you may not try otherwise. Ranch Foods Direct is a pick-up location for Greenhorn Acres CSA and shares are available now for the 2011 growing season.

Visit Hethyr Pletsch, Everyday Gourmet Colorado, online. Her personal chef service can help you prepare for big holiday meals or parties this season.

For a PDF with recipes, CLICK HERE.

Hethyr Leona
Personal Chef Hethyr Pletsch and Ranch Foods Direct store manager Leona Espinoza teamed up to put on an excellent cooking class recently for Ranch Foods Direct customers, and Leona already has more special events in the works for the coming year.

It's milk that tastes like 'real' milk should...
Ranch Foods Direct is a pick-up point for shareholders

Isle Farms
Visit the Isle Farms website by clicking here.

Food VisionariesWishing you a wonderful holiday season. Shop Ranch Foods Direct for great gifts and great holiday meals!

Visit Ranch Foods Direct online for daily specials.
For sale in Denver at Denver Urban Homesteading

Follow RFD on Facebook. Follow owner Mike Callicrate on Twitter: @MikeCallicrate

Coming up later this month...

 Pizzeria Rustica's wine dinner on Dec. 14 features Ranch Foods Direct Callicrate Beef AND benefits Pike Peak Urban Gardens. CLICK HERE.