October 2016     

The New Header
"Love is a fruit in season at all times and within reach of every hand."  - Mother Teresa  
Come out for Harvest Fest 
 Saturday, 10-2 p.m. 

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ranch Foods Direct celebrates fall Harvest Fest!

Meet farmers and food vendors, including chef and home gardener Jason Mathis. (Read more about him below.) Lots of squashes and pumpkins and late season heirloom produce for sale! Come by and enjoy the day. Have a fresh burger, hot off the grill, for lunch, enjoy freshly brewed coffee and purchase gluten-free Crown Cakes.

Thanks to our Farm Stand Friday vendors, for bringing us the best in fresh locally grown produce throughout the growing season this year!
 
 
For photos and more about the vendors, CLICK HERE to visit Farm Stand Friday on FACEBOOK.  
 
This chef's challenge: healthy meals that kids will love   
Jason Mathis is an avid home gardener and works as the sous chef for Colorado Springs School District 11, where he helps invent healthy meals that appeal to kids. Think macaroni and cheese, pasta bakes and Italian-style marinara or primavera sauce, all made with as many fresh ingredients as possible.
 
"In the 1950s, school kitchens were outfitted for scratch cooking. Then we had a movement away from that, when TV dinners and things like that became popular. Now we're in process of bringing some of that back again," he says.
 
To make an adult-style mac-and-cheese at home, Jason says he would start with a nice Italian pasta and incorporate multiple cheeses, like sharp cheddar and goat cheese, and top it with toasted breadcrumbs and a little truffle oil. But when he cooks for the district, he tones down his inventiveness. "Our aim is to do something simple but give them a good quality product," he explains. "For example, in the past, we've included butternut squash puree in our cheese sauce. The biggest challenge in that case is getting the squash processed correctly. If you don't cook butternut squash long enough, it can be grainy. But if you do it right, you get a dish that's hardier and contains lots of beta-carotene from the squash. You also get a velvety creaminess that allows you to use a little less cheese."
 
He's also experimenting with a harvest-style marinara sauce. "My Italian friends throw everything into their marinara. I've seen people put a whole squash in it," he says. "Then you let it all cook down and puree it up and it's amazing. Kids tend to be more sensitive to acidity, so sometimes pizza sauce or marinara can be too intense for them. Adding vegetables helps mellow it out a bit."

Jason gets some of the ingredients for the school's cafeterias fresh from the Galileo school garden, where he works as a volunteer. "We can't grow all of the cucumbers or tomatoes the district needs, with 60 different sites, but we decided that by growing fresh herbs we could have a school-wide impact that way."
 
A garden is a huge asset for any school, he adds.
 
"The kids help with harvest, and when the produce comes into the school, they are super excited. When a kid puts their hands on the food while it's growing, they are so much more willing to eat it, even off-the-wall stuff like beets or kohlrabi. If they grew it and watered it, they are at least going to take a bite. It instills a sense of pride."  
  Easy Stovetop Cheese Sauce
 
      It's easy to make a homemade-style baked mac-and-cheese by starting with a simple cheese sauce. Then jazz up the entire dish with caramelized onions, mushrooms, or even a meat addition like crumbled bacon, sausage or ground beef.
 
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Slowly add in 2 cups of milk while you continue whisking. Season with teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook on medium high until sauce thickens and bubbles. Turn off the heat and add 2 cups of shredded cheese, stirring until it melts and sauce is smooth. Makes enough to coat 1 cups of cooked pasta. Mix it all together in a buttered dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of dish (casserole in a thinner layer will cook faster). Optional: Consider roasting a butternut squash. Scoop out half of the cooked squash, mash it and add it to the melted cheese sauce.
IN STORE NOW: Traditional Italian-style JOE-VIDA- BELLA PASTA made in Pueblo by Lisa Musso. The rough surface of the pasta is designed to insure that sauces cling! Try the Pueblo green chile rigatoni, $6.99 per bag. (Other flavors also available.)

OCTOBER RECIPE OF THE MONTH:
Apple Cider Chicken

 
CLICK HERE

 for the recipe (or ask a clerk at the store
for a printed copy along with a handy list of ingredients!)

Make it Colorado Proud... with Big B's organic ciders and juices! Find them in-store, available in several different sizes and flavors.   
 
Expert says: Do your gardening prep this fall for best results   
   
Gardening beds amended with bone- and bio-char are "bigger and greener and produce sooner" than those without it, according to Scott Wilson, above, garden coordinator at the Galileo School of Math and Science and a presenter during Pikes Peak Urban Gardens' September Garlic Fest. The all-day educational event was held at Galileo this year, where Scott led garden tours and discussed the results of his experimental trials. Based on the results he's seen, he recommended adding bone- or bio-char to your garden in the fall so it has time to "charge" naturally over the winter.

"Work it in with your compost and by spring there's enough natural bacteria there to activate it," he said. "A fall application works better than spring because you don't have do anything extra to inoculate it."
 
You can find Callicrate bone-char, biochar, potting soil or gardening mix sold at the store or online. Wholesale accounts are also available. For more info on that, please e-mail Donna at DZ@RanchFoodsDirect.com.
Gardening tip: Use the Bokashi composting method to speed up the decomposition process. CLICK HERE to learn more. 
 

Coming soon: a deli counter with prepared items!

For wholesale accounts and service:
Peak to Plains
4635 Town Center Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80916
Cell: (719) 314-9727
Office: (719) 574-0750