August 8, 2014

Family Farm and Fizzy Apples

When was the last time you visited Cache Valley?  It’s been a while for me and I need to make a journey up there for a number reasons, first and foremost is to visit the Zollinger Fruit and Tree Farm.  


This Utah’s Own member has been in business since 1904.  In fact, when William started up the farm, Zollinger’s was one of the first commercial fruit farms in Cache Valley. 


I recently spoke with Jake Zollinger; he’s William’s Great Grandson and the fourth generation of Zollingers to work the family farm.  Jake told me that there is something in the Zollinger genetics that keeps them experimenting and improving their business and fruit quality.  Starting with William’s orchards and popular apple cider, every generation has made improvements or additions to the business.  William’s son, Jesse, expanded the farm to include more tree fruit and added berries to their crops.  
Jesse’s son, Ron introduced the nursery aspect of the business and started
supplying customers with quality large trees for their own homes.  He also expanded the apple cider side of the business and the Zollinger family started using UV Light treatment or “Cold Pasteurization” to process their cider.   
Jake tells me that one of Ron’s most interesting expansions of the business happened by accident though.  He was experimenting with better ways to store apples.  After trying various processes he took a bite of one of the apples and it fizzed!  That’s right, he made a carbonated apple!  Ron named them Zapples and you can only get them in Logan.  Like I said, it’s time for a trip to Cache Valley.  

Jake is continuing the family legacy and working with his Dad on the farm.  They’ve spent the last several years perfecting their Zapples and getting them out to local markets.  They’ve also expanded the apple cider portion of the business again and perfected the recipe.  They mix many of their thirteen apple varieties for their cider. 

In the fall you can find Zollinger cider at a variety of stores in Logan such as Island Market, Lee’s Marketplace and Macey’s as well as the Fresh Market in Clinton.  They are working on getting their Zapples out there and currently you can buy them directly from Zollinger’s and also the Providence Macey’s.  

August 1, 2014

National Farmers Market Week!

This coming week, August 3rd through the 9th, has been declared National Farmers Market Week by the US Department of Agriculture.  How cool is that?!  We love our Farmers Markets in Utah as evidenced by the fact that we have 45 of them.  Seriously, Farmers Markets are kind of a big deal to us.  Utahns have steadily increased their consumption of local foods over the past decade to the point where we spend $15.9 million dollars annually directly with our local food producers.  From 2007 to 2012 Utahns have increased the amount of money we spend on local food products by 58%.  Like I said, kind of a big deal. 

To kick off National Farmers Market Week Commissioner LuAnn Adams of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in conjunction with the Wasatch Front Farmers Market has put together a celebration to be held at Wheeler Historic Farm in Salt Lake City.  Starting at 11:00 am and going until 1:00 pm, the kick off will feature a selfie photo contest for the patrons and vendors of the Farmers Market, pony rides for the kids, live music and more than 130 vendors. 
The Commissioner will speak and she has also invited some Utah’s Own members to tell us about all of the things that go into making a successful Farmers Market.  Maryann Alston is the owner of Urban Farm and Feed and also the Director of Wasatch Front Farmers Market.   Thayne Tagge is the owner of Tagge’s FamousFruit and Veggie Farm.  Linnea Mendoza is the owner of Salsitas Mendoza.  This event is open to the public and the media.  Let’s get the word out about how wonderful Utah’s Farmers Markets are! 

Come on out, stock up on your food for the week, dance around to the band, eat wonderful local food, take a selfie with your favorite vendor and meet the folks that make these wonderful events happen.  We’ll see you there!

July 25, 2014

Cool Down With a Pace Bar


Did you know eating icy treats on a hot day dates as far back as the ancient Romans? Blocks of ice would be carried down the mountain, crushed into small chunks and flavored with fruit and syrup. This practice was also common throughout ancient China, Persia, and India.
The invention of the popsicle can be attributed to an 11 year old boy from California in 1905. While attempting to make soda-pop, he left the mixture with the mixing stick outside overnight. In the morning he had a frozen soda pop treat on a stick. The next summer his family sold the treat around the neighborhood. It caught on and has become a national summertime favorite.
There are many varieties of popsicles available today, but my favorite cold treat on a hot day is a Pace Bar. 
(Pictured is a Strawberry Real Fruit Bar)
 
Pace Bar is a family run business that began selling their popsicles in 1964. Ice cream trucks based out of Bountiful, Utah would sell “Astro Bars” (the original name) to neighborhoods alongside other ice cream treats. Eventually the bars became so popular people would come to the store to purchase them, and the trucks no longer ran. The original Astro Bars could only keep in the freezer for about 3 days before getting freezer burn. Ralph Lee Pace concocted a formula to correct the problem, and the Pace Bar was born.
Pick up a bag of Pace Bars from your local grocery store. They are available at Associated Food Stores, Wal-Marts throughout Utah, and Smith’s Grocery Stores. They come in a variety of flavors including: peach, lime, cherry, grape, banana, blue raspberry, tiger's blood, and more! Also, real fruit bars such as strawberry and lemon pineapple. 

July 11, 2014

Jiggle Fest!



Who is ready for a PaaaarTAY!  Utah’s very own, Thanksgiving Point, is having their annual Jiggle Fest on Saturday July 19th.  To quote their website, “It’s a food festival of jiggly proportions”.  They are having four different recipe contests, a family movie at dusk, Jello wars, running through sprinklers and all of the other awesomeness you get with a day at Thanksgiving Point. 

Now, you all know that food is near and dear to me so let’s start there.  Utah’s Own is proud to be involved with these recipe contests that focus on some Utah food favorites and feature some of our wonderful member businesses.  Funeral Potatoes, Jello, Fry Sauce, and Dutch Oven Cooking.  I want to know how to become a judge for these.  If you want to enter a recipe you need to be registered with them by July 18th.  That’s NEXT Friday. 

The next bit is, I think, a stroke of genius.  Thanksgiving Point is having hourly Jello Wars starting at 10:30 am and running until 3:30 pm.  They are also doing hourly playtime in the sprinklers starting at 11:00 am and running until 4:00 pm.  Yes, play, run, get covered in Jello and then run through the sprinklers and get washed off.  I say again, genius.  Just don’t forget your sunscreen.

After everything is cleaned up and all the food is put away they will be showing “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” at dusk.  Bring your blankets and a picnic and spend some time relaxing with the family under the stars.  It will be good recovery time from a day filled with running, laughing and eating.

July 3, 2014

Embrace the 4th of July: Declare a New Independence.

History was changed with the courage of a few nearly 238 years ago. A Declaration was made – the Declaration of Independence.

Consider the background – a handful of labeled extremists united with what most thought an “impossible” dream: the ability to be free from political oppression and suppressed opportunity.

Despite the doubt expressed by their neighbors and families – they boldly signed their names to a document that declared truth against the big boys: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

And so, today – we honor them with fireworks, parades and barbecues. We stand for the red-white-and-blue and cry as we hear the melodies of the land of the free and the home of the brave.

While these traditions are rejuvenating, I would hope that each of us would also seek to pay-it-forward: to display courage and tenacity of our forefathers: To declare a new independence.

Perhaps that independence is some downtime: a chance to spend time with those you love – to listen, to laugh, to live. Or maybe you’d like to free yourself from a bad-habit: kick the addiction to the curb and relish in the light of new beginnings. Most of all, we’d hope to find yourself challenging oppression and seeking opportunity.

Wherever you are, Utah’s Own would like to wish you a Happy Independence’s Day. 

Enjoy a weekend full of American tastes, flavors and memories.

June 20, 2014

Life is a Bowl of Cherries

It’s the start of Cherry SEASON!  Cherries have started popping up in farmers markets and CSA shares all over Utah.  I always start the season with grand plans about all of the items I’m going to bake and preserve.  Sometimes I actually manage to get those things accomplished, usually I just end up sitting around a table with my family eating fresh cherries by the handful and forbidding my boys to throw the pits at each other.  Yeah, I’m the fun police.  This year I really want to expand my cherry recipe repertoire past cobbler and pie.  See, grand plans again.  I have the added incentive of being able to blog about it now.  I am going to give cherry vinegar a try, but that takes weeks to make.  I thought I’d work on something else now.  There are a LOT of amazing sounding cherry recipes out there, it was hard to narrow it down to one.  So I didn’t, I narrowed it down to two: 

Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake
Fresh Cherry Salsa

Full disclaimer:  If searched around on the internet and found a variety of each of these two recipes, then I took the elements that were standard in them and changed around the rest to something that sounded good to me.  That’s generally how I experiment with new recipes, it’s rare that I follow a recipe exactly, but some things you cannot mess with.  Another disclaimer: I am a terrible photographer.  All of my food pictures turned out terrible.  Sorry. 

Without further adieu here are the recipes I feasted on last night.  NOTE!  Having a cherry pitter is a REAL time saver.  I highly suggest it.

 

Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or Slide Ridge Honey Vinegar)
5 cups whole, pitted, fresh sweet cherries
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup half and half

Instructions

1.        Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.       Using an oven safe skillet that is at least 2 inches deep (cast iron is a good choice), melt ½ cup butter and the brown sugar.  Add the vinegar and the cherries.  Bring mixture to a simmer and then remove from the heat.

3.       Combine all-purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl, set aside.

4.       Using an electric mixer beat the remaining ½ cup of butter in a large bowl.  Add sugar and whip until thoroughly combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

5.       To this mixture add in the dry ingredients and the half and half alternately, don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

6.       Pour mixture over the cherry mixture in the skillet and using a rubber spatula spread it evenly all the way to the edges of the pan.  Place pan directly in the oven.

7.       Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 35 to 45 minutes.  Let the pan cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then run a spatula around the edges to loosen the cake.  Take a large platter (I actually used a wooden cutting board), turn it upside down over the cake and then (don’t forget your oven mitts) flip the pan and platter over together, the cake should slide right out onto the platter. 

8.       You’re supposed to let the cake cool but I had a slice hot out of the oven, just be careful, those cherries are little balls of delicious lava.

 

Fresh Cherry Salsa

Ingredients
1 lb of fresh, sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup minced red onion
Juice of one medium lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for one hour to let the flavors combine.  Serve with chips or over grilled meats.  I served mine over bacon wrapped turkey and it was divine.

June 13, 2014

Father's Day


Father’s Day is this Sunday folks.  In our family this usually means golfing, grilling, and a family gathering.  I took a completely informal poll of the wonderful Dad’s I have the honor of knowing and these were the things that rated high on the ‘To Do’ list for their day: 

Doughnuts are the breakfast of choice this year.  Thank goodness for Dunford Bakers because their chocolate iced chocolate cake doughnuts are a crowd pleaser. 

Golf is the mid-morning activity and then we’ll grill up some Colosimo’s Bratwurst for lunch.  Round it out with some spicy mustard and grilled veggies and that’s a meal fit for a king.  Oh, you can’t forget the Apple Beer.  It’s a good family friendly accompaniment for brats or, well, anything really.  We even use it as a marinade base or we simmer our brats in it before grilling them.  If you haven’t tried it yet you should get on that.

I think I will get some good chocolate for a treat.  My husband loves good chocolate, the darker the better in his book.  The ChocolateConspiracy has a 74% Dark Cacao bar that fits the bill and is in high demand at our house. 

The family get together will involve a large salad of spring greens from 3 Squares Produce (yay for CSA’s!) and grilling up more goodness.  I’m betting it will probably be salmon from Fog River or burgers from Stone Meats.  I think I might introduce the extended family to a new favorite of mine, Atwood’s Ranch Dressing.

Wow, looking at all of that makes me realize we’ll need to figure out a way to fit in an afternoon walk.  How does your family celebrate Father’s Day?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

June 2, 2014

Utah Farmers Market Listing: Locations and Seasonality

'Tis the Season to be Farming, or at least buying farm fresh produce and local food.
Yup, folks - Farmers Market Season is officially open. (Do I hear cheering?!)

True, some markets have been open for more than a month due to warmer temperatures (we envy you Southern Utah); however most are just opening their venues.

During June, you will find markets in the following cities: Bountiful, Logan, Cedar City, Heber, Kanab, Moab, Oakley, Orderville, Park City, Provo, Richmond, Rose Park, Salt Lake City, Sugarhouse, Sandy, St. George and West Jordan. 

If you are curious about specific days and times, check out our interactive map on the Utah's Own website. You can search it by zip code, or filter it by market season, day or time.  

In addition to knowing what markets are open, you may want to know what type of foods you might find at the market this month. For those that are interested in eating "seasonally" this list can serve as a guide:
Greens: Arugula*, Collard, Kale, Lettuce, Micro-greens, Spinach*, Sprouts, Swiss Chard, Mustard Greens 
Vegetables:Broccoli*, Carrots*, Peas, Radishes, Scallions 
FruitsStrawberries*, Sweet Cherries
*Limited - these crops require certain temperature and moisture levels. 

As you walk the market - think deep "greens" and "reds" (with the exception of tomatoes, you'll have to wait a little bit longer for those). 

Here's a picture to help you out:


Top Left (Radishes), Top Right (Pea Plant), Bottom Left (Lettuce), Bottom Right (Artisan Bread)

As you plan your visit and shopping list, keep in mind your local farmers market can have more than just produce. Many Utah markets feature added-value products such as jams, hummus, or baked goods. Some markets even sell fresh eggs and local meat. Take advantage of these fresh local products. However, if you plan to purchase temperature sensitive items, make sure to get them home to a refrigerator or freezer quickly. 

So, do yourself a favor - visit a market some time this month - buy some local, farm fresh food and enjoy the farmers market season.

Happy Shopping! 

May 16, 2014

Utah Farmland - The Story of Three Amazing Women

Ready. Set. Action! 

Green Fields. Red Barns, Black and White Cows. Tractors Driving into the Setting Sun. 

It is no secret that American media is enthralled with the landscapes and lifestyles of agriculture and food. In the last decade we have seen documentaries that have preached their agendas for rural agriculture, urban agriculture, corporate agriculture and anything in between. 

The newest addition to the club is Farmland, a pro-agricultural film that follows a diverse set of young agriculturists across the country. Viewers are introduced to trials and triumphs, family relations and farming communities. 

Interestingly enough, Farmland does not take a side on any particular issue – it rather invites the viewer to “come and see”: organic farming, urban/small scale farming, and large family farms. The lack of a political agenda, coupled with powerful story telling from both sides, is rather refreshing. 

And yet – these documentaries continue to showcase areas hours (if not days) from Utah. We’ve seen the problems and triumphs of Midwest livestock operations, debated the growing and harvesting practices of both East and West coast farms. 

Truthfully, we can get caught up in the tsunami of national agendas, that we can ignore the unique and powerful stories of agriculturists within Utah. 

While there is not sufficient space (or time) to capture them all – I’d like to invite you to "come and see" three amazing women I have discovered in the short four years I have worked with Utah’s Own. 

Meet Deborah (Deb) Myrin-Bertagnolli: a independent ranch girl from Altamont, Utah. As you can see in the picture below, her passion for beef and cattle even made it into her wedding photos. (My kind of girl!)


Photo courtesy of Deborah Myrin-Bertagnolli'
While studying in Orem, Deb discovered the emerging "local-food-fever" and decided to transform her family's ranch from a traditional cow-calf operation to a grass-fed beef supplier. 


Canyon Meadows Ranch, Grass Fed Natural Beef, is now available in many farmers markets across the state, as well as some retail stores like Whole Foods Market. As you browse the market this season, take some time to stop and visit with Deb.







Meet Sara Patterson:
a innovative agricultural entrepreneur from Cedar City, Utah. Her passion for natural and sustainable food production is unparalleled across the state.


Photo taken by Tamra Watson (March 2014)

Sara started Red Acre Farm about six years ago, when she was only 13 years old. At that time, she was disappointed in the type/quality of produce available at her school, as well as at the local market.

Instead of merely identifying the problem, Sara opted to become part of the solution. She attended workshops across the nation, built her own greenhouses, bought some livestock (chickens, goats and cattle) and started a CSA.



Red Acre Farm now services consumers and restaurants in Southern Utah. She also provides fresh greens to eager consumers at the Year Round Cedar City Farmers Market.








Meet Maryann Alston:  urban farmer, retail owner and a genius agricultural marketer from Salt Lake City, Utah. Maryann is one of Utah's greatest local and agriculture advocates.


Photo courtesy of Maryann Alston


Within her work as a director of many Wasatch Front Farmers Markets, Maryann identified the need for a retailer - one that would be willing to sell smaller volumes, accept the reality of seasonality and still have consumer interest. Like Sara, she also opted to become part of the solution. 

Maryann opened Urban Farm & Feed, with her husband Marty in 2012. The store, located in Murray, offers the consumer a Farmers Market Experience without the parking hassle or competitive crowd; it also offers the vendor (both farmer and food producer), one more option to sell their products in a competitive market. 

Maryann continues to show fierce loyalty to Utah farmers and food artisans. She has even started her own urban farm and now offers a CSA share.




To Deb, Sara and Maryann, and to the many other Utah farmers, ranchers and growers alike, I would like to say: Thank You. Your farmland stories - full of trial and triumph - are worth sharing, and Utah's Own feels honored to associate with you.

To the general reader - I would like to say: Look to Utah for the answers to your food solutions. Take some time this season to visit with a farmer or food producer and discover what amazing story might unfold. 

Happy Farming Season.

May 9, 2014

Rainy day musings

Being from Arizona I have a special place in my heart for days like this.  Any time water falls from the sky in any form I find it to be a wonder inspiring event, one I may want to watch from behind a window (mostly in the case of hail), but wonder inspiring none the less.  In honor of the glorious rainy day we are having in this part of the world, I thought I would share a few of my favorite comfort foods with you.  On overcast, chilly, rainy days my favorite thing to do is stake out the spot on the couch right by the window, wrap myself up in a blanket and enjoy a good book and selection of comfort foods.  Since moving to Utah my comfort foods of choice have morphed into a who’s who of Utah products.  We have some really good stuff here.

In my opinion no rainy day relaxation session can exist without a warm beverage.  Sometimes it’s hot tea, sometimes a sweet latte from my favorite little coffee shop, but lately it’s been hot chocolate.  Bella Rose Chocolates have been the star of my hot chocolate mug lately.  Their hot chocolate sticks are where it’s at.  Warm up your milk, stir the hot chocolate stick in and viola, creamy, rich hot chocolate.  This is a treat I usually enjoy by itself because it’s warm beverage and chocolaty goodness all in one.
If I’ve got a nice cup of tea I like to accompany it with a pastry.  I have a couple of go to options for this.  The kouing aman (pronounced quin aman)from Les Madeleines in Salt Lake is amazing.  I’ve tried to make this pastry myself and for the amount of physical effort and time that go into them I am just happy to pay for them.  They are made of sugar, butter, and joy. 
Photo credit: Les Madeleines. 
My other go to is Ruby Snap.  Picking one favorite Ruby Snap cookie is impossible but I’ve narrowed it down to Vivianna (mango and dark chocolate) or Audrey (almond dough, almonds, white chocolate and cranberry).  Maybe Judy (citrusy dough with cream cheese frosting).  My husband’s hands down favorite is Frida (chocolately, chile, ganachy goodness) and I can understand why. 

Vivianna
Judy
Audrey
Frida
Sometime around midday I’ll get hungry for something a bit more savory and really, what is better on a rainy day than a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup?  I try to put up a LOT of tomato sauce every year and that’s generally what I turn into tomato soup.  The sandwich though, that’s got to have bread with just the right amount of buttery, golden brown, crispiness.  I like Aspen Mills Light Wheat for this.   It also needs to be filled with melty cheese that oozes out onto the plate and I have a pretty serious love of Beehive cheese in this regard.  I know the Promontory is the cheese everyone thinks about from them and I love to eat that all by itself or with fruit.  For my grilled cheese I like Big John’s Cajun, it is soooooo good.  
Photo Credit: Beehive Cheese (Promontory)
Photo Credit: Beehive Cheese (Big John's Cajun)



















 I’ve also recently been introduced to the Brigham’s Brew root beer from Wasatch Brewery.  It’s a really great grilled cheese and tomato soup accompaniment, I can personally attest to it.


Brigham's Brew
No day indulging in comfort food is complete for me without ice cream.  Farr's Ice Cream is my families special treat and if we don’t have it in the freezer we will take a drive up to their ice cream parlor in Ogden.  My kids think the Play dough ice cream is the greatest thing since robot ninjas (which are pretty great) and my husband is a fan of their sherbets but I’m a Spumoni fan myself.  On a side note, the Brigham’s Brew root beer I mentioned above pairs really well with Farr’s vanilla for a killer root beer float.

Now my only hope is that this drizzly weather holds out until tomorrow when I will actually be at home.  I’d better make sure I’m stocked up on all the stuff I need for my perfect comfort food day.