A simple thought for the day.

With all the news coverage surrounding the failed gun control law, it begs the question; why can’t Americans be THIS passionate and vocal about things that matter even more? Is what we feed ourselves and our family on a daily basis not as important as gun control?  It certainly doesn’t get nearly as much media coverage; the president isn’t shaming it. Why can’t we as Americans stand up and say “It’s a shameful day in Washington”, when the Supreme Court rules in favor of Monsanto as  President Obama did in regards gun control just a few moments ago?

“I wish people would be as up in arms about the “control of special interests” and voting practices of our government when it comes to our foods as they are about Gun Control. – Burlap And Butter Knives

A beanstalk from my garden

A beanstalk from my garden

That’s all I have to sat about that.  I would love to hear your input on the matter.

– Jessica M. Berardi

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Some important reading about the food in front of us

Some important reading about the food in front of us

This is a little different then my usual posts, but I am dead serious when I say this is really important. I’ll try not to go too far off the deep end here, but there is a crisis in our country when it comes to the food in front of us each day. It is a crisis of information (or lack there of), a crisis of deception on behalf of big business, and the almighty dollar.

I know where my milk comes from

I know where my milk comes from

Did you know, that recently in Iowa a judge ruled in FAVOR of keeping the ingredients of “Pink Slime” blocked from public knowledge because it would damage Beef Products Inc, the company that is producing it?  You read that right, a judge in Iowa decided that WE do not have the right to know what is going into our food because the business behind it would potentially lose money if we knew!  This is serious!!! The following is from a Huffington Post article  which you really need to read, I can’t stress it enough, read it. Know what you are buying before hand so you can make a different choice at the supermarket!

“A judge has blocked Iowa State University from releasing documents about food safety research conducted for the beef-processing company that makes the product dubbed “pink slime” by critics.
District Judge Dale Ruigh ruled last month that releasing the records would damage Beef Products, Inc. by revealing information about its proprietary food-processing techniques. Releasing them also would eliminate revenue that Iowa State laboratories receive from companies, who would go elsewhere for testing if they feared results were public records, he said.
“I think it’s in the best interest of the companies that do business in Iowa, the general public, and the university,” said attorney John Bickel, who represented BPI.” –  Ryan J. Fole, Huffington Post  Full text of the article here….
 
This is where my beef comes from!

This is where my beef comes from!

What my meat looks like when I buy it.

What my meat looks like when I buy it.

Unfortunately that isn’t even the only disturbing news in food this week. The New York Times posted a fantastic article in regards to GMOs and how the recent rider protecting them was carefully slipped into the recent funding bill.  A funding bill, that HAD to be signed!! So there was no “not signing it”, President Obama basically didn’t have a choice in the matter, because the bill was desperately needed.  Amazing how something completely unrelated to funding ended up in there and was anonymously slipped in to boot! Yep, no clue where it came from or who put it there, but it’s there, and GMOs are  protected, EVEN if they are found to be harmful! Yep, that’s no joke either!

“The rider essentially prohibits the Department of Agriculture from stopping production of any genetically engineered crop once it’s in the ground, even if there is evidence that it is harmful.” –  Mark Bittman, NY Times full text (which you need to read) here  
 
I have toured the facility where my beef is harvested, I have watched it grow, and I know without question what is in it!

I have toured the facility where my beef is harvested, I have watched it grow, and I know without question what is in it!

What do you think about all this…? How does this make you feel about the food being marketed and fed to you…?

grow your own

Know where your food comes from, grow your own!

My Go-To Garden Guide

Along with canning, the other most frequently asked about topic is gardening.  How to start one, what kind to start, what to grow, how to grow, how to care for, etc.  Just as with gardening, I am putting together a post here for you to consult for all your gardening questions!  I will also keep a copy in the “notes” section on the Facebook Page for Burlap and Butter Knives for easy reference  and I will update both as I find great new info for you!  Of course, I also have a pinterest board full of gardening glory.

Gardening isn’t impossible, it doesn’t require acres of land, just find what works for you. YOU can do it! In your yard, in containers, however you want.  Just take your time, read ahead and plan it out.

Throwing in the trowel

Throwing in the trowel

Lettuce area

Lettuce area

*My own personal tips*  I’m not the end all be all of gardening, but this is what I have learned.

  • Start your tomatoes and peppers indoors first, I generally start them the end of march. Once it warms up, I set them outside (covered) curing the day, and bring them in at night.
  • Cucumbers, Zucchini, Squash, Beans, Peas, Carrots, Beets, and Lettuce all grow best when planted directly in the ground. (direct sow)
  • Soak your beet, bean, and pea seeds for 12 hours, or overnight, to give them a good start!
  • Spinach doesn’t like full sun or a lot of heat.
  • Research your herbs! Some spread with a vengeance, and it is nearly impossible to contain them.
  • Harvest frequently
  • I water at 4 am, and at 4pm
  • Do not harvest lettuce into a metal bowl in the sun. The bowl will get hot and the lettuce will wilt.
  • Chipmunks love tomatoes.
  • I hate Chipmunks
  • If you are lucky, you will find Cicada skin.
  • Watch out for Squash borers, they are terrible bugs. I hate them too.
  • If you think a plant has problem, don’t be afraid to call the Cornell Garden Hotline! 845-340-DIRT (3478) for you Hudson Valley Residents
  • If you have too much of something, check out pinterest for ways to use it up or save it for winter!
  • Plant radishes throughout your garden, they are a great pest deterrent!
  • Pictures of my garden in various stages, from it’s very humble beginning to it’s current size

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask, I am always here to help!

Tasty Yellow Tomatoes

Tasty Yellow Tomatoes

My favorite websites

  • Golden Harvest Organics, they offer tips for keeping critters out, my all time favorite companion planting guide (it is in my garden binder and consulted frequently),  plant disease, gardening tips, insect issues, weed id’s and how to deal with them, as well as great products for gardens!
  • The Helpful Gardener, pretty much every topic you can imagine, container, beds, fruits, veggies, forums (great for questions and answers) and so much more
  • Organic Gardening, all inclusive website. They do annoyingly try and sell you things, BUT the information is great. Some things require you to give them your email address to gain access, but it is well worth it!
  • The Real Dirt On Gardening, a fantastic website run by the incredibly knowledgeable Greg Draiss, the head of all things Garden Center for Adams Fairacre Farms and an amazing gardener!
  • A Visual Guide to Lettuce, from Epicurious, this is a fantastic visual for figuring out which lettuce is best for you!

Seed Sourcing

General gardening, planting and seed starting  downloads and printables

Lots of tomatoes, just after harvest

Lots of tomatoes, just after harvest

Composting

Garden Problems and Solutions

Berry Good Care 

Looking to grow fruit trees? 

My garden in the beginning

My garden in the beginning

What to do with all that food after you’ve grown it! 

My containers

My containers

Facebook Pages

I will add more great sources as I find them!

My shame spiral of snacking.

Food is wonderful, and I love it.  This is something you already know about me full well.  I like it far too much according to most US Standards. I am hungry ALL day long, seriously, I’m always hungry.  Maybe it is because I wake up at 4am each day, or maybe it is just because I like food. Either way, I always want to eat.  When I was in Highschool, if I was hungry I would chew on a stick of gum, Winter-fresh to be exact; now when I’m hungry, I eat. Talk about a change in priorities!

My favorite night time snack.

My favorite night time snack.

Here is my dilemma. I snake on things like triscuits and hummus, triscuits and peanut butter, triscuits and cheddar, pretzels, pretzels and cream cheese, or peanut butter.  Heavens help me if it’s night time, then I am a Haagen Dazs girl all the way! You see where this is heading. If I snack on an apple, I get half way through and I am bored.  I tried plain, roasted, unsalted almonds for a while, but my satisfaction level was “eh.” Maybe I should have dipped them in Hummus, or wrapped them in cheddar?

Please tell me I’m not alone in this shame spiral?!   Do you snack throughout the day, or stick strictly to eating during meal times? If you snack, what do you snack on?  I would like to alter my snacking habits, but it is just so hard, I am in dire need of some inspiration! 🙂

How to make roast beef, a simple, straightforward and easy method I guarantee to be delicious.

It started innocently enough, my love affair with beef.  As the tale goes, we were in a restaurant in Florida and as I (a teeny tiny adorable little Italian Irish Princess) grew hungry, I exclaimed “WHERE’S THE BEEF????”  Volia, history was made. Some of my earliest food memories are of my father making steaks; and while I love my steak memories, nothing quite warms my heart like the way Roast Beef does.  Its hearty goodness, bursting at the seams with flavor,  dripping with just the right amount of fatty goodness. Crisp on the outside and on the inside warm and soft with silky pink juices flowing freely with each slide of the knife.  Oh no, we aren’t discussing restaurant roast beef, making a juicy and flavorful roast beef at home is completely within your reach. My method is a 2 day process, but easy as peanut butter and jelly and well worth it the effort!! That being said, yes I realize some people buy their peanut butter and jelly premade, but that is a discussion for another day. Oy vey!

Perfectly cooked Roast Beef

Perfectly cooked Roast Beef

I prefer to use a rump roast, but you may many different cuts. A few I have found to be good are  top round (rump), bottom round (rump), eye round,  top sirloin (top butt roast  or center cut roast), Tri tip; or just ask your butcher what cuts they have available and would be good for roasting. Chances are you can find a very inexpensive cut that will be enough to feed your whole family.

Juicy and Rare

Juicy and Rare

 

Roast beef sliced, and with all the fixings!

Roast beef sliced, and with all the fixings!

Roast Beef Recipe

Day 1: Make your dry rub 

  • 2 tablespoons each garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt 
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Generous handful of brown mustard
  1. Combine all the dried spices together in a bowl and mix well to ensure they are evenly distributed.
  2. Coat the rmeat liberally with the mustard
  3. Taking the spices in your hand, sprinkle them, pour them, whatever works for you, to coat the roast COMPLETELY.  I am talking encased completely!  Use up all the dried spices and make sure every inch is covered.
  4. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap!
  5. Set in the fridge overnight, fat side down.
Whole and resting, then sliced and waiting

Whole and resting, then sliced and waiting

Day 2: Roast the beast

  1. About an hour before you plan to roast it, Take the roast out of the fridge, unwrap and place in the pan you intend to roast it in, fat side up.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°f, calculate your total cooking time, 20 minutes per pound for medium rare,  for a rare center, 15 minutes per pound.
  3. When the hour is up, put the roast on a center rack in the oven, and cook at 450°f  for  15 minutes
  4. Reduce heat to 350°f and continue to cook for the remaining length of time. (As an example, for a 4lb roast, I cook it 15 minutes at 450°f, and then 65 minutes at 350°f)
  5. Take out of the oven, place on a cutting board, slicing platter or large plate (where ever you intend to cut it)  and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  Just take it out, set it there, and walk away, don’t touch it!  I don’t use a meat thermometer, I use this method.  The roast pictured here in this post,  I cooked using the 15minute per pound guide, specifically because I wanted a very rare center, to be used another day for steak sandwiches.
  6. I cannot stress to you enough, the importance of letting meat rest after cooking. This is one of the first things we learned at the CIA, and I have remembered it always. It allows the meat to finish cooking, this is called “carryover cooking”, things like steak and roasts will rise in temperature another 5 degrees during this process!  It also allows the juices to redistribute evenly, allowing for a piece of meat that is juicy throughout, and also keeps more of the juices inside the meat once you cut it, and you want the juice!  Before I bore you anymore with the science of it all, just look at the pictures here at serious eats, if these pictures don’t convince you to put down the knife and wait, nothing will! 😉
  7. When the 20 minutes are up, slice that beast up and enjoy however you like your roast beef.  With gravy, potatoes, on a sandwich, rolled around asparagus, any way you want!
Roast Beef Deliciousness

Roast Beef Deliciousness