Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived on a little farm with a little red barn, lots of animals, a vegetable garden, fruit trees and lush green raspberry bushes.
Her little farm was filled with chickens, ducks, a few turkeys, rabbits, pigs, goats, a large white goose named Charlie, a naughty and stubborn Shetland pony named Sugar (not at all a sweet animal), a steer named Rex, and a fluffy white sheep named Fearless.
Often, the little girl would spend hours with her farm animals, naming each one, even though her Father said most of them were being raised for food. You’d think she would have become a vegetarian. Instead, she fell in love with life on a farm. A constant circle of life, helping feed a community with beautiful, healthy and naturally raised food.
I still remember the scent of the molasses in the mixture that helped feed and nourish the baby cow. Mom’s hearty leftovers that were treats for the three little pigs. Yes, there were three little pigs.
There was much love and care that went into creating healthy and happy farm animals. I wanted to be part of that care; so I decided to call myself the farm animals supervisor.
Until the day one of the pigs, Lester was his name, decided to take a little nip out of my backside as I crawled over the pig fence. My Father had given me warning, but I was the farm animal supervisor and I knew my pigs. They would never bite me.
I believe Lester may have had enough of my plucking through his pig yard. He told me, very clearly, stay out!
After that exciting event I admired my pigs from afar and took up management of our pet sheep, Fearless.
I’m no longer the little girl who lived on a little farm with a little red barn. Those memories however, remain close to my heart. I’m certain those memories are one of the many reasons I adore and appreciate our local farmers. The hard work, the love, the care, the belief that raising fresh food is good for the body and the soul.
Supporting our local farm communities is the best ways to keep fresh, healthy, local food on our tables. This is why I support a new online marketplace called Farmstr.com . Farmstr.com was founded by my good friend and colleague, Janelle Maiocco. Janelle is an entrepreneur with an MBA, as well as a trained Chef. An amazing woman who has dedicated her time and energy finding a way to help farmer’s bring their local goods to local consumers.
Farmstr is passionate about supporting farmers, and enabling their success by bringing them new customers and better margins. Farmstr is excited about making it possible for anyone, people like you and me, to easily find and access nearby farms, choose farmers, ranchers, and fishermen to support and to be able to buy farm fresh food for less than you would pay at the store. ~Janelle Maiocco
If you live in Western Washington, Farmstr.com is up and running in your area. Sign up for the weekly hot sheet to keep informed about current produce, meat and poultry for sale. If you live in a different state, not to worry. Farmstr.com has plans to expand to most states in the near future. Personally, I can’t wait until they reach Oregon. 🙂
Another great way to stay informed about local produce, meat and poultry for sale, as well a when Farmstr.com is coming to your area, check out and “like” the Farmstr Facebook page. www.facebook.com/farmstr
In honor of Brussels Sprouts season, the holidays, and our local farmers, I’ve listed my favorite Brussels Sprouts Gratin recipe, adapted from one of my favorite Italian cookbooks, The Silver Spoon.
For additional Brussels Sprouts recipes check out these fabulous farm loving food bloggers:
Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes,
Brussels Sprouts Gratin
One of my favorite Brussels Sprouts recipes is found in a traditional Italian Cookbook, The Silver Spoon. I’ve adapted this recipe slightly, only using half the Béchamel sauce and using Gruyere mixed with traditional Swiss. If using 3lbs of Brussels Sprouts, the full quantity of Béchamel sauce can be used. Buon Appetito!
Serves 4 (can be doubled)
1 ½ lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 tablespoon Butter
1-2 tablespoons Olive oil
3 ½ – 4 ounces pancetta, diced (or substitute with thick cut bacon)
1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere (or ½ cup of each)
1 quantity Béchamel Sauce (recipe follows)
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Prepare Béchamel sauce (recipe below) and set aside.
Butter an ovenproof dish. I used a smaller baking dish for the 4 servings and used a 9×13 for a double serving.
Cook the Brussels Sprouts in salted, lightly boiling water for about 10 minutes, drain and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the diced pancetta or bacon, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Add the Brussels Sprouts and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Stir half the shredded cheese into the prepared Béchamel Sauce and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the Brussels Sprouts in the prepared dish and ladle sauce over the top. I use only half the Béchamel for 4 servings. Reserve the remaining Béchamel for a delicious tossed pasta. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the sauce and place the baking dish in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Let the Brussels Sprouts Gratin cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 ¼ cups warm whole milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the flour. Put the pan back on the heat and continue whisking until the flour and butter is smooth.
Slowly whisk in the warm milk and continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken.
Stir in the pinch of nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. The sauce should be the consistency of a white gravy, not too thin, but not too thick. Add additional milk if the sauce is too thick and continue to cook a little longer if sauce is too thin.
This sauce is also great over your favorite pasta with peas and diced bacon.