Monday, May 21, 2012

Support your local farmers!

It should not come as a surprise that we are obvious foodies in our home. Both Scott and I enjoy good hearty foods and we have done what we could to support local farms and other Mom & Pops restaurants. We have always been this way, perhaps some of it is inherited from my French heritage - we simply do not care for fake food! In fact, we really wish folks would become more conscious of the stuff they ingest and pass on to their children, meal after meal (Don't get me started on soda!
For instance, Monsanto's new pesticide supposedly makes a bug's belly explode...Apparently rats are not doing too well after eating Monsanto's new genetically modified corn...So perhaps the next time you see that awesome looking, perfectly symetrical corn at your supermaket, you may want to pass, and yes, pay a dollar more, to buy the organic, safe corn!

For years, we have travelled miles north and south in search of Pick-Your-Own farms, local breweries and bread makers. One of our favorite spots is Bobolink Dairy and Bread Bakery in Milford, NJ. They used to be located in Warwick, NY. which was very convenient for us since Warwick also offers a plethora of orchards and farmers' markets. Once Bobolink moved to Southern New Jersey, naturally, we followed. And that is how we began discovering some other great local wonders such as The Ship Inn - a true English pub - serving home brewed beers and amazing Lancashire Cheese and Onion Pies.

My lunch today: Sausage Roll from The Ship Inn - a grass fed beef sausage
baked inside a puff pastry dough, served with buttered local pasrsip
and French fries drizzled with malt vinegar.

Freshly baked bread from Bobolink's

Today, on our way back from our usual bread and cheese "harvest" from Bobolink's, we made a stop at Tassot Apiaries - also known as Buzzing Acres.

All I was looking for was local honey to de-sensitize myself and the rest of the family from pollen allergies but I guess it was fate that brought us there.
It is a known fact that the slow and progressive consumption of raw local honey will assist in reducing allergy symptoms. Having recently been diagnosed with allergy induced asthma and subsequently COPD (yes, alas that was the drama this week), now more than ever, we are giving more serious thoughts to eating natural/organic foods. I also enjoyed some fresh air away from the all too polluted air "crap" surrounding Newark, NJ.

Tassot Apiaries present as very well maintained farm where chicken, turkeys and Alpacas seem to be treated as though the owners' own children. I kid you not, rarely have I ever seen such a clean and well kept farming enterprise!

With our two boys in tow, we arrived with the intention to only purchase one bottle of local honey. It was meant to be, I am sure, that the owners, Jean-Claude and Beatrice Tassot happen to be French! So sure enough we talked - a lot - about bee keeping amongst other things and what can I say, I fell in love with their farm and their products.
The Apiary hosts just about 400 bee hives! That's a lot of bees! Jean-Claude tells me he has been keeping bees since he was a small boy and one can tell how passionate he is about bee keeping by simply looking at the hives themselves, few are alike! Jean-Claude Tassot makes his own bee hives with blue prints from all over the world!

Some of Jean-Claude's bee hives - you can see the different designs.

How cool is this?

Beatrice and Jean-Claude are charming and so welcoming, they will simply let you go through their home as though you were an old friend, and if you are looking for French Provencial inspirations, this is definitely the spot for you - forget the fancy stuff from the magazines, this home is for real and lived in too!

An example of Beatrice Tassot's excellent decorating taste - makes
you wish their home was a Bed & Breakfast!

How beautiful!

It appears that we had just missed the shearing of the Alpacas, nevertheless, we were able to feed them and enjoy touching (and sampling) their wool. I had no idea Alpacas could be that friendly, they naturally come to humans, provided food is available, which reminds me of cats!

Uh Oh! Looks like the Alpacas have spotted a group of human!

Here are my two boys, and Scott feeding the Alpacas!

Thanks to the Internet, you too can enjoy some of their wonderful honey. "My raw Honey" is a creamy unfiltered honey speckled with bee pollen and bits of honey combs. It is the one and only you will need to gradually combat allergies. I had to pry myself away from the stuff - no joke - it is absolutely delicious! Beatrice Tassot also recommended we gradually eat pollen every day, three little balls at a time, and increase the dosage until we become desensitized!

A collection of Honey goodness
from Tassot Apiaries

In addition to the honey, bee pollen and homemade soap we had purchased, Beatrice wanted us to try some of her farm fresh eggs, not just chicken eggs, mind you, we also took two turley eggs back home with us. Turley eggs folks! How awesome is that?

These are farm fresh chicken eggs - look at all the colors! I never had a naturally
green colored egg before.

Chicken egg (front) VS. Turley egg (back) - both delicious AND nutricious!
Seriously get rid of your Egg Beater cartons and buy local eggs!

So I had a lot of options for dinner tonight and all I can say is that you just cannot beat this one line up:

Medieval Garlic Rye loaf (Bobolink Dairy/Bakery)
Duck Fat Loaf (Bobolink/Bakery)
Cave Rippened Cheddar (Bobolink/Bakery)
Herdsman's Wheel (Bobolink/Bakery)
Scrambled Chicken Eggs w. nutmeg (Tassot Apiaries)
Scrambled Turkey Eggs w. peppercorn (Tassot Apiaries)
Raw Honey on buttered fresh bread (Tassot Apiaries)

How could anyone resist such a feast? Can you see the huge chunks of
garlic inside the Medieval Garlic Rye loaf?

Fresh eggs, cheese and bread...Can;t get any better
than that!

I would have loved to try Tassot's recommended plain yogurt with honey and a sprinkle of bee pollen but I am still feeling the effects of food coma here...So much for Week One goals!

I am sure I have tried farm fresh eggs before, but never as good as these. For one, the shells were much harder and the yolks much bigger. They had a nutty flavor and really held their shape once cracked open. As for the turkey eggs, they were larger of course and also harder to crack open (needed a stabbing motion for that one) but I dare say I was surprised to find their flavor to be more delicate than the chicken ones! Who would have thought? Either way, both were spectacular in flavor.

Beautiful handmade soaps - all natural recipes made from beeswax and
vegetable oils. I purchased the Honey Almond version  and will return
for more since it appears that my allergies are all around now and my
skin's become ultra sensitive to perfume and dyes!

Beatrice and Jean-Claude were also featured in this quarter's Edible New Jersey Magazine. But you can read more about the importance of beekeeping here (though they were featured again this year, this is a 2009 article - really wishing Edible NJ would update their website) :

Food for thoughts

This was our trip to Milford, NJ. And all products mentioned above are available online  by visiting these websites:

Tassot Apiaries, INC.

Bobolink Dairy

Buy local, support your American (and French American) farmers. Stop the insanity of ingesting processed food loaded with chemicals you can't even pronounce and start gardening!
This morning we 've planted 6 different varieties of tomatoes and two Tiger Zucchinis. It's not much, but it keeps us grounded and close to where we want to be...mother nature! And this year, as with the other ones, I am again mixing flowers and vegetables in my front yard! Why? I am hoping I am inspiring folks to garden more and the flowers attract the bees, which I need to pollinate my Zucchinis...We need bees!

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