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California’s a Big State (Part 4) – Oregon House Farm & High Sierra Beef

We continued to head north from the RV docking point we used for San Francisco.  We’d been so busy with national parks and city touring that we were looking forward to some downtime.  Our first stop was two weeks at a campground/RV park on our Thousand Trails Zone Camping Pass in Oregon House, CA- about 1 hour south of Chico.  This is rural America.  The drive in was absolutely beautiful and the country began to remind us distinctly of New England.

Wherever we are, I always check localharvest.org for local farms, farmstands, and farmers’ markets.  Since we eat paleo, fresh meats, eggs, vegetables, and fruits are our staples.  As you can imagine, this can get tricky.  No rice to fill a 3rd of the plate.  No beans to bulk up a meal.  No potatoes in the storage bin (anymore) to tide us over until we find a decent farmstand or market.  It takes some diligence and planning to ensure that our food supply is plentiful and sustained but it’s something we enjoy (the philosophy and the flavors) and believe in so it’s well worth the effort.  And there is less guilt when I buy those inorganic strawberries because I know our bodies are strong and healthy and can tolerate the occasional insult.
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We’re arriving in the north country a little early for the beginning of the farmers’ markets season so I was hoping I might find a local farm for meat, eggs, and seasonal produce.  My freezer stock of grassfed ground beef and cuts that I loaded up on in Tucson from the University of Arizona was waning.and eating grocery store meat is really a last resort.  We lucked out!  I found Oregon House Farm owned and operated by Jenny Cavaliere just 2 miles away – a cooperative member of High Sierra Beef who also operates a weekend farm store out of her 100 year old barn.  My e-mail inquiry to Jenny resulted not only in stocking our freezer but also a personal tour of her farm – 5 separate pieces of land – which included bee hives, calving cows (and calves!), chickens, sheep, and a peek into the life of a sustainable farmer.  Jenny also invited Sadie to sell her handmade felted pins, hair ties, beaded earrings, and flaxseed packs at the farm store the following weekend.
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Talk about knowing where your food comes from…  Jenny names all of her cows, walks among them in the fields, and they come down to greet her when she calls.  We talked freely about the processes and logistics of sustainable and humane breeding, feeding, and, yes, even slaughtering.  We even walked through the metal corral and down the ‘hall’ used to keep the cows still and safe for procedures and onto trailers for travel.
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You know, traveling is only partly about the places.  That’s how it starts.  The reason it continues and is fueled is the people.  Jenny is one of those people- who would take an entire afternoon to hang around in pastures sharing her passion with a family just traveling through.  Chris and I have been tossing around the idea of farming.  Jenny’s honesty about it’s 24/7 tether has put our dreamy prospect in check.  But this close connection has made us even more dedicated to knowing our farmer and their practices as much as possible.  Truth be told, there are a lot of different phrases used on packaging that are used to airbrush dirty or unhealthy practices.  My decoder ring can’t keep up with the myriad of ways that these practices get off on technicalities or fuzzy language and into the market.

Here are a couple of articles I like about grass-fed vs. grain fed beef:

Health Benefits of Grass Farming

The Differences Between Grass-Fed Beef and Grain-Fed Beef

And one to ponder about the ethics of eating meat:

Is Eating Meat Ethical?

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in California, Food, Travel log

 

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We Are What We Eat (aka- Eating well on the road)

We’re accruing a list of frequently asked questions.  One of these has been coming up relatively often lately as people dig a little deeper into how we are living full time on the road.  People want to know- what do we eat?  First, I think there is a pretty common misconception that living in an RV is like camping.  When we embarked on this lifestyle, it was with all of the comforts we considered necessary in mind.  We were all very clear that this should in no way ever feel like we were sacrificing in some way.  And I can safely say (we talk about this regularly) that everyone feels completely satisfied and comfortable with the RV life.  We have a perfectly regular living quarters with all of the regular areas- just laid out a little differently and squashed into a smaller space.

As far as the kitchen goes, our food knowledge, planning, preparing, and consumption is always changing and improving with our awareness.  And, while I lack the vast counter space of our suburban dwelling, the way that I consider and prepare food has not ever back-stepped with our change in living quarters.  In fact, we’ve become even healthier!  I believe in whole ingredients.  I believe in preparing food from ingredients that are recognizable and basic.  I was recently asked where I keep all of my boxed and canned pantry items in the RV and I was confused for a moment.  I have only the occasional organic jarred pasta/pizza sauce and a box or two of Annie’s organic macaroni and cheese.  Why would these require lots of space?

The misconception is that cooking from basic ingredients requires more space.  It doesn’t.  In fact, it requires less… and less money, too.  We eat only organic (and local if we can help it) produce and choose the most organic and basic of other ingredients as well.  It is amazing to me to compare shopping carts with those who are buying boxed, frozen, canned, etc. foods.  Their carts are overflowing and their receipts are frightening!  I can make so many different things with the ingredients that we buy and they are so satisfying that my smaller cart of groceries actually amounts to a much more creative, frugal, and healthy lifestyle.

I think I’ll start sharing some of my favorite recipes here.  Please include yours or links to them in the comments section!  I’m always looking to try new things as is Sadie – my 6 year-old sidekick in the kitchen.

I suppose I should have started with some amazing entree with lots of local green stuff but, since the Patriots lost tonight and we are in mourning, I will offer up one of our favorite breakfast items that served as comfort food for us tonight:

Gingerbread Pancakes – Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone.  I alter every recipe I come across.  I use grapeseed oil in place of vegetable and reconstituted goat’s milk in lieu of cow’s (I have also used rice milk with success). For a more crepe-like pancake (and for vegan alteration), we’ve used 1 tbsp of milled blueberry flaxseed with 3 tbsps water instead of the egg. Delicious!
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To save time, I will often make extra of the dishes I make- hot dishes serve well for lunch the next day. In this case, I always make a second batch of the dry mix to put in the pantry for another day when I will just have to whip up the wet mix, combine, pour, and flip!
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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Food, RV

 

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