Handpicked vegetables fresh from the ground; meat, eggs and dairy from animals raised on small farms; handmade pies with tender crusts, fresh fillings and whipped meringue; and honey made from bees pollinating East Texas blueberries, flavor of handmade, homegrown freshness is indescribable.
Farm to table is a popular concept but for many farmers and families, both now and in the past, it's a way of life. Putting food on the table means growing, harvesting and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables and raising animals for meat, eggs and dairy products.
Lifestyles, careers and city-living might limit people's ability to grow their own food and raise animals, but taking full advantage of the growing seasons and the availability of local meat, products and produce is what farm to table is about.
East Texas is filled with people like Matthew and Janet McKinney of Flower Hill Farm, Ron and Terri Luce of Poppa Skinny's Farm, Moon and Samantha Swanson of Diamond B Ranch and Becky and David Wolfe of Oxbow Bakery and Antiques. They work tirelessly morning, noon and night to provide the freshest, most flavorful food possible to the people of East Texas. They are committed to every fruit and vegetable they pick, animal they raise and pie they make. It is all hand-picked, homegrown, and handmade, the old fashioned way, with lots of heart and hard work.
POPPA SKINNY'S FARM
Operated by Ron and Terri Luce, the farm has been in the family since 1850.
They raise seasonal produce, fruit, eggs, chicken and pork. They also offer goat's milk and cheese for on-premise sale.
The farm is Animal Welfare Approved and sets the highest standard for the ethical and humane treatment of all livestock and animals. They were recently awarded a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant for a two year project to develop a sustainable forage system for organic pork production.
The Red Wattle hogs and the Plymouth Barred Rock chickens raised on the farm were chosen because of their foraging ability and how they thrive in a pasture environment. The Red Wattle breed is highly ranked in meat flavor, disposition and mothering traits.
The Luces sell some of their products at Breaking Bread in Jacksonville but most are available directly from the farm. Shares of pigs and chickens are available for sale. The price includes a deposit on the animal, processing cost and a price per pound rate after processing.
They are located at 952 FM 1910W, Jacksonville, TX 75766. For more information call 903-683-5739 or visit www.poppaskinnysfarm.com.
FLOWER HILL FARM
The CSA allows consumers to buy shares in advance of the farm's harvest, which allows the farmer early-season capital and a guaranteed market for their produce. It is a practice that is common in many large cities around the country.
The spring/summer harvest season runs from April 18 through July 25. A fall season runs from October 10 through December 5. When a share is purchased the consumer is provided with a weekly CSA box that includes six to ten varieties of vegetables and herbs that are currently available. The boxes are delivered every Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 18787 FM 2493, Flint, 75762.
Currently, all shares for the spring season of the CSA have been filled but a waiting list is being formed as crops develop and more vegetables are harvested. Also available at the drop-off location are extra herbs, vegetables and fresh cut flowers. These items are available for purchase to the general public.
Flower Hill Farm also has a stand at the Longview Farmers' Market on Saturday between 8 a.m. and noon. For more information call 903-722-4238 or 903-722-4240 or visit www.flowerhillfarmtx.com
DIAMOND B RANCH
Swanson will be offering a variety of vegetables, fruit, baked goods, eggs and grass fed beef at his farm store at the Diamond B Ranch every Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and in the Whole Health parking lot at 4834 South Broadway in Tyler on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to Noon.
He has a large crop of specialty greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, lemongrass, plums, sugar cane, blackberries, pears, peaches and many other varieties of vegetables. From Tyler, they are located on the west side of FM 321 off of Highway 155 South between Frankston and Palestine. For directions and more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OXBOW BAKERY & ANTIQUES
Using family recipes and old-fashioned technique David forms the pastry while Becky makes the meringues and fillings. She is known for her tall meringues that are whipped into submission and baked into white-pillowy clouds of sweetness.
The bakery is reminiscent of a turn-of-the century general store and also houses several antique booths off to the side. Some of the pie flavors include pineapple, chocolate and coconut meringue, pecan, chocolate pecan, old-town buttermilk and blueberry banana.
Whole pies can be made to order with advance notice and most flavors are available by the slice, daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The bakery is closed on Sunday and Monday and closes at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. For more information call 903-723-5100.
ECHO SPRINGS BLUEBERRY FARM
They offer a 50 acre pick-your-own blueberry farm and a store that has a variety of products like fresh produce, jams, jellies, baked goods, honey and organic beauty products. For more information call 903-852-5277.
Garden Herb Roasted Chicken with New Potatoes and Noonday Onions
2 tablespoons each of fresh rosemary, parsley, thyme, chopped
3 garlic scapes
4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 Noonday onions
6 new potatoes
1 fresh broiler chicken
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Split the bud of the garlic scapes in half and scrape out the insides. Discard the outside skin of the scape bud. Finely chop the inside of the scapes and some of the stem. Add to the chopped herbs. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the herb mixture and stir to combine. Cut the stem and root end off the onions and cut into fourths. Cut the potatoes into fourths. Place both in a bowl together and toss with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry. Place in a large baking dish. Rub the chicken with salt and pepper and the herbs mixed with olive oil. Be sure rub the inside of the cavity, all over the skin and carefully under the skin around the breast. Stuff the cavity with the lemon wedges and a few of the onions. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under the body. Place the remaining onions and potatoes around the chicken. Cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes until skin is golden brown. Cover with foil and lower temperature to 375 degrees. Continue to cook until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. Allow chicken to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Remove lemons and onions from the cavity and discard. Note: Used herbs and garlic scapes from Diamond B Ranch, new potatoes from Flower Hill Farm, chicken from Poppa Skinny's Farm and Noonday onions from the onion stand on the west side of Highway 155 South run by James and Clarence Coach.
Sautéed Kale and Beets
1 bunch of kale
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
To prepare the kale. Fold the leaves in half lengthwise with the backside of the leaf facing out. Cut down the back vein of the leaf to remove the center and stem. Discard stems. Roll leaves and slice into thin strips. Set aside in a large sauté pan. To prepare beets bring a pot of water to a simmer. Cut off the root stem of the beets and remove the green leafy tops. Thinly slice beet leaves and add to the kale. Place the beets in the simmering water and let cook for about five minutes or until slightly fork tender. Remove the beets from the water and cut into fourths. Slice into thin wedges. Place in a separate sauté pan. Add one tablespoon olive oil and sauté beets until lightly crisp on the outside. Add one tablespoon of oil, honey and salt to the kale. Sauté until wilted. Add the beets and stir to combine. Note: Used kale from Flower Hill Farm and beets from Diamond B Ranch.
Goat Cheese Crostini with Lemon-Honey Glaze
6 slices fresh baked bread
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup local honey
1 lemon, juiced and zested
Toast bread and brush with olive oil. Spread goat cheese over bread and cut each slice of bread into four pieces. In a bowl combine the honey, lemon juice and zest. Stir together. Lightly drizzle over the bread. Note: Used whey bread from Diamond B Ranch, honey from Echo Springs Blueberry Farm and goat cheese from Poppa Skinny's Farm.
Fresh Buttered Peas
2 cups fresh shelled English peas
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
Boil peas to desired doneness, one to two minutes. Drain and add butter and salt. Note: Used peas from Flower Hill Farm.
Mixed Green Salad with Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded Swiss chard
1 cup shaved yellow and orange carrots
1/2 cup radishes, julienned
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon local honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine cabbage, chard, carrots and radishes and toss to combine. Add the vinegar, honey, salt pepper and olive oil. Mix completely to coat the salad. Top with the pecans. Note: Used cabbage and carrots from Flower Hill Farm, chard, carrots and radishes from Diamond B Ranch and honey from Echo Springs Blueberry Farm.