Pumpkin hermits recipe

October 3, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Ahh, fall is upon us & I couldn’t be happier to welcome my favorite season.  While I enjoyed all of the fresh summer produce, my taste buds are now ready for crisp apples, fresh sautéed greens, sweet butternut squash and of course pumpkin.  This weekend, we visited a pumpkin farm and while technically the pumpkins were for decoration rather than eating,  it put me in the mood to prepare something pumpkin.  My son Oliver suggested “pumpkin cookies” and though we didn’t use our pumpkin purchases (they were just too pretty to cut open) we still got a taste of fall in every bite.

Pumpkin Hermits
Pumpkins are loaded with Vitamin A & fiber & low in calories.

  • 2 cups half all-purpose, half whole wheat
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup canned pure pumpkin (preferably organic pumpkin or use fresh if you dare)
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, egg, molasses and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir by hand until almost combined; add chocolate chips, stir just until blended.

Drop large, rounded spoonfuls of dough 2” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 12–14 minutes, until just set — springy to the touch around the edges, but you still leave a slight dent if you touch them in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Source: Adapted from One Smart Cookie by Julie Van Rosendaal


A note from Joel

October 2, 2012
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

Joel Salatin, owner/founder of Polyface Farm, marked a special anniversary lately.  Read below to understand how special this anniversary is to him, and to the scores of people who keep Polyface Farm going year after year.  An amazing milestone-for Joel, for Polyface & for sustainable farming!

A note from Joel...

Sept. 24, 1982 marked my first day of full time farming. It was a Monday, just like today, and the Friday previous I had cleaned out my desk in the Staunton News Leader newsroom and waved goodbye to my fellow journalists. Everyone thought I was making a huge mistake. Farming? Anything but that.

Even farmers thought I was making a huge mistake. And then to know that I was not going to use chemicals. That I was going to pasture chickens and pigs. That I wasn't going to build silos and plow the soil. How could anything be as ridiculous?

This morning I awakened to a farm festooned with balloons. I had mentioned the day and its 30-year importance in passing a couple of times during the summer, but frankly have been too covered up with responsibilities to plan any big celebration for myself. No worries. I'm surrounded by the most loyal, grateful, creative, dependable, conscientious team of young people you can imagine.

I've been crying all morning.

I think Eric and Brie led the plans. Overnight, they and accomplices decorated the farm with balloons, strategically placed to intercept my morning routine at every step. From the clothesline beside the backdoor to the equipment shed, balloons lined the path. The Massey Ferguson tractor they knew I would use to move the Eggmobile had balloons anchored to the wheels. As I approached the Eggmobile to hook it up, balloons cascaded off the front.

As is my routine, I went out to get the morning newspaper--once a news junkie, always a news junkie--and the farm entrance literally floated with balloons and our entrance sign had an explanatory addition in huge letters: Happy Anniversary Joel Full-time Farming 30 Years.

Tears welled up uncontrollably as the reality of the love and support of these young people overwhelmed me. To be this age, farming, surrounded by this kind of enthusiasm and honor--could it get any better than this? And then I had to chuckle: take that, friends, farmers, experts. All you folks that said I was throwing my life away, being foolish. Can you see me now? Ha!

I always check the cows in the morning. Yes, balloons on the 4-wheeler (my personal Japanese cow-pony). Streaming behind me, the balloons followed me up the three-quarter mile farm lane to the farm pasture. And as if that weren't enough, all along that route, from the trees and bushes, balloons heralded the celebratory day. We're here! We've made it this far! Touchdown! Hallelujah! Say it however you want to; scream it from the rooftops. We're still here. And not only have a survived, we've thrived.

Tears streaming down my face, I topped the little knoll before coming to the cows and there, adorning every electric fence stake in the cross fence, were more balloons. The cows, mostly lying down on this 38 degree morning (we actually had the first patchy frost of the season), simply burped up another wad of grass cud to chew on. They looked at me completely ordinarily. Nothing much upsets their routine. Nothing is as placid as a placid cow.

With gratitude and a deep sense of blessing welling in my heart, tears streaming down my cold cheeks, I headed back to the house for breakfast, the newspaper, morning emails, and desk work. My spirit is overflowing today.

Teresa and I had a dream. We worked at it. We prayed over it. We babysat it. We lived and loved it. Today it shines like a burning bush, attracting people from all over the world to come and see. Thank you, Lord, for 30 wonderful years.

And lest you're wondering, we don't think we've hardly started yet. Now we're not just a couple of people standing on the shoulders of our parents, but we're a tribe, with the next generation and the next and a whole team of players plugging the gaps where we're weak and leveraging our expertise where we're strong. Look out, world. Here we come.

Thank you, family. Thank you, Polyface team, staff, interns. Thank you, patrons who have stood by us monetarily, supporting us with your smiles, your eating, and yes, your dollars. Polyface Farm is charitable, but not a charity. It is a business, but not only a business. So raise your glasses, folks. Here's to another 30 years. Thank you.

Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules…. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human being would keep in the pantry

October 1, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Food Rules…. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human being would keep in the pantry.

  • “Cellulose, xantham gum, etc”: ingredients used to extend shelf life, make old food look fresh
  • “If you wouldn’t cook with it, why let others use these ingredients to cook for you”
  • “Choose real food”

Source: Michael Pollen Food Rules


Weekly Wisdom – Keep it real…choose fiber from whole foods

September 24, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Keep it real…choose fiber from whole foods

  • Avoid “unnatural” sources of fiber, i.e. “fake” high fiber foods made with things like inulin & soluble corn fiber
  • Replace “fiber” cereal bars, etc. with fruits, vegetables, whole grains & legumes (beans)
  • Natural sources of fiber help you eat less, which in turn aids in weight loss 

Trash Talk – Making the case for recycling

September 24, 2012
Becky Tweedy, Assistant to the President

How long does it take to decompose?



Apples in the fall season

September 19, 2012
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

It seems every year about this time I feel compelled to write about how much I enjoy the fall.  It brings to mind comfort for me-warm sweaters, beautiful colors, piles of leaves, warm apples cider, and a little chill in the air, tinged with the scent of wood smoke.

One of my favorite foods of the season is apples. So versatile, so many varieties, eaten anytime of the day.  I’m partial to the crisp, tart varieties, old fashioned ones like the Macintosh and newer varieties like the (relatively) recently released Zestar. 

The Zestar is an apple that was created at the University of Minnesota in 1999. It’s an early season apple that is also cold hearty.  The flavor is amazing-just the right combination of sweet & tart.  Texture is just as I like it-nice & crisp, without being too hard, like a Granny Smith.

From the experts:
The Zestar! apple helps fill a gap. Most early season apples are mealy, which is why you should be making applesauce in August and waiting until later in September to start your pies.The Zestar! is a crunchy apple that is available early in the season. It also has a long shelf life, unlike it’s early season counterparts. You can store them in the fridge for up to a couple months. One negative of the Zestar! is that it tends to bruise rather easily, so one must be careful when harvesting and handling. A bruised apple will not have that long shelf live. I think this easy bruising is why I am not seeing this apple regularly sitting next to the Galas and Fujis at the local mega mart.


Fresh off the boat dinner

September 17, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

As I type this blog post I am gazing out into the ocean blue.  My family is on vacation this week and the pace of everyday life immediately slows down when we hit the beach.  However, despite my desire to sit on the beach, read & play silly games with my children, I still want to enjoy a good meal.  So, last night Tom and I dragged ourselves off the beach chairs and made a trip to the local fish market.  There we found fresh off the boat tuna & grouper.  This along with fresh squash, zucchini & juicy ears of corn purchased at the farmers market made up the menu of our first beach dinner. Coming back to a grill the size of a Mac truck, Tom proceeded to grill our treasures.  We sat down to a simple, yet delicious fresh meal of BBQ fish, roasted squash, eggplant and grilled corn.  Washed down with a glass of chilled wine made it all the better.  Cheers!  Who knows what we find tonight. Fresh shrimp anyone?

Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules…. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as FOOD!

September 17, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Food Rules…. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as  FOOD!

  • “Go-gurt”…grandmother wonders “is it food or toothpaste”
  • “Avoid complicated foods”:  processed foods are specifically designed to get us to buy & eat more
  • Choose food that is found in nature

Source: Michael Pollen Food Rules

October recipe: Sweet Potato Ham Biscuits

Sweet Potato Ham Biscuits
Makes 18 biscuits

2c - cooked sweet potatoes
2 1/4c - biscuit mix
1/4lb - brown sugar
2-3T - water
3T - softened butter
1lb - shaved virginia ham or turkey
3T - or more fig jam or fig confit

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Mash potatoes with biscuit mix & sugar. Add water to form soft dough
  3. Roll dough to1/2-inch thick, (on lightly floured surface) Cut with 2" floured cutter
  4. Bake on paper lined sheet trays, at 350° until golden brown, about 18 minutes
  5. Cool, split, spread with softened butter-about 1/2t per biscuit
  6. Fill with about 1-1 1/2oz ham (or turkey) & 1/2t fig jam per biscuit

Trash Talk – Bottled water vs. tap water

September 10, 2012
Becky Tweedy, Assistant to the President

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water by the numbers

2,000 - On average, bottled water consumes around 2,000 times more energy than tap
1 to 3 - 1 liter of bottled water requires 3 liters of water to produce…
10,000 - Bottled water costs 10,000 times more than tap water in the US, more by volume than gasoline or soda.
30,000,000 - bottles per day end up in landfills or the ocean. Only 5% of plastic water bottles are recycled in the US.
Tap water is tested more often and held to higher safety standards than bottled water in the US.

Think about it!  Turn on the tap!

Source: Mother Earth News magazine