Windy N Ranch

Talking Turkey

As I mentioned last week, before you reach for that Butterball in your grocery store freezer section, you might want to consider a "heritage" turkey from Windy N Ranch. Here are ten reasons why:

Looks, for starters

  1. Flavor. As with chicken, when you breed the speed into their weight-gain, you breed out the flavor. Ever wonder what turkey tasted like to your great-grandparents? Wonder no more.
  2. Cool names. Let "Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Standard Bronze, and White Holland" roll around your mouth and off your tongue.
  3. Antibiotic-free. Though, if they ever figure out a way to give turkeys flu shots that then grant us flu-shot protection, I might be willing to give ground here.
  4. Growth-hormone-free. These heritage turkeys put on weight in the good old-fashioned manner--over time. As in, 50% longer from here to maturity than industrial turkeys.
  5. Steroid-free. Because we like our baseball-players PED-free, why not our turkeys? A-Rod may be allowed to return to baseball next year, but we all know we won't hold him in the same esteem as players with no hint of fakery. Same goes for the crowning glory of the Thanksgiving table. Baseball, apple pie, Chevrolet, and heritage turkeys is all I'm saying.
  6. Stimulant-free. Meaning, I think, the turkeys were allowed no access to alcoholic ragers and video game marathons. Oh--hang on--word just in--"stimulants" refers to growth stimulants fed to industrial poultry. My bad.
  7. Ionophore-free. I'm pretty sure this means the turkeys were raised entirely in the troposphere, and not outer space, where turkeys have no business being. Wait--what? A quick search reveals that "ionophore" "ionosphere." "Ionophores" are "anticoccidials" added to poultry feed. Using my rusty root-word SAT skills, my best guess is that ionophores fight/prevent tailbones...Onward...
  8. Pastured. Whew. A term I do know. These turkeys got to roam about on grass. Grass with no herbicides or pesticides. Some of you may be claustrophilic indoors-y types, but you wouldn't have made good turkeys.

  9. Available at the Bellevue Farmers Market. How easy is that? Place your order this Saturday and pick up later in the month, while you're grabbing your potatoes and bread and soup and fresh cranberries and green beans and apples for pie and pumpkin for pie. One-stop shopping!
  10. And lastly, Acquainted with the delights of turkey sex. It wouldn't surprise you to hear that the Broad-Breasted Whites which make up most of the turkeys in America rarely feel "in the mood" for turkey whoopee. Not only are they confined and pumped full of nastiness and swollen like surgically-enhanced pageant contestants, but they actually are physically unable to enjoy turkey intimacy. As if we needed one more reason to feel Thanksgiving guilt! As turkey lives go, heritage turkeys have it pretty sweet.

The classic Narragansett
Don't know if you're allowed to order by particular breed, but with these beauties it's hard to go wrong!

Bourbon Red [pic courtesy]
Who am I kidding? These really have got to be the most ridiculous-looking birds that walk the planet. But so tasty.

On a final note, I leave you with this quote from the lesser-known-but-also-awesome girl pioneer book Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. Caddie's mom was unable to sell her turkeys at market, and therefore the Woodlawns are forced to eat turkey day in and day out. Plenty of us do this by choice nowadays, but I guess back when turkey had distinctive flavor this could have become a hardship:

"There's nothing nicer than turkey on bread, my child. Think of all the poor children who would be glad of a nice turkey sandwich!"

Tom and Caddie and Warren had often thought of these poor children who had no turkey. Secretly they envied them. One can endure beef every day or even salt pork. One eats it mechanically, without thinking, but not turkey. No matter how disguised with onions or cabbage, or sage dressing, turkey is always turkey. 

Food of Champions

'Tis the season. We officially have a "Corgi" pumpkin on our porch, which I would show you, except it looks nothing like this:

This would be Juba, an actual Corgi

I've got to say, unlike the rest of you out there, spending $7.4 billion on Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations, I'm just not that into it. We bought the pumpkin that became a Corgi, and two bags of candy for the three trick-or-treaters who will darken our door (and I'm rounding up on that number), for a total of $10. Multiply that times 117 million households in America, and you only get a total of $1.2 billion. So, clearly, some of you are going nuts.

Besides, the next Market will be Saturday, November 1, when all of you will be trolling for vegetables to relieve your Snickers hangover. May I recommend...

Little-known fact: purple carrots are yellow in the middle

And once we have the spooky, expensive holiday behind us, there are two important things to look forward to in November: kids' sports championships and Thanksgiving. If you can't give thanks for the one (except to say, "Hallelujah! It's over!"), you certainly can for the other.

But suppose you're really into encouraging and nourishing your little champion--what would be the best food and drink to power the tyke through that meet or match, and give your future Olympian an edge over everyone else's lesser spawn? Good news--I've read a book this week and picked up some tips and ah-has.

  1. "The typical athlete, without using any special nutritional techniques, has enough carbohydrates in his body to fuel roughly three hours of endurance exercise at around 70-80% of effort...If you're exercising for less than 75 minutes, you probably don't need any carbohydrate intake at all for optimal performance. Your body already has plenty of fuel for these shorter efforts without any sort of bars or gels or drinks." I knew it! I knew I didn't have to bring snacks for those dumb baseball games and mighty-mite soccer matches! Spread the word, people.
  2. For "stop and start" sports like soccer and basketball, with games that last 1-2.5 hours, then you might consume between 30-60 grams of carbs and see a benefit. Or, you could just swish the energy drink around in your mouth and spit it out again, because "there's a strong line of research that shows that we have sensors in our mouths that detect the presence of carbs, and that even just rinsing your mouth with carbs has an effect on your brain that can increase your performance"(!). So, okay...for the older kids with longer games, hand over the violently-colored Gatorade, but when they take a sip, run up behind them and scare or tickle them, so they spit it out.
  3. You can make your own Gatorade! U.S. Olympic sports nutritionist Nancy Clark gives this recipe: Dissolve 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp salt in 1/4 cup hot water. Add 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, and 3-1/2 cups cold water. Boom. Done. Homemade. Throw in a few drops of lurid artificial food coloring if your child won't touch it otherwise.
  4. Yes, many performance-enhancing substances have been banned from competition, but here are the proven, still-legal goodies!
    • Caffeine. More isn't better, but some has demonstrated results.
    • Baking soda. It keeps muscles from becoming acidic and feeling fatigued. The downside? You can't take your dose via chocolate chip cookies or blueberry muffins. You have to combine it straight with a little carb-dense meal and risk GI side effects.
    • Beet juice. Something to do with nitrates, which your body converts to nitrite and then to nitric acid, making your blood vessels dilate and increasing mitochondrial efficiency. Apparently, at the 2012 London Olympics, athletes cleaned out all the beet juice in a ten-mile radius. Good luck getting your young 'un to chug that stuff, though.
  5. Diet-wise, McClusky recommends eating "one gram of protein daily for every pound of body weight to support muscular growth, least eight fist-sized servings of vegetables a day." That's a lot of vegetables. Which explains why my children will probably never summit that Olympic podium.
  6. Increase brain fitness. Studies showed that increasing brain fitness increases physical abilities as well. Mind over matter.
  7. And, finally, sleep more. In a study of basketball players, an increase of two hours of sleep per night resulted in a 13% performance enhancement, as measured by free-throw shooting, 3-point shooting, and sprint drills. 13%!!! Put down the steroids and the human growth hormones, Sonny, and just go back to bed!
There's more in this fascinating book--I'm giving it to my son's swim coach for Christmas--so get yourself a copy, even if you just want to turn yourself into the Ultimate Weekend Warrior.
So much for athletic excellence. If you're like me, heading into the holidays, you're thinking a lot more about eating than working out. And if we're talking Thanksgiving, we're talking turkey.
Have you ordered your turkey yet? Windy N Ranch is taking deposits on their organic, GMO-free heritage turkeys! Heritage turkeys are exactly what they sound like--old-timey breeds that look, taste, and behave like the turkeys Ben Franklin knew, when he joked about making them our National Bird.
If you haven't had them before, the real deal is tasty. Tasty goodness. better run, little turkeys. Run run run run run, little turkeys...

Somewhat Hidden Gems at the Bellevue Farmers Market

As the Thursday Market falls on the same afternoon as summer swim meets for my kids, sometimes my visits have been speedier than I would like. Yes, I volunteered to set up the pool deck, but don't we all have to take time to smell the roses (or rose-like lettuces)?

Lettuces so beautiful you can't bear to pull any leaves off!
Or maybe you prefer darker "petals"

Those lettuces aren't the only somewhat-hidden gems. Have you found these?

(1) The chocolates at Soulever Chocolates. Most of us have been lobbying for chocolate to be elevated to one of the four food groups, and Soulever is squarely on board, offering "chocolate that is health conscious, and tastes good, for you." Meaning, high quality chocolate, low-glycemic sweeteners, and no soy or wheat. (Did not know wheat in chocolate was a problem, but there ya go, if that matters to you.) Having only tried Theo's Chocolate because it was soy-free, I expected Soulever to be in the same ballpark--not the case! Soulever is creamy and just the right amount of sweetness. My husband ate the Dark Chocolate candy I got him with audible groans.

A flavor for everyone!

Now that we ate dessert first, it's on to...
(2) The main course. Chicken or Salmon or Beef or Pork or--heck--baked potatoes slathered in special sauce and thrown on the grill.

The marketing half of Seven Red Tagines

On Saturday I had time to stop and sample the authentic, Moroccan-inspired "elemental sauces" at Seven Red Tagines. If you like fresh, complex flavors, pick any one of these and you won't go wrong. I loved the Cilantro flavor, but as cilantro can be controversial in some families, I went with the also-delicious Basil. The sauces taste awesome right out of the jar (see the dipping hand in the picture), and I could picture even stirring in some yogurt and sour cream to make them into dips, but I hope to buy a nice piece of salmon and lay it on the grill. The sauces would be perfect when you have no idea what to make with the chicken you have in the fridge, or when you've been invited to someone's house and they already have a wine-cellar full of wines more expensive than the one you were going to give them.

(3) Speaking of wine, sometimes you're packing for a picnic or backpacking or boating, and the thought of toting a heavy, fragile glass bottle sounds like a drag. One of our vintners has thought of that!

Wine bags!

Piccola Wine Company has these 750mL wine totes they call bolsitas, after the bags carried by farmworkers in the vineyards. 750mL equals two bottles of wine, and they offer whites and reds in this eco-friendly packaging. The wine stays good up to a month after the bolsita is opened (in case you don't actually drink much and tend to go on loner picnics).

(4) A new meat farmer on Saturdays!

Some of the ranch hands

Windy N Ranch of Ellensburg is a full-service meat provider, offering "beef, pig, lamb, goat, fryer chickens, stewing hens, free range chicken eggs and free range duck eggs all on [their] Certified Organic pastures." Yowza! If you've been wondering where you were going to get your next grassfed goat fix, look no further. Seriously though, I still remember my college geography professor telling us we should all switch to goats because they're one-stop shopping (milk, meat, hide) in the most environmentally-friendly package (i.e., they even eat weeds and thorns and what-have-you, so you don't need miles of prime grazing land).

And finally, now that we've had our main courses of lettuce, chocolate, all-purposes sauces, and meat, it's time for another dessert. Did you see these?

That's genuine baklava, baby!

(5) That's right--at the place that makes falafel and kebab plates, you can also find homemade baklava (not to be confused with homemade balaclavas, which are useful if you want to rob banks).

You'll have to look elsewhere for these...

If you've never tried baklava, one of my favorite Maud Hart Lovelace books (Winona's Pony Cart) describes it as "a delicious-looking cake, criss-crossed like a checkerboard and oozing honey."

So no matter how little time you have to speed through the Market this week, be sure to find some of our hidden gems and suggest a few of your own!