Monday, December 31, 2012

Loose Ends of 2012, Florida

Only a few loose ends this year in my wrap up of 2012. Here are just a few pictures from articles I did not have time to write.
Sprouting strawberry at JG Ranch, Brooksville, Fla.
Here's a sprouting strawberry from JG Ranch in Brooksville, FL. It was in a real hurry to multiply.
Real World Imports, 16th Americas Food & Beverage
Show, Miami Beach, Fla
I was thirsty and these lovely ladies, Sharon Hollis and Nancy Stehly, of First World Imports let me have a delicious bottle of Jamaican Blue Spring Water. This photo was taken at the 16th Annual Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami Beach.

John Wiegand of Wiegand Steaks at Palm Beach
Gardens green market, Fla.
I bought bison, elk steaks, as well as venison sausages from Wiegand Steaks back in January at the Palm Beach Gardens Sunday morning Green market.

Chef Tony Donnelly about to slice into a Florida
grown beef shank, at Osceola Heritage Park, Fla.
In July, I met Executive Chef Tony Donnelly of Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee. He had helps organize the local food vendors each year for the Small Farms and Alternative Enterprise Conference.

My Florida Sourced Pork Dinner with Beer

Once you try Florida pastured pork you won't go back to regular store bought. Add if it's served with garlic sauteed mushrooms, rice pilaf, and steamed broccolini then you'll be spoiled for life or at least until the next seasonal, locally sourced dish.

This dish was served with Tampa based Cigar City Brewing-- Jai Alai beer, Indian Pale Ale style.
Florida pastured pork, mushroom medley, rice pilaf, broccolini, Cigar
City Brewing Co Jai Alai Ale, Fla.
This dish featured Central Florida sourced pastured pork from Tracey Lee Farms, bought from Farriss Farm. The medley of mushrooms came from Oyster Island Mushrooms, and the broccolini came from Kai Kai Farm. The rice was from out of state but it was cooked with some of Oyster Island mushrooms.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why You Should Own A Dairy Goat with Christine Abbey, Worden Farm, Fla.

Punta Gorda, Fla.--In April 2012, I attended a goat raw-milk Home Dairying and Cheese Workshop at Worden Farm. The presenter Christine Abbey, dairy goat farmer and cheese maker, was passionate about goat ownership. 
Christine Abbey demonstrates how to milk a goat at
Worden Farm's Home Dairying and Cheese making
Workshop, Punta Gorda, Fla. April 2012
There were about fifty interested people at the workshop held both indoors and outside. Abbey started the workshop inside a small shed on the side of the farm.

"I do want to talk about goats. And this is the reason I want all of you to know even those of you who say to yourself that you are not interested in goats. I do want you to consider something but I don’t want to get political so, please take this with the right attitude.

"Although this is a very free country there are a lot of things that aren’t free here. And you really are not free to chose the food that you eat. Because many people believe that raw dairy is better for you than pasteurized dairy but you’re not allowed to buy raw dairy labeled for human consumption.

"I’m allowed to sell my cheeses, and my milk, and my yogurt and my kefir, but the only license they’ll allow me to have because I believe in raw dairy, is a feed license. That requires me to label it for animal consumption only.

"I do have some products available today but I do want you to be aware that they are made from raw-dairy, they are made in my own kitchen, I am not regulated one I-ow-ta, nobody checks my milk, nobody tests my milk, nobody comes and checks my kitchen, OK.

"There are a lot of farms around here that sell milk this way, OK. It does make me nervous because I think some people don’t take care of their product. OK. And I am not going to say one way or the other but I just want you to be aware that there are concerns with …

"I do wish there was a little bit of regulation for us but I do wish there was some way for us to sell raw dairy because the only way they will let me sell this product without that for animal consumption label is if I am a Grade A dairy and I have to pasteurize. That’s the only way…there’s no way in the United States Of America, maybe there are a couple of States now that do allow it.

"I think Pennsylvania allows it but only if I don’t cross state lines which is another weird thing to me, OK.  I’m allowed to buy raw milk if I live here but I am not allowed to buy it if I cross this line. But whatever we do what we…

"So why am I telling you this?

"If you really want good food that you have power over I’m sorry but you have to raise it yourself. So I want to tell you about goats, because I want to tell you I’ve learned a lot about goats in the last six years that I have been raising them. And it really is possible to for anyone to do it.

"And it is my personal goal to spread the word. That just like almost every person in their life at one point had a dog, I honestly genuinely feel that at some point in their life everyone should have a goat. I really do.

"Goats are incredibly smart. Goats can be just like livestock, If you to throw them out in a field…now you still have to care for them obviously. You still have to check on them daily and make sure they have hay, you have to trim their hooves, you got to make sure they’re wormed, all that good stuff. But in general your goats don’t have to be friendly and they don’t have to be smart.

"But I’m the kind of person who likes my animals to be friendly and smart.  And if you have met them you’ll see already. I have a little story to tell you later about Iris cause you will be surprised.

"Did anyone meet? There’s a little bit bigger one who’s a little bit louder, and then there’s a little bit smaller one. And the smaller one is the daughter.  And that’s Iris. So Wildflower is the Mom and Iris is the daughter. I have had those goats for actually only for a year. I got them from a breeder in Tennessee.  Goats are very, very trainable. They can be a beloved pet as beloved as a dog. OK."

To find out more about Christine Abbey, you can go to

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Park Dairy, Fla: Raw-Milk Aged Blue Cheese And More

Winter Park Dairy, Florida, makes 61-day aged raw-milk cheese using Florida milk. Recently I got to interview David Green, cheese maker, marketer, and co-owner of Winter Park Dairy, about his raw-milk cheese business. His wife Dawn Taylor Green, co-owner, accountant, and financial officer was not present.
David Green, cheese maker and owner of Winter
Park Dairy, June 2012, Winter Park, Fla.
His family has been on this 10-acre Winter Park property for the past 100 years, and started making cheese in the 2000s. Green uses hormone and antibiotic-free raw milk collected from Florida farmers through the Southeast Milk Cooperative.

"Florida's dairy industry stopped allowing hormones and antibiotics in the milk several years ago. They were pressured by big businesses like Walmart and Publix who were pressured by their customers to stop selling milk with these additives," Green says.
Cheese cave at Winter Park Dairy, Winter Park, Fla.
Green uses a temperature controlled "cave," to age his raw-milk cheese. He produces one ton a cheese a month--about 150 wheels a week. "I supply cheese to the top 10 percent of the market," Green says. Pointing to the cheese wheels he says," Every cheese in the cave is already booked or sold."
He is known for his blue cheese but he also makes tomme, cheddar, and baby Swiss. "Raw-milk cheese tastes different from pasteurized, and it doesn't matter where it is from. There is no benchmark for the flavor. It is infinitely variable. Lots of French customers say my cheese tastes French."
Milk vat for processing milk at Winter Park Dairy, Fla.
Winter Park Dairy is the only one in Florida that has three raw-milk handling licenses that allow him to have complete control over all stages of his cheese process. He cares a lot about his product and realizes the risks of dealing with raw-milk. "I use the harshest chemicals I can find to wash my vats," he says, adding he does not want anyone getting sick from his cheese.

I ask him what he thinks about raw-milk sales at farmers markets. He says he would never buy raw-milk at farmers markets because it has to be constantly stored at very cold temperatures to be safe, and coolers just can't reach those temperatures.

He gives me some wedges of cheese to take home, and I express concern about how to keep them fresh without a cooler. He says, "They are aged, salted, and as preserved as they can be. Why if you wanted to, you could take them hiking with you and they'd stay perfectly healthy."

He has no plans to sell to Whole Foods or similar markets preferring instead to sell direct to restaurants and locals through the Winter Park Green Market on Saturdays.

To find out more about the cheese you can go to

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Florida Sourced Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing

It's salad and citrus season in Florida. To embrace the season I made a Florida citrus vinaigrette dressing with kumquats, and red grapefruit. All the salad ingredients also came from Florida.
Florida sourced salad and citrus vinaigrette dressing, Fla.
The salad was made up of lettuce greens from Kai Kai Farm (Indiantown), yellow bell pepper from Pure Produce Farm (Vero Beach), and mandarins from a stand at West Palm Beach Greenmarket (Florida grown).

The vinaigrette dressing was made with kumquats from Kumquat Growers Inc (Dade City), grapefruit from stand at West Palm Beach Greenmarket (Florida grown), and out of state Safflower oil.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gainesville Compost, Pedal Powered Pick Up, Fla.

Food scrap waste for composting collected by pedal power. That’s what Gainesville Compost is doing in Northern Florida. Founder Chris Cano, and co-owner Steven Kanner, Chief Systems Engineer and Inventor of the bicycle trailers, started picking up pre-consumer (before human lips have touched it) food scraps from Gainesville businesses, just over one year ago, by bicycle. “It seemed silly to pick up waste for composting using gas to do it,” says Cano. 

Gainesville Compost pedal powered vehicle, Gainesville,
The food wastes include vegetables, fruit, eggshells, and coffee grounds. The end product is a premium soil amendment (fertilizer) that includes a rich assortment of minerals and worm castings.

Steven Kanner, Chief Systems Engineer & Inventor at
Gainesville Compost, shows how food scraps are 
contained, Gainesville, Fla.
There is a charge for the service but it comes with lots of perks for the Venue Partners, companies that contribute food waste to the program. They get a clean bucket when every full bucket that is picked-up. As well as marketing space on Gainesville Compost website, regular mentions in the monthly newsletter, and a decal to put in their front window saying they are a Gainesville Compost Partner.
The Venue Partners also get advertising exposure at area farmers and green markets where the compost is sold.

There are even benefits for the Community Partners, companies that offer space for composting on their properties. They get a portion of the compost for their gardens.
Steven Kanner, displays Gainesville Compost collection
containers, Gainesville, Fla.
“It is a tight community based company designed to fit individual needs,” says Kanner. This means they offer different sized buckets for different clients depending on their needs. Even though the service has distance limitations because of the pedal power pick up, Kanner sees it spreading to other urban areas.

Earlier this year, a Los Angeles based composting group contacted Cano inviting him to come out and see their operation, based on his model. He did, and was impressed that the pedal powered composting idea was catching on outside of Florida.

In the future Cano hopes to re-launch a CSA program he started this past spring. It will allow members to have access to educational materials on how to use compost.

To find out more about the company you can go to their website

Or email
Or call Chris Cano at 352-356-8178

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Florida Sourced Coq Au Beer Dinner

This Florida sourced dinner mixed French and German cooking styles. The Coq au Beer, or chicken in beer, was made with Gainesville based, Swamp Head Brewery--Stump Knocker American Pale Ale. There were some North Florida, some South Florida, and some regional ingredients also included.
Florida sourced Coq Au Beer served with stone-ground cornmeal
bread, Stump Knocker American pale ale and broccoli. Fla.
The pasture-raised chicken came from Tracey Lee Farms, Hawthorn, and was processed at Seely's Ark, Ocala. I bought it from Farriss Farms at the West Palm Beach Green Market.

The sauce's Florida ingredients included Swamp Head Brewery's Stomp Knocker, D & D Family Farms' (Stuart) green bell pepper, Oyster Island Mushroom LLC's (Vero) Maitaki mushrooms, and Farmhouse Tomatoes Inc's (Boynton Beach) Heirloom tomato. There were also carrots, shallots, chicken broth, spices, bacon, and oil sourced from other states. The broccoli, for the side, came from California.

Nth Fla. pasture-raised chicken, beer, and stone-ground corn flour
Sth Fla. maitake mushrooms, green pepper, heirloom tomato
The corn flour for the bread was stone-ground in a 1918 grist mill at Melton's Machinery Museum in Dade City, Florida. The whole corn kernels came from Ohio.

Stump Knocker really complemented the Coq au Beer both in a sauce, and as a beverage.

To find out more about Swamp Head Brewery's ales you can go to

Monday, December 17, 2012

Centennial Variegated Kumquats, Kumquat Growers Inc, Dade City, Fla.

When you think tart citrus, Kumquats come to mind. But that's not the case with Centennial Variegated kumquats, developed in 1993. They are shaped like a pear and have reddish stripes on their orange skin when they are ripe.

Centennial Variegated kumquats at different stages of
ripeness, from Kumquat Growers Inc, Dade City, Fla.
The flesh is orange, juicy, and tastes like a cross between a Mandarin orange and Kumquat.
Centennial Variegated kumquats on tree at Kumquat
Growers, Inc, Dade City, Fla.
I was fortunate enough try these exotic fruit while on a tour of Kumquat Growers, Inc. in Dade City, Florida. There was just one bush, near the loading bay, with pale yellow striped leaves and clusters of fruit. My tour guide, Mrs. Gude, said that her father-in-law had planted the bush. The fruit is not grown commercially and so I felt privileged to have access.

If ever you get a chance to try one, take it. Or if you are in the Dade City area of Florida visit Kumquat Growers Inc., and ask if you can have a fruit.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Florida Crackers: Dade City Florida Style

I recently came across an imaginative interpretation of the expression "Florida Crackers."  The term usually refers to the original pioneers of Florida and their present day relatives

Florida crackers at Steve Melton's Machinery Museum Sugar Cane
Syrup making Day, Dade City, Fla.
These crackers were Florida shaped, crispy, and topped with sesame seeds. They were offered at Steve Melton's Machinery Museum's Sugar Cane Syrup Day in Dade City, Florida.

Monday, December 10, 2012

El Rey De La Paella, Miami, Local Sourcing

El Rey De La Paella Catering Company uses some locally sourced Florida ingredients. I met them at this year's Taste of Peru in Miami, Florida. They had the largest pan of paella I had ever seen. Giovanni Fernandez, standing over six feet tall, told me the pans were from his family in Spain.

Giovanni Fernandez of El Rey de la Paella Catering
Company with large pan of seafood paella at Taste of Peru,
Miami, Fla.
It was the third paella company to open in Miami in 1997 when Fernandez's Spanish grandparents started the business. Now the company has 16 styles of paella including vegetarian and Kosher, says Fernandez.

El Rey de la Paella buys plantains and corn from Homestead farmers, seafood from Key West, and other ingredients from Miami-Dade farmers' markets. They also make their own spice mix, which according to Fernandez sets their paella apart from their competition.

To find out more about the company you can go to

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lake Meadow Naturals U-Pick Eggs, Ocoee, Fla.: Updated Version

When you think u-pick farming, vegetables usually come to mind. But that's not the case at Lake Meadow Naturals Farm where eggs are the u-pick item. The hens live in a cage-free environment with lots of access to sunshine, grass, and juicy bugs to eat along with their feed.
U-pick eggs at Lake Meadow Naturals Farm,
Ocoee, Fla
Dale Volkert, originally from Wisconsin, bought the Lake Meadow Property in 2000 and started raising cage-free hens for eggs. He had a small flock to begin with and gave lots of his eggs away to friends for free. Now he has 3000 Rhode Island Red Hens and supplies many Florida restaurants with eggs.

There is nothing quite like fresh eggs. Especially when you get to remove them from a nest box even as the hen glares at you and makes low clucking noises in protest.

Rhode Island Red hens at Lake Meadow Naturals Farm,
Ocoee, Fla.
At Lake Meadow Naturals Farm they have three U-pick hens. Two are filled with Rhode Island Red hens and the other with Americana hens that lay green eggs.

When you go, be prepared to be mobbed by the hens. They are very inquisitive birds and want to know everything about you. They also love to play tug-of-war with people's shoe laces. This can be a bit scary for young children.

Florida raised meats and chicken in freezer at Lake
Meadow Naturals Farm store, Ocoee, Fla
There is a farm store on site with pre-picked eggs, if you don't want to pick your own eggs. It also has a large selection of Florida raised meats and other American products. You can buy broiler chickens, turkeys, grass-fed beef (distributed by Growing Synergy LLC), Dakin Dairy Farms milk (Myakka City, Fla.), tomatoes (grown by Volkert), cheese, honey, and other products. Volkert tries to have as many locally Florida sourced items in the store as possible.

You can visit the farm Monday, Thursday, Friday 1 - 5pm, and Saturday 9am to 1pm. Lake Meadow Naturals Farm has just has one restriction that you leave your pets at home because it causes a health risk to their animals and yours.

They are located at 10000 Mark Adam Road, Ocoee, FL
Phone: (321) 206-6262 (farm); (407) 399-7670 (retail)

To find out more about the farm you can go to

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Florida Sourced Cheeseburger And Beer

There’s nothing like a home-made cheeseburger served with beer. It is even better when most of the ingredients are sourced from Florida except the garlic (CA). This dish features Tequesta Brewing Co.’s Terminally Ale (American Brown Ale).

Grass-fed beef, shiitake mushroom, bell pepper, rosemary, beer
burger on Italian bread with Tomatoes, lettuce and aged
raw-milk cheese. Served with a glass of Terminally
The hamburger meat was combined with ale, diced Shiitake mushrooms, diced green bell pepper chopped rosemary, and slivered garlic. Grilling the meat over natural charcoal slowly carmelized the beer and turned the burger red. It was served on Italian bread with mixed lettuce, tomato, and Aged Harvarti raw-milk farmstead cheese.

Ingredients of Florida sourced cheeseburger: beer, mushroom,
bell peppers, tomato, grass-fed ground beef, Italian bread,
and aged havarti raw-milk cheese.
The cheese came from Central Florida based Cypress Point Creamery (distributed by Farriss Farm), the grass-fed ground beef came from Pan Handle Florida based Arrowhead Beef (distributed by Farriss Farm), the lettuce was grown in Loxahatchee (bought from Seed to Bloom), the tomato and bell pepper were grown in Clewiston (bought from Francesca’s Terra Verde Farm Club), I grew the rosemary, and the Italian bread came from Tequesta (bought from Breads by Johnny).