Thursday, December 16, 2010
Let me also say I have nothing against our local BHS, they are a marvelous local resource and I would encourage local residents to support them directly.
However let us not forget the presentation was given by the California State HSUS Director, Jennifer Fearing which means that all of the examples used to describe advocating were in fact about HSUS legislation like California's Prop 2 and SB 135, the tail docking legislation recently passed.
So what was I doing there? Well I wanted to hear about humane animal legislation from the HSUS. I also wanted to make sure that HSUS was not going to come into Butte County and bash animal agriculture. After all, agriculture is Butte County economic foundation.
I was on my best behavior this night and I was also not alone. Sarah DeForest and Megan Brown, local agriculturalists, joined me for the meeting. I would say about 30 people attended. Ms. Fearing opened up the presentation by asking those in attendance what groups were represented. Groups mentioned include the Cat Coalition, Altacal/Audubon, and Top Cat to name a few and then of course us. I did raise my hand to share I was representing Butte County Farm Bureau and California Women for Ag. I am also sure this announcement changed the direction of the responses given by Ms. Fearing. I might also say that the audience on hand was very concerned about domestic animals and not too concerned about farm animals. Still, they are voters and I am glad I was there.
I found it interesting that Ms. Fearing used the tail docking ban as an example of how they worked together with industry; this painted a great picture for the audience whom are probably unaware of HSUS tactics. I was not there to upset the apple cart so I did not bring to the attention of the group that the bill was directed at the dairy industry and if I am correct, less than 2% of the industry was even using this method before the legislation passed. So what might have been perceived by the audience as being a significant victory was in fact, not a significant devastation to agriculture.
Furthermore their Prop 2 Victory makes to further justify their strategy of relying on the media to drive their message. They spent $10 million on Prop 2 and got 8.2 million votes. She also bragged that many large Ag counties voted yes on Prop 2. Ms. Fearing further defined theses counties being Kern County south. No offense to the counties in Southern California but not what I would define significant Ag counties. Again, it’s all about how you tell the story.
A couple other interesting points. Moving forward she suggested that Brown’s administration will probably focus on the budget to keep his voter promise and avoid legislation that does not have much to do with reform in Sacramento. One might take this to suggest they are going to back off in 2011 and build their war chest? Probably not but it was my observation and I thought worth mentioning.
Oh! The best part. I answered a question correclty and won a prize. While I have kept this momento, an "I Support Humane Legislation" button, I will not be sharing a photograph of it. Sorry. If you're ever in my office, ask to see it. I put it right next to the letter mailed to my office calling me a "twit." I'll save that story for another post.
Again, I'm glad I went. Thanks for reading. mrs. c
Monday, December 13, 2010
My grandmother and my mom have been making Sugared Walnuts at Christmas for as long as I can remember. Now that I am a mom and planning my own Christmas celebrations, I have of course made sure this treasured recipe is part of my collection.
And now I am going to share it with all of you.
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
⅓ tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp milk
2 cups shelled walnuts (halves or pieces)
½ tsp vanilla
In saucepan mix sugar, salt, cinnamon and milk. Cook without stirring over med heat till mixture reaches 240° (soft ball). Remove from heat. Quickly add vanilla and walnuts and stir until nuts are coated and mixture begins to get sticky. Spread nuts into single layer, using a fork to separate, onto wax or parchment paper. Allow nuts to cool. Store in air tight container.
Not sure how long they will stay fresh because they are always eaten to fast to get stale!
I guess I was destined to always have walnuts in my life. Merry Christmas from our family to yours! ~mrs. c
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, a day of feasting and thanks, I am reminded as to why I am here. It's because of my parents, their love for each other and their commitment to family. I'm thankful for the lifestyle in which we were raised; one that included determining the holiday meal time around the schedule of cows on the dairy.
It's to my parents that my sisters and brother and I can give thanks to always having a meal on table provided by the industry that I love and respect the most - agriculture. Still today, holiday meal times are still determined by when Dad will get home from his office - one that includes cows. It's this element that for some might be weird; for me is what makes our holiday normal.
Who will you be giving your #FoodThanks too this year? (http://www.foodthanks.com/)
From our family to yours, here's to a bountiful Thanksgiving. ~The Cecil's
Monday, September 27, 2010
As for the book element of this post, my husband loves to read! If you know him, this little fact is not a secret. In fact, for his birthday this year I bought him a Kindle. He's a fairly traditional guy so I was worried that the use of an electronic device to read when compared to actually holding the book and flipping pages might leave him missing the real thing. Thank goodness I went with my gut because he LOVES it! His birthday was August 8. It is now September 27 and he has read 37 books already! I think I got my monies worth on that. Even better, all of those books with the exception of three were free downloads. Not only did we save on buying books, we saved on late fees to the Library because while Jake does read quickly, I can never get them back to the Library by the due date.
Jake grew up always reading books; a fabulous passion to have and one we hope to pass to Clayton. However I know it has always bothered Jake just a little that I do not enjoy reading. So I decided that I was going to give reading more than just Cooking Light magazine some effort but I knew I was going to need some incentive and I quickly found one. As luck would have it, I joined the Chico Mothers Club after Clayton was born on the recommendation of a friend to take advantage of the message board the group maintained. As luck would have it, they also have a book club that meets once a month. While I really did not want to add one more thing to my already jam-packed schedule, I knew this one hour each month could be just what I was looking for to encourage me to start and finish a book. And it worked!!
The current book, The Next Thing on My List, by Jill Smolinski was selected and the choice communicated to the group via email. I ran out and bought it because I knew I only had a month to read it. You are probably thinking, "Good grief; a month; that's an eternity." But for me - a high gloss mag reader - I knew I would need every minute.
Shockingly I was wrong. I finished it last night; 10 days before the Book Group meets. Yeah for me!! However now I have to wait for the next book to be selected. Oh well, I got a whole pile of glossy magazines just waiting for me to flip their pages. Thanks for reading about my corny saga. ~mrs. c
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Today however, there was no time to respond to any emails, BB messages or Facebook posts on my Smart Phone. This meeting was all business. Today, great people with brilliant minds sat around a table and crafted lists, priorities, suggestions and recommendations that will positively influence the continued success and growth of the California Farm Bureau Federation and its membership. And I was part of it. What a great feeling. ~mrs. c
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
As requested, here is my Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe
Just so you know, this recipe will make two 9x5 loaves, or 24 muffins. You can also use a mini muffin tin but I warn you, this one recipe will make a lot of mini muffins. And my favorite tip - top these luscious muffins with cream cheese frosting and call them cupcakes! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Note - I am not a food photographer obviously. The above picture looks like a dry brick of a cupcake but trust me, this is not the case.
2 (1 ounce) squares semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2-3 cups fresh grated zucchini*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips**
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans or line 24 muffin cups. You don't have to use the muffin papers/liners but if you don't, make sure you spray the muffin tins. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.
2.In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. Stir in the flour baking soda, salt, cinnamon and chocolate chips**. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.
3.Bake loaf pans in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean. Bake cupcakes in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into muffins comes out clean.
*If you are using frozen zucchini, squeeze all the liquid out after you defrost it and before you add it to the batter.
**I highly suggest you mix your dry ingredients separately before adding to the batter and include the chocolate chips with the flour mixture. The chocolate chips will drop to the bottom of the muffins if you don't. I have even left them out of the batter and sprinkled a few on the top of each muffin before I bake them. This method works fairly well too.
So there you have it. While it was not a blue ribbon this year, I am not going to give up. I will enter it next year too. Maybe the judge was just having a bad day. Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Everyone has an opinion on how I should buy food for my family. “Buy local, buy organic, only buy from farmers you know,” the list goes on and on. All are great suggestions but not always easy to accomplish. I could spend all my time researching farms, food, farmers, stores, farmers markets, coupons, weekly sale ads, and reading the numerous blogs, tweets, and posts that exist on the topic. The truth is I don’t have time and if I had to guess, neither do you. I choose to spend my time being a wife, a mom and a working professional.
Now I will admit I do relish in a good trip to the grocery store; so much so that my husband will not go with me. He prefers to start on one side of the store and make his way down every aisle getting what he wants in a very logical order. I on the other hand take a random path getting what we need, what looks appetizing, comparing prices and perusing the cheese display. Nothing can put smile on face like a creamy California blue cheese. I love cheese! Going to the grocery store and the farmers markets are treats for me. But that is not my point here.
My point is this, I have found a food buying strategy that can be utilized in any shopping environment – grocery store, membership warehouse or farmers market – that works for my family and I want to share it with you.
Buy in season first, buy local second, buy California-grown third and if all else fails buy American-grown.
It’s simple and straight forward and I can do this at any place I want to buy my food. This strategy also works for me because I trust the farmers who are producing food for my family and me. Furthermore I know when buying my food anywhere in the United States, that I have the privilege of buying food from the safest and most affordable food supply in the world.
If I am buying in season, then I know I am buying when food is at its most abundant and freshest.
If I am buying local, I know that the distance the food traveled to get to me is an advantage for the environment. I should also mention that my definition of local is the growing region that you live in – for me that is the Central Valley of California.
If I’m buying California grown then I know I am supporting the State’s economy. (And odds are if you are doing the first and the second, you are also doing the third at the same time and you didn’t have to think about it.)
And if I am buying American, I am putting my hard-earned dollars to work in our country.
You might ask yourself, “How can I trust these farmers who I don’t know?” I would then ask you, “How can you not trust these people?” It’s impossible to live our day-to-day lives without a little trust. I trust the paper will be there each morning in the driveway. I trust the person changing my oil will put the cap back on the oil pan. I trust my hairdresser is not going to turn my hair blue. And I trust farmers. After all they too have families to feed.
I will acknowledge that living in California does come with its advantages - more than 350 advantages. That is the number of crops we grow here. But the strategy can work in any state and in any growing region.
This simple approach allows me to do less worrying and more of what is important – living life to the fullest and enjoying the simple pleasures like taking in-season local cucumbers and apricots and turning them into preserved delights to enjoy all year long!
Monday, August 9, 2010
I digress. It would seem that during the last week in July and the first week in August my family should designate one day to celebrate all the birthdays in my life. You know - one big cake with everyone's name written on it. First was my little sister Amanda who today, August 9th, turns 30. Happy Birthday little sister and welcome to being old! :)
Little Bro Ricky with his two nephews.
Then in 1988, my parents for whatever reason, thought we needed a brother and that added July 29 to the calendar as an important day. Happy Birthday Ricky. Jump forward a few years. My sister got married and added to the calendar my Bro-in-law's birthday on August 1. Happy Birthday Tim.
Friday, July 16, 2010
On a side note, the beauty of our Country is that we have the freedom to make our own choices and use whatever information we find relevant and valuable to assist in making those choices. As the wife of a farmer and a professional in the agriculture industry, I must tell you anytime I see anything from the Environmental Working Group I immediately scared and frustrated because I know while their intentions may seem good, I know their science is lacking (and/or missing all together) and their best interest is with those who are funding them. I guess the same can be said for the information I have shared above. However its all about information and education and you get to make your own choice. I ask you to take a look at the website http://www.safefruitsandveggies.com/. Make your own judgment. And remember farmers have kids too. And without consumers, California farmers are without jobs and soon you might be buying more of your produce then you already are from another country.
Just my opinion. Thanks for reading.~mrs. c
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Lots of things are great about July. For starters, vacation! Of course my favorite holiday takes place in July - the 4th of July and our wedding anniversary. Hard to believe its been two years already. But they have been two wonderful and fabulous years.
Growing up in a small rural town, 4th of July always meant a parade, BBQ and homemade ice cream. I got two out of three this year. Our vacation destination for 2010 was Lincoln City, Oregon. Why Lincoln City you ask? No particular reason. Jake and I did some online research and decided on the destination. Last year we went to Brookings and the year before, for our Honeymoon, we were in Cape Mears, Oregon. Yes we like Oregon. So before our arrival I scoped out the locations for Independance Day Celebrations. A short eight miles south of Lincoln City, in Glendenen Beach, they hosted a great local community parade. No cool antique tractors like I was accustomed to but lots of spirit and enthusiasm for the day. As you can see Clayton was dressed accordingly. He really didn't want to wave that flag as much as he wanted to eat it.
So we had to eat. For us this means fresh seafood all week. Here is a look a the super delish oysters we had on the 4th of July. Jake makes his homemade cocktail sauce, a splash of Tapatio and a squeeze of lemon - yummy oysters on the half shell! This was the appetizer. The main dish were some BBQ steaks and corn on the cob. What is more American that that? I didn't get any homemade ice cream - there was no room in the truck for me to pack that too - but I will make some when we get home.
While I was really excited to get out of the heat and into the cool coastal breeze, I was really even more jazzed to take Clayton to the beach for the first time. I know he will never remember the trip or the experience but I have some great memories of spending time with my family when I was kid a Pismo Beach. I want Clayton to have those great memories too.
He really probably thought we were nuts since we put him in that hat but come on - its soooo cute!
He was not so sure about the sand and the water was cold when it finally came over his toes but nonetheless, he can now say he's been to the beach.
Ahhhhh. No other words to describe this. Each evening this is what I saw from the deck of our house.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
While this Sunday is almost over, I am encouraged for the week to begin because that gets us closer to the day we love the most - the next Sunday. ~mrs. c
Sunday, June 20, 2010
What did the rest of the day hold for this 1st Father's Day for Jake? Quality time on the couch, a few movies, the last 25 laps of the race and a few chapters in a book. And he got to do all of this with me and Clayton. We were together all day - just how we like our Sunday's!
Friday, May 21, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
I was recently at a meeting where there was discussion about the differences in various methods of farming - conventional, organic, natural, etc. I think there is room for all of them - just depends on what works for your operation and what you believe in.
This article was brought to my attention on Facebook and I thought I would like to share it with others who might read my blog. I think its worth a read and presents yet another side. It spends a lot of time defending conventional agriculture. I wish we did not have to do this but over the past decade, conventional farming has been criticized to benefit organic and natural production.
Rather than pitting one against another, we should embrace them all but with the media we have today, that is impossible.
You can make your own opinion. I know for me and my family we buy California Grown as a standard. I don't buy organic unless its priced accordingly. Additionally I don't believe organic has increased nutritional value as some perceive. Food is food people! And I also take responsibility for my own health and wash my food and handle and cook meat appropriately to avoid contamination from bacteria. In other words I take responsibility for my food choices and the outcomes. Some may shutter but this is what has made me who I am and I am pretty satisfied with that. Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Cattle Grazing and the Land
Cattle producers maintain grazing land, which can include open space, woodlands, grass, trees, forests, plains, mountains, valleys and lowlands. Grazing cattle can minimize the invasion of non-native plant species and minimize the risk of wildfires by decreasing the amount of flammable material on the land.
Approximately 85 percent of U.S. grazing lands are unsuitable for producing crops. Grazing animals on this land more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food. Cattle serve a valuable role in the ecosystem by converting the forages humans cannot consume into a nutrient-dense food.
The industry provides support for effective grazing management. The “Grazing Lands
Management Plan,” for example, helps beef producers consider the rate of growth and consumption of plants in a given area when deciding how to rotate cattle to new pastures.
Positive Effect on Wildlife
A combination of livestock and wildlife management on grazing lands has resulted in better species survival than when these activities are practiced separately.
• In the Eastern and Central United States, wildlife is almost entirely dependent on ranch, farm and other private lands; so, ranchers play an important role in the survival of native species.
• A California-based study (Conservation Biology, Summer 2005) shows cattle grazing plays an important role in maintaining the wetland habitat necessary for some endangered species.
Good environmental practices not only conserve and improve natural resources, they also enhance land productivity. Many beef cattle producers practice natural resource management activities including soil tests, brush and weed control programs, grazing management plans, minimum or no-till systems and range quality and grass utilization monitoring.
• Established in 1991, the Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes beef cattle operations that effectively combine stewardship and business practices. The award not only highlights industry stewardship, but also provides examples and ideas that may be applied by other livestock operators
(http://www.environmentalstewardship.org). The Environmental Stewardship
Award is administered by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.
• The beef industry encourages all producers to practice responsible resource stewardship by: Managing for the environment as a whole, including climate, soil, topography, plant and animal communities; Monitoring and documenting effective practices and regularly soliciting input from expert sources to improve resource management; Helping develop public and private research projects; and never knowingly causing or permitting public or private land abuses.
Beef producers ensure proper practices are used to comply with the Environmental Protection
Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water Act, established in 1972. The National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System program regulates the discharge of pollutants from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) (http://cfpub1.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=7). A final rule enacted in 2003 ensures that CAFOs take appropriate actions to manage manure in order to protect the nation’s water quality. All large CAFOs (more than 1,000 animals) are required to apply for a permit, submit an annual report and develop and follow a plan for handling manure and wastewater.
U.S. beef producers are responsible stewards of the air and atmosphere. Their livelihood is closely connected to preserving a healthy, safe and clean environment for food production. Therefore, controlling dust has been a priority land-management practice in America for generations. Beef producers are experienced in using Best Management Practices (BMP) to maintain air quality surrounding their operations. In addition, animal agriculture contributes minimally to the production of total greenhouse gasses.
• According to the EPA, the entire U.S. agricultural sector accounts for only 6.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and livestock production is only a portion of that total. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads/08_CR.pdf
Learn more at: www.ExploreBeef.org
Monday, April 5, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The World Collection Play Gym introduces baby to animals, sights, and sounds from 5 different regions of the world. The large, 34" mat features crisp, real-life imagery and animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, and the Polar Regions and offers a whole world for baby to discover...
So far so GREAT!
Pros: Holds Baby's Attention, Visually Stimulating, Grows With Baby, Entertaining, Promotes Sensory Development
Best Uses: Playtime, Newborns, Infants
Describe Yourself: First Time Parent
I read all of the comments and I am happy to report my six week old son has been using this from week one and so far so GREAT! I hope I don't regret saying this. The globe is bright and music is very attractive to him. He really enjoys laying in the play gym. He is not old enough to take advantage of the other toys yet but for now we love the mat and the globe!