"The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
-W. B. Yeats

Farm Stand Friday continues in August

Get beautiful homegrown tomatoes, peppers, squash and many other kinds of produce, along with handmade tamales, cinnamon rolls, bread and more at Farm Stand Fridays, from 3 to 6 p.m., at Ranch Foods Direct! This is a chance to personally meet a few of the people who grow your food... including Grant Goldberg, owner of Twisted Pines Farm...  
Grant (right) is as passionate about reconnecting people with their food as he is about growing it. He and his wife, Alison, operate Twisted Pines Farm, raising chickens, pigs, turkeys and cattle along with two young sons, Zachary, 2½, and Ryker, 1, on the east side of Black Forest. "Four times a year we offer Chickens 101, a 3-hour workshop on the farm that covers everything you need to know about raising chickens, and every fall we put on a butchering class that's 100 percent hands-on. That's fun. We have a great time doing that. It's a first for a lot of folks. We get people of all ages, everyone from 4-Hers to a 79-year-old who told us she had never killed anything in her life." How did she feel by the end of the class? "Proud, I think," he says. "I call it getting real with your food. That's why we do what we do."
Grant left a lucrative but unsatisfying job to farm full-time; Alison works one day a week as an orthopedic nurse at Penrose Hospital. "We get a lot of customers through Ranch Foods Direct, and they are the kind of people who want to go talk to the guy who raised their food," Grant says. "It's great for us. It's the kind of business that restores our faith in humanity, because they care about local, and they appreciate what we do."

Twisted Pines chickens, sold frozen as whole birds, are available in the freezer section at Ranch Foods Direct, $4.99 per pound.

Upcoming August events
On August 6: Local Food Shift launches Local Food Summit, a FREE online extravaganza
of speakers featuring RFD owner Mike Callicrate and 50 other food visionaries.
(Sign up at TheLocalFoodSummit.com)
Also August 6: Seed: The Untold Story a documentary about seed saving and the
need for seed diversity, screens at 4 p.m. Sunday at Stargazers Theatre.
(Go to PPUGardens.com to get your ticket, or   CLICK HERE.)

On August 12: Serve & Savor cookbook author and food blogger Judy Purcell hosts her popular best-of-summer-grilling class!
(Go to SavoringToday.com/events, or CLICK HERE, for details.)

RFD customer opens neighborhood taproom

Tim Black (shown below) and his brother Tom opened local beer and Bavarian-style food hang-out TapTraders, directly north of K-Mart at the Nevada and Fillmore intersection, to much fanfare in mid-July.
Not only does Tim procure several of the taproom's menu items from Ranch Foods Direct, he also does his personal shopping at the store as well.
Q. Your favorite RFD products?

"I do all my shopping there: I get everything from chicken to lunch meat to the cheese, even produce, and it's all very good.
.. Honestly, I'm a hamburger freak. I do like steak, but my wife and I would get two steaks and it was like this totally gluttonous thing. Now we buy one steak and cut it in half: that's perfect for us."
Q. What's your favorite thing to put on a burger? "Green chilies."
For the latest updates on TapTrader's menu and hours of operation, CLICK HERE for to visit their website.

Customer Snapshot: Meet Paul Baker

Paul, shown below, with his mother Thelma and his fiancé Tonya, picks out a brisket to make on the smoker and serve for a quiet dinner party at home with family and friends 
Q. How long have been shopping at Ranch Foods Direct?
 "For the last 8 or 9 years. I come here to get briskets, ribs, seasonings and things like that. I've really gotten into smoking meat since I came to the Springs." 
Q. What keeps you coming back? "I like the prices here! I can't go anywhere and get a brisket that's 5 or 6 pounds for less than 50 bucks! If you go to Walmart and get this size of brisket, it will cost you more than that. Plus the quality of the meat is so good, and the fact that if I come in here, go to the shelf and it's empty, I'll just go to the back of the store and ask about it and they'll say, 'how big do you want it,' and they'll cut it for me right on the spot. I've done that several times, and it works great."

Q. Any favorite condiments you like to have with your barbecue?
"To do it right, I generally make my own barbecue sauce. Depending on what's in season, I might make a peach sauce or maybe raspberry. Basically you just cook the fruit down and blend it until it's nice and smooth."

Follow Ranch Foods Direct on Pinterest for more recipe ideas! 

Handmade cutting boards show off rich, natural grain in the wood

Tom Thorson has always been captivated by the natural beauty of real wood. 
"I remember taking wood class in junior high and high school, and I was always intrigued by it," he explains. "To see the grain in the wood, to see what comes forward when you finish it, that's something I enjoy very much. The simple grain, the color in the grain, makes it come to life."

Anyone can enjoy a little window into that same sense of wonder by admiring the handmade cutting boards Tom sells at Ranch Foods Direct. Each one expresses the profound respect and affinity he has for the rare wood that goes into it. (That's Tom, at left, with his wife Lorraine, slicing elk carpaccio on a special wooden cutting board he custom-designed for his own kitchen.)

"I make custom cabinets and vanities, and so I have all of these different woods that I just love. But what do I do with the scraps? You can burn them in a fire pit, you can throw them in the trash, but hardwoods are hard to come by these days, and expensive, and I just hate to throw them away. I prefer to make something out of them that maybe somebody else will find useful. So I take the leftover pieces and put them together, by cutting them to different sizes and thicknesses, and sanding and finishing them, and I turn them into cutting boards."

"I'm a symmetrical person, meaning I have a tendency to make things symmetrical rather than abstract, so I'll match up different woods and put them opposite of each other in the pattern, glue it all together in very big slabs and then sand the imperfections out of it," he describes.

The resulting pieces gleam with common and not-so-common woods, including domestics like walnut, cherry, and maple as well as exotics like purple heart and Brazilian cherry.

Tom operates an eclectic business that includes a mix of carpentry, landscaping and more. He and his wife Lorraine shop at Ranch Foods Direct, but on a somewhat limited basis. The reason? Most of the meat they eat - and they eat a considerable amount of it - he hunts himself. "Four days out of seven we are eating wild game of some sort," he says.

His favorite game is elk; his wife likes antelope. "A lot of hunters think that's the worst, but it's all about harvesting the game cleanly and taking care of it once it's on the ground, cooling it down and preparing it correctly," he says. "People who say they don't like it, to me it's because they've missed some of the steps. Do everything right and you'll have wonderful table fare."

Hunting wild game to supply the dinner table is a huge undertaking. It involves hiking out to a campsite in the woods, patiently stalking the animals and packing out hundreds of pounds of deboned meat with the help of llamas. "It's not an easy task whatsoever," Tom admits. But that doesn't discourage him: it's all part of a deliberately chosen lifestyle that reflects his deep reverence for nature's gifts.
Take a moment to examine the natural wood grain of Tom's exquisite handmade cutting boards, on display in the store.
(Various sizes and prices are available for sale.)

Open Saturdays 'til 6 p.m. during the summer!

We will be CLOSED Mon., Sept. 4, for Labor Day