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Winter Visits Owyhee Produce

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Saturday, February 02, 2013
Winter is in full swing here at Owyhee Produce. In this region of the northwest we are used to harsh winters, however, this year winter has been exceptionally chilly. January brought frigid temperatures as low as negative eight. We’ve also had a month full of snow and freezing rain. Twilight falls, bringing negative temperatures and daylight rises on fields of glistening snow. Owen was busy using one of the tractors to clear the loading zone after one particularly large snowfall at the beginning of the month.

The nearby Snake River is beautiful this time of year. It began winter with a delicate frozen exterior and has since become a battlefield of ice chunks. We have been watching the river with bated breath, hoping that it won’t flood the nearby farm. In the photo below you can see Mother Nature churning the ice within the current of the river. A powerful and breathtaking show of winter’s strength. We also caught this scene on video, watch it here <iframe src="http://www.facebook.com/video/embed?video_id=597494050264489" width="1280" height="720" frameborder="0"></iframe> While we anxiously wait for spring and thawing fields to begin planting, we’ve taken the time to browse through old pictures and remember our beginnings fondly. Below is a picture we recently created on canvas for the Owyhee Produce headquarters, it features the man who started it all in 1954 “Owen”.

We hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather that winter is offering and eating plenty of onions to keep warm.  

Mammogram Mobile Unit to Visit Owyhee Produce

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Friday, December 28, 2012
The St. Alphonsus Mobile Health Screening Coach will be visiting Owyhee Produce on January 3, 2012, with appointments for mammogram and bone density screenings starting at 9:00 a.m. for employees and the community. The specially equipped mobile unit travels and provides these screenings in colaboration with hospitals and clinics in outlying communities across Southwest Idaho and The Treasure Valley. The mobile service creates easy access to screening technology that aids in the early detection of breast cancer. For the three generations of Froerer family farmers who own and operate Owyhee Produce, the topic of breast cancer is one that hits close to home. Tragedy struck the Froerer family in July of 2011 when Randy Froerer, son of Owyhee Produce founder Owen Froerer, was killed in an accident and his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after. “After my brother, Randy, passed, before we were even able to have the funeral, his wife found a lump in her breast,” Robin Froerer said. “The next year a very difficult one. Fighting breast cancer and the sudden death of Randy made my entire family stop and think just how precious life is and how quickly everything can change – some changes we can monitor, others we cannot. Why let the changes that can be detected early, while they are still small, go unchecked?” Owyhee Produce wants to help make these screenings more accessible for those who may be too busy to take the time to drive to Boise, ID for a screening. “I understand women are busy working, running a household, being a mother, a sister, friend… you name it; we are busy people nowadays.” Robin Froerer said. “But we need to take time to take care of ourselves.” It is estimated that about 39,510 women will have died from breast cancer in 2012.  While this national statistic is decreasing in number each year due to early preventive measures, here in the Treasure Valley only 25 to 35 percent of women who need mammograms are getting this life-saving medical screening. Owyhee Produce is dedicated to helping to increase the number of women being screened in its community. The Froerer family strongly urges people to make time to come to the onion packing facility on the farm on January 3 to get screened. As Robin Froerer so powerfully puts it, “No more excuses! Just get it done,” Froerer said. “Inviting the mammogram mobile to our farm is just one way we want to help our community – by making it as easy as possible for anyone to have access to a screening that could save their life.” For those interested in visiting Owyhee Produce on January 3 for a screening, please call (208) 739-2430. The service can be billed to medical insurance. Grants are available for low-income women between the ages of 35 and 64 who do not have health insurance. More information on the St. Alphonsus Mobile Mammogram Unit can be found athttp://www.saintalphonsus.org/breastcare-mobilemam.html.

Your Ultimate Thanksgiving Game Plan

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Saturday, November 17, 2012
If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year, getting everything organized and done in time can be daunting. How early do you need to start preparing? What items can you make the day before? It can be hard to know where to start. Here some helpful tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving less stressful.

Tuesday

  • Pull out your recipes!  Make sure that you have all the ingredients listed.  If not, make a list and head to the store to get what you need. If you wait till Wednesday or Thursday, you may run into shortage problems.
  • Thaw the bird. Take the frozen turkey out of the freezer and start de thawing it in the fridge.  Unless you have an already thawed turkey.
  • Clean out your fridge!  Throw out the mystery leftovers.  Your going to need the room and your guest are going to be looking in there too, you don’t want to be embarrassed.
  • Spruce up. While your cleaning, vacuum your house, and mop your floors.  Dust

 Wednesday

  • Prepare veggies. Chop up your vegetables for your stuffing and place them in reusable zip lock bags.
  • Potato prepping. Peel and cut your potatoes and place them in a sealable container and cover them with water so they don’t brown.
  • Don’t forget the cranberries. Make your cranberry sauce in its entirety.  Put the sauce in a container and place it in the fridge (this warms up really nice).
  • Time for pie. Make your piecrusts; have them ready to go before the big day.

 The Big Day

  • Take the turkey out. First thing in the morning, take the turkey out of the fridge and bring to room temperature.
  • Rolls. If you’re making homemade rolls, start making your bread-dough.
  • Finish making your pies. While the rolls are rising, finish the pies.
  • Start making your stuffing.  Stuffing can be made early in the day. Try this creative stuffing recipe.
  • Set and decorate your table. At this time get out the dishes that you want to put the food in.
  • Cook the bird. Get the turkey ready.  And start the cooking.  Your pies should be done. The turkey should be last to come out of the oven!
  • Now take a breath!!
  • Let things sit. Take out the cranberry sauces that way it can be room temperature and if you like it heated up warm it up when you make the gravy.
  • Move on. While the turkey cooks, work on making your other side dishes.
  • Once your turkey is done pop in the rolls.
  • Last step. Start making the gravy and warming up the cranberry if you like it warm.
  • Once the turkey is done, time to eat!
Do you have any caramelized onions in any of your recipes? Cook them like a pro this year with tips from Owyhee Produce. Are you looking for new ideas for Thanksgiving?  Check out the following recipes. - Grilled Turkey Sandwiches - Caramelized Onion Dip  - Asparagus Salad - Strawberry and Onion Salad  

"Farm to Plate" Gets an Upgrade

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Saturday, November 03, 2012
It’s pretty safe to say, as people we’re inquisitive. We always ask the questions “why?” or “how come?’ When we were kids and our parents would tell us “because I said so,” that never seemed to be enough. Many of us carry on that curiosity into our adult years. We find ourselves asking questions on all sorts of things, whether it is entertainment, health, food, politics, or handy work. With more and more consumers becoming more educated and interested in agriculture and food, it got us around the farm thinking. We have often heard “Where does this food come from,” or “How is it grown?” What if we took those questions a step further? It’s no secret that consumers are curious about the farm to plate journey. What if there was a way we could show them that journey? One time a few of us were watching a video of a potato harvest. The perspective of the video was not that of the potato but simply an overhead shot. We thought it would be much more interesting to see the perspective from the vegetable itself. Those questions on food we mentioned above, along with this video were just the spark we needed to come up with the idea we’d been looking for. How can we creatively show the journey a piece of food takes from the field to a plate? Well we’ve got it, and we call it the “onion cam!” Well, what’s the” onion cam? “We’ve attached a camera to one of our yellow onions so we can show viewers the journey one of our onions takes from the field all the way to your plate. [caption id="attachment_1064" align="aligncenter" width="576"] A photo of the Owyhee Produce onion cam[/caption] We could tell you all about it, but we find that being able to actually see it would be more interesting and beneficial. We’ll be capturing photos and video to share with everyone. Ultimately what we’re trying to accomplish with the onion cam is demonstrate the journey of our produce.  There are plenty of people who don’t know the amount of hard work those farmers put into their food. The food that we grow has to go through many steps so that we can deliver the best final produce possible.  We want to be able to show you that journey.  We think it will be a fun way to both educate and entertain our community. I mean, how many want to see your standard video of harvest? That’s already been done and we’re trying to change things up. If we can be different and show everyone a new perspective, perhaps it will be more memorable and beneficial. After we get our pictures and videos from the cam, we would love to hear from you. Let us know what you thought about the onion cam. Tell us what else you would like to learn about the farm. You can reach us through our various social networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on here.

Halloween Mischief: Caramel Covered Onions

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Thursday, October 25, 2012
Life is too short not to pull a harmless prank on your loved one’s now and then. With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d share with you one of our favorite Halloween pranks: Caramel Covered Onions. The prank is simple enough; coat onions with traditional caramel candy apple topping and put a stick through them. For those unlucky enough to bite into the caramel coated onions instead, their mouth is going to feel terrorized and tortured. Nobody wants to taste onion candy when they expect apples! Alright pranksters, here’s how to do it: What you need
  •  Caramel Candies and a microwavable bowl.
  • 8 Peeled onions.
  • Crushed nuts for a topping.
  • Wax Paper.
  • Classy looking serving platter. 
What you do 
  • Microwave the caramel candies so they get gooey and soft.
  • Dunk your onions into the caramel goo and pull them out and place on the wax paper.
  • Poke your Popsicle stick through the onions.
  • Top some of them with nuts.
  • You might have to place some more caramel near the stick to cover up any white showing through the caramel as they cool.
  • Placing in the fridge can help them cool a little faster.
  • Place on your platter and find your victims!
This joke is sure to bring a lot of laughs this Halloween. Just check out some of the videos on Youtube of fellow funnymen trying out this prank:  

Fall Favorite: Roasted Butternut and Caramelized Onion Flatbread

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Thursday, October 25, 2012

The lazy, relaxed days of summer are over. While we will miss the sunny days, we could not be more excited for the start of Fall. Leaves changing colors, pumpkin spice mochas, and harvest – what could be better? Another thing to love about this season is the food.

Even though Fall is a busy time, that doesn’t mean that quick meals have to come out of a box or can. With just a little bit of planning, you can have a quick homemade meal like this rustic butternut squash and caramelized onion flatbread. (Recipe via)

Ingredients

Roasted Butternut Squash 1 butternut squash, cut into 1-inch chunks 2 tbsp. olive oil salt + pepper to taste Caramelized Onions 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil 2 large onions, halved & thinly sliced salt + pepper to taste Flatbread 1 prepared pizza crust 1/2 of caramelized onions 1/2 c. shredded Fontina or Italian blend cheese 1/2 of roasted butternut squash 2 tsp. olive oil 2 tbsp. sage leaves, cut into ribbons 2 tbsp. chopped toasted walnuts (optional)

Instructions

Roasted Butternut Squash Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide squash onto 2 rimmed baking sheets and drizzle each sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until tender. Caramelized Onions Heat oil in a large pan over low heat. Add onions and a dash of salt. Cook until completely caramelized, stirring occasionally at first and more often as onions begin to brown. Depending on your stove, this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour. Season with black pepper. (For more help on caramelizing onions check out: How to Caramelize Onions Like a Pro) Flatbread Preheat oven to temperature indicated on pizza crust package. Top crust with caramelized onions, cheese, and half of the squash. Bake for time on package or until squash is heated through and cheese has melted. While the flatbread is baking, heat oil in small skillet over medium high heat. Add sage leaves and saute, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until leaves are crispy, but still green. Sprinkle sage leaves and walnuts on pizza before serving. Image Source: http://ohmyveggies.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/butternut_squash_and_caramelized_onion_flatbread_plates.jpg        

McDonald’s Health Initiatives: Will it really make a difference?

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Tuesday, October 09, 2012
If you’ve been to McDonalds lately, you may have noticed a big change to their menu – the addition of calorie amounts next to each item. The calorie information is part of a larger nutrition-geared initiative announced by McDonald’s in July 2011. McDonald’s also published a nutrition progress report and added changes to the 2013 menu that will include food groups recommended by the Department of Agriculture. While McDonalds is attributing their new calorie counts on menus to their health initiative, they are barely one step ahead of the new federal rules requiring calorie counts, stemming from the new health law. Whether McDonalds would of posted the calories independently without the new laws looming in the distance, we aren’t so sure. The real question is, are these new health initiatives going to make any difference to the publics perception of the super-size-me famous fast food chain? Our guess is probably not. Even with the addition of healthier menu items like oatmeal, salads and grilled chicken items, the fact of the matter is you don’t go to McDonalds to eat healthy. At the end of the day, you go to McDonalds for a fast, cheap burger and fry. The majority of people are not headed to McDonalds expecting healthy, quality food. So where are people going when they are looking for the best burger options? According to a survey from The Market Force Information group, burger chains such as Five Guys and Smashburger are ranked not only the one of the best in quality and taste, but also in overall value. As a big fan of Smashburger, these results do not surprise us. (Image Source Via) What this survey is missing is the reasons why people consider Five Guys and Smashburger the tastiest and the best quality. Is it because they simply produce a tastier burger? Both Five Guys and Smashburger take pride in providing not only quality meat, but quality produce as well – which could be a reason their burgers taste a lot better. Also, Five Guys promotes using local produce (at least here in Idaho they do) which could have something to do with it considering the growing locavore movement. Why do people rate McDonalds hamburgers so low and the other burgers so high? We have our opinion, but we want to know what you think. What are some of your favorite burger joints and what about them do you like? Do you think McDonalds will rate higher next survey after their health initiative campaign takes off?

 

What Does it Mean to "Sweat" an Onion?

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Thursday, September 20, 2012
Ever read a recipe and wonder what it means to “sweat an onion”?  Wonder what the difference is between sweeting an onion, sautéing an onion, and caramelizing an onion?  Well you are not alone. Sweating an onion is the process of releasing the flavor of the onion on low temperature and using moisture.  Unlike sautéing an onion or caramelizing an onion, sweating an onion doesn’t involve any browning of the onion.  Use a pan that can be covered and use low heat. Covering the pan causes the steam to be captured and then drips back onto the onion.  Cooking an onion this was has a mellower flavor, and the more you cook the onion the sweeter it gets.  Sweating an onion is especially desirable when making white sauces that contain onions, as no color is added to the sauce; it is also good for making risottos. However, sautéing an onion dose involve browning the onion, and in an uncovered pan.  As the onion cooks you will notice that it is becoming more translucent, and then becomes brown.  Sautéing an onion adds a deeper flavor and richer color to the onion, and is the most common way to cook an onion. Caramelizing an onion is another way to cook an onion.  To caramelize an onion you want to start off by sweating the onion, in a covered pan, with butter or oil.  Once you have completed that process you want to continue to cook the onion until the onion becomes any where from a honey color to a deep brown color.  This process can take some time, but as long as you are stirring the onions you will not burn them. To use your new master chief cooking skills head on over to our recipe section.  

Natural foods grocer courts local vendors before November opening

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Saturday, September 15, 2012
Earlier this week Owyhee Produce was mentioned in a Boise Weekly in a story on Whole Foods. Whole Foods is commited to featuring local foods in their new store, planning to open this November.  Idaho Preferred program members were put  in touch with Whole Foods buyers. Representatives from Zeppole Baking Company, 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards, Owyhee Produce, Ward's Greenhouse, Crooked Fence Brewing, Payette Brewing Company, 3 Girls Catering, Brick 29 Bistro, Rollingstone Chevre and Ballard Family Dairy Cheese gave presentations. Read the full story here. 

Studies Find That Organic Doesn't Mean "Healthier"

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Our farm has always been a firm advocate of the idea “organic doesn’t always mean healthy.”  Sure, organic produce and livestock is a multi-billion dollar industry that is still growing, but the reason behind that is more of a band-wagon effect then anything else. Simply put, people assume because the product is labeled organic that it is helping them stay healthy. Recent research now shows that the “healthy” side of organic may be all fuzz. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found scant evidence of health benefits from organic foods.  The review found that, overall, organic produce is 30 percent less likely to contain detectable pesticides, compared to conventional produce, but the vast majority of all produce tested fell below government safety tolerances. The study did look at one case which found that children who switched to an organic diet for five days had lower levels of pesticides in their urine, but whether the levels have a direct impact on human health is "unclear." When it came to bacterial contamination and produce, the reviewers found that there was not a statistically significant difference in the rate of E. coli contamination -- 7 percent for organic, 6 percent for conventional -- but the review noted that only five of the studies they reviewed directly compared this type of contamination. When the authors removed one study that looked only at lettuce, the meta-analysis showed that organic produce had a 5 percent greater risk for contamination. This study did not surprise us here at Owyhee Produce. We have had many conversations with our community about the negative impacts of organic onions, compared to how we grow them, using a common sense approach. The average field on our farm yields about 100,000 pounds per acre while an organic farmer is, at best, going to see half those yields.  That means every input they use, such as diesel, labor, fertilizer, drip line, plastic mulch, and pesticides have at least twice the environmental cost. And yes, organic farmers do use pesticides. That is why you pay more for organically grown produce by the way. So your organically grown onion may actually be worse for you and the environment when you take everything into account. The moral of this story is, that we as consumers need to stop blindly buying produce just because the label promotes it as “healthier” Our advice? Take a trip to the store where you buy your produce and try and find out what farms different produce comes from. For example, on bags on onions the label will contain the farm name. Then, head online and go visit the farms website and Facebook. You can tell a lot about a farm and their practices from the information you can find online. We want to know your thoughts, do you believe that organic produce is healthier for you? If so, why? What are your concerns or thoughts on the “organic trend” in our society? Sources: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/09/organic-food-not-proven-healthier-or-safer-study-finds/ Image source via: http://jessicamcassity.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/usda-organic-logo.gif

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