A visit to Katherine Anderson’s Blue Oak Ranch is a lesson in dating. Her heritage turkeys took to me with a peck, a cluck, and a flirty strut. If I turned left, there they were. If I walked right, ditto. “They are full of energy at this age,” says Anderson of her flock, a form of Thanksgiving payday; she raises and processes each just in time for the holiday.
Anderson’s Blue Oak Ranch provides a local—and organic—alternative to factory-grown turkeys and chickens sold in super markets. Her six acres in the foothills of Goleta provide amble natural grazing for her chickens, turkeys, and goats. They roam freely or in moveable pens that allow constant access to fresh greens and fresh air—something industrial-raised chickens never see. She tends to her flock daily, moving the pens to a new patch of pasture, administering a high dose of tender loving care (instead of antibiotics) and tucking them in at night before she leaves for the day.
Feature Recipe: Brined Grilled Petit Poussins
Poussins are young, small chickens that generally weigh between 1-1¼ lbs., making each an individual serving. They are very tender, but can dry out rapidly; brining them preserves their juicy tenderness and boosts their delicate flavor.
4 fresh poussins
1 1/2 tbsp fresh minced rosemary
1 tsp fresh minced thyme
1/3 cup Kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vermouth
2 fresh bay leaves, torn in half
4-5 cups very cold water
4 cups ice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, combine the brine ingredients minus the ice, and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Submerge the poussin halves in the brine, and add the ice. Place the bowl in the fridge, and stir every so often, for two to four hours. Make sure the poussins are either covered by the brine or turned often enough to evenly brine the pieces.
For a wood or charcoal grill, prepare the coals, and when they’re ready, push them off to the sides, forming an outer ring of hot coals. For a gas grill, preheat both areas of the grill on high, and then turn one down to low and the other tomedium-high.
Pull the poussins from the brine, and let them drain for 15 minutes at room temperature. Discard the brine. Rub the chopped fresh herbs all over the halves. Place them skin-side-down over the direct heat and grill for about five to seven minutes. Flip the halves over onto the lower heat or indirect heat area, and continue to grill for approximately 15 minutes or until done. Remove to a platter, cover, and let the poussins stand for 10 minutes before serving.
After a lifetime of watching her mother make jams, chutneys, and pickles, Katie Rose Isaacson finally canned her first plums. That was a little more than a year ago, and now her Katie Rose Cannery is a fledgling adventure in preservation: that of both her family’s ranch history and delicious jams, fruit butters, jellies, and syrups. “As a child, I was often handed a wooden spoon and told to keep the jam from burning,” says Isaacson. “I’d stand on a chair, stirring bubbling pots of jam while my mother continued to peel and chop fruit.”
Today, her collection of old family recipes and her commitment to heirloom fruit is the foundation for her success. In summer and fall, she stocks up on ingredients from her grandparents’ ranch in the San Julian Valley. “I race the birds to save every last apple, plum, and persimmon,” she says. Katie Rose Cannery is steeped in tradition, and Isaacson’s core values include keeping it local. She sources organic sugar and jars through Isla Vista Food Co-Op and buys organic lemons from Calimoya in Goleta.
But most importantly, it’s her commitment to community that drives her passion for canning and preserving. “Around the holidays in our little valley, jars of jam appear on a doorstep or windowsill, each an original recipe from a neighbor who picked the fruit from their own tree and stood over a hot stove,” says Isaacson. “This is the craft and tradition that I want to bring to my customers.”
Featured Recipe: Apple Lemon Jam
12 cups Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
6 to 7 cups of sugar
Use a carrot peeler to peel the lemons. Chop the lemon peel into half-inch sections. Juice the lemons, and then combine fruit, sugar, peel, and juice in a heavy-bottomed stockpot. Cover, and let it sit for at least three hours. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Once the jam is boiling, turn the heat to low—you will need to stir constantly to prevent the jam from burning.
Test the jam for setting by pulling the spoon out of the jam and watching the liquid fall from the spoon. Once it falls off of the spoon in a drippy curtain, it is ready to can. Sterilize jars and lids and can according to the health and safety instructions in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.
Jalama Road Family Farmstand, Lompoc
Erin and Kenny Pata love butterbeans, and that’s a good thing. Their Jalama Road farmhouse, tucked into the rolling hills of San Julian Valley, is surrounded by 350 acres of the bean. Kenny and his brother, Richard, are the third generation of Patas to farm the land. In this modern day go-around, it’s 150 head of grass-fed Black Angus cattle and a little bean that’s making a big comeback. “Our butterbeans are freshly harvested and dried so that when cooked, the beans taste like a vegetable, not a starch, and they actually have a flavor,” says Erin Pata.
Earlier this year, Erin collaborated with friends to put up the Jalama Road Family Farmstand—a place to hawk their beans along with other produce and artisanal goods from their farming neighbors along Jalama Road and nearby Highway 1. The selection at the stand varies but often includes butterbeans, wild sage honey, canned jams, handcrafted goods, and beef. “This is the only place you can buy a cow and a purse at the same time,” says Erin.
Featured Recipe: Butterbean Hummus
- 1 pound butterbeans
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tbsp chopped roasted garlic
- 1/4 olive oil
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp salt
Soak beans overnight in eight cups of water. Boil until soft enough to squish with your fingers. Drain beans, and reserve one cup of liquid for thinning later. Place all the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth. Add some of the reserved liquid to thin the hummus to desired consistency. Serve as a spread or dip with bread or pita chips.