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12,000 plants

Hey y’all.

Only a few more weeks as we open on June 1. I know it is begining to be good weather and everyone is ready to get out of the house however the Pepper Farm Store is still closed for the season. Meanwhile we keep Bill at the Makanda Counrty Store well stocked with all our pepper jellies, salsas and spices. Visit Bill until you can visit us at the Farm.

By May we should be planting some 10 to 12,000 plants into the field.

It’s going to be hot in southern Illinois again. Guareented.

A beautiful menu from our friends at She Brews Good Ale.

As part of their monthly 24, 24, 24 series, Foodbuzz had She Brews Good Ale create a 3-course beer-paired meal entirely composed of ingredients from the state of Illinois or within 180 miles of Carbondale. We were fortunate enough to be included.

See the entire menu here and our inclusions below.

Welcome Cordial

Ricotta Toasts with Wildflower Honey served with Schlafly Biere de Garde

  • 3 whole wheat buns (from Juan & Tammy’s Puerto Rican Carry Outs, purchased at Family Friendly Farm, Cape Girardeau, MO)
  • 2 heads garlic (from Green Ridge Farm, purchased at the Neighborhood Co-Op, Carbondale, IL)
  • 2 cups ricotta (from J. Viviano & Sons in St. Louis, MO)
  • Bacon (from Oberle Meats, Ste. Genevieve, MO)
  • Natural Herb Shaker (from Darn Hot Peppers, purchased from the Makanda Country Store in Makanda, IL)
  • Freshly ground pepper (peppercorns from Darn Hot Peppers)
  • Wildflower honey (from Master’s Touch, purchased at the Neighborhood Co-Op)

Fry a 1-inch slice of bacon fat in a pan until the juices emerge. Cut the tops off of both heads of garlic and drizzle the rendered bacon fat over the top (less than a quarter tsp each). Powder with chili seasoning, cover with foil, and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. Take the garlic out and let cool for a few minutes.

Cut the buns in half and toast in the oven. Spread the garlic over the top (about two heads per toast), add a healthy dollop of ricotta, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, and drizzle honey over the top. Serve warm.

The Schlafly Biere de Garde is a light but complex farmhouse ale. It is effervescent, fruity, has a bit of yeasty funk, and is a great beer for appetizers. I served a 750 mL bottle, in flutes when people arrived–perfect for 6. The flute helped concentrate aromas to the nose and was lovely against both the creaminess of the ricotta, the sweetness of the honey and the little bit of spice from the garlic and pepper.

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First Course

5-Hour Chili

  • 2 lbs beef (from Lick Creek Beef, purchased at the Neighborhood Co-Op)
  • 1/2 lb bacon (from Oberle Meats, Ste. Genevieve, MO)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (from Darn Hot Peppers)
  • 2 tbsp Ozark seasoning (from Three Willows Farm, purchased at Local Harvest Grocery, St. Louis, MO)
  • 3 tbsp seasoning from Darn Hot Peppers’ Natural Herb Shaker (from Darn Hot Peppers)
  • 1/4 tsp of Arne’s Hot Pepper Sauce (from Arne’s Hot Peppers, Dogtown, MO, purchased at Local Harvest Grocery)
  • 1 bottle Crown Valley Porter (purchased at the Show Me Shop, Ste. Genevieve, MO)
  • 3/4 bottle Schlafly Coffee Stout (from Schlafly Bottleworks, St. Louis, MO)
  • 1/2 cup water (tap)
  • 6-inch horseradish root (from Schlafly Gardenworks, St. Louis, MO)
  • 5 cloves minced garlic (from Green Ridge Farm)
  • Grated cheddar cheese (from Ropp Jersey Cheese in Normal, IL, purchased from Kindling in Carterville)

Combine chili seasoning, cayenne pepper and Ozark seasoning in a bowl. Toast in a pan on medium heat, stirring so it doesn’t burn, for about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

Cut bacon into chunks and fry in a large frying pan, until cooked and just starting to turn golden. Remove from pan and set aside. Brown beef in bacon juices until cooked through. Transfer to stockpot.

Add spices to beef in stockpot and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until spices are well distributed.

In the meantime, add garlic to pan and fry on medium for two minutes. Add 1 cup of Crown Valley Porter to deglaze the pan. Let boil for about two minutes, then transfer contents of pan to stockpot. Add 1 cup of Schlafly Coffee Stout, 1/2 cup of water, and hot pepper sauce, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low, cover and let simmer for 2 hours.

While simmering, cut the fat from the bacon. Save the fat for another use. The remaining meat will be added to the chili after it has been simmering for one hour. At the same time, cut the horseradish root in half and add to simmering chili. At the two hour mark, remove the horseradish root, add another 1/2 cup of the Coffee Stout, mix, and allow to simmer uncovered for two more hours. At the four hour mark, cover again and let simmer for one more hour.

Serve with cheddar cheese.

I had hoped to get a smoked porter for this dish, so the Schlafly was a propitious last minute pairing. I considered pairing the coffee stout or Crown Valley Porter, but the coffee stout tasted too much of coffee and I only had one bottle left of the Crown Valley Porter, which went into my dish. The Extra Stout, however, was the perfect pair; it is a dry beer, but next to what ended up being quite a spicy chili, it was solid, toasty and malty, and even a bit smoky.  Because of the unavailability of tomatoes and onions this time of year, this chili has no tomatoes, onions (or beans, for that matter). It is thus a rather dark chili, especially since it cooks in dark beers, however it is extremely flavorful. I would recommend the Extra Stout with other chilis of this kind, although it might not be the right pair for a chili that relies more on acidic tomatoes.

DARN HOT — DARN GOOD !

In the past few weeks we’ve welcomed several new customers who love our products. And this one says it best,….E.S. ( a new customer and fellow pepper grower) thinks that our “salsa is Hot, but amazingly flavorful” and further, he feels “it’s great to know there are small companies in the US that still have that HOME TOWN attitude!”

We thank you heartily, E.S.. What a way to kick off the 2010 pepper season! Those seedlings are even now growing well and just about ready to put into the ground.
Hoping for some Mother Nature moderation in the amount of rainfall in order to do this soon.
Our 21 varieties plus our Herb Garden is coming along well. Hope to see many of our newly attracted customers, if they are within local traveling distance, to call up and reserve a date for a group of friends to visit the farm for our Tours which Start in July. See you there?

Spring Again….Hooray!!

And Thank Goodness…NO ICE STRORMS this past winter! That means we are ready to do the seed germination, the greenhouse is in place, and the weather is mild ( although a bit windy).
But it seems like Good Beginnings for 2010 crop.>
Watch this blog for more on the Pepper Farm Particulars….One update — Remember the Farm Store opens on Memorial Day Weekend: that means SATURDAY – May 29th., 2010. Normal Farm Store Hours: Monday – Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Hope to see you this Spring/Summer !!