April 28, 2022
The last week of April is a special time for the culinary department at Rock Creek Senior Living Ankeny, IA. In honor of Earth Month, we will be celebrating and embracing the Farm to Table concept. While the terminology is often overused, the idea is a basic one that stems from the days when the food you ate came from the farm you lived on or nearby. Practices may have changed but utilizing the produce and livestock from local farms and growers has many benefits. For example, did you know most produce loses nutrients within 24 hours of harvesting? Have you ever noticed how fresh meat is moister and more flavorful?
Farm to Table also helps strengthen the local economy by providing jobs and keeping money in the hands of businesses run by our neighbors and friends. It helps to build relationships between the farmer or rancher and the customer. Both sides benefit greatly from sourcing local items. If an item becomes scarce, or pricing becomes high, this valued relationship can be instrumental in helping us to continue to provide the exceptional food our residents have come to expect from us with minimal interruption.
The dish I’m making is braised short ribs, morel risotto, smoked corn, and truffled bearnaise sauce. I’m using locally sourced items from these local businesses: Griffieon Farms http://griffsrv.com/ – short ribs and eggs; Grimes Farm – sweet corn, morel mushrooms, and garnish; and cream from Hansen’s Dairy https://hansendairy.com/.
Working with a cut such as short ribs allow me to slowly cook the protein and bring a lot of flavors into the meat. Adding mushrooms to risotto brings an earthy tone to an otherwise creamy dish and helps bring out the flavor in the meat. By smoking the corn, I can add another depth without smoking the meat itself which adds a subtle hint of smoke rather than a more pronounced smoky flavor that could overpower some other plate components. I enjoy playing with different flavor profiles, but also providing a dish that the residents of Rock Creek can enjoy and be proud of.
My grandfather always had a farm when I was growing up. He grew butter beans, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers, potatoes, and strawberries. Working the land with him and watching everything grow and then harvesting the items are childhood memories I’ll never forget. Watching my grandmother prepare the produce from the garden instilled in me the desire to always use the freshest ingredients possible and to recognize and celebrate the hard work and dedication it takes to grow and eat locally sourced items.
Localized sourcing of produce and proteins keeps money in the community, improves relationships and provides jobs. Sustainable farming not only provides for today but ensures future generations can also live off the land. Understanding the local ecosystems and rotating crops properly is critical in sustainable farming. Water scarcity, deforestation and climate change are all effects of poor farming practices. By understanding and embracing sustainable farming we can help minimize the impact on the environment and provide food for future generations.
For us, buy local isn’t just a bumper sticker. It should be embraced and promoted as much as possible. Even if you couldn’t be here to enjoy it with us, I hope you can enjoy the content included here and feel inspired to visit some of these local vendors!
Rock Creek Senior Living in Ankeny, Iowa offers independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Nestled in the Boulder Brook Park subdivision just north of 5th Street, residents of Rock Creek enjoy a close connection with the surrounding neighborhood with tree-lined walking paths that connect directly to local family homes; just minutes away from local shopping and attractions.
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