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10 Specialty Foods I Wouldn’t Want to Be Without

May 20, 2011

Our ag friend Kelly M Rivard had a very cool post recently about specialty foods – those foods that aren’t the “big” crops most see as farming (beef, pork, corn, soybeans). These are of interest not only because it is something that adds variety to the table but because it’s often left to smaller operations to produce it.

What ten items do we love? It’s not surprising some are the same as Kelly’s nor that they’re in our gardens!

1.Peppers! Hot peppers, sweet peppers – heirloom or hybrid we love peppers. From Paul’s muching on sweet peppers raw to Connor’s favorite Denver omelet to an easy quick meal of diced potatoes, peppers and onions topped with a little cheese to yummy “unstuffed peppers” we love peppers! With thousands of varieties in both sweet and hot they’re a spicy addition to perk up mac & cheese or salsa or nachos. The only limitation where we are is room!

2.Rabbit! While most of our rabbits are content as show breeders, rabbit meat is an option for those that may show a problem. Rabbit meat is lean and nutrition that is dense – it doesn’t take a large portion to be filling.

3. Popcorn – we were excited to try Japanese white hulless popcorn this year. Our previous attempt with unknown variety came up zero germination and this corn is much better! A little fertilizer and effort in a 4’x16′ area and hopefully we’ll have our own home raised popcorn this year!

4.Mint – many think of mint as peppermint or spearmint but at SlowMoneyFarm we embrace mint! Chocolate mint, apple mint, lime mint are just a few of our specialty mints for a variety of flavors!

5. Walnuts. We don’t have room until we buy land but one of the first plantings will be English walnut trees! We love walnuts, which are expensive to buy but an annual crop. Many don’t care for black walnuts, which have an ‘oily’ distinct taste but it reminds me of childhood fall days out looking for and harvesting black walnuts along the backroads in Illinois. English walnuts are definitely planned as soon as we get land!

6.Stevia. This is an ongoing experiment with our stevia, which is also known as the ‘sweet plant’. It’s a supersweet leaf – but can have a bitter aftertaste at some stages of leaf growth (larger leaves). Mature stems that are dried also hold “sweet” stick chews that Paul liked. It’s a sweet taste without sugar…but a tender plant that we’re figuring out little by little!

7.Garlic. Glorious garlic. A flavor agent, health boost and natural ‘antibiotic’ – garlic is a favorite here whether as an impromptu snack or over pizza.

8.Goats milk – we don’t have goats at present either and I miss them! Good goats milk is heavenly in fudge, and gives a rich taste to a wide range of things in the kitchen. Use in cakes instead of water for a moist rich cake even from cheap ‘box mix’ cakes.

9.Potatoes – potassium in many ways from mashed to fried to baked, potatoes offer a variety of options for many situations.

10.Oats – this arguably isn’t a specialty crop but oats serve as food for the rabbits as well as oatmeal for us. In cookies, granola or as cereal it can be used many ways and provides a power packed nutrition item. I also use a handful of oatmeal per person in ground meat for sloppy joes or chili or nachos – it stretches the meat and no one ever knows the oatmeal is in there. Added to cakes or brownies or breads it’s “hidden nutrition” as well.

Added to these are natural fibers – from angora (a rabbit fiber) to mohair (from angora goats) to wool to cotton it offers a  variety of ways to look nice and stay warm or cool. Buy direct when you can – it helps many!

Food choices mean having a variety. Specialty products and small farms help provide options needed for a complete table. Enjoy it! Embrace it!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2011 3:59 PM

    Great post, Jan! I knew rabbit would be on your list, but I’m glad it is nonetheless! We have to share the bunny love. 🙂 I also lovelovelove garlic, and am ashamed that I forgot it on my own list. Great job!

    • May 20, 2011 4:20 PM

      Thanks Kelly – I couldn’t keep it at 5 – it’s amazing how many things we use that we don’t think of!

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