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Eating Slow, Historical With Ark of the Taste

October 23, 2014

399px-Chickens_2Many folks say food just doesn’t taste like it used to. In some ways, that’s true. Recipes change, selection of ingredients change. Few think about the changes in agriculture. This isn’t all a bad thing – food choices are plentiful! We can get a burger for what some families in some countries live on. For the many that depend on low prices, American agriculture has provided. For the many who want something easy, tasty and convenient, American processing companies have provided. For those who want something different, there’s organic, local, grown at home.

Then there’s Ark of the Taste. This is a difference in a big way, using heritage and heirloom varieties of plants and animals to provide food. Some are endangered and in an ironic twist, the way to save them is to eat them.

To some this makes no sense. By eating them, it provides a financial ability for small farms to keep them. They are not commercial varieties for various reasons – it might be size, or color, or many other reasons. It might be that they  just don’t adapt to the modern confinement system or consumer demand. With the rise of Slow Food, these antiques have found a place on the plates of those looking for something different and willing to seek it out. In short, “foodies”.

These are for people who want something different. The Bull Nose pepper or American Chinchilla rabbit or Midget White turkey are different in appearance and in taste.

Buying Ark of the Taste options provides an income for small farms that keep these heirlooms. They don’t compare to the modern high production counterpart. Depending on perspective, that is a good thing, a bad thing or just a different thing! Perhaps it’s a way to TASTE what a Depression era meal might have tasted like.

Different isn’t what everyone wants. A full sized dressed heritage chicken is going to taste much different from the fast food fried chicken people are used to. They may be a firmer texture, and not as ‘juicy’ from leaner birds. In a blind taste test of food experts, the Dominique chicken ranked high over other chickens raised the same way and prepared the same way. The flavor of many heritage breeds is much leaner – if not considered that difference it can translate to dry, chewy and a bad experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we prepare a Giant Chinchilla rabbit we find it’s more a light pork taste than chicken many compare rabbit meat to. Ark of the Taste isn’t just about animals. Bull Nose or Beaver Dam peppers and a wide range of other tastes are out there to be explored. Increased demand for the end product provides a market to keep them going year after year. That takes effort not just among those growing, but it takes those willing to eat them too.

Alternatives are good. Ark of the Taste – check it out!

Whether heritage or conventional – here’s a recipe to tuck aside for holiday leftovers! Check out the book The Healthy SlowCooker for more yummy and easy ideas that can feature Ark of the Taste selections. A bonus – they’re healthy and gluten free seekers will love the variety.

Turkey stock – break the carcass into manageable pieces and place in slow cooker stoneware. Add 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 each carrots, celery stalks, onions (quartered) plus 8 whole peppercorns. Add 12 cups water. Cover and cook, on low  for 12 hours or high for 6. Strain, reserving the liquids and discarding the solids.

Southwestern Turkey Chowder

10 cups turkey stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 onions, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns

1 1/2 cups long cooking gluten free whole grains, soaked, rinsed and drained

1 can (28 ounce) diced tomatoes including juice

2-3 ancho, guajillo or mild New Mexico dried chiles

2 cups boiling water

1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves

2 cups diced cooked turkey

2 cups corn kernels


In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, garlic and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add whole grains and toss until coated. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to boil.

Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add turkey stock and stir well. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, until grains are tender.

In heatproof bowl, 30 minutes before grains have finished cooking, combine dried chiles and boiling water. Set aside for 30 minutes, weighing chiles down with a cup to ensure they remain submerged. Drain, discarding soaking liquid and stems, and chop coarsely.Transfer to a blender. Add cilantro and 1/2 cup of stock from the chowder. Puree. Add to stoneware along with turkey and corn. Cover and cook on high until corn is tender and flavors meld, about 20 minutes.

Tip – use Thanksgiving leftovers, putting stock on to cook while you enjoy time with family. Use leftover turkey, corn.


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