SAGEBRUSH MEATBALLS

Please enjoy this new recipe from Beef on a Budget’s Anna-Lisa!

When Illinois Corn asked if I might like to contribute to their blog, I wanted to include corn in my recipe.  I thought about all of the ways that corn could be used and all the ways we use it most often.  I realized that there is one completely underused and underestimated corn product… corn flakes.  More than just a cereal they can be used in feed lot rations, desserts, potato casseroles, and most recently I discovered they are wonderful in meat balls! 

I thought why not grind them up and use them as bread crumbs in meat balls; they are the same consistency as bread crumbs right?  Well I tried it out and with a ranchy twist let me tell you they are the best meatballs I have ever fixed.  Give this non traditional use of corn a try and enjoy some delicious pasta too!

Sagebrush Meatballs

beef, pasta, corn
From the Ice Box:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 C Parmesan Cheese
3 Broccoli Crowns
From the Pantry:
2 C corn flakes
Equivalent of 1 Packet Ranch Seasoning
Spray Oil
Pasta
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Tomato Sauce
 
Pour the corn flakes into a zip lock bag. Crush the corn flakes until they are as fine as bread crumbs.  An easy way to tell if they are fine enough is to pour them into a colander, if they can fit through those wholes keep crushing.
 
crush corn flakes

Combine the ground beef, milk, eggs, cheese, corn flake crumbs & ranch seasoning in a bowl.  Kneed until the mixture is blended.

beef, ranch, meatballs

Spray your baking stone with spray oil.  Roll the ground beef mixture into 1 inch balls.  Place on the cookie sheet and bake them at 350 for 30 minutes.

beef, meatballs

During this time boil the pasta water, and combine the chopped onion, garlic, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Let simmer the entire time the meatballs are baking.

 meatballs, beef, sauce, tomato

Once the pasta  water is boiling add a T olive oil.  This will keep the pasta from sticking together.  Next, break your favorite pasta into the boiling water.  Let me tell you a little secret about boiling pasta… it doesn’t take as long as you think and there is nothing worse than over cooked pasta. Boil just until it is tender then drain it.

I also served this with broccoli so I steamed the broccoli during this time as well.  If you have a broccoli steamer use that!  Other wise place the broccoli in a microwave safe bowl, add an inch of water, cover with saran wrap and put in the microwave for 6 minutes.

 broccoli, steamed

Once the meatballs are done, put them in a bowl and pour the tomato sauce over them.

meatballs, beef, budget

Let them sit for a few minutes and serve over pasta.

 meatballs, beef, budget meals

This meal is delicious, unique and a great way to use beef and corn together to make a wonderful meal.  I hope you enjoy!

beef, pasta, corn

Sagebrush Meatballs Cost

1 lb ground beef – $4.30
1/2 cup milk- $0.40
2 eggs- $0.30
1 C Parmesan Cheese- $0.30
2 C corn flakes – $0.40
Equivalent of 1 Packet Ranch Seasoning- $.100
Pasta- $1.00
1 Can Diced Tomatoes- $0.76
1 Can Tomato Sauce- $0.65
Broccoli- $1.20
Total Cost- $10.31 (Serves 5)
Cost Per Plate- $2.06

Anna-Lisa Giannini
Student

CELEBRATING CONVENTIONALLY PRODUCED BEEF

Tim Lenz and beef herd

The Illinois Corn Growers Association immediate past President, Tim Lenz, manages a beef herd in what we’d call a “conventional” way.  These cows eat grass and corn, among other things I’m sure, before they reach market weight and head off to become hamburger.

These cows do not produce organic beef – and its a good thing.  Organic products haven’t been fairing real well in terms of safety lately.  Read more about that in this LA Times article or in this article about the Jimmy John’s incident.

The point?  American’s need a little more realism in their purchasing life.  Conventional food and organic food might have their differences, but safety isn’t one of them.

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SPICY CORN CHOWDER RECIPE

January is National Soup Month! Makes sense; there couldn’t be a better time to come in out of the cold and warm up with a tantalizing bowl of comfort food!

Don’t forget to check back here every Thursday this month for a soup fact, tip and a new recipe to add to your culinary repertoire!

Today’s fact: American’s sip over 10 billion bowls of soup every year.

Today’s tip: If you need to tone down a heavy garlic flavor when cooking, place a few parsley flakes in a tea bag to soak up all the excess garlic.

Today’s recipe: Spicy Corn Chowder

corn, soup

If you need to tame down this spicy soup some to suit your taste-buds, simply substitute regular sausage for the hot and leave out the green chilies.

Ingredients:

• 1 lb hot sausage
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 onion, diced
• 4 potatoes, diced
• 1 clove garlic, diced
• A few dashes of Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
• 4 cups fresh corn
• 1 can diced green chilies (optional)
• 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Slice corn kernels off cob. Or, if you’re like me, open the freezer and pull out a bag of corn from the summer when you had way too much sweet corn on your hands and let thaw.
2. Brown sausage over medium heat and drain off grease.
3. In a large pot, over medium heat, drizzle a few tablespoons of EVOO. Throw in diced onion, garlic and potatoes.
4. Add butter and melt. Add chilies and corn.  Pour in chicken broth and cream. Add salt, pepper and sausage. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
5. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve.

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

FARMERS ARE FEEDING A HUNGRY WORLD BY DOING MORE WITH LESS

Farmers have to be part agronimist, conservationist, meterologist, economist …

and all optimist!

Find out more about Illinois farmer’s best management practices at www.ilcorn.org.

If you liked this post, check out:
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ENTERTAINING AND INFORMATIVE: IS THIS THE WAY TO GO?

CELEBRATE MAPLE SYRUP DAY!

 

funks grove, maple sirup

Its maple syrup day and we’ve got some of the best maple sirup just a few miles south of the Illinois Corn office in Central Illinois.  Visit the Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup website to read all about their rich history and even richer sirup!

For some fun ideas on how to celebrate Maple Syrup Day, click here!

CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING WITH PORK!

Forget the gobble gobble – at my house it isn’t Thanksgiving until the ham is sliced. That’s right; our family tradition is to gather around a nice PORK dinner. Yes we have a turkey to maintain the American tradition, but the flavorful ham is the center piece. Growing up on a hog farm, I’m used to spending Thanksgiving being thankful for the fresh ham, bacon, and pork roast that were always available for our table.

pork power food pantry donationFortunately, this Thanksgiving there are quite a few more Illinoisans that can be thankful for fresh meat on their table. Through Pork Power, an effort of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) to provide ground pork to food pantries across Illinois, some of the Illinois residents that must get their Thanksgiving meal from a food pantry will receive a little PORK to go with it.
In a partnership between IPPA, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, and the Illinois Soybean Association, Pork Power has donated more than 42,000 pounds of safe and nutrition ground pork to Feeding Illinois (a group committed to hunger relief and bettering the quality of life in Illinois communities) this year and more than 200,000 pounds of pork over the last three years to feed families in need.
“We are so grateful for this donation of nutritious protein,” said Tracy Smith, State Director for Feeding Illinois. “This donation comes at a critical time with reserves at food banks being very low due to the increase in demand. Food banks have seen on average a 30 percent increase in the number of people seeking food assistance in the past year,” said Smith. “Because of partners like the IL Pork Producers Association, IL Soybean Association, and IL Corn Marketing Board we will be able to put food on the table for thousands of Illinois families.”

So I guess I have yet another thing to be thankful for this year – that Illinois farmers are just as concerned about feeding those in need as they are about feeding themselves. And that in America, even those in need can look forward to a fabulous PORK dish on their Thanksgiving table!

(Check out the awesome pork recipes for your Thanksgiving here!)

Traci Pitstick

Illinois State University student

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YESTERDAY’S AGRICULTURE CANNOT FEED 9 BILLION PEOPLE

The main concern with the food movement these days is that old fashioned production methods will yield old fashioned yields, as in, one-third of our food would be lost.  This is a tough pill to swallow considering the people going hungry now all over the globe and the predicted population increase.

Still, no matter how many times farmers mention this life and death concern, it seems to fall on deaf ears.  How exciting to see our challenge graphically!  We hope this video will help more folks understand that while organic and local grown foods are great options, they are not long term solutions. 

http://www.youtube.com/v/ocPBHMnBM9U?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01&border=1

In case you don’t have time to watch (you really should MAKE time), the main point of the video is “Yesterday’s agriculture cannot feed 9 billion people.”  I wish more people would really hear this message.

CHICAGOAN OF THE CORN: MY EXPERIENCE HARVESTING CORN FOR THE CITY PRODUCE PROJECT

As a college student, I have a general rule for mornings; stay in bed as long as possible. On Thursday, however, I found myself waiting at the train station at 6:50 a.m. to pick up my friend Ryan because we were going on an adventure. We were going corn harvesting in Manhattan, IL. Armed with bug spray, sunscreen, caffeine and Twinkies, these two city kids were on the road south to lend a hand to farmers who were aiding the City Produce Project supported by Monsanto and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. While in the car, I explained the program to my yawning partner in crime.

“The corn is going to be sent to a food pantry and then given to people who live in food deserts,” I said.

“Where is there a desert around here,” Ryan asked. More caffeine.

I started to question this adventure as the trek took us through landscape less dotted with buildings and more defined by various crops indistinguishable to my untrained urban eye. But after navigating country detours and gravel roads with my not-as-trusty-as-you’d-expect GPS, there was no turning back. I parked my car behind a pick-up truck and next to a tractor, and Ryan and I left bliss known as air-conditioning behind.

“It’s hot. I mean…no, really, it is hot,” I observed in discomfort. I questioned my choices in farming fashion, wondering if I should have dressed for extreme heat, but surprisingly enough, I made a smart decision.

When picking corn, it is a good idea to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, plus eye protection. I split the difference on all counts, opting for capris, short-sleeved t-shirt and goofy sunglasses. Truth be told, I looked goofy, period.

With a high-five and a “Let’s DO THIS!” affirmation, we joined a large group of volunteers in the field. There were several kids helping, some of which were from a church group and some were Boy Scouts, and all seemed very eager to help. I noticed a photographer snapping pictures of all the hard work and also heard John Kiefner, a farmer who planted corn for City Produce Project, giving a very energetic interview.

Ryan and I introduced ourselves to an experienced corn harvester and received a quick tutorial. After another high-five and bout of nervous laughter, I got to pickin’. A corn stalk had anywhere between one and three ears of corn growing on it. The first stalk I grabbed had a large ear of corn, so I took hold and tried to rip it off the stalk. It didn’t budge. At all. Embarrassment ensued.

Ryan surrounded by broken stalks

I swallowed my pride and asked a young volunteer next to me, “Wait…I maybe missed something here. How do you do this again?” He said, “Like this,” and ripped that sucker clean off without a hitch. I needed to man up. After that small hiccup, it was smooth sailing; remove the corn, then break the stalk so it would fall to the ground and make way for the next. The crops themselves were actually very resilient, with leaves firm enough to give me a small cut similar to a paper-cut on the top of my hand. It even drew a small amount of blood, but nothing was going to get me to cry uncle in front of these seasoned harvesters. Not even the fact that I was smeared with mud. Yuck.

Once the corn was removed from the stalk, I was told to peel back a small section of the husk to make sure the corn was acceptable to be donated. It was important to harvest as much good corn as we could, considering the crop was going to those in underserved communities. Every ear counted.

“If it’s yellow and developed, throw it in the bucket,” said our corn guru. I took that advice maybe too literally, and did my best Michael Jordan lay-up with my corn haul.

“She shoots…she scores,” Kiefner exclaimed while driving a tractor in reverse. Who says a city girl can’t have fun on a farm?

After my re-enactment of the Chicago Bulls Championship run of 1993, Ryan and I dumped the bucket of corn onto a large flat-bed truck. Kiefner drove the truck from the field and into the barn, where the corn was loaded into sacks. The barn was also where the volunteers could refuel and get a minute away from the beating rays of the sun (did I mention it was hot?). Volunteers sat down on any suitable area they could find and sipped on water to prevent dehydration.

The field after all the sweet corn was harvested

Jim Robbins, the owner of the farm, helped facilitate the action within the barn while Kiefner worked outside. During my time in the barn, I got to see all of the volunteers at once; there was significantly more than I had anticipated. I signed my name onto a sheet that was passed around the barn, and I was amazed that my name fit on the second sheet of paper.

While I didn’t get a chance to really interact with many of the other helpers, I did take a moment to chat with a lady who had videotaped us working in the field. When she asked where I was from, I told her Chicago.

“Wow, what are you doing down here,” she asked.

“I’m here to help on behalf of the City Produce Project,” I said. Noticing her confusion, I continued, “This corn will be cycled into this program. After it leaves the farm, it will be distributed to families who have little access to fresh vegetables otherwise. It’s designed to improve nutrition in places that don’t have the opportunity to experience fresh, local food like this. It’s a good thing.”

And that’s when it hit me.

It really is a good thing. While getting up before fast food joints stop serving breakfast and driving down a gravel road isn’t going to be a lifestyle that’s calling my name, I have a new appreciation for fresh food. The farmers seemed so grateful for the help, expressing that we managed to finish a day-long job for two people in just about two hours. Plus knowing the corn was going to city residents in need rather than a supermarket produce section halfway across the country solidified a sense of just plain “good.”

For more information about the City Produce Project, check out their Twitter at http://twitter.com/CityProdProj

Nicky Hunter
The Kineo Group Intern

PAYING EIGHT DOLLARS FOR EGGS IS A BARGAIN? SINCE WHEN!?

Remember when the price of food went up a bit last year and everyone screamed and cried?  Legislators were getting calls right and left about how their constituents couldn’t afford to go to the grocery store anymore?  The media had us all concerned that Americans were finally going to go hungry?

Michael Pollan, journalist and self-appointed “food production system expert” with zero background in food science, nutrition or agriculture, has announced that he feels $8 for a dozen eggs is a great thing!

What’s even crazier is that the elite in this country agree with him!

I’m afraid that we have seriously gotten to a point in this country where we are way too wealthy and out of touch with reality.  We don’t know what it is to be hungry and we left our common sense in back in the 1900’s.

If you need more proof that the rich and influential in American are getting a bit extreme, check out this article on how the EPA wants to regulate dust in the air.  Dust!

Lindsay Mitchell

ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

WHEN DID FOOD CHOICES BECOME MORALLY RIGHT OR MORALLY WRONG?

Author Mary Eberstadt may really be onto something.  And if you’re into the philosophical or practice deep thinking, this might be just the article for you.

The fundamental question posed by Eberstadt is what happens when, for the first time in history, adult human beings are able to have all the sex and food that they want?

Yes, the subject may feel a bit racy for our modest little blog, but the question really deserves some thinking.  In the interviews with Eberstadt posted on Truth in Food, Eberstadt describes two fictional women, Betty and Jennifer.  Betty was 30 years old in 1958 and had a very strict moral code about what was appropriate behavior and what was not regarding sexual activity.  While she may have had similar preferences about her food choices, she didn’t feel the need to push those choices onto others quite the same way that she felt morally obligated to share her choices about sex.

Eberstadt’s Jennifer is 30 years old today and her feelings on the two subjects are decidedly opposite Betty’s.  She may feel that she has no right to judge other’s sexual activity, but is an adament proponent of organic food or vegetarianism or … fill in the blank.

“I find it really interesting that these two codes, one about food and one about sex, seem to be existing in this inverse relationship, where as one gets stricter the other gets more lenient,” Mary tells Truth in Food interviewer Kevin Murphy. “I think the fallout [over the negative consequences of the post-pill sexual revolution] makes a lot of people uncomfortable, in a way that they’re not even necessarily fully aware of. We live with these major consequences…day in and day out. And I think a lot of people have the sense this has all gone too far, that nobody meant for the party to have gotten so out of hand, and no one knows how to stop it. My supposition is that part of what’s behind these increasingly moralistic attitudes toward food is that people have displaced the kinds of feelings human beings have always had about sex onto food instead,” says Eberstadt.

Eberstadt believes that society is taking feelings we’ve always had about sexuality and moral codes regarding sexual behavior and placing those same moral codes on food.

After all, thinking of the food “issues” we farmers deal with on a day to day basis … isn’t it odd that food is all of the sudden a moral decision?

Check out Eberstadt’s essay and definitely listen to Truth in Food interview with Eberstadt.  I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director