This week the Bonding With Food Class traveled out of the kitchen to get a closer look at life on the farm in Waterloo, NY.
Paul and Steve Galens are brothers who have worked hard to maintain a dairy farm for the past 20 years. Farming has been in their family for many years and over time, as organic became a popular food-trend, Paul and Steve transitioned to organic farming methods. I had never been given a tour of a farm before, let alone a dairy farm, and it was fascinating to observe what exactly takes place for us to be able to buy our milk at the grocery store.
The day we went happened to be the day that a milk truck was coming to pick up all of the milk that had been produced by the cows for the week. The image below shows the tank that contains the milk. Before collection, a sample is taken to ensure that the milk is truly organic (no antibiotics, chemicals, etc.). The milk is then suctioned through a tube into a large tank inside the truck. The man who does the milk collection makes about 15 trips a day to different dairy farms!
Where do the dairy farmers get their cows? Well, interestingly enough they have a cow catalog that provides fitness information (and the name) of each of the cows for sale. Looking through the catalog was quite fascinating and who knew there existed a shopping catalog for farmers to pick their cows!
I might speak for everyone and say the best part of the trip to the dairy farm was getting to meet all of the beautiful female cows that provide Steve and Paul their milk. They were surely just as excited and curious about us as we were about them.
After visiting the dairy farm we stopped by a homestead a few minutes down the road owned by Chris Santy and his family. He maintains his own farm in his backyard that he uses to provide for his family and share with his neighbors. I was fascinated by Chris’s dedication to his farm and his appreciation for his land, the plants and the animals that inhabit it. Chris has a commitment to sustainability and simplicity. His family does their best to reduce the amount of waste they produce. Any of their waste goes into a large compost pile that they then use for fertilizer the following year. As you can see below, he has even collected the bones of dead deer that he predicts will be almost entirely degraded in the compost pile by next year.
Most fascinating to me was finding out that Chris used to be a pilot and decided to take up farming instead. It is clearly something he enjoys. He has his own farm animals that help provide the family with food and displays a great respect and awareness for his environment. I think that everyone can learn something from Chris about how to make the most of the natural world around us; you grow to have an appreciation for food and sustenance by growing it yourself that you don’t get just by traveling to the grocery store.
After a tour around the farm the class (and Chris!) experimented with liquid nitrogen to make ice cream. There are a few benefits to using liquid nitrogen for ice cream. For one, it makes ice cream especially smooth. We started with an ice cream base that was left overnight in the refrigerator. The base consisted of milk, vanilla, cream, sugar, and cocoa powder for chocolate. The base was then put in a bowl and mixed while liquid nitrogen was added in slowly. Liquid nitrogen is -321 °F allowing for rapid freeze of the ice cream. The secret to the creamy texture is this rapid freeze that prevents the formation of large ice crystals. Another reason to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen is because it’s fun to watch. The images below show what the process of making liquid nitrogen ice cream looks like! If you ever get your hands on liquid nitrogen you could have a blast making some of your own ice cream at home!
We even topped off the ice cream with some of Chris’s delicious home-tapped syrup and strawberries!