Loving and Living Off the Land
Even in early spring, there are local produce and protein aplenty in western Colorado. In celebration of this season, a gardener (who also raises hens) and a sheepman (who also fishes) share their love of the land — and their recipes for utilizing its bounty in tasty ways.
Calli Ferber, a Palisade native and owner of Sweet Pea’s Garden, combines her asparagus, greens, herbs, and eggs in a farm-fresh frittata worth sharing with friends. This is one of many original recipes featured on her website, sweetpeasgarden.com.
Ferber designed her business model around being an active wife and mom, and her spin on the traditional community-supported agriculture (CSA) model allows her to share her passions for cooking and gardening with the community while maximizing quality time with family. (Sweet Pea is her daughter Penelope’s nickname.)
“I love to give my customers recipe ideas, because in CSA baskets you get things that you wouldn’t normally buy or pick out,” says Ferber. “I use all-natural methods and welcome my customers to tour the garden on pick-up days and ask questions about how things are grown, how to store them, and how to cook with them.” Ferber also offers ways to use well-known produce in unique recipes, such as beet cookies and a radish salsa that complements her frittata, meat, or fish.
Jared Lloyd, owner of agricultural company SonCroft, tends to his flock near Collbran while also making time for trout fishing in the cold spring runoff. He shares his own recipes for rack of lamb and a family favorite for trout tacos cooked outdoors.
For five generations, both sides of Lloyd’s family have raised livestock on the Western Slope. He jokes that he’s a “bit of a cross-breed,” because one side is a sheep family and the other is a cattle family. Lloyd grew up hearing stories from his grandparents about grazing their respective flocks and herds in stirrup-high native grasses. “What was grassland when our grandparents were children is basically dead desert now,” he notes.
Lloyd’s wife, Rebekah, is originally from Craig — and from a sheep family that partnered with the Lloyds when Jared and Rebekah were kids. They now raise their own sheep for fiber and meat, with strict dedication to practices that perpetuate strong genetics and natural instincts in their flock. Their livestock are strangers to barns and bottle-feeding. They live out in the elements, graze coarse forages, and nurse their lambs naturally. “Grain supplements, sheltering — and, well, coddling — will breed the hardiness and thriftiness out of them in just a few generations. I want to see them be real sheep,” Jared insists.
Inspired by the techniques and principles handed down by their two families, the Lloyds are dedicated to grazing and land management practices that rebuild the soil, target noxious and invasive flora, and encourage proliferation of native, drought-resistant grasses and shrubs. They actively seek partnerships with like-minded cattlemen, sheepmen, and government agencies to reverse desertification.
With gratitude for the lifestyle and the food that western Colorado’s unique landscape and climate make possible, Ferber and the Lloyds take great pride in offering the community the quality produce, eggs, and meat they enjoy at home.
If you go
Sweet Pea’s Garden
719 358/10 Road
Palisade, CO 81526
Spring crops Asparagus, radish, turnips, arugula, spinach, kale, magenta spreen, braising greens, bok choy, lettuce, cabbage, beets, carrots, cilantro, dill, chives, garlic chives, tarragon, mint,
thyme, parsley, fennel
• 2012 Colorado Wool Grower of the Year
• Shetland, Bluefaced Leicester,
and Merino Sheep
• Limited lamb/mutton on the hoof
• Premium fibers and original fiber
• Seed stock females and reputation sires
8 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped green onions or chives
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
2 cups asparagus, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cups chopped spinach (or kale, chard, or beet greens)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Combine eggs, milk, cheese, and green onions in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
2. Heat oil and butter in a large, oven-proof skillet on medium-high heat. Add asparagus and cook until it starts to get tender and turn bright green (about three minutes). Add spinach and cook two more minutes. Season to taste.
3. Distribute veggies evenly over bottom of pan. Give egg mixture a final stir, and pour over the vegetables (do not stir again). Cook frittata on medium heat for five minutes or until eggs begin to set on the sides.
4. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the eggs are set and it begins to turn golden brown around edges.
5. Let frittata rest for 5 minutes.
6. To serve, slice and garnish with radish salsa (recipe on page 25).
BEET COOKIES (or CAKE DONUTS) with ORANGE GLAZE
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1¼ cups cooked, peeled, and mashed beets
3 Tbs orange juice
1 orange, zested
1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tbs orange juice
1 orange, zested
1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. Using an electric or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add beets, orange juice, and orange zest. Beat to combine. Mix in dry ingredients.
3. Spoon about two tablespoons for each cookie onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until slightly golden at edges. Let cookies rest on baking sheet for about 20 minutes before glazing.
4. To make the glaze, whisk powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a small bowl until smooth. Spread a thin layer of glaze over each cookie. Let glaze harden before storing.
To prepare as cake donuts
1. Place batter in a zip-close bag
and cut a hole in one corner.
2. Pipe into a donut pan greased
with coconut oil or butter.
3. Bake at 375° for 10-15 minutes.
4. Cool for 10 minutes and transfer to wire rack. Allow donuts to cool completely before glazing.
1 bunch radishes, greens removed
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
2 green onions
1 hot pepper
1 Tbs lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Finely chop all the veggies.
Stir in lime juice and seasoning.
2. Chill and serve.
JARED’S RACK OF LAMB
2 Frenched Racks of Prime Lamb
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Drizzle olive oil in heated cast iron pan.
3. Sear lamb on all sides until golden brown.
4. Season with salt & pepper.
5. Place in hot oven for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and let rest and re-absorb juices for 5 minutes.
7. Pour red wine into pan and reduce.
8. Slice between each rib, and drizzle with pan sauce.
To Serve: Plate with a starchy side, such as sweet potato, butternut squash mash, garlic gnocchi or mashed potatoes; green salad with vinaigrette; torn chunks of crusty bread.
(Jared’s wine suggestions are locally produced Colterris Cabernet Franc or Grand River Vineyards Malbec.)
Jared’s notes: “Simple is best. Lamb, like wine, has subtle flavor nuances and you want to taste their terroir, the soil, the sun, the milk, the grasses, flowers, and herbs they were grazing. The simpler the recipe, the truer the experience. We’ve won over many chefs with this when tasting our lamb. Source lamb from a local grower which was finished on pasture or range, not a feedlot.”
COLORADO BROOK TROUT TACOS
Fresh Caught Brook Trout (1 per person)
Salt to taste
Warm corn tortillas
Radish salsa (*see Spring Frittata recipe)
1. Gut, clean, and pat fish dry
2. Make a few vertical slits in skin on each side of fish
3. Season to taste
4. Heat oil in disco outdoor cooking vessel (cast iron pan or wok on range). Oil is hot enough when fish tails are dipped in and pop and crackle.
5. Drop fish in oil and fry until golden brown.
6. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain excess oil. (Meat should easily flake off bones.)
To Serve: Warm tortillas on grill or flat pan. Top tacos with *radish salsa, lettuce, onions and lime juice. Jared recommends pairing with a light local beer or cider, or Grand River Vineyards Viognier.