There She Grows

Women Farmers Share Family Recipes and What It's Like Growing America's Food

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Apr 19, 2012) - (Family Features) When you try to picture what a farmer looks like, you probably don't picture a woman. But women operate more than 30 percent of the more than 3 million farms in America -- making them a large part of raising your food.

Kristin Reese and Carrie Divine are two women whose farming roots run deep. Kristin grew up on a farm in Ohio and now has a farm of her own with her husband and kids. Carrie is an eighth-generation farmer on her family's land in Kentucky. Kristin and Carrie say the hardest part of being a farmer is not the hard work, it's that today's farming is often misunderstood. Some consumers often think their food comes from large, impersonal corporations. The fact is, 98 percent of farms and ranches in the United States are family owned and operated. That's why Kristin and Carrie joined CommonGround, a movement that fosters conversations among farm women and women in cities and suburbs around the country who want to know more about their food.

Through local events and the website, women farmers share facts about today's agriculture and dispel misconceptions about modern farming.

"I can empathize with mothers who might be confused about making healthy food choices amid all of the information surrounding their food," said Carrie. In her role with CommonGround, she talks with people who may have never been on a farm about the truth of where their food comes from and how it is raised.

"If most consumers had a better understanding of the people who grow their food and raise the animals and the practices used, they would feel more comfortable with their food choices," Kristin says.

Here, Carrie shares a family favorite for the grill -- The Stenger Family Not-Secret Pork Mignon. She uses freshly ground pork and a tangy barbecue sauce for a fresh take on a basic burger.

Kristin says that her American Lamb Arugula Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette is simple, but has big flavor. "I enjoy making this because we raise blackberries, lamb and arugula, so all the ingredients are at my fingertips. If you don't have that luxury, the ingredients are easy to find at the local grocery store."

To learn more about family farming, get food facts, find more recipes, or pose your own question to a farmer, visit

American Lamb Arugula Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette
by Kristin Reese
Makes 4 servings

1 to 2 pounds sliced roasted lamb leg
2 bunches of arugula, washed and dried
10 ounces soft, mild goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted pecans
Salt and pepper to taste

Blackberry Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup blackberry preserves
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, such as basil and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Place lamb leg into a roasting pan and roast uncovered for 20 minutes, or until a crust forms that will seal in the juices. Lower heat to 300°F. Finish cooking (bone-in roast requires additional 20 minutes per pound; boneless roast requires additional 25 minutes per pound). Internal temperature should reach 130° to 135°F for a medium rare roast.

Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes before carving. Carve against the grain about 1/2 inch thick per slice.

Whisk all Blackberry Vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl.

Arrange arugula in mounds on 4 plates with equal parts goat cheese in center of each mound.

Arrange lamb slices around goat cheese and drizzle with vinaigrette. Garnish with blackberries and toasted pecans.

Serve with crusty French bread and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Stenger Family Not-Secret Pork Mignon
by Carrie Divine
Makes 8 servings

2 1/2 pounds lean ground pork (I usually ask the local grocery store meat department to double-grind a pork loin or trimmed Boston butt for me.)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
8 bacon slices

For sauce:

1 cup BBQ sauce (hickory smoke flavor)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon steak sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon season salt

Mix the spices with pork. Don't think of doing this with a spoon -- get your hands in there. Form into patties 1 inch thick. Wrap bacon slices around outside and secure with toothpicks.

Place bacon-wrapped patties on grill over a slow fire. Begin basting immediately with sauce mixture.

Turn patties over every 10 minutes and repeat basting. If sauce begins to brown too quickly, place patties on aluminum foil. Cook over slow fire 30 to 40 minutes until done.

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers
by Linda Schwartz
Makes 10 servings

33 large jalapeño peppers
1 pound spicy sausage
1 bunch green onions
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound thin-sliced bacon

Prepare jalapeños by cutting off tops and removing seeds and membrane from insides using an apple corer.

Be careful not to poke holes in sides of peppers. Drain on paper towels.

(I recommend wearing gloves for this spicy project.)

Brown the sausage in sauce pan.

Chop onions fine in a food processor. Add browned sausage and process until meat is finely chopped.

Add cream cheese, balsamic vinegar and garlic powder. Process until combined.

Stuff peppers with sausage mixture using a jerky shooter, pastry bag or small spoon.

Cover top of pepper with one-half slice of bacon, using a toothpick to secure. Place in jalapeño pepper cooker or custard cups, making sure peppers remain upright.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 1 to
1 1/2 hours. The longer they bake, the milder they are.

Buying from local farms helps support area farmers, but most of the United States relies on food choices from around the country. In fact, only 20 percent of farm land is near large metropolitan areas. As the population grows and competes for land, energy and water, U.S. farmers are becoming more sustainable, more efficient and more productive all the time.

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Photo courtesy of United Soybean Board