THE BEET: news & notes from the ranch

March 2016

From the Ranch | At the Table

Originating in Scotland, Highland Cattle have long, shaggy hair and horns to withstand harsh elements year-round and March marks the beginning of their calving season. Our cows, heifers and calves live in Tomales at our 650 acre Tomales Station ranch.

There are Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) easements on a large portion of Tomales Station. We partnered with Point Blue Conservation Science’s Students & Teachers Restoring A Watershed program (STRAW), Marin Resource Conservation District (MRCD), MALT and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to implement a Riparian Revegetation Plan at Tomales Station, the last ranch before Tomales Bay. The purpose of this plan is to minimize and control erosion to improve water quality (this water feeds directly into Tomales Bay), riparian vegetation and connect existing riparian corridors. In addition, this work helps to optimize pasture productivity and quality in order to contribute to the ecological and economic sustainability of the ranch (AKA give our cows, heifers and calves beautiful green grass to munch on, while maintaining plant and water quality).

If you didn’t know there was a difference between a cow and a heifer, there is! Cows have already had a calf; a heifer is a cow that hasn’t had a calf yet. Highland cattle have a long reproductive life, 10-12 years, compared to other breeds (approximately 8 years for Angus). Cows have been known to give birth to twins, however, it isn’t ideal because they cannot produce enough milk to feed multiple calves.

Calves are slowly weened from their mother’s milk (a gradual process in which grass is introduced into their diet over 8 to 10 months). They are completely separated from their mothers when they are healthy enough to survive without any milk. This also gives the cows time to recover before their next pregnancy. Once all of the calves are completely weened, they are all moved together, because animals do better in herds of similar size and age.

At the Table

Fava Bean Fries

Ask your farmer friends at your local farmer’s market for young fava beans.
You want them before they get too big.

1 lb fresh young fava beans, tips snipped off and rinsed

For the batter:
1 C beer
2 Tbl vodka
1 C cake flour
1½ tsp kosher salt
¾ tsp baking soda
oil for frying
salt, optional (to season the fried fava beans)

Rinse and snip the ends of the fava beans.
Line a cooling rack with paper towels.
Prepare the batter by adding the beer, vodka, flour, baking soda and salt to a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep pot (preferably cast iron) to 360-370 degrees.
Dip the fava beans one at a time in prepared batter and gently place into hot oil. Do not crowd the favas while frying (too many favas = cold oil). Fry until golden brown (about 2 minutes).
Using a spider, remove favas from oil and place on prepared cooling rack. If desired, sprinkle with salt.
Repeat with remaining favas.
To keep the fava beans warm, place them in the oven on the warm setting (approx 200 degrees).
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. We like sauce gribeche or a lemony mayonnaise.

Tags: recipe highland cattle fava bean