Farm Sanctuary

 I recently returned from a week's vacation up in Watkins Glen, home of Farm Sanctuary's New York shelter.
An early morning view of the farm from our cabin.
The People Barn houses interactive educational displays, the gift shop, and the breakfast room!
Our cabin at sunset.
Having participated in the annual Walk for Farm Animals for years, seeing that fundraising in action nearly made my heart explode.  Seriously.  There is nothing like looking into the eyes of a young cow, rescued from a stockyard at one-day old after failing to sell for $1, and knowing that you and your family and friends helped make his survival possible.
Blitzen gets some love.

What's that you say?  You'd like more animal pictures?  Well, I always aim to please...(after the jump)


The Thing I Wish Gordon Ramsay Would Say

So, I back when I had a television that got things like broadcast channels, I loved Hell's Kitchen and I used to enjoy our version of Kitchen Nightmares.  Lately, I've been watching the U.K. version on Netflix with that familiar mixture of abject horror and incredulity that marks any good bit of reality television.

If you are unfamiliar with the formula, here's it in a nutshell: Ramsay visits failing restaurants and uses his considerable charms to badger them into sucking less.  Voila!  Rarely the restaurant's chef is a talent, the kitchen is in good shape, and the issue is the menu, the ambiance, the service....much more frequently, all of those things are wrong, and the chef needs to get his act together, and, not infrequently, the kitchen is a mess of spoiled meat and rotting veg which eclipses any other problem.

Ramsay uses every tool in his box to get these places back on track, often fixing relationships as well a mindsets, world views, and technique.  One of Ramsay's favorite ways to reinvigorate a kitchen staff and reconnect a chef with his passion for food, is to visit the animals and vegetables that will be on the plate and to teach them the importance of quality ingredients.  He's had kitchen staff identify cuts of meat on a live steer, milk a cow, and pick fresh tomatoes.  All the while repeating "quality, quality, quality, fresh, fresh, fresh."

Now, I know how Ramsay feels about vegetarians.  I know he probably hates me on principal (and he's in good company there) and would take every chance to slip me meat or dairy (or would he?).  That's fine.  We don't need to be besties.  But there is one thing I wish Gordon Ramsay would say to the chefs in these kitchens who are preparing ghastly meat dishes and who are letting pounds and pounds of meat go to rot and waste as he's chanting his "Quality! Fresh!" mantra . . . an animal suffered and died to put that meat in your hands.  Never mind quality, fresh, expense - that carcass you are tossing in the bin because you were too lazy or careless was alive once.  It had a family, it played, and loved, and remembered and it wanted to keep on living.  Don't effing waste it!  Have some respect!

But Ramsay never ever says that.  And it breaks my heart a little each and every time.

*Just finished watching Ramsay's Best Restaurant from 2010 . . . the runner up was a veg Indian restaurant, Prashad!  And Gordon actually said in one episode, "Who misses meat?"  My heart is so full.  Well, it's a little full.  It's not empty.*