Chickens Love Colorado Springs!

IMG_2069-300x225Welcome to Hungry Chicken Homestead! Six hungry chickens live here as well as some other animals, and people who know where the food is stored.

The chickens love Colorado Springs and want to tell you about local farms and small businesses right here in our community!  Chickens know a thing or two about the importance of a good flock and good things to eat.  Likewise, people benefit from knowing their neighbors and knowing where to get good food!

Look around!  You’ll find stories about Colorado businesses and farms, stories about the Homestead and even listings telling you where to buy food grown or produced right here in our neck of the woods.

Wondering what to do with all that local food you can buy?  We offer food preservation and cooking classes too!

Sign up for Chickens on the Mailing List to get the class schedule, information about Colorado Springs locally owned businesses and homesteading events in your inbox!

We hope you’ll find a little inspiration for your own story too!

Colorado Springs Local Farm: Homegrown & Happiness

I was, upon visiting Kellie and Tracy Dodson’s homestead, stunned by the neatness!

Have you ever seen such a thing?

Have you ever seen such a thing?

I, too, have a Homestead in the city and it had always seemed to me that messiness goes with the territory.  Seeing no piles of scrap wood, no straw scattered everywhere and none of the misplaced landscaping rocks that chickens have kicked all over my yard, I would not have believed Kellie’s assertion that she had grown more food than she knew what to do with if I hadn’t seen the snuggly Freedom Ranger birds.

Most of the Freedom Ranger chicks were enjoying a big warm chicken pile.

Most of the chicks were enjoying a big warm chicken pile.  They eyed us, mildly concerned we’d want to join.

Mr. and Mrs. Dodson are the proprietors of Homegrown and Happiness, an urban homesteading school.  They offer classes in their backyard to teach you how to produce vegetables, eggs, meat and honey in your backyard, all without the chicken/landscape rock soccer game that we have witnessed here.

They look ready for a game, but somehow never affect the landscape.

They look ready for a game, but somehow it never gets started.

The classes are everything from keeping chickens to growing in small spaces to soap-making.  Kellie also sells some cottage food products like spelt bread, jam and eggs, which means she knows about making money with homestead products.  Their classes are a great way to get started if you’re looking to use your land to save or make a little money.

They even have a little greenhouse!

They even have a little greenhouse!

What qualifies them to teach us how to make such a productive, neat, rock-free homestead?  Kellie has been gardening most of her life.  They started producing vegetables on a larger scale about four years ago and now grow so much that even with canning and freezing it’s a challenge to use it all up by the end of the year!  They’ve had so much fun that Kellie quit her day job recently to teach people full time.

It’s always a bit challenging to get a new business organized.  “I’m kind of a little eclectic right now … just trying to figure it out.  But the biggest thing is I just want to teach people how to grow.  Because I have such a passion for providing for yourself,” Kellie explained.

The bees quietly go about their business in the side yard.

The bees quietly go about their business in the side yard.

“There is something about telling your kids, ‘Go pick dinner!’.”

You can learn more about Homegrown and Happiness through their website or catch them on a chicken coop tour.  The website includes a blog and a store where you can buy, among other things, a kombucha SCOBY, kefir grains and seasonal produce.

I am going to guest-teach a class on their homestead later this year about storing potatoes for winter.  Sign up for their (or my) newsletter to get the announcements!

But please … don’t bring any landscape rocks.

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

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Colorado Springs LOCAL Farms: Real Farmers Markets

Who can you trust?

Colorado Springs Local Business Daily Harvest Aquaponics RomaineYou may recall an article I wrote last year about a certain farmers’ market here in town that was selling produce from other states without making it clear to customers what they were buying!  I use an exclamation point because this is something of an outrage!  After all, if a “farmers market” sells the same produce as a grocery store, I’d rather go to the grocery store on my own schedule, rather than cram the visit into the four hours a week this “popup grocer” is open!

What’s worse is that they are capitalizing on the hard work of real farmers markets.  We’ve taught people to expect locally grown produce at a farmers market and these popup grocers don’t really tell customers that they are different.

So we’re back to the question … who can you trust?  I’m going to tell you.

Colorado Springs Local Farm 2015 Farmers Market Ad 4We have two farmers markets in Colorado Springs that only sell produce from farmers in Colorado.

  1. Colorado Farm and Art Market

You can find the Colorado Farm and Art Market on Wednesday at Ivywild School from 3PM – 7PM and at the Margarita at Pine Creek on Saturdays from 9AM to 1PM.  Their members include Venetucci Farm, Frost Farm, the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers co-op, Larga Vista Ranch, Ahavah Farm, Blue Skies Organic Vegetables and others who grow within driving distance of Colorado Springs.  You’ll also find Smith Farms and Hobbs Family Farm in the right season for Colorado garlic and fruit.

The season begins Wednesday June 10 and runs through October 13.

2. Downtown Sunday Market

The Downtown Sunday Market will take place in Acacia Park (where the Uncle Wilbur Fountain is, at Tejon & Bijou) every Sunday from 9AM – 2PM from June 14 through October 11.  Hunt or Gather manages this market.  They get the produce from the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers and other farms around the state that they have confirmed grow to their standards.

By supporting these markets, you’re supporting our Colorado economy, keeping farms viable in our state and voting for real Colorado food with your dollars.  Visit regularly, tell your friends, get to know your farmers.

Let’s support the kind of world where we can truly trust the people who sell us our food.

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

2015 Hungry Chicken Homestead Chicken Rankings

You know what happens when new chickens join your flock?

They compete… actually, they fight, but it’s less distressing to say they are competing.  Otherwise I feel like I have rival gangs living in my backyard.

Four chickens from another backyard moved in recently and the 2015 Poultry Pecking Order Competition has begun!  They aren’t quite done yet, but for those of you who like to follow this sort of sport, here are the current rankings:

1.  Middle Chicken
Team: Resident
Breed: Rhode Island Red
Age: 5 years
2014 Ranking: Head Chicken

Notes: Middle Chicken was witnessed in a five minute match with Bobbi for head chicken position.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  They both got tired after a minute and stood chest to chest, alternately resting and pecking each other’s heads.

2.  Blond Chicken
Team: Resident
Breed: Rhode Island Red
Age: 5 years
2014 Ranking: #2

Notes: Blond Chicken was Chicken #4 of the original four Homestead birds.  Her meteoric rise is due in part to persistence and in part to the untimely natural deaths of two former head chickens.

3.  Buttercup
Team: Resident
Breed: Sicilian Buttercup
Age: 3 years
2014 Ranking: #4

Notes: Buttercup once survived a raccoon attack.  She also makes the cutest sound.

4.  Little Red Hen
Team: Resident
Breed: New Hampshire Red
Age: 1 year
2014 Ranking: #3

Notes: Little Red Hen benefits significantly from being red.  Chickens are notoriously racist and this bird is allowed to hang around with Chickens #1 and #2 since they are also red.

5.  Bobbi
Team: Newcomers
Breed: Barred Rock
Age: Unknown
2014 Ranking: Head Chicken

Notes: Bobbi was once kicked out of a coop for being too bossy.  The high-ranking red hens aren’t having it and continue to chase her around the yard.

6. Stray Chicken
Team: Resident
Breed: Easter Egger
Age: 2 years
2014 Ranking: #5

Notes: Stray Chicken is sweet as pie.  We are happy to see her hold her own in the middle of the pack.

7:  Raven
Team: Newcomers
Breed: Sex Link
Age: 2 years
2014 Ranking: #2

Notes: Raven is a big chicken.  We may see her climb in the rankings as she gets more comfortable in the yard.

8. Georgia Lee
Team: Newcomers
Breed: Sex Link
Age: 2 years
2014 Ranking: #3

Notes: Georgia Lee has no interest in this competition, other than to stay close to Raven and make nervous chicken sounds when a red hen comes by.

9: Randi
Team: Newcomers
Breed: Easter Egger
Age: Unknown
2014 Ranking: #4

Notes: Like Stray Chicken, Randi is very sweet.  At this rate, she may pull enough heartstrings to be allowed to sleep in the Chicken B&B in the garage.

Colorado Springs Local Farm: Minibelly’s Farm

I asked Michael O’Malley of MInibelly’s Farm if the controversy and legal wrangling made him regret investing himself and his family in the tomato greenhouses in Black Forest.  His answer sticks with me.

“I believe the Lord wanted me to build it, so I built it,” he said, simply.

Maybe faith and the struggle to do something meaningful underlie all of the articles I write for this blog, but it is particularly salient in this one.  You see, the two families who run Minibelly’s set out with the excitement and hope typical of entrepreneurs.  They wanted to produce organic tomatoes for Colorado Springs and bring us another option for locally grown food.  It’s a noble enough goal, but since the county granted their permit, they’ve been under siege by some of its neighbors.

Colorado Springs Local Farm Minibellys Greenhouse 6

The greenhouse did not provide a clue when I drove past the farm on my way to the interview. I didn’t see it!

I can’t say I know the whole story.  You can read a well-written and balanced account on the Right to Thrive blog, but I’m too biased in favor of farming to be truly fair.  I can’t blame residents for fearing change around what is often a family’s biggest investment, their home, but I also can’t condone what amounts to harassment.  Minibelly’s followed the rules, the county approved their permit and they’ve won every lawsuit; but the group continues to raise money to take them to court yet again.

Rows and rows of tomatoes populate the greenhouse.

Rows and rows of tomatoes populate the greenhouse.

I asked Michael what made him want to start this business.

“I really found memories of my grandpa,” he said of his grandfather who had continued to farm in Chicago despite encroaching residential development. “He was in the middle of the city raising ducks and chickens and horses.”  He also told me of a desire to share his work with his wife, Nicole, and their children; something that wasn’t possible when he was a military intelligence officer.

Michael and his business partner, Ben Honken, had been working together at Summit Ministries when they discovered a common goal.  They wanted to be producers.  They wanted to build something and contribute something tangible to our community.

Colorado Springs Local Farm Minibellys TomatoesThey settled on farming, but the journey towards this goal was a long one.  Neither had much experience with agriculture as a business.  Michael had been in the Army until 2010 and was able to use the G.I. Bill to complete a Veterans to Farmers program to learn how to farm.  They had to find a way to finance the venture and that required a commitment of savings on the part of both families and they took out loans too.  Both men were longtime residents of Colorado Springs and they wanted to stay, but as anyone paying attention to agriculture in the Mountain West knows, farming isn’t easy out here.  Water rights, soil deficiencies and unpredictable weather make it difficult to start a new farm or keep an established one.

Colorado Springs Local Farm Minibellys Greenhouse 5As often happens in our modern world, technology offered assistance.  Ben and Michael discovered controlled agricultural greenhouses.  A greenhouse hydroponic system allows the farmer to control some of the growing conditions.  It uses less than a third of the water of traditional farming, nothing to sneeze at in a region where the seniority of your water rights can be the difference between growing food or a fallow field.

They decided to pursue it.  It would require intensive education in both agriculture and law, but would likely provide a more stable living for their families.

Colorado Springs Local Farm Minibellys Green Tomatoes 2Families?  Make no mistake, this is a story about two families, not just two entrepreneurs.  Each family lives in its own house on the farm’s property where Nicole O’Malley and Lydia Honken homeschool their respective children.  Those nine children have as much to lose as the adults.

“We’ve invested everything we have into making this successful,” Michael said of the partner families.

Today, the greenhouse is a reality.  I joined a tour and we walked around inside, breathing the humidified air and inspecting the soil-less plants.  I was surprised to feel a light rain during a discussion of pollination.  Michael explained that the humidification system detects when the air is too dry and adds moisture by “raining”.  Later, we heard a humming sound and panels at the top separated, making a long window.  The sun heats the space through the panels, like all greenhouses, but opens up when it gets too hot.

I was also surprised to see bees!  They pollinate the plants, just like they do outside.

I was also surprised to see bees! They pollinate the plants, just like they do outside.

The first crop of tomatoes is growing nicely and soon Minibelly’s tomatoes will be available at local grocery stores.  You can also buy them through Hunt or Gather’s Buying ClubMinibelly’s offers tours of the greenhouse, but you must contact them to schedule one.  Like all farmers, they are very, very busy.

Colorado Springs Local Farm Minibellys Suspicious chicken 2

Minibelly’s keeps a few chickens, but they are not allowed in the greenhouse.

I wish this didn’t have to be an article about local politics.  I’d rather have spent more words on the amazing technology or the way these families strengthen their relationships through shared work, but the attempts to put them out of business overwhelmed all of this.  If you’d like to help out, visit Minibelly’s GoFundMe site.  You can help by writing letters of support, donating to the fund or sharing the campaign site.

“I believe the Lord wanted me to build it, so I built it,” Michael said, an expression of faith in the face of adversity and impending disaster that I find to be stunning, beautiful and inspiring.  If we want local food, we need local farms.  If we want farmers to invest in our community, we need to support their right to grow unmolested.  If we want small businesses in our world, we need to buy from them.

If we don’t want to see farms disappearing, like Michael’s grandfather’s farm did after his death, we need to stand up for the ones we have.

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

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Colorado Springs Local Business: Earth Cures

“I call them ‘glycerites'”, says Becky Anderson, owner of Earth Cures Natural Herbal Remedies.  She couldn’t call them “tinctures” because a tincture typically contains alcohol and these don’t.  She makes the glycerites from vegetable glycerin, apple cider vinegar and medicinal herbs.

“Wait!”, you say.  “That sounds an awful lot like the recipe for vinaigrette!”

True.  In fact, the Daily Dose glycerite Becky gave me to try tastes a lot like vinaigrette.  And now that I’ve spilled some on my shirt, my shirt smells like vinaigrette too.  But that’s not part of the instructions.  It says to take two full droppers with food and not a thing about laundry.

Colorado Springs Local Business Earth Cures DisplayMy clumsiness aside, I was struck during my conversation with Becky at how much care she puts into her herbal remedies.  She develops a relationship with the herbs and with the remedies.  She speaks of them holistically, explaining that she puts her time, energy, care and prayers into them.  She doesn’t work with the herbs when she’s in a negative mood because all of that energy is ultimately carried to the customer.

Her remedies take more interaction than a simple tincture.  If you put herbs in alcohol and leave them alone, the alcohol with dissolve the herbal properties on its own.  Not so with glycerine.  It takes five to seven days of labor to extract the herbal properties.

I’ll pause here and note that I’m the sort of person who needs see, smell and do math where it comes to plants.  During our conversation I mentioned that it’s hard for me to understand statements about the energy of the maker being carried through the product.  Becky patiently explained that plants have social needs, as you may say.  A plant thrives where the life is, not in isolation.  She plants her seeds and develops a relationship with the plant; monitoring them, talking to them and praying over them.

Colorado Springs Local Business Earth Cures SalvesSince she has been studying plants and their properties a long time, she would know.  Her interest in them began when she was a young girl.  She grew her first garden at the age of four.

“What made you interested in plants?”, I asked.

“They’re beautiful,” she responded.

That interest in plants, along with an interest in cooking, eventually led to making herbal remedies.  She made them for family and friends until starting the business in 2012.  Earth Cures offers alcohol-free “tinctures”, salves, liniments and lip balms.  You can order all her remedies from the website.  She has no plans to open a store, but you can find her at events around town, like Herbfest, Vegfest and the Teeny House Jamboree.

Colorado Springs Local Business Earth Cures Lip BalmsI loved her answer when I asked what she likes about running a business and I’ll close with that.

“I created it.  I like it because I’m a stay at home mom and I don’t want a job where I have to answer to someone.  I created a job that allows me to do what I love, which is helping people through food or herbs, and allows me to be there for my children no matter what.”

“I can be a mom this one time.  This is my chance.”

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Springs Local Farm: Yoga Retreat at Mountain Goat Lodge

Honestly, this sounds like the most relaxing retreat ever.

Colorado Springs Local Business Mountain Goat Lodge Yoga RetreatNot only will it involve yoga, massage, hiking and good food; but in between the activities you can visit with goats, chickens and ducks.

In my personal opinion, goats and poultry are just about the most soothing thing around.

Colorado Springs Local Farm Mountain Goat Goat Face 2Well … except maybe for cats.

Patience in a boxThe retreat is June 1 – June 3, 2015.  Call the Lodge at 719-539-7173 to register.

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©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Business Directory: Created in Colorado

Have you visited Created in Colorado, the business directory for all things produced in Colorado?  Co-creator Laura Sherman tells us all about it below!

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Country of origin labeling on my chicken? Why is this even an issue?

All Ears
I may not be able to control where my family’s socks, electronics and clothing were manufactured, but couldn’t they just leave my chicken alone?  This was my reaction several years ago when the country of origin labeling discussion was occurring.  Before this point I never gave a thought to where it was raised, the good or bad conditions they were raised in or, God forbid, that my chicken breasts were shipped from overseas.

This was before I was “enlightened”, before I realized just how out of touch I was with the reality of where the products and foods that I purchased on a daily basis for my family and myself were actually coming from.

Sure, I knew in the back of my mind this easy way of shopping at superstores was maybe not the best way, but it was convenient……..and what other options were there?

bunnysheeptext
I had occasionally shopped at local farm markets, craft fairs and trade shows for various items.  It was an occasional convenient way to get what I needed and support a local.  But it was never #1 priority.  Convenience was!

EastMesaDesingJeep

Then a friend enlightened me.  This friend was Nathalie Bouchard, a French Canadian American Locovore who truly saw the need to help both those producing Colorado goods and those looking for Colorado goods.  Nathalie saw the impact that buying local had on her community and knew that this was a trend that needed support.  She knew there needed to be further education of people like me and that people like me truly needed good tools to find those producers easily, quickly and conveniently.  They needed to be motivated and educated about the importance and value of the shop local movement.
IMElkTrio
The solution to this was to build a web directory that was chock full of Colorado producers of every kind.  Creating a yellow pages of sorts for Colorado manufacturers, artists, craftsmen, & food growers to display their contact and product information easily and conveniently for interested consumers that were looking to add a little local to their diets and monthly budgets.

SOM RED SHOES
Created In Colorado strives to provide easy to find info on both made in Colorado products and their producers.  With easy to navigate product specific directories its simple to find both mundane everyday supplies as well as unique Colorado made gifts and specialty items.

So what do you say, ready to challenge yourself?

  1. Pick one household item per month to buy locally.  Mine is soap.  There are a hundreds of handcrafted soap companies in Colorado to choose from.( Look in our soap directory.)   I signed up for a soap subscription through Prideful Wellness.  Talk about convenient! My soap arrives on a monthly basis to my PO Box, I enjoy and embrace it because for one, I don’t have to shop for it, and for two, it’s great soap that has great ingredients I want my family using.
  2. Consider Local Meats.  Buying in bulk makes it economical.  Buying it local is just sensible.   Meat is not season specific, and it’s not hampered by our short Colorado growing season, so why do we import this item? Let’s support our local ranchers and farmers and provide our family with a clean verifiable source of healthy protein.  Find Chicken, Beef, Lamb and Eggs in your area.
  3. Make gift giving unique, memorable and special.  Think local first when shopping for gifts.  One of kind always rates higher than one of a million, right? And there is something Dave Ramsey says about birthdays and holidays seasons.  They come around the same time each year, how in the world can they sneak up on you?  Think ahead so you are not scrambling and settling for a one of a million gift instead of one in a million.  Look in our gift guide for some hints.

 

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©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Springs Local Farm: Mountain Goat Lodge

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  The chickens heard they could get better care (which translates to “more snacks” in the chicken mind), so they tried to send me to a class.

I went willingly.  I love classes in pretty places.

I went willingly. I love classes in pretty places.

They sent me to the Mountain Goat Lodge, a B&B near Salida, CO that really does have classes about backyard chickens!  Have you been thinking about getting dwarf goats for your homestead?  The Lodge also offers goat care classes!

Goat Closeup!

Goat Closeup!

Owner Gina Marcell teaches the classes and she’s particularly well qualified to help people keep goats.  She ran a goat rescue before she ran an inn, a line of work she got into because she had been rescuing dogs.  As fate would have it, she found herself taking in three orphaned baby goats; Tony, Sylvio and Pauly.

“I just fell in love,” she said.  “I quit doing dog rescue and started doing goat rescue.”

About five years ago, she bought the B&B and moved from Washington with 12 goats, 25 chickens, three dogs and a cat.  With 20 years of customer service experience, it was a natural transition and Gina makes guests feel at home.

Everyone lives peacefully on the property now, along with some new residents.

Everyone lives peacefully on the property now, along with some new residents.

She also makes breakfast …

We started with homemade yogurt.

We started with homemade yogurt.

And then we ate huevos rancheros with eggs from her chickens.

And then we ate huevos rancheros with eggs from her chickens.

And then we ate homemade cinnamon rolls!

And then we ate homemade cinnamon rolls!

I was delighted to learn that Gina also has experience as a barista!  I drank perfect latte after perfect latte.

And then I had to go run around with the dog.  That was a lot of caffeine and food.

As you can see here, I was the only one who had too much caffeine.

As you can see here, I was the only one who had too much caffeine.

We spent a lot of time outside.

These little pullets were wandering around all over the place.  Sometimes they would walk with us and join the conversation.

These little pullets were wandering around all over the place. Sometimes they would walk with us and join the conversation.

I also got to answer a burning question of mine, with Gina’s help.  I had picked up ducks for the first time a few days prior to our visit and was surprised to learn that ducks are squishy!  Was this true for all ducks?

I wanted to know if this was always true.

I annoyed one of these fellows by picking him up as a test.

Turns out it is true.  Ducks have a lot of fat and, unlike chickens, feel like a loosely stuffed toy bird.

We got to pick up the baby goats too.  They are not squishy, but they are extremely cute.

We got to pick up the baby goats too. They are not squishy, but they are extremely cute.

Gina loves working with animals and showing guests around.

If you go in the right season, you may also get to eat produce out of the Mountain Goat Lodge greenhouse!

If you go in the right season, you may also get to eat produce out of the Mountain Goat Lodge greenhouse!

You can tell she enjoys running her own business too.  She has dozens of improvement projects going on and is always adding classes and services.

You can stay in the beautiful lodge.

You can stay in the beautiful lodge.  Each room has its own balcony!

If you have a larger party, you can rent one of four trailers on the property.  They each have space to sleep three, a bathroom and a small kitchen!  Soon, a two bedroom trailer from the 1950s will be available too.  The Lodge offers classes, tours, a campfire on Saturday nights and plenty of time with animals.

Will my chickens get more snacks in the future?  Well, I was too busy playing with the pullets, ducks and goats to have time for a class.

My chickens will just have to send me back.

Colorado Springs Local Farm Mountain Goat Lodge Arkansas River

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©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

 

Colorado Springs Local Business: Cacao Chemistry

If you were going to start a business, how would you do first?  The chickens and I started slowly.  I took a class, they wrote a business plan. I started a blog, they worked on their antics to give me writing material.  After a year or so, we decided to try selling something.

Evidently, not everyone does it in this slow, planned fashion.

Evidently, not everyone does it in this slow, planned fashion.

“On Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to start a chocolate business,” says Sam Lang of herself and her partner Travis Ashing.  They didn’t want to miss the rapidly approaching Christmas season, so they set the Opening Day of their business for December … at the Broadmoor Chocolate Festival!

“We filed the paperwork and I made 1200 truffles in two days,” she said, without looking excited or overwhelmed at all.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat.  “How did it go?”, I asked.

“It went well,” she said.  “We got invited to participate in the Indulgence Festival.”

Sam made 2000 samples for the Indulgence Festival and began running out after 90 minutes.

Sam made 2000 samples for the Indulgence Festival and began running out after 90 minutes.

The business, Cacao Chemistry, makes chocolates with a European profile.  “I’m a pastry chef who doesn’t like sugar, ” explains Sam.  “I like a balance of all the primary flavors.”

I didn't know chocolate held passports, but I do like it when I can taste the non-sweet flavors in chocolates.

I didn’t know chocolate had nationality, but I do like it when I can taste the non-sweet flavors in them.

I had a really good time at this interview.  Not only was it fun to hear Sam’s subtle jokes, but I had the unusual opportunity to taste chocolates in the presence of the chef.  Good chocolate is as much fun to talk about as it is to eat.  Here are bits of our conversation about a few different pieces.

Sparkling Strawberry:  This is a dark chocolate ganache with wine and strawberry jam.  I bit into it and could definitely taste the ganache and the strawberry.  And then I noticed a fizziness.

“Is that a sparkling wine?”, I said, surprised, delighted and mystified.

“It’s unflavored popping candy,” Sam explained.  It’s impossible to make the fizz in the wine stay in the ganache, but the candy on top makes you taste it!

The Sparkling Strawberry is in the center.

The Sparkling Strawberry is in the center, looking innocent.

White Buttered Coffee:  You can see this one at the bottom center of the picture below.  It has a creamy center with high butterfat butter.  Where does it get the coffee flavor?  From the bean on top!  Nothing tastes more like coffee than coffee.

Colorado Springs Local Business Cacao Chemistry Assortment 8Peppery Mint:  This one is never exactly the same twice because the spices behave differently each time, even if Sam puts in exactly the same amount.  That’s half the fun.  One time, I ate one with a strong peppery flavor and another time the mint dominated.

The mint is in the middle.

The mint is in the middle.

You can follow Cacao Chemistry on Facebook to see where they will be or visit their website to order.  They are also opening a store on 6455 Omaha Blvd. this year.

I’ll end this article with another quote from Sam.

“I think I was born to be an entrepreneur.  I really like that part of it.  I’m all about the growth and being something successful, no matter what it is.”

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Springs Local Business: Mountain Pie CO

Did you see this booth at the Colorado Farm and Art Market (CFAM) last year?

Maybe not ... It tends to be obscured by people standing in front of it.

Maybe not … It tends to be obscured by people standing in front of it.

Closer up, it looks like this:

These pies were baked and then brought straight to the market before they could even cool off!

These pies were baked and then brought straight to the market before they could even cool off!

The Mountain Pie CO has been at the CFAM Ivywild Winter Markets too.  I’m there all day since I work for CFAM and I like to wait until I just can’t wait anymore and then I visit with co-owner Tara Campbell and buy a pie.  I find myself a quiet corner and carefully bite into it (since it’s still hot from the oven).  It’s about the most satisfying thing in the world at that moment; tender crust, lots of flavorful filling and a good balance of flavors.

Look at the words imprinted in the crust and let me tell you why that is remarkable.

Look at the words imprinted in the crust and let me tell you why that is remarkable.

I’m afraid I must speak for a moment about public food enemy #1 of our era: gluten.  Have you ever made bread?  Gluten is the element that makes the dough springy.  You press your finger into well-kneaded dough and it bounces back.  Different types of flour have more or less gluten, but generally if you mix wheat flour with water and handle it a bit, you’ll get some springiness.

The pie in the picture above has words pressed into it.  That should be impossible, considering the springiness we just talked about, but there it is!  How do they do it?  Honestly, I’m not entirely sure, but Matt Campbell, the baker, told me it takes five days to make one of these pies and it involves something called a Scotch pie curing technique.

Whatever Matt’s secret technique is, it sure does make a tender crust!  Yum!

It's worth noting that the Mountain Pie COs pies do not contain lard, like many NZ pie recipes.  Matt uses butter and cultured sour cream for the fat.

It’s worth noting that the Mountain Pie COs pies do not contain lard, like many NZ pie recipes. Matt uses butter and cultured sour cream for the fat.

I asked Matt and Tara how they got into the Remarkably Tender Pie business and Matt told me  he is from New Zealand, where meat pies are available everywhere.  His mother is American and since he always wanted to see where she came from, he came to visit and stayed.

“I loved it!  Never had a desire to go back home … except to have  meat pie!”, he said.

He started making them and Tara tells how she thought they were all delicious … until he made the next improved batch.

From Matt’s perspective, “Our first batches were crude and heartbreaking.”

I asked how long it took to get them right and he said it’s taken a while.  They’re close now, but he keeps improving them.

I'm with Tara.  I think they are delicious right now.

I’m with Tara. I think they are delicious right now.

Mountain Pie CO officially became a business on April 19, 2014 and today Tara does the marketing while Matt does the baking.  He does A LOT of baking!  You can order these pies online, you can get them frozen at Ranch Foods Direct and you can get them at festivals and farmers markets, hot out of the oven!  You can even rent Matt, Tara and the pie warmer for private events.

“Unless you’ve had one of our meat pies, you can’t compare it to anything.  It’s the Rolls Royce of pot pies,” explains Matt.

I don’t need to compare it to anything, even fancy cars.  I’ll be too busy, curled up in a warm corner like a sleepy cat on a winter day, eating a pie.

(Note: All the pictures in this article came from the Mountain Pie CO Facebook page and link to their website.)

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©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

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