Archive for March, 2011

Chasing Windmills

With recent aspersions cast on the AgChat Foundation, by a few, I felt inclined to address some of the questions that some may have, who are not familiar with the Foundation and how it was started. I also could not help but recall the following lines from Don Quixote:

Don Quixote: Dost not see? A monstrous giant of infamous repute whom I intend to encounter.
Sancho Panza: It’s a windmill.
Don Quixote: A giant. Canst thou not see the four great arms whirling at his back?
Sancho Panza: A giant?
Don Quixote: Exactly.

The AgChat Foundation’s mission is to empower farmers and ranchers to share their stories through social media platforms. It is our objective to help teach individuals how to utilize technology to share their personal story with the public.

When the Foundation was created, several key issues were agreed upon. First, the Foundation recognized the importance of individuals sharing their own story. Second, the Foundation recognized the importance of building bridges between growers and consumers so that the public could have a direct line to those that grow their food, fiber, fuel and shelter. Third, the Foundation recognized the importance of being inclusive to all commodities and all production methods; that a diverse agriculture that provides choices for consumers is essential. Read more…

Categories: AgChat Foundation

Blackout Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Blackout Cake

Prep: 30 minutes, Cook: 35 to 40 minutes, Serves: 12 to 16

This is a moist, dark chocolate cake, sure to be enjoyed by those who live on chocolate J

1 ½ sticks of softened butter

3 cups of sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup buttermilk

1 1/3 cups boiling water

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9” round pans. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add chocolate and beat 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to chocolate mixture in two additions alternately with the buttermilk. Beat until well blended. With mixer on low-speed, add boiling water and beat until smooth (the batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 to 15 minutes, then unmold onto racks and let cool completely.
  5. Cover a cake layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining ganache. Refrigerate cake 3 to 4 hours, or until ganache is firm, before serving.

Chocolate Ganache

Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 3 minutes, Chill: 1 to 1 ½ hours

Makes enough to fill and frost a 2 layer 9” cake.

18 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 ½ cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter, cut up

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a 2 quart glass bowl, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream. Heat in a microwave on High for 3 minutes or until melted and smooth when stirred. Stir in butter and vanilla.
  2. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 1 ½ hours or until ganache holds its shape and is thick enough to spread on cake.

Both of these recipes are from Natalie Haughton’s “365 Great Chocolate Desserts.”

Must Meet From SXSW

From an #agnerd perspective, SXSW was an amazing experience. It was a great opportunity to be able to be on the AgChat Foundation panel with Chris Chinn, Emily Zweber, Zach Hunnicutt and moderated by Marla Schulman. I took a little different approach to SXSW than most folks. Rather than trying to discover new hardware, software, applications or strategies, I went with the purpose of meeting and interacting with people. I have discovered that genuine and caring people are more often than not, associated with unique, beneficial and useful products and programs. Once again, this premise proved true. I would like to share a few of the people I was able to meet and speak with at SXSW and encourage you to look them up and check out what they have to offer and are involved in. Read more…

Photos, Private Property and Politics

There has been a fair amount of discussion recently over legislation being submitted across the country that would make it illegal for someone to photograph or shoot video on agricultural operations without the permission of the owner. Discussions on this type of legislation has been very polar, with folks either in full support or adamantly opposed. I find myself aligning more in the middle.

First, Senator Jim Norman (R) of Florida proposed the legislation, SB 1246, on Feb. 21, 2011.

“An act relating to farms; prohibiting a person from entering onto a farm or photographing or video recording a farm without the owner’s written consent; providing a definition; providing penalties; providing an effective date.”

Also considering similar legislation is the state of Iowa which introduced, on March 2, 2011, House File 589.

“HF 589 addresses concerns of bio-security of Iowa’s animal industry and the well-being of animals. The bill protects livestock and crop operations against unauthorized destruction, killing or injuring of stock, or disruption of agricultural or bio-technical operations on an owner’s premise. Additionally, it makes it unlawful to produce, possess, or distribute an unauthorized recording (sound or image) at an animal or crop operation.” Read more…

Balanced Budget: Direct Payments and Education

I previously had a post on my thoughts on the Farm Bill. Since then, I have put together some more thoughts on Federal programs, regulations and the deficit. For those who know me, I do not like to “beat around the bush” and so I plan on sharing a couple of posts in very frank and simple terms on issues that politicians have made very complicated. The House, Senate and President have wasted enough time talking and I am offering some straight forward recommendations in less than 2000 pages.

The Federal government spends more than it takes in and wastes much of what it does spend. If the Federal government does not balance the budget, reduce the deficit and onerous regulatory burden on business, our country is in serious trouble.  All entitlements, programs and departments must be “put on the table” and either undergo serious reform or be eliminated, to truly reduce the debt, balance the budget and return our country to one that promotes initiative, business and private sector job growth.

Farm Bill

1. Phase out all direct payments and subsidies for crops as well as credits for manufacturing and blending of ethanol over three years. Read more…

Conversations Are Beneficial

Following my post titled Size Is Relative, a respected follower of mine, Joya Parsons (@Kubileya), sent me the following tweet. In it she makes some very poignant statements that everyone in agriculture, no matter the size, commodity or production practice, should take to heart.

She begins:

@JeffFowle No one is throwing stones, but the instant backlash when a hashtag for small farms to connect was suggested is pretty telling as to the attitude coming from over #AgChat way.

I recall seeing several tweets a few days ago using the #smallfarm hashtag and thought to myself that it was a neat idea to provide a unique identifier for one of the groups that help make up agriculture. At the time I did not notice any “condescending” remarks being made, by either side. Later that day, however, I noticed a series of tweets with the new hashtag, promoting small farms (which is great), yet they were also speaking ill of those who were not “small.” This is what prompted me to write my original post. However, I had not noticed the reciprocal mudslinging, so I went back through the tweet stream to try to find out what Joya was describing and sure enough, there were some. Read more…

If you….#agnerd

First, some of you may be wondering; what is this #agnerd hashtag and where did it come from?


Agnerd (ag-nurd) nounSlang.  1. A person pursuing knowledge in technology, science and/or obscure facts who also has an interest in or actively participates in the agriculture community.  2. A mythical creature thought to only exist on social media networks.  3. A being that may be considered “unusual” by other people.

The term was first described by Chris Raines (@itweetmeat) and was brought to the mainstream by Kathy Swift (@cowartandmore). For more history, visit this post at

Since its inception, there have been many tweets and posts depicting an #agnerd in action. Here are a few that I came up with.

If you find yourself thinking about SEO while horseback or on a tractor, you might be a #agnerd Read more…

%d bloggers like this: