Reflections on 15 years of Rancho Mastatal: Third Trimester Newsletter 2015

On November 1, the Ranch celebrated it's 15th birthday.  In Costa Rica, and in many parts of Latin America, a girl's “quinceañera” marks her passage to womanhood.  In similar ways, our 15th birthday feels like a transition to the next important stage of our existence.  As for many humans, our first decade and a half was characterized by a lot of experimentation and a sometimes reckless navigation of our environment.  We fortunately had people in our community acting as parents and guiding us to decisions that did not lead to our extermination.  Now that we have survived this first stage of life, our “crystal anniversary” marks the next phase of our development and one that we hope will be characterized by compassion, intelligence, leadership, determination, empathy, strength, honesty and confidence.  Our organizational structure continues to streghthen as our teaching methodologies become more effective and consistent.  We are learning how to take better care of our ourselves and everyone that we work with while implementing systems that provide for us in ways that also care for the earth.  We are taking confident and measured steps to better share with others what we have learned while working to develop systems that will provide financially for the members of our community.  It can all be a delicate balance at times and our talented team gets better each day at moving forward in a way that we hope is fairer and more effective for all involved.  We're currently studying the advantages of a goverance structure called Sociocracy or Dynamic Goverance and an associated decision-making stategy called “consent”.  We've also been learning about a process named Non-Violent Communication (NVC).  We're excited about the possibilities that these new ideas will provide us  in the future and would encourage anyone interested in the type of lifestyle that we have chosen to check them out in more depth.  

With this year coming to a close, we're gearing up for another busy season in Mastatal.  Our calendar and priorities are mostly set with Greenwood College School out of Toronto kicking off the new season once again in early January.  Our year-long apprenticeship starts closely on the heels of this high school visit with Aerie returning at the end of the month to run their annual Wilderness Medicine Semester.  We'll be busy and engaged with educational programs, work in the orchards and building projects and look forward to our best year yet.  I'd like to thank our stateside family and friends for making our visit so special again this year.  Without this downtime each fall, it's hard to imagine keeping our energy intact for our work in the rainforest.  We look forward to everyone's continued support and wish you all a wonderful holiday season and new year.    

This month's update includes:

Program News: Winterline
Building: Natural Building Update for 2016
Farm: Main House/Zone 1 Redesign: Looking at the Spaces Between
Food: Fruit and Vegetable Storage Tips
Community: Folk Music and Resiliency
Apprentice/Guest Contribution: Zen and the Art of Bio-D Maintenance
Kitchen:  Cheesy Buttermilk Biscuits
Inspirational Impressions: Compassion

Program News


Learning and teaching hard skills, such as sharpening a machete, are increasingly important part of our educational programming.  Winterline, an organization with whom we worked together for the first time in November, shares our goal in helping to enpower future generations to deal with the challenges of our times.  The group of 16 gap year students engaged in a host of activities while at the Ranch with their two focuses being permaculture design and natural building.  Ranch instructors NIC DONATI and SCOTT GALLANT led up the instruction for this group.  Following is a wonderful article written by one of the Winterline students about her experience at the Ranch.


Rancho Mastatal took me by sweet surprise. When we arrived, I can’t remember what I thought. All I knew was we’d be learning about soil and shit like that. I left high expectations behind and prepared myself for another week in the jungle.

Scott, an Ohio native with hair that made me ache for highlights (once a fake blonde always a fake blonde), was the first staff member we met. He introduced us to Jeanne’s Bunk House where we’d be sleeping for the next eleven days and laid out an orientation of sorts. I remember him saying he hoped Rancho Mastatal would be our favorite partner of Winterline, and that, if we let it, it could change our lives. I can remember feeling sort of bad for him for a second. Thinking, hmm. Ya, no.

Good to know my assumptions were not only unjustified but completely off. I’m a lot more interested in soil than I expected. Permaculture to be more specific.  And, though I don’t expect to change my livelihood overnight, there’s a lot I learned here that I will take back home with me. The big picture being: caring about our earth matters. And if you allow yourself to sit back and watch people like Scott, Nic, Doro, Jacob (the list goes on) do what they do, you gain a new perspective and appreciation for the sustainability of this planet we share. And how little changes and little impacts truly matter.

Yeah, so I walk away with permaculture. But, I walk with more than that. In one week, the Rancho gave us a home. I read through three books (a love I lost along the way through life in academia, ironically) and wrote a poem that didn’t end in a massive scribble-y blob. I woke up early to milk the goats, not because I had to, but because I actually felt at peace with Fern and Agnus. I felt the difference in energy from getting a full eight hours – if not more – of sleep each night. I ate really good, really healthy food straight from the earth. I fell asleep in hammocks and walked through waterfalls and rivers. I even started to appreciate my bare and dirty feet, and I really hate my feet.  I haven’t had make up on in weeks. Mountains of bug bites cover my arms and legs. My hair is always in a bun because I have no idea what else to do with it. But, I feel like myself. An unfamiliar version of myself, but myself nonetheless.

And I like to think I walk away with a friend. Someone who, a year younger than I am, seems wise beyond her years. Someone who brought a lot of experience and value to our conversations, but would genuinely listen as well. A kind of reciprocity you don’t find often. We swapped stories about the music we listen to, talked about group dynamics and living in small communities, and best of all, I thought, we talked about finding the sweet spot. And if she ever reads this she’ll know exactly what I mean. Thanks Jessy.

Nic said that if I applied for an apprenticeship at Rancho Mastatal I would be accepted; he wants me to come back. And that, as Junot Diaz puts it, made the blood do jumping jacks in my head. Because I really fell in love with this place. I would love to come back. I thought, well, what if I do? What if I spend another year outside of the U.S.? That would be incredible, right?

Then I think about my favorite café (yes this is my thought process).  I have a lot of favorite cafes. I think about how I always feel a ping of curiosity when I see a “We’re Hiring” sign in the window. I should work here, I say. Why wouldn’t I want to work at my favorite café?

Because it would absolutely ruin every single reason it was your favorite café in the first place.

And part of me feels the same way about Rancho. Right now, it’s perfect just the way I see it. And maybe that’s enough. Chances are I’ll think about it. But, I’ve got a long way to go. My hope is, when I get home in May, I have a million strings pulling me in a million different directions. And, as stressful as that will be, I can choose my fate. I will have options. And that’s the best kind of confusion I could ask for.


Natural Building Update for 2016

2016 marks an exciting year for Rancho Mastatal in the natural building realm.  We hope to run our first ever extended Natural Building Certificate when we will be building a structure in between Jeanne’s Bunkhouse and the classroom.  The idea of this new structure is to provide alternative guest accommodations that are more on the conventional style, to allow smaller groups to be housed in this structure (there will be potential room for 12 students), or to be used for teacher accommodations nearer the bigger group in Jeannie’s.  This additional structure will give us a bit more flexibility with housing.  Currently at the Ranch we  have 4 core team members in additional to Timo, Robin and Sole.  This has lead to many of the smaller structures being almost permanently occupied. This has meant that despite the vast infrastructure that the Ranch has developed over the last 15 years, in the high season, we still never seem to have enough beds!  

With the evolution of the apprenticeship, which is now lasting one year, it is also means that the Hankey is coming under pressure to comfortably house all of the apprentices.  Whilst originally the open and spacious Hankey was perfect for people staying less than a few months, it has now gone under several renovations to make it more appealing for people to stay for the longer-term.  As we strive for more stability in both the apprenticeship crew and the core team it has become evident that people need a bit more of their own space and privacy.  After all, in the high season, we frequently have 40 or more people at the Ranch.

As we try to predict the housing needs of the future, we also have to try to meet the needs of the present!  As Sole has gotten older, it has also become increasingly necessary for her to have her own space.  As a result, after a few years hiatus, we will be hosting a Timber Frame course in January 2017.  The course will build a frame that will adjoin the Choza, providing Sole with her own, overdue bedroom.  It will be great to have Lizabeth and Skip back down at the Ranch as it has been too long since since we were able to host them and the TF course!

This year the core team spent a significant amount of time developing our mission, vision, goals and objectives.  We identified over 15 building projects that we all wanted to happen and spent time trying to prioritize these buildings for the next few years.  It became apparent that with our current capacity (money, labor, skills etc.) we were not really able to finish more than two buildings a year.  As a result, some buildings have had to be shelved for at least a few years.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we talked about how we believed that the Ranch's infrastructure was almost complete and that we could finally slow down on the building front.  In a way that is true.  The infrastructure that the Ranch has is fantastic and has been developed over such a long time but perhaps there is something inside that always wants more.  Perhaps it is one of my greatest flaws or perhaps one of my greatest assets that I continually want to improve things.  Yes, it worked having just one kitchen to do everything but it is going to be better with two! Yes, teachers can stay in the Hooch when their students are in Jeanne's, but it may be better for them to be closer by!  Sure, the Hankey worked fine with no visual barriers, but it is more comfortable with dividing walls!  

As we move forward with the development of the Ranch's infrastructure we have to continually ask, “How does this all fit within our definition of sustainability?”  It is definitely not sustainable to keep expanding.  Part of the reason that our species is in such a pickle is because of that attitude, continued expansion when our resources are finite.  It is something we think about all the time and we try to weigh the positives with the negatives.  We also try to build as sustainably as possible but it is still something that we must continue to think about.

By Nic Donati


Main House/Zone 1 Redesign: Looking at the Spaces Between

Over the years at the Ranch we have designed and built a diverse and amazing array of structures. From the bamboo treehouse-like Hooch to the timber-frame elegance of the Honey Hut, the Ranch has beautiful, creative and useful buildings. While much of our energy goes into our structures, we’ve learned that how a building interacts with and connects to surrounding spaces can be just as important. Inspired by the addition of the Ceiba Lounge, a hybrid processing kitchen and social space located off of the Main House, Laura and I decided to take a closer look at the Main House area and see how we can improve connectivity in an area that is both the physical and social heart of Rancho Mastatal.  

The Design Process

We began the process in 2014 by taking a deep look around. What are the activities that happen here? Who uses the space? What works and what doesn’t? We interviewed fellow Ranchers about their use of the site and made a detailed base map of the site that allowed us to see physical relationships between different areas. As the center point and most used space at the Ranch, this complex area needs to serve many roles. We identified our goals for the space looking both at the uses of the Main House area but also the qualities we want it to project.  It should be welcoming, beautiful, functional and organized.  A thorough site assessment and analysis helped us see the challenges on the site and what changes are possible. Next came the fun part---creating design concepts. Laura and I brainstormed and sketched, coming up with multiple options for redesigning the space, which we presented to the core team. After discussion and revision we were ready to start implementing our working design.  

Implementation (Let the digging begin!!!)

So what did we come up with? The new design addresses many of the challenges of the space. Our trusty dry season apprentice crew of Shea, Mariah, Matt, Addie, Jesse and many friends spent weeks shoveling and picking to transform the ranch entranceway, build new planting beds, create raised access paths and dig detention basins and swales. As anyone who has ever emptied the kitchen compost bucket or brought firewood from the garage to the rocket stoves has experienced, Zone 1 lacked dry and direct paths. With the new kitchen slated to bring more activity to the area it was imperative that we make better paths that work in all weather. 

Some of the Ranch’s challenges are due to the rainforest climate and steep topography. Rancho Mastatal receives 4-6 meters of rain a year (that’s apx. 13-19 ft)! We want to slow and sink as much water into the ground on-site and safely direct the extra water into areas where it can’t cause erosion, a huge concern with the steep slope directly behind the Main House and Ceiba Lounge. Two new detention basins will help absorb rainfall as well as provide a breeding habitat for some of Mastatal’s many frogs.

Looking Forward

2016 will continue to bring changes to the Main House and Zone 1 Area. We’ll be tackling the back pathway, the composting structure, rebuilding the remaining vegetable beds and most excitingly, finishing construction on the processing kitchen!   


Fruit and Vegetable Storage Tips

This article was originally published by Permaculture Magazine here.

Learn how how careful picking, packing and storage can increase the life of your harvest and how each fruit and veg has its ideal storage environment.

I’m not going to lie, post-harvest handling of fruits and vegetables is a rabbit hole that will take you to strange and fascinating places. What happens to plants after they’re picked is not as simple as it appears on the surface. Leaves turn toward the sunlight, sugars transmogrify into new shapes, cells grab at moisture and gases. And all these changes affect harvested plants before we eat them – for better or worse. A basic understanding of the forces at play will help you to maximize the abundance of your harvest in any climate or season.

There’s something alive in my fridge!

Everything lives and dies a little differently. Animals have fixed life spans, which end at a finite point in time. Some microbes, like bacteria, have no programmed death and under the right conditions can divide indefinitely – essentially living forever. Plants, including fruits and vegetables, lie somewhere in between on the scale of life and death. Plants die slowly, over time, through a process called senescence.1

When you eat produce picked fresh from the farm, it is still very much alive. Its cells are actively metabolizing and respiring. Once a fruit or vegetable has been picked, however, it loses its source of nutrients, and its cells slowly begin to die and degrade. As the cells senesce (die slowly) it loses its vibrant appearance and eventually begins to spoil.

You can prolong the life and vibrancy of your living produce by handling and storing them in conditions that slow senescence.

Understanding Post-Harvest Life
All living things, including plants, have a direct and dynamic relationship with the non-living world around them. They take in gases, water, and nutrients and transform them into energy for growth. Although vegetables may appear to move and grow slowly and once picked look completely inert, they are wildly interactive with the world around them.

Respiration and Water Loss
Fruits and vegetables use oxygen to help create the energy they need to build and maintain their cellular structure, develop flavor, and grow and ripen. This is respiration. Once a fruit or vegetable has been picked, its source of nutrients are gone, but its cells continue to respire. Therefore, faster respiration rates in fruits and vegetables result in quicker degradation of the plant, loss of food nutritional value, overall weight loss, poorer flavour, reduced quality, and faster senescence.

Some fruits and vegetables naturally have a lower respiration level than others. Potatoes, apples, and squash are actually reproductive bodies that are well equipped to last for long periods of time under cool conditions – they have very slow respiration rates. Other types of plants, like leaves of lettuce and broccoli florets, have very high respiration rates and must be eaten quickly, no matter how they are stored. (Although proper storage will maximize their lifespan.)

High levels of respiration also contribute to water loss, which is what causes fruits and vegetables to reduce in weight, wilt, shrivel, and lose their crispness.

The simplest way of reducing respiration and water loss is by cooling. You can increase the storage life of many fruits and vegetables by cooling them quickly in a refrigerator but not all. Some fruits and vegetables, especially those that have evolved from tropical climates, are cold sensitive. This means they will actually develop irregular ripening and decay faster under refrigeration than at room temperature. Tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers are common examples of chilling-sensitive vegetables. 

Ethylene Production and Ripening
Another factor that affects post-harvest lifespan is the production of and exposure to ethylene gas. Ethylene is a plant growth regulator that is produced naturally by many fruits. For some fruits, ethylene production is essential for ripening. For others, exposure to ethylene causes a dramatic increase in respiration, leading to faster senescence. Therefore, fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene should never be stored with those that are sensitive to it.

Food Spoilage
Spoilage is caused by two things, often at the same time: physical degradation and microbial transformation. Physical degradation occurs as harvested plants senesce naturally or are damaged. These types of changes are seen as the browning of an apple slice or darkening of a bruised leafy green.

Microbial transformation happens when microbes present on the fruit or vegetable transform its nutrients into energy. As they grow, you may see masses of them and their byproducts in the form of hairy mold or slimy sludge. When harvested items are physically damaged by bruising, crushing, cuts, or excessive moisture, they are particularly susceptible to microbial transformation. Spoilage on one piece of produce quickly affects more. Always eat damaged fruits or vegetables right away before they spoil further. 

Soil Quality
Soil quality and mineral composition also greatly affect storage life. Decreased mineral content and excessive applications of nitrogen on large scale commercial farms can produce big vegetables, but generally decreases storability and post-harvest quality. Large commercial operations also often rely on chemicals, waxes, dyes, and synthetic growth regulators to ‘maximize’ fruit and vegetable shelf life. Unfortunately these practices also often minimize the nutritional and health value of these foods. If you don’t grow your own, buying fresh produce from farmers who nurture their soil will always be a the best option.

Five Fruit and Vegetable Storage Tips
You can easily extend the life of your fruits and vegetables by taking some very simple measures to keep them fresh and vibrant.  

1. Always eat produce with the shortest natural storage life first.

2. Store produce quickly and at the right temperature.

3. Keep ethylene producers away from ethylene sensitive produce.

4. Eat physically damaged fruits and vegetables right away before they spoil. 

5. Grow your own or purchase from small farmers with high quality soil.  

By Laura Killingbeck


Folk Music and Resiliency

Music is a big part of life here at Rancho Mastatal. Oftentimes it's one of us apprentices playing classic R&B as we clean the kitchen after breakfast. Other times it's Kattia, our Costa Rican head chef, blasting Latin pop as she cooks up a delicious dinner. Mexican rancheros sound from another local employee – Alex's – pocket, revealing his whereabouts as he works on repairs around the Ranch. And sometimes, when work slows down for a few minutes, or in the evening after a long day and a glass of hooch, we break out the guitars and the songbooks and sit around and make our own music. And of all the music that's a part of life at the Ranch, that's the music that i've found to be most important. 

In fact, I've found that my interaction with music at Rancho Mastatal has functioned much the same way as my interaction with food. Much of the food we consume here is purchased from local farmers. Other fruits and vegetables that aren't grown in our immediate surroundings we buy from the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Some luxuries like spices or the occasional bag of flour are imported from other countries, and we buy them at the supermarket. And some of our food we work hard to produce here on the Ranch, and oftentimes that's the food that's most satisfying. 

Being discerning about all of the food we eat and where it comes from, whether we grow it ourselves or purchase it, has been a revealing experience for me. I've begun to evaluate the impact of the choices I make in the foods I eat in a way that I didn't do before. I've begun to understand food less as a commodity and more as a product of hard work on healthy land. Food that we grow and cook together is not only delicious, but it fills our days with purpose and our lives with joy, and it becomes central to the culture of the Ranch. 

Mulching and weeding in our orchards, harvesting fruit, processing our greens and starches, brining vegetables to make pickles, and using bacterial cultures to make natural sodas have contributed to a paradigm shift for me in how I think about the food I eat. Previously food, in my view, was something grown far away, then packaged and sold by corporations in big chain stores in a process that I knew little about and didn't care to understand better. I only knew that this packaged food was tasty and easy to get, and that there was a seemingly never-ending supply of it. Similarly, we increasingly experience music as something created far away, then packaged and sold by corporations in the same big chain stores that sell our food. Often, like with food, we experience music strictly as consumers, knowing little of the art of making and playing music and lacking the abilities required to be able to sing together. Music corporations inundate our lives with an endless barrage of neatly packaged products, hoping we'll buy what they're selling, become quickly dissatisfied, and then buy more, never pausing to think about alternatives to this pattern of consumption. Because of my experience of being an apprentice at the Ranch, I have come to appreciate food as a cultural artifact, a gift of the land, and a result of good work, not a commodity. Similarly, the times I've shared with my fellow apprentices, with Ranch team members, and with visitors who have spent time with us making music together has led me to a greater appreciation for the value of taking an active role in creating our own entertainment.

 Wendell Berry, in his article “The Pleasures of Eating,” writes, “Patrons of the entertainment industry … entertain themselves less and less and have become more and more passively dependent on commercial suppliers.” This is certainly true also of patrons of the food industry, who have tended more and more to be mere consumers – passive, uncritical, and dependent. Indeed, this sort of consumption may be said to be one of the chief goals of industrial production.” I don't believe that sitting in circles, playing acoustic guitars and singing Woody Guthrie is suddenly going to make the problems of the world go away. However, I do believe that one of U.S. society's greatest problems is the way that we've come to understand ourselves as consumers in an industrial economy. We've been conditioned to forget the fact that, as human beings, we are capable of creating our own beautiful works of art, from chocolate cake and sauerkraut to the washtub bass and the twelve-bar blues. Freeing ourselves from capitalist society's consumptive patterns is one important step in creating resilient local communities. And just like building a raised garden bed or keeping a small flock of hens, getting together with friends and neighbors to learn the art of making music together is one way to continue that journey.
Mark Heisey

Apprentice/Guest Contribution

Zen and the Art of Bio-D Maintenance

Most people who have stayed at the Ranch have experienced the awesome power of the biodigestor (aka bio-d). For those who have not, here is just a brief low down. The bio-d is a dynamic living system that both cures manure and provides methane gas to our kitchen. Manure feeds our orchards, methane feeds our stove, and so as in the circle of life, the bio-d feeds us. In this dance of reciprocity, it is necessary then to feed the bio-d. When I arrived at the Ranch, I didn't anticipate the feeling of ecstasy associated with learning from your mistakes and thus needing to go shoulder deep into diluted cow poo. Welcome to my morning ritual: Zen and the art of bio-d maintenance.
During the first few days of my two week long shift, I had difficulty processing what exactly maintenance meant. How quickly could this be achieved? Morning time is precious and peaceful; why suffer longer in the ambiance of poo? It is a lesson at the Ranch that at some point every apprentice must learn.

The bio-d was handed off to me in smooth condition. Each morning, I would shovel out a sac's worth of freshly cured manure from the vermicompost pit. This sac would eventually make it to our tree crops. Next to the pit, there are four barrels in a line connected by PVC pipes. These series of barrels help divert the methane from the solid matter. The first two barrels are primarily where the solid matter accumulates to be collected from the surface. I scoop this solid poo into the empty space in the vermicompost, and in three weeks or so it will be ready for the orchard.

Having lost solids, the four barrels are in need of food. On higher ground, the feeder barrel rests. It contains a greenish brown, goopy medley.  I like to call it poop soup. It is one and a half sacs of raw manure and 30 gallons of water. A PVC pipe connects the feeder barrel to the four digesting barrels below, and a valve at the top of the pipe controls the flow of poop soup. It takes tact: open the valve too little and any little chunk of poo might clog the flow, or open the valve too wide and the barrels below will overflow.  Open the valve, let the poo flow down, it's that easy! If it works, hooray! But more often for me at first, it did not. And so I would keep the valve open, and I would use the golf balls strung across a line of string to floss between the PVC pipe of two barrels prone to the most amount of clogs, and I would prod and swish a stick between all the other pipes, and I would close the valve and reopen the valve, and I would pray to the bio-d gods that please please please would this living thing please unclog? If not, I may be so honored as to crawl into the feeder barrel half full of poop soup and unclog at ground zero, the mouth of the PVC pipe. So for the first few days, my morning ritual was less maintenance, more clog fixture, and less zen.

That's all fine and wonderful, though, because I would wait for the feeder barrel to empty and eventually it did. If by this time I am not smeared in poo, then by the next step, I will be. The sacs of poo are oh so heavy to lift. A more appropriate word than lift may be manhandle. Yes, you will probably use your whole body to lift the bag, and yes, the poo essence will ooze out through the pores of the sac and onto your clothes. Thankfully I wore my Taylor Swift t-shirt every morning, and in time her promotional portrait for Fearless, the album, became more and more convincing. I would feed the barrel, add water, and finally, no poop soup is complete without a good mixing.

Zen is all in the process of presence. If one is impatient, the soup will be chunky, and chunky soup cannot flow. If one practices the meditation of zen, however, the soup will be as smooth as the Rio Negro. It took time to learn the practice and importance of maintenance because poking, prodding, and unclogging seemed so utterly important. As it turns out, when the system is well maintained, and one takes their time to stir, the poo can flow, and the maintainer can have peace. Feeding the bio-d is not merely the act of providing sustenance as much as summoning ones grace. It as simple as breathing, smiling, and stirring.

Every night before dinner, the Ranch traditionally has circle time. It is a moment to slow down and be grateful, and perhaps vocalize a thought to all others present. There was a group of students a few months ago in which a teenage boy spoke up. As an unmentioned yet important detail, anybody can feed the bio-d because it also serves as a human septic tank. The toilet is both an offering for the bio-d and a front row seat to Costa Rica's tropical rainforest. The boy said he had a moment at the bio-d that day of pure self-awareness: by feeding the bio-d, he was feeding the forest, and all of the beautiful things which it manifests.

The bio-d is just one step, albeit a smelly one, in the circle of life. Like any system, it must be fed and cared for. As accustomed we are to fixing this and that, there is a certain zen in taking a step back and living in the meditation of maintenance. When I learned the deep enjoyment of stirring poop soup to the smooth consistency that it deserved, no matter how much time it took, my whole morning improved. Like spending time to slow roast a good meal, or waiting for a food forest to come to fruition, or waiting for the world to change: it takes patience. Fortunately, it is both love and hunger that make the best sauce.

Buen provecho!


Cheesy Buttermilk Biscuits

We just recently started making these stateside as a little quick, easy treat and boy are they good!!  Especially hot, right out of the oven.  Eat plain as a treat, on the side of a hearty winter stew, or with eggs for brunch.  Enjoy and Buen Provecho!

Cheesy Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional (but highly recommended!)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used cheddar and asiago)

For the topping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, galic powder, salt and cayenne pepper.

In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and butter.  Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.  Genlty fold in cheese.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet.  Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. 

For the topping, whisk together butter, parsley and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Working one at a time, brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter mixture.

Serve immediately.

Inspirational Impressions


“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” 

--- Plato


The Ranch Crew