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Newsletter – November 2017

With a crunchy layer of frost blanketing the ground outside our windows, we are scrambling to get ready for winter. There’s always a peak in activity this time of year as we prepare to put our farm to sleep. Many things to do…chop firewood, set posts for some new overwintering paddocks, acquire and set out more hay, bring the animals back off the pasture and into their winter homes, harvest squash, plant garlic, build some new lean-tos, can applesauce and hot sauce, make sauerkraut and many other things I can’t remember right now….

The sun is setting earlier each day and we really feel it as we hurry home in the waning light to feed pigs and put away tools before darkness falls. While we used to work until 8 or sometimes 9 pm, now we are all home together around six, which means more family time, something Tilia and Maureen greatly appreciate. Our woodstove is working away keeping us toasty and braising beef, roasting squash, nuts, and chicory, rendering lard, cooking down bones, baking acorn bread, and of course cooking up bacon and eggs in the morning. We’ve been busy harvesting and processing the last of summer’s bounty and storing away for the winter. Acorns, apples, and chicory will provide a winter’s worth of bread, fruit, and yummy warm beverages. 

The animals have been enjoying their few last weeks of grazing. During the September drought we pulled the sheep and cattle off the pasture and fed some for a whole month. This gave our pasture a bit of time to recover, and with a bit of rain and late September warmth, we are fortunately back out grazing for a few more weeks before it’s full-on hay feeding season. Right now, we’re strategically feeding hay up on our hillsides, extending the length of time the animals stay in a paddock, and building and remineralizing soils that have experienced over 100 years of overgrazing previous to our arrival. We feed hay that was cut and baled down stream of us in a few floodplain fields of the Kickapoo River, way up on our steep hillsides. The cattle and sheep eat most of it, pooping and stomping some hay back into the soils. These sandy, leached, mineral-poor soils normally produce very little, mostly brown grass. Next year, however, in the spots we’re feeding hay, they will shoot up right away in the spring with lush green growth, thriving with the much needed addition of minerals and organic matter. We’re reversing the flow of gravity, returning eroded minerals and nutrients back to their home soils. We take our jobs as keystone species seriously. 

We’ve been racing to get the foundation for our new house backfilled, insulated, and protected from frost before it gets too much colder. That means lots of tractor work and shoveling. Shoveling gravel for 4 hours is a great way to stay warm on a chilly day!

The chillier temperatures mean time for stews and braises. Possibly my very favorite way to eat meat is in a braise, which means cooking meat long and slow in liquid, usually wine, broth, beer or a combination. If you have one, braises and stews can easily be made in a slow cooker and make a great weekend meal for a family.

Recipe of the Month

We had some beautiful stew meat cut from our beef to make beef stews easier. We recommend you try one of our very favorite recipes, this variation of beef bourgignon. It sounds fancy but it simple to make and so, so nourishing and delicious.

Add-ons available this month

  • Brauwnschweiger
  • Beef Summer Sausage
  • Pastured Pork Lard
  • Beef Bones
  • Pastured Eggs

Enjoy some quality meals with your family this autumn!

Love,

Peter, Maureen, Tilia and the menagerie of beasts

Beef Bourgignon – A variation of the best beef stew ever

This is a simple variation on the classic French beef stew of cooking beef long and slow in wine

Ingredients;

2 tablespoon rendered lard or olive oil

2 pieces bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 pounds beef stew meat (1 package, or one beef roast in 1 inch cubes)

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons flour

1.5 cups dry red wine

2 cups low sodium beef broth or water

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 or 4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 teaspoon dried

3 bay leaves

Method:

Heat lard or olive oil in a nonreactive Dutch oven or large stew pot. Fry bacon for a couple of minutes. Add beef, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, and brown until no longer pink. Remove bacon and beef from pan and set aside. Add garlic, onions and carrot and cook on medium heat for five minutes until softened. Sprinkle with flour, cook 30 seconds, then add all the remaining ingredients. Add the beef and bacon. Stir everything to incorporate, then turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil.

 

Turn heat to low and simmer, 1.5 or 2 hours until meat is tender. Or, cook in a slow cooker on low for six hours. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.

Serve with polenta, mashed potatoes or something starchy to soak up the delicious sauce.

Enjoy!

Newsletter – October 2017

 

 

It’s been dry dry dry. We had our wettest spring in history this year, and then the rain stopped completely. We were lucky to get a bit of rain a couple weeks ago, but besides that it’s been dry since the July. Our grass stopped growing back in August  and many of the tree leaves have already turned brown and fallen to the ground. We’ve been feeding hay this month, three months before normal. We’re really hopeful for some rain this week so the grass can grow in the cooler weather and we can get another round of grazing on our pastures before winter. Do a little rain dance for us!

The cows got out! For the first time since we’ve been here, the cows escaped our farm. Usually we have better grass than the surrounding area, so the cows don’t want to leave. But because it’s been so dry, our grass isn’t that great, so when the cows sound a spot where a storm had taken down a tree and a section of fence, they ventured out through the woods and into our neighbor’s corn field. It was a day or two before I found them with big fat corn bellies. Good thing they’re all well trained because they were over a mile away from the farm. I called out “Hey Cooooows!” and they all got up and followed me, single file, back to the farm. They enjoyed their cheat day and were a bit disappointed when I fixed the fence, but now they’re back to their 100% grass-fed diet, and doing just fine.

We got our first batch of yarn back from the new Ewetopia fiber mill down the road in La Farge. It’s beautiful soft wool, and Maureen is excited to make us all sweaters that will match our sheep!

Recipe of the Month

We’ve be loving grilled pork chops lately. With the abundance of delicious apples ripe across the midwest this month, we’ve been loving this recipe for Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Apples

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Apples

You can use this recipe to pan sear any pork chops, that have been seasoned however you wish. Or follow this recipe with the addition of a pan sauce and apples, which makes a delicious and nourishing fall dinner.

Ingredients:

2 pork chops

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup chicken, beef, or pork broth, or water

1.5 cups apples cored and thinly sliced

Salt and Pepper

Pat pork chops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat for a minute or two. Then add a tablespoon of lard or olive oil. When hot, add the pork chops. Brown on all sides, 1-2 minutes per side. Don’t forget to stand the pork chop on its edge with tongs to brown the fat cap (the strip of fat on the edge) as well. When browned, turn the heat to low. Listen to make sure the pork chops are still sizzling. You don’t want the heat too low so that the pork chops sweat out their juices, but you do want to hear a little sizzle. Cover, and cook until the pork chops are at least 150 degrees or cooked to your liking, turning once. They should be firm to the touch but not hard. When you first cut into them they should be a little rosy but then turn pale. This might take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how long the chops were seared for and how thick they are.

Remove the pork chops from the pan and let them rest.

You can stop there and serve the pork chops however you want, or go a step further and make a pan sauce. Turn heat to medium. Adjust the fat so that there is a tablespoon or so in the pan, adding more if it seems too dry. When hot, add the garlic. Cook for thirty seconds, then add the wine. Cook for another thirty seconds, scraping the pan as you go to get up all the brown bits. Then add broth and the apples. Turn the heat to high. Cook to reduce the sauce, another few minutes. When it is almost syrupy and the apples are soft, turn off the heat.

Put the pork chops on plates and serve with the sauce and apples spooned over the top.

Serve with something starchy to soak up extra sauce such as winter squash puree or mashed potatoes and spicy salad greens. Enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is easy to make in your slow cooker and super versatile. We often cook up a pork roast and have it in the fridge to shred and eat for several meals. It makes great sandwiches, tacos, stir fry meat, filling for tamales, meat to add to a soup or to a breakfast hash in the morning. Here are some general guidelines and ideas.

  1. Thaw and season your pork roast on all sides with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Don’t be shy with the salt!

2. Place in your slow cooker, with the fattiest side facing up.

3. Add onions. One chopped big onion is good. You can also add garlic if you want, or dried chilis and/or a couple bay leaves. For a Mexican version, we’ll add a Chipotle pepper. Whatever sounds good to you…

4. Add 1 cup of liquid. We like half and half beer and orange juice. You could also due a barbecue version with apple cider vinegar, ketchup and Coca-Cola. Or half broth, half wine. My grandma makes pulled pork in a base that’s half Pepsi, half cream of mushroom soup.

5. Slow cook it in your slow cooker on low. You be the judge of when it’s ready: ideally when it is falling apart when pulled with a fork. It helps to turn the meat from time to time during the day, but it isn’t necessary. This could take all day, so be ready to cook your pork overnight or start it in the morning.

6. Remove the meat from the liquid and place on a baking sheet to cool. Then shred the meat with a fork and a knife, discarding any gristle or parts that don’t look like what you want in your dish.

7. Pour the drippings from the slow cooker into a pot. If you can, remove any fat. Then reduce the liquids down to make a thick sauce. This is a good base for a barbecue sauce.

8. Add the meat back to the sauce (if that’s what you want to do) to reheat and get your shredded pork all glistening.

9. Serve and enjoy or place in the fridge for later.

 

Don’t have a slow cooker? Place all ingredients in a non-reactive dutch oven or heavy pan, cover, and cook in your oven at 250 degrees.

Enjoy!

Pork Carnitas

This recipe is our take for Texas-style pork: pork shoulder gets cooked down into its own rendered lard and juices to crisp up at the end into an irresistible dish for tacos or just for eating. You can achieve a similar effect by cooking in a slow cooker,, then browning the shredded pork at the end if you don’t want to watch the pot. We love this recipe with all our hearts and we think you will, too.

Pork Carnitas

1 pork shoulder roast or 1 package pork shoulder steaks, cut into 2 inch chunks

Salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lime juice

 

Method:

Season meat all over with salt, cumin, chili and coriander. Place in a non-reactive dutch oven, such as enameled cast iron. Add orange juice, garlic, lime juice, and enough water to just barely cover the pork. Bring the liquid to a boil. Then lower and the heat and simmer uncovered and untouched for two hours.

After two hours turn the heat up under the dutch oven. Occasionally stir the meat as you let almost all the liquids evaporate. Near the end it will be only the rendered fat sizzling in the pan. Turn the chunks of pork gently to brown and crisp up.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with:

tortillas

radishes

sour cream

lime

avocado

sliced onions

etc.

 

Enjoy!

 

November Add-ons

This month we have some great additions to your meat shares. You can pay by cash/check or credit card and we’ll deliver the add-ons along with your share.

  • Pastured Chicken Eggs
  • Grass-fed Beef Bones (for making bone broth)
  • Grass-fed Beef Summer Sausage
  • Pastured Pork Braunschweiger 
  • Pastured Pork Lard (we cook with it everyday. Here’s a few things you can do with lard)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter – September 2017

August just ended and it already feels like fall. The mornings are cooler and the maple leaves already have a hint of yellow on the edges. We had the wettest spring in history and now we’re in a drought. The grass stopped growing! Peter goes out everyday with a chainsaw and cuts down elm, prickly ash, box elder, and mulberry for the cows and sheep. It’s much cheaper than feeding hay and the animals love it. They come running as soon as they hear the chainsaw fire up. We’re really hoping for rain this week so we can keep grazing through the fall! Otherwise, we’ll have to start feeding hay in a few weeks and we won’t be able to afford to do that for long.

The majority of August was spent running our bandsaw mill, sun up to sun down, every single day. Maureen’s dad, Leif, has been running the mill while Peter felled and limbed pine trees, and stickered and stacked the finished wood in the barn while apprentice Rachael cleared brush and made woodchips. We now have stacks upon stacks of beautiful white pine posts, beams, panneling, flooring, stairs, counter tops, framing lumber, and shelves – a whole home’s worth of wood. Due to this small hindrance in our climate called winter, which seems to be coming soon, we are pausing the frame raising for now and delaying until 2018. That will give us a chance this winter to spend that time tending to animals, planing and sanding boards and beginning all of the joinery for our frame. There is a beautiful concrete foundation in place to motivate us, so we won’t get discouraged.

September Shares

Along with your meat shares this month, we have lots of add-ons available including braunschweiger, chickens, lard, and yummy organic apples. You can order add-ons here.

There are some gorgeous pork chops are in shares this month. You’ll notice the deep red color and excellent fat color and marbling. I enjoyed this article by Melissa Clark from The New York Times about one of our favorite cuts, the bone-in pork chop: Fattier Pork Is Better Pork. We enjoyed her recipe for Pork Chops with Tamarind and Ginger.

We still have chickens available! We’ve been really enjoying Buttermilk Fried Chicken lately. Fried in our pastured pork lard, of course. You can buy both chickens and lard as add-ons this month!

We’ve been experimenting with new recipes for ground beef. One of our favorites is this turkish recipe for Spiced Beef Kofta. 

Enjoy!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Brining the chicken first in buttermilk tenderizes and adds a bit of flavor. Frying in very hot oil, lard or beef tallow gets the perfect crunchy crust.

Brine:

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, the breasts cut in half

1 quart buttermilk

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 teaspoons salt

Dredge:

2 cups white flour

1 tablsepoon salt

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

freshly ground pepper

1 to 2 quarts lard, from pastured pigs, rendered beef tallow, or peanut oil for frying

Mix 2 tablespoons salt, a bit of hot sauce, and fresh ground pepper with buttermilk. Place chicken pieces in a large pan, and cover with brine. Marinate in the fridge overnight.

Mix flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and spices in a large paper bag, like the kind you get from the grocery store. If you don’t have one, a big bowl is ok.

Heat lard in a heavy pan, preferably cast iron, over medium high heat. You want a depth of 2 inches of fat, preferably.

When ready to fry, pull the chicken from the bag, shake off excess buttermilk, then drop the chicken pieces in the plastic bag and shake up to coat.

Check oil temperature. When it reaches 350, you’re ready to fry! Using tongs, carefully place breaded chicken pieces in hot oil. Turn heat to medium and cook until internal temperature of the thick part of the meat reaches 160. It helps to fry the thighs and drumsticks first, as they take a while to cook. Turn occasionally to keep from burning. Make sure oil comes back to temperature before adding the second batch, and add more lard as necessary.

Place chicken pieces on a wire rack to drain. Enjoy.

Coconut Beef Kofte

This recipe is based on Turkish kebabs, traditionally made with ground lamb and spices. We include coconut in ours, which act almost as breadcrumbs, lending a bit of (gluten-free!) texture and sweetness that is surprising but delicious. These can be served on their own, with condiments and salad, or as a sandwich.

If you plan to make the yogurt sauce (tzatziki), make sure to strain your yogurt the night before, or buy thick greek yogurt.

Ingredients;

1 lb ground beef or mutton

1/2 cup ground coconut

1 small onion, grated on a box grater

1 clove garlic grated on a microplane or small holes of a box grater

1/4 cup fresh mint, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

A pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste

Zest of one lemon (if you don’t have a lemon, just skip it!)

Method:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Work with your hands to mix, then form into patties. If you’d like to grill the kofte, form into oval shapes, then wrap these around skewers. Or grill the patties. They can really be cooked in whatever suits you. we picked small patties because they were easy and quick to cook inour skillet for dinner.

Heat a cast iron skillet or medium heat, or heat your grill. When hot, cook the kofte until done in the center, 2-3 minutes per side depending on size.

Serve with tzaziki and sides of your choice. Pita or flatbread sandwiches would be a good choice here.

This recipe was adapted from the recipe for Coconut Kofte by Melissa Clark in her excellent book, How To Dinner.

Cucumber Kohlrabi Tzatziki Sauce

If you don’t have kohlrabi, just use more cucumber.

1 cucumber, peeled

1 kohlrabi, peeled

Salt

1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane or the small holes in a box grater

1/2 cup fresh mint

1/2 cup fresh dill

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Zest from one lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups plain Greek yogurt or strained yogurt

Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

To strain the yogurt, place full fat plain yogurt in a colander lined with cheesecloth and let drain in your fridge overnight. Use the strained yogurt like greek yogurt, and the whey to soak grains, inoculate ferments or for drinking. Otherwise, use store-bought Greek yogurt for this recipe.

Grate the cucumber and kohlrabi in the large holes of a box grater and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and let it sit for a while.

Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients, plus 1 teaspoon of salt. With your hands, squeeze the kohlrabi and cucumber to remove all the liquid. Add to the yogurt sauce and stir together. Adjust for seasonings. Enjoy.