Making Stock

I’m big on making our own meat stock since we have so many bones from our livestock.

I also appreciate that it’s a nice drink in the morning or even lunch, fills me up and it just makes me feel good. It’s a key ingredient in so many meals here at the farm in the winter and even in the summer.

I don’t measure much and anything goes. It always turns out delicious and since I started doing this my joints feel so much better. I’m told it’s the gelatin and minerals from the bones.

How to do make meat stock. I make a beef pork mix and also a chicken stock.

The mix stock I use for stews, beef soup and cottage pie. The chicken one I use for squash soup, when cooking up wild rice, chicken pot pie, chicken soup, mashed potatoes and just to sip on a bad day.

What’s stock vs. Broth? I think of broth as made with just bones and a little lacking in over all flavor. Stock is heartier, includes vegetable and way more flavor. Most of the time I want the extra flavor so I make stock.

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  1. Save bones from all meats. Preferably from Grassfed and Pasture Raised meats but do what you can. Bones from roasts, steaks, chops, marrow bones, chicken carcass (feet to if you can get some).

  2. If they aren’t already cooked I will roast them in the oven until they smell wonderful and have a nice browned color. You can sprinkle with salt and pepper if you like.

  3. The veggies. Okay sure you can make a broth with just bones and I find it a little blah for me. So I add in onions- skin and all, celery, carrots, parsley. If I have some leftover green beans, a soft apple, peach peel… leeks. I’ll toss them in also. How much? keep reading.

Instant Pot is the fastest way to make stock (or broth). But slow cooker and stove top are just fine.

So many Instant Pot recipes call for stock or broth, why bother buying store bought with extra stuff you don’t want and iffy processes? Make your own.

I have the 8 quart version because I cook in larger volumes. 6 quart is just fine.

I put in a bunch of bones. The last batch I had 4 small beef marrow bones and a dozen pork chops bones. I roasted them in the oven at 350 for about an hour until they were a deep brown and smelled wonderful. Put those in the pot but not the grease leftover- I tossed that in the compost.

Then I added 3 stalks of celery chopped in 2 inch or so lengths, 3 carrots- not peeled and cut into about 1 inch long pieces. I also added 1/2 a large onion, coarsely chopped plus the skin. Then some parsley from the garden that I had frozen. About 1/2 a cup full- not needed. Then 1/2 tablespoon of coarse pepper and 1/2 tablespoon salt. You don’t have to add the pepper and salt- I did because I like how it comes out.

I also add in 1-2 teaspoons of dried thyme and oregano.- completely optional.

Vinegar- okay should you add some vinegar to this to help minerals to be drawn from the bones. I’ve done it that way and also read that it’s a myth. I do like the flavor of some balsamic vinegar about 1/4 cup when I do the beef/pork stock. I’ll use Apple Cider Vinegar with Chicken bones. But honestly, I forget sometimes and have not noticed. It’s up to you and do what makes you feel good!

All this goes in the instant pot, then covered with water, usually about 3-4 quarts of water. Be sure to not to over fill and follow the line on the pot.

If you don’t have as many bones, you can cut back on the veggies a little if you want. Adjust the amount of water as needed.

Use the Soup setting and reset it to 90 minutes. Once done I just let it naturally release. Take pot out of cooker and strain the solids. I then let it cool so I can skim off any fat. Freeze in ice cube trays and any containers you want. Or refrigerate and use within a week. I freeze in 1 cup amounts and 1 quart amounts then some in ice cube trays so it’s easy to have an assortment of amounts on hand for whatever dish I need it for.

I do the same veggies when I do chicken stock too. The chicken bones if from a cooked chicken just get put into the stock if I have a raw chicken carcass I will roast them like the other bones to develop the color and improve the flavor.

SLOW COOKER

Ingredients and water is the same, just cook on low for 8-10 hours.

STOVE TOP

Ingredients the same just bring to a boil then simmer all day.

I’ve been known to simmer things in a really big pot for 2 days and making a few gallons of stock at a time. Now that I have the Instant Pot I can start it in the morning and all cleaned up before lunch. Or do some after dinner and let it chill overnight. Easy and Delicious.

Other things to add: An apple or some peach peels, soft onions, wilted celery, those carrots that are getting soft so aren’t so great to eat fresh. Leftover veggies from the veggie drawer- lettuce, kale, green beans, a little fennel, basil, zucchini, winter squash- even the rind! … Somethings I did not care for was cauliflower and broccoli.

I’ve heard chef’s say the vegetables should be roasted to improve the flavor and color of the stock. So….. I don’t bother to do it. I did once and really didn’t notice a difference since the bones were roasted. I’m happy I’m making time for what I’m doing so I don’t stress about the perfect flavor. Probably why I’m not a chef!

**do you need to roast the bones? No you don’t. I’ve done it for years without roasting and things were fine. Chicken bones with out roasting or cooking before turn out pretty good. Beef and pork bones I find that the flavor is soooooo much better if I roast them quick first. Do what you can fit into your time. Making stock is a big step for our meals when it’s so easy to buy that sealed carton on the grocery store shelf.

Small steps people. Make some small changes. Buy better meat, use leftovers, save the bones for stock…… Your body will thank you and you are taking one more step to improve your food. Nice job.

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Sweet Italian Sausage with Potato wedges and Rosemary

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What a delicious way to class up some simple sausage and taters

It’s simple and easy prep.

Do ahead tip:

Pre-cook pieces of sausage and have them in the freezer. It makes for really quick meals and so much better for you than any take out.

It’s easy to use leftovers too.

If you prefer really spicy sausage it would be great with Creekside Meadows Xtra Hot Italian or even our Mexican Style Chorizo.

Recipe serves about 6 people but it’s easy to halve or double it for a crowd.

From Farmer and Cookbook Author Shannon Hayes. The Grassfed Gourmet- if you don’t have her books seriously you should!

2 pounds Creekside Meadows Sweet Italian Sausage- Cut into 8 pieces

1/4 cup coarsely chopped onions

8 medium sized russet potatoes, cut into large wedges

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper- don’t skip it as it really adds to the taste

1 cup dry white wine (see tips below if you prefer not using wine)

4 springs of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350F

Heat 2 tablespoons lard or olive oil over medium heat in a large oven proof pot or cast iron skillet or dutch oven.

Brown the sausages 3-5 minutes each side- you aren’t cooking them through just browning them. Remove and cut into pieces about the same size as the potato wedges- I cut my pieces into 2-3 pieces. . Pour off the fat, add another 2 tablespoons of lard or olive oil, add the onions and saute until transparent. Add in the potato wedges and cook about 5 minutes on high heat. Stir often so they don’t stick.

Return sausage and their juices to the pot, add in the salt, pepper, cayenne. Pour the wine over the top, add the rosemary. Cover and bake about 1 hour until the potatoes are pierced easily with a fork.

I served these with some steamed carrots and fresh applesauce.

The dish calls for 1 cup of dry white wine and I know someone won’t like this. Remember the alcohol cooks off and leaves that wonderful flavor behind. I would assume apple cider or chicken broth could be used but of course imparts a different flavor. I have not tried either but let me know if you do try a non-wine liquid so I can share the results!

If you happen to have leftovers….

I cut everything into smaller pieces then add to a frittata or just reheat on the stove top. I warm up a small cast iron pan, add in some olive oil, lard or butter, then saute everything until warmed.

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Sweet and Tangy Meatballs

The perfect snack or appetizer that will be gobbled up. I made these a few years ago for samples at an event and they were so popular. Easy to make ahead of time, freeze and toss together for gatherings or hungry peeps after a long outdoor day. I like making these ahead, cooking in the oven, and freezing for later times.

makes 48 little meat balls and is easy to double.

1 pound Creekside Meadows Grass Fed Ground beef

1 pound Creekside Meadows Ground Pork

1 cup bread crumbs

2/3 cup finely minced onions

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce

salt and Pepper

1/3 or more olive oil or lard (for pan cooking meatballs)

10 ounces grape jelly

12 ounces chilli sauce

In large bowl mix together beef, pork, breadcrumbs, onion, milk, egg, worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Shape into 1 inch balls. It should make 48 balls.

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You can then pay fray then in the oil, in batches on medium until browned on all sides and cooked through. Add more oil as needed.

I prefer oven cooking them as it’s much less work to do, and less mess. I lay them in a rimmed baking sheet, you can line it with aluminum foil for easy clean up if you’d like. I don’t as it’s just overall less waste. Roast at 400F for about 20 minutes. Internal temp should be 150-155. Remove from pan onto paper towels to drain.

In large sauce pan mix the jelly and chili sauce, bring to boil briefly then add in meatballs. Lower heat and stir gently to coat meatballs. Once they are heated through serve on a platter with toothpicks or I like to put them in a small crockpot or electric fry pan to be kept warm and your guests can serve themselves.

Watch them disappear fast.

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Pork Shoulder Slow Roast with Onions and Apples

See how juicy this is? Perfect, fall apart tender and a very flavorful sweet meat. Enjoy.

See how juicy this is? Perfect, fall apart tender and a very flavorful sweet meat. Enjoy.

Pork Shoulder isn’t just for pulled pork or cooking in the smoker. It really lends itself to a slow oven roast (or slow cooker) on a bed of onions and apples.

I’ve adapted this from Long Way on a Little by Farmer Shannon Hayes (Sap Bush Hollow Farm, NY).

Growing up my parents didn’t really know how to properly cook with onions. As I’ve worked on improving my cooking skills I discovered that onions needs some love and some heat to really be enjoyed. Some heat to soften them up and bring out the sweetness.

Pork goes with apples and onions pretty much all the time. Heck even pigs like apples although they don’t care for onions. Anyways….. back to the recipe.

As you can see this roast is BIG- it’s a 5 1/2 pound bone in Pork Butt Roast. Butt does NOT refer to the buttocks of the pig it’s actually part of the shoulder. I will not get into the reasoning for this odd and totally confusing name, at least not now I’m hungry.

You can certainly do a smaller roast if you have to.

This was roasted in the oven but a slow cooker would work. I have NOT done this particular recipe in the InstaPot, if you do I would suggest you caramelize the onions first using the saute feature. I slow roasted in the oven so skipped that step.

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Recipe

1 Pork Butt Roast- it comes from the shoulder and you could use a shoulder roast too.

3-4 pounds.

2 pounds onions, peeled and sliced thin

5-6 baking apples (go for tart if you can, if not wing it with what you have) Scrubbed but not peeled and quartered

Some salt and Pepper.

Place roast on a bed of onions and apples in your roasting pan. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of coarse salt and a couple teaspoons or so of black pepper. See? Simple.

Roast at 250-300F (not all ovens will work well at 250F- mine won’t but it needs replacing)

6—7 Until fall apart tender. Smaller roasts will only take 3-4 hours.

Instant pot- yes!

You need liquid for the instant pot. I used 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup apple cider.

Use the Saute setting, once hot, add a few tablespoons of olive oil or lard, add the onions stir to prevent sticking and burning. Once they are nice golden brown, remove, then sear the roast on all sides, adding more olive oil or lard as needed. Remove. Turn off, add 1/2 cup of chicken stock to deglaze the pan, scraping to loosen up all the browned bits. Add in remainder of chicken stock and cider, apples, onions. Use the meat setting and set it to 90 minutes for a 4 pound roast.

**the instant pot directions say 15 minutes per pound and I find that with really good pasture raised pork it’s more like 20 minutes per pound.**

once it beeps as done, let it naturally release the pressure. This can take about 15-20 minutes and is important for a tender fall apart roast. Check to see if the roast is tender. If not it needs another 5-10 minutes of press. Remove roast to a platter, tent to keep warm. Press Saute button and reduce the liquid down to what you would like. Stir often. Slice roast- or pull apart as it will be very tender. Pour the sauce, apples and onions over meat at serving.

Leftovers make excellent warm sandwiches, added to soups, stirfry, added to a green salad. I reheat with some liquid in a covered casserole in the oven at 300F. Sorry I don’t have a microwave!

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Cranberry Orange Pork Loin Roast

It’s the season for roasts if you couldn’t tell from the posts lately.

Pork Loin Roasts are so under appreciated and yes often overcooked.

This latest recipe came off of Pinterest and there are similar versions.

This one uses dried cranberries, orange marmalade and balsamic vinegar and it’s really really really good. I will be making this one again.

The original recipe uses the slow cooker. I’m including directions for that and for an oven roast. I have not done in the INstapot but will be soon and let you know.

RECIPE

1 Pork Loin Roast- Boneless

**Our roasts are usually netted. I recommend you remove it and tie the roast with some cotton butcher string to make it easier to slice at the end.

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup orange marmalade

1/4 cup brown sugar (can also use turbinado or maple sugar) I think honey could be used too.

1/4 cup chicken broth or white wine (optional)

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Liberally salt and pepper the roast all over, about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes. Heat up a heavy fry pan, add 1 tablespoon lard, tallow or olive oil. Once it’s shimmering start browning the roast on all sides. Once nice and brown all over remove to a roasting pan. I can’t leave all those browned bits in the pan so I took a little chicken broth and deglazed the pan, then poured that over the roast. You do NOT have to do that step but it’s a good taste enhancer.

Mix the berries, sugar, marmalade and balsamic vinegar together in a bowl, then slather it all over the top of the roast.

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Roast at 325 for 1- 1 1/2 hours. I’m estimating about 20-30 minutes per pound. You want an internal temperature of 145F but no higher than 155F. Really I went for 150F and it was perfect. Remove from oven, pour off the juices into a small pan and let rest for 15 minutes- the temperature will rise a bit. Remember higher temperatures will overcook the pork and it will then be TOUGH and RUINED.

Heat up the sauce pan of juices and reduce down a few minutes or thicken with a little cornstarch. It takes like 5-10 minutes at medium to low heat to reduce it down to more of a thin syrup perfect to drizzle over meat slices. It really depends on how you want it.

To slice: If the roast is netted you will need to scrape off the berries, then cut off the net before slicing. Not difficult that’s why tying the roast is often easier!

Slice the roast, placing some of the cooked berries on top and drizzle with the sauce.

SLOW COOKER

Instead of oven roasting cook on low for about 4 hours until the desired doneness. But check after 3 hours as some cookers are faster and some are slower. I have 4 and they are all different. Why I have that many is another story!

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All winter of 2018/19 you can find us at the Cazenovia NY Winter Farmers Market once a month or check our website for more details. We hope you’ll join our email list to get more updates as they happen because we know you want to know how your food is raised and how your farmers are doing.

Oven Fries

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I love French Fries and have for way too many decades. I remember my Dad getting a Fryer when I was a teenager, I think it was a “Little Frier” or something like that. It heated up oil and came with a fry basket. It was FRY HEAVEN! Sadly nobody figured out that cooking vegetable oil at high temperatures is pretty scary for our health well most fried things are. They- my parents- never would have cooked with pork lard or tallow, heck I never knew what it was until 20 some years ago and we butchered our first cow.

I still adore fries but now we make oven fries although from time to time I will heat up some beef tallow and do some really fries when in the mood.

I use Russet potatoes because they are perfect for so many reasons mostly because we grow them by the bushel full.

I never ever peel them because well we grow them and use no chemicals ever.

Scrub them up, cut them into fry sizes that make you happy. Toss them with some olive oil, some dashes of paprika, salt, pepper and then of course PARMESAN CHEESE because well you should have more dairy right? Sorry I have NEVER measured these things so go with your gut.

Cover some cookie trays with parchment paper then lay out those fries. Roast at 425 until perfectly golden brown and tender inside, crisp outside. Sure you can flip them half way if you must. How long to roast you ask? 15-20 minutes is the usual.

THEN because some days we want something extra special and a little decadent we then sprinkle on some shredded colby jack cheese and some crumbled up PASTURE RAISED CREEKSIDE MEADOWS FARM B A C O N ! Broil until cheese is bubbling.

It’s really a meal in itself. Cam likes them with Ranch Dressing (of course) but sour cream is yummy too. I’ve been known to add some cayenne pepper to either one for extra zip on a cold winter day.

London Broil- Crockpot Amazing- hey it's not just for the grill!

We sell lots of London broils during the summer since most people know how to grill them plus easy to feed a crowd. Now in winter London Broils sadly just hang out in the freezer sadly under appreciated. It causes me angst knowing so few people appreciate this delicious lean hunk of deliciousness. So here is one way I prepare London Broil.

Call it a pot roast if you want to, since it’s in a pot and it’s a roast!!! Sorry farmer humor after being out in snow all morning.

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Look at that beautiful piece of meat and the subtle marbling from all Grassfed Hearth Healthy Beef!

This recipe I used a small 2 pound roast that I as usual didn’t remember to thaw out the day before. I did put it in a pot of cold water to jump start things a bit a few hours before getting this going.

I used some sad forgotten in the snow green onions, fresh out of the mud (washed well ) carrots, celery that got smashed by snow in the garden and garlic of course. Of course you can add in some potatoes too but I was going to do some mashed potatoes separately. Toss them in and added 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup beef stock and set my slow cooker on low. 8 hours later it was fall apart tender and perfect.

Now I know you think- OMG it’s overdone!!!! No it’s slow cooked on low so very tender.

No waste, little fat and it’s gone. No leftovers at all.

As I mentioned I used a small roast simply because I needed to because it called to me in the freezer, nah it really because the seal had broken and freezer burn was setting in. Never would have known that except I told you. Remember they ate it all and loved it.

I rarely have london broils that small though. Leftovers when I’ve made this before make excellent roast beef sandwiches on a crusty roll, a little horseradish, mustard, slice of smoked gouda…. yeah baby…… leftovers. Embrace them. Here in this farm kitchen I often cook dinner with the plan for the leftovers.

RECIPE

1 London Broil (or chuck or arm roast or rump roast) but really those london broils need new homes……. If you let me know you read this blog recipe remind me to give you $1 off a pound on your next London Broil!

2-3 carrots, scrubbed (peel if you want to), cut into chunks

1 medium onion peeled and coarsely chopped or handful of green onions or even some leeks

1-2 stalks of celery- use those last pieces or the limp ones hiding in the veggie drawer.

2- 4 cloves of garlic. Your preference

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup beef stock (or broth let’s not be too picky here).

I did not add any other seasoning but hey add some pepper or oregano if you’d like. I did not cook this with any salt but did salt to taste at the end.

Cook on slow cooker on low 8 hours or until tender. Of course you can roast in the oven also- around 300-325F covered.

Before serving strain out the broth and make a quick gravy of you like or go aujus if you prefer. Salt and pepper to taste.

I served with mashed potatoes, the carrots and some fresh applesauce.

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Pan seared Center Pork chops with Apple Cider Cream Sauce

This one is simply a variation of our previous recipe for Brined Chops with a Rosemary Cream Sauce that we posted in March and was in the Cazenovia Republican paper.

So if you’ve done that one the only change is the sauce now you use Apple Cider and cream, could also be done with some Hard Cider but why not drink the hard cider as you are cooking this with plain cider!

Apples and Pork go together- accept it and embrace it like we do.

Elegant for company or any family dinner.  Serves 2 but double or triples easily.   One thing to remember is when cooking the chops have a large enough skillet that the chops are not crowded or use 2 skillets when making a  larger recipe.  Crowding can lower the heat and cause them to sweat which toughens the chop.  Have enough space and adjust heat for a good constant sizzle to the pan.   Oh boy can I make chops sweat and ruin them, I now pay attention!  NO SWEATING ALLOWED!

Can you do this without brining? Yes you can but I find that brining increases the tenderness and juiciness of our leaner Pasture Raised Pork Chops that haven’t had junk added like other options you may find in grocery stores. It’s really worth the extra effort to brine them even in you can only get in a couple or hours.

2 Creekside Meadows Bone in Pork Chops  1 inch to 1 1/2 inch thickness

* can use boneless chops too but they cook much faster so be careful not to overcook.

For the brine:

1 3/4 cup water

2 tablespoon coarse salt

3 tablespoons maple sugar, tubinado or sucanat sugar or even brown sugar (light preferably)

For the sauce:

1 cup Local regular Apple Cider.

1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half. In a pinch you can use regular milk but sauce will be thin and not as flavorful. Can also replace with 3 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche. Sour Cream will add a bit of tang to the sauce, cream is just milder and allows more of the cider to come through. All are delicious and hopefully you have one or the other other on hand.

2 tablespoons butter.

Mix, water, salt and sugar, in small casserole or container or a sealable bag (don’t use metal), add chops.  Refrigerate 4-8 hours. Overnight can be too long so I often add these to the brine in the morning or when I come in for lunch. Thin chops need the least amount of time and I’ve brined in just a few hours for thin ones. Thicker chops benefit for a bit longer brining. Our chops we offer from the farm are usually 1” thick.

When ready to cook, remove chops, rinse and pat dry.  Allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes.   Heat skillet on medium/high, add butter and brown chops 2-3 minutes each side.  Reduce heat to medium low.  You want them still sizzling , if too low they will seat and dry out.   Sizzle!  Cover and cook until internal 145F- 160F about 6-10 minutes.   Thinner chops may cook quicker so watch it and don't over cook them.  It's better to put them back to cook a bit more than too much!   A good thermometer is essential.  I have a nifty one with a remote and love it.  

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Remove chops from skillet and keep warm.  Pour off extra fat from pan and turn heat to medium high, add the apple cider, bring to a boil.   Whisk or use wooden spoon to loosen brown bits from pan.  Lower heat to simmer until reduced by half and syrupy, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the cream. try with 1/3 cup and taste, add in the rest of the cream to your taste. We like a bit more cream but farmers with their own family cow are like that!

 Season with salt and pepper as needed.   Pour over chops. I served with fresh apple sauce and steamed or sautéed carrots or green beans.

Thank you and I hope you can enjoy this recipe like we do. That sauce just takes the dish over the top and adds that oh yeah that’s so good factor!

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Sauteed Radishes, Mixed Greens and Bacon!

Did you know you can cook radishes?   They are delicious and sweet.   Bacon just takes it up a notch but is optional.

If you choose not to use bacon just substitute olive oil or lard. 

Use a heavy stainless steel or cast iron skillet.   

Amounts of radishes and greens are estimates.  The recipe is fluid so make it smaller or larger as you want.  I've had this as a lunch bowl and also as a side dish with Creekside Meadows Farm Pork Chops.

8-10 large radishes, tops removed, washed and sliced.   Thickness is how ever you like. 

1/3-1/2 pound of greens (usually a gallon bag size or a large bunch)   This can be anything  you like.  Spinach, Chard, Kale, Collard greens, beat tops.  I prefer a mix of spinach, kale, chard.  Washed and dried.   Leave whole or if they are large leafs just chop them to more manageable size.

Cook 2-3 pieces of Creekside Meadows Farm Pasture Raised Bacon in the pan first.   Remove bacon when done to your likeness.  Pour off the grease and add back 2 tablespoons.  

Add Radishes and saute for 2-3 or so minutes on medium heat until they are just getting tender.   Add the greens and stir continuously.   Continue to cook until they are wilted to your preference.    I like the slightly wilted but some prefer them reduced down to wimpy.  

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Sprinkle bacon pieces on top and serve hot.   Usually needs NO seasoning but a drizzle of balsamic vinegar goes well or dash of tamari.

Makes a great side dish with some great Grassfed Beef or Pasture Raised Pork.  I often make this for my lunch bowl.    

Change it up!  Add in sliced carrots, potatoes, brocolli, snow peas, beans, beets and so on.   Just adjust your cooking times for different additions. 

CREEKSIDE MEADOWS FARM  Bacon, Chops and other meats - see us Saturdays at the Cazenovia Farmers Market. 

 

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The perfect Pork Chop

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Our pork chops tend to be lean and very meaty.  This is because of how we raise them outdoors with lots of exercise.  Why would you want fatty meat?   I know chefs and culinary experts say that fat is where the taste is BUT on meat that isn't always true.   Well raised meats like our pork and beef has the flavor in the meat, fat would add some more moisture to the meat but it's difficult to do when your animal is so active.  

This can make cooking some cuts very different than you may be used to. 

CENTER CUT PORK CHOPS

These are the classic looking chops of mostly "white" meat and a small bone.  It is very easy to overcook and I'd like to teach you how to improve your pork chops experience. 

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Overcooking makes for incredibly tough meat and ruins the flavor. I can overcook a chops and have dozens of times.   It happens when I walk away instead of staying focussed.  

PAN Searing and finishing Pork chops.  

I love my cast iron and yes I use it on my electric stove.  It takes some tricks but we are all skilled enough to handle this.   See me at the Farmers Market and I'm usually cooking over a butane camp stove with cast iron or a heavy stainless steel.

KEY THINGS

Pan has to be hot.

Meat has to be THAWED and room temperature.

Get a meat thermometer- found at most stores for about $10 for the most basic.  You need one now!

2-3 Center Cut CREEKSIDE MEADOWS FARM Pasture Raised Pork Chops.  

1" thickness.    If using thicker chops adjust cooking time longer by 1-2 minutes.  

Thaw your chops.   Either in the fridge on a pan of cool water.   Remove from package to a plate.  Blot dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.   You can also coat it with olive oil before hand but I don't do this- chefs say to do it but...... it's up to you!

It can take 15-30 minutes for chops to come to room temperature.  You just don't want it cold from the fridge.   Make sure your dog can't nab the chops (been there!).

Heat the pan on the stove or in a hot oven.  Either way is fine. 

Add a splash of olive oil or lard, it will be shimmering when pan is hot enough.  If you can't tell dip a tip of the chop into the oil .    If it's a mild sizzle, it's not hot enough, if it's a splattering mess it's too hot.   Find the middle ground   A good zippy sizzle.  

Add the chops, but leave enough space between them to they aren't crowded. Crowding can lower the heat they are cooking at which will cause them to sweat which is losing moisture which dries the meat out.  

So they are sizzling away.  It takes 3-4 minutes on the first side to get a good sear.  Look for a nice brown- not too light and not burned.   Flip over the chops and brown the other side.  UNCOVERED!    

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Heat setting on my stove is usually around Medium high (7), Adjust the heat as you need to.

Now as you get close to that 3 minute time on the 2nd side, slip in  your meat thermometer on the side and check the temperature.   If you are at 145F.  You can pull the pan from the heat.  It's actually safe to eat at that point but it's recommended pork be at 150-160F.    Once you remove the pan from the heat, remove the chop to a warm plate and tent it with foil.  The temperature should rise to 150 on it's own.  See meat continues to cook a bit when you remove it from the heat source.  You will rest it for about 10-15 minutes- tented with foil.   This will allow time for the juices in the meat to redistribute.

IF TEMPERATURE is not 145 you have 2 choices.   Continue to pan cook it another minute or 2 OR place pan and chops in a preheated oven at 350F for a minute or two.    

You need to be checking internal temperatures.   I go no higher than 150 at the highest but prefer 145 and let it come up a little higher on it's own once removed from the heat.  

It's easier to warm the chop up to a bit higher temperature and once it's overcooked it's done with.   So go easy.   And you can have chops ready in about 6-7 minutes.  

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GRILLING-   

Key thing is to sear each side of the chop just like you did in the pan.  You want the chop DRY to start (or lightly coated with olive oil if you want to)    A nice hot clean grill, sear each side of the chop and then remove to the cooler side of the grill to finish.   I remove them at 145 - 150 F, tent and let them rest for 10-15 minutes.   Slather them with your sauce before removing them from the grill.   

I highly recommend a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking or undercooking.  And don't do what I do and get distracted.  Stay with the chop, time the cooking, use the meat thermometer and you will be rewarded with a delicious meal.  

SEASONINGS:    In my opinion chops don't need much seasoning other than salt and pepper.  BUT any dry rub for pork you like will be good, I go light with these so that I don't smother out the great pork flavor.    Any rub or sauce is there to enhance the naturally delicious pork flavor not smother it. 

PORK CHOPS AND ALL OUR OTHER BEEF AND PORK CUTS can be found at the Cazenovia Farmers Market   Saturdays  9-2pm June-October.  Or see us at the  FARM.  

 

Clear up the confusion about Dry and Wet aging

Before I raised our own beef, this goes back over 20 years ago.    I never paid any attention to how meat was raised much less butchered.  I knew nothing about aging of meat, honestly I knew nothing about raising animals.

Since then I've learned a lot and I'm always finding out something new.    What also comes with new information is controversy.   It also comes with misleading marketing to get your attention.  I get it.   I do.   I also know marketing is key to any successful business.   Farms are a business that produces a product to sell marketing is part of that business.  I'm not a marketing expert but I do have quite a bit of training lately in that area.   I wish I could just be the person raising your food but as a small operation I have to do many things.  Like write articles to share information with you, help you make the most of our products and just to let you in on what it takes to raise food  here in CNY.

We have chosen to sell not to wholesalers or restaurants but to YOU so YOU can feed your body and your family good food.   I'm taking this space to clear up a few things from my perspective and knowledge.  

All beef you can buy from a farmer either at the farmers market by the cut or when you buy large amounts like a 1/2 beef it will be DRY AGED.   Period.  Fact.  It has to be DRY AGED there is no other option for all of us selling to you.    There is Wet aging and I explain that at the end.

 It is most often USDA inspected which is a good thing.   

But what is aging about?   In the most basic of terms aging is the carcass hanging in a temperature and humidity controlled refrigerated room as it cools and then this time it is there aids in the breakdown of the muscle to increase the flavor and texture, it will also lose some moisture. 

There is lots of controversy and heated arguments abound over how long beef needs to be aged for the best result.  I avoid arguments when I can so instead I'll share how ours is aged.

Simply:  Our is aged anywhere from 9-12 days.  This is what our USDA inspected butcher prefers and with real 100% Grass fed Beef it needs nothing longer- in my opinion and talking about OUR BEEF.    Longer time actually means more loss of moisture and can result in loss of meat.   With our Grassfed Beef we don't want to lose any moisture or fat or meat, it doesn't need to lose anything!!!!

Some beef may actually need longer aging times usually because of the fat on the carcass and internal moisture which often resulted from the GRAINS and CORN it was fed.  Our beef has never been fed any grain or corn in any form at all, ever.  

Is Aging important?  Sure it is without it the beef quality will be dismal.   But it is one very small part of a multi year process of putting steak or burger on your plate.   What really matters TO US is that the animal was raised well on great grasses which is it's natural diet.  This takes TWO YEARS from birth to finish to raise good beef on grass alone in CNY.   It also takes a lot of land and some really good management from us.  Twenty years of experience is what each of us has and our son was raised on this.   20x3=60 years experience.   Something we are really proud of.

There is another type of aging that is now used and only found in grocery stores it's called Wet Aging.   You would see this as a sealed package where the oxygen has been removed and often a liquid has been injected into the package and meat.   Often that liquid is a water and sodium solution sometimes it also has sugar and seasonings.  So if you choose that package read the label and see if there is an additive.    The Wet aging since the Oxygen is removed now can be "preserved" longer so it is safe for eating for a longer period of time.   Great so the stores don't lose money when meat "goes bad" and it's convenient for you plus some food safety problems are avoided.  All those are good things.     Meat from small farms who are selling to YOU don't use wet aging, it's only done in those massive factories processing the meat.   It's not an option and not one we'd be interested in at our scale anyways.

You can decided what you prefer and what matters to you.  

Thank you for reading and I hope this helps you understand just a little of what we do and why we do it and how we do it.  

Eat better meat which nourishes your body naturally and tastes great!

How to cook the perfect 100% Grassfed Steak

Steak from completely Grass Fed Beef is a delight.   What we have found in almost 20 years of not just raising the beef but eating it is that cooking it really is really easy.    

Creekside Meadows Grassfed Ribeye with Asparagus, mushrooms and wild harvested Ramps.

Creekside Meadows Grassfed Ribeye with Asparagus, mushrooms and wild harvested Ramps.

Yes, it's easy.  What causes many problems is for decades cooking in the US has changed, yes it has.  Cookbooks are all about infusing flavor and making simple techniques seem complicated.   

Truly Grassfed Beef does not need to be infused with flavor with added marinades, dry rubs, fancy sauces.   Go simple.   Then you can play around with a bit more later on.

Steaks- always have to be thawed completely.  No exceptions.   You can thaw quickly in a cool water bath in a few hours or a few days in the refrigerator.    

IMPORTANT  Once thawed  your steak needs to come to room temperature.  This can take 30-90 minutes. 

Liberally use a coarse salt.  I like Syracuse Salt Company infused salts.  My favorites are the garlic salt, espresso salt and the alderwood smoked ones.   Or use plain salt then some fresh ground pepper.   THEN let the steaks come to room temperature.   Whenever I have skipped this step my steak has more chew than I prefer.  

Pat the steak dry.  

GRILLING:   One side of the grill should be nice and hot this is where you will sear the steak a minute or so on each side to seal those juices in. THEN move it to the cooler side of the grill to finish for a few minutes with the lid closed.    Wen cooking a thinner like 1" thick steak, this can literally take 3-5 minutes for a medium steak.  Remove to a warm plate and tent with foil.  This is also important as the juices will redistribute in the meat and not pour out all over the plate.  The steak will also continue to cook a few more degrees.

See the juices? You DON"T WANT TO SEE THIS!   I cut the steak too early and just after I took it off the heat.  Those juices are not supposed to be making a mess on the plate.  Rest the steak and no mess!

See the juices? You DON"T WANT TO SEE THIS!   I cut the steak too early and just after I took it off the heat.  Those juices are not supposed to be making a mess on the plate.  Rest the steak and no mess!

 

PAN COOKING:   I adore cast iron pans and use them often.  I have an old glass top electric range and yes I use cast iron on it.   I prefer gas stoves but haven't replaced this one yet.  

So the cast iron pan must be hot, a tad bit of olive oil, lard or tallow in the bottom should shimmer.    Pat dry the steak and sear on each side a minute or 2.  Then immediately turn the bunner to low.  If using electric this is stricky as it's slow to respond but gas works best.    

Let the steak finish for a few minutes, remove and tent for a few minutes.     

I found that what works even better is once the steak is seared then place pan and steak in a preheated 350F oven to finish- no lid.   Remove steak to warm plate and tent to rest.  

I prefer steak at medium but please don't go more well done as it's just not right.  The steak will be tough and dry which has just wasted our 2 years of caring and grazing for this animal plus the 9 months it's mother carried it and the 2+ years we raised that mother on the farm.  

See nothing fancy.  It's really so simple.    

Now once you have that down you can play with more seasonings if you need to.

Me?  I prefer just to enjoy that delectable full beef flavor the way it's intended.  

So where can YOU get 100%Grassfed Steak?   

Creekside Meadows Farm is the farm!   Find us every Saturday May-October at the Cazenovia Farmers Market, Cazenovia NY.  

We carry Tbones, Ribeyes, Porterhouse, NY Strip, Flank, Skirt, Sirloin.    Supplies do vary but we can fit you with a great steak or burger or chop or sausage.....

We also deliver for those times when we know your Saturday is too busy to make it to us.   AND the farmstore is open Sundays  12-2pm.   

 

 

 

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Cooking a great Grassfed Steak doesn't need a grill.    My cast iron skillet is used everyday and makes a great steak too.   From pancakes, to eggs, to veggies to steak.......... cast iron all the way baby!

Cooking a great Grassfed Steak doesn't need a grill.    My cast iron skillet is used everyday and makes a great steak too.   From pancakes, to eggs, to veggies to steak.......... cast iron all the way baby!

Breakfast Pizza

Eggs are abundant from many farms and backyard flocks so grab some extra dozens and enjoy eggs with some breakfast sausages and bacon.   I found this recipe from King Arthur Flour and I found the sauce to be a winner and a different than most versions out there.   

This makes 1 pizza but since it uses 1/2 pound sausage and our sausage comes in 1 pound why not just make TWO and have awesome leftovers since you do all this work and fire up the oven just do another meal at the same time.  Plus use up those delicious eggs and pack on some good protein for all day energy. 

BREAKFAST SAUSAGE PIZZA

1 pizza dough.   Store bought or homemade whatever works for you.

1/2 pound Creekside Meadows Farm Breakfast Sausage

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced peppers.  I don't care for the peppers so I did mushrooms instead
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk or half & half
  • 4 to 6 large eggs,
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.  roll out pizza dough to 14 inch circle or 12x16 rectangle and place on greased or parchment lined pizza pan or cooking sheet.   You can let it rise for a thicker crust or not for a thinner crust.    

In a medium  hot skillet with a dab of butter cook the onions and peppers then add the sausage.    Break up the sausage and cook until done/browned.   Remove from pan, drain and set aside.    Keep drippings in skillet.  There should only be about 1 tablespoon or so, dump an excess but keep all those browned bits in there.  

Back to the skillet on medium heat.   Add 3 tablespoons butter to the drippings and 3 tablespoons flour mix well and cook 3-4 minutes, don't let it brown.   Whisk in the cup of milk and simmer until thickened. 

Crack eggs in separate bowl.   Slowly add eggs to the sauce, whisking away and cooked until soft set.  Be careful as you don't want them to done as they will turn rubbery in the oven.  

Pour mixture over the pizza dough then top with sausage and both cheeses.  Back at 400F for 15-18 minutes until browned and bubbly.   

Additions:   Add in some ham or bacon for extra yum.   Top with salsa.......  even add in some zucchini or spinach when you are cooking the sausage.   

Another version is to use muffin tins for individual breakfast muffins that you line with pieces of pizza dough or even biscuit dough, then fill with the mixtures and bake the same.    Great version for on the go or finger food kids usually gobble up fast.    

Cider Beef Stew

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This is so yummy and really simple which I think the best things are!  Thanks to Mary P and her hubby who shared this.

CIDER BEEF STEW

2 pounds Creekside Meadows Grassfed Beef Stew Meat

3 large onions, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons drippings, bacon fat, lard, tallow or olive oil if you must

3 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 cups Apple Cider

1 tablespoon ketchup

3 large potatoes cut into quarters (or use baby new ones)

4 medium carrots peeled and chunked

EDITED: Add 3-4 cups beef stock also. When I wrote the originally I forgot to add that important part. I apologize.

Brown the onions in hot drippings/fat, remove then brown the beef well.   Return the onions to pot with beef.  Combine flour, salt, pepper, thyme and add mixture gradually to meat.  Stir in cider and ketchup. Cover and cook slowly until almost tender about 2 hours.   Add potatoes and carrots and simmer 30 minutes until tender.     

SLOW COOKER.  Just do the browning first in a separate pan and add to slow cooker, deglazing the pan with cider so you don't lose all those yummy browned bits.  Simmer on low for 6-8 hours.  

INSTANTPOT.    Do all the same as above just use the stew setting for 35 minutes.   

 

Find our beef stew at the farm Saturdays and Sundays in April  12-2pm.    Stew meat is also featured in our new meat packs and bundle for April.   

click HERE for where to purchase or try our delivery!

Join our email for more tips , recipes and special offers.  Plus our latest Free Guide for cooking Grassfed and Pastured Meats.  

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April, my 2nd favorite month of the year.

May is usually my favorite month of the year because it's really spring time, grass is growing, the trees are leaved out, we are planting and it's just a beautiful month.  

April is my 2nd favorite just because we know any snow that happens won't be here long, the grass greens up fast, and the birds are singing no matter the weather.  

We have another great run of the maple season right now.  We had an early run the end of February and the peak is right now.   We have now bottled more than last year and set to likely double what we did last year.  Wooohhoooo!     We now have 12 oz glass jugs, quart glass jars, quart plastic, 1/2 gallon jugs, 8 oz and 3 oz jugs.  All sizes and the plastic jugs are great for shipping to loved ones.    All are discounted $1 this week while we are still boiling.   

I started things in the greenhouse yesterday, about a week late but a bout of bronchitis slowed me down.   It's better but a wake up call that March is always a tough month to get through and I didn't take care as I should.   TIme to slow down and breath deeply.  

The ground is thawed and everywhere is a muddy mess.  Once it dries up we'll be plowing to break ground for the gardens and get some early items in like spinach, kale, carrots, scallions, peas and so on.    Pussy willows have popped out and wild leeks won't be long behind.   

April is a good month for stews and bone broth.    Letting the slow cooker, dutch oven or instant pot do the work for you.    Our beef bone stash is slowly dwindling so if you need them come get them this weekend before we are out until July.   Remember to save all your bones from any pork, beef or chicken and make stock for soups and stews or just sipping.   

I found that cooking with homemade bone broth is so delicious and rejunating to my joints.   My bone density tests are always excellent and I never take supplements.   

Eating good food nourishes your body and can eliminate the need for pricy supplements and medications.   Make the change and if you already have, then work on others.    It's tough to see women my age having broken bones that won't heal and taking expensive supplements only to find they are still low in calcium and iron.   You can do so much to  improve that by simple steps like nutrient dense meats.    Red meat always gets a bad rap only because testing is done on conventional low quality grain fed, confined animals.  

Not only will the meat taste better, you'll feel better, you'll feel satisfied and I can honestly say my bones are strong and my joints doing great.   

Enjoy what you eat and stop the fads, the quick cures, the no gluten junk, cut back on sugar and put some hardiness back in your day.    Your body can't absorb nutrients from vegetables as well as it can from good quality forage based meats, plus those meats have things you have to have for your brain to function at it's best.      

Save a farm, save the land, save your bones, eat some good meat and enjoy it.  

Apple Maple Roasted Ham

 

The best way to have  the perfect ham is to start with high quality Pasture Raised Pork.   We’ve been raising our pork at our farm for over 15 years now and how it is raised makes a world of difference for a delicious meal.   You can find some at our FARMSTORE this weekend or use our online ordering with delivery next week.  Either way we have the perfect roast for you and now here’s our favorite way to roast a Pasture Raised Ham.

I know you are might find a Ham a bit daunting to roast but it's really just a few steps to perfection.

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First you need a ham.    Creekside Meadows Farm Pasture Raised Hams are smoked and flash frozen because they aren’t held in a saline solution like store hams.  It can take 2-4 days to thaw in your refrigerator depending on the size so plan ahead. 

Quick Thaw:   If you are running late you can still make it happen the day before as follows: You need a large pot or container to hold the entire ham still in the plastic wrapping fill the container with cold water and replace the water every 30 minutes with more cold water.  Thawing will take 5-6 hours and maybe longer for a larger ham.  Then just refrigerate until ready for roasting.

Preheat the oven to 325F.  

Skin off:  Trim all the skin off the ham and trim fat to about 1/4 to 1/2 thick.

 Skin on:  If your ham doesn't have much of a fat layer or is very thin, leaving the skin might be a better choice.  You will need to score all the skin in a crisscross patter deep to the meat.  You want a lot of the crisscross so later on the glaze can penetrate.

Place ham in a roasting pan preferably on a rack so it doesn't stick to the pan.  If you plan to glaze it line the pan with foil for easier clean up.  Add about ½ cup of f water to the pan depending on the pan size, a larger roasting pan could use 1 cup of water.  Roast at 325F until internal temperature reaches a minimum of 130F.   This can take 15 minutes per pound.   Add more water to the pan if it evaporates.

Once the ham is the proper temperature which on a larger ham may take  a little extra time, remove ham from the oven.  Increase oven temperature to 425F.   Prepare the glaze.

APPLE MAPLE GLAZE  (or try the tangy orange one)

2 cups apple cider 

     heat in a saucepan on medium high, stirring often until reduced to 1/2 cup

add 1/2 cup apple jelly 

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 cup whole grain brown mustard

   Stir well and simmer until warmed thoroughly

Once ham has reached 130F internal temperature.   Increase the oven to 425 and spread the glaze generously over the entire ham.   Roast for 20 minutes and baste a few times during that time with the pan juices.  

Remove from oven, place on a platter and let it rest about 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.  Drizzle a little of the remaining pan juices over ham before serving.

JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST FOR A $5 off coupon on your Ham Purchase at Creekside Meadows Farm before 4/1/18 or while supplies last.

 

TANGY ORANGE GLAZE

6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed well and finely diced

8 ounces orange marmalade

1/2 cup dijon mustard

1 cup light brown sugar (or maple sugar or turbinado or sucanat)

1 orange zested

1 /4 cup fresh orange juice.

Heat all ingredients in pan on medium until mixed well.    When ham has reached 130F, increase oven temp to 425F, glaze the ham all over.   Roast another 20 minutes and baste with any extra pan juices a few times.  

 

 

Simple Steps to Improve Digestion

Maybe you often have an "off " stomach or indigestion or wonder are you allergic to some foods.   What you may consider is how you eat your food and the quality of  your food.  

1.   Chew your food, chewing releases digestive juices needed to properly digest your food.  Americans seem to be averse to using their pearly whites which is sad because they are designed for chewing and the first step in good digestion.

2.  Stop Juicing and drinking so many smoothies.  Often when you juicy vegetables and fruits there is the pile of fiber leftover.   That fiber is essential to your digestive health.    I sure do love carrot juice but eating carrots is the better option for my health.    If I have to juice 5 carrots to get a glass of juice and 2 cups of fiber is leftover- this is not a good thing.  

3.  Throw out the protein powders, the whey powder, the bone broth powders.   These are highly processed with preservatives and not as good for you as you are led to believe.

4.  Get your protein from high quality well raised meats, cook it the way it needs to be cooked and CHEW IT.   This blog is packed with recipes on how we cook our meats here at the farm.   Plus you can purchase our meats directly from us and I'm happy to help you choose the right cuts plus walk you through some simple cooking methods. 

4.  Make your own broth or stock.  Use it in your cooking for soups, stews, cooking vegetables in, cooking rice in, drink it plain.   It is great for your digestion and great for your joints if you have pain there, mine is greatly improved since adding our own homemade broths to my everyday cooking.

Here is a very simple way to make your own broth.  It's not fancy, it gets the job done and my joints feel so much better since I started this.  

CREEKSIDE MEADOWS BONE BROTH:

6 or so pounds of roasted bones.   Chicken, Pork, Beef, Lamb- a mix of any you have on hand.  Save all the bones from any meals or stop at the farmstore for some beef bones.  

A big onion or some small ones.  I use up the ones that are starting to sprout or get soft this time of year.   Cut into chunks, skin on

1 big ugly carrot or some small ones.   Go for the ones that aren't so great to eat fresh

a few cups of greens, anything.  Kale, lettuce, chard, parsley, spinach.   Whatever you have around to use up.  

If you want you can add an apple or a peach too.  

a glug of Apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar- optional.   They say it helps pull minerals out of the bones but then I read it doesn't.   

2 quarts of water or more to just cover things in the pot.   

I prefer using the slow cooker, put on low and let it simmer all day and often overnight.   Or on low on the stove top but keep an eye to add more water as it will evaporate.   

the longer you simmer it the more flavor.  

Instantpot.  I set it for 90 minutes and let it naturally release.   Simple.

Once your simmering/cooking is done.    Let it cool a bit, strain and chill.  Any fat will firm up on the top and remove it the next day.   Now is a great time to do this as I put the pot in the cold garage overnight instead of using of fridge space.    After you remove the fat you can now portion it out in containers or ice cube trays.  I usually do 1 or 2 cup containers and a few trays of cubes and freeze them.    

Use for soups, stews, add to a roast as it cooks, cooking rice or potatoes, saute veggies and add a cube or two of broth for a little extra flavor, or just warm up some and sip in a cup for an easy simple pick  you up especially if your stomach is a bit off.   Feel the icky coming on?   Sip some broth often and keep your nutrition up to fight it off, skip the syrups and pills and magic cure alls.  Boost your body when it needs it, let it do what it's designed to do- be healthy.

Seriously my knees and hips rarely give me problems anymore since I went to broth a few years ago.  Our meals never tasted better and less things to purchase from the stores with questionable ingredients or sources.  

Ready to Eat Good Food?

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It's snowing again

Last week the farm received 25 inches of snow on Friday, since then we've had a bit more here and there.  It's snowing now.  The roads are clear though.   

I have a beef brisket brining in my fridge for our own Corned Beef to enjoy next weekend.   

Tonight for dinner is Slow Roasted Herb Crusted Grass Fed London Broil with Mashed Potatoes from the root cellar and some garlic sauteed green beans (frozen from last years garden).   Pretty simple and it's in the oven roasting at 200F right now.  

The store was quiet today with on of my favorite customers stopping in for his 2nd brisket- this time for his son who intrigued about making his own Corned Beef too.   John gave me some good advice on Ginger Beef that a NYTimes Corned Beef recipe calls for.  

Still time to corn your beef for next week so stop in and grab one and eat good meat instead of that gross brined for months stuff from dubious origins in the stores.  ick.

I attended a FSMA training class in Liverpool this past week.  Food Safety and Modernization Act is the first ever of it's kind for vegetable production in the USA.  It's massive, it's been in the works for years and applies to just about every size of farm.   Different size farms have different levels of to comply with.   Size of farm is determined by income from vegetables and fruit not by acreage.  We fall under the very small farm at the moment due to vegetables currently on the lower end of production.  Well for a year or two more.   I have to say I've sat through meeting like this before or had to listen to talks and NONE really had a grasp on the facts.   This one did plus had representatives from NYS to answer questions.   Hosted by NOFA- NY and much appreciated.   Too bad few attended as many feel they are exempt or already know it all.  We'll see how it goes.   I know what we have to comply with and what records we need to have.  Lots to work on.  

Anyways, our hay mow is getting empty as the cows are eating it all!   We should have enough to feed them another month but may have to buy a few hundred bales or so if grazing is later this year.   Often we can graze around April 15 or 20th, but we never know how spring goes.  

I'm finally getting the seed orders done and ordered.   Green house starts up in 2 weeks so I best get all done fast.   We had alot of issues last year with cucumber diseases and the dreaded cucumber beetle not just eating plants but spreading the disease.  I plan to give that the heave ho and conquer the problems this year.  

I've tried many years to grow brocolli but we have another bad pest destroying it and I'm really finished with buying expensive row cover just to have it tear.  The organic alternatives are yes spraying it with organic treatments and honestly I hate spraying ANYTHING no matter organic or not.    No brocolli this  year until I come to terms with it all.   Yes, organic farms do spray things on their crops.  It's not a secret but for some reason people really do think organic is magical, like we dance around and wave a magic wand to save all our crops from disease and pests.  Not so.  oh man not so.    So Organics have many standards and any thing to be used does go through a pretty intensive review of the ingredients and those sources.   Any sprays that are especially effective and organic approved are very expensive. I have to make sure it's the treatment I want, is there something else to address first or do we grow enough of say Brocolli to make the spray worthwhile.  Right now.  No.   I've tried a clay based one and wasn't happy with it.   Row cover tears so lets in the dreaded wasp and then row cover is polyester and well.......    more and more not compostable products that go to a land fill.  I'm a bit sick of it.   This year will be more beneficial plants put in to bring in beneficial insects to go after some pests but also major fertility boost with lots more compost and lots of crop rotations.  

it means growing lots more of some things like tomatoes, beans, potatoes, carrots, greens, corn, spinach, lettuce, onions and less brocolli for one thing.   Sorry if you want organic it comes at a difficult price.  Luckily I know a few farms that grow it exceptionally well so we can all shop with them.  

It all has me wondering if the dreaded wasp that takes out brocolli (and other in that family) is just sprayed with one spraying of one chemical and it dies, is that so bad?   Because organic doesn't always have an effective treatment, so cost is up, harvest is way down and where are we?  We are left with massive infestations of pests too.   Huh....... It has me wondering if a little is such a bad thing?   Time to do some research and talk to my conventional growing friends on what they use and work on improving our land here maybe I'll find a better solution that we are all happy with.    Maybe but I will miss you Ms. Brocolli cut fresh with my own hands after months of nurturing you along from seed in the greenhouse to planting outdoors.  sigh........   

I'm headed out to help my men clean up an old nasty willow hedgerow that we are taking out so we can fix some drainage in that area.  No worries it will grow back but needed some renovation anyways.    The new shoots will pop up many feet in teh summer and by next year fill in nicely.   The woodchips are added to the cows bedding pack, which will be composted this summer then spread on the fields and gardens next year.   Pretty cool circle there.   

Take care all.  Come to the farm for good meat or let us deliver.   You need to eat and Eating well matters.   Or just be happy buying from a large company that ships in meat from literally a half a world away.  Sad.  

So be happy,  Choose local food first.  Your Health Matters and Your farms are doing good things that matter.    

Hugs!

Brined Pork Chops with Cream Sauce

I know some people avoid pork chops because they think they are dry and they can be when overcooked.    I found out the best way for a tender and juicy chop.......Now Brining Pork Chops is something I do often.  They come out so juicy that it's worth the extra step.  The Cream sauce with rosemary is delectable, lick the plate clean kind of sauce.  Some brine say to boil the water, add the salt and cool it.  I'm lost by then.  Too many steps.  My farmer friend and cookbook author Shannon Hayes keeps it simple and she has saved me from dry chops ever since.  Let's all say thanks Shannon for leading the way to saving Pasture Raised Chops plus giving us this totally easy but a tad fancy recipe. 

Elegant for company or any family dinner.  Serves 2 but double or triples easily.   One thing to remember is when cooking the chops have a large enough skillet that the chops are not crowded or use 2 skillets when making a  larger recipe.   Crowding can lower the heat and cause them to sweat which toughens the chop.  Have enough space and adjust heat for a good constant sizzle to the pan.   Oh boy can I make chops sweat and ruin them, I now pay attention!  NO SWEATING ALLOWED!

2 Creekside Meadows Bone in Pork Chops  1 inch to 1 1/2 inch thickness

1 3/4 cup water

2 tablespoon coarse salt

3 tablespoons maple sugar, tubinado or sucanat sugar or even brown sugar (light preferably)

1 cup dry white wine  ( a vegetable or chicken broth works fine)

1 /2 teaspoon dried rosemary

3 tablespoons sour cream or Creme fraiche 

2 tablespoons butter.

Mix, water, salt and sugar, in small casserole or ziploc bag, add chops.  Refrigerate 4-6 hours.  

When ready to cook, remove chops, rinse and pat dry.  Allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes.   Heat skillet on medium/high, add butter and brown chops 2-3 minutes each side.  Reduce heat to medium low.  You want them still sizzling , if too low they will seat and dry out.   Sizzle!  Cover and cook until internal 145F- 160F about 6-10 minutes.   Thinner chops may cook quicker so watch it and don't over cook them.  It's better to put them back to cook a bit more than too much!   A good thermometer is essential.  I have a nifty one with a remote and love it.  Scroll down to an early post with my link to amazon.

Remove chops from skillet and keep warm.  Pour off extra fat from pan and turn heat to medium high, add wine and rosemary, bring to a boil.   Wisk or use wooden spoon to loosen brown bits from pan.  Lower heat to simmer until reduced by half and syrupy, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and quickly wisk in the sour cream.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.   Pour over chops when served.    I served with fresh apple sauce and sauteed green beans.

Adapted from Long Way on a Little by Shannon Hayes.