The Lazy Mom's Guide to Beat the 'Last Minute Gift' Blues

Last Minute Gift Idea

There are only 5 days left until Christmas!  This means that the only thing growing bigger than the kid's excitement, is my panic!  I swear I started shopping in July, but somehow I still have some loose gift ends to tie.  So here is my guide to completing holiday shopping, without lifting a finger.  Okay, so you do have to lift a finger, but that's pretty much it! 

Instead of grabbing the closest piece of meaningless junk at the local superstore, I am going to take just a few moments to order and create a gift that any individual or family could appreciate...a Tyner Pond Farm online gift certificate! The gift certificates are offered in $25, $50, and $100 increments and can be delivered with your weekly order! They come in a festive red envelope that you can stuff in a stocking, place in a mail box or put under the tree. 

Currently, TPF is offering a promo that is extended through the weekend (12.21) for your last minute gifts; Buy $100 worth of gift certificates and get a $25 gift certificate FREE when you use promo code GIVETOGET at checkout.  I am so excited to share Tyner Pond Farm's delicious, healthy food with my family and friends and show them how easy it is to order online and have it delivered locally for free. And I am extremely excited I can do this without loading the whole gang into the minivan and battling the crowds at Walmart. 

So, to really make this gift unique, I am going to add a couple little touches, without ever leaving the house.  Included in the lucky recipient's gift they will also find...

 

  • DIY Custom Recipe Cards - I am using this easy recipe card website that provides a recipe card template in fun designs.  Choose your favorite recipes, customize your cards, print and trim! Like I said, I don't plan on leaving the house.
     
  •  Tyner Pond Farm Summer Sausage  
    I have to suggest a Tyner Pond Farm's All-Natural Summer Sausage that Butcher Brad freshly smoked up this week! The set will include two, 1lb summer sausages made from grass-fed beef -- all in a cute hand-stamped reusable gift bag. The great thing is, when you gift this, it's something the entire family will enjoy together!


I just love gifts that I can actually use and I know that my family and friends will be excited to try Tyner Pond Farm's REAL food and taste the difference that local, pasture-raised, hormone-free meats can make.  Happiest of holidays!
 

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Holiday Roast Beef in a Pot with Gravy

If you love to cook, the holidays are probably one of your favorite times of the year. There is a natural excuse allowing you to bake five dozen batches of cookies, a 20 pound turkey, ham, and multiple varieties of pie and nobody will flinch because it is the holidays. Not everyone enjoys cooking as much as I do, but that does not mean you have to sacrifice taste for time.

Grass-fed meat from Tyner Pond Farm tastes phenomenal and one bite was enough for me to continue purchasing more and more from their easy, online delivery service. After visiting the farm and seeing for myself their sustainable, responsible farming practices, I feel better about the food I am eating. There truly is something special about knowing exactly where your food comes from.

Roast beef is one of the most simple yet rewarding holiday recipes. Easily transformed by just a few herbs and spices, a large rump roast from Tyner Pond Farm makes a tender, lean beef that can be sliced and served with creamy mashed potatoes and homemade gravy. Sold in two sizes, I purchased the smaller two pound roast for my family of two, but the five pound size will yield more if you are feeding a crowd and it will not take too much longer to cook. Slow cooking is required to loosen up the muscle fibers allowing the majority of the cooking time to be inactive.

Coriander, mustard, garlic, onion, salt and pepper are traditional seasonings for a roast. It's like that saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," and while I enjoy challenging that status quo, I have to agree that sometimes it just makes sense to keep it traditional. What is unique about this holiday recipe is the vessel in which the roast is cooked. It is a French technique to cook a whole bird in a pot or Dutch oven, and I figured the same could work with a rump roast. After the beef was seasoned I placed it in the pot and arranged the vegetables around it. Adding a touch of beef broth kept the vegetables from drying out as the beef is so lean it will not render much fat.

And then there's the gravy. I should confess, this recipe was an excuse to make gravy. If I could eat gravy on everything, I would. Butter is added to the vegetables with flour to make a roux, followed by beef broth. After about ten minutes, the mix will have thickened to a brown gravy that can be poured on top of your sliced roast beef. Nobody will judge you for licking your plate. 


Holiday Roast Beef in a Pot with Gravy

Ingredients:

  • Tyner Pond Farm rump roast, about 2 pounds
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/4 cup + 4 cups beef broth, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Mix all of the seasonings together in a small bowl. Pat the rump roast dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the seasoning on all sides of the beef, rubbing it in with your fingers.
3. Place the roast in the middle of a large oven safe pot or Dutch oven. Arrange the diced vegetables around the meat and pour in the 1/4 cup beef broth.
4. Place the pot in the oven, uncovered, and immediately turn the heat down to 375. Cook until the thickest part of the meat reaches 145 degrees, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours for a 2 pound roast or 2-3 1/2 hours for a five pound roast. Remove the roast to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes covered under foil.
5. Add the butter to the vegetables and place the pot over medium heat on a burner. Whisk in the flour a little at a time until the roux becomes thick and creamy. Continue whisking and cooking for three minutes.
6. Slowly pour in the beef broth and turn the heat up to medium high. Whisk for five to ten minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper if necessary.
7. Slice the roast beef and pour the gravy on top. Best served with a side of mashed potatoes.

 

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Important: Help Us Protect Country Of Origin Labeling! Please Read This

Country Of Origin Label Requirement

 

Apparently, language has shown up in the conference report for the bill that would fund federal government operations through the summer of 2015.   COOL legislation, (Country Of Origin Labeling) (http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/cool )   passed as part of the farm bill in 2002 and again in 2008, has been a constant target of the global meat processing heavy weights. They have sued the federal government four times in the past decade, hoping to avoid the requirement to label imported foods as to their country of origin.

 

 

It looks like language has been inserted in the new budget proposal that would eliminate COOL as well as prevent USDA’s implementation of pending regulations of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) – curbing anti-competitive behavior in the meat packing industry. Another segment of this “hat trick” of nefarious behavior was the insertion of language to prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture from pursuing reforms of the national beef checkoff program.

 

 

We are asking everyone who believes in fair markets and their right to know where their beef, poultry and pork came from to contact their members of Congress (http://www.house.gov/ )  to request that language affecting COOL, the beef checkoff program and USDA GIPSA regulations be removed from the bill.

 

The the nation’s second largest beef packer is now JBS, a Brazilian company. Meanwhile, the largest U.S. pork packer is Shanghui International Holdings, a Chinese company partially owned by the government of China. These recent foreign acquisitions of major livestock processing companies are but one illustration of the tremendous influence that multi-national corporations have over our food supply and even our democratic process.

 

These enormous multi-nationals benefit greatly by shopping the world for low cost meats and maximize returns if they can sell them in American supermarkets without labeling their sources. They are aided by organizations including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the prime contractor of the beef checkoff program.
 

Due to industry consolidation, vertical integration and globalization the machinery of the checkoff has fallen under the influence of large meat processing and marketing companies.
 

The beef “checkoff” program is a mandatory one dollar per head tax on each animal sold at market. Congress approved a law some 30 years ago enabling the checkoff because the money was supposed to be used to market and build the U.S. beef market.

 

I’m not sure if you have seen what’s happening with food & ag Entrepreneurship here in the U.S. as well as Indiana.  Please read this article from the San Jose Mercury News…  http://rapidcityjournal.com/business/local/ag-tech-could-change-how-the-world-eats/article_e0353a05-8ad1-5aac-a0cf-9f3ad67d9e61.html

 

A large part of my career was spent at RR Donnelley where we controlled nearly 80% of all printed magazines and catalogs and Phone Books (remember them) in the country.  We tried to get them to see the disruption that was coming but they could never shake the channel conflict.   The result, ExactTarget at 12 years old sold for more than double what 150 year old Donnelley is worth. 

 

I just feel it's my role as the member of the group who has built VC backed technology companies that have created billions in value and thousands of jobs to remind us not to forget the potential for entrepreneurship here.  

 

Facebook, Email and Google destroyed print media growth.  Uber & Lyft have destroyed the traditional urban transportation model.  

 

eCommerce is destroying retail shopping.  

Crowdfunding is totally disrupting the banking industry.   (Lending Club's IPO last week gave them a $9 bbl valuation....making something most of us never even heard of the 10th largest financial institution in the country)  

 

 

The Global Food Companies see all of this and are working hard not to make the same mistakes.  They are fighting hard to protect what’s theirs but at the same time stifling free completion and as a result Entrepreneurship.  

 

Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth Of Nations” deploring monopolies and supporting the “Invisible Hand” of the Free Market. 

 

Indiana is uniquely qualified to be the leader here.   We are well recognized as a technology hotbed.  We have had several tech IPO's and amazing buyouts over the past 5 years and are absolutely on the radar of all the National Venture Capitalists.   Our additional benefit is that we are also an Agricultural State.  We just have to make sure we keep our Ag minds open to the opportunity and preventing Multi-National Corporations to stifle competition. 

 

Happy to discuss this in person if you would like.

 

Sincerely,

 

Chris Baggott

www.TynerPondFarm.com

www.HuskFoods.com

 

Co-Founder of ExactTarget and Compendium Software.

 

 

 

 

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Meat Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide for Meat Lovers


Looking for a unique holiday gift that will surprise the meat lovers in your life? We've compiled a few of our favorites (at all different price-points!) below:

1.) Anova Precision Cooker
Sous vide cooking has never been easier! Home chefs can now cook meat like a top chef at a high-end restaurant. The state-of-the-art Anova Precision Cooker locks in all the juices and flavor, cooking all kinds of meat, poultry and fish to complete perfection! Watch the Anova Kickstarter campaign (fully funded in June!) to see how easy it is to use and read the article about sous vide cooking in The New York Times. $179, anovaculinary.com

2.) Bear Paw Meat Handlers
These "paws" are a great gadget to have on hand - they're like an extension of your own hand! Made of durable plastic, they are perfect for shredding meat (hello, pulled pork!), moving hot food items from pan to platter and holding food while carving. $15.95, Amazon.com

3.) Tyner Pond Farm Online Gift Certificate
We know you’re already a fan of our local meats and now it's time to spread the word. Give the gift of good, clean, local meat this holiday. We have gift certificates in increments of $25, $50 and $100. Shop tynerpondfarm.com

4.) Meat Pyramid Grilling Turner
This cool & kitschy meat turner adds some fun to grilling. Made with solid rosewood, stainless steel and leather, it's a step up from your everyday turner! $32, visit Silver in the City (434 Massachusetts Ave.) or find it at silverinthecity.com

5.) Pizzology Craft Pizza + Pub Gift Card
Who doesn’t love pizza? And better yet, pizza topped with fresh, locally-sourced, pasture-raised meat? A gift card to our friends and partners at Pizzology is a great gift for not only meat lovers, but for any food-loving family member. Pizzology has locations in downtown Indy and Carmel and they're opening up a third location this month. Visit pizzologyindy.com for the menu, directions, hours & more.

6.) Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection
This is an ideal gift for the grill master in your life (and don’t we all know one?). This spice rub sampler features four spice rubs - Chili-lime, Potlatch, Spicy Chipotle and Smokehouse - each with a unique blend of spices and seasonings to enhance the natural flavors of your favorite meats and vegetables. $22, Online exclusive at williams-sonoma.com  

7.) Meat Freezer
We'd prefer our customers take their meat straight to their refrigerators, but we know that it's not always possible, especially if you buy in bulk. An extra chest or upright freezer can solve the problem of an overstocked, over-flowing freezer and comes in many sizes, depending on space and needs. Read Sarah Croft's guest blog post, Tips to Buying Your First Freezer. Starting at $150. Visit your local home appliance retailers for options.

Have other gift ideas for meat lovers? Share them with us below!

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Top Tips for Buying your First Freezer

Three years ago, my boyfriend and I moved out of an apartment into our first house, complete with a basement, outdoor garage and fenced in backyard for Dollar and Brandy, our two dogs. With it came a larger kitchen with more cabinet and counter space, and I started to take photos and write about my joy of cooking. That hobby has led to trying all kinds of new foods, many of which have started or ended in our freezer. It did not take long for our family of two to outgrow the freezer that sits on top of the refrigerator and I started to think about how, when and what kind of free-standing freezer I should purchase.


Where would we put the freezer? How big should it be? Do we want an upright freezer or a chest freezer? Understanding how you will use the freezer will help you make an informed decision. Here are five tips for buying your first freezer:


Freezers come in two varieties: upright freezer and chest freezer. 
An upright freezer…

  •  Takes up less floor space but requires a room with high ceiling
  •   Comes with shelving for organization
  •   Comes in a manual defrost or frost-free configurations and is less energy efficient
  •   Lighted interior making it easier to see what you are storing
  •   Typically more expensive and comes with more advanced features


A chest freezer…

  • Comes with limited shelving
  • ​ Has room for large, bulky items such as Tyner Pond Farms’ hams, turkeys and items packaged in bulk that do not easily fit on shelves
  • Comes in a manual defrost, sometimes available in frost-free, and are more energy efficient
  •  Requires you to open the lid and reach down into it
  • Typically less expensive and comes with less features


Location - Aesthetics are important with appliances that will be seen inside your house. Black and stainless steel look great in a kitchen, but I did not need anything fancy for the basement. Ours is unfinished but dry and clean, and the only other prerequisite was to ensure the electrical outlets were working. If you are purchasing a chest freezer, you will want to place it near a drain or a hose for manual defrosting. Freezers should not be placed near a heat source such as an oven or air vent.

Size - When I was growing up, I would frequently visit the 9 cubic foot chest freezer located in the garage. It held the important things - pizza, after school snacks, and meat. For our family of four, the freezer gave plenty of space for everything a growing family needed. I do not remember a time when it was not filled to the top with everything we could possibly need. 

Freezers come in four basic sizes: compact (5 cubic feet), small (6 to 9 cubic feet), medium (12 to 18 cubic feet) and large (more than 18 cubic feet). For my family of two, I knew the freezer my parents owned offered more space than I could possibly need. While I could probably fill a 9 cubic foot chest freezer with a half a cow or more, the likelyhood of us eating through the food before it would become freezer burnt or too old was not very high. A 7 cubic foot chest freezer seemed more appropriate. Don’t forget to measure the door space that you will be fitting your freezer through! Upright freezers are usually wider than chest freezers. 

Energy - All freezers require energy to stay powered on and keep your goods frozen, so you will need to expect an increase in your monthly energy bill - but how much? Freezers are advertised with an energy label explaining how much you should expect to pay per year. My 7 foot cubic freezer will cost me an additional $30.00 a year in energy, or an average of $2.50 per month, but that is not guaranteed. Freezers that are ⅔ full require less energy. Fill your empty freezer with jugs of water until you purchase enough food to fill it (or plan in advance and buy from Tyner Pond Farms!) You can view the EnergyStar rating of appliances online here: http://www.energystar.gov/ 

There are several models of freezers available and each may offer one or more of these features:

  • Adjustable temperature - If you know your food should be kept at a certain temperature, some models will give you the option to change the setting or set the freezer to an exact temperature.
  • Shelving and baskets - Some chest freezers come with one shelf and one basket (like mine) or a variation so you can reach into the freezer and access your food. Upright freezers offer much more in the way of shelving and storage space inside the door.
  • Warranty - Many manufacturers offer food spoliage warranties if the freezer fails and food spoils.
  • Door locks - A handy option if you have young children who may leave the door open or should not have access to the freezer.


Purchasing a freezer is not a decision that should be made without discussing how much space you need, where the freezer will be located, and the long-term cost. Once you make your decision, you will be grateful for Tyner Pond Farm’s delivery service! I can now order items in bulk or place orders when certain items are on sale knowing that I have a place to store them before cooking. Tyner Pond Farms’ meats are sent in vacuum sealed bags, but for other food items or leftovers, a purchase of a vacuum sealer is well-worth the price for saving food longer without freezer burn.

Do you have a freezer? How did you determine which one was right for you and your family? I’d love to hear about your freezer making decisions in the comments!

Sara Croft is the author of the blog Solid Gold Eats, where she supplies delicious, one-of-a-kind recipes and encourages readers to try new things and make dishes that are 'solid gold hits' at the dinner table and beyond. She writes about her life in Indianapolis with her boyfriend and two dogs, Dollar and Brandy, as well as her growing interest in the science of how food works. 

 

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Stock up on Family Favorites for Your Holiday Celebrations!






















We're spreading extra holiday cheer this week at the farm! Save on your online orders today through Tuesday, December 16th when you use the following promo codes:

* Spend $50 get $5 off with code HOLIDAY50
* Spend $100 get $10 off with code HOLIDAY100
* Spend $150 get $15 off with code HOLIDAY150
 
Stock up on local, pasture-raised favorites for your crock-pot, grill & oven that the whole family will enjoy. May we suggest a Whole Turkey or a delicious Beef Shoulder Roast for your Christmas dinner, or a Tyner breakfast favorite, Sausage Links with Sage. As always, FREE delivery within 50 miles of our farm! Shop Now
 
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An Easy Way to Give Back with Husk Foods this Holiday

Give Back with Husk Foods


Shop Husk and Give Back Pound for Pound to Gleaners Food Bank
Everyone deserves easy access to locally grown, healthy and fresh produce. Help us give back to those in need this holiday season with Husk Foods! Shop Husk Indiana-grown, non-GMO sweet corn, green beans and butternut squash on our site and Husk will give back pound for pound to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana until December 12th. You'll be doing something good for yourself, your family AND for the community. Check out Husk's super simple Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe below - a quick & easy dish for the cold winter season! Be sure to include our pasture-raised whole chicken for a deliciously local meal the entire family will enjoy!

Husk’s Chicken Tortilla Soup
Ingredients:
1 of each bell pepper; red, yellow, green, and orange (diced)
1 onion diced garlic salt with parsley
1 whole rotisserie chicken (remove meat from bone)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 of a bag of HUSK Sweet Corn
1 package of Spanish rice
2 cans diced tomatoes with chilies
1 carton chicken broth toppings of your choice

Directions: Saute onion and peppers and season with garlic salt with parsley. Put all ingredients inside of crock pot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado and tortilla chips. Savor every bite!
 

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How I Conquered and Perfected REAL Chicken Nuggets

Lately, my very delectable attempts at expanding my children's palettes usually ends with them requesting just one particular "something else" to eat.  Yep, you guessed it.  Chicken nuggets.  No real surprise here.  But, I have to say, the things generally just freak me out.  Maybe it's some of the mystery commercially surrounding their, umm, content.  Or maybe its a certain experience I had at age 8 at a certain fast food chain.  Regardless, I have come to the conclusion that for the foreseeable future, these nuggets are just going to have to be a kid/mom compromise as part of our weekly menu.

Wikipedia tells me that, "A chicken nugget is a chicken product made from either meat slurry..."  Okay!  Stop right there!  Meat slurry?!?!  No!  So, I will see what my self-proclaimed 'chicken nugget experts' think they are actually eating...

Me:  What do you guys think is in a chicken nugget?
Preschoolers:  Probably just, ummm, chicken?
Me:  It wasn't a trick question.
Preschoolers:  Chicken.  Final answer.  Why? Are we having some right now?  We're not having them with green beans, right?  I'll get the ketchup.

Well, how about this definition... "A chicken nugget is a portion of a chicken breast or chicken tender coated in a savory bread crumb mixture and either baked or fried to moist, crispy perfection." OK, so I made that up, but that's what I want!  That is what I want to feed my family!  So, we started with pasture-raised Tyner Pond Farm boneless chicken breasts.  There was literally no fat to trim off, so here's how it went:

Step 1:  Cut the chicken breasts (I used two) into the nugget or tender size you desire. Mine were about 2" each or three bites. Note: The Tyner Pond Farm chicken breasts were so large and plump, I had a 5-year-old tenderize them a bit with a mallet to achieve the texture we wanted.  He enjoyed chanting, "Beat that meat!  Beat that meat!"

Step 2:  Coat with flour and egg wash, or just a light swipe of Mayonnaise. (If you actually do this ahead of time, let them chill in the Mayonnaise for a few hours for extra tenderness!)

Step 3:  Coat in your own breadcrumb mixture. I used dry bread crumbs, salt & pepper and parmesan cheese. You can also add cayenne pepper.

Step 4:  Bake or fry. I put mine in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping one time.

Step 5:  Eat and enjoy! (Somebody get me some honey mustard!)

So...what do the experts think?

Boy 1: "This is good chicken!"
Boy 2:"Hey, I know this is just chicken, because it came right from the farm!"
Baby Girl: "AAAAHhhhhhhh!  Baaaaa Blaahhhh Baaaa!!!!!!" (That was Baby Girl asking politely for more.)

My husband and I added a little olive oil and lemon for a make-shift Chicken Piccata.  It.  Was.  Delicious.  Am I saying we are never going through the fast food drive-thru ever again?  No.  It happens.  But, these are the kind of chicken nuggets that make my meal happy.  Okay, everybody help clear the table, and then go back to doing whatever it is you 'nugget experts' do...
 

 

 

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Our Family's First Red Bag Delivery

Getting into Tyner Red Bag
I don't care who you are, or where you are from, you have got to love having some of your grocery shopping done with a click.  And then, "ding dong"!  Our first 'Big Red Bag' is waiting for us on our front porch.  I have been anticipating this moment sincdiscovering Tyner Pond Farm!  Everybody loves a farm-to-door delivery, for free.  Well, unless you are a 4-year-old and you think that Santa left his bag on your stoop.  I guess I shouldn't have said, "I wonder who left a big red bag on our porch!?"  But, once he was over the initial disappointment, he had some fun with Baby Girl opening our delivery from Tyner Pond Farm.


So it is actually like Christmas morning, if you are a busy mom and just want some healthy, high quality food without having to load the whole gang into the minivan(if you are cool like me) and empty your wallet.  I usually go to 3 different stores to be able to get the best prices on the items I am not willing to sacrifice quality for; meat, milk, fruit and vegetables.  We don't have the time to go on a scavenger hunt every week, just trying to find some real food people!  I am thrilled to find the meat I want for my family; pasture-raised and natural, the way I believe animals were created to live, and be consumed.

Tyner Online Ordering

And the Tyner Pond Farm website is so easy to navigate, a pre-schooler could do it! 

Well, almost.  They clicked "Place Order".  And I began sorting through recipe ideas for our order of chicken breasts, Husk butternut squash, sweet Italian sausage, pork shoulder, and ground beef!


Now, it is time to get cooking some real food!  I will let you know how dinner time goes tonight.  Will someone throw themselves on the floor because I am not providing a Dora yogurt?  Will someone else be hysterically sobbing because he claims he heard someone mention "green beans"?  Probably.  Will we all be sitting down together at the same table?  Sort of.  Will we be eating delicious, healthy food?  Definitely.

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The Local Food We've Stored Away for Winter...and You Can too!

local food sunflowersHonestly, this post is not meant to be a brag, it's really not. OK, maybe a little bit it is, because I have been working my ass off and I want a little recognition I guess. :-) But really, I hope it's simply motivational... 

 

So what's my brag? The amount of local food we've stored away for the winter--not "amount" as in quantity, because that will have to come later. Rather, I mean "amount" in terms of variety. Right now, between our fridge, freezer, pantry, garden and a shed outside, we have: 

  • kale (in the garden)
  • chard (in the garden)
  • dill pickles
  • bread and butter pickles
  • pickled beets
  • beets
  • carrots (in the fridge and in the ground)
  • sauerkraut
  • potatoes (packed in hay in boxes in the shed)
  • pork
  • corn (frozen)
  • green beans (frozen)
  • salsa
  • stewed tomatoes
  • pasta sauce
  • peaches (canned)
  • pears (canned)
  • apple cider
  • raspberry jam
  • strawberries (frozen)
  • blackberries (frozen)
  • blueberries (frozen)
  • pears (dried)
  • apples (dried)
  • applesauce
  • corn relish
  • turkey meat (freezer)
  • turkey stock (canned)
  • butternut squash (stored)
  • delicata squash (stored)
  • heirloom pumpkins (stored)
  • And in the greenhouse, spinach, chard, lettuce and green onion seedlings that will either get planted in raised beds outside or nursed along in the greenhouse as an experiment

local food Cinderella pumpkins in our gardenAnd I'm not done. Well, it's November. I probably am done. There are quite a few things I didn't get done yet, like salsa verde, catsup, and hard cider, and I still have a bunch of apples that I was hoping to get pressed into apple juice for the hard cider but that didn't happen (so they'll probably become applesauce). 

 

Best of all, every single thing you see on that list is local, either grown by us or purchased from a local farmer (except the peaches and pears which came from the other side of the state where they are happier to grow). 

 

Do you know how good I feel reading through that list???? Do you know how awesome it feels to be able to make a meal that's not completely but mostly local, and from our own stores? 

 

view of our local food garden from the pig penThe Hubby and I are not striving to be completely self-sufficient. We couldn't be because we both work, for one thing, so we don't have time to. (As a farming neighbor down the road says, "We work so we can farm!" because farming is not cheap!) Raising just the little bit of food that we do takes a lot of time (and money). Raising even more would take more time...time we don't have, and definitely money we don't have. 

 

So it's not that we're trying to be totally self-sufficient. But we are trying to be a bit more food independent, by growing some vegetables in a garden that's slowly taking shape, harvesting what we can from the orchard that came with our old farm, buying other produce from local farmers, and either raising pastured meats or buying pastured meats locally. 

 

That picture above is one I took in August, looking towards the back of our house. It only shows a little bit of the garden, and really, only about half of the area got plowed up (by pastured pigs!), but it's a good start for next year. I have really ambitious plans for our garden, but getting to the end goal will take time and money (and blood, sweat and tears). And we grew more sunflowers and pumpkins than anything else! Yes, those are our sunflowers and pumpkins in the picture, and no, I won't grow as many next year. I just got a little carried away. :-) 

 

But you don't have to have a garden, you don't have to raise all your own, in order to have local food stored away for the winter. In fact, most of what I've put up was not grown by us, but by local farmers. And really, it's not that hard to put food up. It's not. I spread this out over three months, and there were only a few times where it was all-consuming. It's also helpful to do it with someone. It makes the tasks go faster to have an extra set of hands and company. (I find wine makes it more enjoyable too, along with fun music). 

 

And...it's just a little bit addictive, once you start thinking about local food that's in season and ways you can preserve it for later. Even now, I am thinking about buying local cranberries and making preserves to give to friends for their Thanksgiving meals...and I'm the only one at my house who eats cranberries! Even now, I'm looking at all the apples I've picked and not used yet, and debating between applesauce or trying one more time to get the cider press guy to let me come over. And, even now, I'm thinking about all the things I could have but didn't preserve. 

 

Because it's not only addictive, it's so very satisfying. It gives you a feeling of self-sufficiency like no other. 

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Does Your Kitchen Stop You From Cooking? 5 Tips for a Usable Kitchen You'll WANT to Cook in

I am on a one-person campaign to get more people back in the kitchen and back to cooking. Why? Several reasons, all of them important: so people will eat healthier, so families will eat together, and so local farmers will be more likely to be patronized (and therefore profitable). 

 

This campaign means I spend a lot of time thinking (and talking and writing) about food and farmers and recipes and dinners and stuff like that. But then it hit me that maybe some people don't cook for a totally unrelated reason: Maybe some people are put off by their kitchens. 

 

I had this epiphany because one of my many freelance writing jobs involves writing about kitchens once a week. That means I spend more time thinking about kitchens than the average Bear (or the average American!). In addition to that, I have an ongoing point of contention with The Hubby, because I insist on getting the dishes all washed, dried and put away before bed while he wants them to sit out and dry overnight (mostly so he doesn't have to feel guilty about drying them), plus I try to sweep the kitchen floor before bed too, which also bugs him as something that "can wait." But hold on: Putting off tasks like sweeping or putting dishes away does not make that task go away! It just moves those tasks to the next day's list, making that list even longer. I was getting tired of this argument until I read this article on 5 things to do in the kitchen before you go to bed. Then I felt justified. So now I just clean up the kitchen and ignore him. 

 

But thinking about cleaning up the kitchen before bed (and arguing about it) got me thinking: Maybe people are less likely to cook because they walk into a kitchen that's unusable! I'm not talking about a kitchen that's unusable because the fridge is on the fritz, or the oven doesn't work. (Heck, I have TWO ovens and the handles are now broken off of both, so I know a thing or two about "unusable" appliances, sadly.) Maybe people walk into the kitchen and see a sink full of dirty dishes, mail all over the counter, someone's craft project taking over the kitchen table, and cat food scattered across the floor. 

 

Would you want to cook in that kitchen? Me either! In fact, the first thing I do before I start dinner is wash the breakfast and lunch dishes that sat in the sink all day, as well as clear off the counter. No matter how late I am starting dinner prep, if there's clutter to work around, I can't work around it. First the clutter goes, then the cooking starts. 

 

If a cluttered, unusable or unwelcome kitchen sounds even a little bit familiar to you, here are five tips that might make your kitchen more usable, welcoming and likely to get cooked in...so you can get cooking some local food and support those local farmers. :-) 

 

1. Clear off the counter: I don't know why it is, but we seem to have a knack for cluttering our counters. On mine right now sit a microwave, a mixer, a radio, an empty canning jar, a coffee maker, a soap dispenser, a bowl full of eggshells, a compost bucket, a fruit fly trap, a cookie far, a knife block, a cutting board, a butter dish, a sugar bowl, and an antique coffee can full of cooking utensils...and I have a tiny kitchen! I can tell you right now, this woman is going to be doing some decluttering in the next week or two! Because that stuff just gets in my way when I am cooking, and THAT makes cooking more of a hassle. 

 

2. Keep up with the dishes: We don't have a dishwasher for a couple of reasons, so I have nowhere to hide dishes until they get washed. Instead, they sit in our deep sink until I get them done. Sometimes they pile up more than other times, but at some point every day, every single dish, pot, plan, glass and fork is washed dried and put away. This can happen at your house in the morning or at night. It's no fun, and it feels like a never-ending battle, but keeping up with the dishes will give you room to work when you are ready to cook...a clean slate, if you will. 

 

3. Clean as you go: I know some cooks who just pile, pile, pile up the dishes, pots and pans as they're cooking until at the end of meal prep, the kitchen looks like a war zone. That would stop me from cooking for sure! Instead, I find it's a lot more efficient to clean as I go, washing and putting away one pot while moving on to another, etc. Constantly wiping down the countertop helps too. That way, once you're done cooking, cleanup is minimal...and not intimidating! 

 

4. Have lots of towels: I made my first husband crazy in all kinds of ways. One of them was my seemingly indiscriminate use of kitchen towels. He'd complain about how many towels I went through while cooking, which made no sense to me since I did all the cooking AND all the laundry, but I still hear his voice when I toss yet another towel into the laundry basket, and I still know my way is fine. I keep LOTS of towels around because I clean as I go and I like to simply toss the used towel and grab a clean one and keep going. Running out of towels while cooking, on the other hand, would be frustrating. So I have lots of towels. :-) 

 

5. Respect your space, and make the family respect it too: Keeping the kitchen clean so it's ready for use is kind of like keeping your living room picked up in case you have company, or making your bed in the morning. Learn to respect the space that's used to nourish your family, and teach that family they need to respect it too. Remind them of the common-sense rules about if you get it out, put it back, etc. 

 

I can't guarantee putting these tips into practice will make you want to spend every evening in the kitchen cooking a local food dinner. But I can guarantee that making even a little effort to make your kitchen a place that's usable will go a long ways towards making that local food feasting possible! 

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Free Apples! Changing How We Value Food

cider as local foodsOn Sunday, we headed over to the neighbors for a cider pressing. We didn't pick any apples from our trees for this because we are "between" apples, with three trees being done and the other three not quite ripe yet. But that didn't matter because the neighbor had raided trees throughout our valley and had at least 500 pounds of apples for us to use! It was an impressive sight for sure! Miss Picky Eater and I worked at it for 3 hours. We came home with only 4 gallons of cider for our own use, but we had a blast working the press and making the cider for other people. 

 

Now, other than telling you about a fun Sunday afternoon spend with really nice people, making really tasty cider, and finishing it off with some much appreciated hot spicy pork sausage soup (that went perfectly with the cider!), why am I going on and on about this? 

 

I think because it's a reflection of how we do or don't value food. 

 

All of these apples our neighbor got hold of, they would all have dropped to the ground to be eaten by the deer or simply rot away. And he didn't even make a dent in our valley's apple supply! I am laughing this week as I drive to and from work and I see all of the apples he didn't get, all of the trees still covered in bountiful quantities of fruit! 

 

Our valley was never an orchard, but it was homesteaded well over a century ago (our house was built in 1890) and the homesteaders all planted apple trees as a food supply. Our farm has six apple trees, three pear trees, a plum tree and a prune tree. And I'm pretty sure the cherry trees across the street in our neighbor's yard were originally part of our farm's orchard before the property was subdivided and sold off. And that's the case up and down the valley, with big huge old apple trees continuing to produce fruit year after year, long after the homesteaders have passed away and the families have moved on. 

 

But one hundred years ago, people would have used those apples! The apples would have gone into applesauce for canning and cider for drinking and hard cider for imbibing. Some would have been storage apples and carefully tucked away for use in the winter months. Others would have been dried. And whatever didn't get used would probably have been fed to pigs and cows. Back before grocery stores that make procuring food simply a matter of needing transportation to get there and money to spend, those apples had value as food, now when ripe and later in the winter. 

 

Yet today the apples go unused while the grocery stores stock and sell apples brought in from elsewhere. I would even bet money that there are people living in my valley who are driving past these apple trees to go to the grocery store and buy--among other things--apples to eat. 

 

The problem? We don't see the "free" apples as real food! We'd rather go to the store and buy the shipped in waxy ones than the real ones in our own backyards! We don't give the free ones any value, I suspect in part because they aren't as perfect as the storebought ones. 

 

Maybe it's time to rethink the way we view and value ALL food, whether it's an apple off of a tree, a chicken for the oven, or processed frozen dinner. Maybe if we step back and take another look with a more critical eye, we'll choose the food local in origin and sustainably raised. 

 

Maybe. 

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The Meaning of Pasture Raised Hogs Finally Explained in a Way I Understand!

pasture raised hogs at Tyner Pond FarmWhen we bought our first few pigs last winter, we had every intention of raising them as pasture raised hogs. But the pigs seemed to have other ideas. Rather than eat the pasture, they only tore it up. I started thinking we might have to turn over our whole 22 acres to the little swine in order to keep them from living in a mudpit all the time! I didn't get it! I mean, I know Tyner Pond Farm's pigs are raised on pasture, and they seem to be on grass, not in mud! Was it just that our climate is so wet compared to theirs? Were our pigs weird? Did they not like to eat grass? What was the problem? 

 

But last week I took a tour of a local farm raising Tamworth pigs (a heritage breed) and I finally understand the meaning of the term pasture raised hogs. The farm's pigs had lots of room to roam, each with big runs or paddocks, but they weren't on pasture even though the farm advertises that they raised pasture raised hogs. "What gives?" I asked the farmer. 

 

She explained that pasture raised doesn't mean they are grazing pasture plants like cows and sheep do, but that they are raised outside with plenty of room to run around. Ooooohhhhh.... OK. Now I get it. And it makes sense. We don't call them pasture fed hogs. We call them pasture raised hogs. Not that they don't eat the plants, because they do. But they also dig them up. As one pig expert described it, we're dealing with an animal that has a bulldozer for a nose! The answer? Give them more room!

 

Visiting that other farm got me all pumped up to give our own pigs big huge runs like hers have. Our three pigs lived outside and got new ground every couple of weeks as we moved them around the garden to plow it up for us. But they never had a big area with lots of room, like, well, a pasture! We had two pigs slaughtered, but kept one for breeding, and today while I'm at work, The Hubby is supposed to be putting some t-posts in the ground for me so I can move the fencing around and start slowly making our pig's smaller area into an actual run. I am psyched! We want to raise our animals as naturally as we can, and I am so thankful for farms like Tyner Pond and the one I visited last week, small farms that are forging ahead and figuring out how to return to a natural sustainable way to raise meats, one that's better for the animals, the people, and the planet. 

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Being Food Independent Without Farming

Last weekend, we unexpectedly had nine people around the dinner table--and we are a household of three. We had multiple projects going on at the farm and people chipping in to help on into the evening, and they had to be fed. So at 6 p.m. I stopped what I was doing outside and went inside to figure out how to feed a very hungry crowd on short notice. 

 

What ended up happening was I truly felt self-sufficient and food independent. It was as if I got a glimpse of the reality of everything we're working towards with our small farm. I had just picked up our pork from the butcher's two days prior, Berkshire pork from the first pig we'd ever raised. So I pulled bratwurst sausages out of the freezer to thaw, then cooked them up. I went out to the garden for two kinds of lettuce to make a salad. I opened a jar of cider from our own apples. I put some pears I had dried in a bowl to pass around for something sweet. I quickly baked biscuits and put out raspberry jam and apple butter I had canned. And I opened a jar of bread and butter pickles made from cucumbers from our garden. 

 

Was the entire meal grown by us? Not at all! I need flour and butter and milk to make biscuits, and the salad had cheese, olives, vinegar and olive oil. I cooked up some local corn that was in the fridge, to have on the side. I put out spicy mustard for the bratwurst, and so on. But I sure felt proud to put as much homegrown food on the table as I did, and I remember something farmer Chris had sent me via text the day we had the pigs slaughtered: "...you are becoming food independent." Yes, I felt pride, and a sense of security. (I also felt relief because everyone loved the dinner!)

 

Then a couple of days later while shopping at the local farmers market, it occurred to me that food independence doesn't have to require a farm or even a big garden. In fact, all it really requires is changing one's frame of mind and way of acquiring food. What got me thinking this was my farmers market experience that day. I only had a few minutes, so I didn't have time to chat and THAT made me realize how much I enjoy being friends with farmers. Also, one of the farmers mentioned we could still go to their place during the winter to buy from them, even though the farmers market will be done. And all of THAT made me realize that really, maybe the first step toward being food independent is simply changing how you buy your food. (Or maybe I should say whom you buy your food from?)

 

It's like building a business network in a way. Because I have lived in this town for four years now and I shop the farmers market and get to know the farmers, I have an "in" to local foods that I didn't have before. That doesn't mean I am growing everything we eat, but it does mean I am getting ever more free of the grocery store, when I have a local resource for food, one that gives me "food independence" from the mainstream supermarkets. 

 

If you live in the Greenfield, IN, area, you can claim your own kind of food independence by purchasing your meats from Tyner Pond Farm. They only raise pastured meats: All the chicken, pork and beef they sell is raised on pasture right there at their farm, then processed onsite too. And when you choose to buy your meats from a small sustainable farm like Tyner Pond Farm and not the big chain grocery store, you're making yourself food independent while ensuring you have farmers there to supply your needs. 

                                                                 

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Butterscotch Brownies: Lard Bakes Up Better!

butterscotch brownies with lardI found another way to love lard this week. I baked up a batch of Butterscotch Brownies, something I hadn't cooked in years, but it was a busy weekday morning and I had nothing dessert-wise to put in the family's lunches. Remembering these butterscotch brownies cook up fast, I preheated the oven and pulled out the recipe. 

 

Now, I hadn't made this since I started cooking with lard, so it was a bit of an experiment to swap it out for the shortening originally called for, and I was a little nervous, because these brownies only have a few ingredients, and the lard could affect the flavor.

 

I needn't have worried. As usual, the brownies baked up tastier than before, because there is a silkiness that comes from baking with lard. I put still-warm brownies into people's lunch bags, and later put what was left into a tupperware...not that many were left, because The Hubby kept "ops checking" the brownies as he got ready for work. Then when I got home that night, there were zero left because Miss Picky Eater couldn't keep out of them. 

 

Yeah...from a pan full of butterscotch brownies that morning to not a crumb left that night. Think the lard worked?? :-) 

 

Here's the recipe, and remember it needs to be lard from pastured pigs to be any good! 

 

Butterscotch Brownies
1/4 c lard
1 c packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
3/4 c unbleached white flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
lard for greasing pan

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a square (8x8) baking pan with lard. Slowly melt the 1/4 c lard in a bigger saucepan (one you can use to mix all the ingredients together) over low heat. As soon as it's melted, remove from heat and beat in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Then add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir well. Spread batter into baking pan and bake 20-25 minutes. 

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Bounty in My Freezer: Berkshire Pork Galore

Berkshire pork in my freezerWell. I am embarking on a new food adventure now. Like my search for a bread recipe that would be healthier for my family--which led to a major education for me--I am now about to learn about cuts of pork. (Cuts of pork...is that correct wording? It looks weird. See? That's how much I have to learn: I don't even know how to say it!) 

 

We have a lot of Berkshire pork in our freezer after having our first ever pig slaughtered, and now I need to learn how to cook all of these different kinds of Berkshire pork. The bacon, sausage and bratwurst will be easy, no worries there! But there are ribs and steaks and pork chops (what is the difference between a pork steak and a pork chop, I wonder??) and a roast and hams and, oh my! Plus I got the back fat AND the leaf lard, so I'll need to learn the difference between those. I already know I like cooking with lard, but now I get to learn how to actually render it, and the different properties of back fat vs. leaf lard. 

 

I am excited, I confess. I love learning new things in the kitchen! But I am nervous too. Raising pigs turned out to be harder than we expected, and much pricier too. I want to do every piece of Berkshire pork justice, whether it's a chop or a steak or a rib or a roast. But I lack the experience to know for sure what I'm doing. One thing I know is that raising them on pasture means they'll likely need less messing with in the kitchen to taste good, at least! 

 

So it's Berkshire pork galore but that's mixed with a whole lotta trepidation! 

 

(And yes, that's our freezer, with local berries frozen up above, the Berkshire pork in the middle (with packages of meat from a turkey we raised) and local corn and green beans frozen below. It gives me a lot of confidence going into winter with this much local food on hand!)

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In Search Of: Recipes for Pork Chops!

recipes for pork chops from Tyner Pond FarmAll of a sudden, I need recipes for pork chops...lots of recipes for pork chops. We got our first pig slaughtered, and now I have loads of Berkshire pork chop packages neatly wrapped and stacked in the upright freezer. What I don't have is a lot of ways to cook them. 

 

See, I haven't eaten a lot of pork. I'm not sure I can even remember eating pork chops as a kid. So it's not as if I have a family tradition of recipes for pork chops to fall back on. 

 

And if you reeeeaaallly want to know how daft I am about pork chops, consider this: I think I've cooked pork chops once in my whole life! 

 

Do you see why I'm in desperate need of recipes for pork chops?? And a lot of what I'm seeing online is not helpful. No, I don't want to stuff the pork chops with cheese or bread or vegetables or meat or anything. I don't have time to stuff a pork chop. I barely have time to cook a pork chop! I also saw recipes that sound too sweet, like pork chops with apples and cinnamon and sugar. Wait. Am I making breakfast or dinner?? 

 

Today is a busy day (the kind of day that leaves no time for hair or makeup, that kind of day, yuck), and I haul our green horse to the trainer's for a lesson tonight, so it will be a late dinner. I searched for recipes for pork chops online and out of allllllll the recipes I looked at, I only found one that sounded appealing. The others were too complicated, too sweet sounding, or too much about masking the flavor. (If you have a really good Berkshire pork chop, why on earth would you want to do that?)

 

I found this recipe for cooking the pork chops in the oven after brining. That should work. They'll brine while I'm gone, then I'll cook them once home tonight. If the recipe is any good, I'll share it. :-) 

 

Wow. I am this confused and I am only learning to cook a pork chop, when there are all kinds of cuts of pork available! Guess I'd better hurry up and master the pork chop so I can move on to the next cut! 

 

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Recipe Review: Brined Pork Chop Recipe

brined pork chop recipe from thekitchndotcomYesterday I faced cooking up pork chops from our Berkshire pork for the first time. Seeing as how I've only cooked pork chops once in my life before, I was a little intimidated. Add to that my schedule, split between the farm chores, work, and hauling three horses to the trainer's, and I would say I was more than a little intimidated. Knowing I wouldn't get home until late and I'd want to cook dinner up quickly, I looked for a pork chop recipe that would help me make that happen. 

 

I stumbled across this brined pork chop recipe and I was definitely intrigued! Brine the pork chops while I'm busy doing other things? Cook them up in 15 minutes upon my return home? Works for me! Plus I liked the idea of brining because the only pork chops I've ever eaten were dry, and even though this Berkshire pork we raised ourselves, I was still scared that I would cook up yet more dry pork chops. 

 

I made the brine, just water and kosher salt, got the pork chops brining and went on about my day. When I got home that night, I followed the pork chop recipe to cook them. The result? Well, mixed reviews... 

 

On the one hand, brining the pork chops gave them a juicy, salty flavor, but too salty. I followed the recipe and rubbed each pork chop with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and only later after tasting them did I realize they did NOT need the additional salt. Maybe the saltiness would have been right if I hadn't done that. But if I follow this brined pork chop recipe again, I think I'll use less salt in the brine, maybe 2 tablespoons instead of 3, to be on the safe (less salty) side. 

 

The other thing that went wrong was my fault: You're supposed to put your frying pan in the oven to preheat. I only waited until the oven was preheated, not the pan, so my pan wasn't hot enough to start with. That meant I didn't get the sear, and it meant I had to bake the pork chops in the oven for much longer to cook them all the way through. I also had four pork chops and cooked three in the first batch and just one in the next batch. I should have done two and two, in retrospect, because I think the three chops were so crowded in the pan that they created more moisture. 

 

The recipe says to save the pan drippings for gravy, but the liquid in my pan was wwwaaaaayyy too salty for anything but getting poured down the drain. Maybe there's a way to press some of the brine out of the pork chops before searing? Lucky for me, I had made mashed potatoes earlier in the day, and taking a bite of potatoes with each bite of pork chop helped to tone down the salt. 

 

Overall, I was really happy with the technique offered by this brined pork chop recipe. But the salt factor needs some fixing, and I did learn less crowding means better cooking when it comes to our homegrown pork chops. :-) 

 

If you're in the Hancock County area of Indiana, and you want to try this recipe with some very high quality pork chops (like I used), definitely make your way to Tyner Pond Farm or their website to buy some pasture raised pork! Then try the recipe because I do like the brining, but maybe use a little less salt, make sure your pan is HOT, and don't crowd your chops. (Don't crowd your chops...I like the sound of that LOL!) :-)

                                                              

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Pork Chop vs. Pork Steak: What's the Difference? No, Really...What's the Difference?

pork chops picture from National Pork BoardYou'd think finding the answer to the question, "What's the difference between pork chops and pork steaks?" would be easy, wouldn't you? I did! Now that I have a lot of Berkshire pork in the freezer, I need to decipher what is what so I know how to cook it, but--just like my earlier experiences with figuring beef cuts--this is not cut and dry (pardon the partial pun). 

 

In my freezer, I currently have packages labeled pork chops, pork steaks and pork sirloin steaks. What the heck?? 

 

So I go to my trusty kitchen resource (a.k.a. Google) and even on the pork website, I can't find the difference. On the sites where people are describing differences, information is conflicting, like (and I am not kidding here) a pork steak is more dry, no it's more tender. A pork steak doesn't have bone, oh, wait, yes it does. A pork chop is from the side, no, from the back. And so on and so on. I have not been able to find one single explanation of the difference between a pork chop and a pork steak. Even the National Pork Board's website fails to list a pork steak among the cuts. They have a "blade steak," but that's it. 

 

I even went to Google images and typed in "pork steak" then looked at the pictures in the Raw category. When I did the same for "pork chop," I was given the same images! And those posters with all the cuts of meat and where they originate? I can't find any that show a pork steak.

 

So finally, I got smart and went to Tyner Pond Farm's website. There they describe a pork steak as: 

 

A steak comes from a roast cut that’s been sliced. Pork shoulder steaks are cut from the pork shoulder and contain the blade bone. Pork steaks are flavorful like roasts because they are rich in marbling, which keeps them tender during cooking. Pork steak is a popular, quick-cooking cut for grilling. 

 

You know what? That makes sense. I'm going with that. Don't know why I didn't go to Tyner Pond Farm to start with.... 

 

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When Slaughter Day Comes, Lord, Grant That I Am Always an Honorable Farmer

Every once in a while, I stumble across a gem on the Internet, a piece of writing or a video that connects me to others and grounds me. So it was with Katherine Dunn’s article in Modern Farmer, on what it feels like to butcher your animals.

 

I’m not sure I can express how much this article moved me. My eyes got teary while reading it, in part out of relief in discovering that I am not unusual as a newbie farmer who struggles with slaughter time.

 

Yet it also moved me because of the dignity and respect with which she talks about the animals. I have wanted to view the animals in the same way but thought it was un-farmer like to do so. Now I believe it is the way to be an honorable farmer.

 

We are still quite new to farming, and we are very new to raising animals for food. We’ve figured out how to raise chickens and turkeys for food. This year we tackled pigs. (Sometimes literally, when they were little 3-month-old piglets and they escaped time and again and I had to chase after them. Then I quite literally tackled pigs, and I will be forever grateful that no one was ever nearby videotaping the antics to put on YouTube.)

 

Anyway, we raised pigs this year, and two were slaughtered a couple of weeks ago. I’ll admit it: I didn’t want to be there when it happened, and I felt guilty about that. In fact, I scheduled my day so that I wouldn’t be, even though I felt I owed it to the animals to be there. As it turned out, the mobile slaughter guy was several hours late, so I was there. Yet, I stayed clear of that part of the farm and kept myself busy with horses rather than be part of the slaughter. That is something I regret, but I’m going to cut myself a little slack. I need to ease into this.

 

I know those two pigs had a good life (and the one we kept for breeding still does, as a very happy pig who gets three times the attention now!). We worked very hard to make sure the six months the pigs spent with us were healthy, active, enjoyable and natural. They flourished. They were healthy, grew like crazy, loved attention, enjoyed life.

 

One thing I’ve yet to see reasons away by the impassioned vegans and animal rights advocates is that these animals would not be alive in the first place if they weren’t being born to grow up to be food. We hope to get our pig pregnant this fall and have piglets in late winter. If they were not destined to be food, those pigs would never be born. They would never feel the warm sun on their backs, dig their noses into musty-smelling moist soil in search of earthworms, cuddle together for naps in the shade, or romp around as silly playmates. In short, they wouldn’t experience the joy of living.

 

If the animal rights activists really cared about the animals, they wouldn’t be campaigning for everyone to be vegans. They’d be campaigning for a nation full of farmers like Katherine Dunn. They wouldn’t be lambasting Katherine for her beautiful essay. They’d be taking down Tyson while supporting small farms like hers.

 

People are going to meat. Always have, always will. That won’t change. The only thing that has changed is how that meat is raised, and most of the meat consumed in this country is raised and slaughtered in an inhumane artificial way. The question to ask ourselves isn’t, “Should we eat meat?” The question to ask is, “What kind of meat should we eat?” Meat from animals raised humanely or cheaply? Because they are two different things, with very different consequences.

 

I went 24 years without eating meat. I could easily go another 24. But I live in a family of carnivores, and I’m the cook, and I want my family to only eat meat I can vouch for. So we raise our own and buy from people we know.

 

Like the author, I hope I always question it. I hope slaughter day always agitates me. Because the day it doesn’t is the day I stop being an honorable farmer.

 

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