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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Recipe Review: Drip Beef Sandwiches--Combining the Best of Two Recipes!

drip beef sandwich from Pioneer Woman CooksUsing Pinterest for pinning family dinner ideas is great, except for sometimes Miss Picky Eater pins things and the picture looks wonderful, but when I go to look at the recipe, I'm not so sure. That happened with a drip beef sandwich that Miss Picky Eater pinned from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. The picture of the sandwich looked wonderful, but as soon as I looked at the recipe, I knew it would need tweaking to fit my schedule and my cravings. 

 

If you go to the recipe, you'll see it's called Drip Beef, Two Ways. Well, what worked for me was adding way 1 to way 2 to make a way yummy dinner! I wanted the flavor of the first version minus the pepperoncinis because there's no way Miss Picky Eater would eat those! Plus I wanted the dipping sauce. But I also wanted to make this in the crock pot because I needed a midweek-at-work-all-day meal, so cooking it on the stove or in the oven wouldn't work. And finally, I wanted it to taste like a French dip sandwich because the cold rainy weather we are having is making me crave certain foods.

 

How's that for a list of criteria?? It probably sounds like I should have simply found a different recipe, but I liked that these called for chuck roast. And the recipes were easily combined! Below is what I did, and it was a hit! The family gobbled it up, and what was left made up lunches for today.

 

Drip Beef Sandwiches MY Way

  • Lard of other grease
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thick
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 3-lb boneless chuck roast (of the grass fed beef variety, of course!)
  • 2 c dry sherry
  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 c beef broth
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t dried rosemary
  • black pepper
  • deli rolls
  • provolone or jack cheese
     

Grease your slow cooker with your lard or other fat. Put the sliced onions, garlic and bay leaves in the bottom. Put the chuck roast on top. Mix together the sherry, soy sauce, beef broth, herbs and a few dashes of pepper. Pour this over the chuck roast. It should almost cover or just cover. Cook on low for 8 hours. Go to work or have fun or whatever. Forget about dinner for a while.

 

When the 8 hours are up, pull the chuck roast out of the crock pot and put it into a shallow casserole dish. Use two forks to pull it apart, shredding it into a lot of little pieces. The kids can do this if you want. I made Miss Picky Eater do it because she was tired after swimming but could do this job sitting down. Meanwhile, slice open the deli rolls and toast the cut sides under the broiler. Thinly slice the cheese. Pull the rolls from the oven, put the cheese slices on ONE half of each roll and put the other half of each roll aside for now, then put the cheese-topped halves back under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Put some of the beef on each bun half and top with the other bun half. You've got sandwiches!

 

Next, strain the liquid that's left in the crock pot. Discard the onion, etc., and keep the strained liquid for your dipping sauce. 

 

To serve, slice each sandwich in half and put some of the dipping sauce into a small bowl for dipping the sandwich in. Tasted like a French dip sandwich to me!! 

 

If you're like me and the fall weather where you live is making you want some warm and meaty comfort food, definitely give this recipe a try, whichever version you choose. It made for a filling and delicious dinner with very little effort!

 

P.S. I tried taking photos but the batteries in the regular camera ran out and my phone takes horrible photos because it has been dropped so many times. So this photo is from the original recipe at The Pioneer Woman Cooks, and you'll probably want to start there anyway, if you decide to make this recipe, to see if way 1 or way 2 sounds better to you than my way. :-) 

 

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Why Tyner Pond Meat Tastes Better




As our business has grown over the past year, a lot of new customers are really amazed at the difference in Tyner Pond Farm meat and what they are used to.   

I think there are three things that makes our product unique:

 

  1. The first is their diet.   They eat forage.  Our animals all live on pasture. Tyner Pond Farm pastures are a lush carefully managed mix of native grasses that are carefully managed for the maximum brix and nutrition.  We never cut hay from our pastures and we have invested a lot in replanting trees.  Trees play an important role in providing soil microbial life and mineral dispersion.   That variety is the main driver in both taste and texture.  
     
  2. Management.   We don't just toss the animals out on the field and hope for the best.  Every day of their life is carefully managed.   We practice what is called Management Intensive Grazing (MIG).  We carefully control our animals on the pasture so that they are in the right place at the right time.   Cattle only eat the top third of the grass before they move.  This means they are often moving to new paddocks two or three times a day.   Then we give the ground time to recover...usually about 30 days before the animal is back.   Pigs and Chickens are moved every three days or so and are not returned to the same spot for a year or more.   

    MIG is pasturing the way nature intended.   Think back 10,000 years ago when huge herds of Ruminants roamed Indiana.  They traveled in large tightly mobbed groups our of fear of predation.   Predators kept them bunched for defense and (along with seasons) kept them moving.   The mobs trampled what they didn't eat which put carbon into the earth.  Carbon mixed with the animals manure (nitrogen) builds soil and microbial life.  Making better pasture makes better meat.  

     
  3. Genetics.  Our animals are different.  They are mostly heritage breeds or specific genetics designed to prosper in our environment.  They are bred for flavor, marbling and their ability to process forage efficiently.   Not all cows can prosper on grass anymore.  Those genetics have been bred out in favor of the ability to withstand massive drug infusions and eating foods they were never designed to eat.   Factory Pigs and Cattle would die out here.  Not their fault...but sad nonetheless.  

 

This isn't an accident.  It's a careful multi-year strategy coupled with intelligent management.   If you would like to see it in action, we encourage you to come out to the farm or watch the video above.  

If you like what you see, we encourage you to try our online meat ordering!

 

buy meat online

 

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Why Pasture-Raised?

As I read, and re-read, and re-read my last three posts, because I am obsessive like that, I realized there was a big piece of information missing. WHY pasture-raised? Why is Tyner Pond Farm so unequivocally dedicated to raising pastured animals, and HUSK to non-GMO produce? Sure, it’s one thing to share time-saving ideas in the kitchen or relish in the relaxing moments to come, but the “why” factor was just staring me in the face, point blank, saying: SHOUT THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS! But experience can attest that often evangelizing is not the best approach. It turns people off, almost accelerates the speed by which this occurs.  


So I’m not going to shout, but on the inside, I might be doing just that, because yes folks, I feel THAT strongly about consuming properly raised animals… for a plethora of reasons. From the many health benefits they offer me and my family to the positive impact sustainable farming has on our environment, there are countless reasons to embrace the vital importance of pasture-raised animals.

 

For years, I was turned off by the organic food movement. This was based mostly on my perception that it eschewed privilege and a cost-factor that I was just not going to support. After all, if the vast majority of foods that line our grocery store aisles are available for consumption, with FDA approved labels to boot, doesn’t that mean they are safe to consume? I thought so. I trusted the government. Why would the governing body of the United States feed its citizens toxic food? Well, it turns out both money and power have a lot to do with it. With the ability to fund the “right” studies to back up such notions that a carbohydrate based diet (full of refined grains & sugars) is the best kind; that saturated fat leads to heart disease and causes obesity; that the additives and dyes in packaged foods are “safe”; that pesticides used on non-organic produce are harmless; and more, the government, in fact, continues to SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS that these foods are not only healthy, but also cause no long-term harm.

 

Let’s step back and look at the long-term data of the serious decline in our nation’s health over fifty years. Heck you don’t even need to see the data! Just look at your family, friends, and neighbors and consider the rate of disease majorly impacting the quality of life of some of these people, and more so, their lifespan. For the first time in 200 years, the current generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. This is outrageous! WE MUST begin to question the validity of all of the “food safety” notions espoused by the FDA. One way you can do this is to buy local, organic, and pasture-raised foods when possible; it is a powerful way to stake your claim.  (Of course, pharmaceutical and chemical industries play a detrimental role in the health of our citizens as well, but that’s not what this post is about.) 

Through a series of personal experiences – which I believe is often the most powerful catalyst for a food transformation; where a disbeliever can become truly awakened – my family and I began to see the truth from within. And it was astounding. First and foremost, the nutritional value of locally grown, pesticide-free produce and sustainably raised, pastured animals is far superior to most of what we find in the grocery. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the body doesn’t have to work nearly as hard to process and rid itself of the countless chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and pesticides found in conventional foods. In the end, it’s simple math: our bodies acquire greater amounts of vitamins and minerals PLUS they don’t spend as much time filtering all the bad stuff, and thus are better prepared to combat the average cold or infection, as well as more serious afflictions that our bodies may encounter daily, from bad bacteria and nasty viruses to even cancer.

 

So, my number one reason for eating and supporting the local food movement? Health! The health of my unborn baby, my family, my friends, my community. There are also many important, powerful, pleasing, and feel-good reasons for supporting it: better for the environment, reduces soil erosion, lowers the carbon footprint of food travel, supports the local economy and small family farms, my money stays in my community rather than funneling into the deep pockets of Tyson or Driscoll, supports the humane treatment of animals, and I am staking my claim by voting with my dollar.

 

Will you?

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Taste Expectations: The Problem with "Real" Food

kaleI had an interesting problem the other night: I cooked up kale fresh from the garden, braised it with garlic like I usually do, and Miss Picky Eater who usually really likes that side dish wouldn't eat it because it tasted like spinach. Why did it taste like spinach? Because it was tender young kale fresh from our garden, a garden that is new to our farmhouse meaning the kale was new to the table. It was the texture that was like spinach, it turned out, because the kale was so young and tender.

 

On the one hand, I find this funny, that a leafy green vegetable could be TOO tender to be good. But on the other hand, it illustrates what I call "taste expectations," meaning, how we expect things to taste vs. how they really do taste. This is an issue because we have lived so many decades with an industrial food system that we might not always appreciate the taste of food local in origin and in season. In short, we might not always appreciate the taste of real food, nor will we appreciate variations in the tastes of foods. We have become too used to it all tasting the same. 

 

Beyond the kale story, I can give you four other examples of these "taste expectations" straight from my own kitchen:

 

1) Local milk: I am lucky in that I can buy a lot of food local and in season. Even though I live in a small town in a rural area, the foods are available to me, including local milk. But Miss Picky Eater won't drink the local milk because a) it's always whole and b) it tastes weird (and that taste varies). OK, it doesn't taste weird. It tastes real. But it has a taste because it is the milk of only one or a few cows and the taste depends on the time of year and what they're eating. Storebought milk is the milk of thousands of cows all mixed together (and homogenized). All the local milk I find is whole, which I prefer, so I can't do anything about not having 2% around. But as far as how it tastes, my daughter is sadly lacking in knowledge of what real milk tastes like, so it tastes "wrong". :-( 

 

2) Grass fed beef: Grass fed beef tastes different from grain fed, and grass fed is what you're most likely to find if it's food local you're looking for. Plus grass fed beef tastes like real beef because it was only recently that we started feeding corn and soy to cattle. Like the taste of the milk, the "real" taste of beef is that of grass fed beef. But as with the milk, the flavor of the grass fed beef differs depending on how the animal was raised and what it was fed (like what kind of grass and grass vs. hay, etc.). That's why you'll sometimes hear people say they don't like grass fed beef, because it didn't meet their taste expectations, being used to storebought, grain fed, all-tastes-the-same beef. 

 

3) Canning catsup and pickle relish: I think I've given up canning catsup and pickle relish because they can't meet the "taste expectations" people have developed by eating storebought. I'm not going to put guar gum in the relish, so it won't have the thickness people are used to. And no matter how many hours upon hours I simmer that catsup, I can't get it thick like storebought...which is also probably due to some thickeners I don't want to use. (I did figure out the catsup made for fabulous sloppy joes! But I haven't decided if it's worth all that effort to make the catsup just for that purpose!) My family grew up eating storebought condiments, and that is what meets their taste expectations, no matter how much healthier the home-made versions might be.

 

So what can we do about taste expectations, and will they keep us from eating local foods, aka real food?

 

What we can do is educate ourselves and others. The farmers at my local farmers market who sell chickens ran out of the Cornish Crosses they were selling so they started selling red broiler chickens instead. These chickens are a bit more normal. They lack the massive breast (aka white meat) of the Cornish Cross. The farmers were smart: They had photos of each kind roasted and just out of the oven so they could explain the differences between the kinds of chicken. This was a great way to counteract the "taste expectations" problem rather than risk customers coming back and complaining about a lack of white meat or a "strong" flavor (because the red broilers have much more flavor). 

 

We can also expose ourselves to new foods on a regular basis. I write this on a Tuesday and Tuesdays are farmers market day in my town. As I strolled through the market today, I wanted to buy so many different vegetables! It's October and everything is bountiful and beautiful! But I have to limit my shopping to what I know I can use. Still, if there's that much choice among the "normal" vegetables, meats and cheeses at my little town's farmers market, imagine how many local foods there are that I haven't ever tasted?? 

 

I am constantly saying we have to cook in order to have local food systems, because we do. Local foods usually don't come as the processed foods or takeout that so many Americans rely on as "food." So it's only by being willing to get back in the kitchen and cook that we are going to support our local meat suppliers and farmers and cheesemakers, to get and KEEP them in business, ensuring long-term food security for us all. But maybe part of this local food movement has to be moving beyond our "taste expectations" too, to be willing to except that local milk won't taste like storebought, that grass fed beef differs from grain fed, and that kohlrabi might look weird but we need to give it a chance? 

 

We need to learn to love the taste of real food. :-) 

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Recipe Review: Crockpot Sweet Potato Chicken Chili...With Grass Fed Grass Finished Beef

OK, first off I have to confess that I did not use chicken when making this recipe. Yes, I know the recipe is for CHICKEN chili, and I fully intended to make it as such. But when Saturday rolled around and I wanted to make dinner in the crockpot so I could spend the day doing chores (and other things, but more on that later), I also wanted to try some grass fed grass finished beef I had bought earlier in the week. 

 

Although our local farmers market only has a few weeks left in the season, last week brought a new vendor to the market, a farmer selling grass fed grass finished beef, pork and lamb. I try to support local farmers as much as I can at the market, but grass fed beef is a little different and flavor can vary (unlike the grain fed beef in the supermarket that all tastes the same), so I only bought a pound of hamburger, just to try it. When Saturday rolled around and it was a crockpot cooking day, I opted to use the grass fed beef rather than the chicken called for in the recipe in order to try it out. 

 

And the reason for trying this particular chili was the inclusion of sweet potatoes. Since Miss Picky Eater decided a few months ago that yes she does in fact like sweet potatoes (ever since I started making sweet potato chips), I have been using them whenever I can, and now that fall is here and we are transitioning back to eating soups, stews and slow cooker meals, it's time to bring on the sweet potatoes once again. 

 

Crockpot Sweet Potato Chili by Aris MenuBut...I still don't get the difference between sweet potatoes and yams, at that came into play when making this recipe

 

As you can see in the photo from the blog where I found the Crockpot Sweet Potato Chicken Chili recipe, those sweet potatoes look very orange. Hmmmm, thought I, I think they are yams. So that's what I used. That means the sweet potato chicken chili turned into yam and grass fed grass finished beef chili. It was still tasty and I was really happy with the beef, it being a trial run, but if I make this again with either beef or chicken, I'm going to try sweet potatoes instead. The yams simply had no flavor. I thought they would add a sweetness to the recipe, but they didn't. They didn't even pick up the flavor of the chili at all. We really liked the texture they added, however! Sweet potatoes will add the same texture, but a bit of sweet too I hope.  

 

If you decide to give this recipe a try, here are my notes: Skip microwaving the sweet potato for 2 minutes. It didn't make it tender at all, and it made the yam so hot, I could barely handle it to get the skin off and start cutting it up. If you're worried about the sweet potato/yam not getting tender, simply cut it into smaller chunks. Because I used beef, I browned it first, and then I browned the onion too, rather than put it in the crockpot raw. I think it helps the flavor, but if I were in a hurry, I'd put the onion in raw. I added 1 T sugar, because I thought we were getting something a little sweet with the yams, and because I used home-canned tomatoes that have lemon juice added (to make them safe to can), and the sugar counteracts that. I only used 1/2 t cumin because we're not big cumin lovers at our house, and I didn't have the fancy chipotle peppers called for so I minced half a jalapeno and used that. I also left out the bell pepper because Miss Picky Eater is, well, picky!! The recipe says cook on low for 6 hours but that's not a setting on my slow cooker, so I did 8 hours and I think that helped to make sure the yam was tender. 

 

I had mine with sour cream and I really liked it. It's not a revolutionary recipe, meaning it's a pretty basic chili recipe, but I really liked adding the sweet potato aka yam because of the texture and even the visual appeal. Chili is something I could make over and over again because I love anything that cooks all day while I'm working, so having a few chili recipes to choose from appeals to me. 

 

And speaking of work, here's my confession: On Saturday, I spent a lot of the day getting stuff done around our farm, but I also did stuff like make the harvest decoration you see in the photo above. It's in front of the barn and the only ones who will see it are our family and the chickens and dog, but I had a lot of fun making it. We grew about 30 pumpkins in the garden this year, so I've been finding places to put them all around. This isn't the only display I made on Saturday! :-) 

 

And at the end of the day, when all was said and done, this crockpot chili with grass fed grass finished beef was the perfect meal to sit down too. 

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Recipe Review: Italian Sausage, Potato and Kale Soup

Italian sausage kale and potato soup from the candidappetitedotcomOK, this Italian sausage, kale and potato soup was hands down a winner, and it's a wonderful way to use Italian sausage so the sausage doesn't dominate but definitely shines. And you get the added benefit of getting the recipe from a food photographer, meaning the photos that accompany the recipe are enough to make your mouth water and your eyes delight! 

 

I made this soup yesterday early in the day before a swim meet, so dinner would be ready when we got home. Soup is also a good option for us when the Hubby is working swings because it's easy for him to heat up and eat when he gets home late at night. 

 

This Italian sausage, kale and potato soup was a hit both with Miss Picky Eater after her meet and the Hubby after his shift. In fact, the Hubby crawled into bed  raving about the soup, and then some of the first words out of his mouth this morning were, "That soup was amazing!" 

 

All that satisfaction and praise for very little effort. :-) 

 

This is one of those soups that shines because it uses fresh, local food, however. The ingredients and the preparation are simple, so the quality of the ingredients must be high. Lucky for us, kale is at its peak right now, and we have bunches of it (literally) in the garden. The Italian sausage I used was pork, and if you live around Greenfield, Indiana, you know you can get amazing locally produced pork sausage from Tyner Pond Farm

 

I have only a few comments on the recipe: I used home-made chicken stock (because we had a roasted pastured chicken for dinner on Sunday) and I prefer it to storebought which is too strongly flavored, and I added dumplings rather than serve it with bread. The weather in our area turned NASTY this week (someone joked we skipped fall and went straight to winter, and that is how it feels, just nasty and depressing), so dumplings sounded really, really good. They are just comfort food and easy to make (see the dumpling recipe here). I added the dumplings when the potatoes were just about tender, and put the lid on to let them cook. Then I added the cream at the very last second because it didn't need to cook at all, and might have curdled if it had. One note on the cream: I used twice as much as it called for, because really creamy sounded really good...which was also probably because of this horrible wet windy weather we're dealing with. 

 

I think my family would give this recipe 5 stars, and I am printing it out to make again, which doesn't happen very often. 

 

To give it a try, buy some Italian sausage from your local farmer, get some potatoes and kale at your farmers market (and onions and garlic too, to make it more local), and cook away! The dumplings are optional, but a very nice addition. 

 

And remember, if you're in the Hancock County area of Indiana, the place to buy your Italian sausage is Tyner Pond Farm

                                                                  

 

 

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Recipe Review: 5 Ingredient Pesto Chicken Soup (With Best Free Range Chicken)

5 ingredient pesto chicken soup from gimmesomeovendotcomYou know what? I suck at poker. I can try to tell a lie or fake someone out, but I fail every time. And I am the worst at insincere flattery. So I will be honest with you on this pesto chicken soup recipe rather than try to beat around the bush: I did not like it. But the weird thing is, the family did! They are usually the picky ones, where I will eat whatever I cook. But with this chicken soup, they were asking me to be sure to make it again another day while I was unwilling to even finish what was in my bowl. 

 

I don't know why the disconnect, with them liking and me not. But I will say this soup is super (souper?) easy to make, and if my picky eaters liked it, yours probably will too. The recipe's creator insists the quality of the pesto makes or breaks the soup, and I have to agree. I had some homemade pesto in the freezer, but if you have to use storebought, be reeeeeeaaalllly picky about the quality, and maybe try to buy fresh pesto, not the kind in the jar that is so oily and tastes so off. 

 

And as usual, with so few ingredients (five!), this is one of those recipes where the quality of the ingredients simply has to be high. That's why I'm calling for the best free range chicken you can find to use in this recipe, as well as quality stock and pesto too. (The canned beans are canned beans,  what can I say??) If you've got top quality ingredients, you can whip this 5 ingredient pesto chicken soup in no time, really. But do serve it with plenty of parmesan cheese, and the bread is a good idea too, because if your chicken stock is tasty, your family will want to dip their bread in it. 

 

I think I would have liked it better if I'd had some leftover cooked chicken, which is what the recipe calls for. But I didn't, because the last free range chicken I roasted left me with only a little bit of chicken meat, and not enough for this recipe. Since this was a Pinterest board recipe, and Miss Picky Eater had asked for it to be on the menu for the week, I found myself cooking up a chicken breast just so I could make this recipe. Since dark meat has more flavor, I think using leftover chicken meat the next time will make it taste better...to me at least, since the family already loves it. 

 

For a great use for leftover chicken (assuming you've sought out the best free range chicken to start with) and supper in a hurry, I'd recommend this soup. For something to impress your in-laws, however, I'd choose something else, like maybe this kale, sweet potato and chickpea stew that my family gobbled up two nights ago. Yum! :-)

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Why I Want the Food Photographers to Stop Blogging!

OK, I get that you are showing off your work, and yes, your food photos are beautiful, really stunning, but you are getting in the way of what I want: the recipe! 

 

I'm starting to think bloggers have gone a bit overboard with the numbers of photos in their recipe posts. Sometimes when I find a recipe online that interests me, I have to scroll so far down the page that I start to wonder if there's even a recipe or if a post is really just dozens of photos (I'm not kidding here) of the preparation of a dish and the finished product shot from so many different angles, you'd think it was someone's first-born child. Don't get me wrong! I love beautiful photos of food as much as the next person! It's the quantity that is getting on my nerves, not the quality. 

 

On the one hand, these photographers are doing the local food movement a favor by inspiring people to cook with their lovely photos--or at least I hope that's the case. But on the other, all those photos can be intimidating too. Since the only way we can gain momentum for the local food movement is by getting more people to cook more often, I love that the Internet offers to many recipes. But if a newbie cook comes across a post with so many photos of even the minutest steps of the recipe, don't you think that might be just a wee bit off putting? 

 

Take this recipe post, for example. By the author's own admission, it comes in shorter than his other posts because it only has a "mere 40 something" images. I made this soup and blogged on it, because it was tasty, and it was easy. But it was a hassle trying to scroll down and down...and down...to find the recipe. Although it had a "print this" option, I usually make new recipes found online from my laptop first, and only print them out if I like them and want to make them again. So for me, scrolling scrolling scrolling was the name of the game. And even if I had wanted to print it out from the start, I still would have had to do all that scrolling to get to the "print this" button! 

 

The photos in this post are all gorgeous, every single one! No, really, they are drop dead gorgeous. But the post ends up being a portfolio for the photographer, not a recipe for the cook. 

 

Here's a thought for all of you food photographers out there who are filling up your recipe posts with photos: Can you put the recipe near the top of the page? Maybe a picture of the finished product to entice us (and be pinned), followed by the recipe, and only THEN include your dozens of gorgeous images that are really there to impress potential clients, not to teach me how to cook your dish in painstakingly minute detail. 

 

But maybe that's the problem: My goal is to get people to cook. The food photographer's goal is to get noticed. My goal puts the recipe front and center. The food photographer's goal is to highlight the photos. But there must be a compromise, right? 

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Quinoa Stuffed Chicken!

Quinoa

Ok, thank you for sharing this Karen Rizzo!!!  We really love it when our customers feel like they are part of the team we are building here.  One of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome is the perception that Tyner Pond food is hard to cook.  

 

Its really helpful when you all share with us (and then our other fans) how you prepare our food.   This one is great because it's beautiful, delicious and really pretty easy.   You might not whip it up after getting home from work on a Tuesday...but for the weekend...?

 

The Tyner Pond Farm pasture raised chicken has olive oil and your favorite herbs rubbed into the skin. 

 

The stuffing is

  • 1/2c. Quinoa cooked
  • a can of white kidney beans rinsed
  • 1/2 c chopped almonds
  • 1c quartered grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3/4 cup parm cheese and 2T Olive oil.

Mix it all together and stuff away!  Rub your olive oil herb mixture all over & Roast the Chicken at about 350 degrees.  Figure maybe an hour and a half.  Check your temp and anything over 145 degrees internal temperature will be good.

Order your Tyner Pond Farm Free Range Chicken Here

 

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Look for Grass Fed Poultry to Know You're Getting the Real Deal

grass fed poultry at Tyner Pond FarmSo you're standing in your local grocery store in the meat section, looking at your chicken choices in the cooler, debating between drumsticks and thighs and breasts. And you're wondering, What's really under all that shrink wrap anyway, hmmmmmm?? Chicken yes, but what kind of chicken and raised how?

 

There's really only one way to know: If you want chicken that's better for your family and raised in a humane way, make sure you are seeking out grass fed poultry. 

 

"Free range" has become a misnomer, as companies have started slapping that label on their chicken packaging, to dupe consumers into thinking they are buying meat from chickens that led natural lives, when they in fact didn't. Free range can still mean cooped up by the thousands in a building, walking all over each other without room to spread wings even, without grass or bugs or sunshine. Unless those companies start throwing their grass clippings from lawn mowing into the chicken houses, we should be pretty safe with the grass fed poultry label. :-) 

 

Because so far, at least, the companies that put more emphasis on profits than ethics have yet to usurp the term grass fed poultry! So look for that instead of free range. Or you can look for pasture raised on the label, if you don't see grass fed. 

 

At Tyner Pond Farm, they used to call their chickens free range, because those birds do free range to their heart's content at the farm (as you can see in the picture above). But then the reality of the label's misuse and abuse became known, and the farmers opted for labels like grass fed and pasture raised instead. 

 

To buy grass fed poultry from Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, IN, just go to their website and place your order! If you live within 50 miles of the farm, you can get your chicken delivered for free, or you can go to the farm and buy it directly from them there. 

                                                             

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Loose Foods: Skip the Food Packaging for the Sake of Sustainability

plumsIf you're already buying local food or considering it at least, there's a plus side to your decision you might not have realized: less packaging. And the way I see it, foregoing that food packaging helps sustainability. 

 

I hadn't really considered it before myself, until I just read this article on stores selling food that's not packaged. (I would say unpackaged food, but that sounds weird, for some reason.) You bring your own reusable containers when shopping there. There's an incredible amount of waste generated by food packaging, even if you're only buying meat. These stores aim to cut down on that packaging but also change your buying habits because there are things they simply can't offer, like pre-chopped up mangoes and pre-peeled bananas (yes, apparently there are such things!). Shopping there means buying foods closer to their original state too. 

 

When you're buying local foods from local producers, you're already making that move toward less packaging and more sustainability. At the farmers market, most of us bring our own reusable bags, and I only ask for plastic bags for certain kinds of vegetables. (On my short list is figuring out or making reusable bags for leafy greens and loose fruits and vegetables so I don't have to use a plastic bag at all.) And even if you're buying pastured meats from a local farmer, you're probably not getting the same degree of packaging that you would if buying from the grocery store. At our farmers market, the chickens come in plastic bags, not shrinkwrapped with styrofoam. Ditto for the hamburger. Even buying from the local butcher means less packaging compared to the conventional grocery store. 

 

In my opinion, this all helps with sustainability because not having to create the packaging in the first place cuts down on resources used. Curious as to just how many resources are used, I found this math done by a PhD candidate at Stanford

 

According to the EPA, the equivalent of nine barrels of oil is saved when we recycle one ton of plastic bags. By my calculations, that means one barrel saved for every 10,000 grocery bags recycled. Put another way, one shot glass full of oil is saved every time three grocery bags are recycled. That may not seem like much, but Americans use some 100 billion plastic bags each year. Recycling all of them would annually save 10 million barrels of oil—or more than 100 shot glasses per person.

That's just the plastic grocery bags we're talking about there. That doesn't include all of the other packaging that comes home with you after a trip to the grocery store, like the cardboard cereal box and the waxed bag inside of that box that holds the cereal. That packaging really adds up! 

Buying locally and foregoing the packaging means not using those resources in the first place then, right? If I can not use three grocery bags worth of plastic because I've purchased food from a local farmer, I've just reserved one shot glass full of oil for another use. 

Now that's sustainability! 

How about you? Are you able to forego packaging by buying locally or in some other way? Would you even shop at a store that didn't have packaged foods??

And that's just a picture of plums from my tree. I didn't have a picture of unpackaged food, but then I thought, "Nature doesn't package her food, so how about a picture of that?" :-)

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Recipe Review: One Dish Grass-Fed Chicken with Potatoes and Green Beans

Here’s another Pinterest recipe we’ve just tried, this one pinned by me: I'm calling it one-dish chicken, potatoes and green beans. It looked too easy to be true, but I was tempted to try it because it seemed to be a one-dish dinner that could work as a Sunday Supper, and it used grass fed chicken with ease.

 

Essentially all you do is put your vegetables (green beans) along one side of your casserole dish, and your potatoes along the other side, then put your grass fed chicken meat up the middle, cover with butter and spices, wrap with foil, and bake in the oven for an hour.

 

When it was all done, all I added to our plates were some boiled baby beets from the garden. 

 

And it worked! It was in the 90s yesterday so HOT, I had somehow tweaked my neck the day before and I was in serious pain all day and trying to function with limited movement. I had to can 20 pounds of tomatoes that would not wait another day, plus I had stuff I had to get done outside. And it was the first day of the Hubby's weekend, so I knew I had to make a somewhat nice dinner.  As an added incentive to try this recipe, I had green beans and potatoes ready to harvest in the garden! And when all was said and done, this one dish wonder pulled it off for me. 

 

My only comments are few: The recipe called for 1 lb of chicken but I used two chicken breasts which added up to about 1.5 lbs. Only 1 lb didn't seem like near enough, and it only fed two of us for dinner with just a little in the way of leftovers. (It would have fed three people, I think, but that's all.) Also, I cut that grass fed chicken into chunks. The recipe didn't say to do that, but that was the only way to evenly spread everything out like in the photo (and the photo is from the original recipe). Yes, the stick of butter called for is a LOT, and probably too much (as even the picture makes clear!). If I make this again, I will likely use half butter and half olive oil. There was a LOT of melted butter left in the pan after I dished us up, so I'm not sure that a half cup is necessary, and I'd likely use less fat. Rather than use the "Italian dressing" called for, I sprinkled garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt and pepper over everything, and didn't mix it in, and the flavor was great. I also had my doubts about the green beans going in raw, but they cooked up just fine, as did the potatoes. 

 

Although you can buy boneless and skinless grass-fed chicken breasts from Tyner Pond Farm, I think this recipe could work with a mix of chicken meat too. I imagine it with chicken thighs, drumsticks and wings, because to be honest, the chicken breasts were dry. Maybe it would work better with chicken breasts that were still skin on and bone in, however? 

 

All that said, this would make an EASY one-dish meal on a busy weeknight, because you could prep everything ahead of time then simply throw it in the dish and into the oven upon getting home. I wouldn't pass it off as a Sunday Supper again, however, as it lacked the niceties like gravy that one expects from a Sunday Supper and the chicken was dried out. But then it was a hot and tiring Sunday, and it was just the Hubby and I for dinner, so it worked fine. :-)

 

If you're near Greenfield, IN, buy your grass fed chickens from Tyner Pond Farm and give this one-dish wonder a try! 

                                                                 grass fed chickens from Tyner Pond Farm

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Impromptu Dinner: Grass Fed Chicken with Vegetables, Pasta and a Secret Ingredient that Made It Work

grass fed chicken with corn green beans tomatoes and pastaHow did I live without a gas grill?? I have no idea. Ever since we splurged on a cheap one at Home Depot a few weeks ago, I've been ever so happy to have it! For one thing, it has been very useful when canning, with the stove top all taken up by pots and the kitchen hot. I've cooked a few dinners on that gas grill recently. But the main thing I like about it is how quickly it can give wonderful BBQ flavor to a meal, so that even an impromptu one tastes delicious. 

 

That's what happened yesterday. It was a Monday, and I just am not in the swing of things yet now that school is back in session. I think it's because the one child still at home, Miss Picky Eater, is only on a part time schedule until next week. Or maybe it's because the Hubby STILL isn't on a regular work schedule since his promotion five months ago. I don't know, but I seem to be lacking in a schedule, which means I didn't yet have the week's menu created nor did I do the week's food shopping yet. (In my defense as far as the day went yesterday, we did buy Miss Picky Eater's car, and that took up the better part of the morning, plus had me a little weepy, that she is so grown up now.) 

 

So it was me juggling taking a day off with the Hubby (because he had the day off), getting the daughter to the dentist, buying the daughter's car which involved juggling around her school schedule, still trying to get some work in, being near the phone for a call with a client at a particular time, getting the groundwork in with one horse that HAD to happen, and more busy-ness that meant I didn't plan a menu or grocery shop. 

 

And that led to this impromptu dinner that was quite good! There are three reasons why it was so tasty: 1) fresh in season, local food ingredients (corn, green beans and tomatoes), 2) a gas grill and 3) the real deal grass fed chicken. OK, there was a 4th reason and it's a secret that I hate to admit but... I had some cheap Italian salad dressing in the fridge that I bought early in the summer as part of the groceries we took on vacation. I think that dressing had a lot to do with the deliciousness of the dinner, but it would be really easy to make a marinade too. I was just taking the easy way out and wanting to use up what was left in the fridge. :-) 

 

Our Impromptu Chicken and Pasta Dinner
2 boneless, skinless grass fed chicken breasts marinated one hour in Italian salad dressing (or equivalent)
2 ears corn, husks on
1 1/2 c penne pasta
1 c green beans, snapped
2 peeled and diced roma tomatoes
1-2 T additional Italian salad dressing (or equivalent)
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

All I did was marinate the chicken in the salad dressing for an hour, then I cooked it on the gas grill. I also cooked two ears of corn (still in their husks) on the grill. I boiled the water for the penne pasta, then added the green beans part way through the cooking of the pasta. I cut up the chicken, husked the corn and cut the corn off of the cobs, drained the green beans and pasta, and mixed that all together. I had about two diced tomatoes left over from canning the day before, so I stirred those in. I added the remaining tablespoon of cheap Italian dressing, tossed it all together, then topped with about 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan. 

 

The chicken tasted wonderful! It's amazing what the gas grill does for flavor! And I love cooking corn that way. You have to husk it outside because the husk does get sooty, but it's nice not to have to bring a big huge pot of water to a boil to cook the corn, and it gets a little roasted flavor cooked that way. I will admit that Miss Picky Eater wasn't keen on the pasta. She thought the chicken tasted so good, she just wanted that plain. But then she's just hard to please anyway. :-) 

 

If you live in or near Greenfield, Indiana, you can buy grass fed chicken from Tyner Pond Farm, plus pick up some local Husk corn and some green beans and tomatoes, and make this before fall gets here and grilling is no longer an option! 

                                                               

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If You Want to Buy Rare Breed Pork, Here's Some Advice for Finding a Farmer

buy rare breed pork like these pastured pigsIt can get a little confusing, this learning about heritage breeds and grass fed meats. I mean, even if you learn enough to know you want to buy rare breed pork, that doesn't mean you hop into your car, drive to your nearest grocery store, and buy it. No, if you want to find someone selling the unusual so you can buy rare breed pork, you have to do a little digging. 

 

First, you have to know what a rare breed is. You might want to go to a website to familiarize yourself with heritage breeds. You'd be surprised how many people who raise pigs do NOT know about heritage breeds. (Which also makes it hard to get advice from them, we've learned, because they only know what works for their fast growing modern breeds...and that's not what work for our slower-growing heritage breeds.) They might end up telling you something is a rare breed that isn't, only because they just don't know. 

 

Second, start looking. You can ask around, or do a search on the Internet, but be forewarned that--like I said--not everyone is familiar with rare breeds. You might even want to ask a restaurant you know and trust, one that's serving rare breed pork. Ask who they are buying from. It could be that the farmer supplying them won't sell to you because their whole supply goes to the restaurant (this just happened to a local chicken farm around here, a restaurant is now buying ALL of their chickens!), but that farmer might know another farmer who will. Also ask other farmers, someone who doesn't raise pigs. Farmers tend to buy food from each other, so if one is a vegetable farmer, they might know a farmer raising pork because that's where they get theirs. Remember, it's always "no" until you ask. :-) 

 

Once you find that place to buy rare breed pork, remember too that farmers only survive when we buy from them. Just like everyone else, they need to make an income. If the pork is to your liking, keep buying it and be sure to tell your friends about it too! 

 

When you buy rare breed pork, you support sustainable farming
You probably want to buy rare breed pork because you've heard the flavor is better, and it is! But there's another benefit to buying this kind of pork: You're more likely to get pasture raised pork. That's because the kinds of farmers who want to raise rare breeds of pork are more interested in raising quality meat in a sustainable, time-honored way, one that honors the animal and the eater. Since they're not focused on getting to market as fast as possible, they are content to let the pigs be out to pasture eating normal diets and acting like, well, pigs! So thank you for wanting to make that buying choice, supporting the smaller farmer who is more interested in doing things right than right away, and for helping to keep rare breed pork an option for our dinner tables. And who knows? Maybe if enough of us do it, "rare" won't be so rare any more, and Large Blacks, Berkshires and Tamworths will be as commonplace as the commodity hogs--and someday replace them. :-) 

 

Until that day comes, however, those of you who live in Hancock County, Indiana, have it easy!! You can buy rare breed pork from Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield. Those are Tyner Pond Farm pastured piggies in the picture above, out eating grass and soaking up the sun...which all leads to even better tasting meat. :-) 

                                                         

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Sustainable Farming Practices: How Can You Be Sure a Farmer Does What a Farmer Says?

sustainable farming methods include raising chickens on pastureIt's easy to throw around labels these days, especially when talking about food. Foods are labeled "natural" or "local" when they're not, and even free range has lost its meaning when it comes to chickens. So what are we to believe when someone talks about sustainable farming practices? 

 

Unlike organic which has a legal definition, "sustainable" does not. Like natural, local and free range, nothing dictates how that term can be or will be used. But we as consumers can know enough to know if sustainable farming practices are being used. 

 

I guess first off, however, we should talk about why sustainable farming practices even matter, right? In my mind, sustainable means in a way that it holistic and for the long-term benefit of the land and livestock. That's in opposition to our modern-day industrial agriculture approach that emphasizes profit, so that chickens are bred to be ready for market in just 7 weeks, and pigs in just 5 months, and corn is grown to feed animals instead of people so those animals will fatten faster. Sustainable is the opposite of the farming methods that rely on petrol chemicals to fertilize depleted fields, herbicides to kill weeds, and GMO seeds to speed up production.

 

I guess you could say sustainable is old fashioned. When I look at "sustainable," that's what I see, an older, slower, more common-sense way of doing things. What does sustainable look like? Well, sustainable farming methods....

 

...mean animals are allowed to grow at a natural pace, eating the grass nature intended, not grain.
...allow for a slower approach to food production. 
...do well with heritage breeds that were adapted to living outside, unlike today's modern livestock pig and chicken breeds.
...mean antibiotics aren't necessary because animals aren't crowded together, but free to roam around. 
...rely on nature's ways, like rotational grazing to spread manure and encourage grazing. 

 

For me, sustainable matters most, and I don't get too hung up on whether or not things are organic. The way I see it, I should be able to trust the farmer to make the right call on his or her property. If that farmer is using sustainable farming methods, then I know the use of chemicals will only happen when absolutely necessary. Like at our place on our hay field, we sadly had to break down and use a chemical because the fields were so neglected for so long, and even with our efforts to manage the fields in a sustainable way, the Canadian thistle was rapidly spreading across the whole 10 acres. The Hubby and I were both sick to our stomachs about using the herbicide, but we had researched our options and that was our only one because letting the thistle take over our hay field was NOT an option. Our hope is wiping most of it out will enable us to use sustainable and organic methods from now on to keep the thistle (and tansy) at bay. And those are the kinds of decisions I trust for a farmer to make when raising food too, to know there's a time when drastic action is necessary but to be striving for the natural approach whenever possible. 

 

Another way to know if a farmer is really using sustainable farming methods is by visiting that farm. If you visit Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, Indiana, for example, you'll see first hand how the pastured meats are raised, outside and on grass, whether it's cattle, pigs or poultry. If you don't live near Greenfield, you can still find and visit local farms to see how things are done, so you can feel good about the food you're feeding your family and the farmer you're supporting by spending your food dollars on local. 

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3 Reasons Why I Think You Should Stay at a Farm

stay at a farm and enjoy wide open skiesI'm going to come clean here: Most evenings and mornings when I'm doing chores at our farm, I feel both a sense of peace and a sense of pity. I feel at peace because I so love the quiet and clean of our valley at dawn and dusk. And I feel a sense of pity for everyone who doesn't get to start or end their days that way at least every once in a while. That's why I think everyone should stay at a farm at least once, as a vacation. 

 

At 1,300 square feet with both bedrooms occupied by those of us who live here, our place is too small for me to extend an open invitation to all of our friends and family to come visit and see what it's like to stay at a farm, so I am grateful that the option exists to do so elsewhere, like Tyner Pond Farm, in Greenfield, Indiana, where they've built a brand new home just for guests who want to stay at a farm. 

 

So even though I can't offer you a farm of my own to visit, I can encourage you to visit another one, with some very big reasons, my top three in fact: 

 

1. So much sky... That sky in the photo was my view one June evening looking south. Almost every night brings a pretty sky because if it isn't full of picturesque clouds, it's full of brightly twinkling stars. Even though I've been looking up at this bountiful sky for over two years now, just the last few evenings when I've been out working our green horse as it's getting dark (because that's how busy the days are), I've looked up and thought how much I love that sky. Stay at a farm. See the sky. Watch it change from morning to day to evening to night. Go out in the dark and find constellations. Watch for shooting stars. Enjoy the sky. 

 

2. So much quiet... I'm not saying farms don't have noise. Our chickens make quite a ruckus if they think they've been locked in too late in the morning, and we have a pet turkey who spends most of her time squawking about I don't know what. But come evening, the sounds are soft ones. Horses munching hay, pigs snoring, chickens purring, crickets chirping...there's the river softly flowing and the leaves in the trees rustling. If you're lucky, there's an owl hooting. 

 

3. So much air... Despite two years at our place, I still can't get over how clean and fresh it smells, even though all the hay fields around us right now (and ours) smell like the chicken manure that just got spread. OK, that smell has been wretched, I admit it, but when we are NOT smelling chicken manure, the air is just so clean, like it got washed and hung outside to dry. It's not as if it even smells like anything. It's such a fresh smell that it's, well, kind of empty but in a good way. It's like nothing "filled the air up" and you're only smelling good, fresh, clean air. Honestly, you'll have to stay at a farm to know what I'm really talking about I think. :-) 

 

There you have it: my top three reasons to stay at a farm. Will you do it? Will you go experience the sky, the quiet, the air? I hope so! And if you live anywhere near Greenfield, Indiana, you can do so at Tyner Pond Farm, where the house is new, the farming methods old, and the livestock only too happy to see you. :-) 

 

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Berkshire Meats: What Can You Expect? Fabulous Flavor, and a Juicier, Darker Meat...Yum!

Berkshire meats what to expectIf you're new to pastured pork, and to Berkshire meats, are you a little unsure what to expect? Well, you're right to suspect it will be different. Just as grass fed beef tastes different from grain fed beef, Berkshire meats from pigs raised on pasture won't taste anything like what you've had from your grocery store. 

 

For one thing, Berkshire meats produce a darker pork. Forget "the other white meat." Pork isn't supposed to be white. Chickens make white meat only where they don't use their muscles (the breast meat) because they don't fly (as opposed to goose meat which is all dark because they DO fly and use those muscles). So if pork is white meat, you have to seriously question how it was raised--confined to an inhumanely small area? Not able to move around? Never going outside? Yes to all. Pork isn't supposed to be white meat. And Berkshire pork is even darker. In fact, it's called kurobuta in Japan, because it's so dark. 

 

Berkshire meats also produce a juicier, more tender pork. This is partly due to breeding. Berkshire pigs are the Kobe beef of the pork world. They produce the best-tasting pork in the world, period. This is also due to the marbling, which is also due to the breeding. 

 

Berkshire pork also has actual flavor, unlike the tasteless stuff sold at the grocery store. Chefs say it has a "depth" of flavor unlike the white meat of the cheap pork you find at the grocery store. 

 

But don't take my word for it! If you live near Greenfield, IN, you can easily find out what Berkshire meats really taste like by ordering some Berkshire meats from Tyner Pond Farm. You can have it delivered to your house, by it at the farmers market, or go to the farm and buy it there, which gives you not just great tasting Berkshire meats but a scenic drive to a lovely working farm too, where you can see the pastured pigs doing their piggie thing. :-) 

                                                         

 

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Why We Need Local, Sustainable Farms and Farmers

save seed vintage posterI randomly came across this article on Facebook the other day talking about a seed exchange at a local library being shut down by the state for fear of agri-terrorism. When I think about the government encouraging the saving of seeds just 100 years ago, like in this poster, I am saddened by how far we've moved away from the virtue of self-sufficiency and into a mindset of dependency. 

 

Over the past century, food production in the U.S. ended up in the hands of conglomerates and cooperations, which led to things like Monsanto suing farmers for using patented seed--even when the seed ended up in their fields by accident. 

 

It used to be, farmers saved seeds and gardeners exchanged them. This meant we had a nation of diverse crops, as everyone grew what worked best in their area, and it meant an independence from seed companies. We're no longer independent, but dependent, in meat production too. 

 

Which is yet another reason why we absolutely must support local, sustainable farms. It's not easy for these farms. Being sustainable means farming in a holistic, long-term manner which is not the cheapest way of doing things. It is cheaper in the long run, because soil health is retained, and animals are healthier which leads to more nutritious meat for you and me. (As they say, you can pay your farmer today or your doctor tomorrow!) Yet we need these farms in order to have an alternative to a fragile meat production system. Why do I say it's fragile? Because it's simply not sustainable. We can't keep raising corn to feed cattle when that corn could feed people instead. The crowded conditions of factory farming mean diseases can whip right through a facility and kill thousands of animals (like the virus that has wiped out 10% of the hogs in the U.S. recently). The way we raise cattle on feedlots makes E. coli a continuous threat. The antibiotics we feed these animals to keep them from getting sick despite the horrid conditions mean resistant bacteria are becoming more and more common. 

 

The way we are raising meat can't continue. But the reality is, the government isn't going to be the one to save us from the factory farming system. If it was, it would not shut down a small town library's seed exchange. It would not side with Monsanto against farmers. It would not place so many restrictions on food production that many small, sustainable farms just give up and go out of business.  

 

No, the government isn't going to save us, but the local, sustainable farms can. That is, if we buy from them and help them to succeed. They can't work for free any more than you or I can. I realize this isn't an easy lifestyle change to make. Is it more work to buy local food? Yes. You can't just go to your local grocery store, and sometimes it takes more than one stop, like one for vegetables, one for meat, one for milk. Is it more expensive to buy local food? Usually, yes. But is it worth the extra time and money? YES! If we don't keep these small, sustainable farms in business by spending our food dollars with them, not the conglomerates, we will only have ourselves to blame when the big factory farms fail. 

 

As the poster says, good seed wins. So does good food. 

 

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Home Cooking Is Tyranny??!! My Reaction to This Outlandish Claim

in praise of home cooked meals with local foodsOh, boy. Where to start with my reaction to this article... How do I even get past the crazy statements like home-cooked meals are tyranny? We need to stop idealizing the home-cooked family dinner? Home-cooked family dinners are a major burden for the working mom? 

 

Because that's what this article declares.  Based on a "study" by three sociologists, the author argues that we should stop pressuring women to cook for their families. The sociologists argue that "while home-cooked meals are typically healthier than restaurant food...the stress that cooking puts on people, particularly women, may not be worth the trade-off."

 

Wow. Our health is not worth the stress of cooking, they claim. My getting stressed out about getting dinner on the table simply isn't worth the trade-off of knowing my family had a healthful meal. Waaaaiiit... you mean getting sick with heart disease or diabetes isn't stressful?!

 

The author also misses another point: Home-cooked meals aren't just about nutrition. They are about bonding time too (which, ironically, can lower stress when families are more connected). When I shared this article on Facebook, fellow moms chimed in talking about not only the importance of family meal times, but the conversations and togetherness they experience during meal prep. Plus how else will our kids learn to cook if we don't teach them? How will our kids even know the importance of a nutritious meal if we don't teach them? 

 

Plus I don't understand where this notion of "idealizing" the home-cooked meal comes from. I don't see it being idealized. I see the home-cooked meal as something we should be returning to, for the sake of our families, our health, and our local food systems--not for the sake of some "Leave It to Beaver" ideal. If anything, we've been idealizing the fast-food nation approach to living, on the go and eating 25% of our meals in cars! That go go go, be busy busy busy lifestyle, THAT is what we have really been idealizing! The home-cooked meal is the reality check, the grounding in the face of societal pressure to do more, be more, make more, buy more. 

 

Picky eaters, both young and old, were cited as additional burdens for women trying to cook: "The women interviewed faced not just children but grown adults who are whiny, picky, and ungrateful for their efforts.... The saddest part is that picky husbands and boyfriends were just as much, if not more, of a problem than fussy children." You know what you have here? Parenting issues and relationship issues! These aren't problems with home-cooked meals. These are discipline problems (with the kids) and communication problems (with the men). 

 

Then there's the repeated argument that cooking is expensive. That idea has been proved wrong repeatedly, but I'll let Joel Salatin make that case in his eloquent reply to this "tyranny of home cooking" article. 

 
Cooking is also the only way we can bring back local food systems. We have to be willing to cook from scratch and buy from local farms like Tyner Pond Farm in order to ensure we'll be able to feed ourselves as a nation 50 years from now. 
 
 
I won't argue that cooking is a chore, but I don't mean chore as in a hassle. I mean chore as in something that has to get done for the good of the family, just like washing the sheets and getting the kids to school on time. And cooking takes planning, just like anything else. We can't get kids to school on time if we don't plan and prepare accordingly. Nor can we sit down and pay our bills without planning ahead, making sure the paycheck isn't frittered away on a bunch of new clothes or horse tack. If we did that, we'd have nothing in the account to pay the bills with when they came due! Cooking is the same. I can't walk into the kitchen and expect to pull off a well-balanced tasty meal at a certain hour without planning ahead, both for the time and the ingredients. Like this morning, I was boiling potatoes at 7 a.m. in preparation for the fritters I am making for dinner tonight, because The Hubby is working graves which means we eat early before he leaves. 

 

Getting home-cooked meals on the table on a regular basis is a challenge, I admit it. But so is balancing the household budget, raising children, juggling all of the demands of modern life.... Heck, even finding quiet time for prayer is a challenge for some of us! But do we quit balancing the checkbook, parenting the kids, keeping up with the demands placed on us? Do we quit praying? No! So why should we quit cooking? Why is cooking the ONE household task we are so willing to relinquish to others (i.e. the corporations making the processed foods and the fast food places dishing it up)? Why do we keep up with toilet scrubbing but consider potato peeling beneath us? 

 

And here's irony: The photo used for the article has the sarcastic caption "Fun." Um, yeah, actually! This mom is rocking that meal prep! She's holding the baby who is obviously content and has her toddler engaged in helping to prepare the meal! Yes, fun! They are TOGETHER and the toddler is learning to cook while the baby is feeling loved. What is not fun about this photo? It's awesome!!

 

You know what I think this woman really needs? Someone to cook for her. I think maybe she has forgotten the love, caring and togetherness that are part of cooking. I wish I could bake her a big pan of lasagna, prepping the meal while she sat in the kitchen keeping me company as I cooked. I'd hand her a glass of wine and ask about her life, and try to figure out why she's so bitter. We'd chat and laugh and I'd sympathize as I stirred and chopped. I'd put her to work tearing lettuce leaves at the kitchen table. Then I'd serve a steaming hot plate of lasagna with a nice salad and some freshly baked bread on the side. And I'd follow it up with brownies, warm and gooey from the oven. At the end of the evening, I'd send her home with leftovers, and say good-bye with a big, warm bear hug. 

 

I think she might look at home cooking differently after that. 

 

(Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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