"Aunt Margie's" Sweet Deviled Eggs

Sweet Deviled Eggs

 

Sweet deviled eggs.  My mom always made them with a bit of sugar, so that's how I like them.  As I get older, I find myself wanting to venture into something spicier, but for now, I'll stick with what I know.  "Aunt Margie's" deviled eggs, as my cousins call them, are holiday staples in our family.  At parties, if you're late... too bad, the deviled eggs are gone.

 

Did you know that deviled eggs, or something very similar, can be traced back to Roman times?  I won't go into too much detail here, but History.com actually has a post titled "The Ancient History of Deviled Eggs."  Taking a look at how ancient "stuffed" eggs were made, this recipe looks tame in comparison!  The devilish name was given in 1786 Britain as a reference to the spices used.

 

There is always debate over the best way to hard-boil eggs.  I'm showing my favorite in the directions, but feel free to follow your own tried and true methods.  A general rule of thumb is to buy your eggs two weeks early before hard-boiling.  Fresh eggs are known for sticky shells that don't want to peel.  If you have fresh eggs, you can add 1/4 cup of salt to your boiling water.  I learned that trick from a farm-to-table chef who uses it for eggs grabbed from her coop earlier the same day.  In my experience, it works!  While I haven't tried it, others swear by steaming eggs.

 

Tyner Pond Farm Eggs are so fantastic for several reasons.  They come from chickens that are free to do what chickens do best.  Peck, roam, roost, and eat bugs, seeds, grass, or whatever else they can catch.  This natural diet produces a richer yellow yoke that looks bright and beautiful in a display of deviled eggs.  Additionally, Tyner Pond Farm never uses antibiotics or hormones on their birds.  It doesn't get much better than that!

 

Ingredients: (makes 12 deviled eggs - recipe may be multiplied for larger quantities)

6 Tyner Pond Farm Farm Fresh Eggs

3 T. mayo or salad dressing

3 T. sweet pickle relish (my favorite homemade relish recipe)

1 t. yellow mustard

1 t. sugar or honey

1 t. apple cider vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

garnish (paprika, chives, dill, crumbled bacon, whatever you'd like)

 

Directions:

1. Place eggs in a medium sauce pan.  Fill pan with cold water to about one inch above the eggs.  Bring to a rolling boil over high heat.  Once a rolling boil is reached, boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and cover, let stand 15 minutes (12 minutes for smaller eggs).

 

 

2. Allow eggs to cool completely.  To stop the cooking, empty hot water, and refill pan with cold water.  Repeat when water becomes lukewarm.  Once eggs cool completely peel away the shells.

 

3.  Cut eggs in half, remove yolks into a small bowl and crumble with a fork or pastry cutter.

 

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***If eggs are left in the hot water too long, or set out to cool naturally, they will develop a green color around the yolks from overcooking.  This is harmless, so if it happens, don't sweat it.  By the time your deviled eggs are finished, no one will ever know.

 

4.  Add ingredients.  Blend until creamy.  I usually just use a fork, but you can use a hand mixer for an even creamier texture.

 

 

5.  Fill egg whites with mixture.  You can spoon it in or use a pastry bag if you have one.  I often put the filling into a Ziploc bag and cut the corner off for an impromptu pastry bag.

 

 

5. Garnish as desired, eating one or two as you go to make sure you get your fair share for making them! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baked BBQ Party Sliders with Honey Butter Sauce (beef, pork or chicken)

 

Oh boy, I'm excited to share this recipe with you!  It's so easy and scrumptious (be prepared to lick your fingers).  While I try to avoid bread most days, I do make the occasional exception.  If I'm going to have a "cheat" food, this is a good one to have!  These sandwiches are so great for parties because you can feed a lot of people with minimal effort.  I've yet to serve these sliders to anyone who didn't love them.  

 

I first had these sweet little butter baked sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls at a baby shower a few years ago.  Those were made with deli meats topped with a honey mustard butter sauce and poppy seeds.  After searching for recipes and trying them out a few times, I realized these are great "wing-it" sandwiches.  You can shake them up in so many different ways.  This barbecue version came about from using what I had available.  It's become our favorite version, and can be made with shredded beef, pulled pork, or shredded chicken.  They're a fantastic way to use leftover meat!

 

I'm not going to lie.  These sandwiches are messy to make and can be messy to eat... in the best kind of way!  They're covered in a honey butter sauce prior to baking that makes the bread an irresistible combination of sweet, savory, sticky, buttery, toastiness.  My mouth is watering.  Let's get to it!

 

Ingredients:

 

(sandwiches)

1 flat of sweet Hawaiian rolls (12)

3 c. shredded TPF beef, pork,or chicken

1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce

12 small slices of your favorite cheese (we like pepper jack and cheddar)

 

(honey butter sauce)

1 stick butter

1 T. honey

1 T. minced/crushed tomato (a couple cherry tomatoes work great)

1 t. dried minced onion 

A pinch of salt with fresh ground pepper to taste

 

Directions: (preheat oven to 375°)

 

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat mix shredded meat with barbecue sauce until warmed.  Add the sauce in parts to make it as saucy (or not) as you like.  You probably won't use the whole bottle.  Keep a fork handy to give it a taste (ahem... maybe a couple of clean ones if you're cooking for others).

 

 

2. Place Hawaiian rolls on a cookie sheet and cut in half (making tops and bottoms).  I find it's faster to separate the rolls down the middle with two sections of six rolls each, then cut each section in half all at once. Separate all the rolls from each other and remove the tops.

 

3.  Assemble the sandwiches with a spoonful of meat topped with a slice of cheese.  Replace the roll tops.

 

 

4.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sauce ingredients.  Cook until butter is melted and it begins to simmer.

 

 

5.  Spoon sauce over assembled sandwiches.  Take care to keep your bits of tomatoes and onions on top.  I like to make sure the sides are covered in sauce, too.  You can use a brush, or, if you're careful, pick the sandwich up and turn it to sweep it in the butter beginning to accumulate at the bottom of the cookie sheet.

 

 

6.  Bake at 375° for about 10 minutes or until they've begun to brown and toast.

 

This recipe easily doubles to make more.  Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oven-Braised Lamb Neck Stew with Carrots and Peas

 

I ordered lamb neck from Tyner Pond Farm without having a clue what it was... other than lamb... which I had never cooked before.  Once the delivery truck dropped off my order, I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled.  It was heavily marbled, fatty, and sinewy.  Not my favorite qualities. I will tediously pick out actual muscle from a nicely marbled ribeye while my husband cuts off a hunk and eats it without looking.  If you're like me, don't let this stop you from reading more.  There's a way around it all... I promise!

 

The lamb neck sat in my freezer for a couple of weeks while I contemplated what to do with it.  Just as the TPF store description indicates, it is an underrated cut with huge potential for tender meaty morsels.  It's considered an offal cut like organs, tails, and tongues.  The universally recommended method for cooking this tough cut of meat is low and slow. Low and slow is the best method for all pasture-raised meats. When I saw that it was often braised with vegetables for hearty stews, I knew exactly what to do with it.  

 

Stew is easily my husband's favorite winter meal, aside from the occasional roast.  He's a meat-and-potatoes guy through and through.  Made with potatoes, carrots, and onions, stews are appropriate when eating seasonally during winter months in Indiana.  It's one of those things I never make quite the same way twice.  It can be a good clean-out-the-fridge kind of dish with carrots, peas, corn, whatever potatoes I have, Brussels sprouts, squash, tomatoes, etc.  Sometimes I make it with the meat dusted in a seasoned gluten-free flour or sprouted brown rice flour, then add only water or broth after browning for a thick Irish stew.  Other times, I choose a tomato and red wine sauce.  We like both equally, so this time I opted for tomato and red wine.  Mostly, because I had two sad looking tomatoes that needed used and two bottles of dry red wine left from my birthday that I'll never drink.  Also, I decided to leave the potatoes out of the stew, and instead, serve it atop a portion of mashed potatoes. I'm looking forward to ordering more lamb neck and trying the Irish stew version. 

 

Ingredients:  (makes four servings)

  • 3 lamb neck slices with bone
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 t. dried rosemary
  • 1 3/4 c. carrots biased-cut (make-the carrots a generous thickness to avoid over cooking)
  • 2 medium tomatoes finely diced (remove pulp and seeds)
  • 1/2 c. dry red wine
  • 1 c. beef broth 
  • 1 c. frozen sweet peas
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

 

 

Directions:  (preheat oven to 300° F)

 

1.  In a heavy skillet with lid or Dutch oven that can be used for both stove-top and oven, brown both sides of lamb neck. The lamb neck is fatty enough, I didn't feel the need for additional fat.  Salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.

 

 

2.  Using the same pan, reduce heat to medium and add onions, garlic and rosemary to heated fat and juices rendered from lamb neck.  Sauté until onions are translucent.  Add carrots and tomatoes.

 

 

3.  Deglaze the pan with red wine. Add beef broth and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

 

4.  Nestle browned lamb neck slices back into the pan.  Cover and braise in the oven for 2 - 2 1/2 hours until lamb is tender.

 

 

5.  Once lamb neck is tender, remove from oven and use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove slices from sauce.  Return sauce to stove-top and simmer on medium heat 3-5 minutes until thickened. Stir frequently.

 

6.  While sauce is reducing, strip lamb meat from the bone, sinew, and fat.  I found it best to use clean hands for some of this (remember - it's hot!).   Be careful not to miss any of the meat that can be hiding in little pockets of fat and sinew.

 

 

7.  Add lamb meat back into the sauce.  Rinse frozen sweet peas in cold water, stir into stew and serve.  

 

This stew was delicious served over creamy mashed red potatoes.  If you'd prefer to include potato chunks directly to the stew, just add 4 quartered large red potatoes at the same time as the carrots and tomatoes.  Add a splash more broth and wine to compensate.

 

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Healthy Saturated Fat: Rendering Your Own Tallow from Beef Suet

 

Tallow is to beef what lard is to pork.  Many are familiar with lard, but unless you've looked into whole natural fats, you've likely not heard of tallow.  Tallow is rendered from suet.  Suet is the solid raw fat surrounding the heart and kidneys in animals like beef and mutton. Tallow is not only used for high-heat cooking like frying, but also in pastries, candles, lotions, and soaps.  The word "rendering" means a slow melting process to extract the pure fat from any connective tissue. Saving drippings, while a great idea, isn't the same at rendering tallow or lard. Pure tallow is shelf-stable and will keep tightly covered at room-temperature without becoming rancid.  If you won't be using it up within a couple of months, it's a good idea to put it in the refrigerator.  Tallow will keep indefinitely in the freezer.  

 

Saturated fats have gotten a bad rap throughout the last century. They've been falsely blamed for causing cardiovascular and heart diseases. The result of these accusations are market shelves filled with industrially produced vegetable oils made through complex chemical processing.  These oils are often oxidized, even prior to high-heat exposure, releasing free-radicals into the body.  Free-radicals damage cells... you can see where this is heading.  Industrially produced vegetable oils are BAD for your body!

 

The war against saturated animal fats like tallow and lard began in the early 1900's when then candle makers, Proctor & Gamble, faced competition from the newly invented light bulb.  They owned growingly less-profitable cottonseed oil factories.  The discovery of hydrogenation allowed them to turn that oil into a product that looked and behaved like lard. The company launched a savvy marketing campaign for their new product, Crisco, effectively killing the lard industry in America and altering perceptions of what's healthy.  In 1955, doctors began blaming all saturated animal fats for clogged arteries and heart disease based solely on the lipid theory of researcher Ancel Keys and his flawed Seven Countries Study.

 

In 1990, due to pressures from both misinformed health care communities and oil producers, McDonald's switched from beef tallow to vegetable oil in their fryers.  If only they would switch back!  Natural tallow, along with lard, are by far the  healthier options for high-heat cooking.  As the tides begin to turn regarding saturated fats, more and more people are learning about the many benefits like improved cellular structure, stronger bones, protection against heart disease, and enhanced immune system among several others.

 

Now that you know more about the truth and importance of natural saturated fats, let's make some tallow!  I bought my suet from the farm store at Tyner Pond Farm, and it's now being offered in their online shop.  I was impressed with the quality of their suet.  It was nice and clean with very little meat, arteries, and connective tissue.  This made for a cleaner smelling tallow that only needed a single processing.  Tallow rendered from poor quality suet, as found in factory farmed animals, or still with lots of non-fat tissue, can have a distinctive smell that some find unpleasant.  Subsequent heating and filtering help to reduce that odor.

 

The only ingredient is high-quality suet from grass-fed or pasture-raised cows.  I've found that roughly two pounds of suet renders approximately 22 ounces of tallow

 

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Directions:

 

1.  Clean your suet.  Using a knife, cut away any meat or arteries that may still be attached.  Then, with your hands, pull any connective tissue away from the suet. Taking just a few minutes to do this makes chopping a bit easier and will keep your tallow cleaner during rendering.  The thin membranes to pull away will be obvious.  Remember, you're not looking for perfection here.  The membranes that hold the suet together are all throughout, so it's impossible to remove all of it by hand. The majority of it will be released during processing. 

 

**Don't throw these trimmings away. Seal them up and keep in the fridge. If you're planning to brown a roast or pan-fry something, toss your trimmings into a skillet on medium-low heat and render the remaining fat.  Remove and discard any connective tissue (my dog loves it!) and use the remaining melted fat.

 

 

2. Cut your suet into small pieces.  The more surface area, the faster and more efficiently the tallow will render.  The first time I made tallow, I cut it up by hand with a knife.  Ouch!  Suet is hard and that was a lot of work.  My little hands were throbbing!  Now, I use the large shredder blade on my food processor.  Cut suet into sections just small enough to feed through the processor.  This step takes some patience.  As you go, you'll be pulling out more rubbery connective tissue that doesn't want to go through the shredder (add this to the pile you cut away in step one).  You'll want to occasionally remove the lid and scrape away the creamed suet that builds up.  You can also cut into large cubes and pulse it in the food processor.

 

**Remember - you are working with raw beef product.  Wash hands and surfaces well after working with the suet.

 

3.  A slow-cooker on low is the set-and-forget method I prefer.  Add diced/shredded suet and melt about 2-3 hours until fully rendered.  More or less time depending on how fine your suet is chopped and how big your batch.  You can also render tallow on the stove top set to low heat, stirring every 20-30 minutes for several hours.  The oven set at 250° is the longest method, but also works well.  If you're concerned about the odor that comes with rendering tallow, the oven works best to contain the aroma.

 

 

4.  Once the tallow is fully rendered, you'll be left with "cracklins" sitting atop the melted fat.  Use a slotted spoon or strainer to skim off the top.

 

 

5.  Using a cheesecloth to line a mesh strainer, filter your tallow to remove any particles.  Pour into a clean glass jar and store in a cool dark place or in the refrigerator.  

 

It's that easy!  Cost-wise, a 16 oz. jar of home rendered beef tallow comes out to the exact same price as a 16 oz. can of Crisco!  That's a HUGE nutritional increase without  paying more.  

 

Check out the links below for some other great DIY projects for using beef tallow.

 

Candles - http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2014/01/tallow-emergency-candles.html 

Soaps - http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2014/01/tallow-emergency-candles.html

Skin Balm - http://www.humblebeeandme.com/tallow-balm-for-mature-skin/

 

 

 

 

 

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Make Your Own Pizza Night: A Fun Family-Friendly Meal for Any Day of the Week

At our house, pizza is definitely everyone's favorite food.  Even Baby Girl has been known to take down about 3 entire pieces of Papa Johns in under 10 minutes.  If I announce to the gang that it's "Pizza Night", everyone immediately begins some sort of Papa John's chant and runs around fist-pumping.  Sorry folks, we just order delivery for special occasions or super-busy nights.  The only other way everyone gets that excited is when we make our own.  My version of MYO Pizza takes about 10 minutes and I incorporate whatever leftover meat and produce I have from the days before.  Kids love to make their own pizza, and my husband even asked for a little MYO pizza tutorial.  Read on to learn how to create an easy and healthy pizza that fits your family's schedule and appetites...
 

Pillsbury Pizza CrustStart with Store Bought Pizza Crust
Or make your own pizza dough.  If you can do this than you clearly have way better time management skills than me!  I use Pillsbury Thin Crust which gives you more than enough dough to fill a sheet pan.
 

I tear off little pieces and let the kids roll out their own dough while the crust is pre-baking for a couple of minutes.  The directions say to use an ungreased pan, but I drizzle a little olive oil to get a crispier crust.

 

The Toppings
Below are some of our very favorite pizza themes.  I only use what I have in the fridge and incorporate whatever Tyner Pond Farm meat I have prepared earlier in the week.  The kids love to help with the toppings and your chances of them actually trying something new have now increased by 34%. Note: This is not scientific data, but the results my experiments have produced!

 

Pizza Boys Putting on the Sauce

Philly Cheese Steak Pizza

Shredded Pot Roast, leftover from Tyner Pond Farm Chuck Roast

Sliced bell peppers and onions

Shredded provolone cheese and/or colby jack


Hawaiian Pizza

Tyner Pond Farm Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Diced pineapple

Diced green pepper and onion

Shredded mozzarella cheese

 

BLT Pizza

Tyner Pond Farm Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Sliced or diced tomatoes (I like them cold, so I put them on after I've baked the pizza)

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce, put on while pizza is cooling

 

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Tyner Pond Farm Chicken, shredded or cut in small pieces

Your favorite store bought BBQ sauce, or make your own

Red onion, thinly sliced

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Crazy Pizza Boys
***We always leave some of the pizza plain cheese for the less-adventurous palate.

Okay, if you are also craving a little Papa John's-esque pizza (like me), you can use Pillsbury Regular pizza crust.  This gives you a big, fluffy crust to dip in MYO garlic butter sauce!  What?!  Yes, it's even slightly healthier.


MYO Papa's John's Garlic Sauce 

1/2 stick salted butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder


Instructions: Heat in a saucepan on low heat until incorporated or microwave for 1.5 minutes at power level 7.  You can refrigerate leftover, but it will need to be re-heated and stirred to achieve the right consistency.

Now, if you are feeling really creative, you can create your own delivery experience.  We save a not-too greasy Papa John's takeout box and put our pizza in it.  The kids take turns "ordering" the pizza on my cell phone and going to the front door and pretending to be the delivery guy.  I don't know why this is so fun, but it occupies everyone long enough for me to get the table set, clean some dishes, and pour a glass of wine.

I hope your family can enjoy a new version of "Pizza Night", and if you have any favorite pizza recipes that are easy and yummy, please share.  We always love to try something new!


Read Megan's previous post, Baby Steps to Buying and Eating Local for the Busy Family.

 

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Why Switching to Local was Easy

Whole Chicken

January 1, 2014 came with a resolution: try to make healthier food choices the majority of the time.  It sounded good but where to start?  I already cooked the majority of meals at home and bought lots of produce from the local farmers markets so I felt okay there.  A coworker had been raving about the meat from a co-op and that sounded Tyner Pond Farm chickenlike a good place to look.  The descriptions and customer reviews were great.  However, there were fees involved and waiting lists and orders had to be placed weeks in advance.  Some items came in ten-pound increments.  I didn’t want to do all that just to try it, so kept looking for a place that would not only let me shop on my schedule but also had no minimum for orders.  Searching led to a family beef farm that happened to also sell chicken 'raised locally via the Joel Salatin method' in their farm store.  They didn't have any of the chicken parts I wanted to try but they did have a few whole chickens from a place called Tyner Pond Farm.  I bought one.  


I've had one almost every week since.  


That first Tyner Pond Farm chicken was all the proof I needed that pasture-raised makes a difference.  With only a dry seasoning it turned into a golden brown, crispy-skinned tender and juicy delicacy.  This is chicken so good you may find yourself eating dinner while standing in the kitchen.  After letting it rest, flip it over and carve out the 'oysters,' those two knuckles of dark meat on either side of the backbone.  Many consider these the two best bites on a chicken.  Then try the crispy middle wing sections.  Finally, there is that strip used to truss Tyner Pond chickens.  It comes out so crunchy and delicious that hands are reaching for a piece as soon as the chicken comes off the heat.  If the thought of eating chicken skin makes you cringe, you might just reconsider your position once you try this.  That crispy strip might even become your favorite reason for making chicken.


The chickens became a weekly order and regular Sunday dinner.  I took them to cookouts locally and sometimes on the road for people to try.  The response was unanimous – it’s the best chicken ever.  I’d like to take all the credit but I know it’s really the quality of meat making the difference.  Pasture-raised tastes better. 

This success led to trying other Tyner proTyner Pond Farm Beefducts and my first beef order was the 100% grass-fed sirloin.  It was as flavorful as ribeye and lean as strip steak.  The texture and grain was noticeably different.  Maybe this is due to the cows being more active?  Steak isn't on the menu too often at home so the real gem for me has been the ground beef.  It's coming from the same cows that spend the days grazing on pasture and makes for incredible grilled burgers and meatloaf.  It makes great jerky, too.  And cheeseburger salad (try this).  Recent experiments with cooking sous-vide have brought a tremendous new appreciation for grass-fed beef.  This simple way of cooking focuses on the quality of the meat itself and having access to local grass-fed beef makes for home meals like you’d see on television or in cookbooks.

It came as no surprise that the pork happens to be great, too.  If you cook pork, you know it can be tricky not to endTyner Pond Farm Pork up with something dry.  Instead of marinating for hours, I found that Tyner pork could take a dry rub, go straight on the grill or roasting pan, and come out juicy as something brined.  The ‘catfish’ tenderloin is second only to the whole chicken as my favorite Tyner Pond item.  If you really want to see what a difference an active pig makes buy a pork shoulder from a factory and buy one from Tyner Pond.  Put them both in a slow cooker for the same amount of time.  When you then pull them apart and separate the fat and gristle you’ll see how much cleaner the Tyner pork is.  There will be no question as to which one you would rather eat.

Back to the chickens.  Those happy chickens are doing what chickens do and laying eggs.  Everyone should try Tyner's fresh farm eggs.  The difference between eggs from pastured chickens and eggs from chicken factories is as vast as the difference between factory chickens and pastured chickens.  It’s apparent as soon as you crack one open.  The shell is strongTyner Pond Farm Eggser.  The yolk is brighter yet more deeply colored and more orange than yellow.  It’s shiny and reflective.  The whites are more cohesive.  There are even double-yolkers occasionally.  And since I trust my source, I feel ok with eating soft-boiled eggs again.  With little toast sticks, just like at Grandma’s when I was a kid.

As the year went on turkey and lamb became available.  Each Tyner product proved better than what I had been buying at the grocery.  That superior taste is what made me a customer from day one.  Truthfully, even if this Tyner Pond Farm Turkeypasture-raised method was less healthy than the factory version I’d probably still be eating it because it tastes so darn good.  Fortunately, animals raised this way are supposed to be much healthier.  I encourage everyone to read about the methods used at Tyner Pond Farm, research the benefits of animals raised this way, and make your own decisions as to whether you think it is worthwhile.  To me, it tastes far better and I believe it is healthier.  The free weekly delivery meant more meals planned around those deliveries and that reduced waste from otherwise shopping three or four times a week.  Finally, cooking all that weekly Tyner goodness with lots of vegetables meant I could check my resolution off as fulfilled.

Tyner Pond Farm food - it tastes incredible and it's healthy.  Those are really the only two reasons needed to order.  It’s fresher and I’ve actually been to the farm where my food is raised, twice.  Two more reasons.  Also, ordering from Tyner Pond Farm and similar outfits supports local farmers, better stewardship of animals and the land, and promotes sustainable farming practices.  I even enjoy cooking more with Tyner products just knowing how great they turn out.  These are all the many reasons why Tyner Pond replaced Tyson and Perdue in my kitchen.

 

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"Secret" Ingredient Paleo Chili (gluten-free, legume-free)

 

After two days of single-digit temperatures followed by, in my opinion, the Indianapolis area's first real snow of the year, I needed chili.  I'm not sure anything warms me quite like it.  I've mentioned before about switching to a predominantly Paleo lifestyle and modifying our favorite dishes to be in-line with this more primal way of eating.  

 

It was early spring with plenty of lingering cold the first time I changed the way I made chili for my family.  Traditionally, we had always made chili with kidney beans and macaroni pasta.  According to Paleo philosophy, those two items are not considered healthy.  You can start reading here if you're curious to know why.  Interestingly enough, chili was never originally made with beans, pasta, OR tomatoes.  A somewhat famous quote in chili circles says, "If you know beans about chili, then you know chili doesn't have beans."  In reality, chili has evolved from region-to-region, cook-to-cook, and even from each time I make it to the next.  For a fun read, check out the history of chili from the International Chili Society.

 

This chili recipe adds a "secret" ingredient to enhance its flavor (I know, not so secret when I'm posting it on the internet). The key ingredient, however, is Tyner Pond Farm's 100% grass-fed ground beef.  This is a meat-heavy chili... as chili should be!  Because of grass-fed beef's healthier composition, every bit of the fat and juices are used.  While I agree that avoiding commercially canned foods is best due to endocrine disrupting BPA in the can linings, I know that isn't always possible. Maybe one day, I'll be able to store up enough from my garden to last through the winter.  This recipe is written to the use of canned tomato products, but I've added measurements for fresh and homemade ingredients in parenthesis.  

 

Easy one-pot cooking.  That's how I like to roll.  These ingredients could also be added to a slow-cooker on low.  Be sure to brown your ground beef in a skillet before adding to the slow-cooker.  Just check on it occasionally, and decide for yourself when it's ready to eat.  Like any recipe, and in the true spirit of chili, tweak it to your satisfaction!  

 

Ingredients: (makes about 4-5 meal-sized servings.  Recipe may be doubled for a larger batch)

 

2 lbs. TPF 100% grass-fed ground beef

1 t. salt

1 t. fresh ground black pepper

6 oz. organic tomato paste (3/4 cup)

1 - 28 oz. can diced organic tomatoes (about 3.5 cups peeled diced fresh tomatoes)

1 - 15 oz. can organic tomato sauce (about 2 cups)

1 medium deseeded diced squash w/ edible rind (delicata, zucchini, yellow)

1 medium onions, diced

1 c. diced green bell peppers

1/2 c. red bell peppers

1/2 c. orange bell peppers

1 large clove of garlic, minced

2 T. chili powder

1 1/2 t. raw cacao powder (sub cocoa powder)  << secret ingredient! 

1 t. ground cumin

1/8 t. red chile flakes

 

This time, I used some frozen green bell peppers and some dried red and orange peppers. I also forgot to put the cacao powder and tomato paste into the photo... I had a hungry family breathing down my neck!

 

Directions: 

 

1. Slowly brown ground beef in a stock pot with salt and pepper.  Use a medium-low heat and cover with a lid to keep the juices from evaporating.  Do not drain.  TPF grass-fed beef is so healthy and drug-free, with less fat, and more nutritional whole fat that we want to eat it!

 

2.  Once the beef is browned, stir in tomato paste until evenly distributed, add onions, peppers, squash, spices, and cacao powder.  Blend well and simmer a couple more minutes.

 

3. Once the aromas of the onions, peppers and spices are released, add diced tomatoes and sauce.  Cover and simmer until veggies are soft and chili reaches the desired thickness.  Stirring occasional.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

4.  Serve and top with whatever sounds good.  I love a sprinkle of shredded organic aged cheddar and minced red onion.  Sour cream and hot sauce is yummy, too.  

 

**Dairy consumption is debated among Paleo enthusiasts... personally, I can't yet give it up and am not entirely sure I should. 

 

Your chili will be thicker the next day.  If you wish, add some water or broth to loosen it back up before preheating.

 

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How I Converted From a Vegetarian to a Happy and Healthy Meat Eater!

 

So, let me tell you a story about a little girl from Indiana.  She was a green-eyed, barefoot, forest dweller.  She talked to animals in "their language" until an age she is embarrassed to admit.  She famously pretended to be a jaguar for a week or so.  She harbored snakes, salamanders, toads, frogs, and dogs.  She performed CPR on a baby bunny found at the bottom of a swimming pool.  Instead of killing house flies, she caught them in plastic bags and released them "back to their families".  Some would say she had an animal sensitivity complex (mainly her parents). She came across a video in young adulthood that would change the way she ate for over a decade.  It was a video showing the horrific living conditions of cows in a commercial setting, ending with their undignified slaughter.  She was horrified.

 

Well, after I saw that video I didn't eat much of anything for quite some time.  It's painfully obvious this little girl is me, just sort of grown up now.  I still "talk" to animals, now I can just blame it on my kids if a rogue neighbor happens to appear in my yard.  Yes.  I was a vegetarian.  I couldn't bring myself to eat an animal that had lived a life in squalor and filth, perhaps never even knowing that sunshine existed.  I have always believed that some animals were created to be consumed.  I believe in the forces of nature and the cycle of life.  I know that animals must one day die, perhaps at the hands of man or another predator.  I just don't know how to justify treating living creatures as objects. I don't know how to enjoy eating something that lived a life of misery.

 

Commercial Pig Factory

 

While traveling through the French countryside with my husband years ago, I marveled at the number of sprawling farms.  The animals roamed in green pastures, enjoying the warm sunshine on their backs.  While chatting with our server at a Parisian restaurant one night, he was more than a little perturbed when I asked if their meat came from a local or commercial provider.  "Que ce que c'est?  A commercial farm?  Non!"  That night, I enjoyed a fabulous duck confit.  It was divine.  The decade of meat deprivation had ended in a most delicious way.  No guilt, but a very full tummy!  We ate like kings and never felt healthier!

 

Food in France

 

Once we were back in "The States", we tried desperately to recreate our culinary adventures from Europe.  It was next-to-impossible!  Why?  Why?  Why is it so difficult to just find real food around here?  Even our wine has unnecessary additives.  Tragic!  Why is it so hard to just drive to the closest market and support a local farmer?  Why is it so expensive to try to provide pasture-raised, non-GMO food for our families?  Why are all of our animals stuffed into giant prisons of cement and steel?  I fell back into my vegetarian ways, enjoying the occasional meat when I could come across something that didn't threaten my principles.

 

Then, things started to change.  People started to become interested in where their food came from.  And, why shouldn't they?!  There has been a surge of popularity toward supporting the local farmer and consuming real food.  Truthfully, isn't is just common sense?  It's just the way things used to be, before animals had to be pumped with antibiotics since they were forced to live in each others filth.  Passionate farmers are turning the tides across our country!  I am so grateful to have come across a real gem here in Indiana, Tyner Pond Farm!  Local, pasture-raised, non-GMO food!  GMOs are bad news folks!  Read more about them here.  My carnivore conversion is complete!  My principles and beliefs have not changed, now I just have access to food that doesn't challenge my beliefs. Tyner Pond Farm is a "happy place".  Pigs playing in the mud, baby calves alongside their mothers, everything just as it should be. I can purchase meat products and feel good about the farm I am supporting and pleased that the animals live in the sunshine.

 

 

 

It's been a long time since I first actually enjoyed eating meat in France, and I am now trying to teach my own little carnivores about the importance of where their food comes from.  I love them with all my heart, and just like every parent, I want to fill their little tummies with the most nutritious food I can.  Sure, they have the occasional Happy Meal, that's okay.  The impact I want to make on them is more of a lifestyle choice, a belief, a desire to take care of their bodies, and respect the animals they consume.  And if I see one of them trying to catch house flies with a Ziploc, I have to say, my heart will swell with pride.

 

Check back soon for a very honest interview with these two little fellows and hear what they think a "real" farm looks like and their views on the commercial food industry here in America...

 

Boys at the Farm

 

 

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Paleo Sweet and Sour Meatballs (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free)

 

About three years ago, after the birth of my daughter, I began experiencing pain all over my body that couldn't be explained or alleviated.  Because I had been diagnosed with Crohn's disease six years earlier, my doctors felt I was suffering a secondary onset of fibromyalgia.  With my Crohn's symptoms worsening, immunosuppressant therapy was on the horizon.  The possible side effects of suppressing my immune system terrified me, so I began researching.  That's when I discovered the Paleo way of eating.  Named after the Paleolithic Period, it takes us back to the time of hunters and gatherers.  Eschewing all processed sugars, artificial ingredients, gluten containing grains, and industrially produced oils turned out to be exactly what my body needed to quickly put my symptoms into remission.  

 

In the beginning, going Paleo was difficult and intense.  However, the longer I do it, the easier it becomes. I still fall off the wagon every now and again when it starts rolling too fast, but so far, I've always gotten back on.  I credit Paleo with teaching me how to really cook.  It forced me to learn new techniques for adapting some of our favorite meals.  I also learned about new ingredients, like grass-fed meats, arrowroot powder, whole natural fats, and fermented foods, as well as the amazing benefits of bone broth.  My diet is still not perfect, but the permanent changes I've made in at-home food preparation have improved my gut health tremendously. There was also the bonus side effect of losing 30 lbs. while eating bacon and eggs for breakfast most days!

 

To celebrate my 40th birthday with friends and family, I decided to adapt one of our favorite party foods, sweet and sour meatballs. Made with Tyner Pond Farm 100% grass-fed ground beef and pasture-raised ground pork this recipe avoids the bread crumbs often found in meatballs.  The meat mixture can also be baked in a loaf pan for a yummy Paleo meatloaf.  The sauce is made from scratch to eliminate the processed bottled ingredients, soy sauce, and brown sugar often found in other traditional sweet and sour recipes.  While not a low-carb sauce, considering the tropical fruits, honey, molasses, and arrowroot powder, it is still a wonderfully natural alternative to chemical-laden commercial sauces.

 

This recipe makes approximately 42 meatballs depending on how large or small you make them (...or how many get eaten while you prepare the sauce!).  You can halve the ingredients for a smaller batch.  My husband, not so concerned with eating Paleo, likes to eat his meatballs served over a bed of steamed white rice with a dash of teriyaki sauce.  The meatballs work beautifully prepared ahead of time and frozen until ready to heat and serve. I've not yet tried the sauce with chicken, but I'm guessing it would be delicious.

 

Meatballs:

 

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • 2 c. diced peeled tomatoes (about one large can)
  • 1 c. fresh cut pineapple tidbits (I like to give mine another rough chop to make them a bit smaller)
  • 1 c. chopped mangoes (I use frozen organic mangoes to prevent overcooking)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/4 c. raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 T. full flavor molasses
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 2 t. arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. sea salt

 

Meatball Directions: (Preheat oven to 350º)

1.  Set aside the whole natural fat and combine remaining meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Use your hands to mix everything together until evenly distributed.

 

 

2.  Roll meat mixture into approximately 1 1/4 inch balls.  Using a large melon baller or ice cream scoop with release lever works great for keeping your meatballs uniformed.

 

 

3.  Melt 2 T. of the natural fat in a large skillet on medium heat.  Preheat pan and oil thoroughly before adding the meatballs. Brown meatballs in skillet, rolling and turning until all sides are browned. If meatballs are sticking, add additional natural fat. **You are NOT trying to thoroughly cook the meatballs at this stage, only browning the outside.

 

 

4. After all the meatballs have been browned, transfer to baking dish and finish in the oven at 350º for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. 

 

Once meatballs are cooked, add them directly into sweet and sour sauce as prepared below, or cool completely and freeze them for later.  If you want to prepare your sweet and sour meatballs in a slow cooker, prepare them in advance and freeze. For freezing, I like to put my cooled meatballs into a Ziploc freezer bag.

 

Sauce Directions:

1. Stir together everything but arrowroot powder in a medium saucepan on medium heat until it begins to bubble.

2. While stirring, evenly and thinly shake arrowroot powder into the mixture.  Mix thoroughly.

3. Reduce to medium-low heat, cover and simmer about 15 - 20 minutes or until sauce slightly thickens and vegetables reach desired tenderness.  Stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add meatballs, stir to coat.

 

 

**If you want to prepare your sweet and sour meatballs in a slow cooker, follow steps 1-2, then pour sauce mixture over frozen meatballs placed in slow cooker.  Stir to coat meatballs.  Slow cook on high about 2 hours until meatballs are heated and vegetables reach desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.
 

Enjoy!

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Three Course Valentine's Dinner: Coffee Crusted Rib Eyes, Pear Salad with Bacon and Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

Valentine's Day Three Course Meal

When you love to cook like I do, holidays are less about spending a lot of money at a fancy restaurant and more about having fun in my own kitchen. Sure, there are some things I prefer not to prepare myself, but a great meal does not have to requires hundreds of ingredients or days of preparation. And while a quick glance at this meal may seem daunting, you will realize that most of these ingredients are already in your refrigerator or pantry. The rest is left to Tyner Pond Farm!

Strawberries are my favorite fruit, but unfortunately they are just not available in Indiana in February. Instead I chose to add a fresh winter red anjou pear to these salads for texture and a sweet contrast to the tang of the feta cheese, crunch of the salty walnuts and Tyner Pond Farm bacon, and sharp acidity from the homemade vinaigrette. This salad takes less than 10 minutes to prepare but looks a step above your everyday salad bar.

There are few things I enjoy more than a simply cooked Tyner Pond Farm rib eye steak because it is so flavorful without any fussy ingredients and it can be prepared quickly. Yet I couldn't look at the steak without thinking of some way to take it to a new level, so I decided to ground locally roasted coffee beans and create a simple rub. Mixing in chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and salt gives a little heat and savory notes to balance the sweet and bitter coffee. Just remember that a little rub goes a long way here!

If you don't have an electric ice cream maker yet, I sure hope this chocolate ice cream convinces you to purchase one because once you make your own ice cream at home, you will never want to purchase it at a grocery store again. This is a thick and creamy custard style ice cream made with 6 Tyner Pond Farm egg yolks that can be prepared days in advance. My recipe makes a little more than 1 quart so you will have plenty for dessert days to come.

Pear Salad

Pear Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices Tyner Pond Farm bacon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salad greens such as romaine, spinach and arugula
  • 1 red anjou pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Walnuts


Directions:
1. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut the bacon into small pieces. Place a small skillet over medium heat and add the bacon, cooking until crisp, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside.
2. Grab a glass measuring cup for the vinaigrette. Add the oregano, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder and salt to the cup. Whisk in the lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.
3. Prepare the salad by roughly chopping the greens and placing them in two serving bowls.
4. Top with slices of pear, shallot, feta crumbles, walnuts and bacon. Give the vinaigrette a good whisk, then pour about two tablespoons over each salad. Stir together and serve. Extra vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for about one week.

Coffee Crusted Rib Eye SteaksCoffee Crusted Ribeye Steak
Ingredients:

  • 2 Tyner Pond Farm rib eye steaks
  • 2 tablespoons medium ground coffee
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Directions:
1. Allow the steaks to sit at room temp for 25 minutes before cooking.
2. Stir together the ground coffee, chili powder, salt, onion powder and garlic powder in a small bowl.
3. Heat a grill plate on your stove and preheat the oven to broil.
4. Rub 2-3 teaspoons of the spices on each rib eye until covered.
5. Spray a light coating of cooking spray on the indoor grill plate. Sear the steaks on both sides for about 3-4 minutes or until the coffee coating has crusted.
6. Place the steaks into a skillet and continue cooking in the oven until medium rare (130-135 degrees Fahrenheit), about 5-8 minutes.
7. Serve steaks immediately with pear salads.

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream
Ingredients:

  • 6 Tyner Pond Farm egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • Red sprinkles


Directions:
1. Crack the egg yolks into a large bowl and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, stir the whole milk, heavy cream, white granulated sugar, pinch of salt and vanilla extract together. Turn the heat to medium and warm through to dissolve the sugar and salt.
3. In a small saucepan, stir together the brewed coffee and Dutch process cocoa powder over medium heat.
4. Roughly chop the semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, then stir into the coffee and cocoa powder. Continue stirring until melted, where it will thicken up like a paste.
5. Gently add the chocolate mixture into the warmed milk. Whisk together until melted throughout.
6. Begin to carefully pour a small amount of the ice cream base into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Continue to add a small amount at a time until all of the ice cream base is mixed into the egg yolks.
7. Pour this mixture into a large container with a lid and place in your refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
8. Turn on your ice cream maker and gently pour the base inside. Churn per the manufacturer's directions until the base begins to solidify. Spoon the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
9. Serve with red sprinkles for a cute pop of color.
 

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Tips to Cooking Pasture-Raised & Grass-Fed Meat



"How do you cook pasture-raised meat?" and "What makes grass-fed meat different?". We get these two questions a lot and want to clarify what makes pasture-raised / grass-fed meat very different than conventional meat. Below we've provided some information on cooking grass-fed and pasture-raised meat along with some tips to help you get the best tasting end product from our meat!

First off, the biggest thing you should know is that pasture-raised and grass-fed meat has a different fat profile than what most people are used to coming out of the conventional systems. Conventional foods need to be cooked usually to around 165 degrees or above. This is primarily done to kill pathogens inherent in the confinement system and because of the presence of yellow fat vs. white fat. Yellow fats have a lower melting temperature than the fat found in conventionally raised meat, so a lot of people new to this tend to overcook, which results in drying out the meat.

Pasture-raised animals are also live in a much healthier environment and don't require antibiotics to thrive. They get everything they need from their natural environment. (i.e. Think about a child in a crowded classroom vs. playing outside). Also, because pasture-raised animals by definition eat a varied diet that includes live plants, their meat is high in carotenoids, which provide many health benefits to both the animals and humans. 

Tips to Preparing and Cooking Pasture-Raised and Grass-Fed Meat


Preparation

  • Allow frozen products to fully thaw in your refrigerator
  • Make sure your meats are room temperature before cooking
  • Always preheat your oven, grill or frying pan before beginning to cook meat
  • Do not rinse beef or pork products; chicken can be rinsed in cold water 


General Cooking Information

  • Pasture-raised meats (and eggs) cook faster than conventionally farmed products, just be careful not to overcook!
  • Since our animals are outside running around on pasture, trudging up hillsides and just plain being active as opposed to being locked in confinement, our products have much more muscle tissue. 
  • Cooking low and slow is key! Our products are a bit more delicate. We recommend searing them first on the outside for cuts like pork chops, steaks, leg quarters, etc. on very high heat for a couple minutes per side then reduce the temperature to very low if continuing to cook on the stovetop or grill or transfer to the oven.
  • Use a meat thermometer; a digital read thermometer usually works fine and you can buy one for around $20. 
  • For best results, use a cast iron or french steel pan when using the stovetop. 
  • Let the meat rest for around  5-10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute to the edges for a more tender cut. 
  • Always cut against the grain when cutting your meat. This prevents the muscle from shrinking and getting tough.


Bottom line, ​pasture-raised and grass-fed meats are expectedly different than factory-farmed products in taste, texture, appearance, and preparation. They are leaner and cook up to 30% quicker. So, the short answer to the question "How do you cook pasture-raised / grass-fed meat?" is that you should cook it at a lower temperature and more slowly. When you first start cooking Tyner Pond Farm meat, make sure to keep an eye on the cut as it cooks and don't forget to use your meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat at its thickest part.  

Of course, there are also special tips and tricks to cook different meats depending on the type you'll be consuming. We'll follow up with another blog post sharing tips on how to cook our grass-fed beef, pasture-rasied pork and chicken.  
 

 

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Loaded Cranberry Chicken Salad Recipe

Cranberry Chicken Salad

This recipe can be made with either chicken or turkey.  Seeing as how my freezer is overflowing with roasted turkey from the Tyner Pond Farm post-holiday sale, I went with turkey today (seriously, I bought a 24 lb. turkey... for a family of three).  Usually, for salads like this one, I like to cook chicken in the slow cooker.  It makes it ridiculously tender with a finer shred perfect for salads.  I look forward to trying the TPF stewing hens, which are a bit more economical and best prepared low and slow.  

Chicken salad is pretty much a staple food for me. Making it with expeller pressed high-oleic safflower oil mayonnaise and my homemade sweet relish keeps it healthy. I make it so often, I don't even look at the recipe anymore! It's great on bread for sandwiches, even better as a grilled sandwich, or as a topping for crackers and salads.  Usually, I end up standing at the counter next to the fridge, eating it with a fork straight from the bowl!

Ingredients:

2 c. shredded TPF chicken (or turkey) 
¼ c. mayo (can substitute plain Greek yogurt)
¼ c. sweet relish
¼ c. chopped celery
¼ c. whole walnuts (chopped)
¼ c. dried cranberries
1 t. yellow mustard
salt & pepper to taste
 

Chicken Salad Ingredients

Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until well incorporated.

Best when refrigerated several hours or overnight.  That's it!
 

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What The Heck is Polish Sausage? And What am I Supposed To Do With It?


So, I have a confession to make. I have never cooked sausage. I have been racking my "mom brain", and I am pretty sure I have not been able to come up with one. single. time. that I purchased and prepared some form of sausage. And yes, I even had a course on meat preparation in college. At the time I was a vegetarian so the only explanation must be that I subconsciously suppressed all of this knowledge (more on why a former-vegetarian is writing for a farm that offers pasture-raised animals later). I just purchased sausage from Tyner Pond Farm and I have no idea what to do with it! And it's Polish Sausage Links, even more mysterious!

So, can somebody help me?! Please submit a favorite recipe with Tyner Pond Farm Polish Sausage that I can use to create a family meal. The catch? Here is the panel that will be selecting one recipe for our family's next cooking adventure...
 
Morton Boys

They are a tough, tough crowd folks. Their sophisticated pallets are so intense that they pretty much can find something to complain about at every single meal. Baby Girl will not be participating on the panel. She will eat anything. And has. If she is fine with fishing her pacifier out of the toilet, I don't think she is going to come up with any complaints about what she finds on her plate. So, please help us incorporate Polish Sausage into our menu repertoire. Post your very favorite recipe and my 'Sous Chefs' and I will be preparing and enjoying something new and delicious on the blog! Tyner Pond Farm will also be giving a $20 online gift certificate to whomever submits the selected recipe!  
 
Haven't ordered online from Tyner Pond Farm yet? Read my previous post on our family's first red bag delivery from Tyner Pond Farm. 
 
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Guiltless Super Bowl Bacon Cheeseburger Dip



Your favorite burger as a dip? Yes, please! We all are entitled to indulge a bit while celebrating the big game, but this dip is one you can feel less guilty about the next morning! This Super Bowl Bacon Cheeseburger Dip recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats is one you can serve at home or just as easily pack up and take to a viewing party on Sunday. In under 30 minutes, you can pull together this delicious appetizer that is sure to be the hit of the party! 

 

Ingredients

4 slices Tyner Pond Farm all-natural bacon, chopped
3/4 lb Tyner Pond Farm 100% grass-fed ground beef
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon mustard (optional)
1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
4 oz 1/3 less-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz plain non-fat Greek yogurt
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
Toppings: green onions, tomato, shredded lettuce
Variety of Dippers - tortilla chips, crackers, veggies, etc. 


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside then pour out bacon fat from skillet and discard (or save.)
  2. Turn heat up to medium-high then add ground beef, shallot, and garlic to skillet. Season with salt and pepper then cook until beef is no longer pink. Drain if necessary then return to skillet and stir in ketchup, mustard, and worcestershire sauce. Pour ground beef mixture into a large bowl.
  3. Add cream cheese, Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup each mozzarella and cheddar cheese, and 3/4 of the cooked bacon to the bowl then mix to combine. Spread in a 9" pie pan then top with remaining cheese. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Top with remaining bacon and optional toppings then serve.

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats. Photo courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats. 
 

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Easy Weeknight Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Quesadillas

What do you do when you are about to prepare dinner and after turning on your oven it begins to smoke? My boyfriend and I were making pineapple upside down cake this past weekend. It was a recipe from Martha Stewart, who I trust for all of my baking needs. We decided to use a springform cake pan, placing it in the oven for 35 minutes until it was ready. The cake was terrible - the batter didn't cook all the way through in the middle but the edges were burnt, and it seemed like it was supposed to rise much further. 

It wasn't until two days later when we realized the cake leaked onto the bottom of the oven and proceeded to burn wildly. I was just about to roll up the chicken enchiladas to bake, but once I smelled the burning in the oven I knew I couldn't use it to make these enchiladas. Instead, we quickly decided to make chicken quesadillas on the stovetop - with enchilada sauce! 

This recipe is meant to be a time saver for weeknight dinners. Cooking a whole Tyner Pond Farm chicken can be accomplished with a slow cooker on low for 8 hours. All you have to do is pull the meat off the bones, which means you can make the chicken a few days in advance if you like. The enchilada sauce can also be made a few days ahead, leaving the assembly of the quesadillas as the only prep work needed. Though I do hope your reason for not using the oven isn't the same as mine! 

Chicken Quesadillas

Chicken Quesadillas

Ingredients:

  • One medium 3-4 pound Tyner Pond Farm whole chicken
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth (make your own broth from Tyner Pond Farm Whole Chickens!)
  • 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 7-ounce can diced green chiles 
  • Enchilada sauce (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Shredded queso fresco


Directions:
1. Remove the whole chicken from its packaging 24 hours before you plan to enjoy the chicken quesadillas. Pat the skin dry with paper towels and place it on a plate. Sprinkle salt and black pepper on both sides until lightly covered. Allow to sit in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight. 

2. The next morning, pull the chicken out of the refrigerator. Stuff half of a roughly chopped yellow onion into the chicken. Add the rest of the chopped onions to the slow cooker. Set the chicken breast-side up onto the onions. Pour in the chicken broth around the chicken, then set the lid on top. Let cook on low for 7 hours. 

3. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and let cool until you can tear off the skin and begin to break down the chicken. Set the bones aside for making your own broth later. Finely shred the meat with your fingers. You should end up with about 6 cups.

4. In a large bowl, stir together as much shredded chicken, enchilada sauce and green chilies to your liking. For two quesadillas I used about 2 cups of chicken, 1/2 can diced green chilies and 1 cup of sauce. 

5. Assemble the quesadillas by spreading the mix evenly across the tortilla, leaving about 1/2 inch at the edge. Top with shredded queso fresco and place another tortilla on top. 

6. Place a large skillet on the stove and heat to medium. Cook the quesadilla for a few minutes, and once it begins to brown, carefully flip it over using a large spatula. Cook the other side, then remove and cut into quarter pieces. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro and more queso fresco on top with a small side of enchilada sauce.
 

Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada Sauce
Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Directions:
1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil with the chili powder over medium heat. Whisk until bubbly, then add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until simmering. Let cook for 5 minutes.

3. Store extra enchilada sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months. 

 

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Baby Steps to Buying and Eating Local for the Busy Family

It's a New Year! In case you never made a resolution, or maybe have already given up, I have a new one for ya...purchase and eat local food more often! Don't be intimidated. It's not going to stretch your budget or make your already crazy life even crazier. It's going to make life more simple, more healthy, and eating local makes a difference in your community. It's something you can feel good about as a family!

I've found that making the switch to shopping local and eating more organic isn't one that can happen overnight.  I've tried to make an instant switch to this lifestyle and it has always ended in an epic fail with a frantic mama and 3 screaming kids. Something worth doing, is worth doing well, so, what's the expression? "Slow and steady wins the race."

So, this year I decided to make it easy on myself.  Baby steps.
 

Baby Feet


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







Little by little I will be incorporating more locally-sourced products into our daily menu.  With a few simple steps I will make weekly meal planning and shopping easier, on myself.  All the while doing something good for my family.  Feeding them more organic food and pasture-raised meats.  Here are the teeny tiny baby steps I will be following...

1.  Plan Ahead.
2.  Shop for Food Online
.
3.  Make Meal Preparation a Family Experience, Not a Chore.


So, let's get started!

Baby Step #1 - Plan Ahead
Seriously, steal 5 minutes out of your week and sit down to plan your weekly menu. No complaints! With websites like Pepperplate and an array of free apps with Apple, this can almost be done for you. Many of these tools store your recipes and transfer items automatically to your grocery list when you put them in your weekly menu online.  Or use an old-fashioned piece of paper. Either option will have you starting off your week with a little less stress and your grocery list already planned out. Additionally, you can now budget more efficiently without grabbing last-minute items just to fill little tummies. Of course, that day will come where you will have to grab a Happy Meal, or a snow storm cancels a trip to Whole Foods. That's okay, cut yourself some slack. Remember, baby steps.  One trick is to start the week off making a staple meat that can be used throughout the week. I like to start out Monday with a big crock pot of Tyner Pond Chicken in a flavorful broth. Here is an example of a work week of local, flavorful meals for the whole crew that is so simple, with a little planning.

Day 1

Chicken Breasts with Vegetables (from the crock pot) and potatoes or french fries.

Day 2

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas (Shred leftover chicken and add barbeque sauce, fold into tortillas with cheese)

Day 3

Pizza! (Half BBQ Chicken with red onion and half cheese on a store-bought pizza dough) Side salad.

Day 4

Grilled Cheese and Soup (Made from leftover broth and vegetables.  Add meat as desired)

Day 5

Get out of the house or order in!  Baby feet are tired! *If you are feeling really ambitious, prepare another staple meat Day 1 (or the day before) to incorporate throughout the week.  A simple Tyner Pond Chuck Roast can be a meal itself, or be shredded into the soup, put into quesadillas, breakfast wrap, get creative.

Baby Step #2 - Shop Online
Next, do yourself the favor of completing some of your shopping online. Tyner Pond Farm is so simple and delivery is free! Once you've planned out your weekly menu, go online, order your meat, and then open your door when it arrives. This has been a game-changer for me. I love that I am supporting a local farm and providing my family with pasture-raised meats from non-GMO animals that receive drug-free feed, and have enjoyed the sun on their back!  You can order other local staples online as well from websites like Green Bean Delivery. The key is choosing what is in season or on sale to incorporate into your weekly menu. And if after all this cyber shopping you are feeling a bit stir crazy, don't let the Polar Vortex stop you from the farmer's market! Indy offers several Winter Farmer's Markets.

Baby Step #3 - Make Meal Preparation a Family Experience, Not a Chore
To fully make the switch to a more locally-sourced lifestyle, I can't do it alone. I want my entire family to understand the importance of eating healthy and the value of supporting a real Indiana farm like Tyner Pond Farm. I want my children to see where our food comes from, touch the soil that grows it, and feel like they are involved in the process. I want to have them "help" me prepare our food. I want to explain about the different cooking processes, herbs, and flavors. I know those little food critics' whiny voices aren't going to disappear overnight, but I am confident that if they are involved in the experience of preparing a meal, they will be much more willing to at least try it. I want them to grow up feeling proud to support a local business and to contribute to a more sustainable way of living.

And then that day will come.  You will be late to pick the kids up from daycare.  You will forget to turn on the oven.  The kids will all be fighting, or complaining about homework, or sick or, all of the above.  It's okay.  Throw a frozen pizza in and call it a day.  You will be back on top of your game tomorrow!  Baby steps people.  Eat that frozen people, and rent What About Bob.  If "Baby Steps" worked for that guy, it should be a breeze for you.  Before you know it, you will have changed your lifestyle.  Maybe even your wardrobe...
 

Bill Murray in What About Bob

 

 

 

 

 

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Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

When the temperature drops below zero, it seems like soup is the only meal that could potentially warm one up from deep down to the bones. As I stood in my kitchen gathering the ingredients, I couldn't help but think of my trip to Tyner Pond Farm. It was the first chilly day of the fall season, enough so that we had to put on heavy coats in order to stay warm as we walked across the farm to see the pigs.

Looking back, that day was nothing compared to the cold we have now. A warm cup of soup is not enough in the dead of winter. The flavors should excite you so you not only begin to warm up inside, but you look forward to each spoonful.

Non-GMO butternut squash from HUSK is perfect for winter soups for so many reasons. Not only does the color of butternut squash brighten up the dull, gray winter, but HUSK does all the hard work of removing the tough rind and chopping up the hard squash so you don't have to. With all of that prep time completed, this soup can be on the dinner table in 30 minutes or less.

To complement the butternut squash, I selected a few Indian spices to create a distinct sweet and spicy soup. Sweetness comes from garam masala, which is a mix of cinnamon, cardamon and nutmeg, while turmeric, cumin, ginger and paprika lend to the earthy savory flavors.

What I love most about this soup is that it is perfectly creamy without a drop of milk, heavy cream, or yogurt. I prefer the immersion blender method though you can use a food processor or blender if you like. Once the soup is pulsed and processed, it is ready to serve with your favorite toppings. A creamy soup needs a few crunchy flavors such as homemade croutons and crispy Tyner Pond Farm bacon. But hey, I give myself any excuse to add bacon to a meal.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices of day old bread
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 slices Tyner Pond Farm bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 12-ounce bags HUSK butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (make your own broth using Tyner Pond Farm Whole Chickens or Chicken Frames)


Directions:
1. Prepare the croutons by heating the oven to 350 degrees and slicing or tearing the day old bread into 1/2 inch pieces. Lightly spray the bread with cooking spray and sprinkle the dried oregano on top. Toss to evenly coat the bread. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until lightly golden in color.

2. In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, turn the heat to medium and cook the bacon until crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set the bacon aside.

3. Sweat the diced onions in the bacon grease for about 5 minutes or until they are soft and translucent.

4. Stir in all of the seasonings and add the frozen HUSK butternut squash. Place the lid on the pot and turn the heat to low, stirring occasionally. Once the squash is no longer frozen, add the chicken or vegetable broth and turn the heat up to high. Let the broth come to a boil for 5 minutes.

5. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully process the soup either with an immersion blender, food processor or hand blender. Stir the soup to ensure that all of the butternut squash has been pureed. Pour the soup into bowls and top with croutons and crisp bacon pieces. Bon appetit! 

 

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5 Reasons to Make Your Own Beef Broth

Beef Bone Broth Recipe

How many boxes of chicken, beef or vegetable broth or stock have you purchased in the past year? It is easy to grab a few boxes to make your favorite soup or to braise a large rump roast, but the price ads up in more ways than just the cost.

Making your own beef broth can seem intimidating if you have never tried it before, but if you employ the services of your slow cooker, the process is so easy you won't want to make another soup without it. If you need more convincing, read through these five reasons before you scroll down to the recipe.

Salt content - Are you counting the milligrams of sodium on every nutrition label you see? Do you prefer to manage the amount of salt in your food? Store-bought broths and stocks have an incredible amount of sodium in them to preserve their lifespan. You can make broth with absolutely no added salt at all and still have wonderful layers of flavor. Even if you are not paying close attention to your salt intake, homemade broth allows you to have better control over the flavors in your final dish.

Depth of flavor - Have you ever tasted beef broth that actually has a lingering flavor of beef in it? What about onions, carrots and celery? The glory of anything homemade is your ability to make it your own. Beef broth requires only a few basic ingredients, but what about toasting fennel seeds and cloves to make a spiced version? Or adding a bulb of garlic for those garlic lovers out there? All of this is achievable when you make your broth at home.

Health benefits - I do not claim to be a doctor, but there are several studies out there that discuss how broth made from bones contains gelatin and collagen, two things that are used to aid in indigestion and boost your immune system. Many of us grew up with a parent or grandparent feeding us soup when we felt ill, not because of the delicious savory taste but because of the nutrients.

Sustainable and responsible farming - As a kid, I remember learning about Native Americans and how they used every single piece of an animal they harvested, from the fur to the bones. If you eat meat, then it is imperative that you use as many parts of the animal as possible. Not only is it respectful to the animal, it is a sustainable, responsible farming practice. Aside from cooking the offal (the organ meats I like to refer to as odd bits), the bones can be repurposed through slow cooking beef broth.

Inactive cooking time - Once the bones and vegetables are roasted, everything goes into the slow cooker. There's no need to constantly stir, whisk, or mess with the broth while it is cooking. You do not need any special equipment, nor do you need to spend hours preparing ingredients. I do not know of another meal that is this nourishing and is made with such little effort!

Convinced yet? My simple beef bone broth recipe uses ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now. Tyner Pond Farm sells 100% grass-fed beef soup bones for about 1 to 1.5 pounds each and you'll need about 4 pounds to make 2 quarts of broth. Whole black peppercorns and bay leaves can be found at your local grocery store or my favorite spice retailer, Penzey's Spices, on Allisonville and 82nd Street. 
 

Simple Beef Bone Broth 

Makes about 2 quarts

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds Tyner Pond Farm beef bones
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 large carrots
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 quarts of water
     

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the beef bones on a large baking sheet with at least a one inch rim.
2. Roast the bones for 30 minutes, turning the bones halfway through.
3. Peel and halve the onions. Cut the celery stalks and carrots into thirds. Place them on the baking sheet with the bones and roast for another 30 minutes.
4. Remove the roasted bones and vegetables from the oven and place them into the slow cooker. Add the whole peppercorns, bay leaves and water.
5. Secure the lid and set the slow cooker on low for 5 hours. no need to constantly stir, whisk, or mess with the broth while it is cooking. You do not need any special equipment, nor do you need to spend hours preparing ingredients.

I do not know of another meal that is this nourishing and is made with such little effort!

Here are a few other articles outlining the health benefits of drinking beef bone broth:

Bone Broth Evolves From Prehistoric Food to Paleo Drink
The Health Benefits of Beef Bone Broth
Top Five Reasons Why Bone Broth is the Bomb

 

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7 Ways to Support Local Farming in 2015

Trader's Point Creamery

Maybe making New Year's resolutions isn't exactly for you, or possibly, you're the type to contemplate all December what your January 1st resolution(s) will be...either way, big or small, we all know that if you don't fully commit to something, it will eventually fall off your radar.

But, what if everyone made a change in 2015 that requires just a bit of personal commitment and helps an entire community? I'm talking about joining the local food movement and incorporating more locally grown and produced foods & goods into your diet and lifestyle. A little but here, and little bit there -- that's it! Whether you've already committed to doing so (bravo, keep it up!), or you're looking for a place to start, making a conscious effort to buy local is not only healthier for you, but it also lends to the economic health and overall betterment of a community.

So, in addition to shopping Tyner Pond Farm online and having our local, pasture-raised, hormone-free meat delivered to your door, I pulled together a few of my favorites around Indy that can help you consume local, fresh goods of all kinds in the New Year, even the winter months where finding local produce sometimes seems more difficult.

1. Visit the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market - Downtown Indy
The Indy Winter Farmer’s Market is an initiative of Growing Places Indy that takes place Saturdays in November through April from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the historic Indianapolis City Market. Shoppers can find a variety of offerings from local farmers and producers including fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, baked goods & herbs. The Platform at Indianapolis City Market, 202 E Market St., indywinterfarmersmarket.org

2. Buy HUSK, Indiana, Non-GMO Vegetables 
Not only can you purchase Indiana-grown, HUSK non-gmo vegetables on our website, you can also purchase HUSK at several local grocers in the Indianapolis-area, including Marsh, Kroger and Fresh Thyme. Check out the HUSK store locator to see if HUSK is carried at your neighborhood grocery store. huskfoods.com

3. Order Local Goods at HoosierHarvestMarket.com
Hoosier Harvest Market works like a year-round “farmers market meets the internet”. Customers place orders online, local farmers and food producers fulfill the order, and lastly, the orders are distributed weekly to specified customer pick-up locations. Hoosier Harvest Market offers an array of seasonal produce and products, everything from fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, to chocolates, granola, honey and more! hoosierharvestmarket.com

4. Make a Family Trip to Trader's Point Creamery - Zionsville
Trader's Point Creamery is a true gem you must experience for yourself. Located in Zionsville, Indiana, Trader's Point Creamery has been an organic dairy farm and artisan creamery since 2003. They raise 100% grass-fed dairy cows, producing delicious and delectable milks, cheeses, yogurts & more. The farm has grown to include an on-site farm-to-table restaurant, farm store, dairy bar and summer farmer's market. 9101 Moore Road, Zionsville, IN., traderspointcreamery.com

5. Dine and Give Back at Public Greens - Broad Ripple
A new favorite in the Broad Ripple area, Public Greens is an Urban Kitchen with a Mission - a "farm-market inspired urban cafeteria" in which all profits and crops go to feeding kids via The Patachou Foundation. The restaurant has its own garden planted nearby and is committed to using other local farmers and producers. 902 E. 64th St., Indianapolis, IN. publicgreensurbankitchen.com

6. Become a Member of Slow Food Indy
Slow Food Indy is the local chapter of an international grassroots organization "promoting good, clean and fair food." Focused on building relationships and community through food, the group helps the public get to know area farmers and their food through events like tastings, workshops, farm tours and deliciously prepared group meals. Become a supporter or a member starting at just $10 a year. Learn more at slowfoodindy.com

7. Shop at the Winter's Farmer's Market at Founder's Park - Carmel
Founders Park is the brand new location for the Carmel Farmer's Market. The Market is open each Saturday from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. through March 14. With 23 vendors, the winter market offers Indiana-grown and/or produced products of a wide range; meats, poultry, vegetables, micro-greens, gourmet coffee, artisan chocolates and breads, baked goods and gluten-free foods. Hazel Dell Parkway and 116th Street, carmelfarmersmarket.com
 
Have a favorite way to buy local and support local farmers and producers in Central Indiana? Share it below!

 

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The Future Of Grass-fed Beef In Indiana

So a gentleman tried to make an argument against grass-fed beef by saying "Corn Finished Beef is never going away!". Hmmm... in the grass-fed industry, I don't really hear anyone saying that it will.

I agree (maybe) that corn-fed beef will never go away, however, in this country where 98% of grass-fed beef is imported, and it represents about 6% of the total market and demand is growing 25% a year...well, as an entrepreneur, that sure looks like a terrific opportunity.    
 

Grass Fed Beef Indiana


Indiana consumes $8.8 billion dollars a year in meat of which 56% is beef. That gives us a nearly $300,000,000 opportunity based on the 6% number, which of course is growing. The reality is that as more people are becoming aware of the benefits of saturated fats to our health, coupled with the rapid awareness of the dangers of Antibiotics in the factory food system, the rate of growth is going to only increase.

Consider that the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's is adding a drug & hormone free grass-fed burger to their lineup.  This meat will be sourced from Australia and retail for $4.69 a burger.  Surely, we can do this less expensively in Indiana...(oh wait, we do at The Mug in Greenfield where you can find a 100% Indiana grass-fed burger for $2.00).

 

Tyner Pond Farm Grassfed Beef Indiana


The economics for grass-fed vs. feedlot are changing, too - with the EPA taking a greater interest in waterways and runoff and the restrictions coming on antibiotic use.  It's got the big guys including the Farm Bureau in a panic.

Consider that 8 Americans died as a result of terrorism last year.  Tragic and intolerable as that sounds, 23,000 Americans died from Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria last year.

This opportunity is enormous, not only for the health, environmental and animal welfare benefits, but also for the economic impact of a brand new industry that creates hundreds of quality jobs and keeps more Indiana money in Indiana.

It's enough opportunity to get mine and a lot of other entrepreneurially minded farmers attention for sure. :-)

 

 

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