Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

no poultry at farmer’s markets, yet, but we do have pork kielbasa

In Chickens, General Farm News, Heritage Turkeys, Pigs on July 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm

First of all, a great big hello, and thank you to all of our new and returning customers, both from our markets, and direct from the internet.  We love meeting and catching up with each and every one of you, and appreciate the fact that you  have entrusted your meat and poultry choices to animals that we have raised in an unconventional manner on our small New England farm.

We are pretty opinionated about the feedstuffs and manner in which we choose to raise our animals, and the manner in which our animals are humanely slaughtered. (Not only are the grains that the pigs and chickens fed free from animal derived proteins, but they are also the most local option available.  The slaughterhouse is above all humane and trustworthy.  Bar none.  As those advertisements say “we have tried the rest” and they just can’t compare.  We go the extra hour and a half, in order to have our animals slaughtered at a USDA inspected facility that is also inspected and approved by a third-party and is ‘Animal Welfare Approved.”  Our magician with the smoking and curing is named Jake and we drive the extra hour and a quarter to get that super quality and consistency.  That is the meat front.

Meat is not poultry in the eyes of Massachusetts or the United States Department of Agriculture.  We may use the terms interchangeably, in casual conversation, but the regulations are very different and cause an entirely different set of bottlenecks.

In the news, in Massachusetts, there has been a lot of press about mobile poultry slaughter facilities, or Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (“MPPU”).  For more information about how to get in on using one of those facilities, you should contact the New Entry Sustainable Farmer Sustainable Farmer Project

Under current Massachusetts regulations, I can’t offer my meat birds for sale in my market freezer, yet. “Meat and poultry: USDA inspected products must bear the mark of inspection on each retail package. Must be slaughtered in a federal and/or state licensed and inspected facility.” 

As I read the regulations, when the USDA processing facility in Vermont opens, I can pop those birds into my freezer. So, until that time, even though our sign on the freezer says “Turkey-Pork-Beef-Chicken” that really only is a farm sign that denotes what our farm raises: Turkeys, Pigs, Beef, and Hens, as well as veal, geese, ducks and some dairy cows.  My goal is not to tease the customer, or to break any rules.  You have got to believe me when I say that losing our farm is not part of my one, three, or five-year plans.

That being said, we do have some very delectable things in the freezer without chicken or turkey: Country Pork Ribs (which I came home to after yesterday’s market, made up with the recipe from my last blog post — that is a great recipe! Note: I did a free pour on the maple syrup – not a tablespoon or two) and sweet italian sausage, ground pork ground veal, maple syrup cured hickory smoked bacon, maple syrup cured hickory smoked thickly cut ham steaks, pork chops, hot italian sausage, various veal steaks, hamburger patties, and more!

Wells Tavern Farm Fresh Pork Kielbasa. Cased, and all-pork. $9.75 a pound. 

Food Q & A:

Q: How could you cook up a fresh pork kielbasa?  A: There are a ton of ways to cook it up!  You can grill it, smoke it yourself, steam it, boil it, bake it, slice it up and fry it.  Growing up, we usually had the kielbasa prepared in this manner: Using a large skillet with water at least halfway up the kielbasa. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, then turn and cook for about 15 minutes on the other side. Pour off the water, and then bake until crispy.  To achieve that great casing “snap” finish off on the grill or bake at 325 until skin begins to brown.)  *Remember to cook pork to an internal temperature of 165 F as measured by a meat thermometer.*

Kielbasa is great with Summertime salads, in the Springtime (Easter), in the Fall with Kielbasa Apple Pasta Bake, or other Corn and Kielbasa Chowder, and in the Winter with Lentil, Bacon & Kielbasa Soup, or Winter Kielbasa Stew.  A great all-season meat we are proud to offer for a very limited time.

The other news: we will not have turkeys for Thanksgiving this year.  We have had a terrible year, in general.  Back in February, there was a tremendous ice storm that knocked over trees and utility poles and left us without electricity for a couple of days.  We ran those things that we had to off of generator power.  During the course of the power outage, the heat lamps, and incubators went out.  We lost all of our turkey crop that would be appropriate for the fall this year.  We had just finished a run of four years of selling Thanksgiving turkeys and really enjoyed the experience.  After doing all of the calculations over the winter, though, on the previous batch, we discovered that we lost money on them (in money that just a little way) at $4.50 a pound.  So, after losing all of our own prospects for this Fall, we definitely could not afford to put an additional nine dollars into each turkey to purchase day olds, and then to raise them and lose money.  The long and the short of it is that we have a parent-stock flock of turkeys that are laying eggs out of season, and we are rearing turkey poults (babies) at all ages currently.  I am pretty sure that we will not have any birds ready for Thanksgiving this year. 

We will, however, have some available for the Spring ’11 and we hope to have a full complement of birds for Thanksgiving ’11.

Hungry? Recipes: Ribs, Bacon, Sausage Stuffed Veal Marsala…

In Chickens, General Farm News, Pigs, Recipe on July 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm

At the farmers markets over the past few weeks, I have been suggesting a recipe for Maple Country Ribs to interested customers.  It is a hands-off preparation, and can be made while you are doing other things: picnicking with the family, swimming, reading at the beach, etc.  All you need for special tools or ingredients is a slow cooker (crock pot) and allspice (we have that on hand for other uses, but some people don’t).  Robin Severance had company who loved this preparation of her syrup and my country ribs.

Sevarance Maple in Northfield
(413) 498-2032 produced by Milt & Robin Severance

Slow Cooked Maple Syrup Country Ribs

1  1/2 pounds country style pork ribs
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 dash ground black pepper

Combine all in a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on Low for 7 to 9 hours.

Farmer Q & A:

Q. What’s hidden in that freezer, anyways? 

A. I am often asked that question.  (Note that my answer comes with underlined products. There are recipes in this post that contain these products, if you are interested!) Many of my returning customers know that sometimes I don’t have a clue what is really in there. 🙂  Actually, I do know that I attempt to have at least two servings of everything that is on the price list as in stock.  If it is listed as out of stock, then I don’t have two servings available or we are completely out.  For example, if I have Veal Shanks (Osso Buco) as available, I have four cuts of them in the freezer.  In general, I have some Veal Chuck Steaks with me, some Round Cutlets, ground veal, and possibly some sirloin chops, if they are still available.

I do know that our Beef Patties are nearly out of stock.  We are down to our final handful of packages, and when they are gone, they’re gone.  Grassfed beef is now officially out of stock. 

Pork Country Ribs, Ground Pork, Sausage: Sweet Italian, Hot Italian, Breakfast… Maple Syrup Cured Hickory Smoked Thickly Cut Bacon, and maple Syrup Cured Hickory Smoked Thickly Cut Ham Steaks are all crammed in that freezer as well.  And I am adding Pork Chops back into the mix. 

More Recipes:

Sausage and Pistachio-Stuffed Veal Marsala

The stuffing is Sweet Italian Sausage, mixed with chopped pistachios, parsley, bread crumbs, an egg yolk, and a little cognac and nutmeg. Roll stuffing into thin veal cutlets, roll in flour. Brown in butter and olive oil, remove. Saute chopped celery, onion, and carrots, add marsala, reduce, then add chicken stock. Add the veal rolls and braise for about an hour. Very good! This would be a nice meal for company since it sounds fancier than a typical braised dish, but you could do it ahead of time and then warm. Served with Braised Potatoes with Butter and Rosemary.

In other farm news: I am pretty sure that today is the day that we will be picking up our next batch of pork chops, spareribs, babyback ribs, and a couple of tenderloins from our USDA processing facility.  That means that it is pretty likely that they will be available at the Bernardston Farmers Market Tuesday from 4 to 7, Wednesday @ the Conway Farmers Market, 4 to 7 & Thursday @ the Northfield Farmers Market,  4 to 7. 

Even More Recipes:

Toasted Cashew and Bacon Brittle
2/3 cup raw cashews about 4 ounces
8 ounces bacon
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. While the oven is heating, place cashews on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until deep brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly on a cutting board, then coarsely chop; set aside.

2.  When the oven is ready, place bacon on a baking sheet and roast until deep brown and well done, about 15 minutes. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate to cool; reserve 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, coat the paper with a thin layer of the reserved fat, and place the baking sheet on a cooling rack. Crumble bacon into bite-sized pieces;
set aside.

3.  Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan over high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally (do not stir), until mixture is deep amber and registers 350°F on a candy thermometer, about 10 to 15 minutes . Immediately remove the pan from heat.

4.  Carefully add cashews, bacon, and salt to the caramel and stir to combine. Immediately pour mixture onto the center of the prepared baking sheet. Let sit at room temperature until hardened, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely, then break into shards.


Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 dozen *Must refrigerate for storage

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups Bittersweet Chocolate Morsels
One pound of Wells Tavern Farm Maple Syrup Cured Hickory Smoked Bacon

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Add chopped, cooked Bacon and mix for 1 minute. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Remember to store these cookies (should you have any left to store) in the fridge.

Back in Farm News: I felt like we were officially out of the egg business for the last few weeks, as the laying hens were not laying. The heat and humidity were just too much for them.  I know that it was, at times, too much for me.  I had two real bouts of heat exhaustion brought on after attending farmers markets in 100 plus degree weather, standing on hot asphalt radiating stored heat.

Our layers are provided with shade shelters and fresh water and feed daily, but they are outdoor critters. As you can see by the chart, from Iowa State University, it is no wonder that we had a fall in production, and we are very lucky that we did not experience heat stress induced mortality. We may be adding some baking soda to the hens ration during the next period of extreme heat, as research has found: “Sodium bicarbonate in the feed or use of carbonated water is especially useful for hens in egg production as panting and carbon dioxide release impacts the acid base balance and the bicarbonate available for egg shell formation.”  We already add crushed seashells as a free choice option, but maybe they aren’t lucid enough to make that choice.  After all, they are chickens.

 Just imagine those Maryland, Delaware area factory farms with millions (exaggeration, I know) of chickens in each metal building, in that heat!  Yuck. Extremely sad and yucky. Our ladies spent most of the time, with their wings out a little bit from their bodies, fanning their “pits” as it were, and being  pretty sedentary.

In the midst of my exasperation with not having eggs available to deliver to Enterprise Farm in Whately, or for me to sell, or for us to even eat as a family, we discovered our White Rock chicks have hit maturity!  Who knew? Technically, these are White Plymouth Rocks, and they are a dual-purpose, cold-hardy bird and a great breed for the small farm or backyard flock owner.  I am hoping that this strain of White Rock is a production strain versus a meat strain — many hatcheries specialize in one or the other — because they are really pigeon chested and small-framed birds. I was amazed to learn that they were actually laying.  In more than three decades of having chickens, I have not seen a standard breed (regular sized) pullet so tiny in size, laying what will turn into regular size (Large-Extra Large) brown eggs.  So, just two days after deciding that we are out of the egg business with the older, heat stressed hens, we may, in fact, be back in the egg business in the next few weeks, when this entire small flock matures.

There’s farming for you! Can’t count your eggs…