In our house, dinner is often discussed over breakfast. The dreaded question, “What do you want for dinner?” usually elicits a heavy sigh. Despite being farmers and enthusiastic cooks with access to seasonal vegetables and a wide variety of meat on hand, meal planning isn’t any easier for us than it might be for you.

Don’t wait for the perfect tool! We use a weekly calendar to identify daily activities on the farm, including tasks for the week and supplies we need to purchase. This tool takes that one step further, with space to note what you’ll be cooking and the ingredients you need – meat, vegetables, etc. Simply print one each Friday and bring along to your favorite farmers market on Saturday.

Begin defrosting meat on Sunday to avoid meal prep panic. Pull all the meat you’ll be using in recipes throughout the week and corral it in a shallow glass pan or bowl on the lowest shelf in your fridge.

Choose recipes that use what you may already have on hand or in your freezer. Rather than selecting yummy recipes at random consider what the recipes have in common. For instance, you could cook a whole chicken that is served first with roast potatoes, then as a chicken pot pie and later in the week as an egg drop soup. Ideas by type of meat can be found here.

Prep as you plan. As you look at your week’s menu identify items that you can prep on Sunday afternoon. These might include chopped or sauteed onions or garlic, grated cheese or the whole roast chicken that will be the mainstay of your week’s menu.

Make Mondays easy! In order for meal planning to work, make it achievable. Having Monday’s meal be one that is simple to put together or has been prepped on Sunday will increase your likelihood of success.

Consider using themes to inspire your recipe selection. Sometimes called “meal themes” this is one way to give your meal plan some structure and familiarity without becoming as mind-numbingly predictable as the school cafeteria.

Meatballs
Mini Turkey Meatloaves – not quite a meatball per se, but pretty darn close!
Jumbo BBQ Beef Meatballs

Related imageEggs
Shakshuka – as easy as breakfast for dinner, but with a bit more adventure.
Baked Eggs with Spinach & Mushrooms – can be 100% local year-round in Maine.

Soups
Green Curry Pho
Egg Drop Soup – one of my favorite ways to use local, seasonal veggies and cracked eggs.

Low & Slow
Classic Roast Chicken – Ideal for making chicken the keystone of your week’s meals.
Chicken in Milk – My “go-to” recipe to change my approach to roasting a chicken.

Meat Lite – eating more better meat is our goal.
Stuffed Burgers
Turkey Shanks – versatile to work with a variety of shanks from lamb to turkey.

Spicy Turkey Tacos VerticalTacos & Nachos
Spicy Turkey Tacos
Three Cheese Chicken Nachos 

Burgers
Italian Turkey Burgers
Cheddar and Onion Burgers

Building from any one of these ideas consider pairing prep for two meals. Plan-overs can also ensure you have a meal ready for the next night. See Christine Burns Rudalevige’s delightful cookbook, Green Plate Special for more ideas!

August Newsletter

We’ve almost crested our summer peak! Our final groups of chickens will be harvested over the next two weeks with geese and summer turkeys following soon behind. This is welcome news as another hot, dry summer has left us wishing for more grass. We are turning those wishes into action by using the Maine Grass Farmers Network (MGFN) no-till drill to seed our newly cleared 12 acres.

 

A no-till drill is a piece of equipment that allows you to add new species of plants to an existing field or to seed a brand new field (like ours) more effectively. The drill rolls across the ground, uses coulters to slit open the soil, drop in a seed and then another set of coulters and rollers close up the slit over your seed. The advantages of using this tool are that the seed goes just where you want it and the chances of germination are much greater given that it is in contact with soil.

IMG_7863
Just after clearing
IMG_8251
After clearing and sub-soiling

As many of you know we own 70 acres adjacent to the home farm. Over the course of just 4 weeks we worked with Comprehensive Land Technologies to open up two existing pastures, the area for our new barn and to selectively thin for silvopasture. We are thrilled with the results and very excited to see the grass grow. Stay tuned for a blog post that will chronicle the clearing.

What’s in Season?
Goat is back in stock!  If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so. You can find recipes here. Our cashmere goats are raised on pasture and browse for a lean, mild flavored meat very similar to our lamb.

By the first weekend in September we will have additional beef and turkey. Our beef sold in record time this year, so if you are waiting for steaks, thanks for your patience. For now, enjoy the burgers! If you prefer a turkey burger then you’ll be in luck too.

IMG_7160IMG_2085

 

 

 

 

 

Since we’re talking turkey-  you can now order your Holiday Birds!

Your thanksgiving turkeys just went outside and are enjoying a summer forage crop of millet. We call the turkeys the “goats of the poultry world” meaning they are always scheming about ways to upend our expectations. Whether by escaping from their brooder, roosting on the cords of their lights or chirping with delight – these birds are never boring!

The first group of geese will head to harvest at the end of the month, so if you’re contemplating one for the holidays we encourage you to test one now. These birds are raised on grass, supplemented with certified organic grain and local delicacies like our just ripe green apples. The geese are gorgeous and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you.  To order, follow these links to reserve your turkey or goose.

Taking Stock

With the ever present snow, it is hard to believe Spring is coming, therefore it is a great time to take stock and make stock. Since we raise our own animals we often find our freezers full of parts that sometimes seem overlooked. Beef and lamb bones are some of those. Our beef bones come to the farm in big packs. bonesWe defrost and roast a bunch preserving it in the freezer for soups and stews of the future. The roasting process itself is very straightforward.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and put the bones in a oven safe pan. Roast until browned. To make stock simply cover bones with water and boil. We usually put ours on the woodstove, but keeping them on the stovetop for as long as you can will insure a flavorful broth.

ImageWe have a variety of bones, but the marrow bones are a special treat. Jake and I found a great recipe on a blog called The Hungry Mouse.

We also made some delicious french onion soup with the broth. The recipe is from James Beard’s American Cookery and is really delicious. This is one dish that I will never need to order again, because it is super easy and really delicious to make at home!

Onion Soup

5 tbsp butter318092_4525427771315_342001395_n
2 tbsp oil
5 medium onions, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
6 cups beef broth
1 cup red wine or port
8 slices crisp toast, preferably a crusty French bread
Grated Parmesean or Asiago cheese
Grated Mozzarella cheese (our addition)

Brown the onions in butter and oil over medium heat until they are soft. Sprinkle with sugar and toss so sugar caramelizes them, add salt. Add boiling broth and wine, blend over medium heat. Ladle soup into ovenproof dishes and add slices of toast. We added fresh spinach as well. Place under broiler for 10 minutes. Serve at once- enjoy!

Roasting this Winter

Image
We already own it, so don’t worry we’re not getting paid to promote it.

I’ve been browsing  Alice Water’s cookbook, The Art of Simple Food.  Though at first I was skeptical, I prefer cookbooks with titles like, Meat, I was won over by Waters who uses every opportunity to stress the importance of purchasing meat that is “raised with care.”  She talks about how you can purchase organic chicken direct from the farmer, at the farmers market or at your local market. She even suggests that if your local market doesn’t carry organic chicken to create demand by asking them to stock it. Alice Waters, thank you.

As I’ve always been very cavalier in my approach to cooking most any meat; I’ve realized quickly, standing next to Jake at farmers market, that cooking advice can often make or break sales. People often worry, aloud,  that grass-fed meats will be tougher, but Jake and I know that proper cooking method ensure our meat tastes its best.  So, I’ve decided to share some tips from Alice Waters;

Choose a pan slightly larger than your roast to avoid unsightly splatter in your oven and to conserve pan drippings for gravy-yum!
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
To achieve medium to rare in your roasts use the following temperature guide:
For lamb or goat take meat out at 128 degrees
For beef take meat out at 120-125 degrees

Finally, for all cuts let rest 20 minutes after removing from the oven. The meat doesn’t stop cooking when it is pulled from the oven, but as it rests the internal temperature increases for a while. If you cut that roast when you take it out of the oven the inside will be underdone and the juices will run more quickly, creating unevenly cooked, dry slices. Allowing time for rest means the juices stay in the roast and meat will be much more succulent. Enjoy!

Everything but the Cluck!

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the concept of  “Nose to Tail” eating; by which I mean consuming all the parts of an animal. But I think some folks might be inclined to think of that concept in a way that recalls an episode of “Fear Factor” where participants choke down spoonfuls of mealworms or something equally cringe-worthy. We however, embrace Nose to Tail in its many delicious forms. Recently we posted on our facebook page an image of Buffalo Chicken Necks. ImageThis was recipe testing and market research rolled into one, but got me thinking about how we could sell some of our patrons on unusual parts by providing some practical and delicious ways to use them. So first, those chicken necks.  The necks are primarily dark meat and contrary to initial consideration the meat is tender and not at all stringy. We prepare a sauce made of equal parts hot sauce and melted butter, pour over the necks and bake, covered 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Then remove the cover and bake or broil to reduce the liquid.

ImageAnother dish that is seductive enough to tempt even those who protest, “I have never liked liver” is Cheryl Wixson’s recipe for John Thomas pate. Now I find amusement in the name itself, but this pate is no joke. I’ve made it up for several poultry processing days, potlucks and similar events and have always found one attendee who claimed they wouldn’t touch liver eating this pate with a spoon. You can reduce the butter if you are feeling health conscious by not leaving enough for the top “crust,” but save this recipe for a decadent or draining occasion when you won’t be calorie-counting, because it is worth it. I also must admit to being less than careful with this one and have yet to add cognac, but season to taste and make something you enjoy eating.

John Thomas Pate

1lb chicken liver (or other liver)

½ lb salted butter (at least ½ a stick of this is for the topping)

6 garlic cloves (I usually use an entire head)

1 large onion, sliced

1 tablespoon Fines Herbs * see note

2 teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons Cognac (optional in my opinion)

Combine all ingredients except Cognac. Simmer in a saucepan for 20-25 minutes, until livers turn light pink in color. Remove from heat and let cool (up to a half hour). Blend the mixture thoroughly in a food processor. Add the Cognac and blend again. Pour into crocks annd cover with melted butter. Cool in fridge, but serve at room temperature with sturdy cracker or crusty bread.

*Fines Herbes are a mixture of very finely chopped herbs. The classic French quartet is chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon. If you don’t have fresh chervil you can use equal parts of the other three.

It is my hope that these dishes will entice eaters out of their comfort zone, but if not a simple roast chicken is always delicious, followed by a rich homemade chicken soup to use up the leftovers.