Our monthly local food challenge is a freebie month. Find a local food and enjoy it. Maybe you like local fish, or perhaps you have spinach or lettuce in your garden. Maybe you grill local chicken or steaks, or you collect wild edibles and use that for food or as herbal remedies. Or you like local honey! (See this story on how we collected a bee swarm.) June is the month of comment on that. Any comments enter you in our January gift certificate drawing!
The local food challenge* for May is pork. Pork comes from pigs. It includes steaks, chops, roasts, spare ribs, sausage, bacon, smoked hams or smoked chops, and feet and lard.
Pigs can be raised a variety of ways. Just as cows can be raised in feed lots, pigs can be raised indoors on grain. OR just as cows can be raised on pasture, pigs can be raised in a grazing setting. Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm has set a defining standard for how to do this well. His website has a wealth of information about the whole process of raising, slaughtering, and processing pork.
We raise our pigs in a manner closer to Jeffries than to the feed lot. Currently, we purchase our piglets from a farmer who raises them in a manner similar to us, using non-GMO grains and letting them root and be outdoors. Once they get to us, they are raised outdoors, getting fresh air and sunshine, being allowed to root, eating grass and vegetation. They regularly get non-GMO grain, day-old produce from the local food co-op, kitchen scraps, and weed and grass clippings from the garden. We keep their hut in an area for several weeks, expanding their grass areas before moving their hut to a new area. During the time that they are with us, we may move them to an area that we want to garden on eventually, letting them do the initial work of tilling and setting down their manure as compost. 6 months to a year later we would then plant in this area.
During May our pork is on sale – $5.75 / lb for non-smoked items and $6.75 / lb for smoked items and sausage. If you would like some, email us, and we will let you know the cost and will set it aside for you.
Find and enjoy some pork this month! Then email me about how you liked it OR comment in the comments below.
*Each month we have been having a challenge for different local foods to find and eat. Any comments about what you ate and how it tasted can be posted at that month’s blog post. Each comment entitles you to 1 entry in a drawing for a $50 Treasures of Joy Gift Certificate. Limit 1 comment each month. Comments for that month close at the end of each month. Drawing on January 1, 2019.
Eggs are a staple in our home, and probably in many homes in America. Eggs are a quick and excellent source of protein. We have several couples that buy 2-3 dozen eggs a week, and that is their main source of protein throughout their week.
In our home we use eggs by themselves as fried eggs, or hard-boiled or steam-boiled eggs; as the main dish in fried rice or magic quiche; as a part of a macaroni or potato salad; and as part of baked goods, like coffee cake, blueberry muffins, or cookies. Since we like to have an egg meal at least once a week year round, we also freeze lightly blended eggs during the spring abundance, so that we have them in the less abundant wintertime.
Chickens that are raised outdoors in fresh air and sunshine produce good meat and excellent eggs. The eggs are sturdier, the yolks are brighter, and the cooked product is tastier than its barn-raised counterpart. Both are eggs, and both are good for you. But the ones from the chickens raised outdoors are better, and our customers regularly confirm this.
In this last week of the April Egg challenge, use some local eggs, mine or someone else’s. Let me know what you made and how it tasted. And check out the recipes that others have shared in the comments of this post.
Have you been looking for locally grown food this year? This month’s challenge is to find and use locally grown eggs. It shouldn’t be hard this time of year. Any hen that is going to lay eggs will lay in the spring. We have a full refrigerator to support that claim!
We have recently moved our chickens from the barn area to the grassy areas. We usually do this around March 15, but with the snow and muck this spring we didn’t get to do it until the 30th. So now our hens and roosters can have true free range and fresh air and sunshine. Here is a hen walking down the run to the ground.And here are some of the chickens eating their feed for the day.
Fresh air and sunshine are an excellent combination for the production of most food. And raising layers outdoors leads to an excellent egg!
We sell eggs by the dozen – $4.00 / dozen. Email us if you would like us to set some aside for you.
Later this month I will give you some suggestions about how to cook with eggs. In the meantime, what do you make with eggs? Do you use locally grown eggs or free range eggs? How do eggs fit into your diet?
This month the local cooking challenge focus is chicken. As we sell our chickens as whole frozen birds, a lot of my chicken meals begin that way – chicken over rice or chicken over potatoes. But usually I have leftovers, especially if I have cooked 2 chickens at the same time. These can be made into chicken soups, chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, or chicken casseroles.
Recently I made Creamed Chicken, a recipe that I grew up with that came from the Mennonite Cookbook. It is one of those comfort foods, warm and nourishing, good for a winter evening.
The March 2018 Local Food challenge is chicken. As with other months, find chicken local to you, use it for a meal, and then comment here or email me about what you did and how it tasted. For additional rules see the original post.
Whole chickens can be boiled, roasted, cut into parts and fried, or cooked in a crockpot or instant pot. They can be served over rice or potatoes. Leftovers can be used in soup or casseroles or sandwiches.
If you are local to us, chickens can be purchased from us for $5.00 / lb through March 31, 2018. They were raised outdoors on our farm in fresh air and sunshine, were fed non-gmo grains, were processed by us and frozen, and are 4-6 lb. I have been using them regularly as a main dish and for chicken broth and stock. They taste good!
I can hear it already – “What do you mean organ meat? You mean, like liver? And why do it the 2nd month of the challenge? Can’t we wait until later in the challenge?”
Organ meat has to be included sometime. It is a legitimate meat that local farmers will sell. It includes the odd pieces – heart, liver, tongue, kidneys, brains, ox tail, chicken feet, pig feet and hocks. (Ox tail, chicken feet, and pig feet and hocks aren’t technically organ meat, but we will allow them for this challenge.)
We have scheduled organ meat in February because that is traditionally when our family eats heart (Valentine’s Day). (And yes, we have eaten rabbit at Easter and would consider reindeer at Christmas!) Rather than have just heart this month we have included all organ meats.
What are ways to prepare these items?
- The feet and hocks make good stock that can serve as the foundation for soup or for the liquid to cook rice in.
- Heart and tongue I tend to boil and slice and serve as part of dinner or in sandwiches.
- Chicken hearts I saute with onion, celery and/or mushrooms in oil. Once the onion is limp or the celery is soft, then I turn it to low and let it simmer with the lid on to make sure that the hearts are cooked. I have several young children that like this as their birthday meal.
- Sliced kidneys or liver can be soaked first in milk. If I soak them, I do it for 30 minutes, change milk, soak them again for another 30 minutes. For the kidneys this reduces the urine smell/flavor.
- Kidneys – I have made steak and kidney pie. More recently I have made Tom Clack’s Deviled Kidneys from Shannon Hayes The Grassfed Gourmet. It is sliced kidneys in a spicy ketchup sauce that is then served with bread or over potatoes or rice. (Recipe to come later in the month.)
- This can be ground or finely chopped and mixed in with other meats.
- Before we moved to the farm, I always would cook liver with onions. We would sometimes serve it as a sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce and mayo and call it a Real Man’s Sandwich!
- One of my early farm customers gave me a recipe for Danish Liver Pâté. Her in-laws were from Denmark. Her mom sent the recipe in Danish to her, her husband translated it into English, and she gave it to me. It is raw liver, blended with milk, egg, flour and seasonings, which is then baked and served on crackers or bread. This is now my main way to serve liver.
- A similar recipe adds sausage and omits the milk and egg. My children like this a little better. Lots of things taste better with sausage!
- If you have a good way to make something with some other organ meat, make it and include it in the comments.
Again, the rules are that this made from organ meat grown local to you. Comment below by March 3, 2018, with what you made, how you liked it and how you would make it differently next time.
Organ meat is on sale for $3.75 / lb through March 3, 2018.
January’s challenge is beef/wild game. The challenge:
- Choose a cut of beef, venison, or wild game that was locally grown in your area. This includes anything that comes from beef or wild game – roasts, steaks, bones, ground beef, meaty shank soup bones, stew meat, ribs.
- Make a dish with that cut of meat. It can be cooked in the oven, on the stove top, in a crockpot, on the grill, in the instant pot. It can be a dish where it is mainly by itself or can be part of a stir fry where it is a small part of the whole dish. The key is that it is a cut of beef or wild game that was locally grown. Check our currently available page to get some beef from us.
- Serve it with thankfulness and enjoy it!
- Comment here or email me that you made this. You can include a recipe, and your thoughts on how it tasted and how those who ate with you liked or didn’t like it, and what you would do differently next time.
- Deadline to comment or email me is February 6, 2018.
For details for the whole challenge – 2018 Local Food Cooking Challenge
What beef dish are you going to make?
Announcing – drum roll please! – The 2018 Local-Food Cooking Challenge!
- Make a dish – main dish, side, dessert, whatever – from the category for that month.
- The category item needs to be local food for you. For example, if you make a breaded chicken dish in March, the chicken must be locally grown, but the breading ingredients do not.
- Comment to me by email or in that month’s item post about what you made and how you made it, how you and any that you shared it with liked it, and how you might change it until another time. Each item you make gives you 1 entry in a drawing. Limit 1 entry per month.
- On January 1, 2019, we will have a drawing from all the entries for 2018 for a $50 gift certificate to Treasures of Joy Farm. Members of our family living in our immediate household are not eligible for the drawing.
- Categories by month are:
- January – Beef/Wild game
- February – Organ Meat from any species
- March – Chicken
- April – Egg dishes
- May – Pork
- June – Your choice
- July – Vegetable
- August – Chicken
- September – Vegetable
- October – Beef/Wild game
- November – Squash/Pumpkin
- December – Your Choice
Happy planning, shopping, and cooking!