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Integrity Matters: know or learn to be your farmer

Keith moving beyond organic chickens on grass in chicken tractors on pasture.

“Trust is the combination of intelligence and integrity.”

“Husbandry, which is not replaceable by science, nevertheless uses science, and corrects it too. It is the more comprehensive discipline. To reduce husbandry to science, in practice, is to transform agricultural “wastes” into pollutants, and to subtract perennials and grazing animals from the rotation of crops. Without husbandry, the agriculture of science and industry has served too well the purpose of the industrial economy in reducing the number of landowners and the self-employed. It has transformed the United States from a country of many owners to a country of many employees.” ~Wendell Berry

This summer has been a new venture in food for us.  We are redesigning our business model.  We are assessing what’s important and what we can do without or outsource.  We are seeking to keep our business and life in integrity with our personal values and choices.  We increasingly find that there are aspects of where we live in the midst of big agriculture country are out of integrity with how we want to live.  The land, it’s soil, grasses, trees, and waters, are part of our lives.  They are a collective to be collaborated with, not brought into submission.  That’s been our approach to how we raise our food, be it squash or chicken, apples or pigs.  #IntegrityMatters.

Farming with the season is part of that integrity.  As we transition from summer to fall, we move out of chicken season and into pig season.  Chicken is a “cooling meat.”  It’s light and doesn’t tax a digestive system that is getting plenty of nourishment from the abundent veggies of summer. Grass fed poultry is full of the  nutrients of grass and contain a balance of Omega-3’s and 6’s as well as lots of vitamins A and E.  They aren’t so high in the vitamins so plentiful in the rich, dark veggies summer provides us.  As the grasses get frosted and the natural grains ripen, the grazing animals come ready for harvest.  The nutrition in the grasses goes to the roots, the animals harvest the grains, and the cold drives the animals’ fat into the muscles in preparation for winter.  The dry grasses help to dry out the fat, making it more storable and dense, Rrich with the stored nutrients of summer.  Fall and early winter are the time for harvesting these animals.  Historically, the flies were gone and the pastures done for the season at animal harvest time.  The crisp chill of fall would cool the carcasses of the pigs and cows so they could be processed.  This would be winter meat.  The rich red meat would help provide the iron and other vitamins and minerals lacking in the veggies of winter.  The seasons worked together and the farmer collaborated to make the most of what nature offered.

Now is the time to get your whole or half hog spoken for.  We are planning for our fall harvest as we look at the frost on the fields in the mornings and break out the sweatshirts and vests in the mornings and evenings.  We don’t have to worry about flies so much thanks to the wonders of refrigeration and fly spray, but it’s time to start thinking of hog harvest.

The Homestead Hog Harvest class is coming up in November.  There is still room for you!  This is a great weekend to experience the magic that happens when hogs are harvested with integrity and care–and you can take that skill set home with you!  From field to freezer, you can harvest a hog, or at least have the experience of doing it.  PLUS, you get to take some fabulous Mangalitsa pork home with you.

Integrity matters.  Know your farmer.  Anyone can farm!

Check out these articles for more farm philosophy:

Hay and Philosophy

Pasture (Grass) plus Chickens: goodness to share

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Spicy Chicken Rub: spice up that grilled chicken!

Grilled chicken, GMO free, pasture raised, free range

Spicy Chicken Rub: spice up that grilled chicken!

This past week we harvested most of this batch of chickens from the field.  The nutrients from the green grass make all the difference in the chicken.  We’ve had a lot of rain this summer and the grass is very rich.  This chicken tastes fabulous!  We like it without any added seasoning, especially if it’s cooked on the grill.  But, if you like a little seasoning on your birds, this recipe makes a great rub to spice things up.  It’s written for a whole roasted chicken, but works fine as a rub on chicken parts, too.

Spicy Chicken Rub
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 10 mins
 

Roasted whole chicken is easy as anything, and this rub will liven it up!  Easy and tasty!

Course: Main Course
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken, about 4 lb.s
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. thyme, dried
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Combine all the spices in a bag or bowl.

  2. Rinse the chicken inside and out.  Rub the spices under the breast skin and on the skin of the whole bird.

  3. Place bird breast up in a covered pot (roasting pan or crock pot) and bake at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. Bird is done when the drum stick meat starts to pull away from the end of the bone, or the juices run clear when you poke the thigh.

  4. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

This can be used on chicken parts as well!  Rub the mixed spices onto the parts.  Lay the parts flat in a baking dish.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour.

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Oven-baked Chicken Chimichangas

GMO free, free range chicken chimichanga

Oven-Baked Chicken Chimichangas

This recipe for Chicken Chimichangas was a big hit with the Baker family!  It calls for chicken breast, but is a great way to use leftover chicken, as well.  For superb flavor and to up the health quotient, consider making your own refried beans.  Beans really need to soak for 8 or more hours to neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and breaks down hard to digest complex sugars so they are more digestible.  I soak up to 5# of them at a time overnight, then cook them all up at once.  They freeze nicely in recipe sized amounts, providing me with several meals of soaked, ready to use beans.  To “refry” them, I simply warm them in a pan with a quantity of lard or bacon fat.  Sometimes I add garlic, onion, banana or jalapeno peppers, and other seasonings (taco seasoning is a great all-purpose one).  When everything is warm and moist, I use my hand blender to make it nice and creamy.  That’s all there is to making really healthy (soaked beans plus nutrient dense fat) refried beans.  Beans and fat.

Let us know how this recipe works for you!

Oven-Baked Chicken Chimichangas
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 c. chili powder
  • 16 oz. salsa
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 6 9 inch flour tortillas warmed
  • 1 c. refried beans
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425°F.  Grease a rimmed 15 x 10 baking sheet.  

  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Dice chicken breast into small bite size pieces.  Stir fry in oil in a frying pan.  Remove from pan and set aside.

  3. Add onion and garlic.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.  Stir in chili powder, salsa, water ,cumin and cinnamon.

     Pour mixture into blender container or food processor and process until smooth. 

    Pour back into pan and stir in chicken.  Add salt to taste.

  4. Working with 1 warmed tortilla at a time and keep remaining tortillas wrapped, spoon a heaping tablespoon of beans down center of each tortilla. Top with about 1/4 c. chicken mixture. Fold up the bottom, top and sides of tortilla; secure with wooden picks if necessary.  Place chimichangas in greased baking pan, seam-side-down.  Brush all sides with oil.  

  5. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, turning every 5 minutes. Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

You might also like this great recipe:
Mexican Chicken with Jalepeno Popper Sauce

And read here about why we raise our chickens on pasture (a.k.a. green grass):

Pasture (Grass) plus Chickens: goodness to share

Boneless skinless chicken breast, GMO free, Free range and pasture raised
Get your GMO free, pasture raised chicken here!

Learn about soaking beans, refried beans, and lots of other traditional healthy eating tips here:

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Bone broth healthy breakfast: broth and egg in a cup

clear chicken bone broth

Everyone keeps talking about “bone broth!”  So, we’ve been asked

“What is bone broth?”

Bone broth is the product of animal bones simmered in water for a length of time.  The simmering over time pulls the nutrients out of the bones and cartilage.  Once strained, the liquid should be a nice tan (chicken and turkey) or brown (beef and pork) color and fairly opaque.  No pieces of meat or other material in it, just liquid.  It should also be jelly like in the fridge if well made.

Is bone broth healthy for me? Why is it nutritious?

Well made bone broth is full of the nutrients in the bones.  Like feeds like, so the calcium, magnesium, and other minerals are extremely helpful to your bones.  In fact, the calcium in broth build bones better than the calcium in milk.  Plus, your body doesn’t have to deal with the lactose in milk and any mucus caused by it.  Because the broth is easy to digest, it’s a superior way to get nutrients into your body without stressing out your immune system.  This is why chicken broth is so helpful for sick folks.

Is “bone broth” different from stock or other broth?

Yes.  Here are the basic definitions:

Broth: meat, vegetables, and “aromatics” (spices, onion, etc.), simmered for a short time (1-2 hours) and used for flavoring as it has more complexities in the pot.

Stock: primarily bones simmered for a longer time (4-6 hours) with the goal of extracting the collagen into the stock.  A liquid that gels when cooled is the goal and the primary use for the unseasoned stock is cooking.

Chicken bones simmering for broth. The feet add extra collagen and nutrients, and another layer of flavor.
Chicken bones simmering for broth. The feet add extra collagen and nutrients, and another layer of flavor.

Bone Broth: a hybrid of the two and more close to a stock than a broth as it’s made of bones simmered for a long time (24 to 72 hours depending on the animal source).  The goal is to extract all the collagen and minerals from the bones.  It ends up very gelatinous and is used on its own or for cooking.  The quality of the bones makes a huge difference here.  If you start with bones from animals fed diets that include grass and forages and have variety (as is the case with all pasture raised animals) you’ll end up with a much more flavorful, rich, and nutrious broth.  You get what you start with.

You can read more about this here.

Here’s a recipe for making bone broth and more video on using bone broth.

How can I use bone broth?

  • liquid for cooking rice
  • in place of water for poaching eggs (add a little salt and some basil, parsley, garlic, onion and it’s great to drink with the egg)
  • as the liquid to steam vegetables
  • for stock to make soup or stew

Here’s a video of a quick protein meal for paleo and ketogenic diet folks, as well as for you when you need a quick, nourishing meal for on the go:

We’d love to hear your creative uses for bone broth!  E-mail us and we’ll expand the list to help each other work this super food into our diets.

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Chicken Pierre

chicken piccata yum

Chicken Pierre
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Turn simple chicken legs into a meal that is taste-approved by family and a bit more elegant than a casserole.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Mark & Jill Baker
Ingredients
  • 8 pieces Chicken drumsticks, thighs, or legs
Breading Mix
  • 1/4 c. millet flour (can substitute regular flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 dash ground pepper
Sauce Mix
  • 15 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 - 5 drops hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Mix together the breading ingredients.  Coat chicken pieces in breading mix.

    chicken piccata, GMO free, free range
  2. Put about 1/8 in. oil (grapeseed, sesame, bacon fat, lard) in a deep frying pan and heat over medium heat, just on the hotter side. 

    Mangalitsa bacon fat in GMO free chicken piccata
  3. Fry chicken pieces, turning so both sides are browned.  Takes about 3-5 minutes per side.

    Fried GMO free, beyond organic chicken piccata
  4. Combine sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. 

    Chicken piccata sauce
  5. Pour sauce around browned chicken pieces.

    Alternatively, add the browned chicken on top of the sauce. 

    Beyond organic, cage free chicken piccata
  6. Simmer for about 45 minutes uncovered.

    chicken piccata
  7. Serve over hot cooked rice or riced cauliflower.

    chicken piccata yum
Recipe Notes

Chicken breasts (bone in or boneless) work just fine for this recipe, too!

Watch the pan the last 10 minutes or so.  If the simmer is to high it can get a bit dry and scorch.  Add a little water if necessary and check the doneness of the chicken (it may be ready sooner).