a chat with a butcher

today was another one of those days that i would have never thought i’d have living in houston.

it started with farm chores at the barry farm early so we could load up the 3 red wattle pigs that needed to make a trip to the butcher. geoffrey and i talked on the way there the best way to load them. we decided we really did need another person. thankfully a call to his dad yielded us the help we needed. you never know when you a need dad🙂

of course, by the time we arrived to the butcher it was their lunch hour! they close and all leave for the hour…so, we drove around a bit to keep the pigs cool. we love going there. the butcher is an interesting old man and you never know what we will talk about. this was the most we visited with him. we talked about how many pigs, their breed, customer names, how the meat was to be cut… the normal things you would expect to talk about with your butcher.

he was VERY surprised when i, “a young lady”, “aren’t you a city girl?”, asked for some of the lard! he had questions… he said i might be the first person to ask for it in years!

“what did i think i was going to do with it?”
“do i KNOW what to do with it?”
do i know someone to ask?”
“how old is your mom?” … “oh, she’s too young!”
“do you still have grandparents alive to ask?”

i wanted to say, “mr. fischer, have you met google?”🙂 but i didn’t. i assured him i would do research and ask around. he is old school and i didn’t just want to blurt it out. (i left that one of his employees later on in the conversation.)

i told him i was confident i could figure out how to get it done. he couldn’t tell me just how much lard they could get me. i was sensing he would just give me a little bit. but, i was sure to let him know that if they got 15, 20ish pounds it wouldn’t scare me…so, bring it on! we’ll see how much we get… we had a conversation with old black man, who was an employee, that remembered seeing it done and he reminded mr. fischer how they needed to prepare it for me. i am getting excited! i told mr. fischer i would bring him some biscuits made with red wattle lard. but, he requested an apple pie. crust made with lard.

we also talked about life. we talked about kids. farming. raising kids while running a family business. kids being raised with responsibilty. kids being raised by their parents and grandparents. kids who think meat comes from the grocery store. (oh, and he remembered someone telling him to put a potato in while rendering lard to keep it nice and white!) we talked about being a dairy farmer’s daughter. we talked about how is wife was a beautician by trade. years ago he couldn’t keep up with his 2nd slaughter house and asked his wife to manage it. yes, his wife who was a beautician that had her own shop! she of course she replied she didn’t know how to run a slaughter house. he told her there was a phone there and she could call him with questions:) i missed visiting with her today. she is a sweet lady.

this was the longest we had talked with mr. fischer. it was a lovely visit to his slaughter house. i think he thought we were nuts when we told him that we took our pigs off corn and soy and onto a NON GMO feed! he’s been around for a very long time doing what he does. they smoke in-house and don’t use nitrates and came highly recommended by farming mentors! until geoffrey can cut up pigs himself (which he’d love to do), we’ll go visit mr. fischer.

i am looking forward to our next visit and to see how much lard they saved for me! until then, i have some research do.

just another crazy day in this crazy, beautiful life i live with the love of my life!

 

 

 

 

Rose Veal Meatballs w/Gorgonzola

our family loves these meatballs! we have a lot of rose veal in our freezer and even before we picked it up from the butcher, bestie, found this recipe for me. i promise they are just divine!

for those of you who might be wondering what “rose veal” is…rose veal is a young cow that eats hay/grass but also is still nursing from its mother. we bought 4 cows from a friend who couldn’t afford to feed them through the winter and the drought here in texas. the meat is lean and tender!

ROSE VEAL MEATBALLS W/GORGONZOLA

2 slices stale good quality bread crusts
1/2 cup milk
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground rose veal
6 oz gorgonola crumbled
1/3 C grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 egg
2 garlic cloves chopped finely
3 T chopped fresh sage leaves
a few grates of fresh nutmeg

pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
in a bowl, soak the bread in the milk to soften.
place a rack on a large baking sheet.
drizzle a large bowl with the olive oil and add the ground rose veal, season with salt and pepper.
squeeze out the excess liquid from the bread and crumble it into the meat.
mix in the 2 cheeses, the egg, garlic, sage and nutmeg.
roll the meat into 1 1/2 – 2 in balls.
arrange on the prepared baking sheet and roast until browned 12 to 15 mins.

now i want some!

january in review

wow…i am so on top of it! its the last day of january and i am remembering to do a recap. let’s hope i keep up this pace all day of being on top of things. my day just got busier so…here we go!

we had a great time with friends and family here on new year’s eve which lasted until the ball dropped and we even topped it off with a toast of champagne and sparkling white grape juice. all the kids made it but one! there were seven of them🙂

geoffrey was still recovering from his “table saw meets index finger” accident and dealing with pain and sensitivity. thankfully now the stitches are out and it looks and feel much better! it seemed like a long road to get there and i am so thankful its doing well and not causing him so much pain! he still isn’t allowed to run the table saw until he purchases what ever mechanism woodcraft makes to cover the blade. or maybe he should just get the saw that shuts off when it senses human skin apporaching. yes, they really do make one if you were not in the know like i was! 

the kids are back in school…they told me yesterday they really didn’t really like mondays! really? at age 5 and 7 they already don’t like mondays? oh boy. prior to winter/christmas break seamus was getting lots of ” yellow marks” on his daily conduct card. they were for talking!! thankfully since he’s been back this month he has only gotten one. (a yellow mark means his teacher had to speak to him about it more than a few times🙂 ) the school seems to be pushing the kindergartener’s a lot. i’ve been a little surprised at the homework he is brining home. he is doing ok with it. take he and i awhile to complete and i am learning the best way to handle him and his homework. he is such a stinker! when he wants to and when he isn’t distracted he can actually pull off some pretty good handwriting skills🙂 i love him so much! his favorite “subject” at school is PE!

lay is doing great! she enjoys school. she has a project due sometime soon about a famous person and she chose amelia earhart. i’m currently teaching a 5-week course in her class room on “our community” through its a junior achievement ciricculm. i enjoy being in her class each week!

we are busy with the farm…as usual! but its good. this month we were contacted by a chef whom geoffrey met with. he wants us to supply him eggs (when we can), chicken and quail. he is also interested in some pork. geoffrey made a first delivery of eggs last week! we are excited about this partnership and we’ll share more as it unravels!

we did have a big loss this month at the barry farm this month. one saturday when geoffrey was working, of course, the kids and i went to do farm chores only to find we had lost a pig. thankfully it wasn’t promised to customers but, that of course was the intention! so, down a pig but thankfully we have more and enough to cover our current CSA orders.

we still, and always will, find ourselves a bit stuck. we really need our own place. our own land to continue to grow the barry farm. there has been lots of planning, researching, brainstorming, praying… we are excited to see where we will end up but until then, we keep doing all we can do where we are! geoffrey is doing an excellent job at maximizing the 1 & 1/2 acres we continue to lease. next up – 80 meat bird chicks that arrive on thursday! we are starting february off with bang.

last thing…this month i started doing a work share at all we need farm.we met farmer stacy, at an event the barry farm was part of a few months ago. i go every friday morning and work with her from 9ish-noonish. i help her harvest, clean, weigh and pack for other CSA orders and well as the market. in return she pays me with delicious, beautiful, better-than-organic produce. i bring that home and feed it to my family who has been enjoying it! geoffrey, layla and i have fallen in love with turnips! creamed turnips done farmer stacy style🙂 i made a salad with her lettuce greens and seamus just loved it! he told me while we were eating to tell ms. stacy that he really liked it! although it makes my fridays pretty busy i enjoy it! after leaving all we need farm i head to the barry farm (which is 30 minutes from there) and do chores before heading home.

our life is busy. our life is full. our life is wonderful and rewarding! thankful and honored to be on this journey with most precious family. thank you to all of you who journey with us in different ways!

no-bake energy balls

i’ve been meaning to share this yummy recipe! i found it on pinterest and have made them a few times…each time a bit different cause- that’s what i do. its super easy and my family loves them! (kids 5 & 7)

i use usweentened coconut flakes. one time i threw in some raisins. another time i threw in a small handful of butterscotch chips🙂 next time i will add some raw sunflower seeds. and of course around here, we use sunbutter.

they are great for the kids lunch! go check them out HERE and let me know if you make them. they also happen to be gluten free.

what to do with round steaks

this post is for our barry farm grass fed beef customers. or…anyone else who happens about this blog and would like a suggestion on how to use up your typically tough round steaks!

i was talking with a few people about how to use the round steaks and decided to try a few things for our family so i could share the results. yesterday i put a package of thawed round steaks in the crock-pot in the morning. i added sea salt, coarse ground pepper, a onion cut in wedges (so they coul removed form my darling seamus’ helping and little water. i put it on low and let it go all day. oh, and garlic..i thinly sliced a few good cloves of garlic too. love the garlic!

i decided given my day that soft tacos would be easy to pull together for supper, especially if the meat would be done and ready for me! so, i decided to add my taco seasoning to the crock-pot as well. i have been using this taco seasoning mix. (i don’t use the onion powder or garlic powder…i just add fresh as i cook the meat.) the result was delicious, lean, tender taco flavored meat ready for tacos! i would do it again! 

i am also going to crock-pot some more round steaks and use them instead of stew meat (which i don’t have) for this delicious stroganoff recipe! my “renovation” of the recipe is below. two friends made it before me and told me some things they did different as well. so, take your pick🙂

 

Crock-pot Beef Stroganoff

2ish pounds of round steak ( whatever is in the package🙂 )
28 ounces of beef broth (mine was from soup bones)
1/2 cups water
2-4 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, sliced to your liking)
fresh mushrooms, the more the merrier i say!
light sour cream (i probably used a little over a 1/2 cup)
1/3 less fat cream cheese (i used half but next time i’ll use less)

in the slow cooker stir in all the ingredients, except the meat AND the cream cheese/sour cream, together. once combined add the meat and mix together.

cook on low for 8 hours. cut up the cream cheese into cubes just before serving and turn crockpot on high. stir the cream cheese and sour cream in until all combined. it took awhile for me it get it all stirred and reach a smooth consistency. you might have to put the lid back on and leave for 10 minutes. i thought about thickening up the broth a bit but it was so good we left it alone! you could. if desired, thicken it up like you would gravy. 

Serve over egg noodles. (or someone suggested mashed potatoes? i don’t know about that.)

whole wheat, oat pancakes with flax

i have made these pancakes a few times and i just love them! they are thick, fluffy and the maple syrup soaks right in….and i’m talking real vermont maple syrup soaks into these delicious pancakes. heavenly! this said syrup rode all the way from vermont to texas with our good friends.

the base of this recipe is from my mom. growing up on a dairy farm in VT we ate lots of these pancakes with real VT maple syrup!

whole wheat, oat pancakes with flax

1  cup good quality whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 handful old fashioned oatmeal
1/4 – 1/3 cup ground oatmeal (i just put it in my coffee grinder. i don’t give an exact measurement because i haven’t figured out how much it takes to get me the amount of ground i want.)
a small handful of ground flax (probably a scant 1/4 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
3 teaspoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Mix the liquid ingredients in a separate bowl. Once the wet ingredients are combined add to the dry and mix just until combined. Clumps are ok!
NOTE – these are thick…if you’d prefer a thinner pancake then i would add some extra milk.

 

let’s get caught up!

geez..i’m a bad blogger lately. so much going on. so little blogging!

things are moving along here at a steady pace. thankfully i’m not feeling super stressed about christmas approaching. just the way i wanted it!! (although there is that one etsy seller would could make my life a bit easier if he just replied to me.) i do need to do a little shopping one day after geoffrey gets home from work and we’ll be all set. i am sure another trip the grocery store will be needed…i with they did deliveries.

the kids have been on winter break since friday, which was a half day! (they don’t got back until 1/4. craziness, i know!) our poor seamy got sick and missed thursday and friday from school last week. we battled a fever until sunday midday. his body ached, stomach hurt from coughing…poor guy. he too many naps, which is way out of the norm for him. we went to see the doctor yesterday and he has a pretty bad ear infection. he has never once complained of his ear hurting. he’s doing much better now but definitely not enjoying his amoxicillin! i am pretty sure this is his first time in antibiotics. other than treating asthmatic symptoms and allergies he has been a pretty healthy kid these past 5 years. he is back on the mend and was rather whiny yesterday…hoping for less of that today!

yesterday the kids and i had good day! we colored, in new christmas coloring books, with a NEW box of crayons (my favorite!) for well over an hour! it was great fun. then, we had to run a few errands to gather up a few supplies so we could  make these….

 

 

i saw a facebook friend post pictures of her and her girls making cookies and i saw she was using these. i knew right away i needed to go get some.

 

(pardon the position of the picture but, wordpress wouldn’t let me change it.)

they are some nifty squeeze bottles, made by wilton for candy making/melting but they worked great for sugar cookie icing! i filled them with my own colored icing. our usual routine in making sugar cookies is i frost most of them and the kids decorate with candies and sprinkles. well, i knew if i got these we would all create some very cool cookies! i still eneded up frosting some of the bigger cookies with a knife but these bottle are worth the investment! (they were $4 at walmart. i couldn’t find them at my local hobby lobby and micheals was just took far for us to go yesterday.) we made 60ish cookies and layla stayed with me almost to the end!

this christmas we decided to make christmas presents for the kids and shop on etsy as much as possible. here are a few things i made for them and i’m so proud of myself that they are done! last night i sewed the eyes onto these cute little guys. i saw them on pinterest and decided they would be something cute and homemade for the kids stocking!

sockoctopus!

i also wanted to make their christmas ornaments this year. so i came up with the idea to make these…

they are very fitting seeing we started the barry farm this past year! i love them.

i’ve been baking too…too much! sweet rolls, pecan tassies, a bunch of cookies, mini cheesecakes…needless to say, my family has been very happy about all this! my shirts and jeans? not so much.

today the kids and i will be rather busy. we’ve got egg deliveries to make, farming to do, cookies to eat🙂, and we are going to friends tonight for supper! i have some baking i need to get done and in the freezer before the weekend, make a final grocery list and make a batch of homemade bread. what i need is a nice little to-do-list.

i hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! the kids are getting very excited about christmas and we are so very, very happy that geoffrey is NOT working this christmas! we are looking forward to a great christmas day that starts whenever these two smith kids decide its time to get up!

goodness i love them!!🙂

a blog about meat that turned into a walk down memory lane

we have a ton of meat in this house! ok, not a ton but over 500 pounds…

i’m starting to get excited about it! you see…we don’t eat much meat around here. if we don’t know where the meat came from (and ‘from the grocery store’ doesn’t count!)…or as geoffrey describes it…if i can’t drive to the farm and see how and where the animal raised and talk to the farmer, then we don’t buy it! we have bought small amounts of local grass fed beef over the past year and i mean a small amounts! it’s expensive and you can’t just pick it up at the grocery store when you are there. so, we’ve been flexitarians the past few years…only eating meat on occasion.

now, i have over 100 pounds of beef in the freezer, like 400-500 pounds of rose veal, and 120ish pounds of heritage breed gourment pork! oh, and a turkey and one last lonely whole chicken! i have shepherd’s pie in the works right now for supper…its been years since i made it and i’m looking forward to it. i had pulled out two package of the ground rose veal and that’s what i am using. rose veal is from a calf who was still nursing on it mother but also ate from grass/hay. not your traditional milk veal from a little baby calf who didn’t see the light of day and was kept in a little pen. this rose veal is from bigger calves, months old who still were spoiled by having access to their momma’s milk while enjoying grass/hay in the pasture they roamed! now, that’s the life.

we, the barry farm, purchased two cow/calf pairs from a friend who just couldn’t afford to raise them anymore. we sent them off to the butcher and the beef went to 8 different families and the veal is sitting in our freezer waiting to be bought. if you are local and you want some contact me!

our four red wattle pigs we raised since the spring, went to the butcher shortly after the beef. they were split up between 10 families! geoffrey and i are so honored to raise animals that can feed so many. All the meat was ready for pick up at the same time too! Yikes! But, after delivering ALL the meat on monday we are happy to know that we can coordinate delivering about 2,000 lbs of meat across the greater houston area and have it all arrive still frozen! What a day it was… Still tired.

this is how it was growing up….the freezer was always full of meat! when it got low we had a family meeting about which cow looked the best and should be sent to the butcher! ultimately, my dad had the say. it had to be a cow that wasn’t producing to her full potential. we had a dairy farm so, she had to be plump and beefy but not cranking out the milk like she used to selling the milk is what paid the bills!

i remember raising pork and chickens at times but we always had beef in the cellar freezer! it feels like home…freezers full of good quality meat ready to make into delicious meals for my family. our kids are going to wonder what is up! like geoffrey and i, they haven’t eat much meat in the past few years. we all eat the same. we do go out for burgers occasionally but its at burger guys, a place that gets their beef from farm in west texas i believe. and not just any beef…gourmet beef! its delicious!

as i was preparing the shepherd’s pie today my mind was flooded with memories of growing up. when i was telling geoffrey last night i was going to make shepherd’s pie with the ground rose veal i pulled from the freezer he started describing how he remembered shepherd’s pie. but, he doesn’t remember my mom’s way. i made it just like my mom today! doesn’t it feel good to say that? pretty sure my grandmother (mama) made it the same way. how often do we say things like that? probably not as often as we should. i want to teach layla how to make shepherd’s pie like my grandmother and mom and also tell her how grammy (geoffrey’s mom) makes it. it may be different and i might prefer one way over another and have my own opinions about the healthiest way to prepare it but i don’t want to forget how mom, mama and grammy each made it!

so, today meat has gotten me feeling rather nostalgic! (listen to me…) i lead such a crazy life these days but an amazing one. a life changing one. i would have never thought in a million years that this is what my life would have looked like! my days are full of suburban living, urban farming, stay-at-home-momming… i knew i wanted to be stay-at-home-mom and i am very grateful to be able to living that dream and to be married to amazing man who helps make that possible. i did not know, however, that i would want to “farm” again…(my mom is laughing…)

when my crazy husband kept talking about wanting to farm…in houston…i mostly listened. He kept asking me all kind of questions seeing i was the one who actually had farming experience. There is one thing i’ve learned being with geoffrey for 8 years… He won’t give up on a dream. He’ll find a way. He’ll take risks. Learn from whatever mistakes might happen. He’s not afraid of failing so, this farming thing i knew was going to happen and there was no stopping him!

Now, that we have been on this farming journey for a year its amazing to look back and take account of all we have done! All the real food we provided. We are doing it folks! We are providing real, good, healthy food for our family and many others. This is what my parents, grandparents & great grandparents and great great grandparents did. Life has taken me (and my family) on its own journey but today i feel like i’m back to the way life was growing up! Back to my roots but with our own little twist. I thought i wanted to break away from that…i thought finding geoffrey & moving here to houston 5 years ago would be the break away that i wanted but…boy was i wrong. that break is so over.

Today tell your family, your kids or a good friend about something you remember about your ancestors. The gramma that crocheted you a blanket…the loved ones that moved their family to america for a better life…the grandfather who worked fields with horses or mules…the garden you remember your mother growing as a kid…your family that all lived within 15 minutes of each other…sunday dinners around the table…sleepovers with grandparents, or cousins or favorite aunts…the 14th generation dairy farmer your dad was (speaking of my father). Thats what i’m going to tell my kids as we eat the shepherd’s pie that is now out of the oven!

UPDATE – kids LOVED the shepherd’s pie although they wonder why its not shaped like a pie but called one. seamus made the comment that shepherd’s probably ate it! (luv him!!)

so, i was explaining what 14 generations means…i explained to the kids like this – papa was a dairy farmer, and my grandfather (papa’s dad) was a diary farmer and 12 more grandpas were dairy farmers before that! layla says to me…”so that makes us 15th generation farmers, right?” luv.her.🙂

 

oven baked jambalaya

i don’t think i have shared this recipe here but even if i have, it’s worth it again seeing cooler…cold…freezing weather is reaching us, depending where you live. our family loves this recipe and it’s a great one to make a big batch and have for leftovers! i’m baking it today. i need to have supper ready before i leave at about 5:15 this evening. our 20-something pastor is coming to hang out with the kids while geoffrey and i hear michael pollan speak downtown (houston). we are excited about this…well, both! excited to hear pollan and excited our 20-something pastor wants to hang with our kids and that our kids want to hang with him! how awesome is that? i’m pretty sure there will be some hide-n-seeek, light saber competitions and A LOT of chatter! our kids love rollyvic🙂 he’s one of the family…he’s been smithinized!

so, the recipe…i don’t ever make it the same way twice. i use whatever meat/seafood i have around. today i don’t have celery or peppers but it’ll be fine. i always put a orange or yellow pepper in. i forget if the recipe says to bake covered i always do. halfway through i stir it up to mix the settle rice in. i do this a few more times while it’s baking then i can also see how its baking…hows the rice cooking? does it need a splash of water? its so delicious and worth the wait! you can find the recipe HERE. i usually recalculate the recipe to 12 or more servings so i have plenty of leftovers. (they usually don’t make it to the freezer!)

No bakes

So, bestie & i each made no bakes a week or so apart & neither of our cookies set up well. We each said we were going try again. I told her i thought the key was to boil the butter, milk, cocoa mix longer than the 1 1/2 minutes our recipe said.

I was waiting for geoffrey to come home one night & i really wanted something sweet and quick. No bakes. I decided to whip up some no bakes. I started melting the butter, added the sugar & went to get the cocoa and THERE WAS NONE! Ahhhh… Man! What was i going to do. I decided to just keep making them and figured even with out the cocoa they had to be good. I boiled them for 2 minutes this time. They were so delicious!! I think i’m calling them blonde no bakes.

20111025-160453.jpg

It was a flub up that proved to delicious and worth repeating🙂 thank goodness for mistakes that work out great.

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