Monday, April 8, 2013

To everything there is a season....

Spring is slow arriving this year. We are monitoring the hay supply somewhat nervously and hoping the grass will green up for our target date of May 9.  I did see a few ads for hay for sale in the local paper this week so there are probably farmers who sold stock earlier in the winter and now have a bit extra on hand.

Today is barn cleaning day. We borrowed Zack's four wheel drive tractor (Rainbow Heritage Garden will be using our organic manure on their gardens this spring) and Tom is ducking his head between ceiling beams as he hauls out the winters layer of shit and shavings which has been composting all winter.

In order to get the tractor into the barn, we had to move the hens back to their outdoor coop early this morning. One has to have darkness to catch chickens and as I worked late last night, we were up at five before sunrise to stash over forty hens in the cages, carry them out to the chicken run and release them into the fresh air. Tom moved Solomon last night and he was crowing away at sunrise, having spent a lonely night by himself.  The hens seemed indifferent when they were reunited as they probably had a lovely girls night; sort of like when the men go off to the hunt camp!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bred ewes for sale

Bred ewes for sale, east Friesien, Texel and Navajo-churro breeds. Due to lamb late April-mid may. 200.00 each.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Organic roast pork, FRESH greens & rainbow heritage veggies

Cooking and eating locally today was easy!  One day down, 29 to go.

This morning (noonish really, since we don't really eat breakfast) we had gluten free breakfast sausage (Donegal Heritage Farm) and crepes made with our own eggs, Brum's milk and gluten free flour purchased at Grandma's Pantry in Killaloe. Topped it off with Tanglewood Honey and accompanied by a cup of Algonquin Tea company SweetFern Tonic tea.

Earlier in the morning we had a couple of cups of good strong freshly ground 'Freakin Good Coffee'; part of our food co-op order on Saturday and roasted by Equator Coffee in Almonte. It's also fair trade and organic.

Feeling completely virtuous and pleased with the project thus far, I started looking for the missing paperwork I need to apply for my CPP benefits. (turning 60 soon). Halfway through a major rummaging in my 'office', I realized I hadn't taken a roast out of the freezer to thaw. This should have been done last night but when I came home from work at the Granary at 9pm, I didn't think of it.

No problemo. Have slow oven, will cook. Frozen four pound pork roast into pan, oven set at 325, a bit of water in the bottom of the pan and a sprinkling of rosemary and black pepper on top. Oh yes, and a whole head of Rainbow Heritage Garlic added to the pan to roast in its papery skin. Oven turned on at 1 pm. I had planned to use the slow cooker and would have, if I had left home to go to Pembroke as  intended. Instead, paperwork not found, trip to Pembroke not necessary so oven a better choice. I know modern ovens have timers that turn them on and off but my stove is about thirty years old and i don't quite trust its timer functions. If you have a trustworthy hob or cooker, as they call them in England, you can set the timer and go your merry way.

Five pm and the kitchen smells lovely with rosemary and roasting pork. Insert digital meat thermometer and the reddish juices tell me immediately that the roast is far from done. Indeed, its cold frozen little heart is barely at 140 F. Now if it were a steak or even a prime rib beef roast, that would be a perfectly rare roast but pork needs a bit more doneness.  Cranked the oven to 375 and put pan back in.

We don't usually eat much before seven pm but since I am eating only local food, I haven't had any of my usual snacks such as bananas or apples from china or peanut butter on rice cakes so I am very hungry!
Time to prepare the side dishes. A search for the beautiful blue Peruvian potatoes we have from Rainbow Heritage is fruitless. Tom tells me we used them all up last week when we had a little dinner party after seeing Ian Tamblyn at The Terry McLeish Show at the Westside Tap and Grill in Pembroke. Who knew! as our Red Canoe Cafe cook Colleen Shulist was fond of saying.  I do have a vague recollection of peeling quite a lot of potatoes when I arrived home from the bar, but after two large glasses of wine on an empty afternoon stomache, it didn't register that they were the last of the potatoes.

No matter. Tom will have rice. ( He is not as deeply committed to eating only local food as he likes occassional junk food snacks and the odd not so local beer or wine) .  I peel and slice beautiful yellow and orange carrots from Rainbow Heritage, wash and quarter a large beet also from their root cellar, set beet in microwave for twelve minutes and make a  cider vinegar, honey and olive oil dressing for the fresh greens from les Serre de Paul Amyotte. They must have an amazing greenhouse!  Micro greens and a spring salad mix. The first fresh local greens I've seen since last November.

Six forty-five. Veggies done, salad tossed, pork nicely tender, garlic just meltingly toasted! On the plate, just before seven. Where is the camera so I can document this marvellously colourful dinner?  Tom is eating, but my meal is getting cold. The camera is not where I always keep it. (and I've had it for more than five years without losing it). Where used last time?  Ahhhh....a baby lamb photo shoot in the barn. A memory of setting it down on the edge of the feeder, thinking to myself, this is not a good place to put the camera. But only for a second while I put lambie back in with mum.  Hmmmmmm. I will look tomorrow, but I suspect it is well trodden into the bedding by now. You'll have to imagine the slices of rosemary topped pork, the ruby red beet, the sunny golden carrot slices, the dressing glistening on the dark greens. All this lovely food grown and produced within thirty miles of our farm. All of it available during winter through the Ottawa Valley Food Co-op or at the farm gates.

Total estimated cost of this dinner for two. Approx $10.  Actual prep and cooking time about 45 minutes not counting time looking for potatoes or camera. Actual time in oven (or slow cooker) six and half hours.
Left overs (4 lb roast @ 7.00 is 28.00) and enough left for a stir fry, some sandwiches and a lovely bone for some soup...three more meals at least). Also enough veg left for a side for tomorrow's dinner.  I love left much easier to cook enough for a couple of meals.

That's it for today. Tomorrow I plan a trip to Pembroke to stock up on some basics at Kasha Natural Foods and I must email Kylah and Zack at Rainbow Heritage Garden to order more potatoes, some kale, more garlic and some of their wonderful dried beans. And to buy a new camera!

Happy local eating!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day One: there's a cow in my dining room

Sunday. March 24. The entire house is a disaster area. The past seven days have been unusually hectic. As a result of all the great publicity from Feast of the Farm, we had a huge food co-op order which finalized last Sunday at 10 pm when the order cycle finishes. Monday morning I looked at the order summary and realized I had better start weighing and packing meat, if I was to have it  organized and ready for delivery Saturday. Tom was off to pick up feed in Berwick and to deliver meat orders in Ottawa so managed to do about two-thirds of the orders interspersed with bottle feeding the three lambs.

 Now, normally, even a large order wouldn't take all week to fill, but my father who has been in Pembroke Hospital for 78 days after a fall in early January, was due to be discharged on Wednesday morning. We have all been taking turns staying with him and Tuesday, his last hospitalized day, was my shift.; Tom had a OVFC meeting so he dropped me at the hospital at 11a.m and picked me up at 4:45. We were home just in time to resurrect the furnace so it would be warmish for the Bonnechere Valley Play rehearsal in the dining room at 6 pm. Part of the play centres around a dead cow floating downriver, thus the life size paper mache Holstein currently resting its mournful head on the dining room table.

 Wednesday would be consumed with the discharge, settling in at Fairfields Seniors Apartments with my mother and getting used to Dad's new limited mobility at home.Because I  'work' only on weekends at this time of year, I volunteered to stay overnight with my parents for the first two nights, sleeping on the couch in the tiny apartment, helping with meals and wheelchair transfers. Thursday morning I had an appointment for my annual physical and then came home to the farm and spent another two hours sorting and weighing meat and hunting unsuccessfully for our smoked hams. (We have seven chest freezers on the go) No hams to be found. On a hunch I phoned the abbatoir where our meat is processed and yes, we do have smoked hams, and yes, they are still in the smoker. Tom set off to get them after driving me back to Fairfields at 3pm for another night on the couch.

Friday morning, home at 11, am I packed more of the three largest orders and entered the final weights in the online ordering system and drove to Wilno for a meeting  at the Red Canoe Cafe. Home by suppertime and aside from finding and washing my black server outfit for the morrow I confess I did nothing but lie on the couch and search for quiet houses for sale in sunny Spain till bedtime.

Saturday morning, up at seven and directly to work, filling the final two orders. I could have finished them last night but that would mean trying to find space for two huge bags in the freezers. Easier to pack and send them directly to delivery day. Truck loaded and chores done by Tom and off we go as I have to be at the Granary by 9 and Tom has to be at the OVFC sorting depot in Pembroke by 9;30.
I finished work at 3 pm. Breakfast was moderately busy and lunch dead. Tips mediocre. We headed directly to Pembroke to see Catfish Willie at Terry McLeish's afternoon music series at the Westside Tap and Grill. I went to Value Village before joining Tom at the the bar. I drank tea. Home by six-thirty. Quiet evening.

and thus to Sunday morning with the disasterous house. It is now 1 pm and I have made some inroads into the chaos. I go back to work for four pm for the Sunday dinner shift at the Granary.

Let's Eat Locally; a thirty day challenge

I'm about to celebrate my 60th birthday and it seems like a good time for a new personal challenge. Declaring it to the world is one way to ensure that I will have to carry through. We are of course, organic farmers so the locavore movement is an increasingly important part of my daily life. We are members of our wonderful Ottawa Valley Food Co-op and we recently participated in the first annual OVFC Feast of Our Farms. Almost twenty farmers and gardeners prepared dishes ranging from rabbit stew to lamb empanadas to grass fed beef chili to gluten-free goat curry pizzas. Almost all the ingredients were sourced within 100 miles with much of it coming from a 50 mile radius. Eager diners were astounded that all this delicious creative cuisine was prepared with food readily available in early March in eastern Ontario!

Inspired by the success of that event, I have decided to document my own household efforts to eat mostly local foods. I cannot lie, I have some experience of this challenge. As a child growing up in rural Renfrew County, we ate mostly farm grown foods. My mother canned and preserved the garden bounty and our  beef and pork was farm-slaughtered and frozen in the commercial meat locker at Kuehl's Red and White Store in Killaloe.  Like many outlying farm families, we had no hydro and renting a freezer locker meant access to the convenience of frozen food. Without it, we would have had to preserve, salt, smoke or dry our meat as the original settlers of the Ottawa Valley did.

Here are the parameters of my planned culinary adventure. Coffee, spices, rice, quinoi,  and other such non-local staples are acceptable when purchased from a small local retailer. My favourite place to buy  basic items are at Grandma's Pantry in Killaloe. Kasha in Pembroke and Pura Vida in Renfrew also have excellent selections of organic and fair trade foods.

To compound my challenge, I have been gluten and dairy free for over two years  but I will include recipes for those who do eat breads and milk products. I also try to make healthy food for my elderly parents once in awhile. And I will try to include food costs as much as possible to give you an idea of what local food costs. And I can tell you right away, that if the prepared snack and junk foods stay out of your shopping cart, even with more 'expensive' local or organic ingredients, you will still be saving money on groceries.

Stay tuned to this blog for the adventure of eating locally in April in Ontario!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Canada Writes - Bonanza! by Johanna Zomers

Canada Writes - Bonanza! by Johanna Zomers

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Month of Sunday Dinners

We have a lot of customers who ask for recipe and meal suggestions using our meat cuts....cuts they may be somewhat unfamiliar with as we have a somewhat old fashioned butcher who believes that 'hearty' is the best  description for a shoulder or ham roast. Thus, some cuts may be less 'trimmed' than the commercial pork you see in the supermarket. Now the issue of whether animal fat is good for you or not, is still being debated in health circles. It would seem to me that the human body does require some fat and better it comes from an organic pig than from GMO modified soybeans or canola. We render our extra pork fat to make lard which I use for baking and for making pan-fries or pancakes or eggs. Tasty!

Now to the month of Sunday dinners.  This months packages included;
One chicken
Organic pork ribs
Organic pork shoulder roast
Organic pork chops
Organic lamb sausage
Organic leg of lamb roast

Here's what I have prepared with our package (We use the same one for our own menu, so I can try out the various cuts in different recipes.)

Roast chicken: thaw and rinse chicken. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with generous amounts of chopped rosemary, thyme and oregano. Roast at 350 till done. Alternatively, sprinkle with Montreal Steak Spice which makes a nice peppery skin.  Serve with favorite side dishes.

Chicken soup:  break apart left over chicken carcass. Cover with cold water. Add some chopped onion and carrot. Simmer for two hours. Remove carcass, keep left over bits of meat, return to pot. I add a box of organic chicken stock at this point for more volume.  Add finely chopped vegetables, rice, potatoes or noodles and season to taste. Delicious chicken soup!

Organic Pork Shoulder Roast:   thaw roast overnight and if cooking in crock pot, set on medium, add meat, seasoned with salt and pepper and a cup of water. Cook until pull apart tender. Remove roast, shred meat. Cover with BBQ sauce of choice and reheat. Pile on buns or serve with favourite side dishes. Instead of a crock pot, use oven and cover roast in a pan and cook until very tender (approx 3 hours at 350.00). Shred and mix with BBQ sauce.  A delicious easy to prepare supper if you serve it on crusty rolls with coleslaw or a salad.

Organic Pork Chops:  my favourite quick way to do chops is to thaw them overnight and layer them with bottled saurkraut in a covered roasting dish and bake them in the oven for approx 90 minutes. Absolutely tender meat and easy to serve with the saurkraut, a baked potato and a salad or vegetables.  Alternatively, you can put them on the BBQ or grill in a pan on the stovetop. I usually season them with rosemary and thyme. Tom prefers them sprinkled with Montreal Steak Spice. After grilling or frying, you can also slice into thin strips, stir fry some green, red and yellow peppers and onions, season to taste with Tex Mex spices, add the meat, pile generously into tortillas and serve with guacamole and black beans.  You can also use your pork shoulder roast the same way.  The key to tender pork for burritos or fajitas is to cook the chops or roast until very tender and then slice or shred to add to the dish. If you cook small bits of raw pork they get tough!

Leg of Lamb:  Nothing simpler!  Thaw lamb and take sharp knife and remove thin transparent 'fell' from the meat. It comes right off if you insert a sharp knife blade and just slide it along the surface of the roast. If you don't want to do that, just cook it as is.  I marinate the leg with olive oil and rosemary and thyme, oregano and minced garlic.  If you haven't planned that far ahead, season with salt and pepper.  Roast, uncovered in a 350 oven until done. (about 20 minutes per lb).  I add about half a cup of water to the pan so the drippings don't burn. Remove roast and set aside under foil while you add a cup of water and half a cup of red wine (if available) to the juices and simmer, stirring the pan to loosen the drippings. MJix a forkful of flour into a half cup of cold water and stir until smooth. Add slowly to the pan (while drippings are bubbling) stirring to mix in smoothly. When mixture is as thick as desired, simmer for one minute and strain if neccessary. Slice roast, plate and ladle gravy over meat.  Serve with mashed potatoes or rice or couscous or your favorites.

Morrocan Lamb Stew:  if there is any lamb remaining after your roast lamb dinner, you can have roast lamb sandwiches, or if there is a lot left, I usually make a quick Morrocan lamb stew. Remove meat from lamb bone and cube. If you are particularly thrifty, put bone in cold water, chop in an onion and couple of cloves of garlic and set it to simmer.  For the stew:  Chop one onion, one carrot and two cloves of garlic and saute in saucepan in whichever oil or lard you prefer. Add half a level teaspoon of the following: cinamon, cumin, turmeric, ground ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, alspice and cardamom. Add one eight teaspoon of cayenne, cloves, ground corriander. Mix well into onions and garlic. Add cubed lamb, one can of drained chickpeas and one can of stewed tomatoes.  Simmer all for half an hour to an hour. Serve over rice or couscous or quinoi.

Now back to the lamb bone. Once you have a nice lamby broth, remove bone, trim any left over meat and return to the pot. Peel and dice two or three large potatoes, three or four carrots and add to the pot. Cook until tender. Use immersion blender or put into blender or food mill and whirl until smoothish. some chunks remaining are okay. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Organic Lamb Sausages: grill or fry as is. (Put a little water in the saucepan and a lid until sausage is almost done, then remove lid and fry until brown on outside or slice up (frozen) and add to stir fry.

Organic Pork Ribs:  Thaw,  lay flat in roasting pan, add 1 cup water and bake until tender (approx 1.5 hours) Cover with your favorite BBQ sauce, return to pan for an additional 40 minutes. Alternatively, a quick way to make ribs in the crock pot is to thaw, add a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and let the whole thing cook at medium until ribs are tender. Or you can make your own mixture of tomatoes and herbs and spices and add that to the crock pot.