Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
On this coldest of January days, it’s best to stay inside. So I wanted to send a quick update on our family and farm for those of you interested…
2017 proved to be a year of unknowns, instability, testing, trusting, and finally, hope.
2018 was a year of joy, striving, growth and peace.
Though we went through significant change, that change was used for our joy and to bring us closer to the God who formed us and whom we live with and for from day to day.
In Our Family
2018 has been about working together as a family and loving it. We have learned better how to love each other’s differences and get less uptight when things don’t get done. It has been encouraging to see our boys growing in wisdom and strength and look forward to what the future holds.
We are still homeschooling and love the flexibility and opportunities that this provides. Our boys also love that they can get done at their pace and learn about things that interest them. It has been a highlight to have Mat teach woodworking most Thursdays as well. We also love taking our annual camping trip. This year we went to Wisconsin.
Of course, the continued support of Mat’s parents keep us going. Having Mat’s dad here two or three times a month to help with projects around the farm is a delight for all of us. The boys love snagging him for a game of UNO too.
On the Farm
As for the land, the pasture and high tunnel ground has been flourishing under our intentional care for it. The bare spots in the pasture have become thick and long. The unproductive clay in the high tunnel has become rich and soft producing a much tastier fruit and higher yielding plants.
With the land production improving, our animals have been flourishing as well. Our herd has grown to a point that we have more beef and pork than what our customers are needing. For chicken and turkey, we have also gone to producing only what people order in the Spring. This helps our sanity in trying to sell chicken, but increases our need to find more customers for beef and pork. Since the majority of our sales are directly to the customer our main form of advertising has been through emails or by word of mouth from other satisfied buyers.
We will continue to grow within the means provided for us, not taking on debt or time consuming endeavors we can’t afford. With our land and animals maintaining a level of constant improvement, now we will focus on how to sell the abundance. If you have any tips for us in this area, we’d love to hear your knowledge.
Thank you for being part of our journey. We appreciate your words of encouragement, knowledge and support in buying the produce of the land. We hope this coming year is one of great joy and growth for you all.
Katie, for the whole Nix family
Minnesota winters require a good soup. They not only warm, but they nourish our bodies too. What is your favorite soup? Do you even like soup? Me? I love soup, but I have to convince my boys. They’re not so easily won. As long as it’s a good cream soup, they’ll devour it though. I tried this one on them the other night and they really enjoyed the smell of the sesame oil. I’ve found that many good side pork recipes have sesame oil in them.
My love for cabbage soup started with The Joy of Cooking after receiving the book as a wedding present. Basic cookbooks like that and Betty Crocker’s Cookbook are a great place to start when learning to cook and bake. You’ll learn the basics, what you like and don’t like, and then be able to expand from there. I like to learn as I do things, but maybe you like all the knowledge before you jump in. If so, I’d recommend finding a chef you really enjoy and watching his/her videos on youtube.com or from the library. You can gain some excellent knowledge this way.
With recipes, I often get ideas online and then just make up my own way to do it according to the skills I’ve learned along the way. Most recipes don’t have you sear the meats and veggies or grill them before adding to soup or slow cooker recipes, but I’ve found this to enhance the texture and flavors so much I almost always do it unless I forgot to take it out the night before and it’s still frozen.
The nice thing about side pork is that it’s typically a smaller portioned package and so it will thaw within the day. That and soups don’t take a whole lot of time if you have all the ingredients available in your pantry or freezer. I love modern technology and don’t know where I’d be without a fridge and freezer. Also, buying in bulk (especially meats like half a hog, frozen whole chickens or a quarter beef) ensures I don’t have to go to the grocery store more than once a month except for milk or fruits, saving me a lot of time, energy and money from impulse buys.
Now this soup may not be for everyone. I’ve found many just don’t crave the rich fat that accompanies side pork. Many of us crave carbs. This is not a high-carb soup, in fact this would be considered more of a keto or paleo soup in modern diet language. Perfect for low-carbohydrate diets, pastured side pork gives high quality fats that our bodies need to thrive. From previous blog posts you may remember it’s a great source of natural vitamin D.
I hope you like soup because here’s my first side pork installment. I hope to have many more in the coming months, so tell me your favorite things to do with side pork and your favorite soups too. I’m also looking for excellent ideas for beef! We also have 3 and 3/4 beef available still this fall, so share! What are your favorite beef and pork recipes?
Enough from me. Now go enjoy some soup on these cold winter nights!
Side Pork Cabbage Soup
- 1.5 lb. side pork a.k.a. pork belly
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon + Chinese five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon + garlic, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon + granulated
- 5 cups or more chicken stock/broth
- 1 small head of cabbage or 2-3 bok choy
- 1-2 Tablespoon roasted sesame oil
- optional excellent veggies: 1-2 leeks, chopped; 3-5 carrots, long sliced; 3-4 Tablespoons of tomato paste for a more minestrone-type taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large saucepan or cast iron skillet on medium heat. Pour 1 – 2 Tablespoons of olive oil or lard into heated pan and spread evenly. Place chopped onion and any other veggies (such as leeks and carrots) into pan to sauté for about 5-7 minutes until onions are “clear” rather than white all the way through. Place sautéd veggies into an unheated stockpot that you will finish the soup in.
In the saucepan, heat the pork belly until browned, about 7 minutes. Place pork belly into stockpot. Add five spice powder and garlic to stockpot.
Pour one – two cups of chicken stock into saucepan to get all the good veggie and pork juices into the liquid, about two minutes. Pour this liquid into the unheated stockpot with the remaining chicken stock and heat all to boiling.
Once boiling, turn heat to medium-low and add the cabbage. Cook until cabbage is soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat, let cool for five to ten minutes and then add sesame oil.
I know, I should be talking about how to use leftover turkey in a hotdish right now, being that the week after Thanksgiving every meal consists of turkey. However, we are sending the last of our fall butcher hogs to be processed on Tuesday (yes, we have 1/2 left if you get your order in soon!), so I still have pork on my mind.
We also have 3 and 3/4 Scottish Highland beef steers to send in this fall/winter if you’re looking for some grass-fed and grass-finished beef for your freezer. A full steer weighs about 400 pounds, so 1/4 would be about 100 pounds hanging weight and probably close to 75 pounds finished. So if you’re looking for some great roasts, hamburger, etc, that’s a great place to start.
Now onto the recipe. As a world famous travel writer, Mat’s aunt Stacey knows good food. I heard about the following recipe because she made this for Mat’s mom, Dena, and Dena raved about it. Of course, I had to ask for the recipe. And of course, I had to share it with you! It’s made for a beef chuck roast, but also works well with pork.
Here’s a super easy meal to help you recover from all the rushing about this holiday season. Enjoy!
Ambrosia a.k.a. Sweet Roast
3-4 pounds beef chuck roast or pork shoulder roast
1 onion, chopped
10 3/4 oz. cream of chicken
1/2 cup water or chicken stock
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1. Brown meat in oil on both sides in saucepan. Put in slow cooker.
2. Blend together remaining ingredients. Pour over meat.
3. Cover. Cook on Low 12-16 hours.
I’ve heard that a requirement for being a true Minnesotan means you love casserole. Depending on what part of the state you come from, casserole can also be called hot dish or goulash. What do you call it? Here’s a recipe just in time for Thanksgiving and Green Bean Casserole!
Well, as you may have noticed, most casseroles require a generous amount of Cream of Chicken or Cream of “Something” soup. I’m not a big fan of the additives in the canned stuff from the store and I’m not a fan of the price, so here’s the recipe I use for things like Green Bean casserole, Chicken Broccoli hotdish, smothered pork chops, Ambrosia Sweet Roast, and so much more… Enjoy!
Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 cup chicken broth/stock
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. onion power
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt (more if your chicken broth/stock is homemade)
1/4 tsp. parsley
dash of paprika
1 1/2 cup milk, separated
3/4 cup flour (wheat, rice or oat flour all work great)
1. In medium saucepan, boil broth, 1/2 c. of milk and the seasonings for 1-2 minutes.
2. In a bowl, whisk together remaining milk and flour. Whisking still, add to gently boiling mixture and continue whisking until mixture boils and thickens.
3. Remove from heat and add to your favorite dish.
*This recipe does not freeze well, but will save in the fridge for up to a week as long as your chicken stock is fresh.
Here’s a tip. When making chicken stock or bone broth, I often put some into a 2 cup glass container and freeze it to have it handy for recipes such as this. That way it can be easily placed, sealed, into a bit of warm water, thaw a bit and then be poured into a pot to be melted down.My favorite containers are Pyrex.
Is it possible to make cream soup look appetizing? Well I don’t have those skills…
Today we continue our series on using all the cuts in a half hog, after looking at pork chop ideas last week. As one of the most easy-to-use cuts (in my opinion), now we explore Pork Roasts! As a busy mom, farmer, homeschool teacher, etc., I love anything super easy. I’m sure you can relate.
When I search for recipes and food ideas, just like at the grocery store, I get in and get out quickly. I get my ideas and then run off to make supper. I hope these recipes or ideas will be a quick guide and an asset to those of you looking how to support small farms and your budget by purchasing a half or whole hog.
First, it may be helpful for you to know the difference between pork shoulder and pork loin roasts. Here is an article that explains the cuts a little more: “A Complete Guide to Pork Cuts”, but here’s a quick synopsis:
- Loin – the most tender cut. It is good for quick cooking at about 400 F because it doesn’t require a long time to become tender
- Shoulder (aka pork butt) – cook slow on low heat (about 225 F for 6-8 hours).
Let’s get right to it.
Pork Loin Roast ideas (and how I do it):
- Roast with veggies in the oven. The best way to cook a loin roast is thawed, rubbed with spices, and placed in a roaster/cast iron pot in the oven. Typically it will take an hour for a 3-4 pound roast to get up to 145 F if cooked at 400 F, but testing it at 45 minutes would be best because an overcooked loin roast is not so juicy (use it for soup or casseroles if this happens). As with most roasts, it’s best to pan sear it/brown the outsides in an oiled (or larded) pan on high heat for a few minutes before sticking it in the oven to cook. This keeps the juiciness of the meat intact. Cook it up and serve with your favorite side dish.
- Roast with veggies in the slow cooker. There have been many times I’ve put one of these roasts in the slow cooker with some veggies and just walked away. I’ll typically stick them in still frozen because I forget to pull it out the night before. Carrots, root veggies, onion, or potatoes are our favorites. Sometimes it’s fun to add a little cooking wine. Sometimes a little tomato sauce changes things up for us. Typically it’s just meat and veggies though. We’ll stick it on a plate once it’s tender and it’s a meal for us. It’s best to not over cook a tenderloin roast, so check the temperature after about four or five hours (depending on size) to see how much longer you’ll need to cook it.
- Another one of our old favorites for pork roast is Peanut Butter Pork with rice.
- Here’s a list of slow cooker recipes to try too: Slowcooker 365
- Recipes I’d like to try some day:
Pork Shoulder ideas (and how I do it):
- Pulled pork (for fajitas, carnitas, taco meat, BBQ pork, casseroles, soups or pulled pork sandwiches). Chop an onion and line the bottom of a slow cooker with it. Rub pork with your favorite spices for pulled pork, such as bbq, fajita blend, tandori, etc. Some like to add pineapple or bbq sauce. I’d do this in the last hour of cooking though. Cover and cook on low heat (225 – 250 F) for 6 to 8 hours depending on the size of your roast. An hour before you hope to eat it, open to separate the meat with two forks or with a knife. Cover and cook until tender. This makes a wonderful amount of meat for a large crowd or for various meals throughout the week. Typically I will cook it with basic spices (like garlic, paprika, and pepper) and use it for tacos, casseroles, soups, nachos, pizza or pulled pork sandwiches.
- Roast with veggies. Same as above but best made in a crock pot.
- Soups or Chili. I love using part of a roast for making a hearty meat and veggies soup, white bean or traditional chili, or even Pho Vietnamese soup.
- Casseroles. These are a Minnesota comfort food. Enchiladas, shepherds pie or pot pie are my favorites. Look up “pulled pork casserole” or “pulled pork hotdish” depending on your cultural preference and you’ll get enough options for the year I’m sure.
- Recipes I’d like to try some day:
- My favorite way to cook a ham roast (not a ham) is in a slow cooker with a jar of SAUERKRAUT and some apple sauce. It’s hard to beat that, so that’s my only idea for you.
- Ham roasts are normally a bit tougher and are best marinaded, brined, or slow cooked.
- Save the bones if there are a lot and make some pork stock for soups.
- Don’t forget to check out our recipes page for more ideas.
- If you want something more gourmet, check out Gordon Ramsay at youtube.com. Don’t worry, he’s quite tame in his how-to videos.
As I mentioned on Tuesday, a new goal I have is to help make ordering and using a whole hog more user-friendly by providing recipes and information.
Here’s bit of info from our Pastured Pork page:
“When ordering a half or whole hog, here are the options you’ll choose from when calling the butcher:
- Pork chops (about 23-26, 1 inch or you can ask for 2 inch cuts) – other options for chops include making them into baby back ribs (deboned chops), boneless tenderloin, ground or roasts
- Shoulder Roasts (2) or Steaks (4-6) or Cottage Bacon (similar to ham in taste)
- Loin Roasts (2) or Steaks (4-6)
- Ground pork (6-12 lb of trim)
- Ribs (2 lb)
- Smoked Ham or Ham Roasts (can be halved or quartered)
- Smoked Hocks or Fresh Hocks (2)
- Side Pork (pork belly) or Smoked Bacon – thick or thin sliced (about 6-10 lbs)
- Pork fat for rendering lard (we suggest you pay the small fee to have it ground, it renders more efficiently)
- All meat cuts have other options like being ground or deboned if there is a cut you do not prefer”
Some of these things, like bacon and ground pork, have an endless number of recipes to choose from and are quickly used up. Others are a little more challenging depending on your background.
In the following weeks, I hope to add some links and various ideas on how to use the above cuts. Today I would like to start with pork chops!
- Chops are excellent grilled. Typically I will sear them by starting the grill on high heat and then after each side has been browned for a few minutes, I will turn the temperature down to low. Be sure to watch them closely so the flame does not burn them up once the fat starts dripping.
- Chops are also wonderful pan seared and then baked when grilling season is not an option (such as in January in Minnesota).
- The spices I prefer to sprinkle on chops are as follows for 4 chops:
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper combined and rubbed into the meat before cooking
- Your favorite bbq rub (I really like Penzey’s spices, but there are many good all purpose bbq rubs out there).
- Here’s a more involved bbq mix to try. This is a guess because I don’t have a specific recipe: 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/16 teaspoon cayenne, 1/16 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/16 teaspoon thyme, 1/16 teaspoon ginger
- The way my mom made pork chops was super easy and tasty too. Basically, sear four pork chops and place in a 9 by 13 inch glassware dish. Pour some cream of chicken soup over the top (if it’s too thick, thin it with 1/2 cup of milk). We make our own. Here’s a recipe similar to ours: Pinch of Yum. Sprinkle with paprika and black pepper. Mix up some stuffing (the amount from a 6 ounce box should be enough). Place stuffing on top. Cover in foil and bake for 45 minutes. Take foil off and bake another 15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 Fahrenheit. It’s a hearty, heavy meal… pure comfort food.
- Our pork chops come from a part Mangalista hog. The Mangalista breed of pig has a bit more back fat on it due to it’s excellent amount of vitamin rich lard. If you don’t enjoy eating this fat straight up, I recommend trimming the fat and then rendering it (melting it slowly then filtering it) to be used later for frying eggs or adding to recipes instead of butter or oil. It’s a great way to add Vitamin D to your diet this winter!
- When cooking a pork chop. Melt some lard in the bottom of a pan on high heat. Set the chops in the pan for about a minute until slightly brown then turn the heat to low or transfer to a baking dish if you will be putting them in the oven. Searing and then cooking on low heat produces a juicier chop instead of a dry one.
These are some of our favorites, but I’d love to hear some of yours!! Please leave a comment and let us know your favorite recipes for pork chops.
We’ve recently updated our Pastured Pork page. A new goal I have is to help make ordering and using larger portions of meat (or splitting half a hog with friends) more user friendly. One way I hope to do this is by providing recipes and meal ideas for the various cuts of meat. Another is by providing information on what a half hog contains. I could use your help. What would like to know about when considering half a hog or a quarter beef or a whole chicken? Do you want resource links or would you rather I break down the whole process here? Is it recipes you need or how-to information? Maybe I’m not even asking the right questions. Could you please comment here or send me a quick email/message on Facebook for ideas?
And in case you missed the information on our November delivery dates to the Minneapolis/Fridley/St. Paul area, here’s a link to our most recent newsletter:
Click here if you’d like to see information on November deliveries…
We look forward to providing nutritious meats and veggies for you all in the future and hope to give the information that can help you use it well.
A little throwback to our first summer on the farm in 2013.