Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three years after my children and I left our farm in Indiana for the warmer climate of Kentucky we finally have our own farm!  River Cottage Farm is where we will set down our roots, in more ways than one.  

I was surprised to see that it has been over a year since I posted on this blog but with all the work it has taken to move a farm and start over this blog has fallen between the cracks.

We invite you to move your subscription to our blog to our Hearth to Harvest blog and see what we've been up to over the past year.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stock up on spring butter

Once the cows begin eating all the fresh spring grasses, we will make a huge batch of butter and we suggest you all stock up! While we can make butter year round, early spring is the only time there is this much beta carotene in the cream.

Why does beta carotene matter? Beta carotene is another term for Vitamin A. As a fat soluble vitamin, Vitamin A is not very well absorbed when ingested in plant forms alone. In BUTTER however, the Vitamin A is ideally absorbed by your body.

Vitamin A is helpful for bone health, thyroid function, and is a powerful antioxidant. To maximize your intake, stock up on spring butter from our grass fed cows!

Sources: Various articles on the Weston A. Price foundation website

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now is the time to plant peas!

Note: This post was originally published last year, but it bears repeating!
When it comes to fresh-from-the-garden vegetables that cause you swear off grocery store knock-offs, peas are at the top of the list. Fresh from the pod, peas are exquisite! They are easy to grow, easy to pick and if you have never eaten a fresh pea still in the pod, you are in for a great treat. Now is the time to plant peas.

Peas don't require much in the way of fussiness. Good, well drained soil and a good sturdy trellis or fence to climb on are the components of good pea-keeping. Well rotted compost will ensure loads of thick pods but don't fertilize much more than that or you will get more vines and less pods.
Here is a bed that begged to be a pea bed; long, straight and thin. I opened up the soil with a U-bar so no tilling was necessary and set a good straight trench in the middle of the bed. I plant my peas in single rows on each side of the proposed space for the fence. I have tried the double rows in the past with less than desirable results each time so I stick with the tried and true single row.

I filled the trench with compost and planted the peas 4" apart with my two rows a mere 8 inches apart. Once the peas were spaced in the row I covered with the loosened dirt and began the work of putting up the trellis.

Peas can and will climb so be sure to set up a fence or trellis. In the past I have tried fence posts with string - don't try it - it doesn't work. I have tried utilizing coral panels from the co-op and they were great for shorter beds. They come in 16 foot lengths and they are inexpensive and last forever. For a longer bed though I felt that I had to use actual fencing. We strung it tight with two t-posts which is very important for picking time. You don't want the weight of the peas to pull the trellis over.

Once that hard work was over we transplanted spinach on one side and planted lettuce seeds on the other. As long as you keep the peas twining up the trellis you can keep weeds out of the bed by planting another crop on each side. Remember that mother nature will try to cover the soil if you don't. Also the lettuce and spinach will shade the soil and I will need much less water to maintain the growth of peas. As we get closer to picking I will post several recipes for fresh peas!

For your own garden we still have few different varieties of pea seeds for sale in the store. You will even find some varieties that thrive in pots for those who want the delicious taste of fresh peas but lack the space. So, there's a pea for everyone.

Have Fun!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Highland Babies

Highland babies are being born almost on a daily basis on the farm and oh, they are the cutest things. Since our herd of Highlands are all different colors, we have a full array of shades of babies on the ground already. This is the perfect time for babies since the mamas are just starting to fresh grass which will help with their milk production. If they calve much later the babies grow too large and then we have big problems. We found that once the cows were allowed to act like cows, breeding when they are ready, eating what come natural - grass only - we haven't had any birthing problems. In 13 years we have only pulled 4 calves and all were twins. That is stress free farming! Stress free for the farmers and the cows.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cut of the Week: Rack of Lamb

There is not much that rivals the look of a rack of lamb plated, just waiting to be cut up and served barely drizzled with a succulent sauce. This impressive looking cut can also be very intimidating to those unfamiliar with how to prepare this wonderful cut of lamb. I once had the wife of a chef purchase 5 racks for a dinner party and she had never cooked lamb - ever! In fact she had never cooked for her husband before this evening. She was incredibly brave and the birthday party for her husband was a huge success due mainly to a few simple pointers that kept the meat tender and juicy.

The rack of lamb comes from the rib section and is usually cut into sections containing 8 ribs. This cut of meat is so tender that it takes well to grilling or roasting.

The term "Frenching" refers to the technique of trimming the fat from all eight bones up to the first section of meat. This gives the cut its distinctive look.

The rack always comes with a thick layer of fat cover which helps to keep the meat tender and juicy during roasting. The problem with this fat when grilling is that it tends to ignite and char the rack, so trim off any thick layers of fat but don't trim too closely, always leave a small layer that will render throughout the meat during grilling.

Only cook the meat to an internal temperature of 120F and then tent the meat with foil for 15 minutes to allow the protein in the meat to uncurl and relax. This is a big secret to cooking all meats.

When using a marinade don't apply it at the beginning of the cooking period or it will burn and char. Keep the lid on for the first bit of cooking and then grill directly above the coals with the lid removed to get a nice brown crust on the rack. Brush on the marinade before this final phase.

Don't miss this week's recipe - Grilled Rack of Lamb

Monday, March 14, 2011

Grilled Rack of Lamb

Grilled Rack of Lamb - Charcoal Grill


Large disposable aluminum baking pan (12 by 8 inches)

4 teaspoons olive oil

4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 grass fed racks of lamb (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds each), rib bones frenched, meat trimmed of all excess fat

· 1. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, or about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Place aluminum pan in center of grill. Empty coals into grill, creating equal-sized piles on each side of pan. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat until grate is hot, about 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush. Grill is ready when coals are medium-hot.
· 2. Combine 3 teaspoons oil, rosemary, thyme, and garlic in small bowl; set aside. Rub lamb with remaining teaspoon oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place racks bone-side up on cooler center of grill over aluminum pan with meaty side of racks very close to, but not quite over, hot coals. Cover and grill until meat is lightly browned, faint grill marks appear, and fat has begun to render, 8 to 10 minutes.
· 3. Flip racks over, bone-side down, and move to hotter parts of grill. Grill, without moving, until well-browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Brush racks with herb-garlic mixture. Flip racks so bone-side is up and continue to grill over hotter parts of grill until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stand racks up and lean them against each other; continue to grill over one hotter side of grill until bottom is well-browned and instant-read thermometer inserted from side of rack into center, but away from any bone, registers 120 degrees for medium-rare or 125 degrees for medium, 3 to 8 minutes longer.
· 4. Remove lamb from grill and allow to rest, tented with foil, 15 minutes (racks will continue to cook while resting). Cut between ribs to separate chops and serve immediately.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Simple Living: How Connected Do You Want To Be?

In pursuing a simple, thoughtful life, have you given much consideration to how connected you want to be?

Our culture currently places premium value on being connected to everyone everywhere all the time. You have an internet connection, an email account, a Facebook profile, a cell phone, a there, in fact, any time when you are NOT accessible to the world at large in one way or another?

Connectivity is not all bad. We want to be deeply connected to our families, our friends, and our local communities, and we need those relationships. But does your technology use foster those deep and meaningful connections or does it in fact detract from them?

I recently read the fabulously titled Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age and found it a helpful framework for examining my own use of technology. The author examines thinkers and innovators from history who lived during similar times of technological change in order to consider ways we might use our technological connectedness as an advance rather than becoming enslaved to it.

On this blog we have long advocated for simple and deliberate living. For most of us, pulling the plug entirely is not really an option, so it behooves us to give careful thought to how we might best navigate our hyper-connected society. If you've considered these things for yourself or your own family, how have you found ways to take the best of technology while still maintaining space for depth and reflection?

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