Category Archives: Buying Local

Even with a sick kiddo

the chickens needed to get processed. So Boomer went alone while Madigan and I camped out on the couch with pedialite, Popsicles and a bowl…just in case. Most of the day Madigan slept, having been up till 3 getting sick every 7 to 10 min. When Boomer got home I got to work on breaking down 20 chicken. The first 8 are a breeze, the next 5 you think why did I get so many, then the last 7 go in the freezer whole. It’s all worth it though.

That’s one full freezer.

Making pickles

We are lucky where we live to have a great farmer’s market and awesome vendors. One of the vendors is Good Food Good People. They bring in a variety of produce, meat, dairy and homemade items. They also have bulk produce order. These are the people who I got my giant bag of corn from and boxes of potatoes. I like that they encourage their customers to buy in bulk — they promote food saving and canning.

I preordered cucumbers for pick up today so I could make pickles. We got a 30 pound box along with 3 pounds from another stand. 33 pounds of cukes is over 100. I washed, trimmed and sliced 2/3 of the cucumbers.

I started around 4 and was done about 7. I ended up with 3 quarts of dill spears, 2 quarts of dill chips, 6 pints of spears, 2 hot spears, 3 half pints of chunks. We did some in the fridge to eat in a few weeks and processed most in the canner for consumption in a couple months.

I really enjoy canning, maybe not the last 15 minutes before you are done and just want it to be over, but taking the time to prepare this food, being aware of the seasons, planning for winter. It makes those last 15 minutes worth it.

Helping out on chicken day

It was around 100 degrees on Sunday and we gladly drove out to Bramble Hollow to help with chicken day. You might think that sounds weird, but we really love helping out, Madigan loves chasing chickens around and the chickens need to processed no matter what the temperature.

I asked Madigan to take some pictures around the farm.

Madigan decided to help with the chickens this time.


(she won’t touch money, but grab a recently deceased chicken out of a chill tank, no problem)

It’s hard to explain to people why we love helping out, all they think about is the gross factor, but it really isn’t gross. We like supporting our farmer’s not just with money but free labor.

You know what happens when you assume

I try not to fall into believing packaging and thinking something is better than it really is. You know I love shopping at the farmers market, any farmers market will do. The one we frequent most sets the standard for other markets. I know the bar is high, I trust the vendors and farmers. I rarely worry about reading the ingredient.

A few weeks ago I was at another market and saw a woman selling savory pies. Madigan had a sample and loved it. We got one, tucked it away in the freezer for a night when she and I would need to have dinner without Boomer and we could enjoy this chicken and veggie pot pie.

As I pre heated the oven, I was reading the directions and saw the ingredients…

and I was very disappointed. Yellow and Red? And as we were eating it, I was trying to figure out where those two came into play. Don’t get me wrong, the pie was DELICIOUS and would most likely buy another one, but my expectations were that this was homemade, not half way homemade.

I am almost certain it was packaged pie crust. I am no baker, but that top crust looks perfect, and perfect comes from machines. Again I would like to say that it tasted very very good, the filling had LOTS of chicken and good flavor from the veggies, but thought I could make this totally homemade. So it’s on the list, the list of things I want to make homemade.

Lesson of this post, don’t assume just because it’s from a farmers market you don’t have to read the labels.

One year of local meat

I was trying to figure out when it was that we stopped buying non local meat, and it looks like it was about a year ago. Making the decision to get away from the grocery store with our dairy and meat was final. That video made it impossible for me to support those company’s anymore. (I can’t guarantee the person elected is the person I voted for, but I do get to elect who gets my money.) I had done a bunch of research on who to buy beef and pork from, that was a fairly easy solution. It was the chicken that was the problem.

It seemed to me that a farmer can raise a 1200 pound cow or a 500 pound pig and take it to the processor and come away with a fairly large product to sell. But a chicken…3-5 pounds and all those feathers didn’t make as much sense for local farmers. I searched eatwild.com and localharvest.org and found a couple different producers. Tried contacting some, some were out of the chicken business, but on one website saw that Bramble Hollow would be at the farmer’s market.

So before my shift one Saturday I went and got two chicken, whole birds with the neck still on (which at the time seemed odd, now it’s the norm). I paid more for those two whole chickens than I had ever spent at one time on chicken. I put them in the freezer at work and worried that someone might steal them, my expensive chicken. I felt silly at one or two points in the day, think that I was kidding myself to think that we could get away from the 99 cent a pound chicken, how could I feed my family spending so much on chicken. Who do I think I am a Rockefeller?

Those birds sat in our freezer at home for a couple weeks, trying to save them for a special occasion, maybe Thanksgiving chicken? When my mom was her for her summer visit we made one of the birds. It was so good, different from chicken from the store, more flavorful, better. The difference was huge from store bought and locally grown chicken.

What I have since discovered, that even in the local chicken market there is a difference. We have tried all the types of chicken Bramble Hollow offers. When we ran out of chicken in early spring, we had to buy some from another farm and they just weren’t as good. I don’t know why or how, could be the non gmo feed that Anna and Brent feed their birds, could be the breed, but that reason why doesn’t matter.

So, here we are a year later, we bought a chest freezer to make sure we can always have enough of their chicken on hand. We have helped process the chicken we eat, visited the farm, gotten to know a great farm family. If that’s not enough, they still have the best tasting birds around.

An awesome dinner

I made a great dinner tonight, usually it’s only a good dinner or an alright dinner, but I really LOVED dinner tonight. I found the recipe here and was very happy with it.

I am fairly certain it’s the quality ingredients that makes the food so good. Today was a great day to be a locavore!

Some things stick with you

Ever since we left the farm I keep thinking about those turkeys roosting in the tree. I told Anna I had never seen anything like it, and was fascinated by it. Then I remember watching the documentary about the guy who raised some wild turkey. My Life as a Turkey. He raised those turkeys to be wild and they roosted in trees. This is just another example of why I love how Bramble Hollow farm operates. They allow the animals to do what comes naturally, to be the best turkeys they can be. There is something awesome about that. They are given the opportunity to be real live tree roosting turkeys before they become turkey dinner. I bet butterball can’t say the same.

It’s nice to know a farmer

We were able to drive out to Bramble Hollow Farm yesterday and stock up on more local meat. I am trying to remember/write down everything we buy so when I am trying to make our big purchase in late fall I will know what it is that we need and use. Nothing we buy is going to waste.

After walking around the farm catching up with Anna, watching Madigan and Jack run off a couple of deer and seeing the turkeys roosting in the trees, we went shopping.

We brought home a couple dozen eggs, a pork tenderloin, a pork roast, ham steak, 4 lbs of pork sausage, 2 lbs of ground pork, Italian sausage and garlic bratwurst. We all agree it’s more fun going to the farm, seeing animals and talking with a farmer than going to a grocery store.

bread

It’s so commonplace, so every day, run of the mill and yet so hard to make from scratch. I had found a baker who makes great loaf bread, it is light and lovely. It is not like store bought, but what I am learning is store bought ain’t that great. It’s cheap and convenient but it’s not great.

Store bought is also more complicated, more like a science project with words you can’t pronounce without sounding like a dingbat. The slices on the local bread, are thick and uneven, you really don’t make sandwiches out of it, but the garlic bread, french toast and egg in the hole make it so worth it.