Happy New Year from August Farm. We are thick in the throws of winter out here in Independence Valley. Slow mornings drinking lots of coffee in front of the fire, waiting for breaks in the rain or the ground to thaw out so that we can work on projects around the farm. The landscape out here changes quite dramatically in the winter. Flocks of Canadian geese are wintering over in the seasonal lakes that have filled up in our and our neighbor's pastures. The sun, when it's out, barely makes is over the trees to shine on our house, as we are perched on the north side of a hill. We had a mini flood back in November. The small creek that cuts through our property turned into a small river across our driveway, but then quickly receded back into it's banks. We have been looking back at our records from 2012 and planning for the coming farming season, crunching numbers from last year and exploring options for this year.
We are excited to announce the newest addition to our farm, two beautiful Icelandic ewes. We bought them from our friend Olive a couple weeks ago. They are happily and safely tucked into our barn eating hay for the winter. They came all the way from the Okanagon were it's been quite snowy for months now. They were surprised to see green grass and immediately starting chomping away when we unloaded them from the stock trailer. They are bred and we are expecting lambs in a couple months. We are hoping to get a couple more ewes to add to the flock this winter. We won't have very much lamb for sale this year. So if you're interested in buying some, let us know now because I expect we will sell out quickly.
As many of you know grain prices have been on the rise. With last summer's drought through most of the country and an increasing demand for certified organic grain (for animal feed), meat and dairy producers have seen a huge spike in organic grain prices. Last year our feed costs increased 20% by the end of the farming season and they are likely to continue increasing this year. Because of this we've realized that in order to stay viable as a business we will need to increase our prices this year. We are also looking to add grass fed animals to our farm, hence the sheep. We are raising the price to match the increased grain price. The price for our chicken, starting with this Summer's first batch will be $6.00 per pound, our heritage turkey will be $9.00 per pound and our whey fed pork is $5.50 per pound.
We offered a chicken cooking class through the Olympia Food Co-op last Fall and it was such a success we decided to do a Winter cooking class series. We are teaching three classes over the next two months.
Bone Broth February 16th - Bone broth is a traditional food consumed by cultures all over the world. Broth or stock contains minerals in a form that the body can easily absorb. It also contains collagen, which is the building block of cells to bones, ligaments, cartilage and the brain. And it is the perfect base for homemade soups and stews. In this class we will show you how to make bone broth and a couple great winter time soup recipes. "The prolonged cooking of bones in water results in a broth rich in nutritional constituents that promote strength, tonify blood, nourish in times of sickness and rehabilitation, and help to prevent bone and connective tissue disorders."
How to Prepare a Whole Chicken March 23rd - Wondering how best to prepare a whole chicken with skill? Come learn how to roast a whole chicken to perfection. We will explore three recipes, one from Julia Child, another from Mark Bittman and an August Farm original to compare the benefits of each. We will also demonstrate techniques for cutting a whole bird into parts.
Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas March 30th - Pork Carnitas is sometimes referred to as Mexican pulled pork. Learn the art of slow cooking and the delicious results of fall apart tender meat. We will compare two methods of slow cooking: crock pot vs. the oven. We will discuss which cuts of meat work well for slow cooking and how to get the most flavor when you braise meat.
Go to the Olympia Food Co-op website to find more information and register for a class. All classes are $5.00 and are held at the Grub Farmhouse.
One of my favorite things about winter is cooking. There seems to be so much more time for cooking delicious meals when the sun sets at 5:00pm. And it's a lot of fun when your freezer is stocked with pasture raised chicken and whey fed pork. Here's a couple recipes we've been enjoying this winter.
Braised Chicken with Capers and Parsley (from Bon Appetit)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, minced (1 1/2 cups)
- 4 chicken legs, drumsticks and thighs separated (about 2 pounds)
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup salted capers, soaked well in several changes of water
- 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 1/3 cups white wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer onion to a bowl; wipe skillet clean.
Add 2 Tbsp. oil to skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Season chicken with salt. Add chicken to skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 10–12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
Add reserved onion, 1/2 cup parsley, and capers to skillet; cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth and vinegar. Add chicken with any juices. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 1 1/4 hours.
- Transfer chicken to a large platter. Season sauce in skillet with salt and pepper. Spoon over chicken; garnish with parsley.
- 4 1 1/2- to 2-inch-thick bone-in heritage pork rib chops
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
- Olive oil (optional)
- 4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Pat chops dry with paper towels. Mix 2 teaspoons coarse salt, thyme, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle seasoning mixture on both sides of chops. Let stand at room temperature 1 to 2 hours or wrap and chill up to 1 day.
Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until crisp and lightly browned. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to small bowl. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chops to skillet. Sear until brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to small baking sheet.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons drippings from skillet (or add olive oil to make 3 tablespoons). Add leeks and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add brandy, then broth and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return bacon to skillet; add sage and stir to blend.
Nestle chops in leeks in skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer 3 minutes. Turn chops over. Cover; simmer until thermometer inserted into thickest part of chops registers 140°F to 145°F, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chops to platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
Spoon off any fat from cooking liquid in skillet. Boil until all liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Whisk in mustard, then crème fraîche; do not boil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over chops.