Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sunny side up with a side of Salmonilla

The recall of over a half-billion eggs in over two dozen states, including Wisconsin, has dominated the news headlines over the last several days. The most staggering fact in this issue is that all these contaminated eggs came from only two operations. I can not bring myself to even call these egg producing giants farms because they function more like a factory than a farm. I just finished listening to the Joy Cardin show on Wisconsin Public Radio on this issue and how we can feed our families in a better and safe way. The basic conclusion: eat locally, eat organically, lobby your legislatures for regulation that favors small farms and KNOW YOUR FARMER. Listen to the half hour discussion here and click on audio archives. The program aired on Aug. 25 th, 2010 with guest Mark Kastle of the Cornucopia institute.

Where do you get your eggs, pork, produce....? As natural beef producers we get questions from many folks as to where we find the rest of our food. We do our best to buy local and organic foods and if our food is not certified organic we know the farmer and the natural methods they use. I will run down the list and give props to the farmers we purchase from, but to find farmers in your own area visit local harvest, or eat wild on the web.

Eggs, Organic bulk dry goods, spices and honey: Kaufmann's country store in south Beloit WI.
Eggs, produce: Walkup family farm in Crystal Lake IL
Produce: Monroe Farmers Market, Monroe WI or the largest farmers market in the Nation on the Madison WI capital square on Saturday Mornings. There is also a great CSA from Scotch Hill Farm in Brodhead, WI
Pork: R Family Farm in Poplar Grove IL
Chicken: We partnered with our good friends in Potosi and butchered our own.
Cheese: Decatur Dairy just one mile from our farm...National Champion Cheese just a bike ride away, I love Green county!

We are not perfect and sometimes yes we do by food at the supermarket. Healthy clean food is a priority for us, so we make it a budget priority as well. If we can not shake the hand of the farmer that grew it we choose organic as is the case in the milk we buy.

In the future we will move beyond beef into hogs, eggs and chicken, but until that time, we will continue to support other farmers with goals very close to our own.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Beef Tips: The Perfect Steak!

Fall is fast approaching, but grilling season is far from over! I want to share with you some great tips to preparing a fantastic steak!

  • Any steak is great for grilling! If grilling round steak, skirt or flank steak marinade at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours to ensure tenderness.
  • Leave a thin layer of fat on steaks when cooking. This helps preserve juiciness. Trim any excess fat after cooking.
  • Keep the grill temperature moderate. Cooking beef steaks at too high a temp. can cause the outside of the steak to char before the inside reaches the proper temperature.
  • Speaking of doneness: The picture to the left show steak that is Medium Rare ~ internal temp 145 degrees F, Medium ~ 160 degrees and Well Done ~ 170 degrees. I strongly recommend using an instant read thermometer inserted horizontally into the steak. It is not recommended to consume steak that is under 145 degrees internal temp.
  • Turn steaks with tongs instead of a fork. A fork pierces the beef and allows the yummy juices to escape.
  • Add salt or seasonings containing salt to each side after browning. Moisture is drawn out and inhibits browning if the salt is added before cooking.
  • ENJOY!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brodhead - Covered Bridge Days

I (Jen) grew up in Sterling, IL. A nice place to grow up, but very different from the communities of WI that I knew little about as a child. When I went off to college at UW-Platteville (go Pioneers!) I began to realize that things really were quite different just north of the border. I was horrified when all the boys took the week before Thanksgiving off to go shoot poor helpless deer and was amazed when I learned that there was so much more to cheese than American, Cheddar and Swiss. One thing I appreciated most about Wisconsin though was the state pride and small town festivals!

This weekend we took part in the Brodhead - Covered Bridge Days festivities. The annual gathering of people from town and the country to celebrate...well...there is a covered bridge on the Sugar River Trail...but I think it's more of an excuse to just have a festival. Check out the website here. The highlight of the festival is the old tractors. Just off the main drag is a big field with: flea market, food vendors, old tractors on display and the kids toy tractor pull. I thought the tractor pull would be a great way for the girls to get more acclimated to country living in WI. They were divided up by weight and competed against 15-20 other kids in their class. I figured they would line up the 5 toy tractors and race (silly me). The goal in any tractor pull, toy or otherwise, is to pull weight from the starting line to the finish. In this case 40 feet was the distance. If a child could pull the weight the entire way they would move on to the next round and have more wight added to their load with the winner being the child who could pull the most weight the farthest. I was amazed at how competitive it was. There were 4 year old boys with looks of determination I have seen on Olympic athletes and slews of parents cheering and taking pictures (which I was guilty of as you can see). Some children travel around the state to various festivals and events in order to compete in toy tractor pulls! It's their sport!

Well, I have to say Kalena did pretty well, she was one of two little girls in her class that made it to round two, but then she was eliminated by all the little bruisers who must do this for a living :) She had fun and felt like a true winner. My dear sweet Elli on the other hand did not have that much success. Her load was quite a bit heavier than Kalena's and few children from her class made it to round two. She is very competitive, determined and a little too smart to believe me when I told her pulling the weight 8 feet was really great! It was just not satisfying to her to hear that we were so proud of her for trying something new! She was grumpy for an hour and deep down quite disappointed that her baby sister did better than she did. Ugh, the difficulty of parenting.

Take home lesson...encourage the girls to take part in different sports or activities from now on!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


We are planning for the fall and should have beef available for purchase every month between September and April. Reserve your order of a side, quarter or box by September 15 and receive 5% off your order. Contact us through this blog, phone, email or facebook. We appreciate those of you who support us and local & sustainable farmers.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Last night I was partying like it was 1995 at my class reunion and tonight I spent the evening digging a trench with a grub hoe through my gravel driveway. I'm beginning to learn that nothing comes easy on a farm, even internet access. We had to purchase satellite internet since DSL does not exist for those of us who reside in the middle of nowhere and dial-up is not an option if we want to run our beef business successfully! So, thanks to Paul the super interesting Satellite guy we are connected! BUT... we had to bury a 10 foot pole to mount the dish on since our south facing front yard is full of trees, and bury the cable across the yard and under the driveway.

I really felt like a true homesteader swinging the grub hoe (similar to a pick axe) although the early pioneer women were not digging trenches to bury their satellite internet cables! The hoe was actually creating sparks when the iron head struck a rock with great force. This is the same grub hoe we used to gut the old plaster out of the farmhouse. Bryce took a picture but of course the cord that connects the camera to the computer is MIA...I guess that's the way it goes when you've been living out of box's for a couple months.

So stay tuned for pictures of the house and our life as farmers.