Chicken for Later

When you buy a Batch of Four chickens from us, it comes with a bag of 4 chicken backs which are wonderful for soup. They have a bit of meat on them and the stock you get is lovely.

One cold Saturday recently, I took some backs and boiled them up for a few hours. I strained the liquid and returned the broth to the pot and let the bones cool so I could pick off the meat.

I wanted to preserve some very meaty stock, too. I boiled up a chicken in that stock along with some onion and carrot and celery. After a couple more hours, I skimmed the broth. The dogs love that on top of their food. Then strained the broth again. After I returned the broth to the pot, I picked the cooled backs and put the meat in the pot. When the chicken cooled, I picked the meat off and added that meat to the pot.

The day got away from me -I didn’t spend much actual time on this project. I did other things all day while this sat on the stove top simmering – I was ready to punch out and relax. Normally I will can the stock and meat in my pressure canner, but this day instead of canning, I froze this up in some plastic containers. Now I can use these as the start to soups or hotdishes.


We were a feature at The Hive!

It’s so exciting that the Hive Coffee and Bakeshop in Aurora made a breakfast biscuit sandwich using Bear Creek Acres ground pork last weekend. It’s such an honor. I hope they sold well.

We stopped in for one during our deliveries on Saturday and again on Sunday!

The Hive is a lovely space and the owners are welcoming. I have tried a few menu items and found then to be delicious and a generous portion. Sadly, I am not a coffee aficionado so I can’t speak to that but I know they take pride in roasting their own beans and have a gleaming stainless coffee machine with loads of levers and buttons and it makes the most dramatic noises that is MUST be delicious.

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On the road again…..

I was off early in the AM today. Seems that is all we are doing lately. But it’s like this every fall …. batches of pigs to the butcher for folks getting half hogs. Hogs to the USDA butcher to be made into pork chops, sausages and bacon to sell from the farm, at the Embarrass convenience store and Natural Harvest. Cow to the butcher to be made into ground beef…trips to pick up all this meat, trips to DELIVER all this meat,  a trip to get more baby pigs. It’s a good thing.

I download podcasts. Shannon likes Sirius radio. Sometimes it’s just me, sometimes Shannon’s alone, but it’s the most fun when it’s the two of us. Today I stopped at the Hive in Aurora….the new coffee shop and bakeshop. I got a egg, cheese and bacon bagel sandwhich, a big coffee, a chuck of lemon loaf and off I went. What a great start to my day.

When I got home, Shannon was here to help me organize all the meat. So much lifting!

For supper we tested out the Italian Sausage. While my noodles were boiling, I  chopped up some peppers, onions, and halved a handful of cherry tomatoes and stuck it all  in the pan when the sausages were half done.  A bit later, I pulled out the meat, added a smidge of water to deglaze the pan,  then a dollop of butter. Last –  all I had to do was toss the drained noodles in it. Yummy. And so quick and easy.




Natural Harvest’s Open House

Natural Harvest’s Open House

Despite the grey and blustery weather, NH Co-op had a great turn-out for the grand opening. Have you been there yet? What a beautiful store! Light and bright….high ceilings….open and welcoming atmosphere …. I can’t say enough about it.

It is a testament to the fine people who came together decades ago and formed the co-op. They opened a tiny store on the Main Street and then accomplished the opening of that fabulous log building. What an achievement it was! I think most thought that the log building on the shores of Bailey’s Lake would be the be all and end all. But the co-op kept growing! The Local Food and Clean Food movement spread. Business grew every year and the Co-op outgrew the log building.

So the Board of Directors, a bunch of regular people in the community who love the co-op and are elected by the members, hired an architect and general contractor and  sought cooperation from the city and area partners and made this dream come true. I can only imagine the work and stress that went into planning the building and making that move. The manager, Anja, and all the staff is to be commended!!

Go take a look. You won’t be disappointed.

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map to natural harvest


Putting Up Corn

Every summer we put up corn. Sometimes I can it, but my family prefers it frozen.

Over the last 30 years, we have grown our own, been given it by my in-laws, or purchased it. The last few years, the timing has worked just great for corn. When we bring our chickens to Nelson’s processing, near Brainerd, they are just harvesting their corn.  We get a mess of it and bring it back.

Once upon a time, the whole family rolled up our sleeeves and made short work of it. We had quite an assembly line going.These days it is just Shannon and I.

shucking corn
Shucking…kids used to handle this part!


blanching corn
blanch the corn in boiling water for a few minutes…


sinkful of corn
Chill That Corn Quickly


cutting corn
Shannon has always had the job of cutting the corn off the cob.


bowl of corn
Bagging it up…a great job for kids!
bagged corn
squeeze out the air, zip it up and label…another great job for kids! Now it’s ready for the freezer

Wilted Lettuce Salad

Nothing says summer like wilted lettuce salad (well, except sweet corn and a BLT) !!

I could eat a huge plateful every night all summer long. So simple!

wilted lettuce salad

Tear up fresh leaf lettuce from your garden and top with thin slices of onion.

Fry up some bacon……the amount is up to you. It will come as no surprise to you that we use a lot. Chop it up, and put it on top of your lettuce.

Now, get the table set and the rest of your meal on the table. When the salad is dressed, it is time to eat….no goofing around.

To the bacon, grease add some  garlic  powder, mustard powder,  pepper, and sugar then stir. Add a splash of vinegar…carefully! Hot grease will splatter. And make sure you  hold your breath or your will get a snootful of vinegar fumes!  Give it a good stir.  Pour  the dressing over your lettuce and watch it wilt (hence, the name).

Toss it and enjoy.



The Annual BLT Night …Is Tonight!!!

Yep, it’s tonight!

6:00 at Good Ol’ Days in Tower.

BLT customer

The Tower Farmers Market (by the train)  runs from 4-6 but some of us will pack up early to get up to Good Ol’ Days on Tower’s Main Drag to get ready for you.

Buy something cold to drink and support Randy and Carol Semo who turn their restaurant over to us for the evening! Cami, our fabulous Market baker, is making cupcakes if you want to treat  yourself to a dessert as well!

Don’t miss it! It’s so festive and fun.

Don’t know what I am talking about? Here’s a primer:

Each August, the Tower Farmers Market puts on a BLT feed . Karl Jonas makes his fabulous sourdough bread, we supply the bacon, various vendors supply lettuce and tomatoes…depending upon their supply  on that given day. This stuff is fresh,man!

The good people of Good Ol’ Days restaurant let us take the place over (so buy a cold one from them while your there!) and we sell our BLTs. We use it as a small fundraiser for the Market, we donate some of the take to the Tower Food Shelf, and we consider it a celebration of the season. Nothing says summer like a really, really good I right?

We do our best to have enough sandwiches to meet demand….but we are taking fresh bread and produce. So, all we can do is plan for a certain number of sandwiches and hope we guess really close. That’s my way of saying, get there early.

See you tonight!