Super Egg Drop – We’ll be there

We might be alone in the park this Super Bowl Sunday but Anita will still be there packing lots of eggs. So many in fact that she has come home with a few dozen the last couple of weeks. This weather has been good for the birds! If we knew we were going to be in a heat wave we could have tried some broilers….

A couple of litters of pigs have made their way to the butcher shop and we will have lots of pork (almost a ton of pork!) over the next few weeks. The cures will take a while still as they work their way around the state, but we will soon have plenty of bacon and hams as well. We do have more pigs heading in and would like some feedback from you concerning our offerings. If you can take a minute and look over this survey it would be much appreciated. Please tick the boxes of cuts that you like or might be curious to try. If there are many boxes that are not checked we might be able to shrink the list a bit and bring you just what you were interested in.

So eggs only tomorrow and fresh pork cuts next Sunday. See you tomorrow in the park and thanks in advance for completing the survey!

Merry Chistmas/Solstice

Winter Solstice is big news around here – it is our black Friday! Once the days start getting longer a little switch in the chickens tells them that the world is not coming to an end and that it is safe to lay eggs again. This means that the pendulum will soon swing from not enough eggs to tons of eggs!

Heads up though – we will not be in the park this weekend for the egg drop. There have been lots of folks that stockpiled this week for holiday baking so we are light- plus we assume a lot of you will be out having fun with your new Christmas toys!

So, Merry Christmas and we will see you January 2nd in Drake Park!

Finally…smoked pork!

Like bacon? We finally have it!

We are now offering a variety of cured and smoked pork for your dining pleasure. The challenge has been finding a USDA smokehouse that uses natural cures- enter Taylor’s Suasage in Cave Junction, Oregon. Welcome to the world of cures:

  • Belly Bacon – crispy most common bacon
  • Shoulder/British Bacon – meaty, less fat, hard to crisp
  • Jowl Bacon – sweet, chewy, my personal favorite
  • Maple Cured Ham and Deli Slices – wonderful melt in your mouth ham- they really do a great job with these
  • Polish Suasage – light and flavorful, boil in shallow water and crisp the casing once the water has evaporated
  • Old Fashioned Hot Dogs – pure pork meaty dogs, expensive, solid
  • Cured Ham Steaks – plate size hams, center cut from the hind leg
  • Smoked Hocks and Shanks – get the beans out!
  • For you folks worried about the availability of fresh bellies- worry not, we hold some back for sale as needed.

    Rendering Fat for Lard

    Cutting up a pig is tricky business. On one hand you want to get every usable chunk of something or other in order to divvy up the cost into to more sale-able weight….but on the other hand I don’t want to store backbones for the rest of summer hoping that someone comes along that is interested. Fat is one of those cuts that is highly valued by a few and can be hard to get. Unfortunately, we see all the cuts of a hog come and go while the fat remains.

    First off- why lard? This article says it all. In short, lard is tastier, healthier, certainly less wasteful, cleaner, more versatile, cheap, and a little bit fun. Our key worry (warning: self-serving promotion coming) is that fat stores stuff- bad stuff. All the benefits of lard are lost if you use fat from factory animals. Start with pure fat and you’ll get pure lard. We sell fat for $1 a pound….which is the amount that goes to the butcher shop. We find that 5 lbs makes 2 quarts. So 64 onces of lard for 5 bucks…..compared to 15 bucks for Crisco. Granted it takes a bit longer…..a lot longer.

    So how long does it take to make lard – all day. Start with partially thawed fat and a sharp knife and cut the fat into chunks as small as your patience allows…for me that is about 1″ chunks. You are after surface area- the more the quicker. If there are some chunks of meat in the fat you can remove it or leave in for cracklins. We cut it out as there is usually not much there and wouldn’t even make for a snack.

    Next, we need to melt the fat. Ideally, we are trying to convert this into a clear liquid. We have tried this on the stovetop and the oven; however, the crockpot method is definitely the best. Best in that there is little chance of burning or browning the lard making a muddy lard. It is also safer- you are working with a flammable material here so sealing it up in a crockpot makes a lot of sense. One other advantage is the smell won’t permeate the house as bad as an open top pan.

    Take you chunks and fill up the crockpot- turn on low and wait….all day. It takes a while, stir occasionally in an effort to break up the chunks and move the fat around through the hot spots on the crock. There will be some stuff the does not render. This will be dealt with later, just try to get to the point of diminishing returns.

    Ladel the lard (both the liquid and the remaining chunks) through a strainer into clean jars. The lard will shrink- so it is okay to fill the jars to the top. Some people do this a couple times, or through finer filters. We find one time and just a flour sifter work fine. Cool after filling and use at will!

    Now go make some tortillas!!!

    Farm Update

    Hey Folks,

    The market season is on and things are busy here at the farm. We are in full swing with chicken, ahead a bit with pork and our latest flock of layers is coming on line. Most of our first cutting of hay is up, the garden is planted, and the turkeys are almost ready. Yeah!

    Couple of new cuts for chicken this year. First, we are halving more of the big birds right down the middle (backs removed) to make for a more manageable, quicker meal. For the grill masters out there, we are spatchcocking whole birds as well. This process basically unrolls a chicken to increase surface area to reduce cooking time on the grill. We make a few tucks and trims as well to try and make it cook evenly.

    For pork, we are adding St. Louis style ribs by the full rack. We are also saving organs for the braver souls out there. (Side note: who ordered the pancreas?) We should have chops back in stock by next Wednesday’s market. We will also offer pork shares late this winter, so keep some freezer space open if your interested.

    We are looking for a summer intern who would like to learn about our small farm enterprise, work outside, help on butcher days and maybe even try his or her hand at a small farm endeavor of their own design. If you know a responsible and strong person who might fit that bill please have them contact us by email or by phone 541-323-1065.

    More news (I should write more often!): Cafe 3456′ has switched over to Great American Eggs in their restaurant. They serve breakfast and lunch at the Bend Airport- check them out if you can- everything we have tried there has been wonderful! Also, Devore’s grocery store on Newport Avenue has starting carrying our eggs- now there is no excuse for running out of our eggs! Schoolhouse Produce in Redmond (recently relocated to Highland) is running a trial with our chicken- we will see how it goes but we are hopeful we are a good fit for their customers.

    As for fresh chicken days- we are thinking about July 11th, but will confirm soon. We hope a few can make it out for fresh chicken and a walk about the place!

    2010 Farmer’s Market Season

    The Great American Egg will be at the same markets this year as last! The schedule is as follows:

      Wednesdays 3-7pm Drake Park starting June 2nd.
      Fridays 2-6pm St.Charles Hospital starting June 4th.
      Saturdays 10-2pm Northwest Crossing starting June 26th.

    Hope to see you there!

    Yet another license- Egg Handler’s

    In order for eggs to be resold in Oregon they must be ‘handled’ based on the ODA regulations. On the mass of the eggs this makes some sense- if you the carton says ‘large’ you should have some assurance that you’re really getting a large dozen. I have not issue with this….my problem is that we are no a large producer that has several outlets for non-large eggs. Our older hens drop jumbos and our younger hens drop medium sized eggs. Unfortunately there are no provisions in the regulations for an ‘as-laid’ dozen. Nor is there a provision that says individual eggs can be any size as long as it adds up to a ‘large’ dozen.

    So what do we do with jumbo and medium eggs? These eggs have to go into the unlicensed carton. The ODA did offer a suggestion- if I was to label the carton ‘PEEWEE’ eggs then I could put any size egg into the carton as there is no restriction on the maximum size of an egg- just the minimum. Sounded good for a while- but we starting thinking about how many people actually will look inside a carton and determine what size the eggs really are. Selling direct we can talk, explain, somewhat rationalize what we do…but not from a grocery shelf. So back to large eggs.

    Check out the fancy new label! Here!

    Down side of all this is this pretty label costs about 19 cents a pop!! And, of course, grocery stores want lower prices- yet it costs a premium to package the eggs for them. All this started when the ODA was reading this blog – found out I was selling eggs to Scanlons and wrote us saying we needed a license. So it goes…. Does Scanlons care about a label? Do we? Nope. I know I have ranted about this before but Camus says it best – “Integrity has no need for rules!”.