23 May 2017

Breaking New Ground

     There are few things more exciting and meaningful for a farmer than breaking ground; the thrill of taking a patch of fallow earth and making it into something it was not, the rich brown of the fresh-turned soil, and the hope of good crops to come.  This particular patch of earth is special to the Greene farmers.  Many decades ago, Sherman Weaver, my great-grandfather, lived in the house we live in now.  His neighbors, Mr. Vernon Jones and Mr. Hoyt Carrol, lived in the next two houses down.  These three men worked together every year to make their three spacious backyards into one big garden patch, sharing a little tractor that they parked under a shed at the edge of the woods.  Many people say that farming runs in certain peoples' blood; perhaps it runs in land, too.  All three men have long since passed away and their land had said goodbye to its farming days, but not forever.  We were able to carry on the farming legacy on Sherman Weaver's land, cultivating and expanding it into what into what it is today.  Last fall, we purchased what was Mr. Vernon Jones's house and land.  This spring, that farm land is waking up after many years of sleep under the grass.  We have broken the fallow ground and planted the first summer crop it has seen in a long time.  Before the summer is out, some of you may help us taste that crop.      

Mr. Jones's backyard in December, with the back of his house in the distance. 

The groundbreaking begins...

...and the field is prepared.

The view from the other end.  The little shed that housed the tractor
still stands; if you look closely, you can see it under the trees.

      Anne Marie Greene

28 March 2017

Friday Night Feasting

          It doesn't take much to make a fabulous meal in a short amount of time.  During breakfast on Friday morning, Caroline and I made plans for supper.  We decided to have Daddy grill pork chops (we did ask him first if he would) and serve crowder peas, apple sauce, and mushroom Marsala sauce with the chops.  Anne Marie got some of our own farm-raised pork chops and a bag of homemade apple sauce out of the freezer, and Momma and I got mushrooms and Marsala wine from the grocery.  About 5:00 pm, I came in from checking on a bee hive to fix supper.  Momma had already started the crowder peas boiling in beef broth left over from a beef roast the we had cooked earlier that week.
          I put the apple sauce on the stove to warm, then mixed up the Carraba's Grill Seasoning from our Carraba's cook book to put on the pork chops.  In the meantime, Caroline washed the mushrooms for me and the Dutch oven heated for the Marsala sauce.
The seasoned pork chops waiting to go on the grill
           I browned the mushrooms, then added chopped homemade bacon, chopped onion, homemade chicken broth, and Marsala wine.
Browning the mushrooms
Chopping up the bacon
The Marsala sauce all mixed up
          The sauce reduced (i.e. boiled off some liquid) until the pork chops came off the grill at about 6:15.  All that remained was to load up the plates...
Mushroom Marsala sauce
Steaming hot crowder peas
Hot apple sauce
Grilled Greene Family Farm pork chops
...and eat.
Crowder peas, apple sauce, and a pork chop topped with mushroom Marsala and parmesan cheese
It didn't stand a chance.

13 March 2017

Bone Broth: Part 2

     Over time, the collagen and minerals in bone broth work wonders for arthritic joints, leaky and irritable bowels, and your own bones; I and my family have witnessed those benefits first hand.  I drink a little with my breakfast every morning as a dietary supplement.  I warm about half a cup of broth in a small saucepan on the stove, pour it in a coffee mug, and dilute it with an equal amount of warm water (it is quite rich).  That extra dose of nutrition in the mornings has done me tremendous good over the last few years. 

     Bone broth can be used to add flavor and nutrients to many dishes.  We love to substitute broth for water when steaming greens or cooking rice.  It also works well in place of other liquids when braising vegetables.  Use the yellow fat that you skimmed off the top for sautéing; it has a lovely flavor.  

      Of course, bone broth's most common use is in soup.   It is still soup season, after all.  Once you have prepared your broth, the rest is a breeze.  Brown a chopped carrot, a chopped onion, and a few cloves of garlic in the bottom of a saucepan (be sure to use that yellow fat for this, as well); add some leftover chopped meat from a roast chicken or baked chicken legs and thighs; add equal parts of broth and water until the soup is as thick or as thin as you like; and simmer it all for 3 hours.    

      Happy cooking and remember: the Foothills Farmers Market will resume its regular season and be back in the Pavilion next month.  Opening day for the new season is April 1.  We look forward to seeing everyone.

     Anne Marie Greene  

06 March 2017

Bone Broth: Part 1

     On the farm, making bone broth is the equivalent of striking oil.  Broth is flavorful, thrifty, and extremely nutritious.  It is a very simple matter to make.

     Start with our $5.00 Stock Pack, which we sometimes call a Soup Kit.  It contains one chicken carcass, a few chicken necks, a few chicken feet, and a piece or two of chicken skin lined with fat.  

     Thaw the frozen stock pack overnight, place it in a stock pot, and cover the pieces with water.  Add a teaspoon of lemon juice, vinegar, or wine to the pot; the acid in any of these will help pull minerals out the bones.  In the picture you can see a very big pot with lots if pieces in it; we make large batches because the seven of us use it quickly.  Simmer the pot on low-medium heat for 6-8 hours and it will become broth.  

     Once the broth has cooled and the pot is no longer too hot to handle, pour the broth into quart jars (we use half gallon jars for our big batches) and store the jars of broth in the fridge for up to two weeks.  If you do not use it that quickly, pour it into 1 cup plastic containers and freeze it; it will keep indefinitely that way.  The broth will likely thicken as it chills, taking on a jelly-like consistency, and a layer of rich yellow fat will rise to the top; skim that off and save it.

     We will have Stock Packs (aka Soup Kits) with us on Saturday at the Foothills Farmer's Market.  Come get one, make some broth, and get some nutrition in you.  Don't forget that we will be in Newgrass Brewery in Shelby.

Next time, I will tell you about the many uses we have found for bone broth.

Anne Marie Greene  


09 February 2017

The Whole Chicken

The whole chicken is one of the most generous food items there is.  It is easy to cook and, with a little planning, can give a family 3 good meals.

To cook the chicken, place a cast iron Dutch oven or skillet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. As the oven and the skillet heat, combine 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper in a small bowl.  Rub this mixture on the chicken, making sure to spread it on all the visible skin (if you want to cheat and just drizzle the mixture on, that's ok, too).

Place the chicken in the hot skillet or Dutch oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 1 1/2 hours if the chicken weighs less than 4 pounds, or for 2 hours if the chicken weighs more than 4 pounds.  When the chicken is done, the skin will be crispy and the meat will be juicy.  Serve it with anything.

Out of the oven.
Expect it to look like this shortly thereafter.

After you and your family have eaten your fill, pull any leftover meat off the bones and use it for tomorrow's lunch.  Stir it into a pan of sautéed squash, onions and peppers, and serve it over rice.
Save the bones for homemade bone broth; check back next week to learn how to make it.

Anne Marie

15 December 2016

Belly: Braised

Pork belly, also known as sidemeat, is good for more than bacon.  Here is a high-end gourmet option, popular among professional chefs, that is both delicious and childishly simple.  We make this almost as often as we make bacon.

This is a 2.5 pound piece of belly - enough to serve 8 people.
A family of 4 could eat heartily from a 1.5 - 2 pound piece, with leftovers.  
Place an empty cast iron skillet on the stove top over medium heat.  When the skillet is hot, put you piece of belly in, skin side down, and sear it.  Turn the belly over and sear the other side (the skin is on top now, which will be important later).  Pour in enough chicken broth to come halfway up the sides of the piece of belly (about 2 - 3 cups of broth).

Cook uncovered at 350 degrees F for 1 1/2 hours if your piece of belly is under 2 pounds, or for 2 hours if your piece of belly is over 2 pounds.

When the belly is done, it is time to peel off the skin, which is why you cooked it with the skin side up.  There is a layer of fat underneath the skin that will allow it to peel easily, with encouragement from a knife and fork.  Once the skin is peeled, dice the belly using two steak knives. 

This is delicious as a Mexican feast with rice, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and cheese.  It is also lovely with pintos and cornbread in the fall.  Try using it as the meat with your favorite meals and see what you think.

Anne Marie  

02 November 2016

Putting By For Winter

     This is the final month of the Foothills Farmers' Market in Shelby.  That's right; only four more Saturdays and then your weekly market will be gone until the spring.  You may remember the fable of the lazy grasshopper who fiddled all summer long and, when winter came, she had no food.  Her friends had none to spare for her and she died of cold and hunger. We at Greene Family Farm will have plenty to spare and we will not let you starve, but we suggest that you not be lazy.  Get your orders in soon; the best of our stock will not last long.  

     We are processing our last hogs for the year this month, 2 of which will leave home this weekend to come back in packages next week.  Contact us quickly if you are interested in a whole or half hog for the winter; we can have the meat packaged to suit your needs and preferences.   If a half or whole pig is too much for you, we are happy to fill a smaller bulk order of anything you need.  Get it while the getting is good and fill your freezer.

     Our last chicken processing for the year will take place over Thanksgiving.  If you are in the habit of buying our chicken, you know it goes fast.  We are taking orders now.  

     The fresh ginger will only last until frost.  Stock up at the market this week and ask us about the ways you can preserve it yourself.  

     We are low on eggs just now because we recently retired our old flock and the new chickens are only just beginning to lay, but they will be in full production soon and we should have plenty of eggs for all during the winter.

     Feel free to contact us and come to our farm for whatever you need after the market closes.  We are digging in for the season ourselves and building up a supply to keep any grasshoppers well fed through the lean months.  That said, keep your ears open for news of the winter market.  The location and dates have not yet been determined, but there will be a few weekends through the winter when the market will be open. We will let you know as soon as we know, so you can mark your calendars.