Category Archives: food

Pickled Blueberries

‘I can pickle that’ has become my mantra. I know I say that every year and every year I say this is the final year, but who am I kidding? I have a canning addiction. I’ve really gotten into pickling fruit because it compliments my charcuterie plates well. I love being able to make a whole plate of amazing cured fruit and meat, it’s a simple pleasure.

This is what a blueberry bush looks like.

This is what a blueberry bush looks like.

One of my friends recently told me she had pickled blueberries with a fancy meal she ate. Of course the ‘I can pickle’ that voice went off in my head and I had a new mission in life, pickled blueberries.

I finally made and ate some and I was not disappointed. They are tart, but sweet, with spiced warm undertones. I think they’d be delicious on ice cream! Or in a salad! Here is the recipe I used. Enjoy!

Pickled Blueberries

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 2 quarts fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
The start of pickles.

The start of pickles.

Place the first 3 ingredients into a cheesecloth square, to make a spice sachet. Put into a large saucepan with the vinegar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes.

Ready for their bath.

Ready for their bath.

Stir blueberries into the saucepan, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Gently shake the pot. Do not stir or you will break the berries. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Strain berries from the liquid and remove the spice sachet. Place berries to hot, sterilized canning jars. Return vinegar to the saucepan and place over high heat. Stir in the white and brown sugars; bring to a boil. Boil until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Ladle hot syrup over berries, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. I like to give them a week to really pickle before I eat them. 

Yum.

Yum.

Also try:

Blueberry Meyer-Lemon Jam 

Spiced Blueberry Jammin’

Blueberry Jam Sugar Scrub 

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Giveaway: Stubb’s BBQ Products

Growing up a rancher, delicious grilled steaks and burgers were often on the menu. After all, my life pretty much revolves around breeding, raising and caring for the meat in our food supply. Grilling was common, especially in the summer. However, I was rather sheltered from the art and science of cooking with fire. It was always my Dad’s job.

But then, as fate would have it, I started dating a vegan. Well, he didn’t like it when I cooked meat in the house because it smelled good and upset him, so I was banished to the patio grill to cook my protein. As an awesome result, I got more than proficient at grilling. I started grilling all the things, a skill that turned out to be very useful at cow camp (although, maybe not, now that I think about it, I have to cook all the time now!).
I also was able to enact my catch and release program. As an ambassador to my industries, I date a vegan or vegetarian. I expose them to my way of life, to cattle and pigs. I let them experience what these animals are really like in real life. The new perspective, combined with my cooking, rehabilitates them back to their omnivorous ways. Then I release them back into the wild where they thrive. It’s been a very successful program!

Anyway, in an opposite swing of the pendulum, I dated a Southerner and learned grilling, BBQing and smoking are three very different things and it is very important to get it right! It was kinda embarrassing to learn this in my 30’s, actually. Basically, BBQing is low heat (200-300) for 4-12 hours. Smoking is super low heat (70-180) for up to a few weeks! And grilling is high heat for just a few minutes. I also learned that exceptional BBQ sauce and seasonings do makes a huge difference, however you cook your meat.

I BBQ'ed chicken with dry rub for pulled chicken sandwiches. Amazing!

I BBQ’ed chicken with dry rub for pulled chicken sandwiches. Amazing! I’ll be posting my recipe soon.

Since I experienced The South I have a whole new appreciation for good BBQ. In fact, like all things I love, I tend to get just a whisper obsessive about for a little while. So when Stubb’s BBQ Sauce contacted me about doing a giveaway on the Beef Jar, I peed my pants a little because I’m still in my obsessive phase with BBQ. This is a legitimate reason for me to fire up my grill and eat something delicious!

Stubb’s is from Austin, Texas so it’s authentic! Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q is the maker of Stubb’s. Rocky Stubblefield, grandson of the original Stubb, is their current BBQ expert. He was gracious enough to share some of his tips:

  • Create over–the-top burgers by coating each patty with Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Rub, then sprinkle with a little smoked sea salt to really enhance that smoky barbecue taste. Let the patties sit for a while before cooking – you can actually see the flavor seeping into the meat! Before you throw them on the grill, make a thumbprint in the middle of the patty to get a flat, evenly cooked burger instead of a plump, rounded one that is undercooked in the middle.
  • For smoking meats on a charcoal grill, use hardwood chunks, or on a gas grill, use wood chips. Soak wood chunks in water for 1 hour, or chips for 30 minutes, then drain before using. Burn two wood chunks for each hour of smoking, and 1 cup of wood chips for an hour or less of smoking. Try a variety of wood – hickory, mesquite or applewood – to experiment with flavors.

Stubb’s is available in 85 percent of grocery stores nationwide. It’s convenient because you don’t have to fly back to The South to get it! Which, I’m not saying that is something I would do but….. good sauce and spices are worth it. Stubb’s sauces, marinades and rubs are a great way to add flavor to your meats and vegetables for all cookouts, I know because I use it! It is an excellent product.
In honor of cookout season, Stubb’s is doing a giveaway here on theBeefJar.com. It will include a Stubb’s grilling spatula, Stubb’s hat and t-shirt, and coupons for free Stubb’s products!!! 


All you need to do click on this link Rafflecopter Giveaway Link!

Good luck!

 

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Blueberry-Meyer Lemon Jam

Recently, our local blueberry farm opened their gates to the U-pick crowd. Well, being the foodie I am, I had to go. My friend and I loaded up and spent a scant hour picking a bucket of blueberries. I was then faced with the daunting task of making several pounds of blueberries into stuff before they went bad. I succeeded. I ate a whole bunch, then I pickled a whole bunch, then I made this wonderful jam, and the rest I froze for pancakes.

This is what a blueberry farm in Northern California looks like.

This is what a blueberry farm in Northern California looks like.

I think this is now my third favorite jam I make. Which is really saying something since I think I make close to 30 different kinds (I don’t have a problem). I used Meyer Lemons because we have several trees here on the ranch, so they are free in addition to being delicious.

The spoils of my picking! Glorious!

The spoils of my picking! Glorious!

Blueberry Meyer Lemon Jam*

  • 3 cups blueberries, mashed to make about 2 1/2 cups
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1.5 tsps. Meyer Lemon zest, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. Meyer Lemon juice
  • A whisper of butter (to prevent foaming)
  • 1 package (3 oz) liquid pectin
Blueberries, lemon zest and juice ready to be made into jammy goodness.

Blueberries, lemon zest and juice ready to be made into jammy goodness.

Add blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, butter and juice in a jam pot. Bring to a roiling boil, stirring to prevent sticking. Add pectin and boil hard for one minute.  Remove from heat. Add to sterilized jars and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

This jam would be breathtaking on a scone, cheesecake or even on toast. It’s light, crisp with a hint of tart. It’s lovely and I ended up making two batches because it’s going to make great gifts.

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*based on Southern Living’s recipe

You also might wanna try:

Blueberry Jam with Mint

Blueberry Mojito Jam 

 

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ONE Alltech Ideas Conference: Part I

The first day. I was very excited to have an opportunity to attend this conference and I think everyone knew it.

The first day. I was very excited to have an opportunity to attend this conference and I think everyone knew it.

I had never been to an Alltech convention before this. I, of course, was familiar with them because of their products and I see booths and such at other conventions and events. But I had no idea what I was in for when I packed up my favorite cowboy boots and left the ranch on a red eye flight to Lexington, Kentucky. This two part blog will cover what I experienced during this convention.

Because I had a press pass I got a point of view most do not get. For a girl that doesn't get off the ranch much, it was quite the experience. Rupp Arena from the stage.

Because I had a press pass I got a point of view most do not get. For a girl that doesn’t get off the ranch much, it was quite the experience. Rupp Arena from the stage.

I’ve been to hundreds of agriculture related events in my lifetime. I have never experienced a convention like ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference. Ever. It is a stand alone conference. It was a cross between a Broadway show, a graduate class, a college agriculture party, a field day, and a team building retreat. Over 3,000 people from 71 countries were in attendance. If you are involved in agriculture or food, or even if you have an interest in agriculture, this is an event you need to attend next year.

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Part of what made this conference so unique was the fact it was deeply entertaining. It included keynote speakers that were not from agriculture, which brought a whole new perspective and vibe. The Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, welcomed us the first day. Alan Mulally of Ford, received the Alltech Medal of Excellence Award and gave us some excellent leadership advice, “working together always works”.

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John Calipari, the Head Coach of the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team, spoke next. I’m going to make a confession here, and I don’t want you to judge me too harshly. Before this event I had no clue who “Coach Cal” was, however now I’m ordering his book. I loved his outlook on life, “when you make life about other people, it becomes easy”. Listening to him speak about how he was able to practice what he preaches and make life better for his players and community made me ponder how I could do the same.

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This morning plenary left me excited and inspired, deeply stimulated and ready to learn and affect change! Perfectly primed for the in-depth and new knowledge industry experts shared with us in special sessions.

Selecting the special sessions I wanted to attend was the worst part of the conference. I had a hard time choosing because many were both interesting and relevant to me. I ended up seeing part of Global Beef Opportunities, The Business of Agriculture and Opportunities in the Pig Industry. I would have loved to have attended Craft Brewing and Distilling because that’s something I’d like to start doing. The Aquaculture session, especially after last summer’s experiences, and Emerging Markets and Trends and Innovative Agriscience because I love to be on the cutting edge of new ideas.

Alltech made sure to showcase the best Lexington had to offer. Having dinner in the arena of The Kentucky Horse Park was probably an once in a lifetime experience for me.

Alltech made sure to showcase the best Lexington had to offer. Having dinner in the arena of The Kentucky Horse Park was probably an once in a lifetime experience for me.

 

The arena set up for our dinner. It was beautiful!

The arena set up for our dinner. It was beautiful!

However, the sessions I did attend were perfect for me and what I need to know right now. I started in the Beef session sitting next to a real, live meat scientist. If I had questions about something I could simply lean over and ask her to clarify. It was glorious. I left the session feeling deeply validated about the methods we are using on our Ranch and eager to learn more about how nutrigenomics will continue to play a part.

I then transitioned into the The Business of Agriculture session where I was able to hear Mary Shelman’s session about food rules (there are no food rules!). We learned about brands like Ben and Jerry’s and Emerald, that broke the “food rules” and became very successful. She spoke about how “food is a hot thing to talk about”. Food trends amongst our younger generations are changing, they are rejecting big ag and big food, they want a product that is good for the environment and communities and are willing to pay more. They trust their friends more than advertisements.

Something I repeat often. Local doesn't always mean safer.

Something I repeat often. Local doesn’t always mean safer.

Dr. Johanna Fink-Gremmels took the stage. She covered soils, fungi, bacteria and how they play a part in health. She shared “gut health is the key to animal health and productivity” and “feed the soil and you will feed the world”. She stressed that we have a major responsibility to our partners, our environment and animals, for the benefit of the people.

This is advice I have been trying to implement for my ranch.

This is advice I have been trying to implement for my ranch.

Aidan Connolly, Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President, Corporate Accounts, Alltech then spoke on antibiotics. This is a hot topic that I see many people, both in agriculture and on the consumer side, talk about often. He said the  “U.S. estimates 506 antibiotic prescriptions per 1000 people annually when only 353 were necessary”. That is  some serious food for thought. He had a term and idea that I loved and I see working for me. Prosumer – the idea of connecting with our consumer and getting them to advocate for you and your brand, business and product. As Ms. Shelman pointed out earlier, our younger consumers want this.

Dr. Mark Lyons talks about pork production in China

Dr. Mark Lyons talks about pork production in China

Because I still have much to learn about hog production, especially commercial production, I was especially excited to attend the Opportunities in the Pig Industry Special Session. Russell Gilliam started the session with Disease Prevention and Eradication. He pointed out, “is it safe” is the number one priority to consumers. He then covered factors that contribute to poor animal health and how we can prevent them. Lance Barton of Belstra Mills then shared his ideas and experiences about engaging the 98% that are not involved with production agriculture. Jacob Dall and Dr. Mark Lyons then shared information about hog production from Denmark and China. Comparing pork production methods from the two counties was enlightening and I am going to be applying some of my new knowledge to my operation.

from Lance Barton

People’s reaction to a hog farm. From Lance Barton.

I finally had time to visit Alltech’s One Vision exhibit. Again, before this point, I have never experienced anything like this. It was interactive, innovative and inspired. It felt like an utopia of what our world could be. Allergy free peanuts, edible food packaging and lab grown meat were all ideas explored. So often we are bombarded with negativity and worst case scenarios. This was like a breath of fresh air, it was positive and hopeful and I walked out I was asking myself what was the ONE thing I could do in order to be apart of a solution. We need more exhibits and interactions like this.

Photos of the ONE exhibit does not do it justice. You need to experience it.

Photos of the ONE exhibit does not do it justice. You need to experience it.

The rest of this blog will be posted tomorrow. In the meantime please check out what these other women in agriculture thought…

Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

Dirt Road Charm

Mom at the Meat Counter

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I Went to the South, Y’all!

You might have noticed I took a little break from blogging life for the past few months. It wasn’t planned, I just got so busy I haven’t had the drive or time to do much for The Beef Jar. I’ve written some freelance articles, participated in an AgChat conference and the coolest thing is I went to the South. Twice!

The menu from Saw's. I weep at the memory.

The menu from Saw’s. I weep at the memory.

I haven’t traveled for a long time. In fact, the last time I took a vacation that was away from the ranch for more than two nights in a row was back in 2007. It was time to leave the ranch. The guy I was dating is from Alabama, so I was able to visit him. I went once in December and since I had such a good time, I went back in January!

Coosa County, Alabama

Coosa County, Alabama

It was a wonderful experience both times. I’ve always been fascinated by southern food and culture so needless to say, I was in heaven. I got ushered around the Southeast by a local, eating amazing food and having the time of my life. I got to see several southern places, including Nashville, Lynchburg, Atlanta, Birmingham, Asheville and Washington County, Tennessee.

My ex-boyfriend’s family has a plantation in Coosa County, Alabama. That was home base during my time down there. It was an amazing farm with totally different agriculture from what I was used to. I got to spend several days on their farm learning about local agriculture, history and again, food.

Conecuh sausages are amazing! Try them!

Conecuh sausages are amazing! Try them!

Until this point in my life, my knowledge of southern things comes from Paula Deen, Jill Conner Browne, Alton Brown, and other various southern authors. Oh and Reese Witherspoon movies. I imagined magnolia trees, dripping with Spanish moss, acres and acres of cotton, tobacco and sweet potatoes and BBQ everywhere. I’m sure it’s like when people think of California and think we are just beaches and movie stars. The South was so much more varied and different than what I expected (I mean, except for the BBQ part, and that was super cool)!

 

The Places

I was amazed at all the pine trees in Alabama. For some reason I had no clue Alabama had so many pine trees! I was expecting it to be far more open farmland and magnolias. I did see a cotton field and lots of cow/calf operations. However, one thing I noticed that really bummed me out was it seemed like there was a lot of abandoned farms. It kinda made me want to buy one and move to the South.

I went white tail buck deer hunting. It was so different from hunting here!

I went white tail buck deer hunting. It was so different from hunting here!

Since I did get to see several different areas of the southeast, that means I also got to see some of the Smoky Mountains. They were beautiful. I’ve seen enough photos and movies about them that I knew what to expect, and they did not disappoint. I want to go back and take pictures and poke around – I might even consider camping there. Maybe.

One of the happiest moments of my life happened in Nashville.  I was in a boot store on the strip. The smell of new leather and BBQ was in the air. I had a slight Pabst beer buzz. I had just seen an amazing country band. I was eating chocolate because, of course, there was an old fashioned candy store next to the band and bar. I actually had to stop and ask if that was real life. The Country Music Hall of Fame was also a major highlight! So many neat costumes, cars and instruments! 

My Nashville boots.

My Nashville boots.

I think my favorite though were the rolling green hills of Tennessee. The farms were all gorgeous, stuff of dreams. I had serious agriculture envy the whole time I was there. I was seriously looking up the farms and ranches I saw for sale, because I really could live there and happy raise pigs and cows.  

I was also shocked at the water. The rivers and lakes seemed to be everywhere and they were huge! Coming from drought stricken Nor Cal, it was almost overwhelming!

The cemeteries were a trip to me. They were everywhere. And the were old. It was a good reminder just how “new” California is. Many families had their “own” graveyard on their family farms. My goal when we were in Washington County was to find my family graveyard. I was so close, but that is for another post.

I was amazed that they could park against traffic, still had cigarette machines, and awesome fire works!

I was amazed that they could park against traffic, still had cigarette machines, and awesome fire works!

Birmingham was awesome. It was there where I had real BBQ for the first time. I got to go to Good People and Avondale Brewing. Just getting to walk down the streets and see some of the amazing old homes was enough to make me really happy.

I almost had a come-apart in Atlanta when I finally saw a real alligator and an albino one at that! One of my major goals while in the South was to see an alligator. I’d been to Florida in September, and was sorely disappointed I didn’t get to see one then. The alligator I did see was at the  Atlanta aquarium. It was amazing, really. It breathtaking. I missed the Coke experience by a few minutes (it closed), but I’d like to see that at some point.

Oh Atlanta.

Oh Atlanta.

Asheville. I understand why the second Sierra Nevada is there. It has a Chico vibe to it. I made the treck to the second Sierra Nevada, like all Chico natives should. It was a glorious building and the food was fabulous. We went out on the town after Sierra Nevada and again I had a ball! It was freezing and snowed while I was there, but the amazing music and people made the cold bearable. I’d love to go back to Asheville and spend a few days, it deserves it.

Sierra Nevada, Asheville

Sierra Nevada, Asheville

 

The Food

Let’s talk about the food now. Southern food is better. There I said it. I can simply never go back to how I was before. I actually ate skin from fried chicken and loved it. Sweet tea is nectar from the gods, and BBQ is mana.

I miss the food.

I miss the food.

I actually tried to experience as much regional food as I could. Blue Bell Ice Cream? Check. Duke’s mayonnaise? Check. Boiled peanuts? So good. White Lily Flour? Took 10 pounds home. 30 pound Country Ham?  It was in my carry-on. Okra, I love it now. Fried pickles? I have a recipe. White BBQ sauce? White yum.  (if you send me Duke’s or Lily White, I’ll send you jam, jelly, pickles or California olive oil).

I did my best to bring as much home as I could.

I did my best to bring as much home as I could.

I’ve experienced SAW’S, Dreamland BBQ and Jim and Nick’s. BBQ is not a joke down there. It changed me. Southern’s do magic with a grill and some smoke. Magic, I tell you. If you haven’t experienced real southern BBQ go ahead and just book yourself a flight and go find some. Do it. I’ve been working very hard on recreating many of the dishes I had while in the South, I’m getting good, but it’s just not the same.

My first time at Waffle House. I was very, very, excited.

My first time at Waffle House. I was very, very, excited.

Waffle House. Oh my Lawd, I did not know.  I mean, I’d heard some great things from Anthony Bourdain. But Waffle House is something you must experience to understand completely. Drunk college kids in California do not know how amazing Waffle House is and what they are missing. I was urged to try and have a drunk Waffle House experience, I did, in Birmingham, and was again one of the more glorious experiences of my life. Drunk southerner’s, amazing waffles and smothered hash browns – it should be a reality show.

I loved it there.

I loved it there.

Cracker Barrel – food, candy, clothes, games, all the things. Cracker Barrel is like the mecca of the South. Go there, rock in a rocking chair, eat some chicken and dumplings, and pay your respects.

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The People

Southerner’s are nice. They are friendly. Pleasantries are exchanged at every opportunity. They buy you a lot of drinks when they hear you are from California. They have manners. Door’s are held open, ‘bless you’ said after a sneezes, polite chat is made.

I loved it. I always embarrassed my friends and family because I will randomly start conversations with people. In the South, it felt like you were rude if you didn’t. I’m pretty sure I belong there.

The homes!!

The homes!!

I never really harbored the idea of ever living anywhere but on the Ranch, here in California (this is God’s country after all) but after seeing the southeast, I daydream about owning a little farm in Tennessee. Or Georgia, or anywhere. Seriously, The South is America’s travel secret.

I just renewed my passport and was starting to plan another trip back to Europe. But I’ve decided I’d rather spend my money and time in the South. Learn more my own history and culture.

So I’ve started planning my trip back this winter. A couple of my girlfriends are looking into going back in December or January. I’m in my early stages of planning but I’m thinking maybe about flying into Nashville, doing a bourbon tour, going up to Bristol, Asheville and leaving out of Atlanta. However, I know I have lots of Southern friends, so I am open to suggestions. Is there something I need to experience? Tell me! Give me advice!

But in the meantime if you an agricultural organization and you need a speaker, panelist or moderator, let me know. I’ll waive my fee, just pay for my flight and a bed and point me to the nearest BBQ joint when we are done.

 

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White Bean and Collards Soup 

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Remember a few months back when I posted the collards recipe? Well since then I’ve become even more obsessed with Southern Food and have made collards like 10 times as part of my “practicing”. It’s great though! Collards freeze so well, I always have a stash of leftovers in my freezer for soups and easy meals!

This soup is one of my current favorites. It’s hearty, flavorful and and deeply comforting. It’s also one of those soups that I can toss together fairly effortlessly since I tend to usually have all the ingredients in my freezer or pantry. It’s also great for tossing leftover things into. I had some extra parmesan cheese rind and some tortellini that I used the first time I made this and I cannot imagine not using those again!

See that big white thing? It's the rind from some parmesan cheese I used. Never through that away. Freeze it and add to soup bases. Just remember to fish it out before you serve your soup.

See that big white thing? It’s the rind from some parmesan cheese I used. Never throw that away. Freeze it and add to soup bases. Just remember to fish it out before you serve your soup.

It also freezes really well. Since I do live alone I always have a crapton of leftovers. It’s great though because I ALWAYS have a selection of soup frozen in our deep freezer. If you ever got a cold and need some TLC in the form of soup, call your friendly neighborhood rancher and I’ll take care of you.

White Bean and Collards Soup

1 package of white beans
1 onion, chopped
5 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken or beef broth (I usually use chicken and it usually has hunks of chicken in it because that’s how I use up my chicken carcasses)
Leftover collards (including the sweet, sweet pot likker)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf (remember to fish that sucker out before you serve)
1 package tortellini (optional)

This step adds more flavor!

This step adds more flavor!

Soak the beans overnight in water. Rinse and discard any sub-par beans. Saute your onion and carrots in oil until they start to soften. Add garlic and stir. Add beans, leftover collards, broth and spices. Add water to cover all the ingredients if needed. Cover and simmer for one hour. Add tortellini and serve with some good crusty bread.

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Wordless Wednesday: Romanesco 

  

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Wordless Wednesday: White BBQ Sauce

  

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7 of my Favorite Things 2015

Welcome to my new annual post where I share some of my favorite things from the past year. They say word of mouth is the best advertisement, so maybe Lucchese will throw me a bone and hook me up with some boots (ha ha). Maybe this will help with your Christmas shopping. Without further ado let’s start! I’ve made it easy to check out each of these items, I’ve linked back to their respective websites, so happy shopping!

  1. Obviously my Lucchese boots made this list. I have several (cough, cough) pairs of cowboy boots. My Lucchese are by far the most comfortable and eye catching. I wear them when I want to be noticed and they never fail me.
My Luccheses. Love.

My Luccheses. Love.

 2. My Dogeared necklace. I’m a big fan of quirky, handmade or unusual jewelry. Not only are they cool, it’s a good conversation starter. My WTF (where’s the food without the farmer) necklace has started all kinds of conversations about food and farming. My favorite place to buy Dogeared jewelry is at my local shop called Ruby’s.

Because sometimes a Girl needs to be reminded that she is a badass.

Because sometimes a Girl needs to be reminded that she is a badass.

3. I received Marrakesh Endz Argan and Hemp Oil Therapy in one of the beauty boxes I get every month. I have fine, long, blonde hair so a detangler/leave-in conditioner is a must for me especially because working outside like I do has a tendency to really dry out my hair. This stuff is miracle in a bottle and it smells good. It makes me have shiny princess hair and I dig that.

Hair crack.

Hair crack.

  1. When I went to Europe I experienced bidet use for the first time. I now understand why they think we are dirty Americans. Once you go bidet you can’t go back. This bidet attaches right onto your toilet and is amazing. I installed it myself in about 10 minutes and never looked back. 
    Don't question me. Just buy it.

    Don’t question me. Just buy it.

    5. The knife I didn’t know I needed. I used my havalon for everything. From skinning things to castrating things. I feel like a surgeon and I like it. You don’t sharpen the blade, you put on a new one. It’s a great gift for the outdoors man or woman in your life. 

I love my havalon.

I love my havalon.



6. Umai Dry kit. I’ve wanted to learn how to do charcuterie for years. It has intimidated me though. Something about giving myself e.coli or something. So when this company contacted me about doing a review for this blog, I was all about it. I made lomo, prosciuttini and bresaola – it was delicious. This is a great product to learn with. I highly recommend it.

Bresaola

Bresaola

7. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory – I read this book last year, but it stayed with me. It talks about an fact of life most of us won’t talk about, death. It’s done with humor and a frankness that I really appreciated.

by Caitlin Doughty

by Caitlin Doughty

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Guest Post: Collards Greens Recipe

I met John a few weeks ago and we immediately bonded over our mutual love of food. He impressed me with his knowledge of heritage pork and all things gravy (a great mix, FYI). Since then, he’s been gracious enough to teach me more about Southern food and culture.

I was 30 kinds of excited when he taught me how to make these collards. I absolutely loved them. I have some in my fridge right now! I cannot believe this isn’t a “thing” out here. Seriously. I feel like it is important to share this magical concoction with as many people as I can, so I  asked John to author a post for this blog, you know, in the interest of education. Make these. Promise me? You need to try them, they are delicious.


 

Let’s Talk About Collards, Y’all…

Food is a huge part of southern culture, and the magical ways in which true southern country dishes, or soul food, are prepared are varied and complex. Recipes usually aren’t written down or gathered in great collections. This sacred knowledge is often times only accessible through the family cooking cult’s supreme leader; in my family, this is Granny. Granny is the culinary queen of Coosa County, Alabama and the patron saint of Rockford; the nearest town to our family farm. If she’s not on the front porch reading the Good Book and talking to her hummingbirds, then she’s in the kitchen rattling every pan she can get her hands on. If she’s not in the kitchen, then she’s probably at church because those are the only places this lady goes.

In our house, food is love. You know your Granny loves you because she makes an effort to see you smile every time you eat. Your Granny knows you love her because you eat the mound of savory beauty she piles on your plate. You eat all of it. You say thank you. Then you get some more.

One of my all time favorite loves that my Granny makes is collard greens. They grow very well in that area of the country, and because collards don’t mind being frozen or canned, they are a regular appearance on many a plate in the south throughout the year.

Greens.

Greens.

It has come to my attention, since moving to Northern California back in May, that the mighty collard is underutilized in this particular region of the country, and drastically under appreciated by everyone except the health nazis who think that greens should just be eaten raw, or even more appalling, juiced! Blasphemy, I say! Blasphemy! I feel obligated to share a true southern recipe for preparing collard greens. This is Granny’s way. She’d be so pissed if she knew I was doing this…

As I mentioned earlier, southern dishes like collard greens are prepared in many different ways, whether it be from region to region, family to family, or generation to generation. This is how I learned, and even though I am very much biased I’ve had them all, and I believe this is by far the best way to prepare the greens. If you don’t like what you get, try something else. Collards are magic food that can take on a bunch of different flavors, so don’t be afraid to mess around with flavors and spices you are more drawn to or comfortable with.

When I met Megan a few weeks ago we quickly found that we share a passion for eating, drinking, and cooking, and she has been kind enough to be my Chico culinary tour guide since then, showing me the best food and drink the area has to offer. Last Saturday, we went to the Saturday Market in Chico to peruse the goodies and plan a good meal for a beautiful but chilly day. As we were walking the rows of the market we came upon a stack of fresh kelly green collards sitting on a table and Megan turned around and informed me that she’d NEVER EATEN COLLARD GREENS!!! Her excitement and joy from learning that I know the way of the greens was enough to melt my cold dark heart and dishonor my family by giving away my Granny’s trade secret. We bought two bundles and decided to do the damn thing. We had a blast cooking up all kinds of stuff that day, but Megan was really impressed with the greens and asked me to share how to do these things right with all of you. So, here’s how you make Granny’s Collard Greens. Share them with somebody special!

Granny’s Collard Greens

Warm a medium to large pot to low-med heat. You can also use a big cast iron skillet if your heart so desires. Add some fat –
fatty thick cut bacon, bacon ends, bacon grease, smoked neck bones, butter, something…don’t be scared to get greasy. I prefer bacon ends or thick cuts of bacon, cut into small pieces. You want this to cook slowly and to maintain a soft texture so that you release the fat and smokiness. Low and slow is the way to go.
Let your choice of fat cook for about 10 – 15 minutes, stirring regularly

Mmmm, Table Mountain Ranch Pork bacon ends..

Mmmm, Table Mountain Ranch Pork bacon ends.

Add some garlic. 4 – 6 whole cloves should do the trick. Let your garlic sweat until it starts to soften. You don’t want it to fall apart just yet, so don’t let it go too long.
Add some broth. 2 to 3 cups of chicken broth is my go to. You can use beef or pork broths as well.
Heat on medium and let all that get aquatinted together for about 10 minutes.
Add some flavor:
go heavy on the smoked paprika
go heavy on the fresh ground black pepper
add half an onion. Just cut it in half and drop it in there. I prefer reds or vidalias.
add 1/4 to 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. If you like tanginess use 1/2 cup, if not use 1/4. If you’re timid, just roll the dice and trust the southerner. I mean you no harm.
Stir and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Green prepping

Green prepping

Prep your greens:
Remove the leafy greens from the central stem. You can use a knife or scissors to cut them away, or you can go old school and simply tear them away by hand. Wash your damn greens. Even if they look clean, collards are a very porous plant that grows near the ground, so the leaves can absorb a lot of soil and grit. The best way to ensure they are clean is to fill your sink with cool water and then add your greens and a half cup of coarse salt. Gently bath the greens in the salty water then drain the sink and rinse the greens with fresh water. I’d even go so far as to spin them as well. Gritty greens are no good.
Add your greens:
Slowly add your washed greens in small handfuls at a time. Stir each handful into your broth and add more as they cook down. When all of your greens are in the pot you want it to look sorta soupy. There should be an ample amount of liquid allowing the greens to not be clumped together or weighing heavy on the bottom of the pan. Add some water or more broth if you think you need to. Continue gently stirring until all the greens begin to darken in color, usually about 5 minutes. Put a lid on it.
Come back and stir it in 20 minutes. Put the lid back on.
Come back and stir it in 20 minutes. Taste your broth. By this time, you should be able to get an idea of what your working with. You should have some tang, some spice, and some smoky fatty goodness going on in there. I usually add more paprika right here. Bring your heat back down to low-med, put the lid back on, and let the magic happen.
Continue checking and stirring every 20-30 minutes until all the green are very dark in color and soft in texture. When you taste them they should not be chewy or crispy or fibrous, but soft and savory. They should be ready to eat after about two hours of cooking.

Adding your greens, slowly.

Adding your greens, slowly.

Serving your greens:
I just slap em on the plate and go to town, but some people do prefer to add pepper sauce or hot sauce to theirs’. Do as you so please. I usually add some more pepper just because pepper is amazing, and a little salt can go a long way if you have undercooked or unevenly cooked your greens and are getting some bitter flavors in there.
Saving your greens:
Collard greens are amazing left over, so don’t throw them out if you don’t eat them all. In most cases, they will continue to ferment in that heavenly broth and continue to taste better and better over the next few days. They also can be frozen and stored away for entire seasons without losing anything with the time.
When you’ve had your fill of the greens be sure to keep the broth. The broth is called pot likker, and is the best soup base you could ever ask for. Some old country folks even drink it straight, you know, for vitality and what not.

A pot of green love.

A pot of green love.

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