Let’s Talk Turkey

If you drive through the country, you’ll see the fields are drying out and turning gold. Flocks of honking geese are flying South. There is a smattering of leaves on the ground, and early morning chores require a sweatshirt now. Fall is arriving and the meat chickens are gone from the pasture, leaving just the Gobblers. After our recent predator issues (we lost one and two were injured), we moved them up into the yard where they will be safer, under a yard light.

A few years ago, I decided to try my hand at brining our Thanksgiving Turkey. The Pioneer Woman recipe was what I decided on, and I have used it ever since. It’s amazing, the difference that brining meat can make when it comes to flavor and tenderness. A pastured Turkey has had a good amount of exercise in its life, and its muscles are well developed. It turns out best when brined or slow roasted (I do both). Here is my Thanksgiving Turkey recipe and routine:

Monday evening, 7 pm - place frozen turkey in a bucket of cold water in the garage, to thaw.

Tuesday evening, 7 pm - take turkey out of water and place in brine.

Brine Recipe (from the Pioneer Woman, Rene Drummond)

  • 3 cups apple juice or cider

  • 2 gallons water

  • 4 sprigs fresh Rosemary

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt

  • 2 cups brown sugar

  • 3 Tbsp peppercorns

  • 5 Bay leaves

  • peels of 3 oranges

    Combine all ingredients in a stockpot, boil until salt is dissolved and it is aromatic. Let it cool (set it in the garage, covered, or in the fridge if you need to), and once it’s cool, pour it in with your bird in a bucket or a brining bag. If you are using a brining bag, put the bird breast down, and tomorrow at noon, flip it over.

    If you like the help of pictures, see original recipe here.

Wednesday evening, 7 pm - rinse off turkey and place in roaster at 350 degrees, for one hour. At 8 pm, turn down to 225 degrees.

Thursday morning, 6 am - check the temp of the turkey in the thigh and breast. Adjust temp down to 200 if it’s already done, or up to 300-350 if it’s not close yet.

Thursday, 11 am - remove turkey from roaster and let rest 30 minutes under tinfoil. While it’s resting, make gravy from juices. At 11:30, start to carve. Place meat on a covered platter and by noon, you will be eating your delicious, juicy turkey.

Don’t throw out that turkey carcass though! Pop it in your fridge or freezer to make bone broth later. Or, save yourself some dishes and throw it right back in the roaster, cover it with water, add a Tablespoon of ACV for every 8 cups of water that you added. Feel free to throw in an onion and a couple of bay leaves or any leftover aromatics that you have. Turn it on to 190 degrees and let it simmer until noon the next day. Strain the broth, and can or freeze it.

We have 2 turkeys available yet, both for October 26th processing. They will need to be picked up fresh from the farm between 1 and 2 pm that day. They will weigh 16-20 pounds and cost $4/lb (each bird includes feet, neck and giblets). Text me (507-621-1356) if you would like one!

public.jpeg

Meal Planning, Simplified

Do you ever feel like you spend your ENTIRE day just trying to keep up with feeding your family? Between meal planning, cooking, doing dishes, and grocery shopping - it’s a lot to keep up with. It is so worth it to feed my family real, wholesome meals (but we are only human and we do still sometimes buy frozen pizza from Costco or stop at Culver’s or Chipotle 😉). I am always trying to find ways to make things more simple. I could be like most bloggers and go into a 15-20 minute long story with anecdotes about how I do things but that wouldn’t be very simple, and simplicity is the name of my game. In short, I have this list that I look at every week when it comes time to plan meals:

public.jpeg

Some weeks, I have all kinds of meal ideas and some weeks I sit down and am just at a loss. Having this outline helps me because I don’t have to do a lot of thinking every week. Every few months (usually with the change of seasons) I fill in some of our favorites that we like to have every week, so when it comes time to plan I really have only a few decisions to make:

  1. What kind of meat should I make for sandwiches for the week? (Most often, it’s shredded chicken).

  2. What do I want to top Wednesday night’s homemade pizzas with?

  3. What cut of lamb should we have on Thursday and what kind of side dish?

  4. What cut of pork should we have on Friday and what kind of side dish?

Here I am on August 29th, posting our Summer meal plan. Soon, I will switch this up from a lot of grilled stuff and salads, to more crockpot dishes, soups, chili, beans, and stews. We found our first Red Maple leaf on the ground this week. That’s a sure sign that soup, pumpkin, and apple will be showing up a lot on our table soon.

Have a great Labor Day weekend everybody!

Organ Meats

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “What do I do with my organ meats? They are so nutritious, I know I should eat them.” Yes, they are. These recipes are the ways I like to cook liver and heart. I have yet to find my preferable way to make kidney and tongue, so if you know of a good recipe for one of those, please share it with me ☺️

Liver

  • 1 pound of liver, from any animal

  • 2-3 large onions

  • butter

  • sea salt

    Start caramelizing your onions. While they are caramelizing, fry your liver in another pan. Melt 1-2 Tbsp butter in a frying pan. Once melted, set in your slices of liver. Turn heat to medium low. Lightly salt the side that is up. When it looks gray around the top edges, flip (about 5 minutes). If the pan is too dry, add more butter. Lightly salt that side, and cook until juices run clear (about another 5 minutes). Plate with the caramelized onions and enjoy.

liver pate

  • Cooked liver (fry as above)

  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1/3 cup grassfed butter

  • sea salt

    Dice the fried liver immediately after cooking. Put in the food processor, with the onion powder, and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. You may need up to 1/2 cup to get the right consistency. Taste the pate and add salt to taste, or more onion powder, until it tastes good to you. Enjoy on sourdough toast or crackers.

heart

  • Grassfed beef heart

  • 1/4 cup water

  • sea salt

    Either at bedtime the day before you are going to eat it, or early in the morning on the day you will eat it, pour water into the bottom of a crockpot. Place the heart in the crockpot also. Sprinkle with salt. Turn on low. Let cook at least 12 hours, can cook up to 24. Slice and eat on sandwiches or serve with caramelized onions, or mushrooms.

How We Got Here

Most of you may not know the story of how our family got to where we are. That is what I am sharing with you today.

7 years ago, I was ill with a lot of stomach problems, and an autoimmune thyroid disorder. I had been asking God for months, to show me what was going on and how to fix the root cause. Suddenly the phrase “whole foods” kept coming up to me. This phrase led me on a months-long journey of reading books and articles, which eventually led me to the Weston A. Price Foundation and Nourishing Traditions.

Though we had both grown up on farms, we were living in town at the time. We found a source for raw milk and fresh eggs almost an hour away. We went and we LOVED it. We saw a positive change just from switching out those two things in our diet. As we ran out of other groceries, we replaced them with grassfed or pastured meats and more whole, traditionally prepared, foods.

Having grown up with parents who had been raised on the old fashioned family farms, we had the desire to return to those roots and homestead. We eventually moved to a 7 acre homestead with 23 chickens, a dog, and our 4 children. Our main barn was leaning dangerously, the remnant of confinement hog barns were falling in, there was little-to-no usable fencing, the pasture was mostly thistles, and the house was so awful that the 6 of us had to live in a camper for weeks. It was a lot of work, but I can look back fondly on those weeks and months now. We took a place that had been hard used and then almost forgotten, and gave it new life.

After we had moved there and done some work, we added a milk cow. When she had her first calf, we were drowning in milk (almost 5 gallons a day). I lamented on Facebook about it and another local homeschool mom asked if we would sell some. This was the start of a beautiful friendship for me, and a wild ride for our family. Other friends came for milk, and we added turkeys and meat chickens, lambs, pigs, and steers. We outgrew our 7 acres and when Matt got a job offer that would allow him to quit trucking and be home every evening, we jumped at the chance. We found a great 50-acre farmstead 10 miles from his job. It had a house that was the perfect size for our growing family of 7. It was our dream to be able to farm regeneratively, and everything came together in a way that made us think surely it was Divine Intervention.

Our plan was for Matt’s full-time-plus job to financially support the farm while we both put in the sweat equity, and to find new customers and grow as the need arose; eventually getting to where Matt would be able to go down to part time, and then to work solely from home. The problem, we found out, was that we monumentally underestimated the overhead and costs. We jumped into something we really didn’t know about. Looking back, some sort of marketing and accounting classes should have come first. It took us almost 18 months to find customers, and by then we had incurred debt that had not been a part of our plan.

Something else we monumentally underestimated was the work load that we were taking on. The blogs of people who had done this made it sound so simple and smooth - and it was not. We do not shy from work, and actually, we believe it is quite good for you. But for two people who are trying to homeschool and raise 6 children, and rejuvenate and build a farm from scratch (while one of them works 50+ hours most weeks) - well, it was foolish for us to think we could do all of it.

More and more, I see my family falling apart - and I know it is because of my foolishness in taking on too much. The 6-8 or more hours a day I spend on farm work, leaves very little (or no) time to do my most important job: raise my children. My time with them is so short - 18 years goes by in a flash - and they are the only thing on this Earth that can make it to Heaven someday with me.

I have focused for a long time on feeding our bodies, to the detriment of feeding our minds and our spirits.

So, what does this mean for the farm? I have a few inklings of ways that we can continue in some small way - with a more manageable workload (and help). Over the next week or so, I will be spending time fasting and Matt and I will be praying it out together. If you are a believer, we humbly ask for you to join us in asking the Lord to give us clear direction.

Thank you, Dear Friends.

Can you see Shiloh in the tall grass?

Can you see Shiloh in the tall grass?