You Gotta Have THESE Grilling Gadgets

Camping in Kodiak, Alaska

We don’t get the grill out much at home, but we sure do when we go camping or boating.

We’ve had many fun adventures with friends camping over the years.  Mostly in Kodiak, AK. 

My friend Julie and I would load our cargo trailers with all the camping gear, buckle the kids in, and take off every opportunity we got.

Hopefully, they all remembered to put shoes on.

We’d hang out on the beach or hike into the woods.

The guys would join us on the evenings or weekends.

One of my favorite memories is of Julie using a rake to handle the pots in the fire.

This was her ultimate grilling gadget.

I want you to be prepared when you plan your next adventure.

There is still plenty of time this summer try out some of these great gadgets. 

Granted, these aren’t really all gadgets, but they sure make things easier and delicious when it comes to grilling!

#1. STAINLESS STEEL PORTABLE PROPANE GRILL:

You’d LOVE this stainless steel grill!  It’s small and portable. But not too small. I’ve had one for years, it’s falling apart because we’ve packed it on SO many camping and boating trips over the last 20 years.   Think of the great food you can quickly cook up.  Meals will be a breeze when you throw this in the back of your pickup for the next time you head to the lake or the cabin in the mountains.

Photo courtesy of Camping World
#2. GRILLING BASKET:

This basket is perfect for enjoying all the wonderful fresh veggies that summer has to offer.  Just toss them with a little olive oil and season.  Don’t walk away from your grill, at 400*, it won’t be long until you’re eating.  It is lightweight and easily stores inside your grill.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com
#3. PORK MARINADE:

When we lived in Ketchikan, AK, we’d go boating frequently, pulling over on one of the many islands in the Inside Passage to camp.

One summer, we helped a couple build a fishing and hunting cabin.

We were camped out on the beach with porpoises surfacing out in the distance.

The HUGE tress of the Tongass National forest looming behind us.

Our friend grilled the best grilled pork chops I had ever had.

I don’t know if it was the experience or the marinade, but they were basted with a 50/50 Worcestershire sauce and bourbon mixture she had in a spray bottle.

#4. ROASTING STICKS:

Everyone in my family has their very own roasting stick.  Of course, mine is the pig.  These are great for both roasting a pork kielbasa and helping you get your marshmallow the perfect golden brown shade for your s’mores. I prefer to just eat the chocolate.  They telescope out and the little black doodad spins the rod without having to rotate the handle in your hand.

Photo courtesy of Firebuggz.com
#5.Tupperware Season-Serve Container:

I have two different sizes of these containers because they are so great!  The unique grid design on both sides of the container allow the marinade to travel through the container and marinade every inch of your meat or veggies.

Photo courtesy of Tupperware.com
#6. MEAT THERMOMETER:

It’s overwhelming the options out there!  You can go for a simple dial meat thermometer to a completely wireless that sends notifications to your phone when your food is ready.  A meat thermometer can save you from torching the burgers or drying out a roast.

What adventures do you have planned this summer?

So you have a favorite grilling gadget or accessory?

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Our Favorite Yard Games

TRY ONE AT YOUR NEXT GATHERING

Summer is finally here!

Who wants to spend time indoors when there is so much fun to be had outside.

Although I prefer the cooler weather, it’s sure nice to spend the time outside.

My favorite phrase is, “you can always put more on to get warm, but you can never take enough off to get cool.”

My kids thought it was summer back in April when we had a couple 60 degree days.

They drug the stock tank down near the house and filled it up, hoping it would warm up enough for them to swim.

Around here, our stock tanks double as the swimming pool.

It is supposed to be in the 90’s the start of the week and I’m pretty sure I’ll find them splashing away.

Did you stay out till dark on summer solstice?

We did!

Not because we realized it was summer solstice, but because summer on the farm here is busy!

I was outside stacking rocks on my rock wall for my future yard and rotating the sprinkler around the garden.

There is still months of summer left, but it seems as it will blow by.

I started cutting the fields for hay on Tuesday. 

If all goes planned, we should be finished stacking the bales by the 4th of July.

It’ll be SO nice for the 4th to chill with a family BBQ and fireworks!

As soon as it gets semi-warm, the kids dig into the storage room and pull out badminton.

It’s our favorite!

We always get a good laugh when we swing and completely miss the birdie. 

We love yard games.

Try a few this summer.

Here are some of our favorites!

  • Cornhole – easy for all ages, from my three year old to my 88 year old grandma.  The goal is to get the bean bag in the hole.  We called it the bean bag toss when I was a kid and we used hula hoops as the hole.
  • Yardzee – just like Yahtzee, but with large oversized dice you get to roll across the yard.
  • Flickin’ Chicken – We haven’t played this yet, but I can only imagine the laughter coming from hurling a rubber chicken at a target.  The birds bounce and roll all over making it difficult to get them into the bullseye.
  • Wooden Toppling Tower – Giant, outdoors version of Jenga.  They even make a glow-in-the-dark version for fun into the night.
  • Croquet – an oldie but goodie!

What’s your favorite yard game?

I can’t wait to hear how you spent your fourth hanging with family and friends.

Stay cool and enjoy the summer!

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Fabulous Farm Raised Fried Chicken

Courtesy of Taste of Home

Fried chicken is my favorite dish! 

Bar Harbor Restaurant in Ketchikan, Alaska makes the best fried chicken EVER!!.

Well…at least that I’ve tasted.

Tomorrow is International Picnic Day.

What a great and convenient excuse to get away and spend time out doors with family and friends.

I found this cute snippet from a book written by Mrs. M. W. Ellsworth in 1900 about choosing the perfect picnic spot.

                “If the party is to drive or ride, let not the distance be too great.  There should be a stream or spring of pure water, materials for a fire, shade intermingled with sunshine, and a reasonable freedom from tormenting insect life.”

Steens Mountain Loop

It reminds me of the kids’ story The Berenstain Bears, The Picnic.

Papa Bear leads his family all over bear country trying to find the perfect picnic spot only to be deterred by loud noises, lots of people, mosquitos and rain.

Eventually, they end up back home in the big tree at the kitchen table which Brother Bear deems ‘the perfect picnic spot.’

So who says you can’t enjoy a tasty meal of Fried Chicken right in your own kitchen?

How did Fried Chicken become a picnic favorite anyway?

Back in the day, before refrigeration was commonplace, Fried Chicken traveled well in the hot weather or spring and summer.

And before the industrialization of chicken production, only tender young spring chickens would be suitable for the higher heat and relatively fast cooking time of frying making Fried Chicken a luxury of spring and summer.

But you can enjoy this luxury year round!

Many family and friends have drooled over my fried chicken baked from this recipe.

It’s also great for steak fingers or making chicken strips.

And SO convenient, since you mix up a big batch and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

FARM RAISED FRIED CHICKEN

yield: 4-6 SERVINGS  prep time: 20 MINUTES  bake  time: 45 MINUTES   total time: 1 HR 5 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 Rural Roots Ranch broiler/fryer chicken (2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds), cut up
  • Oil or Lard for frying

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the first 11 ingredients. Place about 1 cup flour mixture in a large resealable plastic bag; add chicken, a few pieces at a time. Seal bag and shake to coat. Store remaining mixture in an airtight container and save for another use.
  2. In a large skillet, brown chicken on medium-high heat in 1/2 in. of oil on all sides; remove to a large shallow baking pan.
  3. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 45-60 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.
  4. Cut into squares and let rise on lightly greased baking sheets in warmed oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. Bake bars for 7-8 minutes or until light golden brown.

Adapted from Taste of Home

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Delectable Maple Donut Recipe for National Donut Day

Did you realize there is a National Doughnut Day?

I thought it was just another one of those strange days where they honor something just because.

But it actually started back in 1938 as a tribute to the Salvation Army volunteers who served doughnuts to soldiers on the front lines of World War I.

Their mission was to provide comforting meals to the troops.

Donuts were their solution.

They were cooking in very dire circumstances, using war helmets as their pot to fry up to seven donuts at a time.

Now we celebrate these brave volunteers who were known as “donut lassies” on the first Friday of June every year.

Courtesy of Flickr.com

Now, I’m curious about the reasonings behind other National days.

May have to do some investigating.

So what are you waiting for?

Enjoy a donut, or maybe two for the day in honor of the donut lassies.

Better yet, bake your own right at home.

My family loves these Maple Bars.

Only we tend to switch it up and make chocolate icing instead.

It’s the most delicious breakfast paired with our pasture raised pork bacon.

Click HERE to get some for yourself!

MMMMMmmmm…!

MAPLE BARS

yield: 1 DOZEN  prep time: 1 HOUR  bake  time: 7-8 MINUTES   total time: 1 HR 15 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons slat
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 (1/4 oz) packages yeast
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 5 cups flour

Maple Icing

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:

For Maple Bars:

  1. Preheat oven in warm mode, or 170 degrees F.
  2. In a microwaveable bowl, melt butter. 
  3. Add milk, sugar, salt and cinnamon to butter. Microwave until very warm, about 1 minute 30 seconds.
  4. Add yeast and beaten eggs to milk mixture.
  5. In a stand mixer, add half of the flour and milk mixture.
  6. Beat on medium/low until smooth.
  7. Add remaining flour.
  8. Dough will be very soft.
  9. Turn onto floured surface and knead in enough flour to make it smooth.
  10. With a rolling pin, roll into a ½ inch thick rectangle.
  11. Cut into squares and let rise on lightly greased baking sheets in warmed oven for 20 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  13. Bake bars for 7-8 minutes or until light golden brown.

For Icing:

  1. While bars are rising, in a saucepan bring butter, brown sugar and milk to a boil.
  2. Let simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Add maple syrup and then powdered sugar and blend well.
  5. You can then either spread on maple bars, or I like to dip the top side of the bars in the icing.

If you have chocoholics in the family.  Try the chocolate icing.

Chocolate Icing:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • While bars are rising, in a saucepan bring butter and milk to a boil.
  • Let simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Add chocolate chips.
  • Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and then powdered sugar and blend well.
  • You can then either spread on maple bars, or I like to dip the top side of the bars in the icing.

Adapted from Food.com

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5 Amazing Parks You Should Make the Detour to Visit in Oregon

Isn’t it odd that for many of us, we can live in the same state for most of our life, yet never visit the parks that are right outside our back door.

I mean seriously, we’ll travel hundreds of miles to other states to visit their national parks, but never our own.

Or if you’re like me, I travel across the state almost monthly delivering pork, but am always in a rush to get from one point to the next and back home again.

I steal glances of these natural wonders as I drive by, probably making the cars behind me nervous as I swerve all over the road, wishing I would have put the time in my schedule to stop.

We lived in Alaska for 17 years and never took the time to really travel the state until the last two years when we knew we’d be moving soon. 

There is SO much I still wish I could go back and see.

Yet, here I am living in Oregon again, and of the top 5 parks in Oregon to see, I haven’t even been to half of them.

No surprise, Crater Lake is number one!

I’ve drove right by the entrance of this park twice in the last two years and have never took the time to stop.

Crater Lake is on my bucket list.

Photo courtesy of TripAdviosr

Crater Lake was formed when Mount Mazama blew its top. 

The caldera left by the volcano erupting is filled with a deep blue, clear water making it the deepest lake in the United States. 

There are several hiking trails at Crater Lake National Park and they suggest giving yourself at least 3 hours to really enjoy the park.

Did you know it’s Oregon’s only National Park?

Me, niether!

Next, it’s the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

The Oregon dunes make up about a forty-mile recreational area that runs along the Oregon coast.

It’s one of the largest areas of temperate coastal and dunes in the world, with the forests and ocean all together in such close proximity.

There are thirty lakes in this forty-mile area.

I imagine you could spend a week on the coast and still not see it all!

How about number three, Deschutes National Forest.

Photo courtesy of TripAdviosr

Thinking back, I have seen a lot more of Deschutes National Forest than I originally thought.

There are dozens of lakes, lava fields and hiking/biking trails with some amazing views of the Cascade mountains.

Suttle Lake was one of my favorite places to go swimming in the summer.  

There was a HUGE floating log that made for the best dock to jump from in the middle of the lake.  

You’d get several kids pushing the thing around the lake.

Ever been spelunking?

Yes!  It’s really a word. LOL!

Yah, I’d never heard of it before either until my Mom said it when we were exploring some caves out here in Princeton.

Spelunking: the exploration of caves, especially as a hobby (Oxford Dictionaries)

Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is number 4.

Photo courtesy of TripAdviosr

You get to wander through narrow, twisting underground passages enjoying all the strangely beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

Make sure you pack a sweatshirt.

The cave is a chilly 44 degrees year round!  Perfect place to visit on a hot day to cool off!

And number 5, the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

When I was in the 5th grade, our school took us up to Camp Hancock. 

I don’t know if it even exists anymore. 

We spent three or four days out there exploring the trails and finding our own fossils.

Now, I drive through the area once a year when I make a run to Thomas Orchards in Kimberley to get buy peaches, pears and cherries.

The hills at John Day Fossil Park are "alive" with color.

Make sure you have a full tank of gas and plenty of water as refill spots are scarce.

There are plenty of trails of varying lengths that you can hike.

You’re gonna want to plan a whole day out here exploring, plus travel time to get to the area.

Plan some time and go!

Have you visited any of these places?

Comment or send me a message and let me know.

I’d love to hear what you thought of them!

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Porktastic Flavor Grilling Recipes

Some of my best memories are camping with family and friends.

Memorial weekend is usually the first opportunity for us to pull out the grill.

When we lived in Alaska, it was our first campout of the year as well.

Now that we are in Oregon, it’s our first big get-together with the family.

With summer just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you some of our favorite grilled pork recipes.

  • Grilled Pork Tenderloins
  • BBQ Teriyaki Pork Kabobs
  • Potluck Spare Ribs
  • Grilled Pork with Avocado Salsa

And of course you can’t forget a little dessert!

  • Blueberry Grunt

Let us know what you think! I’d love try some of your favorite grilling recipes.

GRILLED PORK TENDERLOINS

yield:  8 SERVINGS  prep time: 10 MINUTES  grill  time: 20 MINUTES   total time: 30 MIN + MARINATING

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Rural Roots Ranch pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
  • Hot cooked rice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients.
  2. Pour half of the marinade into a bowl or shallow dish; add tenderloins and turn to coat.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning pork occasionally. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.
  4. Drain pork, discarding marinade.
  5. Grill, covered, over indirect medium-hot heat for 20-35 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145°, turning occasionally and basting with reserved marinade.
  6. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
  7. Serve with rice.

Can you freeze Grilled Pork Tenderloins?

Freeze uncooked pork in a freezer container with marinade. Transfer reserved marinade to a freezer container; freeze. To use, completely thaw tenderloins and marinade in refrigerator. Grill as directed.

GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN TIPS 

How long do you grill pork loin per pound?

Most pork tenderloins are around 1 to 1-1/2 pounds and take about 15 minutes to cook. This recipe calls for two tenderloins, which means the cooking time will be anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness—the meat’s internal temperature should be 145° when fully cooked. 

What is the difference between a pork loin and a pork tenderloin?

The loin refers to a large portion of back meat that can be sold in a large, flat slab. The tenderloin is a small, tender, cylindrical portion within the loin

How do you keep pork loin from drying out?

Keep in mind that for pork, pink does not mean raw, so avoid the impulse to overcook it. Once the meat’s internal temperature hits 145°, you can stop cooking.

Adapted from Taste of Home

BBQ TERIYAKI PORK KABOBS

yield:  6 SERVINGS  prep time: 30 MINUTES  grill time: 20 MINUTES   total time: 3 HRS 30 MIN (includes marinating)

A simple way to make kabobs for summer grilling, and easily adaptable to add your favorite veggies. Great with rice and a nice salad!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound Rural Roots Ranch boneless pork loin, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons soy
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 12
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 12 bite-size chunks fresh pineapple

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a shallow dish, mix together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  2. Add pork cubes, and turn to coat evenly with marinade. Cover, and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  3. In a saucepan, combine beef broth, cornstarch, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, brown sugar, 2 cloves minced garlic, and ginger.
  4. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate.
  6. Thread pork cubes onto skewers, alternating with mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, and pineapple chunks.
  7. Cook on grill for 15 minutes, or until meat is cooked through.
  8. Turn skewers, and baste often with sauce during cooking.

Adapted from Taste of Home

POTLUCK SPARERIBS

yield:  12 SERVINGS  prep time: 10 MINUTES  grill  time: 1 HR 45 MINS  total time: 2 HOURS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 pounds Rural Roots Ranch pork spareribs
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut ribs into serving-sized pieces; place with the meaty side up on racks. in 2 greased 13×9-in. baking pans.
  2. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350° for 1-1/4 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. Remove racks; drain and return ribs to pans.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients; pour over ribs.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes or until sauce coats ribs, basting occasionally.
  6. Ribs can also be grilled over medium-hot heat for the last 30-40 minutes instead of baking.

Adapted from Taste of Home

GRILLED PORK W/ AVOCADO SALSA

yield:  6 SERVINGS  prep time: 25 MINUTES grill  time: 25 MINUTES   total time: 50 MINUTES + MARINATING

The cumin, avocado and jalapeno give it southwestern flair. It’s an easy, elegant way to prepare pork.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped seeded jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 pounds Rural Roots Ranch pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons jalapeno pepper jelly

Salsa:

  • 2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For marinade, mix first 5 ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, toss pork with 1/2 cup marinade; refrigerate, covered, up to 2 hours.
  3. For glaze, place jelly and 1/3 cup of the remaining marinade in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.
  4. Cook and stir until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes; remove from heat.
  5. Place salsa ingredients in a large bowl; toss lightly with remaining marinade.
  6. Drain pork, discarding marinade.
  7. Place pork on a lightly oiled grill rack over medium heat.
  8. Grill, covered, until a thermometer reads 145°, 4-5 minutes per side, brushing with glaze during the last 3 minutes.
  9. Serve with salsa.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Have you ever heard of a a grunt? As in a dessert?

I never had.

Well…grunts, also called slumps, are just like cobblers except the grunt’s biscuits are steamed on the stovetop, almost like a dumpling.

They’re called grunts because of the sound the dessert makes as the fruit bubbles up during cooking. Or slumps for the way the biscuits slump down when served.

Grunts are great for cooking over a campfire.

BLUEBERRY GRUNT

yield:  6 SERVINGS  prep time: 15 MINUTES  grill  time: 20 MINUTES   total time: 35 MINUTES

This is wonderful served with a scoop of ice cream on top!

INGREDIENTS:

For the Fruit:

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt

For the Dumplings:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Vanilla ice cream, for topping

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt to a large skillet or braiser with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Stir to combine and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry cutter or fork. Note that you can also grate the butter on a large box grater.
  5. Gently work the butter into the flour mixture and stir in the buttermilk.
  6. Drop the biscuit dough, using an ice cream scoop, onto the hot blueberry mixture.
  7. Cover and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are done.
  8. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Adapted from Spruce Eats by Anita Schecter

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It’s Not the “Other White Meat.”

4 Reasons Why Pastured Pork Should Be on Your Plate.

So how is your pork different than what I get at the grocery store? Pork is pork, right?

What makes it so special?

Why would I pay your price when I can get it SO much cheaper?

These are all questions I’ve been asked.

Pasture pork and the pork you get at the grocery store are like two completely different products, but called the same name.

Not sure if you believe me? 

Take a look at the 4 reasons we believe pastured pork should be on your plate.

#1 Taste:

  • When the pigs get to spend their days with their snouts in the grass, nibbling on roots and insects, their diet gives the pork a richer taste.
  • Deep marbling and red color are the key to flavor! This marbling throughout the muscles keeps the meat from becoming dry.
  • Just add a little salt and pepper and throw it on the grill.  Pastured pork can compete with any steak!

By contrast, pork you will find in the grocery store is grey, dry, and tasteless.  Have you ever noticed most pork recipes call for a number of seasonings or a sauce?  This is to add flavor to the pork which is lacking its own.

 #2 Quality of Life:

  • Pastured Pigs get to enjoy a life outdoors frolicking in the field and playing in the wallow.
  • They are resilient and healthy animals due to the access to clean air and exercise.
  • Pigs are social animals and having their social needs met, makes happier animals, thus higher quality meat.

Did you know that 95% of pigs in America are raised on factor farms, living their entire life inside metal buildings, on concrete floors, never once stepping foot outside?

Imagine 200 people crammed together in a bus verse a football field.

This leads to the use of antibiotics routinely to keep these animals healthy.

#3 Nutrient Rich:

  • Pastured Pigs meat and fat are rich in micronutrients.
  • High in Omega 3’s, fatty acids and vitamin D.
  • They produce monounsaturated fat, or the heart healthy fat.  The same fat found in avocado and olive oil.
  • Pigs in Sunshine are like humans and make vitamin D.
  • Pasture raised pork also contains Conjugated linoleic Acid (CLA) which has been found to promote weight loss and burn fat cells as well as reduce appetite.

The healthfulness of food has declined overtime due to industrialization. Efficiency, profit and convenience rather than flavor and nutrition are the goals.

#4 Better for the Environment:

  • Small farms raising pigs on pastures are improving their soil and the land. 
  • Grazing wastes build up the soil.
  • Traditionally farms raise heritage breeds suited for their pastures, preserving the breed and ensuring biodiversity.

Pigs raised in confinement can potential cause a hazard due to the large amount of contaminates.

Now you’ve seen the difference between pastured pork vs commercial or grocery store pork.

  • Deep rich flavor vs mild
  • Where and how it is raised
  • High in Omega 3’s vs antibiotics
  • Benefits the environment vs potential hazard

SO why the big price difference?

Why is the pork from the grocery store so cheap?

A commercial sow can produce up to 30 piglets per year.  Which then grow out in 6 months. They are confined to small spaces. Requiring less labor.

A pasture or heritage sow typically only produces about 16 pigs per year, which take 9-12 months to grow. Pasture pigs are routinely moved, adding man hours.

Buying in bulk is convenient.  Why run to the store weekly for meat if you don’t have to?  

Don’t have much freezer space?  We have pastured pork share sizes to fit most any freezer and budget.

And as a gift, here is my SUPER SIMPLE ROAST recipe.

SUPER SIMPLE ROAST

yield:  4-6 SERVINGS  prep time: 5 MINUTES  cook time: 4-6 HOURS   total time: 6 HOURS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 lb Rural Roots Ranch Pork Roast
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the thawed, room temperature roast in the crock pot.
  2. The side with the most fat should be up to allow all the juices to distribute through the meat.
  3. Sprinkle the garlic salt, onion powder and pepper over the surface of the roast.
  4. If the lid of your crock pot does not seal, place a sheet of tinfoil between the crock and the lid to help hold in the moisture.
  5. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  6. Turn off crock pot.
  7. Allow roast to rest in juices for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Cut and Serve!

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2 Tasty Pork Recipes and Something for a Sweet Tooth

A couple times a year I get the urge to purge.

We’ve never really accumulated a lot of useless things.

Moving every 2-3 years and restricted to a weight limit when moving our personal things in the military really helped.

We’ve been living on the farm 4 years in May.  This is the longest we’ve ever lived in one home.

When I left home, my folks gifted me a cookbook with all our favorite family recipes.

A few of them are 4-H cooking contest winners.

And for the last 20 years, I’ve been adding to it.  Mostly stuffing the recipes in it.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve misplaced my kids’ favorite coffee cake and cheesy bread stick recipes.

I’ve scoured the internet and can not find the same coffee cake recipe.

I’m really heart broken over that one.  Not as sad as my taste buds.  Though my pants may like me better.  LOL!

I’d finally had enough.

I sat down at the table and pulled everything out.

Making a trash pile of recipes we didn’t really like or I hadn’t made in years.

And a keep pile of our favorites and family staples.

Then finally sorting them out in the right categories in my book.

I should have done this years ago!  It would have saved me time and frustration.

My goal has been to create a cookbook for my nieces, nephews and my own kids as they graduate from high school.

The first graduates next month!  I may be burning the midnight oil to get it accomplished.

My goal is also to share a couple times a month with you!

There is nothing more frustrating than trying a new recipe to find you don’t like it.  

I find when I search the internet for a recipe, I tend to stick to those by Betty Crocker or Taste of Home.  

It seems you can’t really go wrong with one of their recipes.

So take a minute, and check out a few of our favorites.  You won’t be disappointed!

SAN FRANCISCO PORK CHOPS

yield:  4 SERVINGS  prep time: 15 MINUTES  cook time: 45 MINUTES   total time: 1 HOUR

Tender chops in a delicious sauce are great over noodles or thin spaghetti.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 Rural Roots Ranch (3/4 inch-thick) boneless pork chops
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓  cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Brown chops in hot oil, about 5 minutes per side.
  3. Remove pork to a plate, reserving the oil in the skillet.
  4. Cook and stir garlic in reserved drippings until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Whisk beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, and red pepper flakes in a bowl, dissolving brown sugar.
  6. Return pork chops to skillet and pour soy sauce mixture over the chops.
  7. Bring sauce to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to low.
  8. Simmer chops until tender, 30 to 35 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.
  9. Transfer chops to a serving platter.
  10. Whisk cornstarch and water in a small bowl until smooth; stir into pan juices and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  11. Pour sauce over chops to serve.


We like to double the sauce, so there is plenty for our noodles.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

GREEN CHILI PORK ENCHILADAS

yield:  8 SERVINGS  prep time: 30 MINUTES  bake  time: 20 MINUTES   total time: 50 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb Rural Roots Ranch ground pork
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped Onion or Green Onion
  • 1 can (19 oz) Green Chili Enchilada Sauce
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • ¾ cup Sour Cream
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) Chopped Green Chilies
  • 1 can (16 oz) refried beans
  • Sliced Green Onion (For Garnish)
  • Sliced Black Olives (For Garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Brown pork in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine pork, 2 cups cheese, green chilies, refried beans and onions.
  3. In a small skillet, bring enchilada sauce to a boil, remove from heat.
  4. Dip each tortilla into heated sauce briefly to soften.
  5. Spoon ⅓ cup of the pork mixture and 2 tablespoons of sour cream down the center of each tortilla.
  6. Roll and place tortillas seam-side down in a 12″ x 8″ inch baking dish.
  7. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese, sliced green onions and olives.
  9. Bake 20 minutes at 350º until bubbly.

Our family tends to find ½ of an enchilada plenty filling.  So I make the enchiladas in two 9×9 pans placing 4 of the tortilla rolls in each. 

We serve one for dinner and put the other in the freezer after it has cooled for a quick dinner on busy nights.

Adapted from Familycookbook.com

And you can’t forget something for a sweet tooth!

My kids have made this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe SO many times, they have it memorized.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

yield:  3 DOZEN  prep time: 15 MINUTES  bake  time: 45 MINUTES   total time: 1 HOUR

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12 oz) packaged of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. With a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add remaining ingredients except for chocolate chips and mix well.
  5. Add chocolate chips and stir just until combined.
  6. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
  7. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until light brown. It will vary depending on your oven.
  8. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.
  9. ENJOY!

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Did you try one of our recipes?  What’d you think of it?

Let me know!

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How Much Freezer Space Do I Need For My Pastured Pork?

Have you been considering one of our boxed pastured pork shares or a custom whole or half, but not sure if you’ll have enough freezer space to store it?

I’ve found myself standing with the freezer door open trying to calculate mentally in my head how much space I have.

Maybe if I move this meat over here, and stuff these veggies in the door, ewww…and that looks like it could be thrown out, I could make more room.

I bet I’d find a lot more room too, if I’d take the time to defrost my freezer.  It’s amazing how quickly the ice seems to build up.

About 33% of us have an additional freezer at home.

But whether you have a top freezer on your fridge or three stashed in the garage, we’ll help you calculate your space.

Here’s a quick little breakdown on how much space you’ll need for our different sized pork shares, and how to measure your freezer.

PASTURED PORK SHARE

1/8 ~ 15 lbs
1/4 ~ 35 lbs
1/2 ~ 70 lbs
Whole ~ 140 lbs

FREEZER SPACE NEEDED

1 cu. ft.
2 cu. ft.
3 – 4 cu. ft.
6 – 7 cu. ft.

If you do not know the size of your freezer or how much space you have available, follow the steps below to calculate it.

Don’t get nervous if you don’t like math.  I’ll try to keep this simple.

Now would be a good time to defrost that freezer if you haven’t done it in awhile.

It usually takes less than 24 hours.

We place all our food in coolers and try to keep them in the coolest place of the house.

Unplug the freezer and let it thaw.

Wipe up the extra water with a towel, plug her in, and you’re good to go!

It’s best to let the freezer get back down to temperature before you start refilling it.

Don’t worry if you don’t have the time to defrost your freezer, you can still get a good idea of the space you have.

These steps are on how to measure your empty freezer, but let’s face it.  Unless you defrost your freezer, it’s not going to be empty.

And to be more accurate on the room you have, you’ll wanna leave your food in there and just measure the empty space.

5 Steps to Measure Your Freezer Space

1

2

3

4

5

Try to condense all your items into your freezer in as little space as you can or move to the side to take measurements.

Height: Measure inside the freezer from the bottom to the highest point it can be filled without obstructing the lid for a chest freezer, or to the top for an upright freezer.

Or the height of the area you have available.

Width: Measure inside the freezer from one inner wall across to the other. Record the number in feet.

Depth: Measure inside the freezer from the front wall, or door for an upright freezer, to the back inside wall. Record the number in feet.

Multiply the three numbers together. This will give you how many cubic feet you have to fill with pastured pork.

I sure hope that didn’t get your brain spinning in circles.  

I know I have to slow down and read through the steps a couple times slowly to make sure I understand myself.  LOL!

Go check out what Pastured Pork Share might be best for your family!

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The Perfect Pig for Our Pastures

Awwwhhh…….what a cute little piggy!

Did you just get the image of a little pink piglet in your head?  Me too!! 

Rarely are our pigs pink.  I love all the variety of color that comes from the Idaho Pasture Pigs (IPP) we raise.

Never heard of an Idaho Pasture Pig?  Don’t worry, most people haven’t.

They are extremely friendly and docile.

The kids love spending time in the pig pen.  No, not their messy rooms!  LOL! 

Each and everyone has a unique personality and name.  Since the breed originated in Idaho, we started naming them from different places in Idaho.

Fuitland
Payette
Cali

But as our herd grew, and we traveled farther to get new lines, we started naming them after the places they were born.

Another aspect we love about our IPP’s is they have great mothering qualities. They farrow, usually unassisted, in their huts.

Sow with litter in A-frame Hut.

As a kid we raised pigs.  When they farrowed we put them in crates to keep the babies safe until they were old enough and learned to stay out of the way.

Their A-frame hut acts like a farrowing crate protecting the pigs on the sides, but allows Mom and piglets to come and go as they please.

This allows them to be outdoors in fresh air as animals were intended and not in confinement.

There is a time and a place for confinement, but we try to avoid it as much as possible.

In the spring and fall, our place can get pretty busy.  Including boars, sows, feeders and piglets, we currently have 74 pigs wandering different pastures and farrowing pens on the place.

They love to graze on green pastures. While their diet can’t solely consist of grasses, they do well on very little grain as compared to a commercial hog.

Their short upturned nose is an ideal trait for grazing.

People chuckle at them and think they look odd, but I’ve been raising them long enough now that I think commercial hogs look like anteaters with their long noses.

It’s not uncommon on a warm day to see a pile of pigs or piglets basking in the sunshine.  Some of them even appear to be smiling.

Being out in the sunshine, eating and roaming the pastures, allows for them to create pork that is packed full of nutrients.

I think it’s the best pork, I’ve ever eaten.  Some of our customers have commented it’s more like beef than the pork they’re used to, but with a pork flavor.

If you’re ever out our way, we love visitors to the farm.  

Give us a holler.  We’d be happy to introduce you personally to the pigs and other critters on the farm.

In the meantime, sign-up to receive our emails.

Each month we will be introducing a different species we have on the farm.

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