Entries in Heritage Breeds (44)

Friday
Aug072015

Fair Time!

This was Fair Week for Linn County!  The fair is a fantastic and interesting microcosm of the county and it's people.  It harks back to times of yesteryear when you could not meet with the neighbors and community via facebook or instagram.   It is a memory of a time when people came together as a community to celebrate each other individually for their accomplishments and to enjoy the company of those in your area.  In the times of the past, communities went on hold for fair week.  It was assumed everyone would be there. Today's fairs are simply a modern day representation.  Communities are not as tight knit anymore.  We have lots of ways of keeping in touch with each other and many of today's modern conveniences seem to also make it much more difficult to put everything in our lives on hold for the week.

Nonetheless, we enjoy going each year to see certain events.  We always go to see the dog shows, the horse shows and to walk around the livestock areas.  We are always amazed by the time and the effort people put into training their animals and the poise they show in handling the very real stress of performing in a competition.  We have gotten to know many of the families that are regulars and recognize many of the important Linn County names.  

This year we added to our fair experience by even entering projects to be judged - and by we, I mean they. The rudimentary creations I create on the farm may prove pragmatic - but rarely beautiful or impressive.  All three girls entered various projects and really enjoyed the process of sharing their work with an appreciative audience and have already pledged to do it again next year.  They shared artwork, educational displays, food preservation, and even flowers.

We did not enter any livestock into the auction.  Still, we always enjoy going to see the animals with a   renewed appreciation for the work and care each person puts into the care of that animal.  It is also a sad reminder of where our agriculture has gone though.  None of the animals shown at the fair even resemble the animals we raise on our farm.  They are show animals that are no longer bred for taste and efficiency on natural forages.  Instead, they exemplify animals that grow fast and cheaply -- with no consideration to taste or health.  Pigs are the most obvious example of this -- you would not even recognize these pigs.  They are almost a comical caricature of a pig where certain qualities have been so exaggerated through breeding that they seems to be made from different parts glued together, rather than naturally born and raised on a farm.  This Is a result of breeding with very precise physical characteristics in mind, but not considering the overall structure of the animal and no longer expecting it or allowing the animal to live  natural life outdoors.  Although our pigs would be laughed out of the fair if we ever brought them, I would guarantee that our pigs produce a better quality pork that is both nutritious and delicious.  Just as importantly, our pigs lived a happy life out on pasture from the day they were born to the day they leave.  To me -- that's worth more than a blue ribbon!

Monday
Jul132015

Featured Product- Ham Steak

Ham has always been a customer favorite.  The Maple Sugar Cured ham is prepared by Louis at Paradise Meats with just the right amount of sweetness to emphasize the incredible savoriness our Heritage pigs have naturally.  The hams are fully coked during the slow smoking process and are ready to serve.  Our family loves to lightly warm them and have a super simple and quick nutritious meal in minutes.  


However, many customers wanted our delicious hams in smaller sizes.   We started offering smaller 5 - 6# hams in addition to our larger 15# hams.  AND NOW...we have ham steaks cut 1/4" thick. 
 These are perfect for pulling out of the freezer and serving right away.  They thaw quickly and can be served without lots of pre-planning.  They also work super well for lunches as they can be easily cut up into sandwich sized pieces to make the world's best sandwiches for your family.  

The other great news, this is all the same great price per pound as our hams.  Our ham steaks have already met with rave reviews for their ease and unique pasture-raised nuances in flavor.

Friday
May082015

Seeing is Believing + spring tours

You follow Synergistic Acres because you care about food quality. You purchase our meat because you know it is naturally-raised, fed organically and raised without antibiotics.  You have seen that we are a pasture based farm and know this type of food is healthy for you and your family.

You buy your pork, chicken, beef, turkey and eggs in confidence that it was made from a happy animal—a robust ruminant that had the pleasure of living its life on verdant pastures, happily chewing its cud or an energetic pig that used its sturdy snout to plow up soft earth or even a chicken that enjoyed dust baths and chasing after grasshoppers and eating grass (yes, chickens eat grass!).  

BUT, how do you KNOW that is really how we raise our animals?  Are you confident that you can trust what we say on the blog or facebook?  Are the pictures we share online really from our farm?  Have you personally visited the farm to see for yourself?

KNOWING YOUR FARMER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY CERTIFICATION OR LABEL 

(especially when labels are so confusing anyway!)

Farmers (and advertisers) are keen on what consumers want, which is why most farm products are graced with images of green pastures and happy animals.  However, it is up to you to ensure the pretty pictures mesh with reality.  We believe there are all types of consumers and all types of farmers.  

  • Some consumers want Heritage meat and some farmers want to focus solely on growing Heritage animals.
  • Some consumers want cheap meat and some farmers want to produce meat cheaply.
  • Some consumers want organic everything and some farmers are certified to produce that way.
  • And there are some consumers who value naturally raised products and farmers that enjoy producing food in such a manner.

 Any of these situations, and many more, are valid partnerships.  It is the dissonance of a consumer wanting naturally raised meat that is swayed by a picture of a chicken on a lush pasture, when the farmer is really raising the chicken in a large indoor barn.  Or the consumer that wants grass fed beef and finds a farmer that purports their beef is grass fed but fails to mention that grain is also provided.  Small detail.  What about the consumer that believes 'organic' means raised in the sunshine and fresh air?

How do you know what animals are grown?  How they are grown?  Where they spend their days?  What types of food they have access to?  How they are treated?

Well, we think SEEING IS BELIEVING and we have commited ourselves to...

  • sharing our own pictures and videos on facebook, nearly daily
  • updating the blog regularly with pictures, thoughts and narrations on farm life
  • offering narrated hayride tours several times each year

 We believe if you see it with your own eyes, you can answer those questions!  Please join us in continuing the conversations about the ways in which we grow and produce food in the Kansas City area.

Spring Tours are Sundays, May 17 and June 7.  The hay ride leaves the gate at 4pm and the tour lasts about 90 minutes.  We will take you to see each of our animals and explain how we raise them on our farm.  We answer any questions and enjoy conversations about pasture raised food!  Let us know you are attending and we'll save you a hay bale!

 

 

Tuesday
Feb032015

Lard - a superfood

How to make your own lard

Lard has been demonized in modern day kitchen circles because it has become synonymous with fat which was equated with the opposite of healthy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

Lard, when made from the fat of a pasture raised pig, is very nutritious.  It has all kinds of good fats in it and very little bad fats.  As a matter of fact, it's natural balance of essential fatty acids make it one of the healthiest fats with which you can cook.  It is 48% monounsaturated fat (the good stuff that makes olive oil a healthy oil), the high oleic acid content is a heart healthy essential fatty acid that reduces cholesterol, and it has a good balance of Omega-3's - especially when it comes from a pasture raised pig like our Large Blacks.

So why did lard get a bad name in America?  Well, that mostly was a result of marketing from industrial food companies like Crisco, touting their "healthy" alternatives.  It took us a few decades to figure out those the claims of manufactured and highly processed vegetable fats are nowhere near as healthy for the body or as tasty for the mouth as the old-fashioned lard.  After all, waist-lines have not exactly shrunk in the last 40 years.  Instead, we know most of these vegetable oils were developed to use waste products the parts of plants that could not be used otherwise.  Generally, this is a great idea.  However, when the resulting product takes vast amounts of new technology to make them palatable - such as hydrogenation - then the results aren't always better and many cases very harmful to our health.

Another reason lard lost favor in America's kitchen is because once pigs became intensively raised in industrial settings and their feed became more and more complex, the quality of the fat became less desirable.  Fat is one of the biggest ways the body removes toxins from the body.  The fat of an animal tends to have all of the positives and negatives of its diet condensed and intensified within.  Modern day store-bought lard has been highy processed, hydrogenated and preserved.  It has the unwanted trans-fatty acids and very little of the condensed goodness that lard from a pasture raised pig has.  It's no wonder cooks were looking for something different.  

Now there is an alternative though -- lard from Pasture Raised Pigs, like we have at Synergisitic Acres, brings back the wholesome, nutritious food we used to know as lard.  This was the lard your Grandma loved.  This is the lard that had far more health benefits than modern-day shortenings.  This the is lard you can feel good about eating.

Lard comes from the fat of a pig.  There are two types of fat that can be used to make lard.  One is back fat, the more abundant of the fats on a pig.  It is the fat that lies just beneath the skin insulating the flesh from the outside.  The second type is leaf fat.  This is the fat that surrounds the internal organs of the pig.  Leaf lard is the most pure of the fat and should be used when you want the absolute purest lard to use in delicate cooking like with pastries.

Before you can use the fat as lard, it must be rendered.  Rendered is a fancy term for a rather simple process of heating and straining the liquid fat before cooling it and storing it.  As a demonstration, I rendered some of our very special lard in our kitchen and documented the process.  I started with two pounds of frozen back fat.


We put this back fat into the crockpot on low with about 1/4 cup of water and put the lid on.  After about 45 minutes, the fat was soft enough that I could take it out and cut into chunks and put it back into the crockpot to begin rendering. This is the point where I made my first mistake of the process that I would not realize until later.  

After cooking the lard for about 2 hours, very little had rendered down, what was I doing wrong?  I started by turning up the heat on our crockpot to high and continued to let it cook.  More fat rendered down, but still not at a rate recipes seemed to indicate -- so I tried the next thing I could think of --  I cut the chunks into even smaller pieces and this worked like magic.

 

 Very shortly, the potion began to boil and bubble and rendering was now in full force.   After about one more hour of this, I skimmed off the first quart of lard.  When first removed, it looks rich and golden like fresh broth.

 

After cooling outside for just about 1 hour (granted it was 15 with a 20mph wind) it turns a beautiful pure, snow white color.  It is now ready to go into the fridge where it will keep for months.

 The 1.91 pounds of backfat when rendered created 1.5 pints of beautiful, nutritious lard.  

We sell backfat and leaf lard from our pasture raised pigs.  If you would like to buy this or many other pork products such as bacon, sausage, hams, bratwursts, and pork chops, take a look at our pork ordering page. We can bring it to you on our next delivery to Lenexa on Wednesday evenings or you can pick up on farm by appointment.  We are excited to hear how you use lard in your home!

Monday
Sep082014

Time to Say THANK YOU

 

When we started farming, just a few short years ago, we had many aspirations.  In addition to growing wonderfully delicious meat, we also wanted to connect people with their food.  We have been blown away by the support we have received for our farm.  This support comes in so many ways - people buying our meat, people following our story on social media and blogs, people coming out to visit the farm, people telling their friends and family about our farm.  All of this support has been what has made our farm wildly successful and what has allowed us to continue to raise our animals they way we all want them to be raised.

WE WANT TO SAY THANK YOU!

So...we decided to have a party of sorts.  On Septemebr 20th at 6pm, we are inviting EVERYBODY out to the farm for fun evening.  We'll do a tour of the farm and see all of the animals.  Then we'll gather around a bonfire, eat s'mores and talk with other people who also think supporting a local farm is a pretty cool thing to do.  

In addition to all this fun, you'll also have the exclusive opportunity to pick-up the first beef we have ever offered on a per cut basis.  This beef is from our Heritage Galloway beef that have lived their entire lives on our farm eating our wonderfully delicious grass --- and nothing else.  In the past, we have only offered our beef to people buying in bulk.  However, we have always wanted to allow those not buying in bulk to also participate in eating some of this deliciousness.  We now have that opportunity.

Those that RSVP for the party either by email or on facebook will be sent a special link to an order page a couple days before the party.  You'll then be able to send in your order before the party and take home your beef that night.

We hope to see many of you on the farm.  This should be a great way to continue to build a strong community around great food.   

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Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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