This Week at Peaceful Heart Farm: 1/24/2020

Hello beautiful people,

Sorry for the late newsletter. I let time get away from me. Hope all is going well for all of you. When you have do you add a bunch of stuff to your “to do” list? This is the time to complete all that stuff that has been put on hold.

Scott has half of the creamery roof “dried in” already. Follow us on our Facebook page so you don’t miss the great photos of his progress. You can follow us HERE.  

Meet me at the farmer’s market on Saturday. I’ll have Moroccan seasoned lamb meatballs for tasting. We are taking another steer to the processor in the next week or so. Get your orders in now. 

If you have not heard from me regarding available herd shares, I do not have you on my waiting list. I have one and a half shares available. Contact me via email (melanie@peacefulheartfarm.com) or phone (276-694-4369). I will have more shares available in the spring.

Please go HERE to learn all about Herd Shares and get on our waiting list.

As a reminder, those of you that shop the Independence Farmer’s Market can still place your orders for lamb, beef and goat via the online market. We now have lamb available in 1″ kabob chunks. It’s great for making Indian curry dishes. Indian Style Curry is one of the new recipes. 

Here is a link to the online store. Register for an account, place your order online and pick it up on Wednesday afternoon at Grayson Landscaping (next to the old court house). Email me if you don’t see what you are interested in purchasing. 


News This Week 

  • Products Available This Week
  • Let’s Get Together
  • This week’s FarmCast: “Nose to Tail Beef” will answer many questions you may have regarding how to use a great quantity of beef and unfamiliar cuts. 
  • FREE Cheese tasting downloads
  • Most Recent Recipes – Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs was added (by request from several of YOU).

Products Available to Herd Share Owners

Choose 1 per week 1/2 Share Whole Share
Butter 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Ararat Legend 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Peaceful Heart Gold 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Pinnacle 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Clau d’ville Cheddar 1/4 pound 1/2 pound

Products Available to the General Public

Beef Price / Pound
1/4 Beef (approx 100 lbs) $7.00
1/2 Beef (approx 200 lbs) $6.50
Whole Beef (approx 400 lbs) $6.00
Ground (approx 1 lb) $7.00
Marrow Bones (approx 2 lbs) $2.00
Lamb Price / Pound
Lamb Loin Chops $16
Lamb Rib Chips $16
Lamb Kabobs $12
Ground Lamb (approx 1 lb) $10
Lamb Soup Bones (approx 1 lb) $3
Whole Lamb (approx 40 lbs) $9.50
1/2 Lamb (approx 20 lbs) $10
Chev (Goat) Price / Pound
Ground Chev (approx 1 lb) $12
Meaty Goat Bones (approx 2.5 – 3.5 lb) $3

Let’s Get Together

As always, we’d love to meet you in person.  You can find us at the Wytheville Farmers Market the and 4th Saturdays in January, Februrary, March, and April. Hours are 10 am to 2 pm.  

As always, you may visit us at our dairy farm in Claudville, Virginia Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 noon and Saturday afternoons from 3 pm to 5 pm. Find out how we raise our animals and why you will love the taste of tradition that is inherent in all of our products. Herd share holders will be able to see up close how their cows are cared for and where the cheese is made and stored. 


Peaceful Heart FarmCast

This week’s podcast, Nose to Tail Beef, will give you great information on just how a cow is put together. You’ll also learn where various cuts of meat originate on the cow and some basic (very basic) instructions on how to prepared the various cuts. I have my “Whole Beef Cookbook” in the works to fill in the blanks.  

Listen to “Nose to Tail Beef” here.


Free Downloads

I want to follow up on my previous FarmCast, The Taste of Cheese where I talked about developing your expertise with using descriptive words. The FREE downloads of Classifying Cheese by Type and Category and Expand Your Cheese Vocabulary are still available at our website. Please stop by and get your FREE resources. 

You can LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HEREOr, if you have an Alexa device, just say:Alexa, play podcast Peaceful Heart FarmCast.

And don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the Peaceful Heart Farm podcast on Apple PodcastsAndroidTuneIn, Stitcher or Spotify


Recent Recipes

Click the links and check them out. All of my recipes are printable.

moroccan seasoned meatballsEasy Barbecued Beef: Meatballs Seasoned with a Moroccan-style blend of fresh mint, cinnamon, coriander and cumin and simmered in tomato sauce, these tender lamb meatballs make a flavorful change from their Italian-style cousins.

These delicious meatballs were a hit at the farmer’s market. Lamb is a delicious alternative to beef.

easy barbecued beefEasy Barbecued Beef: This easy barbecued beef recipe takes advantage of your traditional slow-cooker. It’s great for any cookout or potluck dinner. Chuck roast makes delicious shredded beef sandwiches. The recipe calls for ketchup however, you may substitute tomato paste for a slightly less sweet dish. In any case, this barbecued beef is sure to please your family.

chocolate peanut butter protein shakeQueso Fresco: Want to make queso fresco at home? Here is an easy recipe to make this homemade cheese that is a popular topping for tacos, nachos, enchiladas and tostadas. Many Latin foods use this ingredient and it is so easy.

crème fraîcheCrème Fraîche: Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream. While sour cream and crème fraîche are both used to add richness and tangy flavor, they are not the same thing. And is it worth taking the extra time to make your own crème fraîche? I’m going to say absolutely, yes, depending on the use.

Nose to Tail Beef

Nose to tail beef is an important topic for those supporting local, sustainable, regenerative agriculture. I get lots of questions on it. Buying a large quantity of beef can be a daunting prospect. Sure, you know it’s going to help your local farmer. And you know your local farmer is working hard for you, the animals and the environment. But what do you do with all that meat? What are the different cuts and what makes them different? How does a side of beef get broken down? What should you expect? Nose to tail beef is what this episode is all about.

Let me take a minute and say welcome to new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Nose to Tail Beef
  • Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs

Homestead Life Updates

Creamery

You will not believe how quickly that roof is going up. After months and months and months of concrete blocks, in just a few weeks, Scott has those blocks nearly covered with a roof. He tells me once the decking is complete—within the week, he will be starting on the other roof over the barn and milking parlor. That needs to be completed to the same point before putting on the metal roofing. I love going out there and strolling around in the rooms, imagining when it will be complete.

Animals

Winter is coming upon us and it is cold today and will be even colder in the coming days. The animals are all healthy and ready for it. Thick winter coats cover all of them. Thunder had a cut on his cheek that he got from who knows where. It is healing nicely, though it looked quite scary when I first saw it. Blood was running down the side of his head and there was this huge puckered gash in his jaw. But again, he is healing just fine. The girls are grazing calmly each day and growing their calves. The first expected birthing of a calf will be Claire on the 31st of March and Buttercup right behind her about three days later.

The donkeys, sheep and goats are also grazing along. I was outside yesterday taking a tour of the creamery and saw that one of the goat does was in the pasture adjacent to everyone else. She will find her way back to the rest of the herd whenever she feels the urge. Goats are just gonna be goats.

Still no quail eggs. They don’t eat much so I guess it’s okay. I can’t wait until spring and I start hatching out eggs again. The quail are just fun.

The boys are all still peacefully grazing out front. There are five of them that will eventually make their way to freezer camp. And that brings me to today’s topic.

Nose to Tail Beef

Nose to tail beef is an important topic to understand when purchasing from your local farmer. Often beef is offered to you in quantities such as quarters and halves. Perhaps you will even purchase a whole beef and share the costs with family and friends. I’ll get to the various cuts often offered in one of these large purchases, including the organ and variety meats.

I want to start with a brief history of beef in North America, some basic terminology, muscle composition, the structure of meat, aging, and inspection and grading. I’ll end with the various cuts available in beef and which part of the animal from which it is cut.

This may be a long podcast. And I think the information will be invaluable to you as you develop a relationship with your local farmer.

History of Beef in North America

People have been raising domesticated cattle for some 3,000 years. Christopher Columbus introduced domesticated cattle to the Americas in 1493, and soon after, cattle arrived in present-day Florida and Texas with the Spanish. Cattle have always had many uses: they carry heavy loads and pull carts and plows; supply milk, cheese, and butter; and provide a source for clothing, shelter, and food. Today, Americans prefer beef to all other meats.

As I noted, domesticated cattle first arrived in the Americas in 1493. By 1500 European cookbooks began to specify cuts of beef and other meats. During the period of the mid-1800s through 1900 cattle ranching in the United States reached its peak. In 1906 the meat inspection act was passed by Congress. Finally, beef surpassed pork as the most popular meat in 1950.

Terminology

Cattle is a general term for domesticated bovine animals raised on a farm or ranch for their meat, milk, or hides or for use as draft animals. Further delineation of cattle is characterized by sex and age.

Calves are young cattle of either sex. A male calf is known as a bull calf, and a female Is called a heifer calf.

Bulls are mature, un-castrated male cattle used for breeding.

Steers are male cattle that have been castrated before reaching sexual maturity, making them more docile and easier to maintain on a ranch or in a feedlot. Most beef that Americans eat comes from steers.

Staggs are male cattle that have undergone castration after they have matured.

Heifer calves grow into heifers and eventually become cows.

Cows are mature female cattle, and are usually used as a source of milk. They have to have given birth at least once to earn the title of cow.

Nutritional Make Up

Beef, like other meats, is animal muscle containing various nutrients that form part of a healthful diet.

Muscle Composition

The three main components of muscle are water, protein, and fat. These nutrients appear in the following proportions in most meats:

  • 75% water
  • 20% protein
  • 5% fat

Muscle also contains vitamins, minerals, and very small, trace amounts of carbohydrates.

Although most meats are about three-quarters water, the actual amount of water in meats varies depending on shrinkage. Shrinkage, or moisture loss, is the result of oxidation, which occurs during storage or aging or as a result of high temperatures and long cooking times. Oxidation causes meat to lose both water and weight.

Protein is an essential nutrient that promotes growth, builds tissue, regulates body functions, and serves as an alternative to fats and carbohydrates as a source of energy. Most solid matter in meat is protein. When heat is applied to meat, the protein coagulates, or becomes firm. The degree of coagulation is one gauge for doneness. High heat can cause protein to lose moisture and become too firm, making the meat tough.

Fat surrounds the muscle tissue as a fat and lies within it (marbling). The fat may be left on a piece of meat during cooking to keep the meat moist, but barding or larding are acceptable alternative methods for retaining juice if there is no fat. Marbling also contributes to the juiciness of meat and makes it more tender and flavorful.

Regarding vitamins and minerals, meat is an important source of vitamins A and K as well as several B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), B6, and B12. Meat also adds minerals such as iron and phosphorus to the diet.

Although carbohydrates are present only in very small amounts, they contribute to the appearance and flavor of meat that is prepared with a dry technique such as roasting, sautéing, or broiling.

Structure of Meat

Meat products consist of bones, muscle fibers, and connective tissue.

Bones: bone color is an indication of an animals age. The redder the bone, the younger the animal. Older animals have white bones. Becoming familiar with the bone structure of an animal helps when learning the different cuts of meat and how to debone them.

Muscle fibers: muscle fibers, or cells bundled together, make up the meat. The thickness of the fibers determines the texture or grain of the meat. Thick, tough fibers bound in large bundles make up coarsely textured meats, such as bottom round or brisket. Thinner, tender fibers in small bundles form finely grained meat, such as tenderloin.

Connective tissue: connective tissue is a web of proteins that perform several functions. It covers individual muscle fibers, bundles them together, and attaches them to bones. Connective tissue helps determine the texture of meat and is tough in general. Some meats are higher in connective tissue than others.

Frequently used muscles such as those in the leg or shoulder have more connective tissue and thus are tougher than those in the back (or loin). Meat from older animals is also tougher because as an animal ages, the connective tissue becomes more resistant to breaking down.

Elastin and collagen—the two kinds of connective tissue—differ in their ability to break down during the cooking process. Elastin is a hard, yellow connective tissue prevalent in older animals because it will not break down during cooking, elastin must be cut away from the meat or physically tenderized to reduce its effects.

By contrast, collagen, the soft, white connective tissue, really breaks down into water and gelatin with slow, moist cooking. Collagen also responds well to tenderizing.

Aging

Aging is the process by which naturally occurring enzymes (lactic acid) tenderize meat. After slaughter, chemical changes in the flesh of an animal cause rigor mortis, or a stiffening of the muscles. As rigor mortis disappears, the meat softens, or ripens, as a result of enzymatic action. This process takes up to several days for beef and must occur in a controlled, refrigerated environment so that the meat does not spoil. The result is flavorful, tender meat.

There are three methods of aging meat under refrigeration. Today I will discuss dry aging as this is the method used by small, independent meatpackers.

Dry aging involves hanging large, unpackaged cuts of meat in a controlled environment for two to six weeks. Temperature, humidity, and air flow must be carefully monitored to prevent spoilage. Two weeks is most common. Small, local meat processing facilities are limited by space and energy cost controls.

Although costly, dry aging produces extremely flavorful meat with a highly desirable texture. However, shrinkage is a major drawback of this method, with some cuts of meat losing as much as 20% of their weight through loss of moisture. Meat aged by this method also can develop mold, which requires trimming—a further reduction in weight.

Inspection and Grading

Inspection and grading systems help producers, distributors, and consumers like you evaluate meat.

Inspection—The Meat Inspection Act, passed in 1906, mandates the examination of all meat transported across state lines. This federal law guarantees that meat is wholesome and fit for consumption and that the animal for which it originated was not diseased; however, inspection is not a mark of quality.

USDA/FSIS—The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a public health agency within the United States department of agriculture (USDA), is responsible for conducting inspections. The FSIS checks meat to make sure that it is clean, safe, and properly packaged and labeled. Meat that satisfies inspection standards carries a USDA inspection stamp.

Grading—unlike inspection, grading is completely voluntary. Grading measures meat quality, allowing a comparison of meat quality grading indicates tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of the meat.

The USDA has eight quality grades that apply to beef.

  • Prime is the highest quality, most expensive, with abundant marbling because of the young age of animals and feed practices. It is extremely juicy and flavorful.
  • Choice is high-quality, very juicy and tender, in abundant supply, widely available to the public.
  • The select grade is acceptable quality. It is a good buy, generally lean with little marbling, and less juicy and tender.
  • Standard grade is lower quality. It is economical and lacking in marbling.
  • Commercial grade is low quality. It is produced from older animals is economical and lacking tenderness.
  • Utility, cutter, and canner are the lowest quality. This grade of meat is used primarily by canners and processors.

Kobe Beef

Up to now I have been speaking only of US beef grades. Now I will touch upon one other. Kobe Beef.

Cattle raised in Kobe, Japan, are the source of a special grade of beef that is rich in flavor, has abundant marbling, and is extraordinarily tender. Kobe beef comes from the Wagyu breed of cattle and meets rigorous production standards. Wagyu cattle are famous for the extensive marbling of their meat, but this quality characteristic is not entirely the result of genetics.

The daily routine and special diet of cattle raised for Kobe beef are quite unusual. The Wagyu cattle receive energizing massages with sake, the Japanese alcoholic rice beverage, and indulge in huge quantities of beer, making Kobe beef legendary and expensive.

By USDA standards Kobe beef would receive the highest yield and quality grades. It’s marbling and rareness in the marketplace actually put it well above the prime grade.

Once raised only in Kobe, Wagyu cattle now roam ranches in the United States and Australia, where land and feed are cheaper. Fabrication of the prized beef, however, takes place in Kobe, which earns it the name Kobe beef.

Primal, Subprimal, and Fabricated Cuts

Beef and other meats are available for purchase in various forms: carcasses; partial carcasses; and primal, subprimal, and fabricated cuts.

The carcass is the whole animal after slaughter, without head, feet, hide, and entrails. It is typical to split a beef carcass into halves and then to cut each half into a front portion or forequarter and a rear portion or hind quarter. A side or a quarter of beef represents a partial carcass. There are two front quarters, right and left. The front quarter starts at the neck and ends where the ribs end, about halfway down the back of the carcass. The rear quarters pick up from there. Again, there are two, right side of spine and left side of spine.

A primal cut is a large, primary piece of meat, sometimes called a wholesale cut. A subprimal cut is a basic cut made from a primal cut. A fabricated cut is the smaller portion taken from a subprimal cut, such as a roast, steak, and ground meat.

Beef Carcass Forequarter

Now think of the front quarter divided into four smaller pieces. From shoulder to mid back, there are four primal cuts that make up a forequarter of beef: Chuck (shoulder of the animal), primal rib (main rib section), brisket (breast and foreleg or shank), and short plate (directly below the ribs).

Those four primal cuts are broken down into subprimals and finally a fabricated cut.

Chuck

The chuck comes from the animal’s shoulder. It includes part of the backbone and the first five rib bones as well as portions of arm bones and blade bones. The chuck makes up nearly 30% of the weight of the beef carcass. A fairly large portion of the chuck is connective tissue, which accounts for the toughness of this meat. However, chuck has a great deal of flavor when properly prepared. A moist technique or combination method such as stewing or braising is appropriate for this cut. The primal chuck yields various fabricated cuts: shoulder roast, chuck roast, chuck short ribs, cubed or tenderized steaks, stew meat, and ground chuck.

Primal Rib

This primal cut comprises about 10% of the carcass weight. It includes ribs six through 12 and some of the backbone. As it is not well exercised muscle, it is tender, owing its rich flavor to extensive marbling. Primal rib cuts benefit from dry cooking methods such as roasting, broiling, and grilling. Moist heat is the preferred method for short ribs. Fabricated cuts taken from the primal rib include rib roast, boneless ribeye, short ribs, and ribeye steaks. Rib roast, better known as prime rib, is an extremely popular meat dish. The word “prime,” however, does not represent a USDA grade; rather, it indicates that the rib roast makes up most of the primal cut.

Brisket

Located below the chuck, the brisket constitutes a single primal cut. This cut consists of the breast (brisket) of the animal, including the rib bones and Cartledge, and the breastbone. A combination technique such as braising is an excellent choice for beef brisket, which is very tough. Curing, another method of preparation for brisket, is the method used to produce corned beef. Fabricated cuts from this primal cut include boneless brisket and ground meat.

Short Plate

Short plate is the cut below the primal rib on a side of beef. It contains rib bones and Cartledge and the tip of the breastbone. Fabricated cuts from the short plate include ground beef, skirt steak, and short ribs. Moist cooking is appropriate for short ribs, which are quite meaty but also contain a large amount of connective tissue. Marination and grilling are excellent methods for skirt steak, which is sliced for fajitas.

Foreshank

The foreshank is considered a byproduct of the beef forequarter and may be attached to the chuck when purchased. The rich flavor of the four shank and its abundant collagen, which turns to gelatin with moist heat, make it a choice ingredient in stocks and soups. Fabricated cuts include stew meat and ground beef.

Beef Hindquarter

A beef hindquarter also yields four primal cuts: short loin, sirloin, round, and flank. The short loin, sirloin, and round are the rest of the spine divided roughly into thirds. The fourth portion, the flank is directly below the short loin and sirloin. The round primal cut is very large as it is essentially the hind leg.

Short Loin

The short loin is the first primal cut of the hindquarter, forming the front portion of the beef loin. It includes one rib and part of the backbone the yield of this primal cut is substantial and represents the most palatable and popular, as well as the most expensive, cuts of beef. Among these is the tenderloin, the most tender piece of beef. Fabricated cuts from the short loin include T-bone steaks, NY strip steaks, and tenderloin. These cuts are best cooked using dried methods. Broiling, roasting, and grilling.

Sirloin

Located next to the short loin, the sirloin contains a portion of both the backbone and the hip bone. The subprimal and fabricated cuts taken from the sirloin have good flavor and are quite tender, though not as tender as the short loin cuts. Fabricated cuts from the sirloin include top sirloin roasts and steaks and top and bottom sirloin butt roasts and steaks. The dry techniques of broiling, roasting, and grilling are best for these cuts.

Round

The round is the hind leg of the animal, including the round, shank, and tail bones. It is an extremely large cut, constituting approximately 24% of the carcass weight. Very flavorful and fairly tender, the round yields various subprimal and fabricated cuts, including top round, bottom round (eye of round and heel of round), knuckle, and shank. Dry cooking such as roasting is appropriate for top round, which is relatively tender. The top or bottom round benefits from combination cooking such as stewing or braising. Lots of ground beef from this area as well.

Flank

Beneath the loin and behind the short plate (forequarter) is the flank. The flank contains a good amount of fat and connective tissue, which makes it tough. Flank yields flank steak. Moist cooking techniques are best for flank cuts.

One final note. When choosing to purchase a quarter, half, or whole beef, in addition to these cuts somewhere between 35% and 50% of the packaged fabricated cuts will be ground beef.

Variety Meats

Variety meats include internal organs, glands, and other meats that are removed during the processing of the carcass. Traditionally viewed as ethnic food items, variety meats have found their way onto American menus in limited quantities. High in protein, vitamins, and iron, variety meats are features of soups, stews, and other dishes.

All the beef variety meats except kidney are muscle tissue. These meats are tough in general and require long, moist cooking to become tender. Kidneys are the only glance from beef served with much frequency.

Heart

Tough but lean, the heart lends itself to braising or stewing. Ground heart can be added to meatloaves or to casseroles calling for chopped meat. Be sure to remove veins and fibers before cooking.

Liver

Beef liver is dark in color and has a strong flavor. It should be broiled, braised, or panfried. It is often served with onions and is added to pies and puddings.

Tongue

The customary method for cooking tongue is simmering. After cooking, remove the skin and gristle. Cooked and chilled beef tongue is a favorite sliced meat for sandwiches. Smoking and curing are other methods of preparation before cooking.

Oxtail

Before cooking, oxtails need to be cut into sections at the joints. Oxtails are rich in gelatin and also contain tasty meat, both of which augment the texture and flavor of soups and stews.

Kidney

Beef kidney is somewhat tough and has a relatively strong flavor. Braising helps tenderize this variety meat, which is a key ingredient in steak and kidney pie.

I’m currently working on a cookbook that will have at least one recipe for every cut of meat I’ve described in this podcast. One of the challenges when purchasing a quarter, half, or whole beef is what to do with all of those cuts of meat and variety meats. I hope to fill in that gap for you with my whole beef cookbook. You can be confident in being able to use all of the great grass-fed meat in which you invested.

At the last farmers market, I brought Moroccan seasoned meatballs to give customers an opportunity to taste the quality of our lamb. Today’s recipe is in response to a direct request from several of my customers who read my newsletter and love the recipes.

Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs

Seasoned with a Moroccan-style blend of fresh mint, cinnamon, coriander and cumin and simmered in tomato sauce, these tender lamb meatballs make a flavorful change from their Italian-style cousins.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes Total time: 45 minutes

What You Need

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What To Do

  1. Combine the lamb, egg, garlic, bread crumbs, mint, parsley, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 16 to 18 meatballs about 1 ¼ inch in diameter.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about three minutes total. Transfer the meatballs to a plate, drain the excess fat from the pan and return it to the stove.
  3. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, one minute longer.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes. Add ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and coriander and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes, then taste again and adjusted the spices as desired.
  5. Return the meatballs to the pan and turn several times to coat them with the sauce cover and simmer slowly until the meatballs are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a serving dish, garnish with parsley and serve with steamed white rice.

Enjoy!!!

Final Thoughts

That’s it for this podcast. The farmstead keeps on keeping on. The creamery gets closer and closer to completion with every passing day. The animals continue to thrive and enjoy their pasture-based existence.

I hope you enjoyed the ins and outs of beef and you better understand the nose to tail beef option. It is the lifeblood of many local farmers. They invest a great deal of time and energy into a beef product you can trust.

Look for my new Whole Beef Cookbook in the coming weeks. And do give the meatballs a try. I know, I know it’s lamb, not beef. But they are excellent just the same.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

Recipe Link

Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs

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Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs

Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs

Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs Seasoned with a Moroccan-style blend of fresh mint, cinnamon, coriander and cumin and simmered in tomato sauce, these tender lamb meatballs make a flavorful change from their Italian-style cousins.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 clove garlic very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh mint leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ cup onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic very finely chopped
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes undrained
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Combine the lamb, egg, garlic, bread crumbs, mint, parsley, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 16 to 18 meatballs about 1 ¼ inch in diameter.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about three minutes total. Transfer the meatballs to a plate, drain the excess fat from the pan and return it to the stove.
  • To make the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, one minute longer.
  • Stir in the tomatoes. Add ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and coriander and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes, then taste again and adjusted the spices as desired.
  • Return the meatballs to the pan and turn several times to coat them with the sauce cover and simmer slowly until the meatballs are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a serving dish, garnish with parsley and serve with steamed white rice.

This Week at Peaceful Heart Farm: 1/8/2020

Hello beautiful people,

Happy New Year. Hope all is going well for all of you. Time has slowed tremendously here on the farm. It’s a welcome break from the high speed activity that goes on the rest of the year.

Scott is diligently working on the creamery. If you are not following us on our Facebook page, you are missing the great photos of his progress on this project. You can follow us HERE. The rafters are going up. The roof is being raised. 

Cow breeding is done and birthing will begin in less than 3 months. It’s the cycle of life. Not much else is happening here on the farm. The animals are all eating lots and lots of hay as the grass is just about gone.  

If you have not heard from me regarding available herd shares, I do not have you on my waiting list. I have one and a half shares available. Contact me via email (melanie@peacefulheartfarm.com) or phone (276-694-4369). I will have more shares available in the spring.

Please go HERE to learn all about Herd Shares and get on our waiting list.

This week I’m going to have samples of our ground lamb in the form of meatballs. Stop by our booth and have a taste. We have lamb chops and beef available as well. All purchases come with a free recipe and I have two new lamb recipes.

Herd share owners I hope you are enjoying the cheese. And before you know it, we will once again have fresh milk and fresh milk products. 

As a reminder, those of you that shop the Independence Farmer’s Market can still place your orders for lamb, beef and goat via the online market. We now have lamb available in 1″ kabob chunks. It’s great for making Indian curry dishes. Indian Style Curry is one of the new recipes. 

Here is a link to the online store. Register for an account, place your order online and pick it up on Wednesday afternoon at Grayson Landscaping (next to the old court house). Email me if you don’t see what you are interested in purchasing. 


News This Week 

  • Products Available This Week
  • Let’s Get Together
  • This week’s FarmCast: “7 Tips for Using a Traditional Slow Cooker” is a great reminder that new gadgets are good but sometimes the old ones will do the trick nicely. Included is a great recipe for using chuck roast in the slow cooker to make easy barbecued beef. 
  • FREE Cheese tasting downloads
  • Most Recent Recipes – Easy Barbecued Beef was added.

Products Available to Herd Share Owners

Choose 1 per week 1/2 Share Whole Share
Butter 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Ararat Legend 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Peaceful Heart Gold 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Pinnacle 1/4 pound 1/2 pound
Clau d’ville Cheddar 1/4 pound 1/2 pound

Products Available to the General Public

Beef Price / Pound
1/4 Beef (approx 100 lbs) $7.00
1/2 Beef (approx 200 lbs) $6.50
Whole Beef (approx 400 lbs) $6.00
Ground (approx 1 lb) $7.00
Marrow Bones (approx 2 lbs) $2.00
Lamb Price / Pound
Lamb Loin Chops $16
Lamb Rib Chips $16
Lamb Kabobs $12
Ground Lamb (approx 1 lb) $10
Lamb Soup Bones (approx 1 lb) $3
Whole Lamb (approx 40 lbs) $9.50
1/2 Lamb (approx 20 lbs) $10
Chev (Goat) Price / Pound
Ground Chev (approx 1 lb) $12
Meaty Goat Bones (approx 2.5 – 3.5 lb) $3

Let’s Get Together

As always, we’d love to meet you in person.  You can find us at the Wytheville Farmers Market the and 4th Saturdays in January, Februrary, March, and April. Hours are 10 am to 2 pm.  

As always, you may visit us at our dairy farm in Claudville, Virginia Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 noon and Saturday afternoons from 3 pm to 5 pm. Find out how we raise our animals and why you will love the taste of tradition that is inherent in all of our products. Herd share holders will be able to see up close how their cows are cared for and where the cheese is made and stored. 


Peaceful Heart FarmCast

This week’s podcast, 7 Tips for Using a Traditional Slow Cooker, will inspire you to take out that slow cooker and put it to great use. A multi-function pressure cooker can also be used if you moved on to that device and eliminated the old crock pot.  

Listen to “7 Tips for Using a Traditional Slow Cooker” here.


Free Downloads

I want to follow up on a previous FarmCast, The Taste of Cheese where I talked about developing your expertise with using descriptive words. The FREE downloads of Classifying Cheese by Type and Category and Expand Your Cheese Vocabulary are still available at our website. Please stop by and get your FREE resources. 

You can LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HEREOr, if you have an Alexa device, just say:Alexa, play podcast Peaceful Heart FarmCast.

And don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the Peaceful Heart Farm podcast on Apple PodcastsAndroidTuneIn, Stitcher or Spotify


Recent Recipes

Click the links and check them out. All of my recipes are printable.

easy barbecued beefEasy Barbecued Beef: This easy barbecued beef recipe takes advantage of your traditional slow-cooker. It’s great for any cookout or potluck dinner. Chuck roast makes delicious shredded beef sandwiches. The recipe calls for ketchup however, you may substitute tomato paste for a slightly less sweet dish. In any case, this barbecued beef is sure to please your family.

chocolate peanut butter protein shakeQueso Fresco: Want to make queso fresco at home? Here is an easy recipe to make this homemade cheese that is a popular topping for tacos, nachos, enchiladas and tostadas. Many Latin foods use this ingredient and it is so easy.

crème fraîcheCrème Fraîche: Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream. While sour cream and crème fraîche are both used to add richness and tangy flavor, they are not the same thing. And is it worth taking the extra time to make your own crème fraîche? I’m going to say absolutely, yes, depending on the use.

vanilla cream cheesecake fat bombVanilla Cream Cheesecake Fat Bombs: A word of caution to anyone not living the keto lifestyle. If you are primarily burning carbohydrates and just add a lot fat such as in these luscious fat bombs, you will not induce ketosis and you will likely put on weight. There is a science to it. Ketosis first, then fat bombs for fun.

These delicious vanilla cheesecake fat bombs are high on taste and will give you a long-lasting boost of energy. They are deliciously creamy and taste just like cheesecake.

7 Tips for Using a Traditional Slow-Cooker

Using a traditional slow-cooker has taken a back seat to Instapot-type pressure cookers and air fryers. But I still use mine and today’s podcast is all about “why”, “when,” and “how.” In fact, I have 7 tips on using a traditional slow-cooker.

I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are set up for a fabulous New Year celebration.

We are old fogies and likely won’t even stay awake until the ball drops in Time Square. Well, we might be watching Game of Thrones past midnight. I know it’s so over, but we listened to the audiobooks ages ago and I wasn’t really impressed with the book nor the first adapted to TV season. Anyway, we watched the videos of the first season again after years of it sitting on the shelf. Following that, I decided to finish the series. You know, end of year, cleaning up loose ends and such, so we’re now watching, and are currently in season 3, after staying away for all those years. Still not that impressed, but it is okay.

Truly I’m a Wheel of Time fangirl and am anxiously awaiting Amazon’s original production beginning in the fall next year. I’m counting on it putting Game of Thrones to shame. Anyway, I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week so let’s get to it.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • 7 Tips for Using a Traditional Slow-Cooker
  • Easy Barbecued Beef

Homestead Life Updates

Life has slowed down some here as we get into the winter season. Milking is done. Canning is done – for the most part. I will be making bone broth throughout the winter and building up my stores of that tasty burst of nutrition. But as with any homestead situation, stuff is going on year-round.

Goats

The biggest challenge seems to be keeping the goats inside the fence. One in particular, Star, just seems to go wherever she wants. They all got out a week or so ago and there happened to be an open gate to paddock #7 so they are in there while the rest of the girls, the cows and sheep, are rotating through the back pastures 10 through 14. Star is with the cows and sheep – at least the last time we looked she was there. It’s a different day so who knows.

Sheep

The sheep are doing well. Again, we expect our first lambs around the 6th of May. What do you think about a farm tour in June? The lambs will be really cute at that age.

Cows

The cows are plugging along. Luna is growing like a weed. She is such a beautiful calf. We have received the canister that will house the semen for artificial insemination next season. The boys are slowly getting thinned out. Eventually, we will have only female bovine. I’m looking forward to that day when we have a single herd of cows. Today we have five cows and Luna the heifer in one herd and two steers and three bulls in another herd. The boys are okay, but it’s the girls, Claire, Cloud, Buttercup, Violet, Butter and now Luna that are my treasures.

Quail

Nothing much going on with the Quail. They aren’t laying any eggs. I’m not looking for any new eggs until spring. March, or maybe even April.

The Creamery

It’s so exciting to see the roof going on. At the moment, it is actually the decking for the attic floor. Once Scott completes this part, he will have a platform on which to build the rafters. He is building them, more or less, in place. Once they are complete, our friend Charles will come over and help him literally raise the roof. The carpentry goes much faster than the masonry.

The Garden

I’m mentally planning the garden at this point. Sometime in January or February I’ll order the seeds. I had such a good time growing seedlings last spring that I’m thinking about growing quite a few more and selling them at the farmers market. I already know I’m going to be growing a lot of peas, beans, and tomatoes because I use a lot of them making meals for the women’s homeless shelter. I’ll probably grow squash again. I didn’t grow any last year. And peppers. I think I’ll grow a variety of peppers again.

That’s about it for Homestead updates. Let’s get on with today’s topic.

7 Tips For Using a Traditional Slow-cooker

The slow-cooker offers the home cook a way of making “fast food.” While it may cook slowly, it has a fix-it-and-forget-it feature that other cooking techniques can’t match. Once your ingredients are in the cooker, there is no stirring, no fussing, no additional attention necessary until your dish is ready for the table. My Cosori pressure cooker comes close but there are reasons that I still use my traditional slow-cooker. Feel free to use either.

What Exactly Is a Slow-cooker?

First of all, “slow-cooker” is the generic term used for this appliance, but the company who first designed the slow-cooker (Rival) named their product crockpot. The slow-cooker and crockpot are one and the same. Features that make a slow-cooker or crockpot a slow-cooker are:

  • Countertop appliance with low and high settings without a gauge to set a specific temperature
  • The inner container is made from stoneware, ceramic or heat resistant glass
  • It has wrap around heating elements within a metal casing. This provides indirect heat to the container for even heating and avoids hotspots and stirring is usully not required for most dishes.
  • A tightfitting lid to contain the heat and steam.

The combination of low temperature, lengthy cooking times and locked-in moisture work together to cook food thoroughly, while inhibiting the growth of bacteria and eliminating the need for your personal attention during the lengthy cooking process.

Slow-cookers are typically round or oval in shape and range in size from 1 to 7 quarts. Depending on your needs, it may be useful to have a couple of different sizes—a smaller one for side dishes and dips, (try my cheese fondue recipe in a quart sized unit) and another larger size for bigger main meals and to allow room to double or triple a dish for larger gatherings or so you can freeze a portion for later. Current models have digital features, such as an automatic “off” or “keep warm” option. These options allow you to better control how long your dish cooks when you are away from home.

Traditional Origins and Benefits of Slow Cooking

Although slow-cooking was introduced in the early 1970s, it can be considered a modern version of the time-honored tradition of braising, stewing, pot-roasting and Dutch oven cooking methods. All of these use long cooking times, low temperatures with liquid and a tightfitting lid or cover to keep all of the ingredients in a moist environment. All of these slow-cooking methods typically use indirect heat, such as with an oven, compared to the direct heat applied from fire or a stovetop.

As described in Slow-Cookers for Dummies, “for generations, women in small towns throughout Europe. . . Have been using the town bread baker’s cooling ovens to slow-cook their family meals. . . For a small price, the Baker rented oven space to anyone who wanted to slow-cook a joint of meat or fish. The food was left in the oven unattended and picked up in the early afternoon for dinner. Although the practice of slow-cooking in a wood-burning oven was also common practice in the United States during the 1800s, it died out with the introduction of cast-iron stoves. . .”

Just as with any other food preparation technique, flops can happen in a slow-cooker. While it is an easy-to-use appliance, it does take a little more thought to use than just dumping in the ingredients and flipping the on switch. Just as with any cooking method, it is important to know how the appliance functions at its best. With a little knowledge, you will experience many more successes than mishaps. Also, the more you learn about how to operate the slow-cooker, the easier it will be for you to create new or adapt old family recipes to this nourishing, time-saving method of preparing nutritious food.

Let’s get to the heart of today’s topic, 7 tips for using a traditional slow-cooker.

Why? Because It is Practical

Here is a short list of why it is practical:

  • You save time in the kitchen
  • The meal is portable and perfect for buffets and potlucks
  • You save money on electricity
  • In the summer, lower heat production is a great boon
  • It is safe to leave it unattended at home while you work, shop or chauffeur the family here and there
  • You can use up tougher cuts of meat you got with that great ¼ cow, ½ pig or whole lamb package deal
  • Your oven is free for other tasks
  • You save yourself from cleaning an additional serving dish
  • Nutritious broth from meat and bones produces collagens and gelatins and enhances the flavor of the dish

Which Setting to Use and When?

The settings on most slow-cookers include off, low and high. Most slow-cooker recipes are geared to the low setting, which reaches 180 to 200°, that is, a gentle simmer. The high setting hovers between 280 to 300° and will cook food about 2 to 2 ½ times faster than when on low.

Another option is to start a dish out on high for about an hour to get a jump start on heating the container, and then turn it back down to low for the remainder of the time. This method is especially useful when cooking large cuts of meat or whole chickens.

The keep-warm setting is a great way to maximize the usefulness of this appliance. Once the food has been thoroughly cooked, this setting will prevent further cooking or drying out, and will keep food ready-to-eat for at least two hours.

How Long Does It Really Take to Cook?

Besides the chosen setting (high or low), other factors that influence the speed your dish will cook are the liquid and fat content of the dish, temperature of the food, temperature of the container (such as whether it was left in the fridge with pre-prepared ingredients the night before), altitude, size of the pieces of food and of course your specific slow-cooker.

How Much Food Is Too Much?

For the best outcome, the container of your slow-cooker should be half to three-quarters full. Filling the container less than half full is more likely to result in overcooked or burned food. Food in a overfilled container may not cooked thoroughly in the allotted time or get hot enough to inhibit bacteria growth, which is to reach 140° in under four hours. Spillage outside the container is also more likely with expansion of the food.

Do I Still Have to Brown or Sauté?

Some slow-cooker recipes require nothing more than chopping up the ingredients, while others may taste better with a touch more prep. Since slow-cookers don’t reach browning temperatures, browning large cuts of meat or sautéing or softening vegetables (especially onions and garlic) outside the slow-cooker in a separate skillet is an option to impart more depth of flavor to a dish.

Browning ground meat usually results in improved color and texture, but this step is not absolutely necessary, and browning is not recommended for meatloaf and similar dishes.

The downside to browning is that it takes away from the slow-and-low concept I spoke about earlier; however, there may be occasions when Browning is the best way to go for sheer taste and tenderness. Bottom line: Browning meats and sautéing or softening vegetables are unnecessary, but experiment and see what you and your family’s taste buds prefer.

Which Foods and When?

With a few exceptions, most of the ingredients for your slow-cooker dish can be put in all at the same time and still end up evenly cooked. Here are a few brief guidelines.

Vegetables: although it seems counterintuitive, most vegetables (especially roots such as potatoes, carrots and turnips) cook more slowly than meat and poultry do in the slow-cooker. These do best when layered along the bottom under the meat or other ingredients or along the sides of the container. Faster cooking veggies (peas and greens) can be added 20 to 30 minutes before the dish is finished cooking.

Poultry: poultry is easy to overcook and dry out. Leave the skin on a whole chicken to lock in moisture and add flavor.

Beans and legumes: these dried foods are perfectly suited for the slow-cooker, just be sure to properly prepare them beforehand and don’t add salt until after they are cooked, as salt will keep the skins tough.

Dairy: milk, cream, sour cream and yogurt tend to curdle with long simmering and cheese can break down and separate. It is best to leave these foods on the table to get the most from their enzymes and live cultures.

Seafood: foods from the sea also tend to cook fast, thus tend to not fare well with the long cooking times of the slow-cooker. Add them during the last 30 to 60 minutes of cooking.

Herbs and spices: whole herbs and spices release their flavors slowly, while ground versions tend to lose their flavor or even become bitter tasting in the slow-cooker. Chopped fresh herbs should be added during the last hour of cooking.

Converting Recipes

The easiest way to adapt a traditional recipe for the slow-cooker is to find a similar slow-cooker recipe and use it as a guide. Recipes that include some moisture and require longer cooking times, 45 minutes to an hour, in the oven or on the stovetop are good candidates for converting to the slow-cooker since they will most likely finish cooking within eight hours on low in the slow-cooker. In fact, most uncooked meat and veggie combos will take approximately eight hours. Because the enclosed environment of the slow-cooker discourages evaporation and generates liquid, about half the liquid is needed for the same recipe cooked on the stove top or in the oven. However, this does not apply to soups, sauces, chilies or chowders.

The Last Word

Make every effort to obtain the highest quality meats and poultry—it’s safer, it’s much more nutritious, it’s tastier, and the slow-cooker brings out the best in these foods. Worry and anxiety about reaching certain in internal temperatures is less of a concern with these truly healthy foods.

Start taking advantage of this fast food technique today! All you need is a high-quality slow-cooker—and yes that includes your multifunction pressure cooker. While I have one, I still use my traditional slow-cooker. That frees me up to use my Cosori multifunction gadget separately. I might need some boiled eggs that come out of the shell effortlessly or I might make some lovely yogurt at the same time my slow-cooker is making some fantastic barbecued beef.

And that brings us to today’s recipe.

Easy Barbecued Beef

This easy barbecued beef recipe takes advantage of your traditional slow-cooker. It’s great for any cookout or potluck dinner. Chuck roast makes delicious shredded beef sandwiches. The recipe calls for ketchup however, you may substitute tomato paste for a slightly less sweet dish. In any case, this barbecued beef is sure to please your family.

What You Need

  • 3-pound boneless grass-fed Chuck roast
  • 1 ½ cups ketchup or tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, diced

What to Do

  1. Place chuck roast in your slow-cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl to make sauce. Pour mixture over Chuck roast.
  3. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or 4 to 5 hours on high.
  4. Remove roast from slow-cooker and shred meat with a fork. Place shredded meat back into the slow-cooker and stir to evenly coat with sauce.
  5. Serve alone or atop whole-grain sandwich buns and top with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

Notes

If you like your meat a touch sweeter, add a tablespoon or two of date sugar while it is still hot to allow it to dissolve.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for today’s podcast. I hope you enjoyed our homestead updates. We love sharing our life with you.

Traditional cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. So, fire up that Instapot or dig out your old, faithful slow-cooker and give that barbecued beef recipe a try.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. And the absolute best thing you can do to help out the show is to share it with any friends or family who might be interested in our content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

Recipe Link

Easy Barbecued Beef

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