Saturday, February 8, 2014

Winter Dinner at the Farm

I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures, I threw this together just after noon and it didn't occur to me to document its creation until after it was well on its way to perfection.

Cassoulet is a traditional dinner from southern France (the area around the town of Toulouse and Carcassonne).  There are many variations on the dish but they all center around white beans and confit of duck or goose and some sausage as well as any other meat you might like to try. Lots of folks put lamb or mutton in, only very rarely does one see beef cooked in with the dish. There are some rather entrenched schools of thought regarding this simple dish.  Many swear tomatoes are essential to its preparation while others would sacrifice their firstborn to prevent dreaded nightshade from polluting their cassoulet.

I am an American, through and through.  As much as I love the Old World and its idiosyncratic charm, I will not have someone else's rules or traditions stand between me and the satisfaction of watching my youngest child find the antidote for the winter blahs, the gray cloud that comes and settles in our valley and refuses to relent for months. Be it bitter cold and heavy snow or 40 degrees with driving rain or 50 degrees and mud, there is work to be done.  The animals must be given as much comfort as possible, this means that the human animal may not get in until well after s/he hoped. This can lead to grouchiness and grumbliness but I tell you, if cassoulet is still warming in the oven then the makings of a wonderful evening are in the works.  It is a meal you can prepare and then leave to simmer and improve whilst you tend to what it is that needs tending.

Step 1.

Start with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 1 1/2 or 2 gallon heavy dutch oven type pot. Set heat to medium low.  Coarsely chop a large white onion and and toss it in the pot.  Then chop 4 cloves of garlic and toss the in just as the onions begin to soften.  Let the onions and garlic cook together for a few minutes, then put 28 oz of diced tomatoes in, these can be canned or fresh, whatever you have about the kitchen. Add fennel seed, oregano and black pepper, stir. Toss a dash of salt in now.

While this is happening take 3 slices of bacon and chop them into small rectangles, one slice down the middle and then chop from end to end.  Fry them in a skillet until you have a couple of tablespoons grease in the pan.  Put your andouille sausages in the pan to cook in the bacon grease.  You should cook all eight sausages this way, once done pull aside and slice each sausage into five pieces.

Step 2. - Preheat oven to 280 F

Put the sliced bacon and half the fat into the tomato and onions. Then put 60 oz softened Cannellini beans into the tomatoes and mix well. Pour two cups dry white wine into the mixture and cover, place in the oven.

While this is happening you will want to have had a faux confit in the works.  This will require duck, goose or chicken legs and some sugar, salt and duck fat. Take five legs, coat the in sugar and salt and place them under some very heavy hardware, books, weights, what have you.  Press the legs as long a you can.  Next drench them in duck, goose or pig fat and wrap the in foil and cook for a two hours minimum at 280 F.  Once the faux confit is ready fry the legs in the remaining bacon fat to crisp the skin. 

Step 3. 

Place the legs in the pot with everything else and cover in the oven for as long as you have left until serving, hopefully at least 90 minutes. Some like to sprinkle bread crumbs over the dish, I do not.

Serve with some ciabatta if handy, some asparagus or sautee'd spinach is also quite nice.  Enjoy.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Longaniza. What is it and what should you do with it?

Recently, we've had some small orders for both our beef and our pork longaniza leaving us with plenty of extra to send to our CSA members. That in turn has gotten a lot of questions about what this stuff is and how to cook it. Well, I'm here to help!
This is what Wikipedia says about it: "Longaniza is a Spanish sausage similar to a chorizo and also closely associated with the Portuguese linguica" (which is a form of smoke cured pork sausage season with garlic and paprika). "Its defining characteristics are interpreted differently from region to region." Helpful? No, I didn't think so either.

Leaping Waters' beef and pork longaniza isn't similar to chorizo, at all. It's a mildly spiced sausage, maybe even a little bit sweet. Doing a little bit more research I was able to find that there is also a Filipino longaniza. I've never tried authentic Filipino longaniza or Portuguese linguica but I'm going to guess that the flavor of ours is much closer to those than the flavor of chorizo. In any case, it's not terribly spicy. And since longaniza means "long and thin" we like to serve them as gourmet hot dogs. If you order hot dogs from LWF, this is the product we send you. Keep in mind though, that unlike traditional "emulsified pig part" hot dogs ours are uncured, and completely raw. They do need to be fully cooked before serving. I suggest grilling but sauteing works just fine, too. I haven't tried deep frying them yet so if you get a chance let me know how that is ;)

So, what should you do with your longaniza? I'm a huge advocate for the gourmet hot dog route. For these, I prefer a Chicago style dog with diced white onion, yellow mustard, hot peppers, tomato, and pickle and/or relish. I'm also a huge fan of adding bacon and mayo to it. If that's too much trouble for a hot dog for you, they're just as delicious plain and simple with ketchup and mustard. Or you could do spicy mustard and saurkraut, or a chili-cheese dog. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. I'm a sucker for a good hot dog. If you have any suggestions for me, I'm all ears. 

If you're not feeling the hot dog thing for your longaniza, maybe a more traditional preparation is more up your alley. Filipino longaniza is usually served for breakfast alongside eggs and fried rice. Here's a link a recipe for Filipino garlic fried rice (served with longaniza and eggs):

A restaurant I used to work at would do a Portuguese inspired dish with chorizo and mussels in a saffron coconut broth that was amazing. We'd all fight for the last of the broth like it was liquid gold. With this dish in mind, some left over longaniza in the fridge, and the the insatiable craving for curry I whipped up a mussel and longaniza red curry that I thought was delicious. Please note, I have very limited experience with authentic Thai cuisine. I'm going to share my recipe with you with the disclaimer that I was only trying to satisfy my own tastes, not make the most authentic curry to ever grace the dinner tables of Southwest Virginia. This Bobby Flay recipe is what I used as base for my curry: All the ethnic ingredients I needed I purchased at Oasis World Market, the mussels were probably from Kroger or the amazing ladies at Indigo Farms Seafood. In addition to what Bobby calls for I added hot Thai chili peppers, sweet red pepper, pineapple, and grape or cherry tomatoes (whole). I served that with jasmine rice and a squeeze of lime juice. I got good feedback from this but I'd love to hear what you think. 

I don't have any pictures of my culinary explorations with the longaniza so instead I thought I'd share a picture of my little hot dog, Zephyr. He's a wire-haired dachshund who always enjoys the time I spend in the kitchen testing out new recipes.

I hope you all enjoy the longaniza, whatever you decide to do with it. If you have any recipes you'd like to share, send them to me at
If there's a product you'd like some help with, let me know! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Untested Pot Roast Recipes

No, I have not tried any of these recipes, yet. There are two reasons for that: 
1. The Mr. always takes charge in the kitchen when there is any kind of meat to be roasted. I'm perfectly capable at cooking a roast (Or really anything in the oven for that matter, especially baked goods...grilling is a totally different story - I don't even know how to turn on or light a grill. But I digress.) so I don't know why he insists on me taking the back seat when it comes to a roast. Maybe it's the manliness of a 3.5 lb slab of meat? Regardless, he does a terrific job. I just don't know what exactly he does.
And 2. I just stumbled upon these recipes (which have been ripped out of the Dec 11/Jan 12 issue of Ladies Home Journal in an article called "Try a Little Tenderness") a few minutes ago while doing some office work here at the farm. I haven't had time to lock the Mr. out of the house while I test one out.

So without further ado here are some pot roast recipes for us all to try. If you get a change to test any of them out, please let us all know what you think. I'll do the same!

Beef Roast with Potatoes and Carrots

 Beef Roast with Potatoes and Carrots

You'll need a rib or sirloin cut -- a splurge, but perfect for a special meal.
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. (or 425 degrees F. for tenderloin or sirloin). Tie a 5-pound rib roast with kitchen twine if boneless or not compact. Rub roast with 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 2 teaspoons pepper; place on a rack in a roasting pan. Add cut potatoes and carrots tossed in olive oil to the pan.
2. Roast until meat thermometer registers 5 to 10 degrees below desired doneness (140 degrees F. for medium rare), about 2 1/2 hours (45 minutes for tenderloin or sirloin). Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 4 to 6

Chipotle Pot Roast with Sweet Potatoes

Chipotle Pot Roast with Sweet Potatoes

Use a chuck or round roast for our slightly spicy take on the traditional recipe.
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Tie a 3- to 3-1/2-pound chuck or round roast with kitchen twine if boneless or not compact. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a Dutch oven and sear beef on all sides until dark brown. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add 3 peeled and cut sweet potatoes and 1 onion cut into wedges to pan. Stir together 1 minced chipotle pepper, 1 tablespoon adobo from chipotle in adobo, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup, and 3/4 cup beef broth and pour over meat and vegetables. Cover and roast in oven until beef is fork-tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Serves 4 to 6
A covered heavy-bottom Dutch oven is ideal for pot roast.

Classic Pot Roast with Vegetables

 Classic Pot Roast with Vegetables

Like your mom used to make on Sundays, only more tender.
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Tie a 3- to 3-1/2-pound chuck or round roast with kitchen twine if boneless or not compact. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a Dutch oven and sear beef on all sides until dark brown. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add 6 small quartered potatoes, 2 ribs cut celery, 3 cut carrots, 1 large onion diced, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 cup beef broth to the pan. Cover and roast in oven until beef is fork-tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Serves 4 to 6
For a smaller roast, you can also use a covered heavy-bottom casserole.

Pot Roast with Tomatoes and Chickpeas

 Pot Roast with Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Use a chuck or round roast for this Mediterranean-flavored meal.
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Tie a 3- to 3-1/2-pound chuck or round roast with kitchen twine if boneless or not compact. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a Dutch oven and sear beef on all sides until dark brown. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Stir together one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes with juice, one 15.5-ounce can drained chickpeas, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 diced onion, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, and zest of 1/2 an orange. Add to Dutch oven with meat. Cover and roast in oven until beef is fork-tender, about 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Serves 4 to 6
If you use a roasting pan for pot roast, make sure you cover it tightly with foil.

Tips and Tricks:

Sear Delight

Browning your meat before you braise it not only makes the finished dish more beautiful, it's also essential for adding texture and more intense flavor (chefs call this the Maillard reaction). Well-browned beef should be a rich mahogany color. Here's how to do it right.
1. Pat the meat dry with paper towels (oil and moisture don't like each other), then season with salt. (Add pepper and spices after browning because they can burn.)
2. Get a pan very hot (you can sear the meat in the Dutch oven you'll braise it in or use a separate skillet), then add a little oil and the meat.
3. Don't move the meat until it's well browned on that side, about 2 or 3 minutes. It will move easily when you pick it up with tongs; turn it over and repeat.
4. Be sure to brown the edges, even if it means holding the meat with tongs while it cooks.

Two Ways to Cook a Roast

Also called pot-roasting, this moist-heat cooking method is best for less tender cuts of beef like chuck and round.

1. Pat beef dry and brown it on all sides in a small amount of canola oil over medium-high heat. Pour off the drippings.
2. Season beef with salt, pepper, and other flavors. Add vegetables and liquid and cover.
3. Cook at 325 degrees F. until beef is fork-tender, about 3 hours, and allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

With this dry-heat method you don't add liquid or cover the pan. Use it for tender cuts like rib, sirloin, or tenderloin.

1. Pat roast dry and season with salt and other flavors. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
2. Toss vegetables in a little olive oil and salt and arrange in pan around the roast.
3. Roast, uncovered, at 350 degrees F. for about 2 hours (425 degrees F. for about 45 minutes for tenderloin), until 5 to 10 degrees below desired doneness (140 degrees F. for medium rare).
4. Let roast stand, tented with foil, for 15 minutes before serving, allowing the meat to reach final temperature.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Slow Cooker Turkey Legs

Okay, I have to admit that I was fairly apprehensive about preparing turkey legs. They are the item most requested to be omitted from the CSA shares by a long shot. I figured that without careful preparation and slowly confitting for a full 24 hours they would be tough and dry. Boy was I wrong. This meal couldn't have been easier or tastier, or sleep inducing. Thanks tryptophan!

Fall off the bones amazingness right there.
I did some research aka Googling and checking Pinterest for recipes. I decided to follow this recipe and the comments on it as a guide. 
Start by rinsing and drying off your turkey legs. This is a good time to look for any feather roots that might be lingering around if you plan on eating the skin. And I highly suggest eating the skin. Rub the legs with extra virgin olive oil (or butter, or duck fat, or coconut oil, etc.) and season generously with salt, pepper, and whatever fresh or dried herbs you want. I used poultry herbs (rosemary, sage, and thyme) and 2 cloves of garlic. Don't just put the seasonings on top, make sure that legs are coated. Place in your slow-cooker of choice and drizzle with some more olive oil - I used 2-3 tablespoons for the two legs.

Oiled up pre herb-rubbed turkey.
Dice up some veggies or potatoes if you want and add to the crock pot. I used 3 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and 7 boiler onions but you can use whatever you like with turkey or just cook the turkey by itself.

The turkey and veggies all snuggled up for a "nap".
If you are adding veggies to the slow cooker add whatever takes the longest to cook first and so on. I put my carrots in first, then the celery, and the onions on top of the turkey so they would cook down less.

Turkey with a blanket of onions.
Turn on your crock pot to low heat or put your turkey legs in a low heat oven, 200ish degrees and go about your day.

After an hour of cooking.
I took a shower and got ready for work and took this^ picture before heading out. I started cooking the turkey legs at 6:30am with plans to have dinner around 6:30pm.

11.5 hours later.
If I had had more time to put into this meal I would have either put the veggies in much later in the cooking process or cooked more vegetables separately because I like my cooked veggies way more al dente. They tasted amazing, but all that slow cooking and olive oil did make them super tender, almost like a chunky vegetable gravy. The other thing that ended up super tender and moist were turkey legs. Seriously, the bones just slid right out.  

Dinner is served. 
Since the veggies were stewed down so much we decided to serve them and the tender turkey legs over mashed cauliflower to sop up some of the juices. I'm trying to be a little healthier so I figured the carrots were plenty enough starch; potatoes would have been great too though. If you want me to post my mashed cauliflower recipe let me know. They're amazing. I swear you won't miss the potatoes.
Please note the white tendons in the turkey legs in the very center of the picture. 
If you look closely at this picture, you'll see a few white tendons running parallel to the bone. They are a product of the happy lives our turkeys live on the farm that Alec mentioned in the last post. Unfortunately, no amount of brining or slow cooking is going to soften them up. Just take care to pull them out as you eat. The turkey legs will be so tender from the slow and low love they got all day that this won't be difficult or time consuming. I promise that this very easy recipe will make pulling those tendons out worth it. Be prepared for Thanksgiving-like drowsiness after. I forgot to turn my crock-pot off for 3 nights after... The house smelled amazing all weekend!

Good luck with your turkey legs and wings!
-Nina, the master of none


Friday, March 22, 2013

Turkey Tips


Hi Everyone,

I sent out the remainder of the Turkey legs and some wings this week. I realize this is not always the most popular meat product we produce but in that it’s a CSA and we have a need for no waste as well as the fact that when prepared well the turkey extremities are amazing I shipped them out anyway.

Our birds are heritage breeds and they fly and roam and perch the old fashioned way, as such the meat is tough if thrown onto the grill.

Here are some tips for turkey legs and wings. First off go slow. A braise of white wine or chicken stock at 285 degrees for three hours will melt away most of your troubles.

Take some olive oil and cook down half an onion sliced coarsely in a 6 inch deep pot/pan. Salt and pepper the wings, and place them over the softened onions. Pour cheap dry white wine or stock two inches deep. Let this simmer in the oven at 285 for three hours. You can crisp the skin in a skillet when finished if you like or take them out of the braise and set them on a cookie sheet in a hot broiler for a minute or so. Add whatever accouterments you prefer and serve.

You can also make an on the fly confit. This takes a day to prepare but it is so delicious. Cover the turkey legs in salt and sugar and then place them in a large, shallow pan. Take another pan the same size and place it on top of the legs. Then take your favorite unabridged dictionary and place three volumes on top of that pan the press the legs for 12 hours or so. Remove the legs from under the books and wrap them up in thinly sliced unsalted pork fat (need some? I’ll pass it on to you) or buy some duck fat and smother the legs in it. Then wrap the legs in foil and bake at 200 for four hours, crisp the skin before serving and enjoy, this is an amazing, easy dish.


PS: Nina prepared some turkey legs last week which she said were equally easy to prepare as they were delicious to eat. She is going to post her recipe and photos soon.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"One of the Best Things I've Ever Made" Beef Stew

According to the Mr. my variation on a basic beef stew recipe was "in the top 5, if not the best thing you've ever made, babe". Sometimes I think he just says stuff like that to stroke my ego, but this time he was being honest. He ate all but the one serving he saved for me and then informed me that I needed to get some more stew meat from Alec and make another batch for the Super Bowl (which at the time was over a week away). I made the stew again for the get-together and he was kind enough to let everyone try it before stashing one last serving in the car for himself. I'm not joking. It's pretty good beef stew and it was inspired by The Pioneer Woman Cooks Recipe: Beef Stew with Mushrooms.

As is usually the case, the first step in my cooking process is to clean my incredibly small and therefore, perpetually messy kitchen. Once that was done I got all my ingredients together to show you! I said I'd take more pictures!
Hey, Black Box is the classy boxed wine, don't judge me.
The only thing not in that picture is the beef. The recipe calls for 2 lbs, I only had 1 from LWF and originally intended to make a half batch then decided while grocery shopping to make a full batch and show you the difference in what you get from us and what you get from Kroger.
Meh... meat of the left, Sexy meat on the right.
The pink meat on the left is from Kroger and the redder meat on the right is Leaping Waters. I wish the picture did justice to the true color difference. Kroger meat is pink, you've seen it. LWF meat is deep, dark, almost purple or burgundy. Comparing the two reminds me of comparing cheap house red wine and $80 bottle of Bordeaux. Even if you don't know anything about meat or wine, you know which one of the two is going to taste better, richer, more flavorful.
So, now that I've had a chance to point out how different looking LWF beef is we should probably get to cooking. We're gonna use that "one pot method" I told you about last time. So aside from that pot, a cutting board, sharp knife, and a spoon (or tongs, for some reason I always end up cooking with tongs) all you need is a glass for your extra Black Box wine. Oh, and a bowl for your raw meat. 

Start by making sure all your stew meat pieces are about the same size. The chunks of Kroger meat were about double to triple the size of the LWF meat so all that had to be trimmed down. Then I washed and chopped up all the ingredients I showed you above: 
8-10 oz. of baby portabello or cremini mushrooms (Eats Natural Foods) washed not chopped
4 small (about a cup peeled and chopped) carrots (GFGP-Swarey Farm)
2 shallots (Eats)
1/3 cup white onion (Kroger)
approx. 3 cloves garlic (I used equivalent amount of GFGP-Seven Springs Elephant Garlic since 1 clove is about the same size as 6 regular cloves)
1.5-2 cups potatoes (Yukon Golds-Kroger and Red-Eats)
I also bought a package of poultry herbs (rosemary, sage, and thyme) which also taste delicious with beef and probably pork. (Kroger) Don't chop those up, just rinse.
 Enormous Elephant Garlic, onion, and shallots
Once all my ingredients were chopped and ready to go into the stew I tossed the meat in 2 Tbsp of flour (Big Spring Mill - Elliston, VA that's also where we get our feed). Heat up a few tablespoons of butter (Mountain View Farm Dairy, Homestead Butter - this stuff is amazing. So bright yellow and perfectly sea salty, it's heavenly.) and a few tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven. Once your butter is good and hot sear the floured beef in two batches so as not to crowd the meat. Let it sit for a while before you turn the pieces (That's why I was using the tongs!), you really want to get a bit of a char on the meat and leave some stuff behind in the pot. Add more butter for the second batch if you need to or like me, just want to.
Not hot enough, but look at how yellow that yummy melted butter is.
Remove the seared beef from the pot and put it back in the bowl it was in earlier (it's fine if some raw meat juice gets on the cooked meat, it's going back into boiling liquid later for 30+ minutes) but be sure to leave behind the love, I mean, fat, butter, and charred bits.
I'd say I browned the meat, not really seared it. It was still good.
Now toss the garlic, onion, and shallots in the pot to soften in the fat and juices. Make sure that you've turned the heat down from searing the beef so that you down burn them. Cook until transparent.
 If someone could make me a candle that smells like this, I'll forever be in your debt.
Potatoes go in next. I let mine cook for a couple of minutes without liquid to absorb some of the onion/garlic/shallot fat flavor before I poured in 1/2 cup of red wine.
 There are those tongs! On my spoon and lid rest. It's pretty awesome.
Then add your carrots and the whole can of beef consomme and a can full of water. I know Pioneer Woman says to use half, but I figure since we're putting carrots and potatoes in our stew as well, we're gonna need more liquid. Heck, put some more wine in there too, just for good measure. I may have ;) Bring the liquid up to a boil and then add the mushrooms, whole.
If only there was a way to link to a smell. One day...
Put the beef and any juice that may have run off in the bowl back into the pot and add plenty of fresh cracked pepper, black or peppercorn medley, which ever you prefer. I didn't add any salt because of the deliciously salty butter and the whole can of Campbell's Beef Consomme that went into the stew. I don't even want to know how much salt was in the consomme. If someone can find organic, low sodium beef consomme, please let me know in the comments section. Put a few sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and sage into pot whole - do not chop. You're gonna fish those out of the stew in about 40 minutes. If you have kitchen twine, tie them into a bundle. Let the stew simmer for about 30 minutes.
 This is the last picture taken before the Mr. DEVOURED the stew. The liquid gets more gravy-y.
After 30 minutes add a tablespoon or 2 of flour mixed with double the amount of water or wine to the stew, stir, and let it simmer for at least 10 more minutes. Then it's done. Have a bowl before your significant other and/or children eat it all.


  • 2 pounds Beef Stew Meat (sirloin Cut Into Cubes)
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Shallots, Minced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/3 cup white onion, minced
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped potatoes
  • 8 ounces, weight Cremini Or White Button Mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1 can Beef Consomme + 1 can water
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 sprigs each Fresh Thyme, Rosemary, and Sage
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1/3 cup Red Wine or Water

Preparation Instructions

Sprinkle flour over meat. Toss to coat.
Melt butter with olive oil in heavy pot. Sear meat over high heat in batches; remove to a plate when brown.
Add shallots and garlic to pan (without cleaning); saute for 2 minutes over medium-low heat. Add potatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine then add carrots and cook for 2 more minutes. Add consomme and can of water. Then add salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Bring to a boil, add mushrooms then add back into the mix the browned meat. Reduce heat to low. Add thyme sprigs to pot.
Cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. After that time, mix 2 tablespoons flour with a little water or wine and pour into the stew. Allow to cook and thicken for ten more minutes. Turn off heat and allow stew to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Meat Nina and a Pork Chop Recipe

Hello all! I'm Nina, the newest addition to the Leaping Waters Farm staff and I'm very pleased to meat you (pun intended). I've been helping with the family and the farm since June but just started full time a few weeks ago. My duties are vast - from office assistant, delivery girl, and chauffeur of the children to meat tetrus expert a.k.a Fedex shipment packer, receipt collector/sorter/filer, email stenographer and everything in between. Now I'm giving this whole blogging thing a shot, too. I meant for my blogging moniker to be "master of none" couldn't figure out how to make a name that wasn't my real one. Oh well :)

So, obviously this is my first blog post and when I was preparing this dinner I had every intention of making notes and taking pictures as I went along, but, I got excited and lost focus of what my original goal was. I was also using my cellphone to take pictures so they're pretty low quality images. That being said, there aren't a ton of pictures for this post and the recipes I used are more of just a guideline (and to be honest, unless I'm baking, I don't really measure anything). For all of my posts I will be focused on using Leaping Waters Farm meats and as often as possible local produce and dairy products and telling you where all those products came from. I'm a huge fan of Good Food Good People's wide varieties of CSAs as you get a ton of vegetables you probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise, but only advise this for families of at least 4 so as to not be wasteful or just shopping at your local farmer's market.

And now, onto the Apple Fennel Pork Chops inspired by this recipe:
seriously sexy pork
These beautiful Pork Chops are Leaping Waters Farm and will be in the meat CSA bags from time to time. I salt & peppered the bottom of a baking dish, tossed about 1/3 cup of freshly chopped fennel (from the GFGP Winter CSA - this fennel bulb was from Swarey Farm) evenly on the bottom and set the two pork chops in on top. 
don't drink the fennel-crispin-pork marinade juice, no matter how tastey it looks
Then I salt & peppered the tops, added another 1/3 cup or so of the freshly chopped fennel on top of the pork chops. I sprinkled about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (I always use Bragg Organic, I probably picked it up at Kroger) and then filled up the baking dish with Crispin Dry Cider pouring over the chops to get them wet until the marinade went half-way up the side of the chops. I let them sit for half on hour and then flipped them over and let the other side sit in the cider juice for another half and hour. At this point you should drink what's left in the open can of Crispin while you wait and/or open another and enjoy. I find that this is a very important step in the cooking process.
While the chops were marinating I washed up and chopped *some* potaotes (GFGP-Fertile Crescent Farm), the fennel bulb, red onion (Kroger), garlic (elephant GFGP-Seven Springs), apples (different varieties GFGP-King Bros.) fresh sage (also Kroger) and some more fennel fronds. I tossed some butter (Homestead Creamery) in a warm pan and started cooking up the potatoes with about a cup of Crispin. All of the rest of the ingredients went into the pan in the order they are listed as I cut them up. The pan, which you'll see in the picture below, looks like a soup pot or dutch oven, but is much more shallow. You should use whatever style of pot or pan suits the amount of food you're cooking. I should note that this "one-pot" method is one of my favorite things to do either for a side or the whole dinner. It makes clean up and leftover storage crazy simple.
objects in pan are shallower than they appear
After the hour of marinading, while the side dish was cooking, the Mr. put the pork chops on the grill for me. I don't recall how long he cooked them, but google says you should grill 6 minutes a side.
the big guy on the left was a little too rare and went back on the grill after this picture was taken
If you've timed your side dish right it should be ready right when your chops come off the grill. I added my apples to early and basically cooked them down to mush, but it was still very good. Here's the finished product with the Mr.'s beverage of choice, New Holland Cabin Fever Brown Ale.
looks great. let's eat.
I'd never cooked fennel bulb before and assumed I wouldn't like since I'm not usually a fan of things that taste like licorice. I was wrong though. It paired well with the apple and was much more savory than the sweet I had expected. It had the texture of cooked cabbage which I also liked. It really brought the pork to center stage, where it belongs. The char on the chops was a-maz-ing and I felt the marinade was spot on but the Mr. said it was a little too fennel heavy.
The leftovers got cooked up with a couple fried eggs (GFGP-Weathertop Farm) the next morning. If you take this route be sure not to over cook and dry out the pork chops you worked so hard on the night before. The potato side dish on the other hand tasted better a little cripsy.

So that's my first attempt at blogging. I hope it was entertaining a somewhat informative. I'll do my best to take more pictures and measurements next time.

Enjoy! - Nina, The Master of None 

*some* - I rarely measure ingredeints when I'm doing my "one-pot side or dinner" method since I'm only cooking for 2 and more often than not am trying to use up ingredients in the kitchen or pantry. Anytime you try a recipe I've posted on the blog, just use what feels right for you and your family's taste and level of hunger.