Category Archives: Meet Our Vendors

A Few Questions with Marina & John Backes of Circle B Ranch

Local Harvest’s Featured Vendor
September 2013
Marina & John Backes of Circle B Ranch
Seymour, MO

Circle B Ranch 02LH: You moved to Circle B Ranch in 2009, where you and your husband started your first commercial farm. What led you to this choice?

CBR: We are passionate about the food we produce and the welfare of our animals. We firmly believe that an animal’s welfare and humane treatment of the animal is vital to the taste and appearance of the meat. We are on the same page with the Slow Food movement.

We considered other species for raising, but felt Berkshire hogs were a better return on investment. They are also hardy, nearly self-sufficient, and not prone to diseases when pasture raised. The Berkshire in particular is a docile hog, well-equipped for pasture-raising. They produce large litters and have good mothering instincts. Their carcass quality and taste are legendary. Red Wattle is also highly compatible to pasture-raising and has good maternal instincts. When crossed with the Berkshire, a whole new dimension of taste is added.

Circle B Ranch 01LH: Why is it important to your family and business to raise certified-humane, heritage pigs in a natural, free-range environment? Generally, what do these practices entail?

CBR: Since the animals are free-ranged on pasture land, they do what hogs do best—root and graze for the majority of their food. The hogs have freedom to graze on the lush pastures and roam the woods, foraging for nuts and acorns. Naturally-raised pork is rich in Omega 3 fat, Vitamin D, and free from any additional hormones and antibiotics. Circle B Ranch adds natural corn & soybean-based food with mineral and vitamin supplements to the animal’s diet. Since we manage the process from pasture to plate, the customer will immediately taste the difference.

Circle B Ranch provides a clean and 100% natural environment to breed, farrow, and raise heritage Berkshire/Kurabota and Red Wattle hogs for both restaurant use and consumer consumption. We accomplish our mission by raising the hogs using sustainable and humane production methods that adhere to the Certified Humane Raised and Handled standards of operation.

LH: Describe your farm’s unique aspects. How does the landscape aid your mission?

CBR: The landscape of SW Missouri is very hilly and heavily wooded. The Berkshire hogs are given free access to the pasture, wooded areas, and the natural streams that run through the property. The hogs have a basic diet of pasture grass and legumes, roots, nuts (such as acorns, black walnuts, hickory), and even occasional wild persimmon. This is how hogs were raised long ago. There are only a handful of farmers nationwide who truly pasture-raise hogs. Their diet is also supplemented with discarded market fruits and vegetables collected from local food banks and markets. We feel this broad spectrum diet produces the quality product our customers enjoy.

Not only does the varied terrain provide quality forage, the deep wooded hollows provide cool and shade and shelter from wind and cold, which prevents stress to the animals and thereby enhances consistent growth.

LH: You raise a few different breeds of heritage hogs. What are the differences between the breeds? Do they lend themselves to different types of pork product?

CBR: We raise two type of heritage hogs. Berkshire and Red Wattle. We also produce a crossbreed. The Berkshire has a very buttery nut like flavor and light “marbling’ in the loins. The Red Wattle has a longer muscle structure, very dark meat, and a “nearer to steak” taste. They have heavier marbling in the loins. The Red Wattle is also a longer and taller hog so the sides of the cross for bacon use are a little larger. The cross of Berkshire/Red Wattle produces a Berkshire taste and marbling but with a rich dark Red Wattle meat.

one week oldLH: Describe a day in the life of your farm. What’s it like being an independent hog farmer in Missouri?

CBR: John handles the everyday nuts and bolts of the farm, with help from our farm foreman Darrell. He also controls the animal husbandry, feeding of the hogs, rotation of the different age groups of hogs to different pastures and fields. He handles the health and welfare of the entire herd while maintaining our pasture (over seeding) and infrastructure (such as waterlines and fencing).

Marina is in charge of bookkeeping, marketing, and sale of the hogs and sauces. John, Marina, and Erin work the Greater Springfield Farmers Market and the Clayton Farmers Market in St. Louis. Delivery responsibilities are shared by all. Erin and Marina handle social media such as blogging and Facebook.

It is very challenging to be an independent hog farmer in Missouri. As product demand increases, we need to maintain our high standards and not jeopardize the end product. Our mission is to bring to market the best product we can, humanely and sustainably.

LH: You have a beautiful, accessible website and online store. As a local farm business, how do you manage the site and what benefits does it lend you?

CBR: It took a very long time and many revisions to come up with a beautiful website. Our online store remains a work in progress. We manage our site, but a website developer does the actual design of the website. The website is a great place for people to go for information on our farm and raising practices. We use Facebook and blogs to keep our customer up-to-date on weekly happenings on the farm. We are transparent with everything we do.

LH: You also have a line of gourmet sauces. What’s available? Do they complement your pork products?

CBR: While we were waiting for our hogs to grow, we decided to develop a line of gourmet sauces. We have Marina’s Italian Tomato Sauce, Marina’s Cranberry Chutney, and Big John’s Barbecue. They were all made to complement our pork products. The cranberry chutney is fantastic on pork chops, or you can use it on baked brie, goat cheese, or with yogurt and granola. Marina’s Italian Tomato Sauce goes hand-and-hand with Marina’s Italian meatballs.
In the meatballs, the pork is from our hogs and the beef is from Missouri Beef Growers—a coop in SW Missouri.

LH: What is your favorite local product?

CBR: Terrill Creek Goat Cheese, Springfield Dairy Yogurt, Baetje Goat Cheese, Billy Goat Potato Chips

LH: Why should people buy local?

CBR: As we all know, our food–both quality and supply—is in crisis. Patronizing an authentic local farmer will ensure a steady supply and growth of a healthy food source.

Commercial providers have begun to employ clever wording and packaging to confuse consumers into a sense of trust in their claims when their growing practices have not changed. The words “Natural Raised” and “Organic practices” are being misused. We all know how pleased we are to read or hear the word “organic” when in actuality it means very little regarding an animal’s raising and treatment. Patronizing your local farmer is push back against false marketing schemes of substandard food and will serve to raise the quality standard.

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Featured Vendor: Live Springs Farm

Local Harvest’s Featured Vendor
23 August 2013
Bobbi Sandwisch and Alex Weber of LIVE SPRINGS FARM
Carrollton, IL

BobbiLH: What is biodynamic farming? How is it different than organic farming?

LSF: First let me point out that we are not Certified Biodynamic. We use biodynamic farming practices on our farm, which means we are knowledgeable of biodynamic practices and use those in collaboration with good farming practices that benefit the farm ecosystem at Live Springs Farm. The concept of “biodynamic farming” was first introduced in Europe by Rudolf Steiner during the early 20th century. The biodynamic method is a holistic approach to farming that encompasses not only the biology of the soil but also the energy of the universe. That is where it largely differs from organic farming. There are some more practical applications of biodynamic farming that we utilize on the farm which include things like making and spraying “horn manure.” This is a fertilizer-type spray that we use on our fields and pastures. We prepare it here on the farm using the manure from our cows. We collect enough manure to fill 300 cow horns each fall. Then we pick a designated spot on the farm, based on different criteria like soil type and propensity to moisture holding, etc., and bury those 300 horns for the duration of winter, digging them up in May. Over the winter, the manure in those horns turns from soupy cow manure to a crumbly, rich, dark, very earthy-smelling, compost-like material. We then also have a special storage method for this preparation, a specific way to prepare it for application to fields and pastures, and a specific way and time of day to spray. There are several other “biodynamic preparations” prepared in similar ways that I don’t have space to detail here. All of these details reflect the intricacies of nature, because the biodynamic preparations are meant to work in collaboration with those very intricacies and help re-enliven natural patterns that are occurring in nature largely unseen to the human eye; yet, they are present and working in some way to help or harm our farming practices.

LH: Do you consider biodynamic farming a return to a more ancient way of farming, or is it a new method altogether?

LSF: It is absolutely not a return to a more ancient way for farming. That is a widespread misconception that organic farming and the like are “how great grandpa did it.” Farming must be progressive to keep up with the ever-changing environment and human population. Does that mean we need genetically modified crops and proteins or other lab-produced concoctions to feed humanity? . . . absolutely not. We need to continue to learn and be observant of our natural world and figure out how to imitate, replicate, and work with those perfect interactions to produce food efficiently. The biodynamic preparations and model are one tool in the tool box for today’s modern American farmer. The most important aspect of biodynamic farming is the concept of “holism.” Every aspect of the farm—from livestock and wildlife, to crops, water, forest and wetlands—has a relationship with everything else. We view it as one of our most important tasks to nurture these relationships, that they may become stronger and have more synergy.

Live Springs FarmLH: Did Live Springs start out as a biodynamic farm? Why did you chose this method of farming and the place you chose to practice it?

LSF: The land that now supports Live Springs Farm was initially purchased and is still owned by a woman named Dorothy, who bought it with the intentions of it being a biodynamic farm. That initial purchase happened in 2007. For a short period, the farm was operating under a different name as a not-for-profit organization. Even at that time, it was operating with biodynamic principles. We started growing and producing as Live Springs Farm in 2009 when we started selling our premium products locally, direct to consumers.
We chose to use Biodynamic farming practices in collaboration with our other practices like Holistic Planned Grazing because we felt it was one of the most comprehensive approaches to modern farming and would directly benefit the end consumer with the most nutritious food they could feel good about consuming.

groupLH: You have a financial partner who you describe as a “slow money investor” who seeks a “triple bottom line.” What’s your relationship with her, and what does that mean?

LSF: Our “slow money investor” is the aforementioned landowner Dorothy. We met Dorothy in 2007 as part of that original not-for-profit organization. As that organization changed their mission and goals and decided to downsize and leave the Midwest region, Dorothy was left with a large piece of land far from her home in Alabama, and Alex and I (Bobbi) were left as farmers needing a place to farm. It kind of seemed like the obvious answer! The devil is in the details, right? Dorothy is a very forward-thinking individual when it comes to ideas about the true place of land and money in our society, and Alex and I are very passionate about farming, animals, food, and nutrition. The marriage of all those things has led to the very unique situation we have here at Live Springs Farm.
We have a very close relationship with Dorothy. We talk to her regularly about the progress on the farm, challenges we’re facing, and big picture ideas about where to go in the future, including ideas about land ownership, business models, etc. Her commitment at this moment in time is in retaining full ownership of the land and business while investing monetarily in infrastructure and other farm needs that will help the farm business succeed and become financially sustainable. The idea of “slow money” investing is particularly important to farming and, in particular, farming that tries to work holistically, in collaboration with natural processes. Things in nature happen in patterns and often take years . . . . A cow is pregnant for nine months, a calf is born, nurses from that cow for 9 months (here at Live Springs anyway!), continues to grow for another 15 months until it is truly “finished” and ready for slaughter, or ready for starting the process as a mother cow. That is a good deal of time to wait for some return on your initial investment of that original mother cow—and many things in farming take even longer. Actually, that mother cow needs to have 3 healthy calves on the ground before she begins to become profitable for the owner, which is a pretty slow investment return.
The “triple bottom line” aspect of that investment is a multi-faceted look at what the return on investment is. It isn’t about just the monetary return. . . . It is a small financial return (money), a return for the community (i.e. nutritious food available, a clean watershed, lack of exposure to harmful chemicals), and a return for mother nature (i.e. healthy, vibrant, carbon-rich soil that can help natural processes flourish).

pastured chickensLH: Describe an average day in the life of your farm.

LSF: We start early in the morning, around 5:30 A.M., doing chores which include: milking the goat (for our personal consumption on the farm!); rolling up the temporary fencing for the cows, moving them into a new portion of pasture, and setting up temporary fencing for their afternoon move to fresh pasture; opening the doors to the eggmobile for the laying hens to come out for the daylight (every other day that also means moving the eggmobile to a new pasture portion), opening the doors on the shelters for the broiler/fryer chickens to come out and moving their shelters forward to fresh ground for that day, and every fifth day that means moving their whole set-up to a fresh acre of pasture; also feeding and watering those chickens; and checking on and watering the feeder pigs in the woods. Then certain weeks there are also chicks in our brooders that are under two weeks old that haven’t gone out to pasture yet, and need fed and watered in the brooders. Also, it may be the week when the feeder pigs need access to a new portion of woodlot or pasture so temporary fencing has to be taken down and re-setup, and feeders and drinkers need to be moved.
That all happens before 8 A.M. when we break for breakfast. Then after breakfast there are any number of things to do. . . . Bobbi has to keep up with emails to individual customers asking questions and placing orders, be in conversation with restaurants and grocery stores about ordering, schedule with the butcher facilities and do cutting instructions for those places on how to process the meat, keep up the website and other social media outlets including email newsletters and updates for buying clubs, go to farmers’ markets, make deliveries to grocery stores and buying club members, take animals to the butcher (that happens well before breakfast on designated days), do the farm bookkeeping and accounting, keep up meat inventory and packing orders for distribution, attend speaking engagements, perform any veterinary treatments to any animals, order supplies, clean and pack eggs—the list goes on.
Alex fills the rest of his day making feed rations for the farm’s pigs and chickens, doing repairs and maintenance on any of the farm equipment and machinery, doing field work which varies throughout the year (from tillage and planting in the fall, to harvesting in the summer, planting cover crops in the summer, making hay in the summer, and spraying biodynamic preparations), managing the two full-time employees on the farm, continuing to work on building new high tensile electric fence and maintain existing fence, overseeing or doing other infrastructure improvements on the farm like building eggmobiles and chicken shelters.
Then there are the afternoon chores like collecting eggs, freshening up feed and water for the broiler/fryer chickens, moving the cows again to a new pasture portion, feeding, watering, and checking on the sows and boars and possibly giving them a new pasture/woodlot portion.
After dark the chickens get locked up, safe from nighttime predators.

Alex and Rowan with a Grassfed cowLH: Most farms that raise grass-fed, antibiotic-free animals seem to have one particular animal that they focus on—largely selling one type of cattle only, for example—while you raise cows, pigs, and chickens. Is this diversity due to your biodynamic practices, and does it make your daily work harder?

LSF: The diversity is in part due to biodynamic practices. Many farms you see using biodynamics are very diversified farms because of the holistic approach it encourages, but many are not. For example, many wineries have incorporated just the practical aspects of the biodynamic preparations, like the horn manure I mentioned, because they are seeing incredible beneficial results. Our approach to diversity is based in many thoughts . . .
1. Nature likes diversity. There are many important relationships that we interrupt by trying to be too specialized.
2. We can produce more food on the same acre of ground. If you put sheep, goats, chickens, cows, and pigs on an acre of ground where there is some grass, some weeds, some brushy areas, some mast producing trees, etc. and watch each of those animals, you’ll see they all have their specialties without one inflicting any negative stress on the other in terms of food supply. In fact, quite the opposite: they each seek out the food source most valuable to them, with some overlap. Then they deposit their unique manures, which are the most nutrient dense form of food for soil microorganisms which produce their own manure and have their unique characteristics to aerate soil and provide nutrition to all those growing plants, including other plants that can be used directly for human consumption without a single bag of fertilizer.
3. We like to do different things, it makes us happier.
4. It helps our customers. We know we’re asking a lot of our modern day families who have become very distanced from real food. Getting real food these days is by no means the norm, while 24-hour grocery stores stocked with the same product disguised as nutritious food 365 days out of the year are. We’re asking customers to give up this seemingly convenient experience to go one place to get their grassfed beef, another place for their organically-grown vegetables, another place for eggs, another place for pork, another place for milk, and on and on. Oh, and they can only get one thing once a month and another thing is once a week. We’re trying to do our little part to offer a little more convenience and we’re going to keep working on that as we grow.
5. It builds in resiliency to the business. We’re not putting all of our eggs in one basket.
All of this makes for year-round, long, hard days of work—but being too specialized definitely has its down sides as well, like not addressing any of the points I mentioned above. We feel it is 100% a possibility for human beings to feed themselves without the use of GMO crops (which don’t offer any yield increases) and nutrient-devoid, mass-produced, laboratory-grown foods—but it will take much more hard work on the part of farmers and consumer support for understanding the importance of diversity and flexibility on farms.

LH: What is your favorite local product (besides your own, of course)?

LSF: We love all of our fresh produce from Three Rivers Community Farm and Riverbend Roots Farm. We are also partial to the truly divine artistry of everything from Salume Beddu!

LH: What is your favorite thing about working with Local Harvest?

LSF: We are appreciative of Local Harvest’s continued promotion of local farmers and the various products they have to offer. We are also happy that Local Harvest is just what it is . . . a grocery store. This is a concept that Americans are used to now. As a grocery store, Local Harvest provides another setting (aside from less mainstream farm-to-consumer outlets like farmers’ markets or buying clubs) for people to find higher quality food and start to bridge that gap with food consumption and farming. Also, we just appreciate that they are willing to buy from farmers like ourselves. We farm full-time and then we work full-time to try to sell our products: it’s hard work and we’re so appreciative of places that help to make that a little easier.

LH: What is your favorite thing about living in this area?

LSF: (Bobbi) I grew up in western Ohio so the Midwest is home to me. I farmed in New York for a time and couldn’t get away fast enough. The pace of life here is fast but I couldn’t keep up there. This is also a great area for diverse food production.
(Alex) Great soil.

LH: Why should people buy local?

LSF: If we could get everyone to switch to buying local overnight, we would see an amazing transformation in the overall well-being of our country and citizens. When you have corn grown in Illinois, shipped to China to feed the hogs (the biggest hog producer in the U.S. is in the process of being bought by a Chinese company), the pork shipped back to California and trucked to Iowa for further processing into hotdogs and other porky products, and then those pork products trucked back to feed the communities where the initial corn was grown, there are a lot of corporate interests making money along the way. Meanwhile, the original farmer got paid less than the cost of producing that corn and in turn got a nutrient-deficient end product for what appears to be relatively “cheap”.
Buying local encourages farmers to do better because they’re feeding their neighbors and usually it means getting paid a fair price. Consumers are getting more nutrient-dense food that hasn’t been harvested too early and traveled too far or sat in a warehouse for years. The money stays closer to home thus building the quality of life for our own communities. Consumers can also generally have more of a say in what they want by communicating with the producer, which also goes to further encourage farmers to do better.

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Local Fishes.

I stumbled upon this post about the fine fish at Troutdale Farm.

Over the past three years, since the Cafe opened, I have been mostly a locavore – especially when it comes to animal products. This trout has been on my dinner menu at the restaurant and my dinner plate at home – pretty much exclusively. It is amazing fresh and delicious, and we are lucky to have it so readily available in our area.

On the brunch menu we use Troutdale Farm trout for our Smoked Trout bagel – served on a fresh Companion bagel with cream cheese, capers, red onions, and House Smoked Trout. For lunch we serve the same smoked trout on a beautiful Nicoise Salad – organic greens, house pickled green beans, hard boiled cage-free Missouri eggs, red potatoes, capers, red onion, and balsamic vinaigrette. The dinner menu has Pan Seared Trout with local, seasonal offerings – it changes daily.

Last weekend we served that Pan Seared Trout with wild fiddle head ferns from Ozark Forest Mushroom, brown butter, and roasted new potatoes (pictured above).


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Weekly Harvest October 24, 2010

Here’s the list for this week.  Lots of great options!
Double Star Farms, Bluford, IL 
1 head Cauliflower Recipe for roasted cauliflower included
2 Delicata squash AKA Peanut squash or Bohemian squash. Many folks think this is one of the tastier winter squashes, with a pulp that tastes a bit like corn and sweet potatoes. The squash can be baked or steamed The thin skin is also edible. The delicata squash is  an heirloom variety that was popular in the early 1900’s. 
1 head Napa Cabbage  Napa Cabbage originated in China and has a slightly sweeter and less intense flavor than traditional cabbage. Eat raw or use in any recipe that calls for cabbage.  Stores best covered and lasts about 5-7 days in the refrigerator.  Here’s a site with 8 ways to fix it
1 head Romaine Lettuce
1lb Green Beans (probably the last of the season)
2lbs Sweet Potatoes
1 Tomato
Greg Pusczek Farms, Marine, IL
1 bunch of Purple Top Turnips  Hope you are enjoying these.  I have been eating them like crazy.  The other night I just sliced them very thin and sauteed them in olive oil and added a little minced garlic and salt. Yum. They have a nutty sweetness that makes them easy to eat without much fuss.  Hopefully I’m not the only one crazy about turnips!
Prairie Grass Farms, New Florence, MO Dave Hillebrand aka “the Lamb Guy” made a conscious decision to adopt his growing principles. He rotates his lamb regularly and has seen his pastures explode with varieties of grasses and clover that had been dormant for years.  He has amazing stories so if you ever get the chance to talk with him it’s well worth it. (Find him at the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market and Maplewood Farmer’s Market)  Here’s a link to a very short article about Prairie Grass Farms that I highly recommend.
1lb ground lamb  There are a couple of recipes and a link for more ideas.
Local Harvest Cafe, St.Louis, MO (vegetarians)
1 package of Field Roast  Made with lentils, seitan, lots of spices and roasted eggplant, you can use this field roast as you would meat. Toss with pasta, serve on a sandwich (that’s what we do for our autumn/fall veggie sandwich at the cafe) or over rice.  It is extremely versatile.  It will only last about a week so you’ll want to use it quickly or freeze it.  If you have questions, let me know and I can put you in touch with our chef, Clara Moore.
Martin Rice, Bernie, MO
2lb bag of rice
Centennial Farms, Augusta, MO  They do farm tours if you feel like heading out for a visit. If you have kids they also do hayrides and have a pumpkin patch. About an hours drive from St.Louis. Here’s the website for more info and hours.
1 jar preserves
Companion Baking, St.Louis, MO
1 bag of Granola  Great for breakfast or a quick snack.  We love to make yogurt parfaits–layer yogurt and granola and in between add thin layers of any of the following: honey, jelly, peanut butter, or fresh fruit. Easy and delicious.
KaKao, St. Louis, MO  Brian, the owner, spent 20 years in the corporate world before finding his true passion in 2008–making chocolate.  He has a small store on Jefferson, near Gravois, which is really a delight!
2 Chocolate Bars
1 head of cauliflower
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely minced
Lemon juice from half a lemon
Olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese (Heartland’s Methuselah is a good substitute)
1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut cauliflower into florets and put in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. Toss in the garlic. Sprinkle lemon juice over cauliflower and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If the oven hasn’t reached 400°F yet, set aside until it has.

2 Place casserole in the hot oven, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Test with a fork for desired doneness. Fork tines should be able to easily pierce the cauliflower. Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

LAMB CHILI  (call for 2lbs, but you can make with 1 lb or substitute other lb with pork, beef or buy another pound of lamb.)


  • 2 lbs. ground lamb
  • 1 lg. yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed/minced
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1-2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cans tomato paste
  • 1 lb. black beans, soaked overnight (or longer :-/ )
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 4 T chili powder
  • 2 T cumin, ground
  • ½ T fresh ground pepper
  • 1 t salt

Brown the lamb, add onion, drain, put into stockpot (or crock-pot). Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste (adjusting sauce and paste amounts to suit your likes), black beans, mushrooms, chili powder, cumin, pepper and salt. Simmer at least four hours, then taste and add more chili powder/cumin/pepper/salt to taste (preferably simmering more if more spices were added).

Options: add or substitute garbanzo or kidney beans


1 lb ground lamb

2 large garlic cloves, pressed

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese  (can substitute goat cheese)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint  (there is quite a bit growing by the building next to the store if you want to pick some)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Place lamb in large bowl. Sprinkle garlic and salt over. Gently toss lamb to blend. Combine feta and mint in small bowl.

Divide lamb into 8 equal mounds. Using damp hands, shape each into ball. Working with 1 ball at a time, poke thumb into center to make hole. Press 1 teaspoon feta-mint filling into hole. Pinch hole closed, then press ball between palms to flatten into 3/4-inch-thick disk. Repeat with remaining lamb and feta-mint filling. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 250°F. Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook lamb sausages until browned on both sides and cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium. Transfer sausages to rimmed baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Serve hot. Read More


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October 17, 2010

Image from Mueller Farm, Ferguson, MO

Here’s the latest box of goodies for Weekly Harvest, a local food subscription from Local Harvest Grocery. 



Earth Dance Farms, Ferguson, MO  Earth Dance Farms grows at Mueller Farms which is the oldest organic farm in Missouri. It’s close so if you ever want to visit a farm, this is a great one to go to. Divided into small sections, many farmers grow their produce here. Earth Dance also runs a farmer apprentice program. 
1 bunch of radishes

Double Star Farms, Illinois
1 head of cabbage  First cabbage of the year.  So much you can do with cabbage–cole slaw is an obvious one, but you can also saute or steam cabbage.  As a kid I loved to eat steamed cabbage with yellow mustard on it. Weird, but delicious.   
1 head cauliflower Cauliflower is great steamed, sauteed or roasted.  Roasted cauliflower can take on an almost nutty flavor. 

Bella Terra Farms, Columbia, MO
2lbs russet potatoes
2 red onions
Greg Pusczek Farms, Marine, IL
salad greens 1/2lb
4 golden delicious apples
Silent Oaks Farm, IL  (certified Organic)
1 bunch of turnips

Geisert Farm, Washington, MO
1 package of brats (omni)
Berhanu Enterprise, St. Louis, MO
1 package of lentil spread (Ah-Zeefah) (vegetarians)  Sine Berhanu is the creator of this amazing lentil dip. Flavorful and healthy, use this spread as a dip, on salads, on sandwiches or even on cooked vegetables. 
Local Harvest Cafe, St. Louis,MO
1 container of tomatillo sauce (vegetarians)  Put over cooked rice, stir into your eggs, or use as a sauce for cooked vegetables. 
Our Garden, New Florence, MO 1lb homemade butter Ellen doesn’t make this very often so we are thrilled to be able to get this to you this week. Her butter is so fresh and delicious that you’ll want this every week!
Milton Creamery, Milton, IA
1 package Prairie Breeze cheese You’ve gotten this before and many of you wrote that you loved it.  Enjoy!  Great in soups, on pasta, with apples, or grated onto pasta.  
Mangia Pasta Factory,St. Louis, MO
1 package whole wheat radiatore  Wonderful for holding sauce.  Cook for 3-4 minutes in boiling water. 
Ringhausen Orchards, Fieldon, IL
1/2 gallon apple cider  Hot or cold, this cider is a winner.  I also freeze this cider in popsicle molds and my son eats it as a snack.  
RECIPES/SUGGESTIONS  (recipes found on
Below you will find several recipes for cabbage that include many of the other items in your subscription. But, I also wanted to let you know a little bit about cooking turnips.  Many folks have a bias against the turnip which is sooo sad to me. If the greens are still somewhat fresh you can also eat these.  Turnips are very versatile–you can chop or slice and saute, roast them with other hearty vegetables like winter squashes and potatoes, or even eat them raw on salads.  I love roasted turnips. Toss chopped turnips with some olive oil and salt, add a few whole cloves of garlic and roast at 375 for 20-30 minutes. You can peel turnips or if the skin is very thin, just wash them. I also included a recipe for glazed turnips at the bottom.   
Buttered Cabbage
1 lb fresh cabbage
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
an extra knob of butter
Remove all the tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into four, remove the stalk and then cut each quarter into fine shreds, working across the grain. Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of water into a wide saucepan, together with the butter and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, add the cabbage and toss over a high heat, then cover the saucepan and cook for a few minutes. Toss again and add some salt, freshly ground pepper and the knob of butter. Serve immediately.
Oklahoma Comfort Food
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 pound bratwurst sausage, cut into chunks
1 head cabbage, cored and quartered
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces (could leave this out or use potatoes instead)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions; cook and stir until tender. Place the green beans into a large pot with about 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cabbage to the pot, and top with the cooked onion. Season with sweetener and salt, then top with bratwurst. Dot with remaining butter. Cook uncovered over low heat for 30 minutes. Stir, and serve.
“Creamed” Cabbage and Cauliflower
1 tablespoon butter
2 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely chopped cabbage
2 cups small cauliflower florets
1/2 cup finely chopped peeled russet potato
2/3 cup low-fat (1%) milk

Pinch of ground mace or ground nutmeg
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add cabbage and cauliflower and stir until cabbage wilts, about 3 minutes. Stir in potato. Increase heat to medium. Add milk and simmer until vegetables are tender and milk is reduced to sauce consistency and coats vegetables, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with mace, salt and pepper and serve.
* The reviews for this recipe all suggested adding some grated hard cheese to add more flavor. The Prairie Breeze cheese would work well as would a Parmesan!
Glazed Turnips
2 lb small to medium (2-inch) turnips
About 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Garnish: chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Peel turnips, then halve horizontally and quarter halves. Arrange turnips in 1 layer in a 12-inch heavy skillet and add enough water (about 1 1/2 cups) to reach halfway up turnips. Add butter, sugar, and salt and boil over moderately high heat, covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Boil turnips, uncovered, stirring, until tender and water has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
Sauté turnips over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden brown,about 5 minutes more. Add 3 tablespoons water and stir to coat turnips with glaze.


Filed under Delicious Tidbits, Meet Our Vendors, Pictures, Recipes

A visit to a hog farm–Todd Geisert Farms

Todd and a 24-hour old piglet

Until two weeks ago, I had never visited a full blown hog farm.  I’d seen a few pigs at smaller farms, and had friends with pot-bellied pigs, but hogs, hogs, everywhere was certainly new to me.

We started carrying Geisert breakfast sausages, links, brats and bacon in March.  Todd Geisert, the owner of the farm, told us about his family hog farm, the open fields where he raises his hogs, the sustainable methods he uses and a little about the history.  So, on a beautiful May day I set out with my son in tow to see for myself.

The farm, located in Washington, MO,  is easy to find. you turn And the old timey produce stand in front is a clue that you are not in a big city.  There is also a small upright cooler to the side of the stand stocked with Todd’s brats, sausages, pork burgers and even ham sausage.  All the products are for sale on an honor system.  This is true even at the height of produce season when the stand is overflowing with tomatoes, squash, and peppers.  Todd says it’s worked out great and so far he’s never had a problem.

The farm has been in the family since 1878. His mom and dad live across the street from the farm in a house built in the late 1800’s. You wouldn’t know it from the outside because his folks have recently add an addition and done a lot of work to this beautiful home that overlooks the Missouri river. I was able to meet his mom and she quickly charmed my three-year old with some crackers, apple juice, and a friendly grandma demeanor.

Todd drove us around the farm in an open aired jeep. He has another farm nearby where he keeps more hogs–in total he said he keeps about 1000 hogs. This is large for a farm like his and proof that you can raise a large group of animals without confinement.

We picked a great day to visit the farm because one of the hogs had given birth to some piglets less than 24-hours before we arrived and another hog was laboring and had just delivered two piglets. She went on to have five more that night and Todd texted me a photo of all the baby pigs nursing. I would have loved to see the sow giving birth, but alas it was not to be. Instead we settled happily for holding one of the baby piglets. My son was bit spooked by that little pig and the adult hogs are pretty imposing so he seemed content to stay in the jeep for that part. (see photos below)

Watching the pigs graze on the hillside and wallow in the mud I was reminded of Joel Salatin’s quote in Food, Inc about the “pigness of the pig.” It seems Todd’s hogs get to express that everyday.

Overview of Todd’s Farming methods, pig facts, etc…
1. He rotates his hogs around the property and in the winter they fertilize his crop fields
2. Todd grows his own feed for his hogs reserving some of his farmland for corn
3. There is a beautiful stream running at the bottom of his property that his animals have access to
4. During the heat of summer the hogs are moved to a cedar grove where there is plenty of shade
5. With the exception of hogs that are kept for breeding, the life of each hog is about six months.

Hogs just turned out into a fresh pasture

Hogs relaxing in the mud.

Mama pig in labor. She had five more piglets that evening.

Holding a baby pig.


Filed under Meet Our Vendors, Pictures

A trip to Joy Stingers-and lovely candles

Joy and her beautiful pillar

When you meet Joy Stinger, you don’t forget it.  A bundle of energy,  amazing honey, and beautiful candles all from a woman who personifies German grandma. Don’t ask me to explain that, it just makes sense to  me.  Anyway, I was excited to get the chance to visit Joy at her home this week. My son got dragged along too, but lucky for him this meant the chance to see chickens, hold a rabbit, see fish, cats, and two dogs. It’s like a petting zoo and Santa’s workshop in Clayton, Missouri. 

The dog was licking the bunny...

I visited Joy to buy some of her beautiful candles for the holidays.  You’ll notice a photo of her pillars and one of her molds. The candles are amazing and many are made with antique molds. Joy also hand paints a lot of the candles which are made with beeswax and have the lovely aroma of honey.

Candle molds

In addition to candles, I was able to get a peek into Joy’s world. There is no shortage of animals to care for, candles to paint, molds to fill, eggs to gather…etc.  Seriously I don’t know how she does it all.

We have lots of her candles for sale at the store-tapers, pillars, pine cones, old-fashioned santas and small painted and unpainted ornaments.  As quickly as they are selling I think I’ll be heading back to Clayton very soon.

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