Classes: Baking artisan breads, cooking pastured meats

It’s cold out, the holiday’s are upon us, and you’re committed to delicious, healthful, deeply nutritious meals. Plus, you’re looking for a chance to learn something new, chat with interesting people and enjoy some great food.

Beefy soup!


If that’s you, take a class with us! Our teaching kitchen at Bull Brook Keep is just the place for learning to bake artisan sourdough breads, focaccia and ciabatta, and for examining how best to cook pastured meats.

artisan breads from your home oven

These classes feature strategies and tips for fitting sourdough, bone broth, and pastured meats into your busy schedule.

For the class schedules and to register:
Baking classes
Pastured meat cooking classes

I look forward to baking and cooking with you at the farm!
Sylvia

Typing, invoicing, phone calls, map searches – getting our grass-fed beef to your table

I sat down to the keyboard a bit before 8:00 this morning, and now it’s after 1:30PM. How is that possible?!
Well, there were all those emails with a subject line I love to write: Your beef is ready!
Then there were the follow-up calls with customers to confirm delivery to drop sites in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN metro area.
And there were Google Map searches to find out where I’d have to make home deliveries.

Beefy soup!

And, of course, while all of this was going on, I was keeping a mental inventory of beef just picked up from the USDA processor. Hmmm, T-bones, ribeye, sirloin, chuck and cross-rib roasts, briskets and flank steaks, and lots more.
This is the record-keeping-and-communications time of the year that adds the final links to the food chain. To be honest, it’s a time I value and respect – delivering beef directly to the customer.
It represents well over two years of work on Bull Brook Keep farm.

BueLingo calves

It starts in the early spring with the arrival of our BueLingo calves. The herd grows sleek and fat as we move them from pasture to grassy pasture throughout the growing season. Midsummer marks the breeding season. We separate the bulls from the larger herd in mid-fall (away from the heifers too young to breed). Grasses shrivel as frosts hit and snow blankets the farm. That’s when we provide the cows with hay grown in our own fields. As the days warm in April and May, the cycle begins again. Dave and I work to manage our pastures and herd in harmony with nature.
Cattle that spend the last several months of their lives eating grain in feedlots reach harvest weight by the time they’re 16-18 months old. It’s a confinement approach that is often accompanied by subclinical antibiotics in the feed, and the administration of hormones.
In contrast, our 100% grass-fed cattle, take nine to 10 months longer to reach harvest condition. It means an extra year of feeding and care for us, but we’re committed to breeding and raising our beef cattle on grass – and only grass. No grains, no hormones, no subclinical antibiotics. And by practicing rotational grazing, our cows are contented and healthy, and the pastures improve. We’re seeing more farmers in our area adopting this approach.

Fresh air and sunshine 24/7


Dave and I made a home delivery last night, and I’ll be making several stops at drop-sites this week and next. It’s hard work, but to me it feels like a reward. When I hand over the boxes, it’s almost like placing a big bowl of delicious beef stew and a thick slice of homemake sourdough bread in front of a dear friend or family member. (It’s so much more fun to cook, when you’re cooking for someone you value.)
I thank God for the farming stewardship He has given Dave and me, and for the wonderful customers and friends walking the path with us.
Sylvia

Video

What comes before focaccia? Before ciabatta and pizza? Quick video tells it.

Ciabatta, pizza and focaccia


It’s just three weeks before this Fall’s first artisan baking class at Bull Brook Keep!

What? You haven’t signed up yet!? Is it because you’re not sure you can bake great flavor, luscious crusts, and tender crumb in your home oven?

Never fear, my classes are designed for success in home ovens and for new, and experienced, bakers with busy schedules.

You can focus on breads built from poolish – a bubbly batter – used to make focaccia, ciabatta and pizza dough. Or you can get up to your elbows in flour to make the crispy crusts and delightful flavor of mild French sourdough. The basic formula can be used for all kinds of variations – with cornmeal, sweet potato, whole wheat, roasted beets, raisins and coriander, and more. In this class we explore two or three of these.

All classes are limited to 4-6 students because they are hands-on, include lunch, bottomless cups of tea or coffee, sampling and lots of conversation and fun.
All classes are held in my teaching kitchen. Our farm is an easy and scenic drive from the Twin Cities. And yes, you’ll see the cows.

Oh, about poolish and focaccia: here’s a 4-minute 50-second video that quickly illustrates the process.

Questions? Just give me a call. Want a private class? No problem. Get 4 to 6 people together and we can schedule it. What better way to warm up the house!
Sylvia
651-238-8525

Sliding seasons

Two days ago, it hit nearly 90 degrees. And the humidity – it was awful. It felt as if I was breathing through a sponge.
This morning, the dogs and I walked to the mailbox in a cool drizzle. It was 58 degrees and I was glad I’d pulled on my old denim barn jacket and cap. Although our driveway’s only 600 feet long, my low boots and the hems of my jeans were drenched before I got to the road.
Our driveway ends at a cattle grate that works to keep the cows inside our property (they balk at the light and dark pattern created by the grate’s heavy horizontal pipes).
I put Siggy (my Corgi) on “stay” at the grate and walked the last few yards across the road and to our weathered mailbox. It’s worst for wear because some vandal decided to use it for a piñata a couple of years ago.
I pulled out a short stack of junk mail, and a magazine I was very glad to fold up under my arm to protect it from the light drizzle. Siggy, Parker (Dave’s English Setter) and I made our way back up to the house. Half way, I made a quick stop at the orchard. One of the several fairly young apple trees was bending under its ripe burden. Note to self – pick, dry, freeze and can apples – yesterday.

Fall = applesauce

The dogs ran and romped around me, clocking a couple of miles as they zig-zagged across the gravel, around the orchard and across the open grasses.
Despite their doggy activity, it was quiet. I like that about drizzle.

Contented BueLingos

The driveway slopes up to the house, and as I neared it, I looked East. Most of the cows were reclined on a near pasture, contentedly chewing their cud. A good sign of health and calm.
As I opened the garage door, I began to mentally tick off today’s to-do’s: notify customers of the summer sausage now available for pickup; write up meeting notes from last week: start a batch of French sourdough, contact prospective students for upcoming artisan bread baking classes, contact potential guests for Deep Roots Radio; and schedule our next beef harvest. Because Dave and I farm in rhythm with the seasons, harvests are a sure sign of the shift from summer to fall.
The window of my small home office opens to a southern slice of the farm. I can see some of this year’s calves. Boy, but it’s a healthy group. It’s amazing how some of those steers have gained hundreds of pounds and nearly a foot of height in just four months.
The sky’s brightening a bit, and I can just make out a pair of sandhill cranes on a ridge. I love their call, and the way they slowly wing just 40 and 50 feet above the ground.
Leaves are turning. And even though we’ve gotten lots of rain and considerable sunshine, the grass just doesn’t grow as quickly or as thickly as it did in early July. Despite this annual slow-down, we’re still able to rotate the cattle to fresh paddocks (grazing areas) even now because the pastures are so much more diverse and healthy than even two years ago. This is important for us because our BueLingo beef cattle are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished. They grow and fatten on grasses, legumes and herbs. No grain. No hormones. No subclinical antibiotics. This means it takes up to a year longer to get our cattle to harvest condition, but again, that’s what it means to raise cattle as nature intended.

Our third-crop hay is baled and waiting for me to move it off the field and to the storage area. At this time of year, it’s the very heavy morning dew that presents a challenge. I just don’t like driving a tractor really wet ground. On a typical late September day, I’ll often wait until mid-afternoon before venturing out in my John Deere. Given the last two days of rain, I’m going to hold off until we’ve had a couple of sunny days to dry things out a bit.
Drizzle, drenching dews, cooling days and lengthening nights. Every turn of the clock moves us from the growing to the harvest season. Again.
It’s fall.

Video

New calf, sights and sounds from Bull Brook Keep

Spring has arrived on Bull Brook Keep. We greeted our first calf, a little bull, yesterday morning. He’s now tagged #82, and he the cow are doing fine.
I’ll be at the CSA Fair at the Farm Table Restaurant in Amery, WI tomorrow afternoon, March 25, 12noon-4:00.
I thought you might enjoy some pics and videos, old and new, from the farm. This brief slide show includes a short video clip of the new calf.
I hope to see you at the Fair.

Sylvia

3/18/17, 9-9:30AM CT Deep Roots Radio – live w Iowa City Millet Seed urban farm -small scale cover cropping

What: Deep Roots Radio interview with Jon Yagla, co-owner/operator of The Millet Seed urban farm, Iowa City
When: Saturday, March 18, 2017 9:00-9:30AM Central Time
Where: Broadcast on WPCA Radio 93.1 FM and streamed live at www.wpcaradio.org
Why: Operating a small-scale urban farm complete with seasonal plantings and cover-cropping and no tractor!

I hope you’ll tune in!

Sylvia

Image

Morning mist rising above snowy Bull Brook Keep

BueLingo cattle relax as the sun and mist rise

Our BueLingo cattle thrive not only in the warmth of summer, but in every season. They walk the pastures, and get fresh air and water every day of the year. This helps them stay healthy and contented, and helps produce great-tasting beef with high nutritional content.

Dave and I manage our herd and farm in harmony with nature – farming with a tiny carbon hoofprint (R).

We hope you’ll come visit us at Bull Brook Keep, home of 100% grass-fed beef. We’re a beautiful ride from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.

Sylvia

Audio

Andrew French-about breeding/raising happy heritage cross pigs on pasture w/o hormones, antibiotics

I hope you’ll enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with Andrew French about breeding and raising heritage-cross pigs in the frigid Wisconsin climate. Andrew is owner/farmer of Full Boar Farm13567341_1045922135462087_1991272975066190573_n-2 in Boyceville, Wisconsin, and a frequent contributor about sustainable farming to magazines such as ACRES USA.
His objectives? Happy, healthy pigs; restoring the land; and, producing great-tasting pork.

Sylvia

Audio

American Public Media on Bull Brook Keep – about un-retiring to the farm

As Dave and I look forward to 2017, and look back on the several few years, I again appreciate an interview I did with American Public Media’s Chris Farrell last year.
Chris’ program is about unretirement – what people are planning and doing as they retire from one career and move into the next part of their lives.
SummerIconThanks again, Chris, for visiting Bull Brook Keep and for considering the values David and I strive to live as we’ve made that shift from our city-based careers to our farm-anchored lives.
I hope you enjoy this interview. Bonus: the episode ends with Dessa’s “Beekeeper.”
You can find out lots more about Chris’s program, resources and other interviews at Facebook.com/unretirement.
And, I trust you will have an absolutely wonderful New Year!
Sylvia

The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! Got your skills & gift ideas in hand?

I can’t believe it – Thanksgiving is next week!! It’s the kick off of the who-can-make-the-most-memorable-meal-and-still-look-totally-relaxed season.
And as if that weren’t enough, each of us tends to think back (dare I say, compare) to wonderful get-together’s of years past. (How is it that the quality of Grandma’s cooking rises a few inches every year?)
And then there’s the gift giving craze. Heaven help us!

Well, here are two or three fun things to consider as you rev up for the next 40 days of food and festivity:
Learn to bake hearth breads. Join with a handful of friends for a fun- and flour-filled afternoon. Yup, you can do it in your home oven. You can learn about breads based on mild French Sourdough or poolish (the starter used for making focaccia, pizza and ciabatta, just to name a few). Bread classes are: Nov. 19, Dec. 10, or Dec.17. For info and to register for one of these dates, click here.
Prepare Grass-fed beef & other pastured meats. Class demonstrates two very different approaches to preparing pastured meats for great taste and high nutrition: low & slow, AND fast. It’s not rocket science, but these approaches put lean and flavorful qualities of pastured meats center stage. Class Dec. 3. For information and to register, click here.
– Gift a class to friend or family.
– Schedule a private class for a handful of friends. Just call to arrange, 651-238-8525
– Ready for unexpected visitors? Want to start your meal with a bang? Or gathering snacks for the big game? Order 100% grass-fed beef summer sausage now. Eat guilt-free! Our summer sausage does not include added artificial nitrates and nitrites.
– Tie a bow around the summer sausage and it’s a gift!