New. Limited. Natural Veal – really

Veal wasn’t something my Mom put on the table when I was growing up in the Bronx. A dinner of pork or fish, rice and beans, and a salad was the usual fare at our house in the 1950s and 60s.

Veal also never made it to my shopping list in the 1970s and 80s, when I was old enough to stock my tiny kitchens in Manhattan and later in Duluth, Minnesota, because by that time, news stories told us that those pale cutlets were the result of calves kept isolated and in the dark. Ugg.

Now, here I am, selling veal! We’re offering our Nature’s Veal in limited quantity for the health of the pastures, the cattle, and for economic sustainability.
Rotational grazing. Because we rotate the herd from paddock to paddock throughout the growing season, we have to manage the herd size to promote top-quality grass. We’ve reached our maximum herd size given the 72-acre size of the farm. Our pastures are lush and diverse, but can provide highly nutritious grasses, herbs and legumes for 35-40 animals during the growing season. It’s also about giving the pastures time to recover and regrow for 40-60 days between grazings.
Cow, pasture and economic health. If we keep more and more cattle on the pastures, they’ll decline, and the cattle will require hay to keep growing and staying contented. Fresh grass is more desirable. An alternative would be to sell the extra calves to the conventional food system, where they would end up in feedlots. We don’t want that! So we offer naturally raised veal.
Working in harmony with nature. All our cattle – bulls, cows and calves – are provided fresh water, open pastures and a natural diet every day of their lives. That means grasses, legumes and herbs on the fields throughout the growing months, and good quality hay in the winter. They never get grains, hormones or subclinical antibiotics. It also means the calves stay with their moms, nursing 9-10 months and grazing more and more as the season progresses.

A few of our grazing Buelingo beef cattle


Know that when you buy our veal, you’re part of a sustainable food system. You can purchase ground veal in bulk, or variety packages that include delicate, low-fat roasts, cutlets and ground veal. Order here.

Questions? call, 651-238-8525, or email,
Sylvia

Video

Slides: baking mild French sourdough

I wondered how the dried cherries would work. Would they turn to a mush and water down the dough? Should I have chopped them first?

Mild French sourdough with dried cherries and coriander


As it turned out, they worked beautifully. I plumped them in hot water for about 20 minutes, drained them, and then added them to the dough of mild French sourdough. I mixed them in along with a heaping tablespoon of freshly ground coriander. That spice, and freshly shaved nutmeg, have become favorites.
I came back to the dough every 45 minutes or so to stretch and fold the dough, a step that strengthens the gluten structure. Why? Because it’s the gluten that captures the carbon dioxide released by the yeast, and this is what causes dough to rise.

Interestingly, I could have just as easily walked away from the dough for a few hours by refrigerating it to slow the process. Yup, there are ways to use temperature to extend the breadmaking process to fit your schedule.

Sourdough w roasted beets

It is amazing how the feel and strength of the dough changes over time. It looks different, and its aroma shifts.
There’s nothing like getting up to your elbows in flour to learn how to make loaves of artisan French sourdough in your home kitchen. There’s no substitute for seeing and feeling the way water, flour and sourdough starter come together and transform those simple components from dough to crusty, flavorful bread. And the beauty of it is that once you know the basic recipe, you can make dozens of variations: olive, herb, cranberry and walnut, cornmeal and pumpkin seed, roasted squash, seeded, and more.

This quick slide show highlights steps in the process. I invite you to join us at Bull Brook Keep and get your eyes, fingers, nose into this magical metamorphosis. Click here for upcoming classes and to register.

Crisp crust and tender crumb

Sylvia

Artisan baking classes scheduled for Oct., Nov. and Dec. Get up to your elbows in flour and fun!

Beef, bread and brewed tea. What can I say, I really enjoy all three.

Dave and I raise 100% grass-fed beef using sustainable practices because of the wonderful results: great-tasting beef, happy cows, restored pastures, living soil.
I love baking bread for similar reasons: using healthful ingredients; employing the power of sourdough to raise the dough and to combat many of the anti-nutrients that make breads, seeds and beans difficult to digest; listening to the “yumm’s” when friends and family savor the loaves, pizzas or biscuits; and, sharing the baking experience with students. YOU CAN all bake artisan loaves in your home oven.
Oh, and the tea? Well, I just like milky, sweet tea – English style.

Please click here for the schedule of baking classes in Oct., Nov., and Dec. Classes will focus either on baking with sourdough or baking with poolish (the basis for focaccia, ciabatta and pizza). Classes are hands-on (minimum 4, maximum 6 students, unless otherwise arranged).
Register online, or send me an email and pay with a check.
I’ll soon post the January and February schedules. Email me if you’d like an alert to the schedule.
You can also arrange for private classes with family and friends. Just contact me to schedule, 651-238-8525, sylvia@bullbrookkeep.com

Bring an apron and prepare to eat well, to get your hands covered in flour, and to have fun!
Sylvia

Three Wisconsin women farmers battle to legalize sale of home-baked goods

In this Deep Roots Radio interview, Lisa Kivirist describes the multi-year battle to legalize the sale of home-baked goods in the state Wisconsin. The Badger state has been one of only two in the entire country that has not permitted the sale of home-baked muffins, cookies and breads.
Lisa is one of three women farmers who sued the state in this effort, and recently won a state Judge’s declaration that the ban against the sale of home-baked goods is unconstitutional.Her sister champions in this effort are Dela Ends (Scotch Hill Farm) and Kriss Marion (Circle M Farm and Bed & Breakfast).
Lisa is an assertive champion of women farmers and their ability to build their farm-based businesses. The author of several books on eco-entrepreneurship, she and her husband run the award-winning Inn Serendipity Farm and Bread and Breakfast in southern Wisconsin.
I hope you enjoy this lively interview.
Sylvia

French sourdough boules

Audio

The benefits of sourdough breads of ancient grains w Therese Asmus

I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with Therese Asmus, of Artistta Homestead, is a long-time baker and teacher dedicated to the nutritional and flavorful benefits of sourdough breads made with ancient grains. She shares research and insights into the nutritional differences among ancient grains and contrasts their digestibility with commercially varieties.

Loaves made with ancient grains


She says many customers who can’t tolerate goods baked with conventional varieties can now enjoy bread again.
Sylvia

Frost on the pumpkin means baking and cooking classes at Bull Brook Keep

What better way to warm up your kitchen – and light up the faces of family and friends – than with the aromas and flavors of freshly baked artisan breads, and luscious grass-fed beef, lamb, pastured pork or pasture-raised chicken?!

Lovely crispy crust

Lovely crispy crust

Yes, you can bake hearth breads in your home oven and with your busy schedule. Get your hands in dough and learn how to use time, temperature and hydration (the amount of water in the dough) to bend the baking process to fit your schedule.
Each class is limited to 4-6 students. Beverages, samples and hearty lunch provided. Cost: $48.50/student (plus small credit card fee).

  • Classes based on poolish (a bubbly, batter-like yeast starter used to make focaccia, ciabatta and pizza), Oct. 29 or Dec. 10. For details.
  • Classes based on French Sourdough (a mild, versatile country bread), Nov. 19, or Dec. 17. For details.
  • Cooking Grass-fed Beef, and pastured Pork and Chicken
    Pastured meats tend to be lean, which is why it’s so important to cook them properly. You don’t want to dry out your roast, or toughen a steak. In our meat cooking class, we’ll look at two approaches for great taste, tenderness and high nutrition: low and slow, and fast using a pressure cooker to make delicious short ribs or beef stew, fall-apart chicken or bone broth, to name just a few dishes.

    5-7-hr flamed-brandy chuck roast

    5-7-hr flamed-brandy chuck roast

    Each class is limited to 4-6 students. Beverages, samples and a hearty, meaty lunch provided. Cost: $49.25/student (plus small credit card fee).

  • Cook delicious pastured meats fast & slow, Nov.1, 1-5PM, for details.
  • li>Cook delicious pastured meats fast & slow, Dec. 3, 11AM-3PM, for details.
  • Ya gotta have heart!!

    Americans love their flame grilled steaks, simmering pot roasts, and juicy burgers. But what about the rest of that 100% grass-fed steer? What do you do with the heart, liver, tongue, oxtail, shank bones and other lesser known cuts? Today, we’ll focus on the heart because it can become a favorite.
    The heart of a full-grown beef steer can weight four or five pounds.It’s the most lean cut of meat in the cow. It’s also a muscle that’s worked constantly since conception. Lack of fat and constant use can make any muscle tough if not cooked correctly. Fortunately, there’s a great recipe and approach that makes for a luscious stew of tender morsals.
    I adapted this recipe from Jennifer McLagan’s “Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal.” I’ve tapped the unique cooking powers of a stove-top pressure cooker to yield tender beef and a savory sauce. It’s a hearty meal when served over hot rice and with a side of steamed carrots. I washed my dinner down with home-brewed kombucha.

    Moroccan beef heart stew with brown rice and home-fermented kimchi.

    Moroccan beef heart stew with brown rice and home-fermented kimchi.

    Here’s a recipe for a 4 lb. heart. If you have a cut of heart that’s smaller, simply reduce the other ingredients proportionally. Or, you can make the full recipe for the sauce – it’s delicious on eggs, polenta, rice or baked potatoes. Here’s the recipe:
    Braised Heart

    Audio

    Chefs for sustainable food – James Beard Foundation VP Kris Moon on the new Impact Programs

    We all know that chefs can cook, some of them extraordinarily. And we know that what they cook can reflect and flavor local culture. But did you know our chefs can – and increasingly do – play a role in redesigning a more sustainable, healthful food system in America?
    I really enjoyed this conversation with Kris Moon, Vice President of the James Beard Foundation because the foundation’s Impact Programs spotlight and promote chef-led efforts to rebuild a more nutritious and regionally-sourced food system in our country.
    Experienced and trained in restaurant management, nutrition and major networking events, Moon is leading programs true to the values and heart of the foundation’s namesake, James Beard – the chef and cookbook author who was lovingly regarded as “America’s favorite chef.”
    I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio conversation.
    Sylvia

    Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

    Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

    Baking French sourdough without $$$ artsy extras. Some alternatives.

    I’ve been baking bread a long time, and I’ll admit it – I love the equipment and gadgets that come with artisan baking. Thing is, those extras can add up to some serious change. Can you bake great French sourdough without a $35 willow banneton, a $15 lame, or pricy organic rice flour for dusting a linen couche? Can you get a high, lofty loaf without the aid of a steam-capturing dutch oven. And what about those large plastic buckets used for the first (bulk) fermentation? Nobody gives those away.

    Lovely crispy crust

    Lovely crispy crust

    I didn’t have any of these things when I first started baking bread. Now, I’ve got all of them. I was brought up short recently when one of my baking students said she was “disenchanted by the expensive extras” needed to produce the deep brown crust and open crumb of French sourdough.

    And so, this challenge to myself: to share lower-cost alternatives.

    Here we go!

    Options for the first rise aka bulk fermentation

    Options for the first rise aka bulk fermentation


    The first rise (bulk fermentation). I use plastic buckets, and if you’ve got one, great. If not, use whatever you have on hand that’s big enough to contain your dough as it rises, and that’ll let you see its progress. Any large bowl or metal pot will do. Caution: make sure whatever you use is food grade. Don’t use a container that once held toxic substances.
    To keep dough surface moist. You want to make sure the dough’s surface stays moist and pliable. I use elasticized plastic caps purchased at my local grocery store. I like them because they’re sturdy enough to reuse 4-6 months. That said, you don’t need them. Use plastic wrap. Re-use the food-grade plastic bags your veggies/fruits came in. Be sure to lightly oil the surface facing the dough so that it won’t stick to it.
    Bannetons and towel-lined colander

    Bannetons and towel-lined colander


    For the second rise. I just love willow and wicker baskets for raising the shaped loaf. (They’re called bannetons or brotforms.) But are they required? No. Instead, line a colander or bowl with a really well-floured towel (sack or other close-weave, not terry). Don’t have an extra towel? A clean old cotton shirt or sheet will work. Cut it to a generous size, and flour it like crazy.
    Knife, commercial lame, and a DIY version

    Knife, commercial lame, and a DIY version


    Scoring your loaf. We score, or slash, a loaf so that the crusts rises without tearing the loaf. Lots of bakers use this step to cut a signature design into each loaf. A lame is the professional baker’s choice, but you don’t need to spend big bucks. This short video demonstrates how you can assemble your own in about 10 seconds.
    I’ve also gotten good results with sharp knives, especially those with very small serrations. The objective is to create clean slashes; you don’t want to drag your knife or razor through the dough. Have fun!
    Parchment paper. You need some way to get your risen loaf from the form (banneton or towel-lined colandar/bowl) to your hot oven. Some people sprinkle coarse cornmeal on a peel or cooking sheet. I don’t because any cornmeal sticking to the loaf burns during the bake, and I don’t like the char taste. Parchment paper is a “must have” for me.
    Metal peel, a curl of parchment paper and some old sack towels

    Metal peel, a curl of parchment paper and some old sack towels


    A peel. – I use a metal peel to transfer my scored loaf into the oven. I used to use a wooden one but found it a bit clumsy. A cookie sheet works.

    Baking. Baking bread in a dutch oven has become wildly popular because the enclosure captures steam rising from the bread during the first 20 minutes, an environment that encourages fast expansion, and thereby, a loftier loaf. It’s a home-baker’s way of approximating the steam-injected space in professional ovens. Does it work? Yes. Is it required? No.
    (If you do decide a dutch oven’s the way to go, however, use whatever’s in you kitchen now. Or hunt down an inexpensive buy at your local thrift store or garage sale.)


    This non-dutch oven alternative has two components: the surface you’ll bake on, and a way to add steam to the hot oven.
    1) Before you turn on your oven:
    Place an old, beat up cake or pie tin on the oven floor. You’ll use this tin to add steam to the oven. This will corrode the tin, so consider it for this use only.
    Place a pizza stone, old cast iron griddle (smooth side up) or cookie sheet in the oven.
    2) Pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F.
    3) Put your peel (or an extra cookie sheet) on a flat surface. Cut a sheet of parchment paper larger than your risen loaf. Place the parchment over the dough while it’s still resting in your form. Invert your risen loaf,, with the parchment, onto the peel.
    4) score the loaf and spray with water
    5) Open the oven door and pour 1/2 c of water into the pan sitting on the oven floor. BE CAREFUL of the very hot steam.
    6) Spritz the oven walls with water, quickly.
    7) Slide your love(s) onto the pizza stone, griddle or cookie sheet.
    8) Close the oven door. Wait 30 seconds, then spritz the oven walls again. BE CAREFUL not to drip water on the glass of your oven door or to spray water on oven bulbs.
    9) Bake as directed.

    Interested in baking sourdough? Drop me a line, sylvia@bullbrookkeep.com. I hold hands-on classes for small groups of 4-6.
    Sylvia

    Hearth breads made with poolish. Say, what?

    Why is it that the hearth breads taste so good? Why do they have those wonderful brown crusts that crunch and shatter when you bite into them? And those holes! When you slice or tear them, their interiors are filled with large glossy holes perfect for holding butter and olive oil and tapenades. Why can’t you make them at home? Do you really need a wood-fired oven?

    Hold on…let’s get rid of the myth first. You can bake hearth breads in your home oven. It’s not rocket science, but like anything worthwhile, hearth baking takes a bit of planning and time. Fortunately, however, you’re not chained to your kitchen. On the contrary; you use time, temperature and wet doughs to bend the bread-making process to fit into your schedule.
    One strategy is using a pre-ferment – a portion of the total dough that’s mixed hours ahead of the bake. Why? Because a long contact between the water and flour helps free up more of the starches, sugars and proteins that help create great flavor. A pre-ferment also gives the loaf a longer shelf life.
    One type of pre-ferment is called a poolish. (Some bread experts believe the term is of Polish origin, hence the name.)

    Easy to make poolish starter (pre-ferment)

    Easy to make poolish starter (pre-ferment)

    It’s an easy-to-make batter made with flour, water and a tiny bit of yeast. You make it 4-16 hours before making the final dough. During those hours, it ferments on your kitchen counter or in your frig, a cold closet or in a chilly root cellar. The colder you keep it, the longer you can extend this process. You can tell it’s ready to use when the thick batter’s filled with bubbles and smells sweet.
    When you’re ready to bake, you combine the poolish with the rest of your flour, additional water, sometimes a smidge of yeast, and salt to make up the final dough.
    Focaccia with herb oil and freshly cracked salt

    Focaccia with herb oil and freshly cracked salt

    Loaves made with poolish include ciabatta, pizza, focaccia and other rustic breads.

    Learn to make hearth breads using poolish at my hands-on class Tuesday, February 16 at Bull Brook Keep. I’m also holding a class on sourdough breads February 20. Classes are limited to 5 students. For details and to sign up, click here.
    Sylvia