The Conscious Farmer Sheep!

Exciting news here at the The Conscious Farmer – we have sheep! And they’re quite lovely and to answer the question on your lips… yes, this will mean lamb! (Just not soon).  Here’s a little insight into why we’ve purchased some sheep and how they fit in with the way we care for the land, soil and biodiversity and how we manage our grazing to achieve this.

 

The sheep we have bought are young ewes (pronounced ‘youse’, meaning female sheep) that come from an organic farm and we have purchased them to breed from. The offspring from these ewes will be available as Conscious Farmer Lamb down the track.  Like our beef, our lamb will be chemical free and 100% grass fed on our pastures and any shrubs or trees they may browse on.

 

Why have we purchased sheep?  As a carry-over from the drought, which ended a bit over a year ago, the number of cows that we have is still low and breeding cows are currently very expensive to buy.  (There is high demand with many people wanting to build numbers back up after the drought). Sheep are similarly dear to buy, but here’s why we chose to go with them.

 

Time to beef or lamb

If we are to buy a cow today, then join her with a bull straight away, she will fall pregnant and be in calf for around 9 ½ months. It will then take at least 12 months for that calf to be of a size and weight suitable for our processing. From a business point of view – that’s a long wait to cashflow. We want the animals going to our beef or lamb to be born on our farm and bred by us, so we know the way those animals have been treated and what they have grazed on – assuring the chemical free and 100% grass fed nature of our product.

Sheep have a gestation period of (are pregnant for) around 5 months and it is then around 6 months until that lamb is of a size and weight suitable for us to process. So you can see that there is a significant difference in the two with regard to a wait for return on investment.

 

Timing of meat for you

Due to our lower current cow numbers, it will also mean that we will have a gap of some months between beef availability later this year, when we will be between age groups of offspring – waiting for the calves to reach a weight for beef processing. The plan with the sheep is that we hope to have hampers available later this year, which will help to fill this gap when we will have no beef available.

 

The Budget

We love producing nourishing beef to feed families that are conscious about their health, while at the same time we need to be profitable. Neither Derek nor I have off farm jobs, so the farm is how we make our living. So, in doing our budgets for the coming few years, sheep look like a good financial option for us, alongside our existing cows.

 

Why White Dorper Sheep?

Being chemical or pesticide free is important to us – for the health of the sheep, for the health of the land, the soil, the worms, for the fungi & bacteria below the ground that work in symbiosis with the plant to make available the necessary minerals for optimal plant health. We care about what all of this means for the health of the beef and lamb.  It’s also important to us for our own personal health, in the product we want to eat and to avoid exposure of using or handling any pesticides.

We avoid worms in our cows by managing their grazing – moving animals to fresh pastures, rather than them staying in the same paddock for weeks or even months. This avoids them ingesting worm eggs from the pastures they have been previously grazing.

The diversity of plants available to the animals also means that they are in optimal health, which ensures their best immunity to ill health.

Sheep come with an extra challenge to cows – this being wool.  We live in an area where our rainfall comes throughout the year, which includes summer rain and storms.  Wet wool, whether it from rain or from urine or poo around their rear end, comes with the risk of fly strike, where a particular fly lays their larvae in the damp wool and the larvae feed on the flesh of the animal. This clearly isn’t very pleasant for the sheep at all and will actually result in the sheep dying if not attended to. The problem is that convention farming methods treat and prevent this with pesticides – something we don’t want to do.  We could explore other organic treatments, but the work is still involved.  This brought us to choosing Dorper sheep, which shed their wool. There is no wool around the tail area where flystrike is of most risk, making them a great option for us as a more manageable chemical free option.

 

How will they fit into our grazing?

We will apply the same low stress stockhandling techniques with the sheep that we use with the cattle. This doesn’t mean no stress – otherwise we would never be able to move them from one paddock to the next (just as we wouldn’t be able to raise a child with our some discipline and ‘stress’ of saying ‘no’ to certain things). What it does mean is that we put pressure on (to create movement) and then, importantly, we take it off (allow them to walk away from us and out of the stress zone) and the sheep can let down.

Sheep graze differently to cattle in that they have much smaller mouths that can nibble at smaller shoots of green grass. This is very important to  recognise because the way that we ensure diversity and ground cover in our pastures is to ensure that plants aren’t overgrazed. One way that overgrazing can happen is if animals are in a paddock for too long while the plants are growing. They graze a plant down and when it tries to regrow, it uses its stored sugar reserves to grow in the absence of leaf material to photosynthesize. If this new growth is then nibbled off again before the plant is allowed to properly recover and replenish its sugar stores, it will weaken the plant. Repeatedly doing this kills the plants – bare soil occurs where the plant died and either bare earth is present or a weed or plant of lower value germinates in the place.

With their small mouths, sheep can get right down close to the ground to nibble at the very first shoots of re-growth.  Hence, the sheep need to be moved to a new paddock before this regrowth happens, which right now is not quickly, as growth is slow with frosty mornings and drier topsoil. It’s dynamic – changing with the conditions. The approach is the same with the cows; they just can’t nibble at those very small shoots so easily.

 

Grass Fed Lamb!

So we’re applying all the same principles as we do with our cows and yearlings to bring 100% grass fed, chemical free lamb to you, with a taste that you’ll love, as well as our grass fed beef that you already know and love.

It’s BBQ season and these grilled mixed vegetables are perfect alongside some of our grass fed beef on the BBQ – whether it’s steaks, sausages or even home-made rissoles. It is always great to have a few things up your sleeve to serve alongside succulent grilled beef over summer.
These vegetables are coated in a salty, garlic olive oil prior to grilling. After char grilling, the well balanced herby marinade is drizzled over the vegetables. The vegetables can then be enjoyed warm or left to enjoy cool later on or the next day.

Vegetables

  • 1 small sweet potato – peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 Spanish onions – cut into wedges
  • 2 zucchinis – cut thinly lengthways
  • 1 red capsicum – cut lengthways into inch wide pieces
  • There really are no rules as to what to use – also try asparagus or mushrooms.

Oil For Coating

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Generous pinch salt and cracked pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley

Herbed Marinade

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon each of basil, oregano, parsley, thyme – either dried or fresh.
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes

Cut the vegetables accordingly.  While they do want to be cut thin, keep the pieces large so there’s less to turn on the BBQ plate!

Combine the ingredients for the oil coating. Place the vegetables in a bowl, drizzle with the oil mix and toss the vegetables to coat with oil.

Combine ingredients for the marinade.

Cook the vegetables over a grill until softened and cooked. Zucchini and asparagus will take less time than the sweet potato and onions.

Once cooked, place in serving bowl and drizzle with the marinade.

Serve alongside your favourite grass fed steak!

Stores for your Larder from the Liverpool Plains and surrounding regions

A hamper of nourishing food stores grown and produced by family owned businesses from our Liverpool Plains region and surrounds. All ready to fill your Larder. Our Larder Stores will be available monthly and contents will vary seasonally.  In a few months’ time there will be organically grown potatoes and onions, pumpkins in summer, the most wonderful medjool dates from Narrabri in Autumn and who knows what else I will find!  For our first round of Larder Stores, here is what is included:

 

Honey

Hive-specific fresh Honey from Rose Cottage Naturals near Inverell. Bees feed from the myriad of flowers and herbs in Pauline and John’s pesticide-free gardens and orchards.  Produced and harvested with the utmost care for the bees.  Pure, raw, unblended and delicious.  1 x 500g jar.

 

Garlic

Carthian Hill Garlic – grown right here on the Liverpool Plains by Jim and Maddy Adams. Elephant garlic, a large cloved variety that stores better this late into the season than the more familiar purple garlic. The juiciest of all the garlic, it has a milder flavour and the grower’s favourite to cook with. Free from insecticides, fungicides, sprout inhibitors and bleaching agents. 1 x satchel 25 cloves.

 

Flour

Premium white sustainable flour, milled by the Wholegrain Milling Company at Gunnedah on the Liverpool Plains. Flour from their Sustainable range – wheat grains gathered from growers that practice chemical free techniques and who support soil improvement, use natural inputs and promote long term sustainability of the environment.
2kg bag premium white flour.

 

Cloudy Pear and Apple Juice

Cloudy Pear and Apple Juice from Greenhill Orchard near Uralla. 7th generation orchardists Brownyn and Warren grow their fruit while minimising the application of synthetic products, focusing on soil health and choosing things like pheromones for pest control.  1 litre Cloudy Unfiltered Pear & Apple Juice.

 

Oranges

Salustiana Oranges grown on the Liverpool Plains by Gunnible Citrus near Gunnedah. These are beautiful sweet, juicy oranges – non-waxed, pesticide free.  2 kg oranges  (approx. 9 oranges).

 

Berry Jam

Princess Pantry’s Le Vie En Rose Crimson Berry Jam must surely be a staple in any house. Cathy’s handmade jam marries rosewater with crimson berries for a jam that couldn’t be more perfect.  100% natural, preservative & gluten free and contains no thickeners or commercial pectin. Made on the Liverpool Plains. 1 x 330g jar.

 

Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil from Derek’s brother’s grove, Zephyr Ridge, in the Hunter Valley, packaged with our branding. We look forward to having our own olive oil back next year, but in the mean-time, bringing your produce from our kin must surely be the next best thing!  1 x 1 litre tin.

 

Larder Store Hamper – $100, plus $10 delivery.  Delivery next Thursday.

Local deliveries to Tamworth and Quirindi  – I’ll be in touch re. timing of delivery.

 

Add Panacea Winter Moisturiser

A beautiful luxurious face moisturiser made with herbs from the garden of Pauline at Rose Cottage Naturals. It’s not a foodstuff for your larder, but all the ingredients in it could be consumed, (which is why I love it so much), so I’ve popped it here as an optional extra to the Hamper. Soothing mucilage of mallow leaves, organic oats, prostanthera leaves, ginger root and calendula flower steeped olive oils, organic cocoa butter and Vitamin A and E, with essential oils of Australian Balm Mint Bush and honey Myrtle.

Comments from the maker – ‘Once a product enters the body by absorption, as all product touching the skin will to some extent, it should work with the body’s processes, not remain on or under the skin, inert and in clumps. An old, seen-it-all cosmetic surgeon told me that the globs of creams he found stuck under the skin were extraordinary, all contributing to the outer skin’s exclusion from inner circulatory nourishment and hence actually contributing to aging. All the more reason to use really natural inputs that you can eat and that the body can use within, not just to heal outside! Everything we use in our products, the body can metabolise easily so that it does the job needed and is then recycled, not stacked in your cells preventing circulation etc. In that respect cocoa butter is a standout, with its stearic acid, a base material for all manner of cellular renewal, including hormones, not just help for skin’.

This is not included in the price of the hamper but can be added as an extra.  1 x 60ml jar – $35

 

The Larder Stores

All of the produce included in these hampers is produced by family businesses and i have carefully selected those to be included. I am really excited to be bringing together this produce and putting the supply back in the hands of small businesses, while offering wholesome goods to you that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.  I know that you are conscious about your health – it’s why you come to us for our beef, so I’m sure you’ll love these products too.

 

How to Order?
There’s nothing searchable on our website about this currently, so to order please email me at kirrily@theconsciousfarmer.com or simply reply to the MOOsings.  Please include your name (obviously!), delivery address and contact number. Please order by midday Wednesday. I will send through an invoice as we do for our beef.  20 hampers only available for this first round.

Larder Stores are currently available to those living in Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle and the Illawarra – delivery will be next Thursday 20th August.

Delivery also to Tamworth & Quirindi (where I will deliver to you myself). I will contact you to let you know the delivery date, but it will be next week some time.

Please call if you have any questions – 0417 894 474  🙂

 

All our best from the farm,

Kirrily  x

In theme with our new Mince and Sausage Hamper, I thought I’d share with you my ‘Wednesday Food’ Curried Sausages recipe.  What’s Wednesday food you may ask?  I heard something said recently – that people want slow food for the weekends and Wednesday food during the week (meaning quick and simple preparation).  Well, here’s a Wednesday meal for you!  Nothing fancy pants – just a quick, simple, tasty meal. It’s not only easy; it’s great because it’s a one pot recipe – minimal clean up!

 

Ingredients

1 x pack Conscious Farmer Sausages

1 carrot – diced

1 brown onion – diced

1 tablespoon curry powder (I use the traditional English style curry powder for this recipe)

¾-1 cup beef stock

1 tin diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup green peas

Sea salt and black pepper

Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley and greek yoghurt to serve.

 

Method

Place sausages in a large fry pan with a few inches of water in it.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the sausages are cooked through.  Remove from the water (discard water).  Remove the sausage skins (just nick along the side of the sausage and the skin should peel off easily).  Once skinned, cut the sausage into small sections (on the diagonal looks best).

Add some olive oil to the pan and place the carrot and onion in the pan and cook until soft. Add the curry powder to the pan and stir briefly until fragrant.  Return the sausages to the pan, along with the beef stock, tinned tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the peas and simmer until the peas are cooked through.  Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Serve with a dollop of natural greek yoghurt on top, white rice and some chopped fresh parsley.

You can also add some diced celery along with the carrot and onion.

Enjoy with family and friends. 🙂 Kirrily x

I feel left scratching my head when I think about why the world would actually want, or even need, fake or mock meat.  The reasons why one may state it is needed are exactly the reasons why I don’t want it!  Being purveyors of grass fed beef, you may well expect us to be a bit ‘down on’ the fake meats that are increasingly entering the food chain.  I raise this conversation however, not to criticize fake meat, but rather because it gives me an opportunity to explain some of the reasons why grass fed beef grazed on diverse pastures is a superior choice for health (and other reasons) and how very different it is from fake meat.

Our Health

Let’s look at the health differences in fake meat and our pure grass fed beef.

~ Whole Foods

We know that whole foods are a healthy choice (even mainstream health agrees!), while fake meats are a highly processed product.

Fake meat products like a fake beef patty in a hamburger are made predominantly of grain and legume products, but more specifically they are made of products created by the denaturing of these foods. Examples of these are soy protein concentrate, extracted from soybeans and textured wheat protein from wheat.

When a food is denatured, one component of the food is isolated for use. In doing so, the goodness is often stripped out of it – taking away critical vitamins and minerals.  Not only that, but also missing are secondary compounds or phytochemicals naturally found in plants (things like polyphenols, flavanoids, aromatic oils and alkaloids). These are rarely talked about with relation to food – we hear of the primary compounds (protein, carbohydrates, energy, and minerals), but rarely do we hear about these secondary compounds. There are thousands of these different compounds, the combination of a large variety of which contributes to overall wellbeing.  They are like nature’s medicines.  They are the things responsible for why red wine is said to be good for your heart and why certain herbs can aid health.  Secondary plant compounds have many roles in your body including appetizing, digestive or therapeutic purposes.(reference)

When fake meat is produced, the grain or legume is broken down into components – many of the vitamins, minerals and secondary compounds are either destroyed or removed from the final product.  So the energy of the food is consumed, but it is hollow and lacking nourishment.  Devoid of vitamins and minerals, these are added in by food chemists, but it’s not the same as the natural form and it seems the quantities added back in are somewhat unusual; do I really need 2350% of my daily requirements of vitamin B1 in one meal?

Just because it’s made of plants, doesn’t mean it’s good for you – I’m not sure why there seems to be this assumption.

In the case of real meat – pure 100% grass fed beef like ours, the cows graze on diverse pastures, and have access to a variety of the secondary plant compounds, which enables them to use their intuition and choose plants as they graze to ‘self-medicate’ and ensure their own well-being.  This results in meat rich in the benefits of these secondary compounds and nourishment for us as we consume it.

“The availability of phytochemically rich foods is

essential to ensure health through nutrition”

Emiratus professor Fred Provenza.

~ GMO’s

I know that many of you reading this will be concerned about the potential health impacts of genetically modified organisms.  GMO technology is used in the production of fake meat products.  This comes from a website describing a faux beef patty.   It is “made using a yeast engineered with the gene for soy leghemoglobin. First, we grow yeast via fermentation. Then, we isolate the soy leghemoglobin (containing heme) from the yeast, and add it to the Impossible Burger”.  I don’t know about you, but I read ‘highly processed and genetically modified’. So, if you like to avoid genetically modified foods, you may like to check the ingredients in any fake meat products.

There are no GMO’s at all in the raising and feeding of our cows and hence none in our grass fed beef.

~ It’s as Nature Intended

If you’re interested in more health advantages of grass fed beef (unrelated to fake meat), you can learn more about it at the Heath Benefits of Grass Fed vs Grain Fed Beef.

 

Land Health & The Environment

Another reason why it is claimed we need fake meat is because animals are destroying the land.  This can be true when they are not managed well and overgrazing is allowed.  What is exciting however, is that the opposite can be true – when managed well, animals can actually be the tool that can help to heal the land!

~ Don’t Cows Damage the Land?

Plants, they are the millions of little pumps, pumping life into the soil.  The basis of that life is carbon – it is the building block of all things living.  Plants take if from the air and make plant sugars with it via photosynthesis.

Plants use these sugars to grow and yield, and they also push some sugars out the root systems into the soil, where they feed the microbiology of the soil -the fungi, bacteria and more. The soil microbes use these carbon rich sugars to build healthy, living topsoil. A diversity of plants is crucial to support a diversity of soil microbes, necessary for doing the different jobs required for soil health.

Having groundcover on our soils – as living plants or as mulch (trampled to the ground by cows), helps to keep the soils cool and moist, which protects those amazing bugs that are so integral to the building and regeneration of soil. The trampled mulch is also another source of carbon to the soil ‘bugs’ – to complement the liquid carbon sugars that come from the plant roots.

The thing is, to have these actively growing plants, pumping life into the soil, and to have this groundcover of litter, protecting the soil, we need livestock.

Livestock to graze the plants – that they will grow, be grazed, regrow, and pump life into the soil as they do.

Livestock to trample plant material – that it will be laid down and form a mulch on the soil surface.

Livestock – to add manure and urine to the soil.

Have you seen grasses ungrazed or uncut?  Their leaves become dry, old and grey (lignified), at which time there is no growth and no pumping of carbon rich plant sugars feeding into the soil via the roots. The land, rested for too long, will become stagnant.

If we consider the growing of wheat and soybean crops for the production of fake meat, they are almost always grown as monoculture crops, with the paddocks fallowed (ie. nothing growing, where the ground is either ploughed or sprayed with herbicides to control weeds) in the times between the grain crops.  Fallowed land and monoculture crops are two of the worst things for soil health.  Poor soil health leads to wind and water erosion, poor nutrient cycling (and low nutrient contents in the food grown), loss of biodiversity and more.

Claiming we need to not eat meat for the health of the land is actually an uneducated comment.  Conversely too however, if animals are managed poorly, and pastures overgrazed, this can be just as detrimental to soil health. And, just like well managed cattle can help to heal the land, so too can grain and legume cropping when grown with cover crops of multiple species, grown in the time between the grain crops.

A diverse pasture for raising livestock can host quail, lizards, snakes, butterflies, birds of prey, small native marsupials, kangaroos, wallabies and soil that is alive.

A monoculture legume crop lacks life.

Conversely, an overgrazed pasture lacks life, while a diverse, multispecies cover crop (grown in rotation with wheat or legumes) will have lady beetles, moths, dragonflies, spiders and all manner of life present – including diverse soil fungi and microbiology.

~Aren’t Cows a Climate Change Pest?

I have written about ruminant animals and whether they are a methane pest or a climate change solution, here at my other blog (specifically about regenerative agriculture). Briefly though, in biologically healthy soils, there exists methanotrophs – bacteria that feed solely on methane (nothing else). There is also carbon returned to healthy soils via the process explained above (through photosynthesis), with the world’s soils being the largest potential sink for atmospheric carbon. (Read more at the blog if you are interested).

My point is, it is not whether grains or animals are farmed that determines the land health, it is the way in which these are farmed that is the determinant.  Excitingly, more and more farmers are learning about and using more regenerative farming techniques.

I have written more detail about how cows can heal the land here.

As a last thing to consider, much of the world’s grazing lands are simply not suited to growing crops because of the soil types or climate and we don’t just want to simply lock these lands up forever – as I described above, we are left with lignified, grey plants lacking life and then lifeless soils.

 

Taking a Life

And so we come to the point of should we be taking an animal’s life versus eating plants?  What value do we place on the life of another being? Does the emotional value of a cow with a cute face far outweigh that of field mice or tiny and largely unseen native mammals that wouldn’t exist in the monoculture of a grain crop? If so, is there a threshold – Just how many little creatures equal one cow? If we choose to not eat meat because of these difficult ethical reasons, then what of the other small marsupials, lizards, quails etc, whose lives don’t exist because of the monoculture grain and legume crops grown for fake meat production?

It’s just not such a black and white argument that it is made out to be of ‘taking a life versus not taking a life’.  Again, hearing this tells me that a person is not fully versed on the topic they are commenting on. Here’s a whole extra bit of reading on that if you like!

 

Energy

I will mention energy here as a last thought (and I don’t mean calorific energy, but rather lifeforce energy). I genuinely believe that the area of energy is something that will become more greatly explored, better understood and there will be a greater realisation of its importance with regards to our thoughts, our water, our foods and more.  The energy contained in a whole food – in the state it was grown or raised must surely carry a greater energy than a product that has been highly processed.  That, I believe, will go on to better lifeforce energy for our bodies.

 

So whether it’s your own health, the health of the farming landscapes of the world or taking the life of an animal that you’re concerned about, I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. Fake meat? I reckon we’d all be better off without it, but isn’t it great that we live in a society that we can have such choice, as long as it is a consciously made one!

Kirrily 🙂

See our hamper choices here  if you’d like to enjoy some of our

chemical free, 100% grass fed beef (that is real!), fed on diverse pastures.

 

I LOVE Thai red beef curry and I love that I can do it a number of ways – with a quick cook stir fry or a simmered pot, depending on the time I have available.  Having enjoyed several different versions in the last few weeks, it’s on my mind, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Slow simmered with pumpkin is really lovely and it leaves me really satisfied with the sweetness of the pumpkin along with the beef.  Then I also love to do a quicker version, into which I can throw lots of vegetables. It’s a beautiful bowl of colour and of flavour.

I’ve spoken before about when we consume protein, it’s also great to have some non-grain and even simple carbohydrates with it, that give immediate energy to the body, which can then be used by the body to digest the beef protein. The pumpkin fits the bill nicely here and I find I’m not reaching for a piece of dark chocolate after this meal, as the body’s need for quick energy to help digest the beef is provided by the pumpkin. (For those interested in the benefits of pairing protein with simple sugars, you can read more about that here). The ‘no want for chocolate’ after dinner is my guide for listening to my brain and gut to say – ‘I’m completely satisfied thanks Kirrily’.

I virtually always cook from scratch, but the red curry paste is something I do buy.  I choose one with just the herbs, spices and oil (no flavours, preservatives, etc).

You can add extra chilli if you like a really hot curry. (As an aside, chillies are so easy to grow (they fruit abundantly and no insects seem to attack them). I have stored them for the off season by both freezing them and by drying them).

You will see that I’ve suggested a number of different beef cuts from our hampers that one can use for these recipes.

So let’s get currying!

 

Thai Red Beef Curry with Stir Fry Vegetables

This recipe uses a rump or topside – thinly sliced across the grain.

  • 1 pack (about 700g) rump or topside steak cut into thin strips (you could also do blade cut off the bone and cut into strips)
  • Olive or coconut oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons thai red curry paste
  • 1 large carrot – julienned or cut into think sticks
  • 1 large red onion – cut into thin wedges, which break apart
  • 1 red capsicum – cut into thin strips
  • 200g green beans – ends trimmed and cut in half for short lengths
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf – diced finely
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • Extra chilli if you like your curry hot – fresh or dried.
  • Coriander and boiled jasmine rice to serve

 

Slice the beef into thin strips across the grain.

Place a pan on a medium to high heat on the stovetop.  Add some oil and the curry paste – cook briefly until fragrant. Add the beef and stir fry quickly until browned and cooked almost to your liking.

Remove from the pan.

Add the carrots, onion, beans and capsicum. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, until slightly softened, but not cooked.  You may need to add a dash of water to the pan during this, so that the remaining paste does not burn).

Add the coconut milk along with the beef stock, sugar, fish sauce and kaffir lime leaf. Bring to a simmer until the vegetables are nearly cooked.  Return the beef to the pan and simmer until beef warmed and vegetables cooked, but still firm.  Season to taste with sea salt.

(Make sure you only add the beef back in briefly at the end. This will prevent the fibres in the stir fried beef strips shortening up when in the sauce, which will ensure the best soft eating!)

Serve with steamed jasmine rice and garnish with coriander.  (Of course be creative with whatever vegetables you like or need to use up.  Cut zucchini into thick half rounds, broccoli florets, etc).

 

Thai Red Beef Curry – Slow Cooked with Pumpkin

  • Around 700g of any of the slow cooking beef cuts diced – chuck, round, blade or choose rump for a quicker cook.
  • Olive or coconut oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons thai red curry paste
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • ¾ cup beef stock
  • 500g Butternut pumpkin – cubed
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • Chopped or torn basil leaves

 

Heat a pot or pan over a medium to high heat on the stovetop.  Add the oil and red curry paste; cook briefly until fragrant.  Add the beef pieces and cook until browned (throw the bone in too if you’ve cut blade steak off the bone).

Add the beef stock and coconut cream. Bring to a simmer and cook until beef is nearly tender (1 hour 20 minutes for the slow cooked cuts or 20 minutes for the rump).  Add the pumpkin and kaffir lime leaves and simmer until the pumpkin and meat are both tender – around 20 minutes.

Stir through torn or chopped basil leaves and serve with steamed jasmine rice and a side of green beans, gai larn, bok choy or broccoli.

 

Both these recipes are great and you can mix and match them too.  Slow cook your beef and then throw in the vegetables from the quick recipe. Great for using up any collection of vegetables and preventing waste.

Both recipes serve 4-6 depending on serving size.

Happy currying, Kirrily.

This cake is certainly more interesting than a standard lemon butter cake, or even a lemon syrup cake, but still very simple to make.  The olive oil and yoghurt give it a much more complex flavour. Our olive oil has quite a bite to it, so when I first made this cake, I wondered how it would go – being a sweet recipe. If the number of times I’ve cooked it since are a guide to how good it is, then it’s pretty damned good!  The bite in the olive oil and the tartness of the greek yoghurt just works (oh, and the generous amount of sugar that balances these!)

I also love a cake that looks great on a serving plate – one with a beautiful flat top, crisp sides and stands proud. This is one of these!

You may have noticed that you will rarely get a recipe from me that has many complex steps. I love to cook, but I prefer something easy and do-able. The cakes I love to cook will often not be iced, but rather dusted (for ease). And so is the case with this lovely moist cake – dust with icing sugar once removed from the oven and cooled.  If you do want to ‘fluff about and fancy it up’, try some curls of rind with a zester to pop on top or place flowers around the plate to serve.

I serve with double or thick cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ quarter cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup greek yoghurt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Grated rind of 2 lemons
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180oc (160oc fan forced).

Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Whisk together the sugar, eggs, olive oil, yoghurt and lemon rind.

Gently fold in the flour, lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt.

Pour into prepared tin. Bake for around 45 minutes – test that it is cooked with a skewer when the skewer comes out clean – and also by pressing the cake on the top. I really think there’s less likelihood of overcooking than undercooking this cake as the olive oil helps to keep it moist.

Serve with cream and tea of honey, lemon and ginger. Enjoy!

Our extra virgin olive oil is available with our beef hampers or direct to those in our Liverpool Plains region (Quirindi, Tamworth and surrounds). Simply contact us – 0417 894474

Kirrily x

I’m sure you already realise that grass fed beef mince is a great way to have beef on hand for quick and easy meals.  We are often asked for extra mince in our hampers! You can always do with some extra recipe ideas though, can’t you?  So here’s another to add to your repertoire of Spaghetti Bolognaise, Meatballs, Crispy Topped Lasagne, Twist on the Classic Shepherd’s Pie and more…

(And if it’s help with other cuts you’re after, see the rest of my “Cooking with” blogs. Silverside, Topside Steak, Chuck Steak and Bones – with other cuts to come in later blogs).

The sweetness of the roast sweet potatoes and the coolness of the yoghurt that can top this Mexican Mince are the perfect accompaniment to the spices in the mince.  Also, I love a meal where the things that top the dish can be placed on the table in bowls when the meal is served – the avocado, the yoghurt and the coriander.  It feels more communal as the bowls are passed around and it makes dinner more fun for kids as they assemble their own meals.

So, following is the recipe; I always measure out all the spices together into a dish before I start. They can then just be popped straight in the pan as you’re cooking.  So give it a go, this recipe is easy – you’ll be great!

Ingredients

  • 2 -3 sweet potatoes
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 red capsicum, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil
  • 750g grass fed beef mince
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 410g tinned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup stock
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Greek yoghurt
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • Fresh coriander leaves – chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Clean the sweet potatoes and slice them into quarters longways.  Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for around 30 minutes or until soft.

Place oil in large pan on medium high heat.  Add diced onion and capsicum and cook until soft. Push to the side of the pan, turn to high and add the mince.  Cook and stir until brown, then bring the capsicum and onion in from the side of the pan to combine with the mince.

Return heat to medium. Stir in the garlic, herbs and spices and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and stock.  Add sea salt and grind in black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes.  Keep warm until the sweet potatoes are cooked.

Take a bowl and mash the avocado with a fork.  Squeeze half of the lime into the avocado and add some sea salt – mash together.

To serve, place 2 pieces of sweet potato on each plate, arrange beef mince next to it.

Place bowls of the avocado mix, Greek yoghurt and chopped coriander on the table to serve.

Enjoy with family and friends.

Kirrily x

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If you’d like to get the best health and taste from this meal (and others) – choose 100% grass fed, chemical free beef. You can see our range of hampers (which include mince) at this link.

You can also add our extra virgin olive oil to your order – also from our farm!

I made a big dish of lasagna last weekend – it fed the whole family and there was still plenty left!  That’s what I love about lasagna. It does take a bit of time to prepare, making the mince sauce, the béchamel sauce and then assembling it, but you can create a dish that will serve you for many meals.

It’s also great if you need to fill the tummies of a hungry crowd – your kids have their friends around, you have family visiting or maybe you’re hosting bookclub with the girls.

To create this lasagna, I use a 20cm x 30 cm oven dish. I assemble it to three layers, but if you think you have enough sauce to do more layers, do so!  I virtually always cook from scratch, but fresh pasta is something I haven’t done, so here I have used the ready to use pasta sheets.

Oh, and make sure to be on the ball when layering your lasagna.  A mild expletive may have been mumbled as I missed a béchamel sauce layer when assembling mine – aaghhh! Luckily I was able to rectify it.

Once cooked, be sure to let it sit (or ‘set’) for 5 minutes before serving for that firm, lasagna that sits well on the plate. Serve with a simple salad of lettuce, grape tomatoes, black olives, sliced red capsicum and crumbled feta.

Have fun baking and watch out for those kitchen loiterers, waiting for you to turn your back so they can steal that crispy, cheese layer on top!

Bolognese Sauce

  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced – (optional)
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced – (optional)
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1.5kg of grassfed beef mince (2 of our Conscious Farmer mince packs)
  • 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large frypan to a medium high heat.

Add a generous drizzle of oil to the pan, followed by the onions (and carrots and celery if you choose). After 5 minutes, add the garlic and stir until the onions (and vegetables) are tender. If they stick to the pan a little while cooking, just add a small dash of water and they will lift off.

Add the mince to the pan and stir until browned.  Add the tomatoes, beef stock, thyme leaves and bay leaf. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the excess moisture has boiled off. Be sure not to dry the sauce out completely, as you will want some moisture to ensure that the lasagna sheets soften as they take it up during cooking.

Grind in black pepper and add sea salt to taste. Stir in the parsley. Remove from heat while preparing the béchamel sauce.

 

Béchamel sauce

  • 80g butter
  • 6 tablespoons plain flour
  • 4 cups of milk
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper

Place a large saucepan on a medium heat on the stove.  Add butter to the pan and melt.

Add the flour and stir until a paste forms.

Add ½ cup of milk, whisking as you go, until the paste is incorporated. Add some more milk, whisking as you go. Bring the mixture to a boil and keep whisking until the sauce has thickened.

Stir in the parmesan cheese, salt & pepper.  Set aside.

 

Assembling Your Lasagna

  • 250g dried Lasagna sheets (more if you are able to stretch your sauces to 4 layers).
  • Grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 180oc.

Grease a 20cm x 30cm oven dish.

Cover the bottom of the dish with lasagne sheets. Spoon over enough of the bolognaise sauce to cover the lasagne sheets. Spoon over enough béchamel sauce to cover the mince layer.

Repeat twice (or 3 times if you have enough of the sauces).

Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of the final layer of béchamel sauce.

Bake in the preheated oven for around 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Serve

Serves – 8 to 10 generous servings or more smaller servings.

Serve with salad as mentioned above.

 

The weather has certainly cooled down and there’s a change with the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Likewise, our cooking styles tend to change along with the recipes we reach for.  Here’s some tips and ideas for Winter cooking with different cuts!

Slow Cooking

I’m reaching for the round, blade and chuck for slow cooking (if it’s a bone in blade, cut the beef off the bone and dice, but throw the bone in the pot for extra goodness – more about that here). I also love ribs and osso bucco for a slow cook. Think beef and red wine, korma or Thai red curries. And all these cuts are really great for health with the bones and collagen they contain.

 

Add Roast Vegetables

When I cook a steak at this time of year, I like to roast some lovely root vegetables for on the side, rather than a salad or steamed vegetables that I might choose in warmer months. See the lovely honey and spiced recipe here. Serve on the side of an eye or scotch fillet, sirloin, rump or t-bone steak. Or on the side of some sausages too. (see recipe below)

 

Roast beef – grass fed of course!

Obviously winter is a great time for roast meats. I roast up a blade roast or slow roast the silverside cut and serve with a creamy pepper sauce (which I LOVE – I can’t stop tasting it as I make it!). Why not try this super tasty Beef Rendang curry with one of our silversides or with a brisket? We’ve had quite a number of customers comment that they’ve loved this recipe!

 

Mince

So many options for mince, but I like to go back to my pumpkin and feta topped shepherd’s pie or a traditional shepherd’s pie in Winter. I also love this recipe for Mexican Mince with Roast Sweet Potato – greek yoghurt, coriander and avocado – a great one for the paleo eaters. And for those that do eat grains – what about a beautiful Lasagna?

 

Stock/broth

Of course at this time of year I also want to make sure that I have some broth or stock on hand in the freezer and whilst I do use it all year round in my cooking, it’s in Winter that I most want to have it on hand. If I feel that first niggle of a cold or winter bug, I warm some up, add a generous pinch of sea salt (lots of micronutrients), and sip on it for morning tea or with a light dinner. And sometimes i do this just because it’s so beautifully warming on a cold day. I use our lovely mixed bone packs for broth making. Here’s our bone broth recipe.
You can confidently cook stock with our bones knowing there’s no nasties stored away in the bones that could come out with the slow cooking.

 

Stir fry

I reach for the topside or a rump steak when I’m cooking a stir fry. Be sure to slice the beef thinly and across the grain. Whilst in the warmer months I might cook a thai beef salad or make fun wraps for an easy dinner with these cuts, but in Winter I move to beef and vegetable stir fry with generous grinds of pepper and dashes of tamari. (Great opportunity for heaps of vegetables – carrot, red capsicum, snow peas or sugar snaps, beans, small broccoli florets and bok choy) – serve on a small bed of rice.

 

Brisket

If I find myself cooking for a crowd in Winter, a brisket can be great. These don’t come standard with our hampers, but you can add them to your hamper, just as you can add bones. Slow cook and pull to serve – lots of recipe options for different flavours, but this Rendang curry mentioned above is always a pleaser.

Every cut makes a fabulous meal – they just need to be used appropriately. If you’re not sure how to use a particular cut, please call me rather than using it in a way that disappoints. 0417 894 474.

We hope you enjoy some fun cool-weather cooking and experimenting with different recipes.

Kirrily x
See our list of Hampers available for delivery here, including how to add brisket.