Peppercorn Tenderloins With Whipped Mustard Butter

This is a re-post from February 14, 2011. Goes to show good recipes never grow old. Tim and I will be making this for the kids tonight.

We don’t sell tenderloins individually, so make sure to include them in your beef package order.

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day!! A day of love, romance and sweet hearts.

While others might go for spendy crowded restaurants, Tim and I usually stay in and cook for ourselves. We have found that we can do it much better than most restaurants (at least the ones we can afford). And not having to spend at least $50 on a babysitter is also a bonus!

Our favorite recipe is from Cooking Club of America. We have been making this for so long that the link on their website is no longer available.

image from painlesscooking.com

Peppercorn Tenderloin with Whipped Mustard Butter

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher (coarse) salt, divided
1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns*
1 tablespoon cracked white peppercorns*
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 beef tenderloin steaks (1 1/2 inches thick) (Zweber Farms of course)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. In small bowl, stir together butter, mustard, honey, lemon peel and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt until smoothly blended and of whipped consistency. Let stand at room temperature.

2. Heat oven to 425°F. In another small bowl, stir together black peppercorns, white peppercorns, crushed red pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Brush steaks with oil; sprinkle with peppercorn mixture, pressing evenly onto both sides.

3. Heat large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add steaks; cook 4 minutes. Turn steaks; place skillet in oven. Bake 7 minutes for medium-rare or until of desired doneness. Serve steaks topped with mustard butter.

TIP *Purchase cracked peppercorns in the spice section. Or, to crack your own, place whole peppercorns in heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Pound with flat side of meat mallet until coarsely crushed.

Once you have tenderloins this good, you will never order tenderloin at a restaurant again. Pair this meal with a Caesar salad, pan fried asparagus, crunchy French bread and a glass of Cannon River Winery Gunflint Red.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Emily


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Filed under 30 Minute Meals, Cooking, Cooking with Beef, Food, Hunk of Meat Monday

Help us name first calf of 2012

image

Our first calf of 2012 needs a name. She was born Feb 3.
What should we name her?
Emily

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Filed under #AgChat, Calves and Heifers

Murphy’s Law on the Farm

Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

What reminded me of this old adage was my father, Jon, taking off the weekend to go to a Superbowl party with my uncles. You see whenever he leaves the farm for a weekend something or multiple somethings will invariably go wrong. It’s a running joke said with only a half smile and cautious glance around that as soon as Jon leaves the farm expect the unexpected.

Our cows are generally fairly well behaved. They seem to know when Jon has left the farm though and that is the time they choose to do their annual escape and visit the neighbors trick. Three years ago they decided to run laps around two of our neighbors’ houses in a figure-eight pattern at 2am for fun. It is a good thing we have wonderful neighbors who weren’t only forgiving but had a blast rounding up 100 cows in the dark with me. Two years ago they went for a romp through a drainage ditch to get to a neighbors sweetcorn patch. They had only begun to start detasseling the corn when I caught them in the act and rounded them back up to put back in. Unfortunately, the poorly maintained ditch crossing I was bringing them back across was not where I thought it was resulting in a waterlogged ATV and a very unhappy me. This last summer the cows decided that they wanted to visit town. Yes, that’s right, they went to town. They must have visited at least 10 neighbors’ yards during the wettest spring we’ve had in a long time. No one was happy with them after that prank. They seemed to be pretty happy with themselves though and spent the rest of the afternoon napping on a hill. It seems no matter what kind of fencing a person puts up cows will always find a way to go have a good time if they really want to.

Cows are not the only thing on our farm that follows Murphy’s Law. Our farm equipment is a far more common offender than the cows who, like I say, are generally a well behaved bunch. We don’t have the newest tractors and implements on our farm so some breakdowns are be expected, however, they seem to occur at the absolute worst times. I’m sure any of you who rely on some kind of equipment to get a job done from a combine to an inkjet printer are very familiar with this phenomenon. We log over 1000 hours per year in our skid loader. Needless to say it’s a very important piece of equipment and without it we really can’t do many of our chores. For some odd reason our skid loaders have a tendency to burst hydraulic lines during Christmas. I could understand it happening once and calling it coincidence. The odd part is that it has happened twice now with two different skid loaders. I’m not talking the little hoses for the hydraulic cylinders that move the bucket. No, those ones could be made at Carquest, it was a big one both times that supplies the drive motors to make the loader go. Those are special hoses and must be purchased from the Bobcat dealer which is tricky during the holidays.

My favorite example of Murphy’s Law as demonstrated by our equipment was the meltdown of our Case 970 tractor’s engine. I started it to let it warm up and came back 5 minutes later to find it wasn’t running anymore. Turns out it wasn’t running because the engine had seized up due to a lack of oil. I would like to say its my fault for not checking it often enough but it wasn’t, it was so much less likely than that. After the local technical college students took it apart I found out the cause of the engine failure was the oil pickup tube falling off the oil pump after 20+ years of apparently being firmly stuck there.

Nothing major has gone wrong (knock on wood) this weekend and Jon gets back tomorrow afternoon. Here’s hoping our luck has improved and it will stay that way. What great stories do you all have about Murphy’s Law?

Tim

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A Cows Kind of Winter

We had our first major snow “storm” of the year yesterday. Ha! Cannot believe I just used the word storm! We had some ice, wind and TWO inches of snow. The ice was really a bad thing, but the snow is nothing compared to last year. Remember this storm we had last winter? We had nearly 20 inches of snow fall in 24 hours.

Nothing like that so far this winter (knock on wood). Things are humming along smoothly at the farm. We only have two bottle calves at the moment and we just sold about ten cows. Chores, milking and all around farm activity are going well (and faster since we don’t have to keep moving snow).  A fellow dairy farmer wife, FarmersWife30, wrote about how hard it has been to blog this winter without all the snow “excitement.” I agree. It is hard when each day is nearly the same: Feed animals, milk cows, move cow poop, break for lunch, then feed animals, milk cows and move more poop.

So no news is good news here at Zweber Farms. To keep our minds nimble, Tim has started a large Tic-Tac-Toe board on the barn door window. Each time one of us passes it, we add an X or O. We will see who wins!

Emily

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Creamy Chicken and Tomato Soup Recipe

Oye, has it really been 10 days since I last blogged? Terrible! I am even participating in a “31 Days to a Better Blog” series.  Not a star student… Good news is that I have a super simple and tasty recipe that you can have on the table in 30 minutes or less. Like most of my recipes, this one takes ideas from about 3-4 other recipes. I played with it a bit and I hope I remember all the ingredients I added.

Cream Chicken and Tomato Soup Recipe

  • 3 cups cooked Roasted Zweber Farms Chicken, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Organic Valley butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Organic Valley heavy cream or whole milk
  • cilantro and Organic Valley sour cream for garnish

Melt butter in large dutch oven and sauté the onion and chicken for 5 minutes, until onion is tender.

Add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Swirl in the cream.

Serve with a spoon full of sour cream and chopped cilantro.

This was super simple. While the soup was simmering, I whipped up a batch of miniature corn bread muffins. The muffins only took 15 minutes to bake, so everything was done at the same time. Creamy chicken and tomato soup and corn bread in less than 30 minutes. Got to love that.

Hop on over to Hunk of Meat Monday to see what others have on their plates this week.

Hunk of Meat Mondays
Enjoy! Make sure to “Pin” this on Pinterest to share with your friends.

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Filed under 30 Minute Meals, Cooking, Cooking with Chicken, Cooking with Dairy, Food, Hunk of Meat Monday

Organic Milk Shortage, Why is it Happening?

Where is all the organic milk? If you haven’t noticed yet, there is a nation wide organic milk shortage. The New York Times recently ran an article on the subject. Many of the stores I frequent have put up signs talking about the shortage.

Organic Milk Shortage Sign

One of our Twitter followers said this:

FoodFightersUS I’ve just been reading @ the organic milk shortage. Had not noticed much until today-I checked 2 DC Whole Foods & found zero organic cream?

This isn’t just an Organic Valley problem, or a regional problem, it is a complete shortage of organic milk from every brand nation wide.

So what is the deal? There is a shortage of feed. We don’t have to look far to know that this is the truth. On our farm we raise about 40% of our feed needs and buy another 60%. In our urban area there isn’t much land to go around. We would love to grow more, but it is a constant battle to rent enough ground.

Currently, conventional crop prices are record highs. This is due partly to demand (ethanol and overseas markets) and partly low supply (drought in the South). Growing organic crops is tough. It is more paperwork, more fees (organic certification costs) and a lot more work. I completely understand when crop farmers switch back from organic to conventional. Why would they want all the hassle when conventional corn is very profitable?

So when conventional crop prices are high, organic land gets switched back to conventional, lowering the organic crop supply and raising organic crop prices. Also, when crop prices are up, more land that would normally be put into hay is put into grain. Again, lowering organic hay supply and raising organic hay prices. Once land goes back to conventional it is at least three years until it can be organic again.

In farming we always talk about margins: what is our net, what will be left after we pay all the bills. Even though our pay price per hundred weight of milk (how milk is priced) is higher than conventional, our margins are lower. ie It takes more money to produce a gallon of organic milk.

So why don’t the organic milk company’s raise pay price? Good question. They are. Organic Valley farmers voted to raise pay prices this fall. But we walk a fine line. Higher pay prices for farmers usually equal high retail price. My mom said  Organic Valley milk is at $7.99/gallon at her local grocery store. How much higher are customers willing to pay? We are just recovering from one of the largest economic downturns. Also just under a year ago, there was an abundance of organic milk. There was so much milk, many regions were still on a quota (only could produce so much without a penalty).

On our farm, we are feeling the shortage of feed. Currently, we are selling cows. Thankfully, beef prices are high right now. That means we are culling (selling for beef) our low producing cows. The goal is to try to make the herd as efficient as possible on the feed we do have. Also, our steers are not being fed organic feed. We have never certified them as organic, but they usually eat the same organic feed as the cows. We cannot afford it now. Saving all the quality organic feed for our cows is a priority. We don’t want to loose our certification.

I think many organic farmers are doing exactly what we are doing. Heavy culling is taking place and the hunt for feed is wide spread. Jon and Tim have been searching for affordable feed since late summer, when we realized we would have a shortage.

So the moral of the story? Keep buying organic milk when you can. If consumers continue to signal that they are willing to pay the price, cooperatives will be able to raise farmer pay price, then more farmers will continue to milk organic cows, which will entice more grain farmers to grow organic grains and hopefully lower organic grain prices.

One our Facebook fans wrote this on our page:

I believe that part of consuming responsibly is understanding that you can’t always get what you want when you want it. Everything is cyclical – there are periods of abundance and periods of scarcity, and if we could get back to an acceptance of that, perhaps we could solve some other problems as well. Hope all is well on your beautiful farm!

We thank everyone for their loyal support! It is you that make farmer owned cooperatives like Organic Valley continue to thrive. Hopefully this organic milk shortage will not last long and the milk, cream and cheese you are looking for at the store is always in supply.

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Filed under #AgChat, Crops, farming, Hay, Organic Valley

Southern BBQ Pork Chop Recipe-CrockPot Recipe

Here is a real simple BBQ pork chop recipe that you can either cook up in the crock-pot or in the oven. I included all the prices of the ingredients I used to show how eating organic can be affordable. This recipe is so simple, I put it together with a baby attached to my hip and two fighting preschoolers in the background. Go Go Gadget MOM!

Ingredients:

  • 6-bone in Zweber Farms pork chops (about $7.00)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (organic $.33)
  • 1/4 vinegar (I used malt vinegar, but you can use any kind of white) ($.66)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon honey (organic $.37)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce ($.13)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (organic $.38)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (organic $.88)
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (organic $.50)

Mix all ingredients together. To make in the crock pot pour sauce over pork chops and cook on low for 6-8 hours. To make in oven: oven to 350, place pork chops in a 11×15 sheet pan , pour sauce over chops and bake for 30-45 minutes.

I paired this meal with organic long grain white rice ($.50/serving), organic mixed veggies ($1.88/serving) and of course a glass of Organic Valley milk ($.50/serving).  Total cost was: $4.50 per serving.

This meal was super simple, super yummy and super inexpensive. Now that is Affordable organics!

Hunk of Meat Mondays
Enjoy!
Emily

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Filed under 30 Minute Meals, Cooking, Cooking with Pork, Food, Hunk of Meat Monday

Zweber Farms in 2011

What a year 2011 was.

We had a record of over 60 inches of snow. The cows could walk right over the fences. Remember when they took for a walk in the woods?

cows, storm, pasure, organic, rain, tornado,

When we had all that rain! We never thought we would get corn planted. In the summer came the extreme temps and sever storms. Remember when Tim took this picture minutes before a tornado touched down?

Sam winning Grand Champion at fair

The summer was filled with exciting events. Hannah was born and Sam won Grand Champion at our county fair. She then went win Honorable Mention at the State Fair.

BigFoot At World Dairy Expo-The Boy's Favorite Stop

Hannah being a beach bum on vacation this year

It wasn’t all work and no play. We went on a short vacation and then headed to World Dairy Expo in October.

chicken, jonnie, summer, 2011

Don’t forget all the funny stories about our pigs and chickens throughout the year.

It was a very memorable year. Thank you for making it so wonderful.

Happy New Year!

The Zwebers

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Organic Valley Coupon, Calendar and Swag Give Away

Right before Christmas we received a large package from Organic Valley. In it were ten beautiful 2012  Organic Valley calendars. Much to our surprise, our family was chosen to adorn the April page and our cows are the background on each page. Organic Valley calendars are known for their beautiful pictures. We have even had friends who work for other dairy companies that say they wish their calendars were like OV’s.

click for source

This year Organic Valley is celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives. The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes,

“Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility. “

That is exactly what Organic Valley set out to do 25 years ago. Back then, the cooperatives founders wanted to make organic farming both economically viable for its members while at the same time improving the community and world around them. Now with over 1600 plus farmers owners in the United States and Canada, I think OV is doing a great job on both accounts. It is the number one reason we chose to go with Organic Valley when we first went organic. A company owned by farmers and for farmers is important to us.

Would you like a free Organic Valley 2012 calendar, coupons and swag? The prize is a $30 value ($15 in coupons). Tell us how you work or play cooperatively or support cooperatives in your area . Do you carpool to work? Have a community garden? Support local farmers working in cooperatives? Teach cooperation to your children or students?

Rules:

  • Leave a comment on this page about how you work or play cooperatively or support cooperatives in your area. Comments should be no longer than 20 words in length.
  • Comments need to be received by 11:59p.m. central standard time on January 2nd.
  • Winners will be chosen on creativity and originality.
  • Winners will be chosen by our family.
  • Winners will be contacted by January 3rd, by emailing the account associated with the comment.
  • Disclaimer: Yes, we are OV farmer owners, so we have an interest in Organic Valley and its brand. Please void where prohibited.
Good luck and have a blessed New Year!
Emily


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Holsteins and the Birth of Christ-Wordless Wednesday

Of course my son decides to forgo the donkey, camel, and sheep costumes for our church’s Christmas Pageant and chooses the cow.

Pretty certain there were not any Holsteins bunking up in the manager with our Lord, but Erik looks pretty cute during dress rehearsal.

taken on my crummy phone camera

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