Sunday, December 27, 2009

December Meat CSA

For the month of December we are excited to offer a limited seasonal product, our Heritage Stew Hens! These flavorful stewing hens are the perfect main ingredient in chicken broth or for an elegant Coq au Vin. We also celebrated the holidays with our members by giving everyone a lovely Rack of Lamb for their holiday table. And as a stocking stuffer, we tucked into everyone's bag either Lamb Suet or Lamb Liver and Kidneys. These novel morsels are very healthy and tasty and are becoming quite popular among top chefs!

Half share:
2-3# Heritage Stew Hen

1-2# French Rack of Lamb or Lamb Loin Roast

1# Beef Stew

Bonus: Lamb Suet or Assorted Lamb Organ Meats

Whole share:
2-3# Heritage Stew Hen

1-2# French Rack of Lamb or Lamb Loin Roast

1# Veal Stew

2-3# Beef Rump Roast or Chuck Roast

1# Lamb Breakfast Sausage Links

1# Ground Goat

Bonus: Lamb Suet or Assorted Lamb Organ Meats

Rosemary Suet Dumplings
Adapted from BBC recipes
These are a perfect addition to your favorite beef or lamb stew recipe. Just add them on top of the stew for the last 20 minutes of cooking and you will have perfectly steamed stew dumplings. A yummy winter comfort food like no other!

· 2/3 c / 5 oz of flour
· 1/4 c / 2 1/4 oz of shredded suet
· 1/2 t of baking powder
· pinch of salt
· 1 T of finely chopped fresh rosemary
· 3-5 T cold water
· 2 c / 500 ml of stock or water
(only necessary if you are not adding them directly to a stew)

Mix together the flour, suet, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir in the fresh rosemary. Add enough of the water to form a sticky dough. With floured hands, divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Place the balls on a plate and chill in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. Bring the stock or water to a simmer then add the dumplings and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with your favorite stew meat and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Specials

We love the holidays here at Mint Creek Farm and we are very excited to share with all of you some of our "Best Specials of the Year" for the holiday season. These specials will run NOW through the 22nd of December (one week only), so hurry and get your order in while supplies last!

1. We have drastically dropped the price on ALL Racks of Lamb, Lamb Loin Chops and Lamb Rack Chops to $14/lb! And for this week only- Get an additional 10% OFF when you purchase at least 5 lbs. of Racks, Loin Chops OR Rack Chops. Offer good for 5 lbs of any 1 of these items, but we will offer 10% OFF of each of these items! So, go ahead and purchase 5 lbs. of Racks (Get 10% OFF), 5 lbs. of Loin Chops (Get 10% OFF) and 5 lbs. of Rack Chops (Get 10% OFF)! That adds up to a ton of savings for you and some tasty presents for your family and friends too.

2. Save 25% OFF ALL Ground Beef and Ground Veal! Buy 1lb of Ground Beef or Ground Veal and Get the second one 1/2 OFF.

3. FREE Shipping on ALL online orders over $100! Please order by Friday December 18th, so we can get your present to its recipient in time for Christmas.

4. Gift Certificates are NOW available for $25, $50, $75 or $100 increments. Get an additional $5 FREE gift certificate for every $50 purchased in Mint Creek Farm Gift Certificates! These make great stocking stuffers!

5. Fresh Christmas Turkeys delivered to your home in time for your holiday meal! Each turkey is $5.25/lb plus $10 for delivery. The average weight for our turkeys this time of year is around 15 lbs.- perfect for a large holiday crowd. All turkeys will be processed on December 22nd and will be delivered Fresh to your door on either Wednesday December 23rd or Thursday December 24th. Turkeys are limited to a first come first serve basis, so place your order Today! Call 815.256.2202 for reservations.

6. Winter CSA Shares for February-April are still available! Get 3 months of organically raised grass-fed meat for only $150! This includes 5 lbs. of meat/month (15 lbs total). Each share will contain an assortment of cuts from our lamb, goat, beef and rose veal. For more information please email us at Shares may be purchased on our website at

We hope that there is something here for everyone's last minute shopping list.

Enjoy and We Wish You a Warm and Wonderful Holiday Season!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stew Hens

What exactly is a stew hen? Well, it is a laying hen that is past her prime. So, you turn that hen into a rich flavorful broth that can be used in many different recipes! In my last posting I have my go-to recipe for making broth with either a stew hen or a leftover roasting carcass. If you want a thinner liquid always use a whole hen to create a higher meat to bone ratio. If you want a thicker stock rich in collagen, always use a leftover carcass that has a lower meat to bone ratio. Either are perfect for soups and stews but if you want to make a sauce with this liquid always use a collagen-rich chicken stock instead of a broth! The stock helps to bind the fat from pan drippings (au jus) so you have a completely coagulated sauce. Broth would not bind the fat and just give you a "broken" sauce. It is kind of like making a salad dressing. You add enough fat (oil) until everything binds or emulsifies. Stock can also be used as an alternative to cream or butter when deglazing your roasting pans. And I might add here, that you should always roast your meats in a "flame-proof" roasting pan, that you can place over your stove burners to deglaze all those flavorful fatty drippings! Never waste your pan drippings. They will create a dimension to any sauce that will elevate your dish and make you everyone's favorite chef. Now where do you get your hands on a stew hen? Ask around at the farmers market. We had processed a few with our Thanksgiving turkeys, but they went to our CSA Members. We may do some more, but it depends on the hens. And remember to always use your turkey carcasses for stock too!

Now if you make some homemade broth or stock, here is an excellent soup that my family loves!

Turkey/Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted from the Rebar Cookbook

8 cups of homemade broth
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
dried oregano
2 hot peppers, fined diced (I used poblanos, but if you want more heat use jalapenos)
3 cups of frozen corn kernels (try to find fire-roasted corn- it gives the soup a slightly smoky-sweet flavor)
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large orange bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cups of shredded meat (I used up the rest of our turkey leftovers)
store bought corn tortilla chips
2 avocados, diced
shredded Mexican cheese

Cook the onion in a little olive oil until it is translucent and starting to caramelize. Add the garlic and season to taste with salt, pepper, paprika (sweet or smoky) and the oregano. Cook until garlic is fragrant and lightly golden. Add the hot peppers, be careful not to "smell" the pot at this point. Hot peppers will burn your nasal passage once they get a little hot in a pan! Cook the peppers until soft. Add the sweet bell peppers and corn to the pot and give a good stir to make sure all the seasonings are well mixed. Add a little more oil to coat and adjust seasonings to taste. Add the shredded meat and pour the broth over everything. Stir to incorporate all of the flavors. Cover loosely, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until all the vegetables are cooked and the soup has had a chance to let all the flavors meld together, at least 20 minutes. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with shredded cheese, diced avocados and crushed tortilla chips. Enjoy the soup as everything slowly melts into it creating many different flavor sensations!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Post Turkey Wrap Up

We wanted to thank everyone who got their Thanksgiving turkey from us this November. We sold over 200 turkeys this year! Many more than we had sold the previous year, so thank you. We hope that you all enjoyed them as much as we enjoyed raising them for you. Right before the holiday, Channel 7 news can out to the farm to film the turkeys and to interview Harry. Here is the clip for you to enjoy:

I prepared my turkey this year as simply as possible. I made an aromatic lemon-herb rub that I spread under the skin and over the meat. This salty-herb mixture is given a boost of flavor by fresh lemon juice, which also acts as a binder to give the dry salt-herb mixture the structure of a spreadable paste. Works wonders and the turkey was scented with the fresh and light flavor of fresh lemon juice! I even smelled the lemon when I made up a batch of my homemade stock and I didn't even add any additional lemon juice.

Now if you did not make a batch of turkey stock from your turkey this Thanksgiving, shame on you. It is so easy and wonderful to use in just about anything. We froze most of our stock but we also used it in making Turkey Tortilla Soup when we were trying to be creative with our leftovers. We loved this soup so much we ate it for 4 days straight! It will definately be making another appearance in our household next year. (We are always looking for good ways to use up turkey leftovers, so if you have suggestions-please share!)

Homemade Turkey/Chicken Stock:
1 turkey or chicken carcass or 1 stew hen
enough water to cover the carcass or stew hen
1 onion (quartered)
(may use the green parts of 1-2 leeks)
1/2 head of garlic (cloves peeled and smashed)
4-6 carrots (cut into thirds)
(may use 1-2 quartered apples or 1-2 roughly chopped sweet potatoes- something sweet)
4-6 celery stalks (cut into thirds)
(may use 1-2 roughly chopped celeriac- something earthy)
2-3 parsnips (cut into thirds)
(may use 2-3 quartered turnips- something peppery or spicy)
1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley or parsley stems
4 whole bay leaves (preferably fresh- crack the leaf to release the oils)
1 T of whole black peppercorns
1 T of course kosher or sea salt

Put everything into a large stock pot and cover with water. Make sure that the carcass or hen is completely covered. The rest of the ingredients will either sink or float, so gauge the water level on the bird. Cover the pot, but leave the lid ajar to let out steam. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the stock for at least 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure it does not boil over and to monitor how rapid it simmers. The stock is done when you can push on the carcass or hen and it collapses with a little force. The bones should just fall apart to ensure that all the connective tissue has been broken down thoroughly. Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain out all the solids and let the rich broth cool before you package it up in freezer containers. Once the bones are cool enough to handle, you may pick off all the meat and use it for another use. Stock can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months. Once you make stock you will never want to use store-bought broth again. It is also a great way to use up vegetable odds and ends without wasting them! Homemade stock is both tasty and economical. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Meat CSA

The Winter CSA is finally here and we have distributed our first month's worth of shares to all our new and returning members! This month is an exciting one, because everyone got a little taste of all the different types of meat products that we have. This includes our lamb, goat, beef and rose veal.

Half Share:
1# of ground beef
1# of goat or lamb loin medallions
1.5# of rose veal scallops
1.5# of lamb or goat shanks

Whole Share:
1# of ground beef
1# of goat or lamb loin medallions
1.5# of rose veal scallops
1.5# of lamb or goat shanks
1# of beef cube steak
2# of goat spareribs
.5# of rose veal porterhouse steak
1.5# of lamb top round roast

Besides a great assortment of grass-fed meat, our members received an exclusive member newsletter full of recipes, wine pairings, farm happenings and more!

They also receive a Member Discount Card good for any farmers market purchases made during the duration of their membership. This card saves them 10% off all their purchases, including their Thanksgiving Turkey!

And if you are looking for a delicious and easy way to prepare your pasture-raised turkey this year, check out my favorite recipe on Bon Appetit. It is for a Salted Roast Turkey with Herbs and a Shallot-Dijon Gravy. Yum!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trials and Tribulations of Turkeys

There is still time to order your Thanksgiving Turkey. However, due to the extremely cold weather that we had in October our turkeys have not gained the weight that we were hoping that they would. They are still plump and delicious, just a pound or two lighter than we would have liked. It looks like 16 lbs is going to be our maximum weight this holiday season. However, we still have plenty of birds in the 9-12 lb range. This size is great for dinner parties of 6-8 guests. If you would like a larger bird in the 13-16 lb range then we ask that you reserve your bird for pick up at the Logan Square Market (frozen) on Sunday November 22nd or for Home Delivery (fresh w/ $10 delivery fee). All turkeys are $5.25/lb and raised on organic pastures supplemented with non-gmo feed. If you have any questions, please call us at 815.256.2202.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Indoor Farmers Market Schedule

This is it. Fall is upon us and we are at the end of the outdoor Farmers Market season. Never fear, there are more Indoor Farmers Market opportunities then ever before. What is even more exciting is that Mint Creek Farm is going to be participating in these markets, so you can have your grass-fed lamb, goat, beef and rose veal all year long!!!!! Eating local has never been easier.

Sundays: Logan Square/Wicker Park
At the Congress Theater 2135 N Milwaukee Avenue
November 1st, 8th, 15th and the 22nd
December 6th, 13th and the 20th
January 10th, 17th, 24th and the 31st
February 7th, 14th, 21st and the 28th
March 7th, 14th, 21st and the 28th

Wednesdays: Green City
At the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center 2430 N Cannon Drive
November 11th, 18th and the 25th

Saturdays: 61st Street
At the Experimental Station 6100 S Blackstone Avenue
November 7th, 14th and the 21st
December 5th, 12th and the 19th

Saturdays: Green City
At the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center 2430 N Cannon Drive
November 7th, 14th and the 21st
December 5th, 12th and the 19th
January 16th
February 13th and the 27th
March 13th and the 27th
April 10th and the 24th

We look forward to seeing you at market this winter!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Updated Turkey Info

Online turkey reservations are NOW available! Click here to reserve your holiday turkey today.

We just updated our info on the original turkey blog posting. We now have all of the winter market locations for each of the Indoor Farmers Markets. Please check to make sure you know where and when to pick up your turkey! You can continue to order your turkeys at the farmers market, by giving us a call at 815.256.2202 or now online.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's on Sale This Week at Market (10-24 and 10-25)

Sale Items: All items 15% Off
Rack of Lamb
Loin Medallions
Bone-in Lamb Loin Roast
Boneless Lamb Loin Roast

This is the last official outdoor farmers market weekend and we wanted to offer up a little something special, rack of lamb and loin roasts. So pour yourself a glass of wine and prepare to wow yourself with one of these simple and spectacular recipes.

Roasted Lamb Loin with Cabernet Sauce
Lamb Loin with Pomegranate Orange Compote
Medallions of Lamb with Leeks and Tarragon Sauce
Pistachio-crusted Rack of Lamb

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winter CSA Pick Up Schedule

It's official, the Logan Square farmers market is moving indoors to the Congress Theater. Now we can move full steam ahead with our Winter CSA program. Besides having a complete pick up schedule with locations and dates, we can now extend our program to the Logan Square community for all 6 months! Originally we were only able to offer the first 3 months to the Logan Square community, now we can offer all 6 months to you because your indoor market is going to occur from November through March instead of just November and December!

Please note that plans have not changed for the Green City community. You will continue to have all 6 months delivered to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center.

Pick up Location: Logan Square/Wicker Park
Congress Theater 2135 N. Milwaukee Avenue 773.276.1235
Sunday November 8th 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Sunday December 13th 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Sunday January 17th 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Sunday February 14th 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Sunday March 14th 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Sunday April 11th* 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (only 2 hours)
*Pick up location for April will either take place outside the Congress Theater or at the location of the Logan Square outdoor farmers market (corner or Logan Blvd. and Milwaukee Ave.)

Pick up Location: Green City
Peggy Notebaert Nature Center 2430 N. Cannon Drive 773.755.5100
Saturday November 14th 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Saturday December 12th 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Saturday January 16th 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Saturday February 13th 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Saturday March 13th 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Saturday April 10th 8:00 am to 1:00 pm

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Turkey Time

That's right, time to think about the holidays. If you are the lucky one that gets to serve all your family members a giant roasted turkey, then search no more for that special bird! We have White Broad-breasted Turkeys that will be ready in time for your meal. Our birds are raised on 100% organically grown pastures and supplemented with a complete organic/non-gmo poultry feed. When they are ready to be harvested they will be averaging 12-15 pounds, the perfect size for your recipe. All birds are $5.25/lb and can be reserved at the farmers market.

This year we are offering 2 different types of turkeys: flash-frozen and fresh! We will be dropping off all frozen birds at our winter markets and all fresh birds will be delivered to your home the week of Thanksgiving.

Dates and Locations for FROZEN turkey pick up:
Logan Square- Sunday Nov. 22nd at Logan Square
Wicker Park- Sunday Nov. 22nd at Logan Square
(The Logan Square Indoor Market is located at the Congress Theater)
Green City- Wednesday Nov. 18th and Saturday Nov. 21st at Green City
(The Green City Indoor Market is located at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center)
61st Street- Saturday Nov. 21st at 61st Street
(The 61st Street Indoor Market is located at the Experimental Station)

Dates for FRESH turkey home delivery: (A $10 fee applies to all home deliveries)
Sunday Nov. 22nd, Monday Nov. 23rd or Tuesday Nov. 24th

If you have any questions please email us at or call us at 815.256.2202

Taking DIY Farming to a Vertical Level

In August I had posted a blog entry about Vertical Farms from the NY Times Op-Ed Column. Today I came upon another vertical growing initiative that is taking place in New York City, Window Farming! This form of farming does not require tower-like structures like the Vertical Farms form does, but instead it utilizes flat vertical structures, like windows. This is also a form of farming that any urbanite interested in growing their own food can do themselves.

More cities need to look into alternative methods for growing food and utilizing hydroponics and vertical space is critical to the success of these endeavors. Using these creative soil-less growing mediums is also necessary for sustainable roof-top growing. If you have never seen a successful roof top vegetable garden, you have to check out the Gary Comer Youth Center's amazing urban vegetable garden/farm. (Their website does not fully express the uniqueness of their garden- go there for a visit and be prepared to be inspired!)

Stock up on Grass-fed Beef and Rose Veal

We are offering up select cuts of our 100% organic grass-fed Beef and Rose Veal this weekend at 10% off! Turn one of our Beef Chuck Roasts into the perfect pot roast for a family Sunday dinner. Sink your teeth into one of our Filet Mignon Steaks during a romantic dinner for two. Or cook up a hearty stew with winter squash and meaty chunks of Rose Veal.

Sale Items:
All Beef 10% Off
All Rose Veal 10% Off

(based on what is in stock at time of market)

Potential Inventory:
Beef Chuck Roast (great for a Pot Roast)
Ground Beef and Beef Patties
Beef Stew
Beef Rump Roast (excellent for Beef Bourguignon)
Beef Sirloin Tip Roast (wrap in bacon and roast to perfection)
Assorted Beef Steaks
Ground Rose Veal
Rose Veal Stew
Rose Veal Rack Chops (stuff with prosciutto, fontina cheese and fresh sage for Saltimbocca)
Assorted Rose Veal Steaks


Cold Winter Nights

There is no better way to embrace a cold winter night then with a hearty dinner focused on meat! Whether it is a beef rump roast or a braised lamb shoulder, there is no better way to warm up with friends and loved ones. To give you comfort throughout the winter, we wanted to let you know all of the options that you will have to purchase your favorite grass-fed meat products from Mint Creek.

Here's how:
At one of the Winter Farmers Markets (locations and dates will be posted soon)
Online at our website
Through our Winter CSA Program
By purchasing a whole or half animal or
(contact us for more information at
Dining at one of the many restaurants that serves our products
(this is a short list of the many places that you will find our products)

October Meat CSA

This month we let our members select one of the items in their bags- a roast! They chose from the following roasts: Lamb or Goat Shoulder, Rack of Lamb, Rose Veal Rump Roast, Beef Chuck Roast or a Beef Rump Roast. The default roast for the share was the Beef Chuck Roast, which is perfect for a classic pot roast.

Half Share:

Roast of Choice
Rack of Lamb
Lamb Leg Steak (depending on weight of roast)
Ground Veal or Lamb

Whole Share:
Roast of Choice
Rack of Lamb
Lamb Leg Steak (depending on weight of roast)
Ground Veal or Lamb
Goat Loin Chops
Lamb Bratwurst Links
Beef Flank Steak
Veal Stew Meat

Besides giving our members their share of tasty meats, we tucked in some nutritional info on grass-fed meats in our member newsletter:
Because meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, it is also lower in calories. (Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories.) As an example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished steer can have 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain-fed steer. If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to lean grass-fed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year— without requiring any willpower or change in your eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you’ll lose about six pounds a year.
-Eat Wild,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Winter CSA is Here!

As the cold weather blows in from the North, it is finally time to release information about Mint Creek Farm's first Winter CSA program.

Since not every farmers market has an indoor winter market we had to figure out where and when we could have CSA pick-ups for our members. Green City Market is going to continue their year-round indoor market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center, so we will definitely be dropping off at that location. If everything goes as planned for the Logan Square community, we should have another drop off location for the next 2 months (November-December) at their indoor winter market. (We will post more details about the Logan Square market as we learn more about the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce's plans.)

We will continue to offer the whole share (~10 lbs.) and the half share (~5 lbs.) for either 3 months or 6 months at a time. The first 3 months will take place from November-January and the next 3 months will take place from February-April. These time frames will take us through to the start of the summer farmers market season in May and the start of next year's Summer CSA!

Each month we will continue to offer our members a diverse selection of all organic pasture raised meats. The bags will contain an array of lamb, goat, beef, rose veal and more in a variety of cuts.
Please note: If you would rather have one type of meat (eg. all lamb) we recommend that you purchase a whole or half animal of your liking. This way you can customize what cuts you get at an affordable price. (Please email us at, for more information on purchasing whole or half animals.)

Winter CSA Pricing:

3-month (November-January)
Whole Share $255
Half Share $150

3-month (February-April)
Whole Share $255
Half Share $150

Due to the incredible response we've received, we anticipate that shares for the first 3-month and the second 3-month period will sell-out quickly. The CSA requires careful preparation on our part, so unfortunately we won't be able to accommodate anyone once the shares sell-out. So if you are interested in both, buy them together now and save.

6-month (November-April)
Whole Share $510
Half Share $285

Dates and Location for first 3-month Pick-up:
Saturday November 14th (8 am to 1 pm) Green City/Nature Center
Saturday December 12th (8 am to 1 pm) Green City/Nature Center
Saturday January 16th (8 am to 1 pm) Green City/Nature Center
As dates and a location become available for Logan Square we will post that information. We hope to provide a pickup in Logan Square for all 3 months even though the market will only run for the first 2 months of the CSA.

Dates and Location for second 3-month Pick-up:
Saturday February 13th (8 am to 1 pm) Green City/Nature Center
Saturday March 13th (8 am to 1 pm) Green City/Nature Center
Saturday April 10th (8 am to 1 pm) Green City/Nature Center
Please note that there will be NO Logan Square pick up for the second 3-month pick up session. Pick-up will only be at Green City during that time.

You can sign up online at or at the Green City Market or the Logan Square Farmers Market until October 23rd.

Spaces are limited so sign up today!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Real Thing

Honey. It is not what you think it is. At least the stuff you buy in the grocery store, is not what you think it is. Actually, no one knows what it is. We do know one thing, it is not real honey.

Earlier this year, Andrew Schneider, of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, investigated and wrote about imported honey and the lack of federal regulations placed on this imported good. This is a real cause for concern, since Americans consume over a pound of honey per a person each year and about 1/3 of the honey on store shelves is imported from places like China. Andrew interviewed with Bruce Gellerman of public radio's Living on Earth and some interesting facts came to light during that show. Here is a snippet of that interview:

GELLERMAN: Well we've been talking about honey, and one of the things you write about in your article is that actually, there is no legal definition of what honey is in this country. I mean, you could put another in a jar and call it honey?

SCHNEIDER: That's correct. You can call it anything you want and you can put anything you want in the jar. And you can call it honey. Neither the FDA nor the USDA has a legal definition of honey. Which means that enforcing the quality of honey becomes extremely difficult and problematic. If it has a recognized hazardous or illegal substance like the antibiotics the Chinese use, then you can pull it off the market. But if it has any number of other things – like if it's mixed with sugar water or corn syrup or something, there's really nothing there in the regulations that say that "Thou shalt not do this."

Now if you are like me, this is pretty frightening news considering just how much I love honey. I have been getting my honey from local sources for years, but this tidbit of info is news to me! I started buying my honey locally to help ease my allergies. Now I buy my honey locally to support my local beekeepers, including the neighbor that cares for Mint Creek Farm's hives (pictured above). Who figured I would need yet another reason to buy local honey! Thankfully, there are a ton of sources for the Chicago area to purchase local honey, mainly all of them are at our farmers markets.

And speaking of how much I love honey, now is the time to stock up on local honey and enjoy a spoonful in a cup of mint tea. You can also cook with honey (try tossing some with your favorite root vegetables or squash and roasting them in the oven) and it makes a lovely addition to a cheese plate. Honey is a wonderful food product created by nature and if you become as smitten with it as me, you will find it to be as complex and exhilarating as a glass of wine!

If you are feeling adventurous, you too can also tend to your own hive, even in the city. More and more urban beekeepers are popping up on roof tops and in gardens. Check out the following sites to learn more about keeping bees:

Chicago Beekeeping Meetup Group

Chicago Honey Co-Op

BeeSource for Beekeeping

Here a Chick, There a Chick, Everywhere a Chick Chick

As you can see our girls are curious creatures that live a good life on our farm. Our heritage chickens feed on insects and weed seeds in our organic pastures and even in the straw that I was trying to put in their nest boxes! They get excited when we change their water, when they get new feed, clean straw, treats (they love apples) and anything else that we do to make they happy and healthy. Working with chickens is alot of fun, they make you laugh with their silly schoolgirl noises and they follow you around. I even dance with them occasionally! They like dusting themselves in whatever you put down, whether it is a dust bath or even their grit (we use oyster shell for added calcium). They are pretty happy creatures living a simple and carefree life.

Raising chickens for eggs is pretty simple and it is gaining popularity across the country. More and more city folk are keeping chickens in their backyards too! There is even a documentary traveling around called "Mad City Chickens" and it shows us all how chickens are making a comeback as one of the most popular pets for people to keep.

If you are interested in learning more about how to raise your own backyard chickens here are a few resources for you:
Backyard Chickens Forum
Chicago Backyard Poultry Meetup Group
Angelic Organics Learning Center
Chicago Chicken Owner
Faith's Farm Poultry Parlor (complete set-up to get you started)

Everything is Coming up Roses

We don't have roses on the farm, but we do have milk-fed beef cattle, which is also known around the world as Rose Veal. This lovely sweet and tender meat is a rosey pink color which indicates a healthy iron sufficiency. Traditional veal meat is a pastey white color indicating a lack of iron levels in the young steer's muscle. Why would this matter to someone who wants to eat veal? Well, it matters because it indicates how the young animals are being raised. We raise our rose veal calves on open prairie pastures with their mothers and the rest of the cattle herd. They enjoy a life eating sweet grasses and their mother's own milk. This is the way it was meant to be for a young meat animal's life.

Unfortunately, traditional veal calves are not raised this way. They are raised in extreme confinement (crates that are not big enough for the calves to turn around in), alone and without their mother's milk or even cow's milk for that matter. They are fed a man-made formula that lacks the necessary iron that a young animal needs to grow strong and healthy. These animals are raised for meat that is so tender it can be "cut with a fork." Traditional veal is also practically tasteless. It is a shame that our meat/dairy industry has allowed and encouraged such practices. As conscious meat eaters, we can take back the meat/dairy industry and only support farms that humanely raise rose veal calves that live with their mothers in open pastures. We hope that you will say NO to traditional veal and enjoy veal that not only is tender but flavorful too.

We hope that you will share this information with others and encourage them to support healthier and more humane meat options. Please shop at your local farmers markets and get to know your farmer and their farming practices. It is important to become an informed shopper. You can then be confident in your decisions about what you feed your family.

This weekend we are releasing our Rose Veal products to our farmers market customers. We will have Ground Veal (excellent for meat sauces, like bolognese), Veal Stew Meat (perfect for all your cool weather stews) and Veal Rack Chops (they make an amazing saltimbocca*). We hope that you will give our rose veal a chance and enjoy meat the way it was meant to taste.

*This recipe is for a pork chop but I also love it with a veal chop because it calls for you to stuff the thick chop with all the classic saltimbocca ingredients instead of pounding the meat thin and layering the other ingredients on top. It holds together very well and makes for a lovely clean presentation.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What's on Sale This Week at Market (9-19 to 9-20)

Sale Item:
Frenched Rack of Lamb $17.00/lb
Rack Chops $17.00/lb

What better way to celebrate the start of the Autumnal Season (September 22nd) than with a cozy and elegant meal for two.

May we suggest the following menu to warm your belly and lift your spirits:

Rogue River Blue (cow milk cheese that has been wrapped in grape leaves soaked in pear brandy) serve w/Mission figs or local Concord grapes

Garrotxa (a semi-firm goat cheese) serve w/local Jonathan or Cortland apples

Pecorino (firm sheep milk cheese) serve with warm lemon-scented Mediterranean olives

Warm Crusty Baguette

*All of these cheeses and more can be found at one of my favorite cheese shops in Chicago, Pastoral Artisan Cheese Bread and Wine

Cream of Mushroom or Butternut Squash

Rack of Lamb with Caramelized Shallot and Thyme Crust

Wild Rice with French Green Lentils

Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Feta

Balsamic Roasted Bosc Pears with Pepper and Honey

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's on Sale This Week at Market (9-12 to 9-13)

Sale item:
Lamb Loin Cuts 20% Off

All Loin Roasts (bone-in and boneless)
Loin Medallions

These cuts are the creme de la creme of lamb. Tender, full-flavored and they cook quickly. Always be careful not to overcook these delicate cuts especially the tenderloins and medallions. The loin roasts are wonderful and very versatile for almost any recipe. If I want to impress dinner guests and serve something that didn't take me all day to prepare, these loin sections are my go-to cuts for ease and elegance. After trying one of these recipes we are sure you will fall in love with lamb loins and find yourself using them at your next dinner party!

Here are some great recipe ideas for the loin cuts:
Boneless Roast Lamb Loin Persillade

Bone-in Lamb Loin Roast with Apricot Glaze

Lamb Tenderloin with Crimini Mushrooms and a Red Wine Sauce

Grilled Eggplant and Lamb Medallion Sandwich with a Rosemary Aioli

2 Guys and Whole Lotta Gals

These handsome fellas are our farms' latest additions. We are proud to introduce you to Helios (the multi-colored lad in the top photo) and Zeus (the black rooster in the bottom photo). They are our attempt to appease the ladies' demands. The ladies insisted on roosters as part of union negotiations and if we keep our fingers crossed these 2 young lads will encourage more consistent egg production from our layers.

We can say that after the roosters were introduced to the ladies, it appears that Helios (still a tad too young) will need some time to grow into his own and find a way to work with his ladies. However, Zeus is quite the ladies man and is already working with his group quite nicely. His girls accepted him immediately and were excited to have him be a part of their flock! We are hopeful that he can successfully increase their egg supply before too long.

2009 Farmers Market Season Updates

The regular Farmers Market season is rounding the bend and heading into the last 2 months before we head into the Winter Market season. This is good for everyone, lots more time to shop and there are tons of great products to purchase with this time of year being celebrated as the "Peak of Harvest." However, this time of year does bring some changes to the market schedule for many, including us. So, we wanted to give everyone an update on where and when we will be in the city to sell all of our great pasture raised meat products!

Logan Square 10am-3pm (until October 25th) *
Wicker Park 7am-2pm (until October 25th)

Green City 7am-1pm (until October 28th) *
Andersonville 3pm-7pm (until October 7th)
(please note the time change for Andersonville)

We are no longer participating in our Friday markets.

Green City 7am-1pm (until October 31st) *
61st Street 9am-2pm (until October 31st) *

* There is a potential Winter Farmers Market in these communities. We will post our Winter Market schedule soon.

A Gobble Gobble Here and a Gobble Gobble There

Here's a peek inside our new turkey brooder...these young birds are growing fast and will be ready to go outside any day now. We have over 300 of these White Broad-breasted Turkeys and they will be pasture raised and ready to harvest just in time for Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 7, 2009

September Meat CSA Share

Half Share:
1# ground goat
1# of lamb chorizo sausages
1.25# of lamb spareribs
.75# of milk-fed beef sirloin scallops
1# of beef stew meat
Bonus: sampling of lamb organ meats

Whole Share:
1# of ground goat
1# of lamb chorizo sausages
1.75# of lamb spareribs
.75# of milk-fed beef sirloin scallops
1# of beef stew meat
1# of lamb kabob meat
1# of milk-fed beef rack chops
.75# of beef ribeye steak
1.75# of milk-fed lamb shanks
Bonus: sampling of lamb organ meats

This month's meat shares have a little of everything, including organ meats! We also released another brand new meat product, our milk-fed beef. This sweet, pink-colored and mild beef is from our young steers that were born this past spring. These young meat animals lived the perfect life nursing from their mothers and grazing in the sweet prairie pastures. We hope you will love this humane and non-traditional take on veal, as much as we do. There is no other way to raise a young animal than to let it free-range with other animals and live a serene life as it was intended to.

To learn more about why it is so important to only eat milk-fed beef that have been raised with their mothers in open pastures (also known as rose veal), please visit the following site to learn more about the unfortunate practices of raising traditional veal calves: Veal Fact Sheet *Please be warned that this information in unsettling for some individuals.

* It is very important for us to educate our customers about the horrific practices of conventional farming. We hope that you will help us share this information and let people know that there are alternatives and that they should seek them out.

We also wanted to give our CSA members some great recipe ideas for this month's shares:
Ground Goat- great in Kefta Kabobs or in a Shepherd's Pie
Lamb Spareribs- another way to prepare the Spareribs is to roast them with rosemary
Beef Stew meat- Beef and Bean Chili is always a winner on a cool evening
Milk-fed Beef Scallops- Piccata (if you are feeling Italian) or Wienerschnitzel (if you are feeling German)
Lamb Shanks- One of my personal favorites is simply to Braise them in wine and serve them with a fresh herb and lemon gremolata
Milk-fed Beef Rack Chops- Make a fancy meal for 2 with an elegant Saltimbocca (this recipe calls for a pork chop, but use the rack chop instead and it will be perfect!)
Lamb Organ meats- check out our website for a great list of recipes perfect for the elusive organ meats!

We hope you all enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ode to Julia

Boeuf Bourguignon. Beef Bourguignon. No, Boeuf Bourguignon is the only way to spell, pronounce and present a dish as grand as this hearty meat stew. Julia Child knew just how to do it, so in honor of all things Julia (her 97th birthday would have been this past August and we loved the fun summer movie Julie & Julia) we are cooking up her version of this spectacular meal! Actually, I am letting the creator of Sugar and Spice by Celeste cook up this elaborate meal for you.

Here is a snippet of what to expect on Sugar and Spice by Celeste:

Boeuf Bourguignon is basically beef that has been slowly cooked in red wine, with bacon, onions and mushrooms. I've heard so much about this dish lately. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Julie Powell made it in the new movie Julie & Julia. This was also the very first dish that Julia Child prepared on The French Chef! It's such a classically French meal. The beautifully complex flavors...especially of the sauce...really makes this dish amazing.

I would give you the recipe's ingredient list, but Celeste makes it fun by scanning the original pages of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook. By reading her original recipe, your experience is enriched and gives you the feeling of cooking with Julia. However, I will tell you that where there is beef, bacon and wine, your taste buds will thank you.

Side note: Julia Child highly recommends using Beef Rump Roast for this dish, so we are bringing up to market, what else, but Beef Rump Roast!

We are also bringing regular beef stew meat to market. Both the rump roast and the stew meat are $7.00/lb. If you are still in the mood to grill this weekend, we will also have ground beef for $7.00/lb and ribeye steaks for $19.00/lb.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What's on Sale This Labor Day Weekend

Sale Item:
Lamb Shoulder Chops $6.00/lb

For those of us who want more meat on our lamb chops, shoulder chops will fill the bill or should I say stomach! Shoulder chops are a tougher cut of meat, but they pack quite a punch of flavor and at $6.00/lb you cannot pass up this inexpensive and tasty cut. They could benefit from a little olive oil and lemon juice as a marinade before being put on the grill or roasted. Shoulder chops are also known to be a great braising cut, making a delicious and tender chop once cooked in broth to keep them juicy. Here is a quick recipe from The Splendid Table that is perfect for grilling this holiday weekend.

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops Greek Style
  • Four 10- to 12-ounce lamb shoulder blade chops, 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 lemon
1. Build a fire in your grill.

2. Dry the chops with paper towels and sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. When the fire has died down and the coals are hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill surface for 1 to 2 seconds), place the chops on the grill and cook until well seared, 3 to 4 minutes per side. To check for doneness, nick, peek, and cheat: Make a 1/4-inch cut in the thickest part of the meat; it should be slightly less done than you like it. When the chops are done, remove them from the grill, cover them loosely with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, oregano, and garlic and mix well.

4. Spoon the garlic mixture over the lamb chops, squeeze the lemon on top of them, and serve hot.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Little Mado and alot of Food, Inc.

This past June, my daughter Raya and I, had the opportunity of catching a late night showing of the new movie Food, Inc. by Robert Kenner. We had just attended a family dinner at Rob and Allie Levitt's Wicker Park restaurant Mado, which was just voted as one of the Top Ten Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appetit magazine. For this particular family dinner they teamed up with Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia to create a stellar menu:


lamb summer sausage
lamb brain terrine
lamb liver paté


lamb neck pastilla
lamb loin carpaccio
pickled lamb’s tongue
with potatoes and spring onions


wood-grilled lamb heart
with watercress and pickled ramp vinaigrette


mixed roast:
lamb shoulder baked in hay with herbs de la garrigue
spit-roasted leg

market sides


sheep’s milk ricotta with strawberries

I have long been an advocate of organ meats as being the most nutritious part of the animal, but this meal shouted to us diners that they are the most flavorful part as well. Bon Appetito!

Afterwards, we headed
over to the Renaissance Place Cinema on Clark Avenue to watch Food, Inc.

I must say upon leaving the movie theater an hour and a half later, I felt that this movie had the potential to nudge forward the food revolution that is embracing our nation. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening anytime soon in my narrow circle of populace. This movie has been surprisingly well received by critics, so I will keep my fingers crossed that as a country we will learn to speak up before our next forkful of "food" enters our mouths.

As an organic grass farmer, residing in the corn and soybean patch of east central Illinois, many of the details of this movie were already well known to me. Especially, how most of our supermarkets are made up of a variety of repackaged corn and soy products including; the boxes we find our food in, the colorful ink advertising to us on those boxes, and the very drywall used to construct the grocery store itself. The pernicious company, Monsanto, and their strong armed techniques to convert the world to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) was well represented in this film. Food, Inc. also focused much of its energy on the controversial system of using Confinement Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO's) and the increasing risk of pathogenic e coli bacteria entering our food system. Much of the risk of e coli would be eliminated if we turned away from using these CAFO's and feeding corn to ruminants, which is something that their bodies are not designed to digest. Finally, the movie showed how Wal-Mart, Inc. cooperated after two years of hand wringing to show the power of the consumer and how Wal-Mart's decisions are shaped by their consumers' wants.

In telling the industrial food system story, this movie is a piece of the larger agricultural crisis puzzle joined by the books Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Hopefully, the public will respond louder to moving pictures than to the written word.

To watch the trailer of Food, Inc. please click here:

-Harry Carr

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Grillin' at its Best

Mint Creek has Grass-fed Organic Beef!!!!

We are bringing a variety of beautiful steaks this weekend to market, including: T-bone steaks, NY Strip steaks, Sirloin steaks and Flat Iron steaks. We will also have ground beef for sale too. Supply is limited so please come early for the best selection. We promise to bring more as we build up our supply over the next couple of weeks.

What's on Sale This Week at Market (8-28 to 8-30)

Sale Item:
Lamb Spareribs $6.00/lb

This over looked, under appreciated cut of lamb is a secret favorite among lamb farmers. At this weekend's price we should all be taking a second look and I hope after reading Farmgirl Susan's Farmgirl Fare blog entry about Onion and Herb Crusted Lamb Spareribs, you will be clamoring to market to get some before the secret is out!

Here is a little excerpt from Farmgirl Fare:
This is the same way I prepare a whole leg of lamb for roasting. You simply slather on a thick layer of the onion and herb mixture and pop it in the oven. Both the leg and ribs will taste even better if you allow the meat sit for several hours once you've spread the topping on (set it in the fridge if it's going to be more than two hours). You can cook the ribs for as little as an hour, but two hours makes the topping nice and crisp and the meat more tender. You could probably slow cook them at a lower temperature for even longer.

I never measure out quantities when I make this; I just start with at least a couple of big handfuls of onion flakes and go from there. As long as there's enough olive oil to hold everything together and enough paste to make a thick layer, you really can't go wrong with this combination of ingredients, especially if your herbs are freshly picked. Simply adjust the amounts of everything to suit your tastes.

Its Never Too Late for Change

The Omnivore's Dilemma may have been released in 2006, but it is still relevant to what is happening to our food system in 2009. If you have not picked up a copy, do so and be prepared to change not only the way you eat but what you eat.

This book review of Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma is courtesy of Mint Creek's own Harry Carr. Previously published in the Family Farmers Meats newsletter Vol.1, Issue 1, Fall 2006.

Exactly 100 years ago Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle. He gained particular fame for this work, which dealt with conditions in the U.S. meat-packing industry and caused a public uproar that partly contributed to the passage of the Pure-Food and Drug Act in 1906.

Sinclair lamented the effect of his book and the public uproar that resulted: "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident, I hit it in the stomach." I believe Michael Pollen's work to be aimed not so much for the heart or the stomach, but for our reasoning faculty. We shall see if it scores a direct hit.

This book has the capacity to initiate change, similar to Sinclair's work. The beginning of the end of the industrial food system is probably not that close at hand, but after reading this; your diet can't help but change for the better.

Pollen starts out with two questions: What are we eating? and Where does it come from? He answers this by researching four food systems: industrial, industrial organic, organic pastoral, and the hunter-gatherer. Taking us through the history and development of each, he eleborately culminates by hosting and/or preparing a meal from each food system.

In his work, Pollen states, "As different as the journeys of these food systems are, a few themes keep cropping up. One is that there exists a fundamental tension between the logic of nature and the logic of human industry." We seek to maximize efficiency by planting crops or raising animals in vast monocultures. This is something that nature never does, always and for good reasons, practicing diversity instead. A great many of the health and environmental problems created by our food systems are owed to our attempts to oversimplify nature's complexities, at both the growing and eating end of our food chain.

At either end of any food chain, you find a biological system- a patch of soil, a human body. The health of one is connected- literally- to the health of the other. Many of the problems of health and nutrition that we face today trace back to things that happen on the farm. Behind those things, stand specific government policies.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A New Way to Farm

Everyone is interested in urban agriculture these days. More and more we are seeing and experiencing the creation of community gardens, apiaries, edible landscapes, backyard chicken coops and more. These are all exciting endeavors, but I have something new to share with you. So new it has not even been done yet! We have all heard of vertical gardening, well what would our world be like if every major city in the world had Vertical Farms? Yesterday's New York Times Op-Ed column had a story about urban farms growing vertical in every sense. A brilliant theory and design that I hope comes to fruition very soon. There are many cities that have limited land available for farming, but these vertical farms would be housed in towers to utilize space more creatively. These farms would use water and other natural resources more efficiently and reduce not only waste but the cost of using these limited and dwindling resources. This takes roof-top gardens to the next level and makes it a real possibility for every city to grow enough food to feed its own inhabitants. Now that is a real green initiative that every city should try to swallow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mint Creek's Meat CSA News for August

All our Meat CSA members have gotten their shares for the month of August so I wanted to give everyone else a glimpse of what our members are getting in their boxes:

Half Share (5 lbs.)
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
2 lbs grass-fed angus beef sirloin steak
1 lb pastured lamb loin chops
1 lb pastured goat kabob meat

Whole Share (10 lbs.)
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1 lb grass-fed angus beef flat iron steak
2 lbs grass-fed angus beef short ribs
1 lb pastured lamb loin chops
1 lb pastured goat kabob meat
1 lb pastured lamb breakfast sausage
2 lbs milk-fed french rack of lamb
1 lb milk-fed lamb leg steak

This particular membership is 3 months long and will run through October. Starting in November we will have another CSA available to our customers. All boxes are hand packed and we strive to give our members a diverse selection of meat varieties with ways to prepare these healthy grass-fed cuts. Each box also comes with an informative farm newsletter full of recipes, helpful tips, articles and health news. Our members also get a market discount card that entitles them to an additional 10% off of all their market purchases. Now this is smart shopping for the meat hungry in lean times! We will be sure to keep everyone updated on the blog with all future CSA info.

Mint Creek's Pastured Beef

Breaking News:
Mint Creek Farm is releasing their Grass-fed Ground Beef this week at market!!!!

Our 100% grass-fed angus beef is lean and full flavored with a slight earthiness that makes it one of a kind. You will never look at beef the same way again. This is how beef is supposed to taste, clean and pure. What better way to celebrate summer than with a classic burger. One of my favorite food magazines (Saveur) is highlighting the Burger this month. Here is a link to the article and a list of inspiring ways to top your perfect burger:

What's on Sale This Week at Market (8-14 to 8-16)

Sale Item:
Milk-fed Lamb Loin Chops $16/lb

One of my personal favorites is on sale at market this week, lamb loin chops. These little "t-bone" shaped chops are perfect for the grill, on the stove top or even in the oven. However you want to cook them, they will cook up quickly and keep their tender sweet flavor. Just like our lovely rack chops and french racks, we strongly encourage you to err on the side of under-cooking verse over-cooking these precious morsels. I love topping my grilled chops with a quick pan sauce of dried fruit poached in a ruby port. Here is a quick recipe for a similar decadent chop from

We also shared our lamb loin chops with our Meat CSA this August. In our member newsletter we included a farm favorite recipe from Cooking Light: Honey, Cumin and Mint Marinated Lamb Chops These caramelized meaty grilled bites are so yummy, they even impressed my Israeli in-laws! Now that is a feat, since they eat mostly lamb in Israel and are used to most preparations of this meat staple. Using fresh herbs, honey and a little spice makes for a unique and impressive original dish. Trust me and make this dish at your next "hard-to-impress" family gathering.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blue Kitchen Cooks up Mint Creek Meat

Terry and Marion came to the Logan Square farmers market one Sunday and we talked food. Good food. They told me that they write a food blog called Blue Kitchen and that they have prepared some of Mint Creek's pastured meats. I was thrilled to learn that and when I got home that day, I promptly checked out their blog. Terry does such a wonderful job creating dishes and photographing them that I signed up to get their blog feed through my google reader account. Now I follow Blue Kitchen's adventures along the culinary road to create, share and enjoy good food. One of my favorite entries of theirs is about our goat kabob meat: Cumin and cinnamon grilled goat kabobs with a pomegranate molasses, yum! Terry also gives a nice little introduction to the world of goat meat for anyone that may be hesitant to sink their teeth into a hunk of goat.

Note: If you would like to follow Mint Creek's new blog just click on the "Follow" button and you can follow our every mouth watering moment through Google Connect!