Wednesday, February 15, 2017

5 Pork Chops Cuts

A pork chop is a pork chop is a pork chop... right?  Well kinda.

According to Pork Be Inspired, "pork chops are the most popular cut from the pork loin, which is the strip of meat that runs from the pig’s hip to shoulder."  However, since the chops come from this strip of meat, pork chops can have several different characteristics determined by where they came from in the loin which determines their actual name.

Source:  www.porkbeinspired.com


For years, when you went to grocery store to buy pork chops or ordered pork chops in a restaurant, they were simply labeled or listed as pork chops or used names like Top Loin Chop, Rip Chop, or Loin Chop.  Meanwhile, most of us are familiar with names like Porterhouse, New York Strip, and T-Bone that have been used to describe the different steak cuts over the years.

So a few years ago, pork decided to follow suit and provided specific names for the 5 different cuts of pork chops that mirror the beef steak names so as consumers we know exactly what we are buying or ordering.

Source:  www.porkbeinspired.com

New York Pork Chops are boneless pork chops and are located toward the head of pig or the top of the loin.  These chops are still sometimes called Center Cut Chops and in my opinion are often the most perfect and uniform looking cut of pork.  "The 1¼ inch-thick top loin chop is also called an “America’s Cut.”

Porterhouse Pork Chops are from the lower back portion of the loin (just behind the rib chop) and have a characteristic T-bone shape. These chops include a lot of meat as well as a bit of tenderloin meat with the tenderloin being the most center part of the loin.

Ribeye Pork Chops originate in the center of the loin in the rib area and include some back and rib bone. You can also occasionally find a boneless option of this pork chop as shown in the picture.

Sirloin Pork Chops come from the area of the loin around the hip and often include part of the hip bone. 

Blade Chops (not pictured above) are cut from the beginning of the loin in the shoulder area. They may contain some blade bone as well as back-rib bone. Blade chops are usually thicker and more marbled. 

Now I realize for someone that hasn't spent a lot of time analyzing the difference in meat cuts, this might be a lot to process.  

But the main takeaway is that as home cooks, we understand that there are different types of pork chops as certain recipes often specify the type of cut to use, even though you can usually use whichever cut you want.  So you can choose the New York Pork Chop for that boneless convenience or you might what the attached bone of the Ribeye Pork Chop to add a visual to your meal.  Either way, the cut doesn't determine the cooking length.  It is the thickness of the pork chop that determines the cooking length.  

So my biggest advice is to always have a meat thermometer on hand when cooking pork chops as cooking them to the correct temperature is essential for having tasty pork and "for tender and delicious pork chops prepare your cut of meat to the internal pork cooking temperature of 145 degrees" followed by a 3 minute rest period before cutting and serving.  

So a pork chop is a pork chop is a pork chop... you can be the judge of that while trying out these yummy recipes approved by the pigpen...

Cream of Mushroom Pork Chops can be made with any of the 5 pork chop cuts.

Garlic Pork Stir-Fry utilizes the whole pork loin which is where pork chops come from in the pig.

Pork Chop Delight calls for thin cut boneless pork chops so your New York or boneless Ribeye would be best for this.

Miss Jent, a fellow pig farmer, over at Farmwife Feeds adds a new twist to those bone-in Ribeye Chops with her BBQ Smoked Pork Chops.

And Miss Jeanette, another fellow pig farmer, over at Fencerow to Fencerow used a loin roast (remember the loin is where pork chops come from) to make her Pork Pozole Soup that just may be in my freezer at the moment thanks to our Indiana Family of Farmer's Freezer Cooking Party.



This post is sponsored by The Glass Barn, but all thoughts, opinions, and recipe recommendations are my own.  

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Garlic Pork Stir-Fry

Garlic Pork Stir-Fry is an easy recipe that is an ideal freezer meal that requires no cooking prior to freezing and only a few steps after thawing to create the perfect meal full of flavor.



This recipe was sponsored by Indiana's Family of Farmers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Are you a fan of freezer cooking?  I must admit I've never done freezer cooking on my own, but anytime a group of my friends suggests we should get together to do one... I'm game.  I love doing them as a group because usually that means you pick one recipe and make it multiple times to share one batch with each person in attendance.  This also means that you get to go home with many different recipes to try.  If you are ready to try some freezer cooking on your own or with some of your friends, be sure to check out these amazing tips for freezer cooking.

Last week, I was lucky enough to participate in the Indiana's Family of Farmers Freezing Cooking Party with 7 of my friends.  So I made 8 batches of Garlic Pork Stir-Fry in the course of a couple of hours and came home with 8 meals for my freezer including one batch of my own Garlic Pork Stir-Fry.  I'm so excited to have all of these meals waiting for us to eat in our freezer.  With a little bit of thawing and a little prep work, dinner will be on the table in no time which is exactly what we need at this pigpen.

In theory winter is supposed to give us a little bit of a break around the farm, but it seems like there is always something to be done from the daily chores of feeding and taking care of the pigs, to working on equipment or making repairs , to catching up on computer and paperwork. Now, we love the farm and ultimately wouldn't have it any other way, but with the farm and the busy lives our kids lead with two currently playing basketball amongst other activities, having a yummy meal on the dinner table that everyone will like with limited prep work is the way to my heart and ultimately our stomachs.




So whether making it as a freezer meal or from fresh ingredients, Garlic Pork Stir -Fry is the perfect meal for this pig farming family as we love finding new and unique ways to incorporate pork into our meals.



Garlic Pork Stir Fry


Ingredients for 2 batches

  • 3 to 4 pounds pork loin
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces

Cooking Directions

  1. Rinse and time loin as desired.
  2. Cut pork into 1-inch cubes and divide evenly between two 1-quart freezer bags and seal.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
  4. Divide the sauce evenly between two 1-quart freezer bags.
  5. Measure 2 teaspoons of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper into each of the two bags and seal the bags.
  6. Once the onions and bell peppers are chopped, divide them evenly into two 1-quart freezer bags and seal the bags.
  7. Place on bag of pork, one bag of sauce, and one bag of peppers and onions into a gallon-size freezer bag and seal. Repeat with the remaining 3 bags.
  8. To prepare the meal fresh or after freezing, completely thaw one entree (one gallon-size freezer bag) in the fridge.
  9. Pour off and discard any liquid from the bag of pork.
  10. Add 1/2 cup cornstarch to the bag, seal, and shake to coat the pork.
  11. In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  12. Add pork and stir-fry until cooked, about 10-12 minutes.
  13. Add vegetables and sauce.
  14. Stir-fry until vegetables are tender and crisp about 5 minutes.
  15. Serve with rice, if desired.


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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Farming through the generations

From horses to tractors guided by GPS technology, farming has changed a lot over the years and in our family.  As I've told you before, The Farmer is the 4th generation of his family to farm in Hancock County and both of our families can trace farming back farther than that on our family trees.  Despite all these changes in agriculture over the years, one thing has remained the same.  Family farmers are committed to producing safe, affordable, and nutritious food for their families and yours. 



Technology has played a big role in the changes on the farm over the years just like it has in all of our everyday lives.  I often think about when I headed to Purdue University as a college freshman 20 years ago.  I had never sent an email before arriving at Purdue and we had a bag phone in the car for emergencies only.  My how things have changed! 


Just like we have embraced technology in our personal lives, as farmers, we have embraced technology that ultimately allows us to do more with less.  By utilizing GPS technology, we are able to precisely apply the exact amount of crop protection and fertilizers that may be needed by a specific crop in specific location.  This has dramatically reduced the amount of crop protectants and fertilizers needed to raise our crops and just one of the many ways that technology is making a positive impacts on our farms and ultimately at the grocery store for consumers.  It is also one of the many reasons that The Farmer and I's grandpas fed 61 Americans annually in 1960 and today my husband can feed 155.  



Technology has also allowed us to provide the best care possible to our pigs.  I've talked about this numerous times in the past, but just in case you don't think about my pigs as much as I do I thought I'd give you a little refresher. 

Today we raise our pigs in climate controlled barns that allow us to not only protect our pigs from the elements such as snow, sleet, rain, and hail, but also keep the barns at around 70 degrees year round and protect the pigs from predators, such as coyotes.  I can only wish that my grandfather was still alive to see how we raise our pigs today. 



As you can see, farming has made a lot of changes over the years, but I am thankful that we have been able to learn from past generations and embrace technology to make the best decisions possible for our pigs and our crops.  Ultimately this makes it possible for my family to produce safe, affordable, and nutritious food for our family and all of yours.  I am very proud to be a part of  a family farm that is carrying on the family tradition. 


This post was sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and The Glass Barn
but the the thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.  

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Super Easy Pizza Casserole

5 or 6 ingredients.  One skillet or micro cooker and one 9x13 pan.  35 minutes and you are ready for one super easy pizza casserole for dinner.  This may just be The Farmer's favorite.



Remember when I was lucky enough to have Ann-Marie from Chaos is Bliss  visit our family farm... well we were lucky enough to meet up again recently thanks to Indiana's Family of Farmers.  A few weeks ago, Ann-Marie and I visited 3 grocery stores with the help of a wonderful dietitian, Kim.



Our mission was to buy the ingredients for one recipe at 3 different stores to compare the selection, prices, and such.

It was so much fun and tiring.

We visited Kroger, Trader Joe's, and Meijer.

The selection and prices at Kroger and Meijer were very similar.  In fact if I wanted, I was able to purchase the same brands of all of the ingredients at Kroger and Meijer,.  Trader Joe's was a little different, but I was able to find all of the necessary ingredients with a little bit of improvisation.  (They didn't have any bulk Italian sausage, but they had Italian sausage links.)

Now different sales were taking place at all 3 locations, but on the day that I purchased my groceries I spent $13.52 at Meijer, $15.82 at Kroger (my receipt shows $18.82 as I bought an extra package of pepperoni), and $18.83 at Trader Joe's.



I must admit I had never been to a Trader Joe's prior to this visit.  The closest Trader Joe's is over a half hour away and a full-time off-farm working mom of 3 busy kids, I tend to shop at the local Walmart where I can get almost everything we need from deodorant to milk without breaking the bank.  It was interesting to visit Trader Joe's and I could see if you were looking for something specific, it might just be the place to go.

Now the best part of all of this was getting to visit the stores with Ann-Marie and Kim.  I think I can speak for Ann-Marie when I say we learned so much from Kim.

One of the things we discussed were quick and easy way to increase the nutritional value of a recipe.  Specifically in regards to this super easy pizza casserole we talked about adding diced tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and many other veggies much like you would a pizza.  Based on this conversation, I did decide to add diced tomatoes to my recipe.

We also talked a lot about how confusing all the labels are at the grocery store since some of them are marketing labels and some are nutritional.  It can be so confusing so it was nice to have Kim with us.
It truly was a great day and then it was time to head home to use all those ingredients we bought.

So let's talk about the super easy pizza casserole that is The Farmer's favorite.  This truly is such an easy recipe that won't disappoint.



Super Easy Pizza Casserole


Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 12 oz. wide lasagna noodles (prepared per directions)
  • 2 14oz. jars pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 oz. sliced pepperoni
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

Cooking Directions

  1. Brown Italian sausage; drain.
  2. Drain tomatoes and combine with pizza sauce in a batter bowl.
  3. In lightly greased 9x13 pan, layer one half noodles, one half sausage, one half pepperoni, one half sauce mixture, and one half cheese.
  4. Repeat with second layer of noodles, sausage, and remaining ingredients, reserving several pepperoni slices to garnish top.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Enjoy!!


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This post was sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers, but all words and opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Pot Spaghetti

One pot.  3 ingredients.  30 minutes.  What more could you ask for in a family dinner recipe that pleases every time.



 Recently I was lucky enough to have Ann-Marie from Chaos is Bliss visit our family farm for a one-on-one tour thanks to Indiana's Family of Farmers.  Ann-Marie and I talked about all kinds of things from the similarities in our families, how we raise our pigs, and my favorite pork recipes. Although my all time favorite pork recipe is a good ole pork burger, I must admit I'm quite fond of this one pot spaghetti with pork Italian sausage and it is definitely becoming a go-to recipe at this pigpen.

I must give props to Ann-Marie's excellent self-timer abilities for this photo.
It was very exciting for me to have Ann-Marie visit our farm.  As you know, I'm very passionate about agriculture and our family farm and love talking about both anytime we get.  I realize I'm probably a little biased when I talk about our farm so I encourage you to visit Ann-Marie's recap of our visit as I assure you she asked a lot of great questions as nothing was off limits.  (You might even find a yummy pork recipe when you visit.)

Now that being said, let's get back to this one pot spaghetti.  I'm not lying when I say this is so easy as it truly only uses one pot (OK.  I may have used 2 as I used my micro cooker to brown the italian sausage to speed up the process.) and 3 ingredients.



One Pot Spaghetti


Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground Italian sausage
  • 7 oz. package spaghetti, uncooked and broken into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 24 oz. jars spaghetti sauce

Cooking Directions

  1. In stock pot over medium heat, brown sausage for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Drain; stir in broken spaghetti. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add spaghetti sauce and stir until well blended. Heat to boiling.
  4. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer about 20 minutes, until spaghetti is tender.

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Enjoy!!










This post was sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers, but all words and opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

We grow it, so where can you buy it?

So it is no secret by now that you all know we raise corn, soybeans, wheat, and pigs on our family farm.  We feel very blessed to be able to raise food for our family and all of yours.  So that being said, I'm often asked where can you buy the food we raise and grow on our family farm.

The answer is really quite easy, but it may not be obvious.

You see you can buy the food we grow and raise at the grocery store or mega big box store.  We don't have our own label or anything at the grocery store, but when you buy pork at the grocery store that is helping our family farm and fellow farms just like ours.

Our family sells the majority of our pigs to Tyson Foods who then distributes the pork in the grocery stores across the country.  So there is a good chance when we sell our pigs to Tyson Foods in Indiana, our pork ends up in a grocery store near you especially if you are in Indiana and the Midwest.   


Pork Chops I purchased at Walmart --- could have been ours

My mother-in-law and I also sell some pigs each year under our own private label at 2 local Farmer's Markets, a local orchard, and an online food hub as a way to educate others about our family farm and help pay for Big Sissy, Bubby, and Little Sissy's college education.

The cost of college for the three of them is scary!

So what about our corn, soybeans, and wheat?

Well all of the corn we grow on our family farm is used to feed our pigs so we don't sell any corn.

Big Sissy delivering a snack to my father-in-law driving the combine during corn harvest.

We do sell all of our soybeans; however, we sell them to a local soybean processor that makes soybean meal from our soybeans and we buy soybean meal from them to mix with the corn to feed our pigs.  (Soybean meal is what is left after the oil and hulls are removed from the soybean and is a protein source for out pigs.  The oil that is removed is used for cooking oil and the hulls are used as a fiber source to feed other animals.)

Soybeans in the pod in the field

Actual soybeans

As far as our wheat goes, we only grow a small amount of wheat each year.  But what we do raise, we sell to a local elevator where it is milled and turned into flour.

Partially harvest wheat field

So as a proud Indiana farmer, you can support our family farm and fellow farms just like ours by buying pork at the grocery store or by contacting me directly if you prefer to purchase our private label.  Either way we provide the best care possible to our pigs as they are our top priority.  So whether it is providing a climate controlled barn for pigs to live in to be protected from the elements or predators or using precision when planting or harvesting our corn crop, we truly feel blessed and honored to be raising food for our family and yours!


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Monday, May 18, 2015

Super Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

This super-easy chicken tortilla soup really is super-easy and a perfect go-to meal that adds just the right amount of kick.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

As a farm family, the words super and easy in a recipe always catch my attention especially if the crock pot can be used.  As I was flipping through my new Gooseberry Patch Mom Knows Best Cookbook, this Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe definitely caught my attention.  And it was just what our family needed for lunch yesterday.

As you know we are in the midst of planting season which is often crazy and chaotic.  The Farmer has essentially been in the fields non-stop the last few weeks.  But thanks to some much needed rain on Saturday, The Farmer got to spend yesterday at home with us.  Now when you've been working like crazy the last thing you want to do is come home from church and wait to each lunch.  That is why this recipe was absolutely perfect.

With very little prep time, I was able to mix together this soup and throw it in the crock pot before we left for church and it was ready to eat when we got home a little after noon.  And based on the fact that everyone went back for seconds and there were no leftovers, I would say this Chicken Tortilla soup was a big hit at this pigpen.


Super Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup


Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. onion, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 10.75 oz. can cream of chicken soup
  • 10.75 oz. can Cheddar cheese soup
  • 10.5 oz. can chicken broth
  • 10 oz. can red enchilada sauce
  • 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
  • 1 deli roast chicken, boned and shredded
  • Garnish: shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream fresh cilantro, tortilla chips/strips

Cooking Directions

  1. In a stock pot over medium heat, saute onion in oil until tender and golden. Add remaining ingredients except garnish; stir. Bring to a boil. Add to slow cooker and cover and cook on high for 2 hours. At serving time, ladle into soup bowls; add desired toppings.
  2. This recipe can also be prepared in a dutch oven by following the above directions except after bringing everything to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.


As a side note, I actually did my grocery shopping on Saturday morning and they didn't have any deli roast chickens hot off the rotisserie; however, they did have some in the refrigerator case and this was perfect for this recipe.  Also had I planned ahead I could have made my own chicken broth thank to this handy dandy tip in the Gooseberry Patch cookbook.  




Special thanks to Gooseberry Patch for providing me with this great cookbook to try and share with you. If you would like to purchase this or other cookbooks, please visit their store. Additionally, this post does contain an affiliate link.


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