Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ethical Farming

Recently, the Pork Checkoff had a We Care Responsible Pork Production video contest. To enter the contest you simply had to put together a video showing how your hog farm lives by the ethical principals of the We Care Initiative. I am very excited to announce that the video I submitted won! You can read about the We Care Initiative by clicking here and you can read the Checkoff's little blurb about the contest (and me) by clicking here and you can watch the winning video by looking below this paragraph.

You can learn more about pork production by visiting the Pork Checkoff's site and by watching my YouTube channel the BaconCam (the BaconCam link is in the right margin).

What do you think of the video?
What would you like to know about hog farming?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No hills? No problem. Missouri sledding

Sure Missouri has hills but we have some very, very flat land too. We happen to live smack in the middle of the state and it is pretty flat out here. Our children were devastated when we had our old cellar dozed in because that was the only hill they had for sledding. Naturally, after we had a decent snow the first thing our children complained about was no longer having a hill to sled from, my husband fixed that problem posthaste.

Hills? We don't need no stinking hills!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sustainable Pork

Here's a little something I put together showing just one of the many cycles of pork production. Enjoy.

Jump over to my YouTube channel The Bacon Cam to see more videos on modern pork production.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post Christmas Cookies

I know Christmas is over but we made more cookies anyway, chocolate chip cookies if you couldn't tell. Besides, Santa ate all our Christmas cookies so we made post-Christmas cookies.

Of course the boy had to sneak a taste. He thought he was being sly but I caught him. 
Fresh from the oven.

Stacks of cookies cooling on the rack, the kids keep asking, "Are they ready yet? How 'bout now? Now?"

I couldn't help myself. I guess I'll tell the kids the cookies are ready...after I finish this one.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas this year and I hope Santa left you all a few cookies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Filling Bellies in Texas

Needy bellies in Texas will be filled this holiday season thanks to America's pork producers. Pork producers are Spreading the Holiday Cheer by donating 3,500 pounds of pork to the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB). "Why Texas?" you might ask. Well, Texas has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country. In fact, 17 percent of Texans do not have enough food to go around, that is a lot of people.

Image from North Texas Food Bank
It warms my heart to see our nation's pork producers helping others. U.S. pork producers do so much more than just grow food for profit, we give back to our communities and help those in need. Pork producers care and we live by ethical principals. It isn't just some initiative set by some board that makes us live ethically and treat our animals well, we really do care. We've been doing this for generations, the National Pork Board just put what we believe in in writing with the We Care Initiative program.

How do you give back to your community?

Monday, December 13, 2010

10 Recipes to Ham Up the Holidays

Many of you will be serving up a holiday ham this Christmas season but how many ways can you cook a ham? Let's find out...

Image from Taste of Home website
1. Traditional Holiday Ham-- Here is a traditional recipe from Taste of Home that is sure to bring back memories of Grandma's kitchen. It is meant for a crowd and uses an 8-10 pound bone-in ham with pineapples and cherries, it looks delicious!

2. Country Ham-- This is another Taste of Home recipe that is sure to please. This ham is meant for a smaller crowd and uses a 3 pound boneless ham. Yum!

3. Glazed Ham-- Check your local grocery store for presliced hams with glaze packets. I have used these and they always turn out fantastic but just in case, here is a list of glaze recipes that are sure to be yum yum yum.

4. Christmas Ham-- This is another traditional recipe but this one comes from Paula Deen, it also involves orange marmalade, which is my favorite marmalade.
Photo from Food Network

5. Deep Fried Ham-- Here's another one from Paula Deen. If you're not worried about your waistline or cholesterol count  then this recipe is for you (if it's made with love and for Christmas then the fat, calories, and cholesterol are canceled out--unless you are under doctor's orders, do what the doc says).

6. Grilled Ham Steak-- Just feeding one or two? Here is a great way to grill up a larruping good ham steak with an apricot glaze.

7. Holiday Ham Kabobs-- I don't know about your family Christmas but we never have kabobs and to me that is a real same, I just love those little sticks full of yummy goodness. So, why not shake things up and offer these with the meal or as an esthetically pleasing appetizer.

Image by Georgeanne Brennan
from Everyday with Rachel Ray Mag
8. Green Eggs and Ham (yes they're real)-- Does your family have a Christmas breakfast or brunch? This is a fun and whimsical way to spice up your menu and you know it will be easy to make because it comes from Rachel Ray.

9. Ham Salad-- Great with those big veggie crackers or petite sammies to snack on before the big holiday meal and if you run out of time your local deli will have some (it's okay to cheat a little).

10. Hammy Cheese Ball--  To die for! This is an office favorite at my work place. It is great with any cracker you put it with and to make it look fancy you can take some of that confetti ham with some chives and roll the whole cheese ball to coat the outside. It looks great and tastes even better.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More on Advocating Agriculture

Recently, an article in Pork Network's newsletter was brought to my attention regarding how important it is for farmers and ranchers to "open up" to the public. Too often we forget how fortunate we are to be part of this amazing process called farming. However, we must keep in mind that 98 percent of this nation are not connected to agriculture other than what they see, read, or hear in the media or on the Internet. In this day and age of animal rights activists attacking animal ag and consumers' increasing concerns for the environment we need to put ourselves out there in order to help educate the public. They will not understand what we do or how we do it if someone does not take the initiative to educate them.

On that note, here is an agvocating recap:

In a previous post, Agvocating is Essential  and in a Suite101 article, Agvocating: Harvesting Social Media I highlight some of the basic ways to advocate agriculture but I would like you to keep in mind, you do not have to be a full time farmer or farm hundreds of acres to agvocate. You could blog about your neighbors' farm (with their permission, of course). This is not only a great way to learn about farming for yourself but also to get to know your neighbors better. You could blog about your gardening and the local farmer's market. You could keep up on Ag news and post your own commentary about recent headlines. You could even blog about your own questions, concerns, and curiosities about agriculture and then follow up with what you have found out. The blogging possibilities are endless, just use your imagination and start typing.

Videos are an amazing way to agvocate. They can be serious and show specific aspects of farming or...

They can be a bit goofy (maybe even dorky) while still making a point.

Videos are a huge part of agvocating because YouTube gets so many hits and you don't need to be an award winning director to produce a great YouTube video. In fact, it has been my experience that people prefer the rough-around-the-edges approach. Think of how huge reality shows have become and it makes sense, people want real life. You don't have to be doing anything exiting either. Keep in mind the daily chores you find mundane are actually fascinating to the masses because it is all totally new to them. Just film your cows grazing, someone throwing feed to pigs, or milking a cow, just about anything will work. If you don't have a YouTube account they are really easy to start and your information is kept secure, only the info that you allow will be available to others. If you've never uploaded a video and don't know how I'll bet your kids, grand kids, or the neighbor's kid could help you out. You can also leave me a message in the comments and I can try to answer any questions you may have or at least direct you to someone who can answer your questions.

Take a look at the BaconCam Channel for some more video ideas. What do you do to agvocate? What videos would you like to see about farming? Do you have an Ag blog you would like to share? Leave the link in the comments.

Christmas Recipes for the Gift Giving Season

Every Christmas the American public flock to stores like hungry piggies to a slop trough ravenous for their fill of holiday shopping, credit card debt, and gifts, gifts, gifts. But does Christmas have to break the bank year after year? Instead of spending your hard earned money on gifts that may be destined to the pitiful label of "return item" why not give everyone on your list some grub. The gift of grub is a gift sure to please and it is easy on your wallet as well.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your Christmas list:

November 29, 2008
Flickr Photo by Joannie Grebe
Gifts in a Jar are a great and affordable way to give the gift of food to a loved one. These are especially handy if you have a big list and want to get everyone covered quickly and easily, you can buy your supplies in bulk and make several for everyone on your list. To spruce up these seemingly dull jars decorate them with a bit of fabric (9 inch circle) and tie the fabric on with ribbon, raffia, twine, or anything you may have handy at home. You can also purchase clearance kitchen items (like spoons, spatulas, muffin tins, mixing bowls, towels, etc.) and make a gift basket that looks great but cost you practically nothing.

cookies 2.jpg
Cookie photo by Jo Naylor

mints 5.jpg
Mints photo by Jo Naylor

Candies and Cookies in a tin are another happily received holiday gift. Who doesn't love sweets for Christmas and if you have a diabetic on your list it will give you a chance to experiment with some new recipes as well.

Here is a toffee recipe that I got from a co-worker, my family goes nuts over:

1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup stick butter
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bring first three ingredients to a rolling boil stirring constantly, reduce to medium heat but continue to bubble, stir constantly for 13 minutes. Spread sugar mixture (toffee) onto ungreased cookie sheet about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle chocolate chips over toffee, when the chips melt spread evenly over toffee.

Treats made of Meats is a great gift idea for the manly man on your list. Deer meat is in abundance this time of year and your local butcher/meat processing center will surely have plenty of deer sticks and sausages ready for Christmas. Accompany some jerky, meat sticks, and/or sausage logs with a knife, sharpening stone, cutting board, beer, or anything else you can think of that your manly man will want to have with a basket full of meat.

Gourmet Taste of Italy Basket
Flickr Image by SherryCreates
A tisket, a tasket, put it in a basket. Any food products that your eager recipients favor you can make into a great holiday gift. Have a wine lover, put an inexpensive bottle of wine in a picnic basket with some cheese and crackers. Newly weds and new parents love gift cards, cash, a babysitting voucher, and quick meals, like hamburger helper, muffin mix, and kitchen utensils. You could wrap it all up in a strainer or mixing bowl to keep with the food theme.

Read about more ideas and find more links in my Suite 101 article Affordable Edible Christmas Ideas.

What great homemade gifts do you give?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

There's A Pig in My Bacon

As a Missouri pork producer, family farmer, mother, wife, and concerned consumer I feel it is my duty to call to your attention the frightening and somewhat ridiculous fact that the American people do not realize bacon and ham come from pigs. Shocking as this may seem, it is the only explanation that I can come up as to why the purchase of pork steak, pork roast, pork loin, pork chops, pork etc. drastically declined during the 2009 so-called "swine flu" panic, while bacon and ham actually increased in sales. Alternatively, since those products didn't have the word "pork" in their name, consumers may have felt that that particular section of the hog was unaffected by the flu virus. Not that you can get the flu from eating meat, unless of course, someone sneezed on it but this could too be the explanation, however unlikely.

I also feel that as a writer and agvocate (ag + advocate for those of you who don't tweet) I have a moral obligation to shed some light on the subject of swine. It is my moral duty to tell the world--or at least the American public--that there is, in fact, a pig in your bacon. The people have a right to know and I will uphold that right. Not only am I proclaiming the truth of your bacon's origins, I am going to tell you how that pig got in your bacon in the first place. The people need to know and it is high time the truth was told straight from the hogs mouth.

Stay tuned for more on this developing story...