Friday, June 8, 2012

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote.  After all, you keep reminding me when I see you at the markets, that I haven’t been writing.  To tell the truth, I’ve started to write a newsletter several times, but after a sentence or two I realize that I have nothing much to say other than to go on about something that you probably don’t want to hear about.  Some of you may remember the last time I went off on a rant a year or two ago.  Heard about that one for close to a year afterwards. So, figured I’d wait until I had something nice to say…rather than complaining about all the endless rain we’ve been getting.  Don’t get me started.  I swear that Bungie, all 500 lbs. of her, floated across the mud the other day to get to her food.  Pretty sure she ripped the door off her house in disgust too.  It was hanging by one hinge yesterday.

See how easy it is to get me going?  Anyway, a few weeks ago we released a new culinary blend. Yes, I didn’t tell you about it in a newsletter.  Thought I’d let everyone know via Facebook and Twitter.  Didn’t work out so well as evidently most of you don’t follow or subscribe to either one.  However, I have been making more of an effort to post things of interest on both those social media sites and will continue to do so.  Generally it’s much easier to write a few sentences or paragraphs plus it gives you an opportunity to respond to what I’ve written…in a venue where everyone can critique your spelin’ and gramma’.  If you would like to follow us on either site, the links are avail on our website or somewhere on this blog.  Enough shameless advertising.

About this blend.  Back on May 18th, I posted that we had:

Fair Winds Fish Seasoning ~ No, it's not named after Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham. For you non-nautically inclined individuals, mariners used to wish each other Fair Winds and Following Seas when they parted ways.

Our Blend is crafted from Dill Weed, Lemon Peel, Basil, Garlic, Oregano, Celery Seed, Onion, and Black Pepper. An herbal blend with a touch of citrus, Fair Winds will go well with most any fish or seafood. It is also a great seasoning for potatoes, pasta, and poultry, or try blending with sour cream or yogurt for a light dip.

Many new things available on our website as well.  Just because I don’t share what’s happening Doesn’t mean we aren’t keeping busy.  All of our Medicinal Herbs are now available for order online by the ounce.  Everything from Agrimony to Wormwood.  You’ll also find a few burnable resins listed as well such as Frankincense and Dragons Blood.  I think we’re over 250 products now.  Hard to keep track.

And lastly, but possibly more important to many of you, we finally achieved our Organic Certification through MOFGA on May 17th.  A long and time consuming process, but we believe it will be worth it in the end.  What does this mean to you?  Well, while the majority of the products that we sell have always been organic, now there is documentation and third party oversight to back up our assertion.  This will also mean a label change in the near future.  We think you’ll like the new design and it will hopefully also save us some much needed time.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A new Salt & Braised Pork in Caramel Sauce

Just a quick note to end the week on.  While the weather has been nothing like the heat wave we had last week, it is considerably more normal for March.  The pigs are much happier.  Last week you couldn’t get them out of the mud in the woods and this week they are back to living in their huts.  Who knows what next week will bring.

But this week we bring you:

Wild Porcini Salt - We've blended Atlantic Sea Salt with pure Porcini mushroom powder. Having a complex, almost earthy aroma with hints of nuts and sourdough, this yields a savory and aromatic blend that is perfect for seasoning meats, seafood, risotto, sauces, and soups.  We’d like to hear what you come up with for using this.

And, I hinted a couple weeks back about a Vietnamese Caramel Pork dish.  Well, here’s the recipe:

Vietnamese Braised Pork in Caramel Sauce
Serves 4

2 lbs. Pork Belly cut in 1 cubes, or Pork Jowl
3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
3 Star Anise
1 Tsp. Saigon Cinnamon
2 Tsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
1” knob Ginger, peeled and minced
4 Tbsp. Peanut oil
1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt
2 Tbsp. Fish sauce
1.5 cup water
Bunch of cilantro, chopped

For the Vietnamese caramel sauce
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons water

In a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, combine the star anise, cinnamon and black peppercorns. Crush and or/grind the spices.  In a small heavy bottom pan, combine the sugar and water. Over medium heat, allow the sugar to melt. Stir occasionally to help sugar and water to combine evenly. Once the sugar melts completely, the mixture will slowly start to turn a golden brown color. Continue swirling the pan until the caramel becomes a light brown color. Immediately remove from heat and put aside.

Heat another, large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. (A Dutch oven works well)  After the pan warms, add the oil, minced ginger and garlic. Stir until garlic becomes light brown and fragrant.  Add the ground spice mixture and sauté for a minute.  Add the pork and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the fish sauce and salt.  Stir to incorporate.

Slowly add the Caramel.  You may have to heat the pan containing the caramel in order to loosen it from the pan.   Allow the pork to cook in the caramel for about five more minutes. Then add the water and reduce the heat to low.  Continue braising the pork for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender.  

Serve with rice or noodles and garnish with the chopped cilantro prior to serving.

Next week we'll be at the Bangor Garden Show from Friday through Sunday April 6th through 8th.  Come on up and visit.

Friday, March 9, 2012

An offer of Pork....& Sausage Gravy

Here we are at the tail end of the second week of March and while it is a bit windy, we can’t complain about the temperature.  Not after yesterday.  It was 57 in the shade up here on the ridge and the ducks made a pond in the front yard from melting snow.  Pigs slept most of the day just soaking up rays and the dog took off for most of the morning.  Me, I got to live in the kitchen filling orders and making blends.  Except for first thing when Patches and her brother decided to leave their pen and go knock a feed barrel over.  If there is a way out of their pen, these two will find it.  Fortunately it was an easy fix and back in they went.

Tank in front, Spaz in back, & Brownie on right.
If you’re a Vegetarian, ardent PETA supporter, or rather not know where you’re food comes from and aren’t interested in Pork, I would skip the next page or so.  We have an offer for our Pork Loving Followers…

We will have several pigs going to butcher on the 19th and are going to offer you the opportunity to purchase organically raised heritage pork at a discount.  These pigs are purebred Red Wattles and 1 Large Black and have been fed an organic diet as well as vegetable and fruit scraps from Morning Glory and the Bath Natural Market.  Not to mention the daily massages they all receive.  You have the option of purchasing:

25 lb. package for $8.00/lb.  - $50.00 Deposit
50 lb. package for $7.50/lb.  - $100.00 Deposit
100 lb. package for $7.00/lb. - $175.00 Deposit

You may determine what you would like your package to consist of from among the following choices:

Bacon – Limit of 5 lbs. in a 25 lb. package, 8 lbs. in a 50 lb. package, and 15 lbs. in a 100 lb. package.  There’s only so much on a pig.

Sausage – Choose from Garlic, Breakfast, Chorizo, or Hot Italian – 1 lb. packages  We may be able to accommodate both loose or linked sausage.

Ham Steaks – Same Limits as Bacon

Bone-In Chops – Thick cut (1- 1/2 “, usually 2 to a package)

Bone-In-Roasts – 2.5 – 4 lbs.

Country Ribs – Thick Cut, Bone-in 1 1/2+” thick, 2 to a package.  These melt in your mouth.

Ham Steaks  - Average 1/2 – 3/4” thick

Fresh or Smoked Ham – These average between 10 and 14 lbs.  If you want one of these we have to know as soon as possible as they take a while to smoke.

Rack Ribs – There are only 2 per pig.  Therefore, if you want them be among the first to place your order.  Grilling season is almost here and for some of us it never ended.

Ground Pork  - 1 lb. packages.  Just what is needed for Pork Dumplings, or Stuffed Squid, or Pork Pie, or…

Boston Butt or Shoulder – Can you say pulled pork?  Should you desire either of these cuts, be aware that they can weigh between 8 – 12 lbs.  Once again, we need to know soonest on these cuts as this is also the part of the animal from which sausage and ground pork is made. 

Hocks – Smoked or fresh. This is the lower part of the leg but above the trotters. Excellent for making split pea soup or Hoppin’ John.
Trotters – otherwise known as feet.  I suppose you could pickle them, but those in the know make the best pork stock from them.

Jowls - These are the cheeks.   Highly prized for making Guanciale, an Italian fresh bacon.  They also make an excellent addition to country pate or Vietnamese Pork in Caramel Sauce. (I’ll share the recipe…maybe.)
Pork Belly – This is where bacon comes from.  It’s also what the best Chinese and Korean Barbecue is made from.   If you want a slab of this let us know.   We’re currently curing some as Green Bacon; no smoke, but cured with juniper, salt, cloves, black pepper, and bay leaves.  Eaten and used like Pancetta.  No you can’t have any.

Liver, Heart, Kidney, Ears, Tails, Leaf Lard, Fatback – Yes, everything but the squeal is edible.  We made about 8 lbs. of Pate this past weekend and without liver and fat that’s about impossible.  Unless you’re a vegetarian in which case you should have stopped reading long ago.  And no, I’m probably not going to share any of that either.  Until you’ve had a properly cooked pig’s tail, you haven’t really eaten.  If you don’t want to cook it yourself, Pai Men Miyake in Portland had it on their Appetizer Menu; excellent.

Head – Yes, you can order a head.  It will be minus the jowls but is exactly what you need if you are going to make Headcheese.  If you want the jowls left on so that you can roast the entire head that can be accommodated.  Yes, I will provide a recipe for headcheese.  If asked nicely.

1/2 or Whole Pig – Yes, this is an option.  We need to know soonest.  You need a big fridge/freezer.

Please. If this interests you let us know as soon as possible.  Deadline for placing your order is March 17th.  That would be a week from tomorrow, and for those of you fixated on green beer and corned beef, St. Patty’s Day.  A 25% deposit will hold your order with the balance due upon pick-up.  Approximate pick-up day for all Pork orders will be April 5th.  We’ll update you as we know more.

So.  Now that that’s out of the way, I actually have a recipe for you this week.  And who would have thought…its pork centric.

Sausage Gravy
Serves 4 (unless you don’t like to share)

1lb. Pork Breakfast Sausage (Not Turkey & Definitely not Tofurkey) If you're not going to use ours just stop reading and go find someone to kick you in the shins. Repeatedly
1/2 Small Onion, minced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
3-4 Tbsp. Flour
1/4 Tsp. Chipotle Chile Flakes (more if you like it hot)
1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
1/2 Tsp. Sage Leaf (not ground)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Sea Salt

Heat a heavy pan over medium heat and add the pork sausage to the pan.  Break it up with a spoon and cook until it begins to brown.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion becomes translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the chipotle flakes and sage leaf.  Sprinkle flour over the top of the pork mixture and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Carefully pour in milk and stir to incorporate.  Using your spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to free up any browned bits.  The mixture will begin to rapidly thicken.  Lower the temperature and keep an eye on it.  You turn your back for too long and it will thicken into a congealed mass.  Fortunately, you can add more milk at any stage to thin it to the consistency you prefer.  Check the seasoning and correct with salt and pepper before serving.

I’m pretty sure that all the ingredients can still be picked up at the Brunswick Winter Market.  As far as biscuits go, you’re on your own.  I can’t make a biscuit to save my life.  But I can buy an excellent loaf of bread from Barak at Zu Bakery, slice it thick and toast it, put an over-easy duck egg on top and drown it in Sausage Gravy.  That and some coffee from Erika at Moses Dyer was a great way to start last Sunday.  Maybe this Sunday too.  No, I’m not sharing that either.  Stop asking.

Friday, January 27, 2012

-13 Below...and Piglets

So here we are two weeks later and I figured it’s about time that we posted some pictures of the farrowing that happened on the 14th, the coldest night of the season so far. The day after the last post.  Bungie had a long and difficult time that started somewhere around the time the Pat’s scored their 1st touchdown against the Broncos on Saturday night and didn’t end until the next morning around 09:00. Charlie from Tandem Glass assisted until about 1:30 in the morning and then Christine took over at 5:30 a.m.  It was -13 when I went inside. She gave birth to 6 piglets and at this point we have four survivors. The two smallest ones succumbed to the weather and circumstance but not before Christine brought them into the house and tried to nurse them back to health.

January 15th

January 27th

I realize the second picture is a bit blurry but you have to understand the context in which it was taken.  This is after the house they were living in caught fire.  Christine went out to check on them this morning and smoke was billowing out of the house.  Evidently Bungie knocked one of the heat lamps down that we had rigged to keep the kids warm and it caught the hay on fire.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, the fire was put out and fresh bedding supplied to all.  Of course the entire area smells like a burn pile now but at least that’s it.  So we have 4 Red Wattle/Tamworth piglets out of this litter, 3 boys and a girl.  The girl is the only one with a name at this point, Spaz, as when she was born she wouldn’t stop running around the hut and even went up to her Mom’s nose the next morning and told her what she thought of the whole experience.

Okay, so this week we are bringing you a new Chile Powder for your culinary explorations. We’ve carried the whole chile for a while but now we have:
De Arbol Chile Powder ~ A favorite in Mexican cuisine, de Arbol, meaning "treelike", have a bold heat and a nutty, grass-like flavor with hints of smoke.  Use them in sauces, soups, stews, rubs, stir fry’s, chili, and flavored vinegars and oils.
Approximately  25,000 ~ 35,000 Scoville Units.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve also expanded to a few new stores.  You can now find us at all three Rosemont Markets in Yarmouth and Portland, as well as Whole Foods in Portland, and Eventide in Boothbay Harbor.  At the present time Whole Foods is only carrying the Whole Dried Chiles but that can change if you request them to carry particular items.

Enough of that.  I'll try and have a new recipe for you with the next post and hope to be able to tell you that the Jamaican Curry Powder is now available...

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Year and Still No Piglets

We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that you are working on those New Year’s Resolutions. It was an exhausting December for us and we are glad to be taking some down-time these next two weeks to regroup.  Yes, you heard right, we are taking time off.  We will not be at the Brunswick Winter Market this Saturday Jan. 14th. 

We hope you all understand and we thank you for making us work so hard throughout 2011. Without all of you we would be a lot less tired but nowhere near as grateful for having such great customers and clients.

We wish we could report that we are sitting on some sunny beach in the Grand Caymans, soaking up the rays and drinking some outstanding beverage with Anthony and crew. But we can’t.  We are here in wonderful Maine watching it snow and hoping that Bungie our Tamworth sow will hold off having her babies for a bit longer.  Thought for sure she was going to have them last weekend.  I think I can speak for all of us up on the ridge; sitting in a farrowing hut on a snowy day is not at the top of the list of things to do.  

If any of you missed the wonderful article Meredith Goad wrote for the Portland Press Herald here is the link:  We were shocked when we reviewed the article in print, all we could say was, WOW!  Anyone in the food business knows, food critics can make you or break you and this was excellent for us.  I would also like to point out the great article John Golden did on Winter Markets for . It’s wonderful to see how the local movement has grown and how Maine is a leader for other states to follow. 

Any new stores for 2012?   Yes, we would like to welcome, Rosemont Market on Brighton Ave., in Portland to the Gryffon Ridge family; you will find over 21 of our items lining their shelves.  We would also like to welcome Eventide, a new store at 5 Boothbay Hill Road, Boothbay Harbor.  They will be opening their door this next week; if you’re in the area stop by and say hello to Kim and crew.  

As for a great recipe for all of you to try, this holiday season we gave new life to a dish my grandfather Bolton introduced me to.  We hope you enjoy!

Tourtiere (Pork Pie)
  • 2 tablespoon light olive
  • 1 pound ground Gryffon Ridge Pork
  • 1 pound ground Eastern River Veal
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/3 cup beef stock
  • 4 teaspoons Cognac
  • 2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
Two-Crust Pie:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  •  2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons lard
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water added 1 tablespoon at a time
Toss with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Preheat an oven to 400F. Roll the pastry dough into 2 equal-sized circles to fit a 9-inch pie pan. Line the bottom of the pie pan with 1 circle and set aside the prepared pie pan and remaining pastry for later.

Using a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté the pork, beef, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery until the vegetables are tender and the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess fat from the pan. Add the beef stock, Cognac, herbs, and spices to the meat and vegetables; simmer the mixture over low-medium heat, covered, for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir the dry breadcrumbs into the mixture. Allow the meat filling to sit for 3 minutes. Spoon the filling into the prepared pie pan and top with the remaining pastry dough. Crimp the dough shut, flute the edges, cut vents in the top, and bake the pie for 12 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350F and continue baking the pie for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. 

We hope everyone has a wonderful week and we will see you at market January 21, 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

We're Back with Baharat & Heritage Pork

First off, I suck.  I know this because it has been almost 3 months since I last posted anything.  Since then we've been busy as hell and there doesn't appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel.  Okay I'm done both whining and apologizing.
These are the gilts that were born back in August.
 Today we’re going to talk about Baharat.  Pronounced Ba-har-ot, it is derived from the word Bharat which is the Hindi word for India.  For most people, when they think about spices, India comes to mind.  Rightly so, for many of the spices in use for the last 2,000 plus years originated in India and made their way via the Silk Road to China and the Middle East. 
Baharat has come to mean “spices”, and particularly, whatever spices are available at hand or in the region.  So, depending on where your Baharat was crafted would actually determine its composition.  For example; in Tunisia Baharat is basically black pepper and rosebuds with maybe a little cinnamon, while in Syria it might resemble our Pumpkin Pie Spice and be a mixture of allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. 
Our version comes from the region of the Persian Gulf and is a blend of Kashmiri Chile Powder, Cassia Cinnamon, Loomi (Black Limes), Black Peppercorns, Coriander Seed, Cumin Seed, Green Cardamom, Nutmeg, and Cloves.  Use it as a dry rub with lamb, beef, poultry, or fish.  Try adding it to stews, lentils, pilafs or season vegetables prior to sautéing.  Or blend with olive oil and lime or lemon juice and use as a marinade. 
On to the world of Pigs and Pork.  It looks like we will once again become semi-proud (parents?) of a litter of piglets in the next couple of weeks.  I think Bungie, (the pregnant sow) has a thing for holidays.  Her last litter was born on Easter Sunday.  This one is lining up for Christmas.  Not exactly what we had planned but then again the entire process wasn’t exactly up to us.  We had planned on early October not late December.  She evidently had different ideas.  Pictures and updates to come.
Off for a ride to Guilford, ME.
The Pork is in.  Last week we picked up a little over 1,000 lbs. of organically fed and forest raised heritage pork that we had processed by Herring Brothers up in Guilford. We have the following cuts available:
Gryffon Ridge Farm - Heritage Pork Price List

Red Wattle/Tamworth Cross
All Prices are per pound unless otherwise indicated.
Sausage – Garlic, Chorizo, Hot Italian, Breakfast
Ham Steak
Rack Ribs
Country Ribs
Bone-in Chops
Bone-in Roast
Fresh Ham
Pork Belly
Jowls (Guanciale)
Smoked Hocks
Fresh Hocks
Ground Pork
Heart, Liver, Kidney
Rendered Lard (Quart)

As always, our bacon, sausage and ham is processed without the use of added Nitrates.  While we will try to have all of the above items available at each market, if there are specific items that you would like, please either email or call us before Thursday, 5:00 p.m. preceding the market if at all possible.  Especially if you would like Rack Ribs or a Fresh Ham.  This time around the chops are an inch thick rather than the thin ones we had last time, the country ribs are very nice size, and all of the sausage is loose rather than being cased.  The bone-in roasts vary from 2 – 4 lbs. with most being in the 2 – 3 lb. range.  The fresh hams start around 8 lbs. and go up from there.