Vitamin D in Pastured Pork

If our pigs are constantly exposed to sunlight in every season from day 1 until the end of their life, think about how much Vitamin D they are absorbing through their skin! And all that Vitamin D is getting stored where? In their fat. So, when we eat pork from pastured pigs, especially their fat, we are consuming that ever-important fat soluble Vitamin D.

One Chicken = Five Meals

Even as a farmer with freezers full of our amazing pastured meats and access to the freshest vegetables from our veggie growing farmer friends, I STILL struggle with planning and preparing delicious meals for our family.Sometimes it's due to a lack of creativity. Other times a lack of planning. And most of the time a lack of energy ;)But when I do take the time to meal plan at the beginning of the week, I find myself asking "why don't I do this all the time??" We eat better and I spend way less time stressing and last minute cooking.I wanted to share a meal planning idea with you of how to take a whole chicken, cut it up at the beginning of the week, and have all the pieces you need to make FIVE wonderfully wholesome and delicious meals for the week.The ideas I'm sharing today would be for a larger chicken, 6+ pounds, and would ideally serve a family of 4. Depending on your family's size and ages, you can scale up or down. If you have a smaller family, you can do a smaller chicken. If a bigger family, you could do two large chickens and double everything.We shared a video on our YouTube page a while back of how to cut up a whole chicken. Though daunting to some, it is a worthy skill to learn and once you've done it a few times you'll realize how simple and worthwile it is.You can thaw a chicken by Sunday, cut it up, stick the pieces in the fridge for that week's meals, make your broth with the carcass, and set yourself up for success in the kitchen that week.Here's how I would typically divide a large chicken for multiple meals:2 lbs of boneless breast and tenders = 2 MEALS2 drumsticks, 2 wing flats, 2 drumettes = 1 MEAL2 large thighs = 1 MEAL1 carcass = 1 MEALWhen you make broth with the carcass, you can pick off the "leftover" meat and set it aside in the fridge to use for your meal later in the week. Then of course strain your broth and set that aside in the fridge for it's meal.1 Chicken = 5 Meals (All gluten free, by the way!)Meal #1: Chicken Burrito Skillet (1lb of boneless chicken)Meal #2: Mediterranean Chicken Bowls (1lb of boneless chicken)Meal #3: Caramelized Baked Chicken Legs/Wings (drumsticks and wings)Meal #4: Coconut Curry Chicken Thighs (2 thighs)Notes: This recipe technically calls for 6-8 thighs, however 2 thighs from a large chicken will suffice. This would go well served over rice or mashed white or sweet potatoes!Meal #5: Chicken Butternut Chili (carcass = broth and picked chicken)Notes: This recipe calls for 1 cup of cooked chicken breast, but I suggest using the picked chicken you get off of the carcass after making broth. You should have close to what this recipe calls for! **Freezes wellI'd love to hear about your ideas of how to stretch a whole chicken and some of your favorite chicken dishes!Happy planning and cooking,Rachel

Seeking Additional Pasture to Lease

We are thrilled to finally be working towards a dream we have had since our farming journey began in 2012: our very own herd of beef cattle! But...We need to find additional pasture land for lease to run our operation.

Introducing: The Farm Truck - Local Food. Conveniently.

You may have seen a recent Instagram post that we've been planning something big...And today we are sharing the big secret!We have been direct marketing our pasture raised meats for 9 years and have had many conversations with folks about their struggles with finding and buying local foods.In today's hustle and bustle of life, convenience tends to be king. And while we are always encouraging people to slow down a tad and prioritize time in the kitchen and sourcing the best foods, we also realize as farmers that we have to meet you in the middle somewhere. Farmers Markets are one great way to find locally produced foods, and we participated in several of them for an almost 8 year stretch. Many farms, like us, offer online ordering and pick-up in town. Some small farms even offer door-to-door delivery as well as on-farm storefronts.Over the Summer we were struck with an idea that really was formulated from the 9 years of direct marketing our products and constantly analyzing the local food market and our limited abilities as a small family farm.What if instead of having an on-farm store that required a 40+ minute one-way drive for each of our customers, we brought the farm store to them? A brick and mortar store in town is not in the cards for us at this time given the massive overhead costs and need to staff it daily. But what if we made a mobile farm store? That way, similar to food trucks, we would omit the overhead costs of a brick and mortar store and have the freedom of mobility and limited hours.To take it even further...what if we made this a drive-thru store? That way, during the hustle and bustle of people's weekly schedules, they could simply pull up to the farm store, buy what they need, and be on their way to soccer practice, church, back home from work, etc. AND....what if we provided more than just our pastured meats? Making a one-stop-shop for customers adds yet another level of convenience.What this provides is a convenient way for people to buy local foods straight from their farmers, and a simple and practical way for farmers to get their food into people's hands. So today we introduce: The Farm Truck - Local Food. Conveniently.A mobile, drive-up farm store offering pastured meats, eggs, and more. All grown and produced locally and ecologically.Where can you find The Farm Truck?We are in the final stages of building our unit, and are working on securing a location in Boonsboro and Forest. We hope to "open our doors" in October and plan to start with being open for a several hour window one afternoon in Boonsboro and one afternoon in Forest each week. We will also have the trailer open for shoppers at our farm on Saturday afternoons.Our regular delivery schedule for Roanoke will stay the same. And we hope as this grows that we can open a unit for our Roanoke customers as well!There's lots more excitement to come regarding The Farm Truck. We are extremely excited about this new venture. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook and also stay connected with our emails!We hope to see you soon!The Palma FamilyRestoration Acres Farm "Food that Restores" Follow The Farm Truck: Instagram | Facebook

How (and why) to Render Lard

Knowing how to render lard (or any animal fat) is a skill for which your health, palette, and pocketbook will thank you. In our home, almost every meal centers around animal fat. Vegetables, eggs, grains and meat all get cooked in lard or butter. More melted butter or lard then gets added to the finished product. Popcorn is popped in lard. Sourdough bread is always accompanied by a layer of butter almost as thick as the toast itself. To some, especially those raised in a society where animal fats were vilified and vegetable oils were set at the highest health-esteem, this sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. All that saturated fat and cholesterol? Yikes! However, we challenge you to start thinking differently about fats and the important role that saturated fats especially play in our overall health. We will include some further resources on the subject at the bottom of this post if you’d like to learn more.A few key notes on animal fatsLard is one of our richest dietary sources of vitamin DOne tablespoon of lard from pasture raised pigs contains 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D!Saturated fats like lard, butter and tallow help protect against cancer, depression, and many other illnessesOur cell membranes are 50% fat molecules. Saturated fat holds them together!  Today we’d like to teach you just how simple it is to render lard at home. Due to certain USDA food laws, it is illegal for us to take our pork fat back from our butcher and render it down into lard to sell to our customers. And our butcher is not currently offering lard rendering services. So alas, we must sell you the pork fat and simply teach you how to render lard yourself. But trust us, it couldn’t be simpler!We currently offer two different classes of pork fat (1) Back Fat and (2) Leaf Fat. Back fat comes from the outer layers of fat from the pig and has a mild pork flavor; it is mostly used for savory dishes. Leaf fat comes from around the kidney and other organs and has little to no pork flavor. It is mostly used for baking where a pork flavor is undesirable.How to Render Lard(5lbs of fat yields approximately 3 pints of rendered lard)Step 1 – Cut out any pieces of meat from the fat (set these aside to fry up later!) Then cut the fat into smaller pieces. If you have a meat grinder this is the fastest and most efficient way to go. I’m usually rendering 20-30lbs at a time so I go the grinder route. However if you don’t have a grinder or are just doing a small batch, simply cut the fat with a knife into small pieces. A good goal is 1/2 to 1 inch pieces. The smaller the pieces the more yield you will get.Step 2 – Place fat pieces into a pot and set on the stove at a low heat. Be very careful not to let the fat burn! If it burns it can ruin the whole batch by making it bitter. Low and slow is what you’re going for here. You really just want to melt it down into liquid form.Step 3 – Stir occasionally, making sure nothing is sticking to the pot. This process is going to take several hours, depending on how much you’re rendering. Don’t rush it by turning the heat up – the risk of burning it is not worth it! You can strain the lard using a fine mesh strainer as you go if you’d like, or wait until the end strain it all at once. Straining as you go helps the process go quicker, and in the case that you do accidentally burn it, the lard you strained before burning will at least be saved.Step 4 – When the small pieces of fat begin to turn golden brown, you are approaching the end of rendering. Strain the last bit of liquid and save the remaining bits of fat pieces in a separate container. These fat bits can be fried up later with some salt and are delicious! Strained lard can be stored in sealed containers in the fridge for several months or in the freezer indefinitely.Visit our online store to order pork fat!Further resources on the benefits of animal fats: