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A photo is worth a thousand words…

Posted by on 9:00 am in Change, Rebranding | 0 comments

They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but is this true when it comes to food photography?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love an amazing photo, but it doesn’t come close to that first bite of a delicious steak.  You cut into it and it’s the perfect shade of pink for you, you put it in your mouth and your taste buds explode at the melt-in-your-mouth savory flavor.

Filet Mignon

Unfortunately we haven’t figured out the technology to give you a sample via our online store, so for now, a photo will have to do!  As a part of our upcoming changes, we’ve been taking all new photos of each cut of meat we offer, both before shots of the raw meat and after shots of the cooked product.

Sirloin Tip Steak

This is all part of our rebranding project.  If you missed some of the previous posts you can read more here or here!  It’s crazy how fast all this is moving.  The big reveal of our changes will be November 1st!!  That’s only 22 days from now…are you ready to see what we’ve come up with?  Are you ready to help us?  Stay tuned because we’ll be asking you for help in the next week or so.  For those of you willing, we’re going to share some possibilities of our new logo!  Our current logo has served us well, but it’s time to move on—-> out with the old and in with the new as they say!  (Who is the “they” we always refer to?!)

Well friends, that’s all I have for today.  Don’t forget to check out our Instagram posts for a taste of the new!  You can also follow us on Facebook, if you prefer.

Flat Iron

Thanks for being you!

Change is as good as a Holiday!!!

Posted by on 2:11 pm in Change, Life, Rebranding | 0 comments

The saying goes “change is as good as a holiday”…so we’re getting ready for a major celebration!  That’s right after 11 years of doing business we are pumped up and super excited about these upcoming changes.  But fear not, one thing that won’t change is the quality of our products.  We will still raise and sell amazing grass fed beef, pastured poultry and coming soon, pastured pork!!

Creek in Hornitos

 

Since we are a company because of you, our customers, we think you should have a say in some of these upcoming changes!  We really want this to be a “grass roots movement” (pun intended)!  The best way to do that would be over drinks or coffee, but since that isn’t really possible, we want to include you in the process other ways!  Some of you have already participated by filling out our customer satisfaction survey.  For those of you that missed it or didn’t get a chance to fill it out, click here!  It’s live September 30th.

 

So, to put your two-cents in, see some of the proposed changes, new photography and rebranding we’re in the middle of, stay tuned through Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest and our website!  We can’t wait to share everything with you!!

 

Thanks for being you 🙂

Wildflowers

Mica

Change is in the air…and in our company!

Posted by on 5:55 pm in Change, Rebranding, Recipes | 0 comments

It’s that time of the year ya’ll!!  Fall is coming and I couldn’t be more ready for it.  Here in the Central Valley of California, we have had one long, hot summer.  So right around now, we’re excited to see the wind coming up, the temperatures cooling down a bit, and a hint of the new season that’s around the corner.

 

Preparation for Beef Stew

Along with a change of season, our company also has some BIG changes coming up.  We’re in the process of rebranding, it’s time to change things up!  Stick with us along this journey so you’ll know what is in store.  In the meantime don’t forget that our entire online store is on sale (for a limited time).  You can also assist us by taking this short survey.

Thanks for being you!

 

Life on & off the ranch: Back-to-School Edition

Posted by on 2:46 pm in Family, Ranch, Recipes | 0 comments

One of the best parts about our charter school is that it allows us to home school our kids on Fridays.  This provides opportunites for the kids to do things out of the ordinary on a school day, such as helping Dad out on the ranch.  So when he is able, the Head Cowboy will do ranch activities on Fridays so the kids can help out.

7th Grade and 4th Grade

Last week everyone went over to the Pajaro Ranch (Hollister, CA) to help out with several activities.  One of our activities was moving cattle from one pasture to the next.  Henry (12-years old) prefers the 4-wheeler to a horse,  (he’s a 21st century cowboy you know!)  He is not an expert on the quad, but we’re Cal Poly SLO grads (go Mustangs!) and we believe the best way is to “Learn by Doing!!” Especially for a kid like Henry, we can tell him things 20 times and then he’ll go and do it exactly the opposite, so go on Henry, grab that 4-wheeler by the horns, er handles, and get after it!!!

Riding the 4-wheeler

So why do we wake up at 5:00am on our “day off” to go move cattle?  Well, we’ve been employing a method of grazing known as rotational grazing.   Rotational grazing is good for the cattle and good for the pasture, but it is labor intensive, so hello 5am!!  Rotational grazing places the entire herd on a smaller area of the pasture for a certain amount of time.  They are then moved to the next portion of pasture, and so on and so on.  This allows the cattle to have a more balanced diet of the various grasses in the pasture, because much like us (or our children), if we were at an “all you can eat” buffet, we tend to move towards the “best stuff” which is not always the “best stuff” for our bodies.  Rotational grazing allows the cattle to eat all the grasses that are good for their bodies and it also prevents over grazing of “favorite” grasses to the cattle.  If this topic really interests you, watch this interesting Ted Talk Allan Savory

Purple Needle Grass: California’s State Grass

Hollistic resource management is not just a theory, we have actually witnessed it working on our ranches that we manage.  Just the other day Seth found some perrenial grasses at the ranch; we’ve never seen these grasses at this ranch and we’ve been on it for 10-years!  Needless to say, Seth was super excited.

Breakfast burritos are a perfect way to start a day at the ranch, especially when you use superb ingredients like eggs from Burroughs Family Farms and bacon from Heritage Family Farms.  Here’s a surprising and little known fact, the Head Cowboy hates eggs!!  It’s very un-cowboy like and makes breakfast a little challenging, but thankfully Henry loves them, so I get to share my love of eggs and making them with him.

As you can imagine, after our day at the ranch we come home tired, dirty and hungry!  The last thing I feel like doing is cooking dinner so I’m always sure to put something in the crockpot before we go.  Then we come home to a good smelling house, I don’t have to turn on the oven and I don’t have to rack my brain for a dinner idea.  Here’s one of my favorite recipes using our grass fed beef brisket.

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 beef brisket
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, quartered (optional)
  • 4 carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • Enough water to cover

Find the full recipe on Neighbor Food or link to it and many other recipes at our Pinterest account !

Well friends, that’s all I have for you today, I hope you enjoy your week.  Happy Monday!!

In His peace and joy,

Mica

Happy 4th of July!

Posted by on 9:05 am in Life, Recipes | 2 comments

Happy 4th of July!

Guys, can you believe that it is almost the 4th of July?  I don’t know about you, but summer is flying by here at the Nitschke homestead!!! I love summer, it’s great to get to spend more time with the kids; supposedly life slows down a little bit (but I’m still waiting on that part!); we get to go on camping trips and day trips, all in all it’s memory making time.  

And what better day to make memories than the 4th of July?  I have many fond memories of the 4th; my grandparents lived in Morro Bay, CA and we usually spent the holiday with them.  We’d head to the beach and watch fireworks under a blanket shooting out over the ocean.  Sometimes we’d spend the holiday in our own town, Riverside, CA, and the joke was always to watch the fire fighters put out the fire on Mt. Rubidoux after the fireworks were done!  I’m sure you all have many fond memories, we’d love to hear them in our comments section.  It’s just such a kick to interact with our customers and readers!

Fourth of July, and summer in general, is such a great time for our grass fed beef.  It’s time to heat up that grill and throw on hamburgers, steaks, or chicken!  The great thing about grass fed beef is it has such good flavor all on it’s own, it’s simple to prepare.

Here’s how we prepare our burgers:

2-pound Open Space Meats grass fed ground beef

Parsley (1 1/2 teaspoons)

Salt (1-2 teaspoons)

Pepper (1/2 – 1 teaspoons)

Garlic Powder (1 1/2 teaspoons)

Worschestire sauce (about 3 shakes of the bottle)

This recipe is completely to taste, I put the meat in a big bowl, then add the seasonings and mix it all together with my hands and form patties.

For our family, I make 8 – 1/4 pound patties.  We grill them up to the desired pinkness, add cheese and then enjoy!

(I approximated measurements for those of you who prefer that!)

Well all!  Enjoy your summer, have a wonderful Fourth of July (try not to catch anything on fire!), and I’ll touch base with everyone when we get back from our camping trip!!!

 

Peace & Joy – Mica

Election Day 2016

Posted by on 11:00 am in Change, Life | 0 comments

Election Day 2016
Find your joy...

Find your joy…

So, what do the head cowboy and his wife think about the all this political bru-ha-ha going on?  Well, first and foremost, hallelujah – election season is almost over! At least there is an end in sight to all the hate, evil thoughts, tweets, ads etc that have inundated all of us for too long.  Now, I know that once someone is elected today there won’t be an immediate end to said chaos – unfortunately I don’t know that there’s enough dignity on either side to concede graciously.  But I pray that by some miracle there is both a gracious winner and loser.

As I prepped for my Junior High Bible study this week, a passage from Exodus really stood out to me.“And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men (and women) – men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible – and appoint them as leaders.”  Exodus 18:2.  (Parentheses added by me).  Whether or not you characterize yourself as a Christian – can you imagine if we as Americans, as people, still held these values as priorities and requirements in our leaders?  If we required our leaders, officials and ourselves to be held to these higher standards?

Stereo-typically speaking, the fact that you are a conscientious consumer of food products tends to place you in a category different from the majority.  What if we could take some of our effort and concern for the food movement and transfer some of it to the political and social movement?  Perhaps many of you already are, and for that we applaud you!  I’m challenging all of us, myself and the head cowboy included, to go make a small difference in this next presidential season.  I’m not asking you to change the whole world, but if you want to rock that – YOU GO!!  Realistically, let’s start small, let’s think about what comes out of our mouths at home, at work, at school, at church…make it positive.  Take it to social media: check your posts, your responses – are they helpful, kind, fruitful…unfriend those people who fill your feed with hate or send your blood pressure through the roof.  Take 10-15 minutes each day to meditate, pray, journal; just to be still and contemplate what brings you joy.

Because here’s the long and the short of what I believe.  No matter who wins the election today, no matter what party is in control, they can’t take away any of these things from you or me!  We still are so fortunate and blessed to call ourselves Americans – we have more freedom than so many others can even imagine.  We have the ability and duty to take responsibility for our own joy, our own values and what we instill in ourselves and those closest to us!  No political candidate or party can take that away from us.

Here’s to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Joy (Because that’s so much better than Happiness)!!

God Bless America and Everyone in it,

m

Image result for american flag images

 

 

I Lead a Double Life…

Posted by on 3:00 am in Family, Life, Ranch | 0 comments

I Lead a Double Life…

Did this title catch your eye, does it sound interesting and maybe scandalous?!  If so, read on.  While I don’t actually lead a double life in the scintillating way you might have imagined when reading my title, I do in fact feel like I lead a double life.

As you may know, my husband, lovingly referred to as the “Head Cowboy” in most posts, and myself run a grass fed beef business.  Part of my role in the company is managing our blog and social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest; Facebook is mostly all the Head Cowboy.

Cattle on pasture at Gilroy

But I’m going to be honest here…CONFESSION TIME…I have a really hard time doing this.  I will always present an honest picture of our life & I want to be interesting and real at the same time, but I feel that these things don’t always converge.  See, we do raise 100% grass fed beef. Our cattle are happy and on beautiful green grass their entire life; they spend the spring and summer in Gilroy, CA and they spend fall and winter in Catheys Valley and Hornitos, CA. But we don’t live with our cattle.  As lovely as that would be, it’s almost impossible.  We lease all of our pasture, but it doesn’t come with living quarters, unless we were ready to pop a tent and really “live off the land”!  So instead, we live in Turlock, CA, a town of about 75,000 people; we technically live in the “country” but we are between two large dairies (and let’s just say “factory farming” isn’t too far off), we have truck traffic day and night, buzzers moving the cows forward most of the time, and it’s less than the idyllic picture of country life most people have in mind!  And trust me; you don’t want pictures and blogs about this!  😉  So here’s where I get stuck.  What do I blog about to you, what do I post about to you?

Gilroy Photo Shoot

Gilroy Photo Shoot

If I had to guess, I’d say you want to see our cows, their pasture, country life; but truth be told, I rarely get out to our ranches.  The Head Cowboy does, for sure, but even he gets mired down with the challenges of running our own business.  We have two amazing employees, thank God for that!  Jaime is our delivery driver and some of you may have met him as he delivered meat to you; Andy is our cowboy and he does the day-to-day ranch work.

So if I’m not at the ranch, what do I do?  My typical day is probably pretty similar to yours!  We have three kids, Henry, 11 and in 6th grade, Elle, 8 and in 3rd grade, and Charlotte, 2, and at home full time with me.  Our kids participate in a unique school program where they are in class 3.5 days and at home 1.5 days.  It’s great; we get more time together this way and are able to take advantage of Fridays at home.  Both of the older kids are active in 4-H, sports and church activities.  We were always a one-activity per kid family, but somehow, the older they get, the harder this is to stick with!  I myself take advantage of not “working” full-time and do a lot of volunteer work.  I am on the PTA at the kids’ school in the capacity of Treasurer, I teach a Junior High Bible study through Community Bible Study (CBS, a great group for anyone looking for a good Bible study), and I teach one yoga class a week.  My husband and I are both active in the local CrossFit community and we’re both leaders for the local 4-H group.  Phew…just typing all that gives me a clue why it’s hard to find time to get a family dinner with the 5 of us!

Anyhooo…I type all of this to let you know that I love you, our customers, our readers, those who follow us on social media and I apologize if it feels that I don’t take enough time to acknowledge this and get more posts and blogs out there for you to enjoy.  It’s not that I don’t want to…it’s just that my boring, busy day-to-day life might not be what you’d expect from the wife of a rancher, who doesn’t live on the ranch and it doesn’t always provide material for posts or blogs!  …this is my Double Life!

Andy - working at Gilry

Andy – working at Gilry

Jaime - always ready with a smile!

Jaime – always ready with a smile!

In His Peace & Joy,

m

Back to School: I’m Not Ready!

Posted by on 4:04 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

 

I know I am totally old school, but I still haven’t wrapped my head around the kids returning to school before Labor Day!!  (And this marks our 7th year of kids in school, so apparently I don’t accept change very quickly!!)  That being said, I hope the rest of you have accepted that school starts in August and are enjoying the new school year.

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For me, when the kids head off to school, I plan, plan, plan, because every year, I have it in my head that I am going to have SO MUCH TIME to accomplish so many tasks that stacked up over the summer.  This year that feeling didn’t even last through the first week of school.  Part of my problem is that I’m not  super at time management, the other part is that I don’t like waking up early and really should get up about an hour earlier to accomplish more before the kids get up!

One area I have made vast improvements in, not to toot              my own horn or anything, is menu planning.  I tried some of the apps that are out there, but they all wanted money to use the “cool” features and that wasn’t part of our budget!  So I went to Target, purchased a whiteboard with spaces for 7 days and every Sunday, I sit down and write out a menu for the week.  This saves so much headache at 5pm on any given weeknight, or 7pm if it’s a night with activities!  I don’t always stick to the menu, sometimes I move things around; sometimes we have extra leftovers, so we eat those instead.  My favorite thing about writing out a menu is what our son has deemed “restaurant night”.  Nope, we don’t eat out once a week; “restaurant night” is a fancy and fun way to have leftover night.  Everyone gets to choose their own meal, just like at a restaurant, someone is the waiter, usually our 8-year old daughter, “because it’s fun”, then at the end we all bus our own dishes and call it a night.

Our last blog talked about how to stretch a chicken into several meals.  This past week I used a Brisket and stretched it into 3 meals.  The first was a crockpot meal, one of my favorite things when I know I won’t be home for the whole day.  We turned those leftovers into BBQ sandwiches and will be incorporating the rest of the Brisket into tonight’s “Restaurant Night”.  So who knows, they could be beef tacos, another BBQ sandwich or perhaps the original Brisket with some fried red potatoes and Brussel’s sprouts.  Here’s the recipe for the Brisket along with links to the others.  http://tinyurl.com/z49ssf5

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Happy Back to School…please leave some comments on your tips to easing back into the school year!!

Easing into Monday Brisket

Ingredients:

3 pound Open Space Meats Grass Fed Brisket

½ Bottle Hawaiian Spicy BBQ Sauce

2 tablespoons dried onions or ½ cup sliced onions

8 ounces water

½ cup red wine

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 tablespoon Penzey’s BBQ Seasoning

https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/bbq-3000/c-24/p-327/pd-s

To Make:

Salt and pepper both sides of Brisket

Place in crockpot

Mix BBQ sauce, dried onions, water, red wine and BBQ seasonings together in a bowl (I usually just throw it all in the crock pot to make one less dirty dish!)

Pour mixture over meat in crockpot

Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours

After meat is cooked it should pretty much fall apart as you pull it out, you can slice it or shred it

Enjoy!!!

Pretty Cluckin’ Good at Stretching a Chicken (& a budget)!!!

Posted by on 4:12 pm in Life, Recipes | 1 comment

As many of you out there know, there’s a delicate balance between keeping in line with your family budget and still serving, healthy, nutritious food that you feel happy with, to your family.  With that being said, I’m going to devote a few blogs to share how we stretch our meat products (and in doing so, stretch our budget).  We’ll start with our Open Space Meats Whole Roaster Pasture Chicken.  http://openspacemeats.com/store/

Whole Roaster

Now, please don’t let “whole chicken” keep you from reading this post.  I too was very nervous to try this cooking a whole chicken the first time…I grew up in the 80s when TV dinners and fish sticks were really popular, my parents were conscientious hippies, so they did care about what we ate, (i.e. no sugar, soda or anything overly processed), but they were not “cook it from scratch” cooks.  In fact, I’d never even seen a whole bird being cooked until my first Thanksgiving with the head cowboy’s family.  My point being, if I can learn to cook a whole chicken, so can you!!  And you’ll be so happy you did.

The Five of Us

 

 

 

Our family consists of me, the head cowboy and three children (1 boy -11, 1 girl – 8, 1 girl – 2).  I’ll be the first to admit that our family eats smaller portions than a lot of people, so this might not seem possible to your family, but remember the rule of thumb, your protein portion should be about the size of your palm.

 

Monday night I roasted the whole chicken.  Here’s the recipe I used, http://tinyurl.com/jv2mgcd

On Tuesday, I pulled all the meat off the bones and shredded a bag for Chicken Tacos and a bag for Southwest Chicken Chili.   On That night we made tacos for the grownups and bean and cheese burritos for the kids.  I froze the rest of the shredded chicken for the Southwest Chicken Chili we would have that weekend.

On Wednesday, I boiled the carcass for Chicken Broth using Danielle Walker’s recipe,  http://tinyurl.com/ht8fjp2, it usually makes about a gallon of good chicken broth.

Saturday I thawed the rest of the shredded chicken and made a hearty Southwest Chicken Chili that fed 4 grownups and 5 kids!  So all told, we made 3 meals + Broth for our family.

Making Chicken Stock

 

Now for our left brained friends, here’s the math…

  • Online our Open Space Meats Whole Roaster Pasture Chicken is $28.45  http://openspacemeats.com/store/
  • We made 3 meals from this chicken. $28.45/3 = $9.48 per meal
  • We have 5 people in our family, so $9.48/5 = $1.90 per person per meal (for protein).
  • Chicken Broth at Wal Mart is $0.09 per oz.
  • We made around 128 oz so that is another $11.52 in value.

The argument I hear most about why people can’t feed their families, healthy, all natural, organic, local food options is cost.  I hope by writing this blog and showing the math, you can see, and share, with your friends, that it if you are prudent with your food prep and cooking it can be done!  You can feed your family high quality, all natural food that you know is good for you, humanely raised and sustainable…the choice is YOURS!

Canned Chicken Stock

I’d love to hear from you now, share with me and our readers how you stretch your food and dollars!  Also, in the comment section let me know what of our other products you’d like a post on!

Beef Brisket from Grandma

Posted by on 3:45 pm in Family, Recipes | 0 comments

Everyone has a memory tied to a sound, a smell or a taste.  My grandma raised her family in the 50s and 60s.  Cooking, however wasn’t her strong suit.  But when it came to the holidays, she always made Beef Brisket.

Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket

This was her “fancy” dish and as the day progressed the house would smell more and more of the sauce she cooked the brisket in!  My grandma stopped cooking brisket many years ago and we moved on to our own traditions of holiday food, which didn’t include beef brisket.  But the other night when I pulled my recipe box off the shelf in lieu of clicking on my Pinterest app on my phone, I knew exactly what recipe I was going to make, Grandma Bev’s Beef Brisket.  Now, Grandma would have been a little disappointed in me, because I didn’t warm up a serving platter, place the meat on it and garnish it.  This was very important back in the day.  Instead, I served it out of the baking dish (gasp!!), but with 3 kids, a busy husband and spending most of the day putting the garden in as a family, there wasn’t sufficient time or reason to plate it and make more dishes!!  I’m pretty sure Grandma is looking down and smiling at the fact that I still use her recipe and she may be a tad embarrassed that I’m sharing it with everyone here on our blog!  She was always worried about things not being good enough for others, but with that in mind, I can assure you, this is a delicious recipe, especially when made with our tender, grass-fed beef brisket.  As our 2-year old said at dinner, “more meat, more meat!!!”  …enough said.  Enjoy friends 🙂

Grandma's handwritten recipe card

Grandma’s handwritten recipe card

Recipe for:    Beef Brisket

From:            Grandma Bev

First step:     4-hours, final heating 40-minutes

Serves:           12

Ingredients:

6-pound brisket of beef

1 large onion sliced ½-inch thick

1 or 2 bay leaves

16 whole cloves (or ground cloves)

1 clove garlic cut in half (Grandma used the “powder form”)

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. dry mustard

2 cups catsup

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

Put meat into large saucepan (to boil meat, I used my dutch oven pan, as it is my largest!), cover with water, add next 4 ingredients.  Cover and simmer (4 hours until tender).  Cool in liquid – drain and trim off excess fat.  Refrigerate boiled meat several hours or overnight.

Cut meat across grain into very thin slices.  Place slices and stand on edge in large, shallow baking dish.  Pour a mixture of remaining ingredients over meat.

Heat in a 350 degree oven for 40-minutes, basking occasionally with sauce.

Arrange overlapping slices on heated serving platter and garnish (I don’t bother to heat platter usually!)

**Can be made ahead ~ **Can be frozen