Farmer Picnic on the Prairie

We work so diligently during the summer months here in Iowa.  There is only so much time for planting crops, farrowing, lambing, calving, construction and home improvement projects.  But in the midst of all this work we still make time to gather together for weddings, ball games, soccer matches, family reunions, dance recitals and picnics.

After planting season is over here at the Willis Dream Farm, we hold a farmer picnic in our three-sided shed, which overlooks 140 acres of native tall grass prairie. The picnic is a get-together of Niman Ranch hog farmers, along with friends in our local community. Everyone brings a pot luck-style side dish, casserole or dessert.  We always throw Niman Ranch Fearless Franks and sausages on the grill as the crowd gathers.

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Spring

A feeling of accomplishment sets in as another year of school is finished and Sophia is ready for summer.  Today she couldn’t wait to spend time swimming with friends.   It’s been a little crazy this year wrapping up the eighth grade and looking forward to beginning high school in the fall.

piglets in field

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Eating in Austin

Most of us on the Niman Ranch team like to make sure we’re eating at the right restaurants, whether at home or while traveling. This includes restaurants that follow some or all of the following criteria:

  • Are small or locally-owned
  • Serve up sustainable meat and produce
  • Offer a creative menu

Searching for these types of restaurants can take time, though, so it’s best to find a comprehensive guide that does all the work for you.

We spent some time touring Austin, Texas, building you a list of the right restaurants. Lone Star Foodservice, our local distributor, pointed us in the direction of Austin’s finest and funnest eateries to achieve this task. From pork belly sushi to cheeseburgers and pork chops, this two-part food adventure series is the perfect guide to eating in Austin!

 Counter Cafe

Counter Cafe Steak and Eggs
Steak & Eggs at Counter Cafe.

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Cooking the Perfect Pork Chop

Uncle Rich's Pork ChopI’ve met many people who’ve had an amazing Niman Ranch pork chop at some fine establishment and wish they could make it at home. Most folks hesitate to purchase thick cuts like this, however, so they end up having to enjoy their favorite pork-centric dish in a restaurant.

You may be one of those people who’s intimidated when it comes to cooking a pork chop up to two inches thick, but figuring out the right way to cook it is well worth the effort. Though this may not be the same way great chefs are doing it today, this is a sure-fire way to get the job done with great results.

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Memorial Day Made Easy

Celebrate the memory of all those who have courageously served our country by enjoying what our farmers and ranchers work so hard to provide. When celebrating any holiday, though, you may find yourself staring at a list with a million tasks.

Getting your house ready takes enough time, why not take searching for the right recipes off your list? The best memories in life are forged over food, so let us take away the worry of what to cook and just enjoy yourself!

We’ve put together a list of a few tried and true recipes to help you create the perfect Memorial Day menu. Some are Niman Ranch originals, some come from our farmers’ kitchens and others come from our friends cooking in restaurants across the country. But almost all these recipes are ready in 30 minutes or less!

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Earth Day & Small Communities

Earth Day is the time in April when we strengthen our practices of good stewardship by taking simple steps like growing our own food, planting a tree, decreasing our waste and supporting businesses whose values mirror our own. We focus on issues like sustaining our natural resources for future generations, on maintaining clean drinking water and clean air to breathe and creating healthy communities to live and thrive in.

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Profile of a Female Rancher: Jeannie McCormack

McCormack_ALB
Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board

 

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we’d like to share the story of Jeannie McCormack, Niman Ranch’s first ever lamb producer. Her family ranch was originally founded in the hills of California in 1896 by Jeannie’s grandfather, Dan McCormack, and had been run by her father, Wallace, since 1934. This makes her the third generation to care for the land.

Jeannie and her husband, Al Medvitz, returned home to raise sheep after living for 15 years in Boston and Africa. When they arrived at the McCormack Family Cattle Ranch in October of 1987, Jeannie started working in the sheep barn learning about lambing from her father’s Peruvian sheepherder. Al started driving tractor under the tutelage of John Lopez, a man in his 70’s who had worked for her father since he was a boy.

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Spring Into Farming

On March 4, the high temperature in Iowa was 16 degrees with a low of -4, withIMG_7507-1024x768 snow along the roads and in the fields. Just two weeks later, we experienced some of the warmest weather this year with a high reaching 63 degrees. And technically it’s still winter.

As you can imagine the snow has been melting very quickly releasing moisture into the air in the form of fog. With most of the snow is gone as the sun shines brightly, nature is giving us a reminder of all of the work to be done in the coming weeks.

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2015 Culinary Trends

Culinary Trends to Look For in 2015

The National Restaurant Association releases its What’s Hot Culinary Forecast at the beginning of each year. This prominent report is a result of over 1,300 professional chefs’ responses to questions about everything from profit to pickles. Their responses have laid out their predictions on what people like you want to see on menus and grocery shelves for the next year. We’re thrilled to see that some of the top trends for 2015 fit with who we are and what we have to offer – let us know if you agree in the comments!

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National FFA Week

IMG_1710-blog-1024x768National Future Farmers of America week, observed from February 21 -28, celebrates our connection to agriculture and supports our next generation of farmers.  Various local FFA chapters have different ways of engaging with their communities, but one of the simplest is encouraging folks to grow some of their own food.

Many farmers, along with passionate gardeners, begin planning their gardens now. Planting seeds indoors is a great way to get a head start.   My father likes utilizing the simple seed-starter kits that you can find just about anywhere.  These starter kits can last for years if you use and store them properly.

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