Five Oaks Beef Short Ribs

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Fall makes me start to crave rich, warm comfort food. Nothing fulfills this craving better than slow cooked beef short ribs.


Some of you may not be familiar with short ribs. Beef short ribs are the equivalent of spare ribs in pork, with beef short ribs usually larger and meatier than pork spare ribs. They come from the lower part of the rib right behind the cows elbow. The upper rib is where you get prime rib roasts and rib eye steaks. Short ribs are well marbled and tender when slow cooked and have an incredible depth of flavor mostly due to the flavors of the rib bone.

There are a million ways to cook short ribs but, as usual, I like mine simple with few ingredients so you don’t have to drive all over creation finding everything.

We are lucky to have access to very high quality beef in Warren County via Five Oaks Beef and their short ribs are AH-MA-ZING as are their other cuts. Their cattle are raised humanely on pasture their whole lives, as cows should be, and are never fed growth hormones, steroids or feed based antibiotics unlike most of what you get in grocery stores. Doug and Linda Knudson have figured out the recipe of raising healthy, happy cows that have incredible flavor. It is a real luxury to not only be able to support a local farm but you really do get the BEST product. The Five Oaks Beef website gives you all the information on how to purchase from Doug and Linda. They also are part of the Warren County Growers Farmers Market and their beef is served at one of of our favorite local restaurants, Robinson’s Ferry.


So now pour yourself a big glass of red wine and let's get cookin!


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6-8 Five Oaks Beef Short Ribs

Medium onion chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

3-4 sticks of celery chopped

3-4 medium carrots chopped

3-4 cups beef or chicken broth (you can get broth bones from Five Oaks too and make your own!)

2 cups dry red wine

Salt

Pepper

Sprig of thyme or rosemary or sage or all three!


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Pat short ribs dry, season with salt on all sides.

In a medium-large dutch oven or stock pot on high add oil or butter and sear until well browned on all sides in batches if needed. Remove from pot and set aside.


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Turn heat to medium, add more oil or butter and onions. Cook until caramelized, stirring frequently. Add garlic, celery and carrots and cook until softened. You can add a bit of salt to help the process along. Remove from pot and set aside.


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Deglaze the bottom of pot with red wine and allow to simmer and reduce for 5 min.

Add back vegetables and nestle the short ribs in the vegetables.

Add enough broth to cover the short ribs and add herbs to the top.


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Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook 3-4 hours at a soft simmer or put everything into slow cooker and do the same.

Serve when short ribs are falling off bone and tender.

Remove short ribs and veg and add salt and pepper to gravy to taste. If you want to thicken, sprinkle a tsp of cornstarch or flour and stir at a simmer until desired thickness.

We watch our carbohydrates in our house so we plate this on a bed of our fresh arugula, but you can use anything! Potatoes, rice, turnips, parsnips, mashed carrots…

Plate veg then a short rib or two on top and drizzle the gravy all over.


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Viola!

Enjoy!

After The Winter

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Spring is finally wrestling control of the weather from Winter's unrelenting emotional issues. Even with well below normal temperatures and most of the northern part of the east coast under a foot of snow, the lawns are greening, trees are starting to burst and the birds are resuming their morning cacophony in Warren County. Even the white noise of the swarms of buzzing bumble bees is a VERY welcome sound. 

The chickens are grazing on succulent spring grasses and scratching for the increased bug activities beneath the soil. Their egg production has resumed to normal with the increasing daylight and we are getting at least a dozen a day now.

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Chicken or the Egg...

There are a thousand ways to hard boil an egg. I have found the best way to do Shady Oaks 1812 eggs which are free range and fresh. I have tried every way and this works perfectly every time. In fact, I believe that our eggs taste best hard boiled. You get this great buttery and almost cheesy flavor. I always cook up a dozen or so at the beginning of the week to add to salads or just grab for a quick snack. In fact, hard boiled eggs are the perfect way to ensure that you and your family have easy ways to make good food choices. Pack them up with our salad vegetables and take to work or school for lunch. Delicious, EASY and good for you!

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SHADY OAKS 1812 HARD BOILED EGGS

  • Bring a pot with enough water to submerge the amount of eggs you want to a roaring boil.
  • Gently lower in eggs with a large spoon.
  • Allow water to return to boil (about a minute)
  • Cover and turn heat off.
  • Allow eggs to sit in hot water for 20min.
  • Spoon eggs out into a bowl with ice and water.
  • Allow to cool enough to be handled before peeling. The longer you let cool the easier they are to peel. 
  • Enjoy with a little bit of salt, pepper and my secret... paprika. YUM!!

DID YOU KNOW...

As compared to conventionally produced eggs, Free Range Eggs have:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more Vitamin A
  • 2x more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3x more Vitamin E
  • 7x more beta carotene
  • 4-6x more vitamin D
  • Higher folic acid levels
  • Measurable levels of vitamin C

PS. Save your eggs shells for the compost pile! Great source of calcium.

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Planting trees early in spring, we make a place for birds to sing in time to come. How do we know? They are singing here now. There is no other guarantee that singing will ever be.
— Wendell Berry
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If I was a Carpenter and you were a gentleman

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Matt and I spent a week of intense learning with the entertaining Woodright himself, Roy Underhill, and the incomparable Bill Anderson. Roy Underhill is famously known for his TV show The Woodright's Shop on PBS and was also the Master House-wright at Williamsburg. We learned how to build a table top chest with our own hands and the same type of tools used to build Shady Oaks 205 years ago. I have an even greater appreciation for pre-industrial built things than ever before. Thank you to Roy for making me laugh and to Bill for his calm and “we can fix it” attitude during the times I was having a mini-breakdown inside. Can’t wait for the next time.

 

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I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.
— William Blake
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What's Growing On

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We have been anticipating Spring 2018 a little more than past springs at Shady Oaks 1812. This year marks a big addition to our life on the farm. For the first time in her history Shady Oaks will be a FOOD farm. It has been a long time since Shady Oaks has produce an agricultural product and then it was only commodity tobacco and cotton.

Our long term plan is to create a diverse farm where we can offer almost a full menu of items for our community. For now I am starting small with a market garden that will be offering salad vegetables such as: lettuce mix, spring salad mix, arugula, spinach, baby root vegetable, summer squash, herbs, salad cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and scallions. We will also offer our free range eggs and I am getting a hands-on education in growing flowers for market bouquets this year. 

We approach farming with sustainability and regeneration in mind where the most important things are living soil and balance. All of our efforts are beyond organic with zero use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and we do not till the land. I farm entirely by hand with only the use of some simple tools and a wheelbarrow. But more on our farming methods later..

We will give more to our land than we take and in return we will be able to nourish our community with the BEST food possible.

We will offer our products at the Warren County Farmer's Market and via a home delivery service. Visit our website to find out more about our offerings and how to get them.

Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.
— Thomas Jefferson
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Radishes and Butter

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RADISHES
So that eternal garnishes be exposed
not by being particularly good or worthy
but by sole grace of the radish itself

Carved into petite rose
striated to whimsical
red and white allure
not distant from place pulled
should leaves be present and immaculate

O what crunchy goodness it is

Long time hath happy sulfured
soothing comfort to throat
What wise crisp snap to it
Charmed these root veggies
and in that window box was born amorous
— PJ Posey

The radish is truly a signal to spring. Fresh, crunchy and colorful. It is just what we need after a cold, drab winter.

We don't generally eat many radishes in the US. And I don't know why. They are easy to grow, can be grown year round, come in a variety of flavors and colors to satisfy all the senses and are GOOD for us. 

The french hold the radish in high regard and it usually graces their tables daily. It is a gorgeous little luxury generally served during the apéritif hour with a little butter and sea salt along with a glass of rose or champagne. Originally used as a palate stimulant prior to a meal, you can also enjoy them any time of day. 

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At Shady Oaks 1812 we do as the french do and enjoy this gorgeous underrated root vegetable straight from our garden. As soon as I hear the fire station alarm sound from downtown Warrenton at 5:30pm, signaling cocktail hour, I grab a bunch along with the necessary accouterments and a bottle of something chilled, usually a lovely Rose from the Scarlet Rooster in town. The only thing that makes it better is when friends join us. 

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We grow a few varieties at Shady Oaks 1812 and I urge you to grab a bunch or two from us at the Farmer's Market and try them out. You will never have a fancier cocktail hour.

Trust me.

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Radishes and Butter

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But by the sole grace of the radish...

The radish is truly a signal to spring. Fresh, crunchy and colorful. It is just what we need after a cold, drab winter.

We don't generally eat many radishes in the US. And I don't know why. They are easy to grow, can be grown year round, come in a variety of flavors and colors to satisfy all the senses and are GOOD for us. 

The french hold the radish in high regard and it usually graces their tables daily. It is a gorgeous little luxury generally served during the apéritif hour with a little butter and sea salt along with a glass of rose or champagne. Originally used as a palate stimulant prior to a meal, you can also enjoy them any time of day. 

DSCF5018[1].jpg

At Shady Oaks 1812 we do as the french do and enjoy this gorgeous underrated root vegetable straight from our garden. As soon as I hear the fire station alarm sound from downtown Warrenton at 5:30pm, signaling cocktail hour, I grab a bunch along with the necessary accouterments and a bottle of something chilled, usually a lovely Rose from the Scarlet Rooster in town. The only thing that makes it better is when friends join us. 

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We grow a few varieties at Shady Oaks 1812 and I urge you to grab a bunch or two from us at the Farmer's Market and try them out. You will never have a fancier cocktail hour.

Trust me.

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I don't know how anything so simple can feel so decadent. 

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Hard Boiled Free Range Eggs

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There are a thousand ways to hard boil an egg. I have found the best way to do Shady Oaks 1812 eggs which are free range and fresh. I have tried every way and this works perfectly every time. In fact, I believe that our eggs taste best hard boiled. You get this great buttery and almost cheesy flavor. I always cook up a dozen or so at the beginning of the week to add to salads or just grab for a quick snack. In fact, hard boiled eggs are the perfect way to ensure that you and your family have easy ways to make good food choices. Pack them up with our salad vegetables and take to work or school for lunch. Delicious, EASY and good for you!

Shady Oaks 1812 Hard Boiled Eggs

  • Bring a pot with enough water to submerge the amount of eggs you want to a roaring boil.
  • Gently lower in eggs with a large spoon.
  • Allow water to return to boil (about a minute)
  • Cover and turn heat off.
  • Allow eggs to sit in hot water for 20min.
  • Spoon eggs out into a bowl with ice and water.
  • Allow to cool enough to be handled before peeling. The longer you let cool the easier they are to peel. 
  • Enjoy with a little bit of salt, pepper and my secret... paprika. YUM!!

Did You Know...

As compared to conventionally produced eggs, Free Range Eggs have:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more Vitamin A
  • 2x more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3x more Vitamin E
  • 7x more beta carotene
  • 4-6x more vitamin D
  • Higher folic acid levels
  • Measurable levels of vitamin C

PS. Save your eggs shells for the compost pile! Great source of calcium.

Hearth Warming

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If a Tree Falls in the Woods....

With winter upon us, we set about doing tasks outside that are more pleasant in the cooler weather. Clearing debris and over grown areas, building structures that are on our infrastructure to-do list and chopping wood. We are lucky that for the most part we have mild winters here in North Carolina with the occasional snow storm and/or below freezing temperatures. This allows us to get a great deal done before the heat and humidity set in during the summer. Chopping wood is part of our regular routine so we can keep our hearths warm for ourselves and visitors and it is great exercise.  We have 11 fire places and all but 2 are in use. Matt and I love a fire roaring in the fireplace. In fact, the day we arrived with our U-haul from Seattle on a balmy May day, Matt immediately cranked up the A/C and started a fire in our snug hearth. Just a little gesture to re-awaken the old house after being uninhabited for awhile. We chop a couple cords of wood each winter to season and be used the next. We usually get logs from a local timber company but on occasion a tree falls in our little woodland area and we take advantage of the on farm resource to add to our stock pile.

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The Cold Earth Slept Below

We had a lovely snow fall this year and luckily enough Matt was able to be home to enjoy the whole thing. It is never long lived which makes it a welcomed arrival. After a half of a week the temperatures warmed up and we were back to mild weather. Such peace when the ground is blanketed. Shady Oaks is especially magical and I always awake and feel as if I'm in Narnia awaiting the arrival of Mr Tumnus at the lamp post.

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“There is no place more delightful than one's own fireplace.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Our winter evening routine. Matt is the master of the hearth. In 30 seconds he has a roaring fire going while I pour drinks and prepare dinner for ourselves and, if we are lucky, a group of friends. The animals are all tucked-in to their shelters and we let the house embrace us for the night.

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Chicken Pastry

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The first time I had Chicken Pastry was at our Harvest Feast when our neighbor Cliff cooked it in our 1812 winter kitchen in the fire place. You can enjoy that story here. Since then I have been hooked. It is the perfect soul soothing and heart warming pot of goodness you can give yourself and your family. It is best when you use an old hen since the chicken flavor will be much stronger. This is how the recipe was in its origin. Every culture has its chicken recipe. This is America's southern version of the french Coq Au Vin. Same principles. Old hen stewed for hours in broth and seasoning to create a large pot of wholesome goodness, cheaply. A young bird will do just fine though, especially if it is a farm raised bird like ours. I kind of made up my recipe based on what I had on hand and basic soup making principles. I'm sure there are others to use out there but this turns out damn good.

Shady Oaks 1812 Chicken Pastry

1 whole old hen or farm raised chicken

1 medium onion chopped

5 carrots (or as many as you like) chopped

5 stalks of celery (or as many as you like) chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced

2 cups flour

salt, pepper to taste

 

Place entire bird into a large stock pot of water filled to about an inch below the top and a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for several hours. I like to really cook it down so you can get a really rich broth. Add a bit water if it evaporates below the inch water line over time.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add flour and one teaspoon of salt. Sift together. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the ¾ cup of the chicken broth. Mix together until you have a slightly moist dough ball. Generously flour your table, counter top or large cutting board. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thick. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife and cut the dough into strips about 1 inch wide. Cut each strip into sections about 2 inches long. Let the dough pieces rest for about 30 minutes to dry out some.

Remove chicken and bones from pot into a large bowl and let cool to handle. With broth still simmering add pastry one at a time letting the broth return to boil before adding the next. After all are added let simmer 10 min. Then add vegetables slowly allowing broth return to boil before adding more. Cover and simmer while you remove meat from chicken carcass and add back to pot. Let simmer for 45 min to an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool slightly before serving.

 

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Neighbors Like These

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The fall season in Warrenton is a busy one. Most return home from a summer away in the mountains, the coast, or the lake where they escaped the unbearable heat and humidity. With most of the tiny population home for the holiday seasons ahead it becomes time to reconnect and celebrate fall’s bounty, cooler temps and our neighbors.

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SPANISH OMELETTE

Good friends of ours down the road, Dawn and Glenn, own a successful timber company. In their spare time they also run a successful home garden. I think Glenn would have been a successful farmer too because they produce the most diverse, abundant and flavorful produce out of that garden. They are particularly good at producing the most tender, buttery new potatoes in the most beautiful colors I have ever seen. They also generously share them with me! What better way to use the abundance of potatoes, fresh free range eggs and seasonal herbs of the moment than in a Spanish omelette. Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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1lb potatoes sliced

1 large onion finely sliced

3 garlic cloves finely sliced

6-8 eggs beaten

Generous handful of whatever herb you have on hand. Parsley and tarragon are my favorite.

Salt and pepper to taste

Carmelize onions and garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile boil potatoes until soft. Drain and add to onion and garlic. Pour eggs over potatoes, sprinkle with herbs and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat about 10 min to cook the base. Place under broiler to finish the top. Flip omelette out on to a cutting board. Allow to cool and slice into thick wedges. Add your favorite cheese and more herbs to garnish. Is great warm or cold.

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BAKED APPLES

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I make this as a single serving when I’m craving apple pie but too lazy to go through the acrobatics. Plus, it’s a little less on the carbs and fulfills the craving.

1 apple sliced into 8ths

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp real maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

handful of walnuts crushed

Bake at 375 F until apple get soft and bubbly. A splash of cream or dollop of ice cream are nice accessories too.

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THE BALLAD OF ELIZABETH AND ANTHONY

Being a small town with only a handful of restaurants it is very likely that you may befriend one of the local chefs and enjoy cooking together on a regular basis. “Make them work off hours!?” you say. No, our chefs are passionate and love flexing their creative muscles in small, badly equipped kitchens- even on their days off.

One lovely fall weekend my friend AJ (who just happens to be one such chef in town) and I decided to put together a small dinner party for a mutual friend, Liz’s, birthday.

The menu:

Mushroom Tartelets

Apple and Beet Tartlets

Potato Leek Soup

White Bean and Arugula Salad

Roasted Red Snapper

Roasted Seasonal Veg

Pumpkin, Butternut Squash & Bourbon Cream Trifles

I do not have the exact recipes since Chef AJ cooks by intuition and creates as he goes along but I have linked to some similar recipes.

We cooked, ate, imbibed and sang along with Liz as she played music into the most magical night.

 

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HARVEST FEAST

About a mile from Shady Oaks 1812, down on Fishing Creek is Hamme Mill. The mill has been owned by our neighbor, Cliff, for over 30 years and he has created his own Museum of Natural History and Anthropology within it. It is a sight to behold. One day I will give you a tour when the time is right.  Late last spring Cliff suggested to me in passing that he wanted to cook in our old winter kitchen in the basement. In the fireplace hearth. Old school. As it was done in the 1800s. My head almost exploded at the romanticism of the idea. It hadn’t been cooked in in probably at least 100 years if not longer. But, as the days were getting increasingly warmer and summer approached, we decided it would too uncomfortable to do any cooking, let alone have an outdoor party in the near future.

Skip ahead to early fall. I had raised up a batch of 50 broiler birds for Matt and I to put in the larder. Their harvest date would be in a few weeks and we were enjoying cooler, crisper evenings. This would be the second round of us butchering our own chickens and neighbors were intrigued. Apparently people stopped raising their own chickens for meat around grandma’s generation. And it was always grandma who butchered the birds. I know this because our involvement with raising our own brought about a flood of stories about childhood memories of watching grandma wring the neck of an old hen and then go about making a killer chicken pastry. Every. Single. Story. Always grandma. Always wringing the neck. Always chicken pastry. one hundred times over.

Well I needed some help and it seemed some wanted to learn so naturally I decided to throw a party. Warrentonians love a party, even if it is a “chicken killin” party. Chicken harvest in the morning, feast in the evening. “Cliff, get the old winter kitchen hearth fired up. Here’s your chance.” He called his people, I called mine (which are mostly the same) and Harvest Feast was born. A good old covered dish with everyone bringing their specialty.

Oh, and what did Cliff make in the old hearth?

Chicken pastry of course.

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