Tag Archives: Creswick Farms

Not Your Brother’s Campfire Food

I’ve already opined how much I dislike hot dogs, so why would I bring them on a camping trip?

Thankfully, my friend Sandy feels the same way. That’s why–whenever we camp in Northern Lower Michigan–we cook over a fire for most of our meals.

On a recent trip to D.H. Day Campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, we brought along a pork steak from Creswick Farms and grilled it similarly to the recipe I make at home. The only difference is we partially cover the meat with foil on a campfire grate because there’s no lid to cover it like on a gas grill. And, because heat control is trickier with coals, it becomes an exercise in trial-and-error. So I’d recommend cutting into the meat to check for doneness before serving, which you might already do with a gas grill anyway.

Along with our pork, we roasted some red-skinned potatoes in a skillet with a little water, olive oil, and salt (covered in foil until tender).

The key with camping is to mix and match your recipes so that you can use several ingredients for other meals. For example, with the potatoes, we cooked more than what we needed for dinner and saved the rest to have for breakfast with a frittata.

We also brought along the last of the local fresh asparagus and cooked it in foil with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, then drizzled it with fresh-squeezed lemon juice before serving. (These latter ingredients are key staples for camping!)

And the bread? It’s baguette from Stone House Bread in Leland, Michigan. We brushed it with some olive oil and grilled that over the fire, too.

We also had a fresh salad to use up some of the vegetables leftover from our Roadtrip Tortas.

With a bottle of Harbor Red wine from Good Harbor Vineyards–one of our favorites in the Leelanau Peninsula–we had a delicious meal that didn’t take much more time than it would at home. And if you use a charcoal grill, it’s probably about the same amount of time: The key to cooking over a fire is to build a good fire and use hot coals.

It just takes a little planning and time. What do you do while you wait for the fire to turn into coals? Open a bottle of wine!

Lamb Souvlaki with Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Greek Salad

Okay, so it’s not really souvlaki because the lamb’s not skewered, but that’s  the name of the recipe so I’m sticking with it. This recipe came from ABC Hobart, a radio station in Tasmania, Australia.

As usual, I improvised. For one thing, it’s hard to find good pita bread in West Michigan at the last minute without going to Mediterranean Island in Grand Rapids, so I actually used flour tortillas as a substitute. (These also work well to accommodate Bill’s wheat allergy; even though the tortillas are made with wheat, his reaction to tortillas is less severe than for pita bread.)

Where’s the lamb, you might ask? It’s hidden under the salad. Basically, the tortilla (or pita) serves as a holder for the halloumi and the lamb; then you pile the Greek salad on top. It’s a great dish to make in the summer because of the cool salad components. And, there’s not much cooking to do. I included this recipe in my “Food Over a Fire” category because all you need is an iron skillet for cooking the lamb and browning the cheese. Bill and I actually prefer making this dish with ground lamb, which doesn’t need to be marinated. This lamb is from Creswick Farms, via the West Michigan Co-op, until our lamb order from Lubbers Farm is ready in the fall.

Once it was browned, I drained the fat and continued frying it until was nice and crispy, then added ground cumin and a dash of cayenne pepper. (I omitted the oregano in this step because I planned to add fresh oregano leaves to the salad component.)

Next, I heated up the tortillas on a griddle and put them on plates, covered, to keep warm. (You could do this in a skillet over a campfire or wrap them in foil to warm them slowly.) Then I cut the halloumi cheese into slices between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick (so they don’t fall apart) and fried them in a very light coating of olive oil until nicely browned on both sides.

Then I cut the cheese slices down the middle in order to distribute them on the tortilla.

Next, I squeezed some fresh lemon juice on the cheese and sprinkled the ground lamb all over the tortilla.

Meanwhile, I combined tomatoes, olive oil, salt, fresh lemon juice, cucumbers, fresh chopped oregano, and fresh chopped mint in a bowl to create the Greek salad. The herbs came right from my garden and the vegetables are from the Holland Farmers’ Market.

For the final assembly, I put mixed greens on top of the tortilla-halloumi-lamb mixture and added the Greek salad, garnishing with kalamata olives.

Stay tuned for my next lamb recipe showing how I used up the leftovers!

Pork Steak on the Grill

During oven season, which–in Michigan–runs from about September through May, Bill and I like to braise pork steaks, which we have been buying from Creswick Farms through the West Michigan Co-op until we get our meat order at Lubbers Farm later this summer.

Now that it’s grilling season, I wondered how I could cook pork steaks outside, since they are a relatively new entity in my world. (I’d never heard of them until I bought half a pig a couple years ago). 

Last weekend I got this idea: Why not grill a pork steak the way we grill a ribeye? Both steaks are from grassfed animals so the key is to grill them for a short period of time. Bill insists the one-minute sear per side is key, and I agree–that’s how it stays moist.

At first I was inspired by Muzzy’s Magic Texas BBQ Rub, which is made of: sugar, chili pepper, paprika, salt, garlic, onion, celery, cumin, and black pepper. With sugar as the lead ingredient, it was a bit sweet for me, so I decided to use the rub in combination with the Grilled Grassfed Ribeye Steak recipe I posted in March. Here’s how I improvised:

I mixed the rub with about a teaspoon more paprika, then added some more salt, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. After rubbing the meat with garlic and olive oil, I sprinkled the spice rub on both sides.

For the pork steak, we seared each side for one minute on a very hot grill (around 500 degrees) with the center burner off. Then we cooked each side for 3 minutes (for a one-pound,  3/4-inch steak). After that, we let it rest, covered, for at least 5 minutes.

Instead of the balsamic-caper vinaigrette from the recipe, I simply squeezed some fresh lime juice on the meat before serving. We couldn’t believe how juicy the meat was!

For sides, we had saffron risotto and roasted asparagus (done in foil on the grill before we put the meat on).


How to Grill a Grassfed Beef Burger

It’s grilling season in the North!

I thought I’d share Bill‘s special burger grilling process for anyone who’s making a transition–or considering a switch–to grassfed beef. (Why might you want to eat meat from grassfed animals? Check out this primer on grassfed beef. And, if you’re not in the mood for burgers, try this recipe for Grilled Grassfed Ribeye Steaks.)

When you switch from fatty feedlot meat to leaner grassfed meat, it’s important to watch your cooking time and temperature.

Of course, you could cook your burgers in a pan, but they are really good on the grill. We just got a new Weber Q last year.

Here’s the way Bill grills our grassfed beef burgers:
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Pork Steak – Electric Cheetah Style

Photo by Ian Davis

In February, Bill and I missed our monthly trip to the West Michigan Co-op since we were leaving for Cuba the next day, but we just made our March run for some of our favorites: pork steak, nitrite-free bacon, and grassfed beef from Creswick Farms; McIntosh apples and Bosc pears from Wells Orchards; and, we picked up some lamb for the first time from S&S Lamb. All this meat to stretch us a little further into the year, until our meat order from Lubbers Farm comes in (beef, pork, and lamb). And we brought my stepson, Ian, with us for his first visit to the Co-op.

As is our ritual, we stopped at the Electric Cheetah for dinner and I saw a new item on the menu: Fried Free-Range Pork Steak (from Creswick Farms). A boneless cut of beautiful pork loin with a light breading, it came with crisp French green beans, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and black pepper country milk gravy. The caramelized onion on top was the perfect complement to all the flavors on my plate.

Way to go, guys. Another happy dinner for me!

Pasta with Peas and Bacon

Although I had pasta carbonara on the brain today, I wasn’t in the mood for such a rich sauce. But I was in the mood for peas in my pasta. So I simply Googled “pasta with bacon and peas” to come across Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, Pasta with Peas and Bacon. Don’t you love the internet?

I pretty much followed his recipe, except I used brown rice spaghetti instead of tortellini and rice milk instead of heavy cream, due to Bill‘s allergies; and Greek sheep’s cheese instead of Parmesan. Oh, and I threw a little white wine in after the onions were sautéed.

Of course, the bacon came from our supply of Creswick Farms grassfed, nitrite-free bacon, which is available through the West Michigan Co-op.

Simple. Easy. Pretty good. Both Bill and I felt there was something missing, however. Nutmeg? Garlic? Anyone have some suggestions?

For Carnivores, Nothing Beats Nitrite-Free Bacon

Love bacon? Why not find a local grassfed meat supplier who makes it without nitrites?

We get ours from Creswick Farms, through the West Michigan Co-op, at least until we put in next year’s meat order at Lubbers Farm.

It’s cured naturally with sea salt. No chemicals. And it’s delicious.

Buying Local at the West Michigan Cooperative

Creswick Farms truck at the loading dock

Bill and I just joined the West Michigan Co-op this month and last night was our first order pick-up. It was loads of fun.

After dinner at one of our favorite Local First eateries, the Electric Cheetah in Grand Rapids, we headed over to a nearby warehouse for the pick-up, which is a designated day and time once a month. To become a member, you sign up online and pay $35 per year. Then you place a monthly order online during the shopping window (first week of the month), print off your invoice, bring it with you to the warehouse, and pay for your goods that night.

Our first-time order included ground beef, ground lamb, and lamb chops from Creswick Farms; fingerling potatoes from Groundswell Community Farm; and yellow onions from Funny Farm Organics.

Inside the Creswick Farms trailer, where the meat is stored

Our meat order from Creswick Farms

Veggies bagged up at Funny Farm Organics

Our fingerling potato order from Funny Farm Organics

Veggies bagged up at Groundswell Community Farm

Our onion order from Groundswell Community Farm

But there’s way more to choose from than meat, onions, and potatoes.
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Feel Good About What You Eat at the Electric Cheetah

I was looking forward to dinner at the Electric Cheetah all day today because I knew I could count on eating happy, delicious, healthy food. Although I had been there once for lunch, this was Bill’s first time.

But first, we started out with happy hour drinks at The Meanwhile Bar, where Michigan products are always a dollar off before 8 p.m. I enjoyed a flavorful cherry wheat from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo to start the evening.

When we sauntered down the block to EC, I already had my mind set on getting the Creswick Farms Grass-fed, Free-range Beef Burger. It’s been months since I’ve had a grassfed burger of any sort because we ran out of our own ground beef, and it’s nearly impossible to find a grassfed burger at most restaurants. Thank you, EC! It’s great to be able to count on locally-sourced, happy, healthy beef. It was delicious.

Bill started off with some chicken curry soup–spiced just right.

He followed that with the Hydroponic Tomato BLT (tomatoes courtesy of  Mud Lake Farm, which happens to be our CSA). Bill said the honey aioli sauce was a nice touch–the best BLT he’s ever had.

We topped off the evening by picking up our first order of local goods from the West Michigan Co-op: meats from Creswick Farm and vegetables from Funny Farm Organics and Groundswell Community Farm. (You can read about our experience there tomorrow.)

It was a great day for supporting our local farmers, brewers, and business owners in West Michigan–especially members of Localfirst.com, which “encourages the development of a vibrant, sustainable West Michigan economy by promoting local business ownership, social equity, and environmental kinship through education, support and collaboration.”

Pork Chops with Potatoes and Leeks

Although we ran out of pork chops earlier in the fall, I was able to snag a few packages at the Summertime Market in Douglas, Michigan before they closed for the season.

The ones we ate tonight are from Creswick Farms, from whom we’ll order more meat through the West Michigan Cooperative until we receive next year’s meat order from Lubbers Farm. It’s a great way to supplement our meat and organic vegetable supply, especially during the winter. Watch for a blog post about it around December 22, when we pick up our first order.

Pork chops are so easy. Here are instructions for the way I prepared them tonight:
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