Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Family Secret to Great Sausage....Mud Pies

Going home to my farm makes me so happy. My family has been farmers as far back as we can trace. My fifth or so great grandfather actually delivered beef from his farm to George Washington and his troops. Today, farm fresh meat is all the rage. Over a year ago my dad and I started making sausage form our pigs. We sell it retail at my dad’s gas station. My dad also, sells tenderloin and biscuits from our pork. In the summer we have some of the best BBQ sandwiches you have ever tasted!
This is my Pa with some of his pigs many yrs ago
Our pork comes from our corn feed, registered Hampshire pigs. We cut it up so it will be easier to put into the grinder. It comes out of the grinder all nice and mushy like. This is perfect for mixing in the Bartholomew Family Recipe Seasoning. The secret to making the perfect sausage is the seasoning and the mixing of the seasoning. When I was a little girl I played for hours making mud pies. Mixing the seasoning into the ground pork is like playing in the mud-cause you are going to get real messy!

Fresh pork coming out of the grinder

Making sure I put the right amount of seasoning

One day my dad and I might expand into selling farm fresh beef from our farm.....following in the footsteps of my ancestors! To find out where to find farm fresh meat in your area go to http://www.picktnproducts.org/ .

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chocolate Milk and a Moon Pie

One of my favorite things in the world is chocolate milk. When I was a little girl my Pa would go to town and get me some chocolate milk (not an RC cola) and a Moon Pie almost every afternoon. The chocolate milk wasn't in plastic bottles, but in the carton. We would warm up the Moon Pie in the microwave and share it. Then wash it down with the chocolate milk. Sweet memories!

Whole Milk and Chocolate milk from Hatcher's Family Dairy.

This past week I had the opportunity to go to the Hatcher's Family Dairy in College Grove, TN. I have been out there numerous times for work. The Hatchers have been in the dairy business for a long time before they decided to start bottling their own milk. They now have a processing facility, retail store, do farm tours, and are experimenting with making their own ice cream.

Over a year ago, two of my out of state friends came down to visit Tennessee. We went all over Nashville and middle Tennessee. One of the stops was Hatcher's Family Dairy and they loved it!

Bart from Missouri and Ashley from North Dakota visit Hatcher's Family Dairy
Hatcher's Chocolate Milk is some of the best chocolate milk I have ever drank! It is so rich and thick. The Whole Milk is great too. Make sure you shake it real good, cause all of the cream is at the top. One thing that I love about buying milk straight from the farmer is that expiration date is longer. You don't have to ship it from the farm to the processing plant to the grocery store to your home. You should defiantly make a trip out to Hatcher's Family Dairy. If you can't make it out to the farm, you can get their milk in some stores. Check out their website for a listing of stores and to find out more http://www.hatcherfamilydairy.com/ .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Strawberry Photo Shoot

People ask me all the time what exactly do I do at my job. My title Agritourism Coordinator really confuses people. Agritourism is anything that brings people to the farm. Like Pick Your Own fruits and vegetables, wineries, cornmazes and pumpkin patches, farm tours and festivals, and on farm retail of fresh farm products. Everyday of work is different.

Yesterday, I had a photo shoot. The star of the photo shoot was surprisingly not me, but of fresh from a Tennessee farm strawberries. The state photographer, Andrew, and I spent the entire day outside taking pictures of strawberries and strawberry pickers. We went to three different Pick Your Own Strawberry patches in Portland, TN. The farms we stopped at were Bradley Kountry Acres in Cottontown, Bottomveiw Farms and Crafton Farms. The pictures that we take are used for marketing purposes like on http://www.picktnproducts.org/, brochures, or advertisements promoting Tennessee Farmers.
Andrew, State Photographer, taking pictures of strawberries at Bradley Kountry Acres

Most of our time taking pictures was at Bradley Kountry Acres. They are known for their strawberries, but have other fruits and vegetables as well. They have blackberries which were blooming, peach trees which had little greenish peaches, a greenhouse full of flowers, and all kinds of vegetables.

Fresh cut Broccoli (I took some home and it taste so much better than store bought)

When doing a photo shoot it is important to get pictures of the fruits and vegetables, but it is also important to get pictures of people. We did a mini photo glam shoot with this little girl who was about three. She had her blond hair in pig tails. She was soooo cute! She loved eating strawberries and this made for an adorable picture. You may see this picture in an advertisement soon!

My favorite picture of the day was of Mile Bradley, the farmer himself. If you go to his farm you now know what he looks like and be sure to go up and talk to him.

Mike Bradley with strawberries he grew.

These beautiful strawberries are some that I got from the Bradley's. It is an entire flat and I promise there was not one bad strawberry in the bunch. Unfortunately, I tried to make a cobbler out of some and it wasn't pretty. In the past, I have always had my mom there to help me and they turned out great. I got the recipe from my mom and made it. It smelt WONDERFUL! Yet, the crust wasn't raising to the top. Called my mom and she asked "Did you use self rising flour?" My response, "There is more than one type of flour?!?!?" Haha, lesson learned!

What to do with all these strawberries???

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Rain Made Us Eat 2 Much!!!

Last year a group of friends and I attended the Crawfish Boil in Nashville. It was a neat experience for me cause I had never eaten crawfish before. They look kinda gross, but were surprisingly tasty. Plus, Three Doors Down performed and we sat on blankets listening to the bands. This year plans were to relive the fun of the crawfish boil. Due to 16 days of rain and mud factor, we gave the crawfish boil a rain check.

One of my roomies from Candylynn and friend, Lauren, came up to for the fun having. Her and my current roomie, Emily and I were not going to let the rain ruin our weekend! Emily came up with our nights agenda and we were not dissapointed!

We started the night with sushi from Virago. If you go make sure you make reservations, cause they are packed. When you walk through the doors the atmosphere changes to a more hip modern style. Everything from the seatin to the lighting makes Virago unique. We started with an appitizer, Edamame. Whenever I eat sushi I like to order Edamame, which is boiled soybeans with a little bit of seasoning.

Crispy Fire Crunch Roll from Virago

Sushi! Lauren and I split three rolls and we had plenty left over. We had a YumYum roll (tuna, salmon, cream cheese), Crispy Fire Crunch roll (shrimp, spicy mayo, cream cheese), and Aloha roll (shrimp, toasted coconut, bacon, pineapple, macadamia nuts). My favorite was the Aloha roll. If you like shrimp and pineapples this is for you. It had the right balance of sweetness. The Crispy Fire Crunch roll is going to be a new favorite due tangy/spicy but not catch your mouth on fire taste.

Emily and Lauren enjoying yummy sushi!

After, being stuffed on sushi we walked around downtown for awhile and laughed at our silly selves. Then it was time for dessert from the Melting Pot! This was another new experience for me. When Lauren and Emily mentioned chocolate, I was in no questions asked! We ordered the S'more dessert which they bring out in a pan and heat it at your table. It was chocolate with marshmallows on top. You also get a tray of assorted food to dip in the warm chocolate. My favorite was the strawberries, bananas, and rice krispies. Talk about the most yummiest desert I have ever eaten!

Lauren and I eating chocolate covered strawberries at the Melting Pot!

Both of these restaurants I recommend if you are in Nashville. Both are a little pricey, but are sooo worth it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Strawberry Pickin Time!

Today, I battled a storm to go pick strawberries. Literally, it hailed (sounded like popcorn on my truck) and I saw lightning hit a transformer! It sure was worth it to get yummy strawberries from Valley Home Farm. It took me about an hour to get there from Nashville and it was such a beautiful drive. Once you get off I-24, there farms and amazing farm houses that have been there for years. With all the rain, everything was so green it made me want to pull my truck over and go walking through the lush pastures.
Ok, lets talk strawberries! My Pa always said if it rained on the first of the month that it would rain 15 days. Which has not been the best thing for the strawberry farmers. When its raining most people don't want to get out to buy strawberries, let alone get muddy picking them. To me getting a fresh straight from the farm strawberry is worth going through a small hurricane. Nothing that you can buy from a store can beat the taste of yummy strawberry you just picked yourself.

Valley Home Farm is located in Wartrace, which is in Bedford Co. It is a 320 acre farm with an on farm retail store. They sell strawberry jam, strawberry cakes and pies, strawberry bread, and of course strawberries. I absolutely just fell in love with their Strawberry Honey Popsicles! Love them!

Check out Valley Home Farm's website http://www.valleyhomefarm.com/

Picking strawberries is a fun activity for yourself, a group of friends, and the entire family! The month of May is strawberry season, so go visit a local farm or farmers market to find fresh strawberries! You can go to http://www.picktnproducts.org/ for a listing of strawberries in your area.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Graduation Weekend at Martin

Going to Martin is like going home. I did spend six of my best years there, but it only took five years for me to earn my degree in Agriculture Education. Graduating early is like leaving the party at 10:30! This weekend was graduation at UT Martin and one of my best friends, Heather, was graduating. This gave me an excuse to go back to visit with friends and to do some farm visits.

Friday was a stormy, yucky day. The safest place to be in Martin during a storm is Caddy's- this coming from Stuart and Cody. Luckily, for me who doesn't partake in all activities that normally go on at Caddy's they serve a very yummy lunch. My meal included a juicy cheeseburger with steaming hott crispy fries. They have sweet tea you can pour yourself straight from the pitcher.
Below is a pic of our Caddy's lunch crew with our server, Kara.

A group of us went to Century Farm Winery in Jackson. This winery is one of Tennessee's 33 wineries across the state. It is a working farm and has been in their family for over 150 years. Jo O'Cain showed us around the winery and vineyard. She answered many questions from the growing of the grapes to the production of the wine. They have won blue ribbons for some of their wines. This year they are getting local strawberries from Green Acers in Milan, which is a PYO strawberry and pumpkin patch, for Strawberry wine. Later that night Cody marinated pork loin in the Traminette wine and it was DELICIOUS! If you are in the West Tennessee are stop by Century Farm Winery and try some of their wines!

Check out them out :

Heather's big day finally got here on Saturday. She text me the entire time and even sent me a video message while other UTM students were walking across the stage!! haha! Oh, how have times changed. We at lunch at Candylynn (my home for 5yrs) and then went to Heather's home in Dyer Co for dinner. The day was a lot of fun and so was the night when we got back to Candylynn.

This is the some of the Candylynn Crew.

Sigma Alpha's are so hott they had to call the firemen! haha!