Friday, December 26, 2014


WONDERFUL LARD, (yes we are talking hog fat) can be intimidating if you are not accustomed to using it. 
If you were to ask our grandmothers and great grandmothers about CRISCO Shorting, more then likely, they would laugh or ask you what it is. Jars of drained fat could be found in most refrigerators for use in daily cooking, but now days we reach for shorting, butter and oils, which in their proper place are a good choice. 
The return of lard... slow rendered to perfection, mostly flavorless can pack a positive punch to any dish or baked item. Simply use the same was you would the other stand ins and enjoy the impact.

Hog fat (if your adventurous) and slow rendered back lard and leaf lard are available to our farm members via our wed site.

Below is a quick rendered version of the difference in the lards.

Lard can be obtained from any part of the pig as long as there is a high concentration of fatty tissue.
Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard. It comes from the visceral - or "soft" - fat from around the kidneys and loin of the pig. It lacks any real pork or meaty flavor, making it an excellent neutral-flavored cooking fat with a high smoking point. Leaf lard is particularly prized by bakers for use in producing moist, flaky pie crust.
Fatback lard is the next highest grade of lard is obtained from the hard subcutaneous fat between the back skin and muscle of the pig.
Lard was commonly used in many cuisines as a cooking fat or shortening, or as a spread similar to butter. Its use in contemporary cuisine has diminished, but many contemporary cooks and bakers still favor it over other fats for select uses. The culinary qualities of lard vary somewhat depending on the part of the pig from which the fat was taken and how the lard was processed.

Monday, November 24, 2014

How to Brine Your Turkey & Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

With just a few days left until Thanksgiving, you may have already begun your meal prepping. If you ordered one of the Black Hog turkeys, which I hope you did, I want to remind you about an important first step that you should take- brining.

Brining is an all-natural step of "soaking" your bird in a cold salt solution before cooking. Since our farm turkeys are super fresh and not treated with anything, this process helps the meat become super moist and juicy. It's actually a very scientific process that I will spare you of the details. Just trust me that it's worth the little bit of time and effort on Wednesday to help produce your best tasting bird yet!

If you want to make it really easy on yourself, you can purchase a brining kit from places like World Market or the brining bags and premixed seasonings from Williams-Sonoma. But you certainly don't need these things - just pick up the largest size of Ziplock bags and make the bring yourself.
Here's some help from our archives for a brine recipe and how to brine your Black Hog turkey:
The Best Turkey Starts with Brining

 If you're still not feeling confident, watch this quick video:

Now that you have your plan for the best tasting turkey, let me help you with some ideas for delicious sides. Not everyone is interested in switching up their traditional sides at Thanksgiving, and I get that, but I love to change things up. If you do too, consider some of these sides that I've rounded up from around the internet for you.

Honey  Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
Slow Cooker Rosemary Acorn Squash
Sauteed Kale with Dried Plums and Coconut
Cream-less Creamed Spinach
Sweet Potato Pecan Streusel Casserole
Ginger Cranberry Sauce

And because what is Thanksgiving without really delicious pie, here's my recipe for this special apple pie I make once a year.
Thanksgiving Apple Pie

Please leave a comment and let us know what you are cooking up this holiday. And DON'T forget to snap a pic of  your BHF turkey and post it with the hashtag #BlackHogTurkey.

On behalf of all the Black Hog Farm family, we wish you a very special, loved-filled Thanksgiving.

With Love,
Jenna Braddock, RDN
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Muscadine Grapes (part 2)

This week muscadine grapes are back in your produce deliveries. Muscadines are heat and humidity loving grapes that grow beautifully in the southeastern US. These grapes are full of fiber but high on delicious sweet flavor, all for about 65 calories a cup. Grapes are also known for their high antioxidant content, so eat up!

The skins on muscadines always through me off a little but they are completely edible. In fact, eating them raw is one of the most recommended ways to enjoy them (just spit out the seeds). Try slicing them for salads or in place of other fruits in recipes or jams. If you need to peel them, simply make an  X with a pairing knife on one end of the grape and squeeze on the opposite end. The inside should slip right out.

If you want to try a new recipe with muscadines, check out my previous post and recipe for Muscadine Grape Sauce over Pork Tenderloin.

So how do you like your muscadines? If you have a great idea or recipe, please share it in the comments.
Have a healthy day!

Jenna Braddock, RD
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

Reference: Enjoying Muscadine Grapes

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Family Meal Time

Last week, Sharon Watkins and I started talking about a booked she is reading called Cooked by Michael Pollan. Our conversation quickly turned to the importance of cooking, how much we both enjoy it and how we wished there was more time to really enjoy cooking and eating together as a family.

While this is not the first time I've had this conversation, it reminded us both about how important cooking, and eating, at home truly is. So, I wanted to chime in on the blog with some encouragement for you (and me).

Summer is such a quintessential time for Americans. It just oozes with opportunities to eat fresh, whole food (as many seasonally summer foods are so darn delicious) and to cook (as summer schedules tend to be a little less hectic).  Doesn't just the thought of the July 4th mentally take you to some event where you are enjoying food? It certainly does for me.

But let me back up just a minute, to first answer the question of Why family meals are so important?

There's been some interesting research conducted on this topic over the years, but I will just sum up the major discoveries for you.

  • Children who eat with their families consumed more fruits and vegetables. This is thought to be related to adults leading by example when eating together.
  • Family meal time created a stronger sense of togetherness for families. It was associated with better work-life balance for adults.
  • Lower obesity rates were associated with families who ate together frequently. 
  • Meal times are a great environment for teaching self-esteem, life skills, family tradition, responsibility, and communication skills.

Cornell University came out with two recommendations to help families on this topic:
  1. Set a goal to have regular family meals at least three times per week, if possible.
  2. Don't forget, quality of family meals is just as important as quantity. Turn off distractions. 

We at Black Hog want to encourage you to make family meal times a priority. It doesn't matter what meal of the day you sit down together for. Just do it. Hopefully the summer time gives you some room in your schedule to plan and prepare meals together. Get the kids involved in planning the menu and cooking one of the items. 

{I once read a great idea of how to make family meals more fun and involve everyone. A parent had every family member write down 1-2 theme ideas for a meal (fiesta, Asian, finger food, backwards meal, etc) and they put them in a bowl. Once a week, someone would draw out a paper with the idea for their special family meal of the week. Then everyone had to help pick a food idea and help prepare it.}

For helpful ideas on meal planning and eating together, visit Healthy Eating Made Easier

Leave us a comment about your favorite family meals and lets' share some ideas.

We hope you have a safe, fun and happy Fourth of July!

Jenna Braddock, RD -- for the whole Black Hog Family
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Boiled Peanuts

This week, fresh peanuts are appearing in your delivery baskets. Not sure what to do with them? No worries. We've got a simple boiled peanut recipe for you to try that takes little effort, just some time.

Peanuts are a perfect, healthy snack for so many reasons. They are heart healthy, reducing your risk for heart disease when eaten regularly. In addition, peanuts contain vitamin E (an antioxidant), niacin (helpful for reducing cholesterol), folate and even resveratrol, the compound that also gives red wine some of its benefits. A quarter cup of peanuts contains 9-10 grams of protein so they are a satisfying choice too.

Our peanuts are coming from Florida. To learn more about how peanuts are grown and harvested, watch this 4 minute video.

We hope you enjoy cooking up a Southern classic this week. It's a great choice to munch on while you are watching the NFL draft or The Players. ;)

Have a healthy day,

Jenna Braddock, RD
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

Boiled Peanuts

Rinse peanuts in cold water, making sure to get off any dirt or sediment.
Add peanuts to a large stockpot and cover completely with water. Add salt in a ratio of about 2-3 tablespoons per pound of peanuts. Add seasonings if desired. Old Bay, chili peppers or cajun seasonings are recommended.
Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 3-4 hours. Add water if needed to keep peanuts covered throughout cooking process. After 2 hours, remove a peanut, let it cool and taste for doneness. Peanuts should be the texture of a cook bean.
If you're not eating them immediately, drain from the water and store in the fridge.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Quick Corned Beef Dinner

Here is a quick way for those of you who want to make a great corned beef dinner without taking the time to brine your brisket ahead of time.
Cook Time 2-3 hours depending on weight of brisket.

St. Patty's Corn Beef Dinner


2 cloves of Garlic minced
15-16 All Spice Berries
1 Tsp Peppercorns
3-4 Bay Leafs
1 1/2 Tsp Thyme
1 Tsp Mustard Seed
1/2 Tsp Coriander (optional)
1/2 Tsp Fennel Seed (optional)
Salt to taste

Beef Brisket 4-6 lbs
4 Cups Beef Broth
1 medium onion cut into wedges
3-3 1/2 Lbs potatoes washed and quartered (peeled optional)
6-8 Carrots peeled, halved and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 head of cabbage cored and cut into wedges

How to:

Put beef into dutch oven with broth and spices. Add enough water to cover beef. Add onions. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until tender and falling apart with fork. 
Remove the corned beef to a platter, cover with foil and keep warm.

Add potatoes, carrots and cabbage to broth. Bring to boil and cover, reduce heat, cook on low until vegetables are tender. Approx 20-30 min.

Plate up and ENJOY!

Friday, March 14, 2014

How to Use Cabbage

Unless you just love coleslaw, cabbage may be one of the veggies that lingers in the bottom of your produce drawer. I know it does for me. But St. Patty's day tends to get me thinking more about cabbage and thanks to my BH delivery this week, I need to figure out what I'm going to make with it.

For the most part, I've found that the different types of cabbages are interchangeable in recipes. There are some differences between then though that lend them to different cooking methods. The tougher (stiffer) the leaves, the better it will do with long cooking methods like roasting or braising. More delicate cabbages, like Napa, do best with raw slaws or quick saut├ęs. But truly, I don't think it matters that much, unless you are a cabbage connoisseur. For pictures of the different types of cabbage, check out this link.

To get you prepared for St. Patrick's Day, or to just use up the cabbage you've received in your delivery, here are a bunch of recipes. Leave a comment and let us know which one you tried.

Have a healthy weekend!

Jenna Braddock, RD
Black Hog Farm Nutritionist

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Wintery Braised Cabbage
Crunchy Cabbage Slaw with Ginger Miso Dressing
Stuffed Cabbage
Sauteed Cabbage
Baja Fish Tacos
Southern Cabbage
Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
Quick Kimchi
Roasted Cabbage with Black Bean-Garlic Sauce
Kid-Friendly Cabbage Salad - I used plain Greek yogurt instead of mayo
Rainbow Wraps with Chives