Editor’s Note: Gloria is taking the week off as her family moves into their newly purchased property. She’ll return next week to tell us how the move unfolded. Columnist Rosanna Bauman steps in to pinch-hit for Gloria. Rosanna is a young Brethren farmer and writer who lives in Garnett, Kansas. Rosanna, 28, is German Baptist Brethren, a sect similar to the Amish in their dress and worship, but they more progressively embrace cars, photography, and computers.
It’s a balmy day in early fall and I am in my element: that of a farmer/teacher/entrepreneur. A shopper at the farmers market asks how cottage bacon differs from classic bacon. I pull an example of each from the freezer to illustrate my explanations (classic bacon comes from the belly, cottage comes from the shoulder), describe where on the hog we get the cottage cut, and throw in a few recipe ideas for both products.
A minute later I am asked the difference between a pork shoulder and a butt roast. Next up is an inquiry about the taste differences between chicken and duck eggs. Someone else wonders about the flavor variances between beef and chicken liver. My favorite question to date is the time a shopper came up to my mother and asked if we had any “beef muscle.” Even funnier is the fact that mom, who is used to receiving requests for meat cuts that she knows nothing about, promptly asks me if we have any beef muscle in stock. “Mom!” I replied incredulously, “All meat is muscle!”
Our family has unexpectedly found ourselves venturing deeper into the world of farmers markets and consumer education. It all started innocently enough — at a family farm meeting back in February. We were discussing the cons of wholesaling and the disadvantages of farmers markets and what would be the best fit for our farm. None of the options looked appealing. And then inspiration struck.
Cue a comment from Marvin, 29, my older brother, about another farmer’s market trailer. Then the rest of the family started jumping in, and before we knew it the concept for a walk-though Mobile Meat Market was born! It wasn’t until August, however, that the “meat wagon” (as my 5-year-old niece Ava calls it) officially started rolling, with glass-topped freezers so shoppers can select their own meat cuts.
Now we are going full-tilt into the world of farmers markets. It’s been amazing to watch all my brothers transform into meat salesmen. Suddenly they remember what the fat percentage is in our ground beef, and what a skirt steak looks like. Although the “boys” may not know just where the flat iron steak comes from on the beef, they are certainly qualified to talk about meat. We are amused as each fellow enthusiastically promotes the meat products that are their personal favorites.
My brother Ivin, 20, always sells more pork chops because he likes chops better than beef steaks. Marvin talks more about the marbling in the beef steaks since he has worked many years to achieve this quality of a grass-finished steak. My brother Steven, 23, (who is the only one in the family to have competed in hot pepper eating contests) asks every guy that comes by the booth if they like hot stuff. “Then you’ve gotta try our Jalapeno Cheddar Burgers or the Hawaiian Fire Bratwurst!” he raves.
We are giving cooking advice all day long, but our family favors recipes so simple that a recipe card is not necessary. If you have good ingredients, it doesn’t take a complicated recipe. The only trouble with having super simple recipes is that you can’t really compile a trendy cookbook. How can you fill a full page with a recipe that goes: “Thaw meat. Open Package. Grill or Bake till done.”
I am fairly talented at making short stories long, but to stretch a simple recipe into a full page recipe is a challenge even for me! One of our most popular recipes is Jam Chicken, where we select one of my cousin’s homemade jams to pour over the meat. We actually have a Peach Jalapeno Jam, but since this may not be available everywhere, I have adapted the recipe slightly. It’s a sweet, sad end to summer but it packs a bang worthy of the whole summer season. (Rosanna’s Recipe Note: You can definitely omit the jalapenos if you’re family doesn’t like spicy foods. Using just peach jam will give your chicken an amazingly sweet flavor. In fact, our family makes this recipe half the time without the jalapenos, and half the time with, so feel free to tailor to your taste.)
SUMMER’S FIRE CHICKEN
3 1/2 to 4 pounds whole chicken
4 ounces of fresh peach jam
3 medium jalapenos, chopped, with seeds intact
Thaw chicken, place in baking dish. Mix jalapenos into jam. Pour jam over all the chicken, grill until meat reaches 160 degrees or bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes. It’s that easy.