Sunny with a chance of meatballs

I think we might have stumbled onto the perfect summer food.  

I think it might be meatballs...
I'm laughing at myself as I type this but we truly are on a meatball kick in our household.  It all started with the kiddo requesting them for dinner a few nights in a row.  He had just eaten them at Grammie's house and was smitten.

I'd never made meatballs.  I didn't know how to make meatballs except that I knew 'squishing' meat with my hands was part of it.  Not my favorite....

Alas, the kiddo was persistent (and cute) so I caved.  And I'm glad I did. Turns out the squishing isn't that bad and meatballs are awesome for a bunch of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Ingredients can vary depending on what is available.  You can TOTALLY wing it with meatballs and still have something yummy. That's how I made this recipe and it was love at first taste.
  • They are a budget friendly way to get the nutrition from grass fed meats into your family’s diet. 
  • It's easy to incorporate fresh, seasonal veggies or herbs.  If your kiddos balk at veggies but love their meat, you can hide "green things" in the meatballs and feel good knowing they are eating some veggies. 
  • They cook quickly but also freeze or hold in the fridge well.  So you can make up a big batch when you have time and then use them later when time is short.  We've been doing this a lot.
  • You can do about a bazillion things with them: Sandwiches, subs, slice them onto salads, put them on a stick and dip them in sauce, serve them with pasta and marinara, eat them cold with lunch, eat them with your fingers, take them camping.  I'd love to hear your ideas here!

Ok.  So here is the recipe we make up a few weeks ago and we can't get enough of it.  I've made it with our ground beef and ground lamb and find it works equally well with both. I decided to do a spin on Greek Meatballs and use fresh oregano and mint because they were both coming up in our garden.  You can substitute dried but the fresh are worth finding.  You can get them from us or most any other local farmer.

Serves 4.  Prep time: 7 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes

Meatball ingredients:

1 pound Quarry Brook grass fed ground beef or lamb, thawed (you can use a bowl of warm water to thaw a package in a hurry if needed, just submerge meat in water and change it a few times until meat is soft)

1 small onion or shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced very fine (or use garlic press)

2-3 sprigs fresh mint, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons once chopped) or 2 teaspoons dried

1-2 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped fine (about 1 tablespoon once chopped) or 1 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 egg

¾ cup bread crumbs (substitute same amount cooked quinoa if prefer gluten free)

Dipping sauce ingredients:

1 cup organic mayonnaise or plain yogurt

2 sprigs fresh mint (or more if you really like it)

1 tablespoon lemon juice



Place all meatball ingredients into large bowl.  'Squish' together until mixed well.

Roll mixture into balls using your hands.  I use a Tablespoon size measuring spoon as a scoop if I’m having a hard time getting them to be a consistent size.

Place meatballs in lightly greased skillet (I use butter) over medium high heat.  Allow to brown for about 3 minutes.

Use fork or tongs to rotate meatballs so they cook evenly.  Rotate 3 or 4 times over the course of about 15 minutes until they are cooked through and no longer pink inside.

 Prepare dipping sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients with a fork or whisk in a small bowl. 

Serve meatballs with a side of dipping sauce.  They are great paired with a big salad because you can use the dipping sauce for dipping the salad greens too. You’ll need to double the dipping sauce recipe if you decide to do this. 

Meatballs and a huge salad have been our dinner a lot lately.  We have some pretty big appetites in our house and it has been nice to find such a simple, healthy, and budget-friendly way to get all the farmers fed. 

Enjoy and if you try this recipe let us know how it went over in your house.  :)





Bon Voyage, Winter! A recipe to summon summer.

I have worn nearly every type of seasonal clothing this week. You?  Oh, NY state...
Last Friday it snowed, Monday was t-shirt weather, Wednesday required raincoats, and today I'm wearing a blanket over my shoulders as I sit to type because it's so cold in our house.  Maybe tomorrow will call for bikinis and we can finally get the grill out?    Actually, this weekend looks more like snowsuits than swimsuits. A chance of frozen mix on Sunday...! (Insert heavy sigh)

When I was a kid, my family had a weird tradition to help with morale when cold weather wanted to linger. We would crank up the wood stove, put on flip-flops. make summery BBQ food and have a "cook out" inside.  With music. It really helped chase away the last of the winter blues and reminded us of all the good times to come.  We called them "Go away winter!" parties.  Flowery shirts and swim trunks were encouraged.

I've decided to throw one of these parties for Adam, Silas and myself on Sunday.  I may have to wear heavy socks with my flip flops but so be it.  On the inside I will be dreaming of soon-to-come frisbee and firelight with friends.

I just went looking through my cookbooks for the recipe I want to use.  Nothing says summer like food on a stick, right?  This is a recipe to make your own stick food!  It's like bringing the fair to your house except you don't have to wonder what's in those things.  And you can cook it inside. 

Here's the recipe in case you want to throw your own party this weekend.  It's easy to make, VERY kid friendly, and oh-so-summery, even if you're wearing wool socks while you eat it. :)

No matter what the weather does, I hope you have a really nice weekend and get to do something that makes you happy.  We'll be at the final indoor Oneida County Public Market of the season on Saturday from 9am to 1pm.  Feel free to get in touch if we can bring you anything!  

And on Sunday, this farm family will be sporting sandals and enjoying some fun, spring-summoning food on a stick!  How about you?

All the best to you and yours.  See you soon!  :)


Quarry Brook Farms Go Away Winter Sticks*
Serves 4 to 5

1/2 cup cooked rice, oats, or quinoa (we like rice best)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley or 2 tablespoons dried
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped or 1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground cornmeal plus extra for coating
1 pound ground lamb or ground beef

In a bowl, thoroughly stir together the rice/quinoa/oats, egg, tomato sauce, lemon pepper, herbs, salt, pepper, and cornmeal.  Add the lamb/ground beef and mix well.

Shape into approximately 10 oblong balls.  Press the balls onto skewers and roll them in the extra cornmeal.  Broil (or grill) 3 to 4 minutes on each side until cooked through.  If you don't have skewers, cook them and then poke a fork into them to serve as a skewer.

That's it.  We like them with ketchup.  They are one of the few things we eat with ketchup.  Feel free to experiment, they're super tasty no matter what!
(*Adapted from The Grass Fed Gourmet Cookbook by Shannon Hayes)

Cooking with Cupboard Contents on the ides of March!


The following is a recipe we made up last week.  We wanted to taste-test our newest batch of sausage and this is what we found in our cupboard to go with it.  We decided to share the recipe because it was really easy and it turned out to be really yummy. Like we said, sausage is considered a FAST FOOD around this farm. :)

Serves 6
1 tablespoon butter (can also use tallow, lard, coconut oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups bone broth- pork is best for this dish but can use chicken, or veggie, or just water in a pinch
6 to 8 ounces organic mushrooms (any variety works), sliced
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans/chick peas, drained
½ to 1 can organic tomato paste, use more if you want more pronounced tomato flavor
10 ounces fresh spinach
1 pound Quarry Brook Farms bulk Pork Mild Italian sausage, thawed
Salt (optional and to taste)
Red pepper flakes (optional and to taste)
6 servings of something complimentary over which to serve the sausage and spinach mixture.   We used angel hair pasta because that is what we had in our cupboard but rice, polenta, mashed potatoes, any other pasta, or fresh bread would all work nicely too.  Can also serve alone if you prefer to skip grains/carbs but will make for less servings.  Prepare which ever you choose according to your tastes while the other ingredients simmer.  Then set aside and keep warm until time to serve.
Over medium-high heat, place butter (or fat/oil of your choice) into large skillet or Dutch Oven.   Add onions and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stir. 
Add tomato paste to onions and garlic and spread around pan.  Cook for about 1 minute until paste starts to darken slightly and smell good!
Add Italian sausage and immediately start to pull sausage apart using two forks.  Continue to pull sausage apart into crumbles as it browns.  Stop when sausage crumbles are a size you like and allow sausage to continue browning for about 5 minutes.  Stir frequently. 
Add sliced mushrooms and garbanzo beans.  Stir well and allow to cook together for another 3 to 5 minutes. 
Add bone broth and stir.  Wait for contents of skillet to start bubbling then lower heat to medium, cover and allow to simmer until mushrooms are tender and everything smells really good!
Add spinach and stir.  Replace lid and allow to cook just long enough for the spinach to wilt and turn bright green.
Sample and add salt/pepper to taste if desired.  Some may want a dash of salt with this dish and red pepper flakes are a great addition if you would prefer a little kick.
Serve over grain/carb of your choice and enjoy!  Or skip the grains/carbs and enjoy!