Prime Rib Roast with Roasted Potatoes

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IMG_2335Raising our own beef has taught us how few specialty cuts one actually gets from an animal.  We’ve learned the anatomy, and where each cut comes from.  For instance if we want tenderloin, we need to give up Porterhouse steaks, and other choices are made all the way from sub-primal cuts to the final portioned cuts.  We are always trying to produce beef that is lean, but with marbling, a fine balance.  Our animals are ranging their whole lives, which helps keep them lean, but they need to have enough good quality feed and browse to keep their weights up without reducing the marbling.

When you have a side of beef in the freezer, you are more mindful of what you eat, as a specialty cut is exactly that, special!  These are the cuts that are from the least used muscles.  They are fabulous from more mature animals, as they become more flavourful as the animal itself ages. Because of the small portion of these cuts when compared to the “lesser” cuts, they do tend to be saved for special occasions.

When cooking these treats, we want to be sure they are as tasty as possible, so need to follow tried and true methods.  Regardless of the weight of the prime rib roast, this recipe works.  We’ve used it for 3 rib, 4 rib and full racks: as well as roasts from 200 lb sides to 250 lb sides.  It always works.  Be sure you know how you want your roast done before you start.  I usually cook medium-rare, as it gives a bit of everything for a group.  The photos are from a small 4 rib roast, enough for 4 servings.  As well, this was cut from a smaller than usual side, producing a smaller roast.  I would suggest that you count on 1 lb per 1⅓ servings when purchasing a roast. Continue reading

Roasted Potatoes

IMG_2358When roasting a good cut of meat, roasted potatoes make for a lovely side dish.  Use a good Russet or Yukon Gold potato to get the right texture.  The par-boiling allows for the potatoes to have a bit of pre-cooking before roasting which helps to speed things up, as well it gives us a chance to texturize them a bit to create a nice crust. Continue reading

Butterhorns

IMG_2329We buy our hay from the island’s Capernwray Harbour Bible school, and from a Vancouver Island hay producer and seller, Ray.  Ray’s trucks have “Make Hay with Ray” printed cheerfully on them.  Our usual purchase is about 200 bales and it arrives early in the morning and we have about 40 minutes to get it off loaded and into the barn, so that Ray can get his truck back into the ferry line-up for the return trip.  Although we’ve done it before with no outside help (I can still hear the girls grumbling…), Capernwray offers to help most times, by arriving with a team of 8 or 10 healthy, strong young men.  They work so fast and so hard and within about 30 minutes, the truck is unloaded and the hay safe and dry in the barn.

They work so cheerfully, and take the load from our shoulders (literally), it’s the least we can do to offer them a drink and some baking for their kindness.  Late yesterday I made a batch of Butterhorns, getting them iced and topped with nuts late in the evening.

It was so fun to be able to carry out a big baking sheet full of treats to some very appreciative people.  These aren’t difficult to bake, and are so rich and yummy, that they absolutely fit the bill as a snack for hard workers, or a not so hard worker to enjoy with a cup of tea.

The original recipe was passed along to me by a friend, I believe in the late 90’s, and still gets pulled out at least once a year, and usually for our hay boys. Continue reading

Cassoulet (Ann’s North American version)

IMG_2244Cassoulet is the original pork and beans.  Each region in France seems to have their version, goose or duck and whichever sausage the region is known for.  My first taste of cassoulet was from Oyama Sausage.  It had confit of duck, their own sausage, and such a light tomato sauce.  We had it for Christmas lunch, and for many years since it’s been our family’s tradition to have Cassoulet at Christmas.

It is a great dish for large groups of people, as it is easily doubled and tripled.  It rebounds, from being frozen, beautifully, and can be made up to 3 days ahead, just hold off with the crumb topping until you’re ready to bake it.  All that’s needed is a crunchy green winter salad, some rustic bread, and big, bold red wine.  I served it for a 65th birthday last year, and saw many folks going back for thirds!  Not that I haven’t done it myself. Continue reading

Roasted Yam & Apple Salad

IMG_2284When we were first married, the farm was 50 acres of open grazing land mixed with woodlands. The driveway was built and we had a 40’ trailer to live in.  Our property was the larger half of old farmlands that had been divided in two.  We shared in a small herd of cattle ranging over both properties.

It was a very inspiring thing to look at what was essentially a blank canvas.  We drew plans of what we might have on the farm.  Where the orchard would go, a stable, cross fencing and so on, even where we’d build the house.  At that time we didn’t know that farms tend to have plans of their own.

Our first building was for storage, with three stalls for the horses (even though we only had one), an area for hay and a large room that could be heated.  This room became the pump house, the electrical shed, the milking parlour, freezer area and storage.  The first winter that we had this new space, we bought big burlap sacks of potatoes, carrots and onions.  We had beef in the freezer, eggs from our hens, and I thought how fortunate we were to have so much! Later our small orchard would start to give us fruit, and we could add that to our winter larder.  Those early winters gave me a real appreciation for eating seasonal foods.

Now we live in our farmhouse, with lots of cross fencing and not too many other buildings.  I have plenty of food storage, as we’ve needed to incorporate that into our home.  I try not to go across to town too often, and prefer to use foods that last well.  We have a large outdoor larder on the north side of the house, which except for in extreme temperatures in the winter & summer, can keep fruits and vegetables very well.   Continue reading