Friday, November 10, 2017

Pork Burgers Inspired by #realpigfarming Tour

To me, pork seems to be the neglected protein of the food world.  Outside of bacon, you don’t see a lot of recipes floating around the Internet utilizing this tasty ingredient. That’s a shame because many of the dishes you use featuring chicken would work just as well with pork. The same goes with beef.

I was just as guilty of neglecting pork in my kitchen—bacon exclude. I always have bacon on hand for recipes or meals. But unless I’m fixing something specific to pork—namely pork chops—I forget all about this meat category.

My bad.

I became inspired to correct that error while on the #realpigfarming tour last month. I traveled with other bloggers, dietitians, and pig farmers.


Our first stop was Chicago, where we learned all about the Downtown Marriott Magnificent Mile’s rooftop garden and bee hives. As cool as that was, I was most impressed by the bacon and sausage I had with breakfast, both made in house. The sausage was the best I’ve ever had, and the bacon tasted unlike any you would find in the grocery store.

The next day, we ventured to Indiana and Fair Oaks Farm. Imagine a family-friendly amusement park, but instead of crazy rides, you get to learn all about today’s modern farm. 

I loved how this place allows kids (and adults) to learn all about where their food comes from. I even saw the birth of a calf! And on their pig farm, I learned all about how that lovely pork gets from the farm to my table.

However, for me, he best part of the trip was chatting with the pig farmers.

Kaden and Emily Roush own R Family Farms in Lebanon, Kansas. They have a small operation specializing in Berkshire hogs, which they raise for restaurants and to sell directly to consumers. As their website says, “Today, R Family Farms’ vision is seeded with the desire to educate consumers about where their food comes from, and at the same timed, offer a culinary experience often only reserved for world class dining experiences.”

Michael and Christy Springer own Springer Family Foods, a much larger hog operation near Independence, Kansas. They currently sell approximately 80,000 pigs each year. The operation not only supports the Springer family, but also the families of their 30 full-time employees.

On the trip, these farmers were available to teach us about their lives and how their farms are operated. They answered questions and helped us non-farmers understand how things work and why.

They are passionate about pig farming and want people to know the facts.

Also on the trip, I started to wonder why we don’t use ground pork more often, as we do hamburger and ground turkey. I got tips from the farmers, who as you can imagine, eat pork burgers a lot. I also searched the Internet for ideas, and Fair Oaks Farm had some recipe options.

This recipe is just a general one to get you started. You can add your favorite pork flavorings or toppings to make the burger fit your taste. I fried up the burgers in my cast iron skillet, but you could also cook them on the grill.

Unfortunately, dinnertime now arrives during dark hours, so the lighting for this photo wasn't the greatest.

I liked barbecue sauce and American cheese on my burger. Next time I’d like to add garlic and rosemary to the mix, which I also use in a pork roast recipe. Or I may mix in a little creole seasoning or my BBQ rub to give the burgers a kick.

#RealPigFarming Pork Burgers

Serves 4

1 pound ground pork
5 slices bacon, finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoons dried sage
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together—but don’t over mix. Make into 4 patties about 1-inch thick.  

Preheat your skillet or grill. Cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side (10 minutes total) or until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Disclaimer: This post and the #realpigfarming tour are sponsored by the Kansas Pork Association and the Kansas Soybean Commission, who paid for all of my travel expenses and compensated me for this post. However, my writings, views, opinions, thoughts, and cravings are entirely my own.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Public at the Brickyard’s Corn Chowder on the #KSCornTour

A couple of weeks ago I told you about my adventures on the #KSCornTour. But, you know me, what I remembered the most was the food. We ate a lot. I mean A LOT!!! And most of the dishes featured corn—of course!

On our last evening in Wichita, we ate at Public at the Brickyard in the city’s Old Town area. Located on one of the many brick roads in this area, the restaurant was a cozy, warm place to enjoy a meal. They scope out local farmers and beer vendors to bring their efforts to Public customers.

We met up with some Kansas corn farmers to talk about their lives and agriculture in the state, and what they see for the future. It was a fun and informative evening.

The Public folks had a variety of their pizzas on the long table when we arrived. I really liked the Margherita and this Matterhorn, with prosciutto, mozzarella, fontina, and sweet tomato marmalade with fresh arugula on honey wheat dough.

But what I remembered the most was the Corn Chowder. Rich, creamy, slightly sweet, and a little smoky from the roasted corn.

How good was the soup?

I ate the whole bowl before remembering to take a photo.

I considered licking the bowl clean but I try to save that behavior for home.

Before leaving town, I went back to the restaurant and begged asked for the recipe.

Fortunately, they were willing to share…and let me share with you.

The homemade version tasted just as amazing as the restaurant one. With the arrival of autumn’s chill, this is a comforting way to warm up and would be the perfect start to a holiday meal.

Public at the Brickyard’s Corn Chowder
Reprinted with permission

8 ears of corn, roasted
2 yellow onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 cup chicken stock
2 pints heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Roast corn and cut corn off the cob. (Or used frozen corn—see note below.)
  2. In pan, heat vegetable oil and heat onion and garlic. Deglaze with red wine vinegar. Reduce for two minutes. Add chicken stock, sugar, cobs and half of corn.
  3. Simmer 30 minutes and remove cobs.
  4. Puree mixture with electric blender and return to pan. (Be careful not to fill blender too full so you don’t spray hot molten liquid out of the top.) Add heavy cream and remaining corn to pan.
  5. Simmer 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Since fresh corn season was over when I made this, I used frozen corn kernels. There is approximately 3/4 cup of kernels on every ear of corn so you can use approximately 7 cups of kernels for this dish. To roast them, I put the kernels into the pan with the vegetable oil and sautéed them until they started to brown. Then I added the onion and garlic to sauté until tender.

Note 2: I’ve made this in a slow cooker. I placed the frozen corn kernels, diced onion, garlic, and chicken broth into the slow cooker, set on low, and let cook for 8 hours. Remove about half of the corn kernels, and then blend the rest until smooth. Add back the kernels, and the remaining ingredients. Allow to continue cooking until the soup is hot.

Disclaimer: This post and the #KSCornTour are sponsored by Kansas Corn, which is a collaboration of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and the Kansas Corn Commission. They paid for all of my travel expenses and compensated me for this post. However, my writings, views, opinions, thoughts, and cravings are entirely my own.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

All Things Corn on the #KSCornTour

Disclaimer: This post and the #KSCornTour are sponsored by Kansas Corn, which is a collaboration of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and the Kansas Corn Commission. They paid for all of my travel expenses and compensated me for this post. However, my writings, views, opinions, thoughts, and cravings are entirely my own.  

What do you know about corn? Specifically, what happens once it’s harvested?

I thought I knew a lot. My grandparent’s farm grew corn every summer. I watched it being harvested and knew the cows came running anytime my grandfather (and later my father) poured corn kernels into the feeding trough. This corn wasn’t like the kind we boiled and slathered with butter. This was hard corn meant to feed animals.

That was pretty much all I knew…until a few weeks ago when I joined a group of bloggers on the #KSCornTour. The folks at KS Corn are passionate about this grain and wanted to show us all it can do besides feeding animals and human beings.

Here’s what I learned:

1.     Corn makes a smooth vodka: Our first stop was Wheat State Distilling in Wichita, where they make vodka out of wheat and corn. They also make other tasty spirits and serve a wonderful charcuterie plate for an appetizer.

2.  Corn makes a sustainable fuel: Our next visit was to Kansas Ethanol, where we watched them haul in semis of corn to turn into ethanol that fuels our cars--among other things. Our state’s 12 ethanol plants produce nearly half a billion gallons of the clean-burning fuel. And, once the ethanol is made, the remaining mushy corn pulp is turned into wet and dry, high-nutrient distillers grains that feed livestock. (Kansas Corn works hard to protect Renewable Fuels Standards that provide a market for our ethanol fuel.)

3.     A lot of our corn is exported to other countries: Ask just about any Kansas Farmer, and he or she will tell you their vision is not only to feed their families, Kansas, and the US, but also the World. They think on a global scale. A lot of the Kansas corn is brought to grain elevators like this one run by Mid Kansas Coop, where semis and railcars start the corn’s worldwide journey.

4.     Corn does make a tasty meal: I don’t have to tell you how delicious Kansas sweet corn can be. You can grill it like we did at All Things BBQ, or you can cook it into many delicious dishes, like the corn chowder I enjoy so much at Public at the Brickyard that I forgot to take a photo before I ate it! Thank goodness they gave me the recipe—which I will share with you soon! Stay tuned!

5.     Every time I go on a trip like this Kansas Corn Tour, it makes me appreciate the hard work and dedication of our farmers. We enjoyed lunch with the Splitter family on their farm, where we had the chance to see the amazing equipment that helps them do their work.

     I started following Matt Splitter on Instagram, and lately, he’s posting videos of planting winter wheat to be harvested next June! And he’s doing it at night! It is easy to take a farmer for granted as we consume the result of their labor.

  Take a minute and thank a farmer.