Cooking Tip

You will likely find our butcher’s version of country pork sausage in your cooler this month. This is fresh sausage, not smoked, so we avoid the preservatives. Just our pure pork meat and lard. You have three options for cooking – steam/boil, skillet or grill. I prefer, in this order, grill, skillet, steam/boil. I like to brown the skin as well as cook the meat throughout. My German brother-in-law cooks all of his sausage in hot water. To each his own.

It's quality sausage however you cook it.

Recipe: Pot o' Beans

When winter arrives, I think of stews, soups and beans. Meals that warm the heart as well as the stomach. These are well-rounded meals when made with a varied mix of meats and vegetables, all of which are melded into one pot.

Today, think beans. Here’s one of my favorites and it’s a complete meal in a pot. The only meat you need pull from your freezer is a couple of links of sausage. And the bonus: you will make several meals all at once.

JVF Pot o’ Beans


  • 2 links sausage (brats or Italian)
  • a medium onion (I like yellow)
  • a bell pepper
  • a stalk of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a big carrot or 3 skinny ones
  • fresh parsley
  • a small box of fresh mushrooms
  • chicken stock (more than a can but less than the 32 oz. size)
  • ½ pound fresh frozen Navy beans (or blackeyes, crowders, purple hull. HEB has very fresh frozen ones this time of year in the fresh produce section. Central Market has them unfrozen from time to time)
  • 2 cup of rice (makes 4 cups cooked rice) Wild and brown mix, or “Cajun Grain” is best.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • A dash of Louisiana hot sauce


  1. Chop onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Begin saute’ in butter and olive oil until slightly softened.
  2. Slice carrots in fairly thick coins. Hold aside.
  3. Slice the mushrooms. Saute’ them in butter.
  4. Slice the sausage and add to the vegetable mirepoix you are sauteeing. When the sausage is half-cooked and the vegetables are softened, add the peas and cover with stock about a ½ inch above the peas. Add the carrots immediately and bring to a simmer. Saute’ the sliced mushrooms in butter until slightly browned. Simmer for 45 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and butter.
  5. Start the rice.
  6. Simmer another 15 minutes or until the carrots and beans are softened. Turn off fire, add a dash or more of hot sauce stirred in, cover and allow to sit about 15 minutes while it all melds. Serve over rice garnished with chopped fresh parsley. See the photo on Facebook.

Store remainder in fridge because it’s even better the second and third time around. Can it get any better than this? One meat, butter, chicken stock and 8 vegetables in one pot, packed with protein, carbs, a little fat and lots of vitamins and minerals. We are eating grandly on a budget, folks. Live the dream of good food!

Recipe: Beer Brats & Summer Grilled Chicken

'Tis the Season To Be Grillin'.

Summer is upon us, turning officially into that season just before your cooler arrives this weekend. We have instructed Isiah at our custom butcher shop to accommodate that change by making more grillable cuts. So you’ll find more of these in your cooler this month and even more in July and August until we reach the cooling days of Fall in late September when you return to the kitchen with pot roasts and First Northern Chili. For now, keep your kitchen cool by turning to the outdoor grill.

We served beer brats along with weenies, watermelon and peaches at the Open Farm earlier this month (it was great to meet 62 of you) and they were popular to say the least. We have asked Isiah to pull the link size back to a 6 inch length so that it fits a hot dog bun or baguette. Here’s the easy-as-pie recipe.

Beer Brats & Summer Grilled Chicken

Slice desired quantity of onions and saute in butter. Add brats, cover with beer (we prefer a heavier beer, but any old beer will do). Boil for say 15 minutes, remove brats but keep beer warm. Throw on the grill until  a nice browning is accomplished. Return to beer until ready to serve, with or without beered onions.

For a nice addition, grill peppers too - sweet, mild or spicy. Cut into strips to be added to your brat dog po’ boy. While at it, you might as well grill the bun too and if you happen to spread the bun with a garlicky butter first, you’ll be sitting on top of the grilling world.  Cooking is fun and therapeutic, don’t you agree?

What about the big fat hen in your cooler. Do you have to cut it in pieces to grill it? No. In fact it's better to simply butterfly it with shears or scissors — cut along the spine then cut through the breastbone. Lay it flat on the grill and take it from there. When it is finished, it will be easy to pull off into pieces for the table.