Thursday, April 30, 2009

Foraging for Wild Edible Plants

I don't know about you, but after this long cold winter I am craving GREEN anything! There is something so adventurous about foraging for wild greens not to mention that wild edibles are usually mineral and vitamin rich.

Warm Lentil and Lamb's-Quarters Salad with Feta
4 cups of water
1 1/4 cups dried lentils
2 Tbsps olive oil
2 Tbsps water
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp dried whole oregano
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
3 cups lamb's -quarters, well washed

Combine 4 cups water and lentils in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 30 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside. Combine 2 Tbsps water, red wine vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic in a medium bowl. Add lentils, cheese and lamb's-quarters, toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. 4 one cup servings.

Dandelions- Dandelion greens, usually found in early May and you don't need to go much farther than your lawn to find them. They are rich in Vit A.

Fiddleheads- From the ostrich fern, it is a Maine tradition. Boiled in lightly salted water and then tossed with butter. Delicious!

Lamb's Quarters " Pigweed"- gather the young shoots with leaves in summer. Pigweed grows all across Maine. Cook much the same as Fiddleheads.

Orache-Found only along salty marshes and tidal rivers, collect in late spring to early summer.
Salty taste , good mixed with other greens.

Purslane- A garden weed, that grows flat and fleshy leaves. Cooked much like spinach but won't lose its bulk like spinach.

You can see illustrations of these plants along with more info and recipes at this link:

A good book by a well known author who is very in tune with our wilderness both flora and fauna is " Tom Brown's Field Guide- Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu

Is it hype? It seems reminiscent of the SARS bird flu, which had everyone fearing the backyard chicken to the barn swallow. Maybe all the manufacturers of " Tamiflu" are trying to unload all those stockpiled stores they produced for bird flu, you know move product and make a buck. Is it designed by the government to distract us from the current economic situation? Give us something greater to fear? Or could it be NAIS trying to put all the small farms out of business, figuring that if people fear meat and pork and sales are down the big agribusinesses will survive, or get a bail out, but the small farms with 4-6 pigs will go under.
Here's another interesting fact. Viruses can cross species between pigs, humans, and birds, BUT that means that " Swine Flu " could really just be "Human Flu" that a sick employee in a large hog confinement system in Mexico, gave to some poor immunosuppressed pig, which in turn infected the rest of the immunosuppressed pigs, which then infected the other employees who then went home and infected their families. Confinement factory farms are, and always have been the perfect vector for these viruses.I believe they are most definitely responsible for the outbreak in Mexico. Take the extreme overcrowding, vaccinating heavily with live viruses, misuse and overuse of antibiotics, sanitation problems, and then pollution of surrounding towns through ground water, manure lagoons, leaching into streams and rivers and it is a disaster always on the brink of happening. Anyway it may not even be swine in origin after all. I really haven't heard anything about mass destruction of herds of confinement pigs yet. But certainly that is a perfect breeding ground especially since these confinement farms have been known to feed rations in part derived of " poultry litter" form chicken CAFO's, which includes feces, feathers, dirty litter and maybe worse. Remember viruses can jump between humans, pigs, and chickens. We as consumers have got to take this into our own hands and be responsible for what we eat. It stands to reason, if we stop supporting this cheap food system, which ultimately isn't so cheap and could end up costing us our lives as a worst case scenerio, we will eventually start shutting them down. This would improve our health, the health of our food producing animals, the health of our wallets, the health of our local economies, the health of the environment. One person may not be able to change the world alone but obviously each and every one of us adds up to a greater whole.
Are we worried about swine flu? No! And we are in contact with pigs everyday. Our pigs are healthy and raised outdoors. We currently only have 4 adults and 10 little piggies anyway. They are raised outdoors. It's kind of hard to catch an airborne virus out in the open air and with wind blowing 25 miles per hour! Most important to remember however, is that you can't catch a virus from a pig or a pig farmer that they don't even have! All the more reason to buy local from sources you trust. People aren't getting " swine flu " from pork anyway. It is human to human contact at this point.
Common sense when a flu is going around, avoid overcrowded stuffy situations and for now its probably smart to avoid people who are sick with flu like symptoms. Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough, ( good manners )and wash your hands before you eat, and probably try not to touch your eyes, mouth or nose if you have been around someone sick until you can wash your hands. I get mildly nervous about virulent strains because I have a 2 year old with type 1 diabetes and an infant, for them it could be trickier if they were to get something really nasty.
DON"T PANIC!!!!!!!!! Yet...........
Edited to add:
I also have heard from a very trusted source, JoAnn Grohman, of " Keeping A Family Cow" fame, that large doses of Vitamin C can be of assistance when dealing with the flu or flu like symptoms. 2-5 grams ( 2,000 - 5,000 mg)daily. Less, I would imagine for the very young. If you take more than you need your body will just eliminate it anyway via many quick trips to the bathroom. If you know what I mean.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Water System for Rotational Grazing

There's Dante carrying some 1inch polypipe and Collin our VERY part time farm employee. I wish we could afford his help more often. He is a great worker.
We are setting up an above ground watering system for our rotational grazing. These cows are gonna eat some grass this year! We have 20 acres of grazing. It needs to be improved but we are working at it. We have some nice 2 year old aged manure to spread and always follow the cows and mow the paddocks after they rotate. We have made great strides but I look forward to the soil test results, so we can improve even more.
The guys laid out 2700ft of pipe yesterday. We still need to put in the troughs and pipe from the T's to the the troughs and hook up the float valves. The cows and I are going to be so spoiled! In the past we have pumped water out of our almost year round brook, into ONE centrally located water trough, but the last 2 summers we've run into an August drought and the brook just about dried up leaving us to cart water down to them on the back of the pick up. If you know how much water a dairy cow drinks on a hot day in August, you'll understand the inconvenience. The area around that water trough was receiving a lot of traffic as well. Plus a cow won't graze as well if she isn't getting enough water. We ran the pipe the whole way from our barn, where we tapped into the water we have there. After we wrap up this water project, we are fencing the whole 20 acres in 5-6 strands of high tensile electric fence. Right now we only have about 2-3 acres in permanent fence and all the rest is step in posts and polywire. It does not keep in our calves or a BULL. My goal is to have a lovely summer without 5:00am calls from the neighbors that the bull is on the highway. You know the saying, " Good fences make Good neighbors"

Friday, April 24, 2009

Camden Market Menu, Saturday April 25th

Camden Market Menu

Heritage Organic Pork
Osso Bucco
Stew Meat
Pork Kebabs
Nitrate Free Boneless Ham & Ham steaks
Nitrate Free Thick Cut Bacon
Thick cut pork Chops
Countrystyle, Baby back, and St. Louis Style Ribs

Premium Organic Sausage Links
Dante's Hot Italian
Sweet Italian
Maine Maple Breakfast

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grilled Cheese all Grown Up

April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Cool. Here is a grown up version of this perennial favorite, courtesy of Laura Werlin.
Grilled Blue Cheese and Bacon Sandwich
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp blk pepper
8 slices artisan onion bread
2 Tbsp butter, softened
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp
In a small bowl combine and mix well the blue cheese, cream cheese, scallion and blk pepper. Butter one side of each slice of bread, spread blue cheese mixture on unbuttered side, top with bacon slices, cover with remaining bread, butter side out.
Place on electric griddle set at 275 degrees or in skillet over med heat, cook 4-5 minutes each side until golden brown and cheese is melted.

The rain has stopped finally. I know we needed it, it had been too dry for Spring, but at the same time it made it so easy to work outside. We are in for an unseasonably warm weekend, I heard 80's. You'll have to tie both hands behind my back to keep the cows off the field. The grass is gonna come alive after that rain and then this sun.
The herb seedlings are really coming up. We have basil, savory, sage, and parsley. Just waiting on rosemary and lemon balm, then I can start the flowers the kids got for Easter. Cosmos, bachelor buttons, marigolds, and nasturtium.
Iris is farrowing right now! I checked her an hour ago and before I even peeked in I could hear her grunting that soft, " come hither " call they do to get their newborns to nurse. She had just gotten started and had 2 little red piglets so far.
Gale's dangling horn came off, it was actually interesting to look at. Can't wait for the process to finish.
Wolfie, our young herdsire, managed to get the weaning ring out of his nose again. Of course Gale has been sucked dry. She is the nurse cow of his choice. Problem is she is tiny, and already nursing 2 calves. Plus he cuts her teats. I didn't need this right now. If I can't find it, I'll need to keep him im a stall until a new one is ordered. It's kind of hard to breed cows, when your bull has to be seperated because he is nursing them. Oh well. I need to preg check them all anyway.

On Farming and being a Mother.......

One goes well with the other don't you think? As a matter of a fact it is because of becoming a Mother and having children that Olde Sow Farm was created. As soon as our first child, Zoie ,was born I knew I wouldn't be leaving her to go back to work. Even though I had a job that I really enjoyed working for a veterinarian. I wanted to be with my children 24 hours a day. With Jude's birth, I delved into local and organic foods although didn't produce any of our own, we made a cross country move from Idaho back to our home state Maine.
When I became pregnant with our 3rd child, literally the week we moved onto this farm, I became REALLY interested in raising our own food to feed ourselves, both for health and sustainability reasons. We had a couple sows at this point, and after Veda was born, we got our first Jersey milk cow. I was in heaven, and also started thinking about how I could raise healthy food for us and also others and maybe make some money as well so I could continue to stay home with our growing brood of children.
Fast forward 2 years, pregnant with Ayla, and Olde Sow Farm becomes a reality. We sold our first official pork at " Maine Fare" in Camden in September of 2006. I think pregnancy is good for my farming goals as I always seem to get really creative and motivated. Some type of Life nesting I think, as we aim to prepare a nice Life for each child. Summer of 2008, I was preparing to have our 5th child,Ida May, and we were also slowly building a creamery and acquiring a few more Jersey cows.
This 2009 market season the creamery will get its feet wet.
It hasn't all been roses. Trudging across 20 acres with crying babies on your back, while setting up rotational fences isn't as pleasant as a contemplative morning out doing it yourself. Attempting to chase down loose piglets on the highway with 2 kids in a jogging stroller and 2 more galloping beside me and the dog pitching in can be embarassing. Sharing the grief of untimely deaths of beloved animals. Suffering a serious financial blow at the hands of another with less integrity, Worst of all, almost losing our 1 1/2 year old baby girl to type 1 diabetes, but also finding out what a wonderful community we live in, as neighbors kept our wood furnace going, cows fed and watered, and hot meals delivered.
I love that my kids think pork, beef, eggs, milk all come from farms and not the store. They can catch a wiggly piglet, hand milk a cow, transform milk into yogurt, find kittens in the hay stack, and grow their own veggies. Our 2 oldest practice their Math, making change while selling our food at farmer's markets.
Right now at this junction of the road I have less to do physically with the farm than I ever have before.It's temporary, I miss it, but Dante has jumped in. He draws the line at milking cows and crafting that milk, but this winter he has been a God Send. Ayla's needs with her Diabetes, and newborn Ida Mays STRONG preference for Momma has kept me close to the house. With warmer weather I am able to pull it off much better as the kids love to push the baby around in the stroller while I milk, and the cows move permanently out of the barn onto pasture 24/7 for 5-6 months so no manure cleaning. Yahoo! Yet another reason why seasonal farming and selling in season at farmer's markets works so well for us. In the winter, our kids love to play outside but bundling them up x 5 kids, to spend a couple hours 2 times a day to do all the milking and barn cleaning chores just isn't happening.
It's been a great ride so far, even the bumps in the road, it's a part of our story and I can't wait to see it unfold!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Humane Dehorning of Cattle

First off it is most humane to get rid of the horns before they get a start. There are a couple good options 1.) you can burn the horn " bud " with either an electric or propane cattle dehorning unit when the calves are very young, I think it is under 2 months old 2.) you can apply a dehorning, caustic paste to the horn bud which does the same thing. This could be tricky as you need to be sure to keep the calf restrained for a bit or else cover the buds with duct tape so she doesn't rub the paste off and burn some other part of her body or another cow.
I admit I haven't done either yet, because frankly they don't appeal to me and I didn't think horns were a big deal until this past winter. I have 13 cows and 2 have their horns. In the summer it isn't an issue, but this winter Gale, in the picture, decided to start really using those horns on the heifers. One heifer Madeline is still missing some hair on her back legs from Gale. Jules, the other horned cow is actually a 2 year old heifer, and hadn't used her horns on anyone yet, but I feel sure she would have once she realized that she was the only cow with horns.
I had heard about a humane method of dehorning cattle, and was finally pushed to give it a try because of the poor heifers getting pushed around. You can just cut the horns off, but this is BLOODY, very painful, pregnant cows have been known to abort their calves and a lot of cows become very headshy as a result of the trauma. I definitely did not want to do that, and would have probably just sold the horned cows if that was my only option. Instead, I decided to try banding the horns with the Callicrate Bander. This is actually a very nice bander used for castrating bulls. You can see a tutorial on dehorning with the bander at this link. Note: It is not recommended that you try this with regular cheap bands, you need the heavy duty strengh with the unique tightening gauge found only on this bander. My dad just so happened to own this particular bander, so we did it. We put one set of heavy duty bands on Gale and 2 sets on Jules. For us it was extremely easy, fast, the cows really didn't show any signs of distress, and have been so content that I was really starting to doubt whether or not it would work. The bands were covered with duct tape to keep the cows from rubbing them off so I couldn't actually visualize any changes of the band, BUT I did notice immediately that Gale stopped using her horns on the heifers, and after a week or two their horns felt cool to the touch. Restriction of blood flow to the area. Then their horns started to look kind of waxy, and flaky.
Six weeks almost to the day after putting the bands on, I noticed at dusk that Gale had a horn hanging down just like in the photo above. There were a couple drops of blood on her face, I'm not kidding like only 2 drops, and that's it. The cows are not traumatized, Gale likes me to scratch around the falling off horns, they are probably itchy, and Jules the heifer is actually MORE friendly than before. She has gotten to come into the milk stanchion and eat a little grain while I monitor her progression so I think she has actually almost enjoyed this process! I am so glad we finally did this, I only wish we had done it sooner. I'll update photos when the process is complete and their horns are gone. Maybe a before and after picture. I should have taken a pic of poor Madeline to demonstrate why we made the move to get horns out of our herd. I would recommend this to anyone, particularly if you are in really close contact with the cow, such as a family milk cow. There are reasons why most dairys don't have cows with horns. The cow could hurt you unintentionally to just tossing her head to rid herself of flys, if your in the wrong spot.
This is simple, doesn't require any skill, but good restraint should be used such as a stanchion. Don't forget to give your cow a tetanus shot too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ultimate Local Bacon Burger

Tonight we are having burgers. Our beef and bacon, local mushrooms sauteed in a little butter and wine, red onion sliced thinly, and thick slices of cheese melted at the last minute. Unfortunately we are going with hamburger buns from the store but overall a delicious Friday night meal.
Berretta the cow, is absolutely huge. I don't know how she is going to make it to May 14th. I've been worried she's having twins all along. I hope it isn't one really big bull calf. The other cows are all well, we have 1 cow and a fatted calf going to the butchers on Monday. I'm looking for a couple more healthy Jersey bull calves to graft onto my nurse cows.
Today for the first time it is obvious that Half Past is definately bred. She is due August 15th. Maybe she'll go early and have it on Ida's Birthday, or late and have it on mine.
Teeny is well, she has finally given up on grain and realized she is to be a dry cow and stopped waiting at the gate for now.
Iris- our Tamworth sow is due on Tuesday and she will be our last litter for the year I hope she does a good job.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Starting seeds

Zinnia seedlings. Just seeing something green and growing, does wonders to lift the spirits! Yesterday it spit snow all day but we were inside starting more seeds and pretending it is Spring. We have a flat of zinnias for the kids flower garden, 2 flats of herbs started. Italian flat leaf parsley, rosemary, savory, sage, lemon balm, and of course sweet basil. I did notice a couple days ago that the daffodils and crocus are up. More green things, and the wettest part of the pasture is finally free of snow. Too early yet to move the cows out, I am so tempted anyway. It's too wet though, they would tear it up. Weather forecast actually had temps near 60 for Friday! Hooray!
Berretta, our cow due May 14th, is coming along nicely. Her ligaments are softening and she is starting to bag up. I can't wait for a new calf and plentiful milk again. The mini vacation from milking during mud season has actually been a pretty good idea.

Monday, April 13, 2009

In Search of.......

Olde Sow Farm is currently looking for:

Used wine coolers or dorm size fridges
Standard size Refrigerator
Stainless steel stockpots
Small Scale cheesemaking supplies
1/2 - 1hp vacuum pump

This last one is a WANT more than a need. Roan Milking Shorthorn heifer calf. As devoted as I am to Jersey cows I have always wanted a roan milking shorthorn cow to milk. I have 2 willing nurse cows so would actually prefer a young calf that has had colostrum to put on one of my cows.

Email us with any leads.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why Buy Local?

It's a popular question these days. One I think we are all even more aware of due to the worsening economy. When I think back, to when did I first hear this popular refrain or more likely when did it actually start to creep into my subconcious mind, I've got to hand it to my dear old Dad. He has been in business for himself, in a region that is depressed in all ways, not just economically, and in a state that is heavily taxed and not too friendly toward small business, my whole life. ( 30 years )
He has always been a staunch supporter of local business and keeps it local as much as he can. Even though it pains him to see community members travel 60-100 miles away to buy a cheap lawn mower or trimmer from Walmart and Home Depot then bring it in to his shop for repairs. If he can get it local , he often will- even it means paying a higher price.

Why buy local? Local food tastes a whole lot better and is a heck of a lot fresher than food that has travelled from other states and even countries ( scary ). Buying locally keeps your hard earned money in your community and state. It isn't just savvy consumers that need to keep it local, it's also businesses and farmers themselves. Ask your local farmer where they buy their seeds, or grain, or get their equipment serviced. Think of how much money could be kept in circulation in your community if every resident vowed to spend just $10/week on a local product or service that they may have been tempted to purchase online or from a great distance in order to save a buck.In a small community like mine with just 2-3000 residents that would be an additional $20-$30,000 a week or $80,000 -$120,000 a month put right back into your county and state. You may even see new industry and growth spring up, if businesses decide to hire local contractors for their services or goods. Buying locally creates jobs, lessens enviromental emissions by sticking closer to home, and not burning fuel trucking in produce from 3,000 miles away just so we can eat fruit out of season. Hasn't anyone ever heard of seasonality? You know it tastes better in season, purchased or picked locally. Why not pick extra in season and can or freeze it, or how about just relishing the memory of how delicious those June strawberries were, and just waiting for that season to come around again.
Small changes really can make a big difference.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Camden Market Menu, Saturday April 11th

Camden Winter Market 9-12

Heritage Organic Pork
Osso bucco
Stew Meat
Pork Kebabs
Nitrate Free- Ham steaks, Bone -in and Boneless Hams
Nitrate Free Thick Cut Bacon
Nitrate Free Canadian Bacon
Boneless Boston Butt
Thick cut Pork Chops
Baby Back, St. Louis style and Country style Ribs

Premium Organic Sausage Links
Dante's Hot Italian
Sweet Italian
Maine Maple Breakfast

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rails to Trails

Yesterday, while in East Machias waiting for Veda's speech therapy session, the kids and I decided to take a walk on the relatively new rails to trails. Here are all five kiddos at the beginning of the trail, East Machias River in the background. To say it was windy is an understatement! We still had a really nice time, hoping for less wind next time, though. The water was raging, I was a bit on edge making sure the kids stayed right near me.

An interesting sidenote, totally unrelated to this post. We just found out 2 days ago that our beautiful twin cream colored sister cats, have testicles. Oops, I am having a really hard time transitioning to calling them boys! They need new names, and probably a visit to the vet very soon too.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Raw Milk

This is a picture I took one morning of our breakfast. The eggs, bacon, sausage, and milk were all our own, grown and produced right here on the farm.
Raw milk is always hotly debated. Raw milk is basically milk straight from the cow, completely unadulterated. It hasn't been pastuerized or homogenized. It is vitamin and mineral rich and raw milk from cows grazing green grass is also a good source of essential fatty acids, CLA's, beneficial bacteria like probiotics plus loads of active enzymes. Many people who are lactose intolerant find they can drink raw milk.
It makes sense to me, you want to eat food that is as close to its natural state, with as little processing as possible. That is no secret, so why should milk be any different?
There are some cautions, however. Milk that is produced in large confinement dairies for instance probably shouldn't be consumed raw. There are different standards in place for milk that is to be pasteurized, lower standards, and raw milk, higher standards to adhere to. In general large dairies are supplying milk to processors who are going to pasteurize and homogenize. Organic Pastures in California is perhaps the largest raw milk dairy and have excellent quality milk.
Raw milk tastes better too. If you've never had it before, at first it will seem so rich and earthy. You never knew milk tasted so complex and delicious! The flavor can change daily according to what species of plants the cows grazed that day. It certainly changes with the seasons. If you are lucky enough to find raw milk from pastured Jersey cows you are in for a real treat. If not homogenized a thick layer of rich cream rises to the top and can be skimmed off for your coffee, or to make butter, or just stir it back in and enjoy your whole milk.
There is an article at titled " After Illicit Drugs, Raw Milk is the most briskly traded illegal commodity" you can read about it here.

It is illegal in 42 states but luckily not so here in Maine. You can purchase raw milk from us and others in Maine, on the farm and at Farmer's Markets and even in retail stores from those of us who are licensed to sell raw milk.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Who Left the Light On?

In my house I am the " lights police". I patrol the back bedrooms, the bathroom and the cellar looking for any offenders brazen enough to leave a room without turning the lights off. Not only is it better for our wallets, but it is also something that we need to be conscious of and instill in our children - energy conservation.
So imagine my surprise one night, while I was roaming around checking on sleeping kids, when I notice there is a light left on out in the barn, that I just happen to only be able to see out that child's window. " Who left the light on?" I grumble to myself. Of course I pull on a coat and go schlup through the mud to the barn and turn off the light. Next night, same thing. Next night- you guessed it. Night four it is definitely beyond annoying! I interrogate the kids, my husband. All plead innocent and now I'm bound and determined to figure it out.
Next morning I caught the culprits red handed. Or red-hooved. It was the calves standing in the aisle in the barn, licking the light switches and turning it on. The really funny thing is, the light that was repeatedly left on is a light that shines out behind the barn precisely where the hay feeder is located. Maybe calves are afraid of the dark too.

In the spirit of energy conservation and peak oil here are two websites definitely worth a read. Of course I don't agree with everything, but that would be boring anyway. Thought provoking to say the least.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Clean Sheets

These are the first line dried sheets of 2009! The smell was pure heaven. That little pixie admiring them is 2 year old Ayla. We've decided it's spring even if it doesn't look it. Technically it's Spring. The calender says so. The animals say so. We have spring piglets being born, and cows getting ready to calve and shedding their thick winter coats. Admittedly, today, is definitely more reminiscent of Spring, with rain showers and MUD. Terrible stuff, but all I can think of is green grass and sunshine! It seems a little futile to be brushing the cows knowing they are gonna go slog through the mud to get to the hay feeder but I do anyway. Beretta and Chia, our biggest girls like to forgo the clean wooden platforms covered in fragrant pine shavings in the barn, in favor of a more " comfy " perch atop the good old expanding manure pile. all that cushion and therapeutic heat from decomposing hay and manure. Luckily I'm not milking either of them, and the cows may be moving out on a sacrificial pasture tomorrow to spend their days, coming back to the barn at night. Even though there isn't much green out there they still like to at least stretch their legs and go through the motions.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Brined Herb Rib Chops

These chops are from some of our Tamworth/Berkshire pigs. You can see the marbling in them. This is one of my favorite chop recipes. Taken from Bruce Aidell's " Complete Book of Pork ".

Brown Sugar and Molasses Brine

3 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon dark unsulphured molasses

1 cup ice cubes

4 bone in rib pork chops, thick cut

Fennel Seed and Fresh Herb Rub

1 tablespoon crushed fennel seeds

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1. To make the brine. Pour the water into a large bowl or plastic storage tote. Stir in salt and continue stirring until salt dissolves. Stir in brown sugar and molasses until they dissolve. Add the ice cubes and stir to chill down the mixture. It should be 45 degrees or cooler. Add the prok chops, cover, and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Remove the pork chops and discard the brine. Pat them dry with paper towels.

2.To make the fennel and herb rub, put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times to blend. Coat each brined chop generously on both sides.

3.To grill the chops, heat to med high and lay chops directly over. Sear the chops over the hottest area for 1 1/2 minutes per side, then transfer to cooler area of the grill. Cover the grill and cook 8-10 minutes or until and instant read meat thermometer says 140 -145 degrees. Let them rest 5 minutes to reabsorb any juices and complete cooking.