From Pig to Porkchops

We’re in Kansas City, which is experiencing slightly cooler-than-normal weather, visiting family and some friends and generally trying to unwind.  The first several days of vacation have seen some of my attention turned towards work as a project needed to be wrapped up.  Nothing too difficult, just some reading of documents.

Since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, we decided to prepare an Irish (Irish-ish?) dish: shepherd’s pie.  We involved both the nieces, figuring that one is much more likely to eat new foods if one has been involved with preparing the foods.

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Emily and Tawn peeled and chopped potatoes, carrots, onions, and squash for the pie.

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Ava assisted me in making a loaf of Irish soda bread, which had hints of orange zest in it and turned out very nicely.

After preparing dinner we headed about 30 minutes outside Kansas City (towards Lawrence) to visit the Gasper Family Farm.  A local, family-run sustainable farm that I’ve been following for about a year and a half, I wanted to bring the girls out to see a real farm and, while there, to purchase some cuts of pork, some fresh eggs, and whatever else was available.

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My parents decided to tag along for the ride.  My father spent the first six years or so of his life living on a farm in central Missouri.

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The farm is relatively simple – a house, a barn, and a few other small buildings.  The cows are pastured a few miles away on rented land.  There are pigs, geese, loads of chickens, and a horse that provides transportation.

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The slightly older chickens – these are raised for meat – that haven’t feathered out enough to be taken to pasture, so they are still living in one of the chicken coops.

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After a lot of coaxing, Ava and Emily agreed to pose by the pig pen.  The animals were a little more “wild” than I think they expected, their previous farm experiences being limited only to petting zoos!

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Everybody peering into the smaller chicken coop which contains the young chicks.  They were running around, peeping, staying close to the warming lamps.  It was chilly out on the farm and so after about twenty minutes we bundled back into the car with our sausage, pork chops, and two dozen eggs, and heading back to town.

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After the visit to the farm, everyone was ready for a hearty dinner of shepherd’s pie, soda bread, and steamed artichokes – a not very Irish addition to the menu.  Tawn and I were scheduled to head out to dinner with a friend, so didn’t join this meal.

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Above, shepherd’s pie.  We substituted pork for lamb and added some acorn squash for additional flavor.  I did try a bite to make sure it turned out okay.

For dinner, we headed to Houston’s, a chain that has knife and fork ribs that Tawn really likes.  We met our friend Jack there, a Thai who has studied and worked in the Kansas City area for more than a decade.  This was a good chance to put my new camera to the low-lighting test.  I’m happy with the results, although I need to play around with the instruction guide and settings a bit to learn how to coax the most from the camera.

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Double-cut grilled pork chops with mashed potatoes and spinach.

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Cous cous

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Apple and walnut cobbler with vanilla ice cream.