The Thrill of the Grill

Need some Grilling Inspiration?

Is the excitement of the first grilling of the season that we all felt in April when the snow melted wearing off for some people? I know it has for me…feel like summer is going way to fast….need to slow down and be outside enjoying nature instead of answering work emails or going on instagram?  

Our Current “Go To” outdoor meal is so easy and satisfying it doesn’t seem possible—- which is why I am calling it a “Grill Thrill”—I’m thrilled that I don’t have to marinate or skewer or plan ahead. Just thaw and go. Read this blog to see how your grill night compares to ours! And please share your ideas, I need inspiration too.

Meal #1- Halley Summer Grill Thrill

Step 1- Grill Prep- Start wood fire grill up to 1 hour ahead of time. If you don’t have a wood fired grill that’s ok. A fire pit and a “Tuscan Grill” to use in it will be amazing and economical!  While the fire is burning down prepare your burgers and sides. It won’t take an hour to prep the burgers and slaw so you’ll have an excuse to put your feet up and listen to your favorite tunes for a minute or two while the fire takes it’s time burning down to large coals. 

Step 2 A - Food Prep- Take your SWF Burger that has been thawed and broken into chunks, sprinkle with 2 tsp salt of your choice, 2 tsp garlic pepper( I’ve been using “Don Giovanni Gourmet Garlic Pepper Seasoning”). Mix the burger with the seasonings by hand and patty up 4 per pound for lighter appetites or 3 per pound for the average burger lover.

Step 2 B - Make your sides- My summer 2019 favorite- Cole Slaw. Use 1 small head organic cabbage and a few carrots, cut in to 1/4’s and put in the food processor with the grater attachment. Wish together 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt or Mayo, 3 TBS apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, add dressing to shredded cabbage in a large serving bowl and toss(serves 6-8)

Step 3 - Grill - Grill burgers about 8 min or to your liking over wood fire, top with Vermont Farmstead Cheese part way through “ Governor’s Cheddar” is our favorite. Serve on a Thomas English Muffin that has been split and warmed over the fire.  

Step 4 - Plate - Add condiments to hot burger- Garlic pickles-sliced thin voted best by “us” at supper night a month ago, or mushrooms and leeks (sautéed), spicy home made ketchup or pickled onions....slice the burger in half and eat. 

Meal # 2 Greens and Beef

 Slice one left over burger cut into 8ths and place it on a bed of farm fresh arugula or lettuce from the market, shave some parmesan cheese over the top, add whatever else you have in the fridge, like roasted veggies, tomatoes etc . Dress it and eat.  Perfect, easy, the Smokey flavor of the wood grilled burger is the best on the second day! Just keep it simple and your hunger will be banished.

Want Help Creating Healthy, Easy Meals for Your Family?

The first step is getting your hands on some amazing ingredients

Contact me to get started with delicious, clean and natural beef. Order your SWF burger in our online farm store or meet us in Woodstock, VT on the Green for “Market on the Green” on Wednesday July 3!

Order ahead if you would like a bulk package or are feeding a crowd over the holiday or during the summer, we’re almost always around, give a shout and we’ll get a package together for you and meet up or deliver. 

Thanks for being here. Until next time, Amy

Grilling pizza, pre burger night—here on the farm

Grilling pizza, pre burger night—here on the farm

Ahh…what you see can see when you’re grilling…

Ahh…what you see can see when you’re grilling…

Instant Pot Fun

I’m with you if you don’t want another kitchen appliance that collects dust and takes up space on the counter.

After hitting a cooking slump this winter I went for it, and bought an Instant Pot despite my inner resistance. How could I turn down a device that potentially will make cooking faster, clean up easier and be super healthy? Read on to find out about my experiences and conclusions.


Trial#1-Whole chicken. 

We LOVE our whole chickens, but I want them to cook quicker!—I placed a thawed whole 6 lb chicken in the instant pot on top of the rack, pushed the poultry button for 45 min high—result, delicious, tender juicy but, pale and stringy. Pro:Amazing burritos and chicken pasta and pizza the second time around. Only one easy to clean pot that went in the dishwasher, Con: texture
      2nd attempt whole 6 lb chicken: Same procedure but this time I took the chicken out, placed it on a roasting tray basted it and broiled it in the oven for 5-8 min. I deboned it and chilled it before carving.  Looked sad, split down the middle, but tasted —Excellent! Nice and crispy and the meat texture was perfect, like Deli sliced chicken breasts.  Make it ahead and chill if you want beautiful slices and reduce the recommended cooking time!

—Update— split the bird in 1/2 before broiling and reduce cook time by 5 min. Perfection!

Trial #2-Chicken Broth

Nice and clear, super quick, easy, easy, easy. But, the smell . . .not the broth itself, but the top of the instant pot when you take it off stinks, like burnt rubber chicken. Research says you need to deodorize it after making certain foods—-not what I wanted to hear. For the broth, I filled the 8 qt instant to the 2/3 mark with water, added the bones from the chicken, put in 2 TBS cider vinegar and pushed the broth button.  2 hours later it was done.  I let it cool, strained it and bam. Ready—normally this process took me 24-48 hours so a major time savings. Pro: speed and palatability, Con: smell

Trial #3-Rice

Lundenburg brown short grain rice 1 cup, 1.5 cups SWF chicken broth. Multigrain setting. 35 min later, done, perfect creamy rice.Pro perfect consistency and no boiling over on the stove, Con: no time savings

Trial #4-Beef Chili

Followed a recipe, browned meat on the sauté function (use pot under stove hood while browning). Set it on Soup and 1 hour later the chili tasted like it had been cooking for days—delicious. Pro: flavor, speed

Trial #5-Broccoli Soup

Followed an instant pot recipe, used beef broth from a previous meal, put the fresh broccoli in and bam, amazing, the creamiest soup I’ve ever made and did not use the immersion blender, did not have cheese stuck all over my cast iron pan.  Pro: flavor and consistency, Con: no real time savings and lots of steps to put the soup together.

Trial #6- Frozen Chuck Steak

2 cups chicken broth, garlic powder 1 cup red wine and frozen chuck steaks. 45 min high.  Dinner ready in 1.5 hours, took the meat out, poured the cooking liquid out, took the fat off, put 4 TBs butter back in the instant pot on saute, added 1/4 cup flour and then slowly added the cooking liquid back, seasoned with mustard!!  Amazing and the easiest ever. Pro: Flavor, texture, time savings

Conclusion: Is it worth it to cook with an Instant Pot? Yes, I think so

1. I like it because you can use it after work. Put your meal together when you get home and still have a one pot dinner in a little over an hour. Unlike a crock pot which takes all day. 

2. Just leave it. I like to go outside and do things while my food is cooking. If the phone rings or your run takes longer than expected the food doesn’t burn on the stove it finishes and keeps at a food safe temp for up to 10 hours. 

3. Fewer pots to wash. I love being able to start and finish sauces by browning garlic, onions etc in one pot.

4. I like things fast. Speed at which frozen meat is cooked, 4-10 hours in the crockpot or 1.5 hours with the same result!!! Also soups taste like they were cooked ahead.

***Be ready—It isn't Instant cooking, it is pressure cooking. It is way faster than braising or slow cooking, really tenderizes meat and preserves flavor. Some recipes have lots of steps and you have to be adventurous.

Contact me for recipes for any of my trials and share your own if you are a fellow instant potter.

See you at our first SWF Supper Club gathering for some family food and fun with Instant Pot demos. April 5th, 2019 6 pm at the farmhouse!See you there, Best, Amy

—update—5–5–5 hardboiled eggs. Place eggs on rack inside Instant Pot, pour in 1 cup of water. Pressure cook 5 min, let Instant pot release naturally for 5 min, Release pressure and place eggs in a ice water bath for 5 min and peel!

SWF Burger Rescue

Feeling stressed about weeknight dinners once in a while? procrastination, little time, a budget, boredom?

I’m in the same boat. Despite my planning this month, there have been a few days where the stars don’t line up and I need what I call a “SWF burger rescue”. Where you walk in the door and say, we’re either going out for dinner—or—Burgers!!!! Everyone votes for burger in this household.

So, I’m sharing our top 3 our favorite recipes for those days….and hope you’ll get excited about buying and cooking with SWF ground beef and share some of your own recipes with us!


Just Plain and Simple SWF Burger:

Want to keep your hands clean? No time for making beef patties? Step 1: Open a 1 lb package of SWF ground beef, place on a plate or cutting board and take a large knife and slowly cut it (like you would cheese) into 3 or four squares, sprinkle with salt, round the edges, make a dimple in the middle of your burger. Step 2:  Cook uncovered with your your hood or vent on 4 min each side. Top with cheese when you flip to the second side if desired, let rest tented with foil 2-5 min once you’ve transferred them to a serving plate. Step 3: Serve!


Spicy Beef and Bean Burritos:

I can’t say enough for this recipe. It has been a fixture on our menu for so long, like 18 years. I kind of feel guilty, it is so easy, opening jars, throwing them into a pan, stirring and bam, 10 min later a delicious meal and the left overs are so easy to use. We all love it, and it keeps really well. You can even make burritos and pre-wrap them for lunches, they really don’t get soggy. You can make them super healthy by cooking your own beans and salsa from scratch, or do what I do . . .

Step 1: In a dutch oven or large cast iron pan cook 1 lb SWF ground beef on medium, 8 minutes or until golden brown.  Step 2: Add to your browned beef: 15 oz of refried black beans and 15 oz of drained whole black beans, 8-10 oz of your favorite salsa, 4 oz chopped green chillies, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese stir together and add the following spices: 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp cumin, a dash of cayenne pepper if you like it hot, 1 Tbsp of maple syrup or brown sugar. Step 3: Heat 3-5 min or until bubbling, turn off the stove, fill flour or corn tortilla shells, top with salsa and sour cream and you’re done! Serves 6-8

Spicy Beef and Bean Dip:

Those of you who have ever invited us to dinner have tasted this dip. It is almost always my go to appetizer—I crave it and love to share it!! Take only half of the above beef and bean mixture and spread into a small oven proof dish or pie plate, top with more cheddar and bake or broil until bubbly, serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, veggies and salsa.

Ben’s Beefy Pasta Sauce:

Step 1: Fill your pasta pot with water and bring it to boil before you start the pasta sauce. Step 2: Cook 1 lb SWF ground beef on medium heat 8 min or until golden brown. Step 3: Add 2, 24 oz containers of prepared marinara, mushroom or three cheese pasta sauce to your browned beef. Bring to a slow simmer for a few minutes while you cook the pasta . Voila, you’re done! Serve with Parmesan cheese. Serves 6-8


This sauce too simple for you? Try this Beef and Pork Pasta Sauce.  It really makes the flavor in the SWF beef come out. ¼-½ lbe of ground pork, a leftover pork chop or a little bit of sausage all work great.

Step 1: Brown 1 lb SWF ground beef as above, push the beef to the side of the pan when finished and add ½ cup finely diced onion and 1-2 cloves garlic crushed (or prepared-chopped), sauté garlic and onion lightly, mix with beef add 1 cup of red wine, let it deglaze for a minute then add, 1 carrot cut in ¼, and 1-2, 28 oz cans of Muir Glen crushed peeled organic tomatoes. Step 2: Season to taste with Italian seasoning, basil, garlic powder, salt and a dash of maple syrup and red pepper flakes. Step 3: Simmer covered on low for at least 30 minutes, take the top off for the last 15 minutes if you like the sauce thicker. Always milder in flavor on the 2nd day or if it simmers for hours.

Thawing Tutorial:

Afraid of spoiling your beef?  Forget to take it out ahead of time? Stop--don´t abandon your beef craving taste buds. Open the freezer and take out that SWF burger!


Water bath thawing method:

1 lb of SWF ground beef (left in it’s tightly sealed package) thaws really well in 8 or more cups of cold water, dumped and refilled every 15 minutes.  If you start this the minute you walk in the door, by the time you have your coats off and other ingredients out for dinner, you´ll have fresh ground beef to cook with. I find it takes 30-45 min maximum, depending on how cold your freezer is. If thawing 2 lbs, I get 2 water baths going or a roasting tray and use the same method.

Or, just take it out of the freezer in the morning, or at lunch and place it in the refrigerator as it is on a small plate, it will keep for several days this way---quite a few days….I´ve tried it, trust me.

Thanks for being here! Add comments or share your own 10 minute favorites here or on Facebook. Images are great too. Can´t wait to hear from you

SWF Burger Boxes Coming REALLY Soon

Burger boxes are on there way and will go on sale next week, new sizes and delivery will be available. Stocking up on ground beef just works. It keeps well, stores easily in nooks and cranies in the freezer, is fast, nutritious, need I say more? It can solve almost any week night or week end meal struggle.

Keep your eye out for an email about SWF Burger Boxes and be in touch, Take care, happy cooking! Amy

Tantalize your tastebuds with Amy’s Hanukkah Brisket

Here’s the inside scoop on how we cooked an amazingly simple and delicious meal for Hanukkah.

As Reno and Eden gobbled down after school snacks I prepped the roast and popped it in the oven to braise.

It was chore time, we all dressed up in our warm clothes, fed and watered the horses, chickens and cows. When we returned, our home was filled with an amazing aroma. Our mouths were watering as we took of our snow clothes.

Then, I placed a spaghetti squash and spinach squares in the oven alongside the braising brisket. Bam, in another hour or so guests arrived,

I sliced the beef and the meal was on the table.  Hardly any mess, no gravy to be made. The table was quiet, only ummms and yummms and “can I have more mom” to be heard—until we lit the menorahs.


5 step SWF Brisket, serves 6+, prep 20 min, braise 3 hours


  • SWF beef Brisket 4 lb (alternatively SWF chuck roast, lamb shanks or shoulder)

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil

  • dry rub-2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder 

  • One medium onion sliced

  • 4 celery stalks cut in thirds

  • 4 carrots cut in thirds

  • 2-3 C red table wine

  • 1 C beef or chicken stock

  • 2 TBS VT Maple Syrup

1. Prepare Meat:4 lb SWF beef brisket, 4 SWF lamb shanks or 4 lb SWF pot roast, thawed, blotted dry, rubbed with salt, pepper and garlic powder
2. Brown: Place prepared meat in Dutch oven with a dash of olive oil and brown on both sides stove top on medium high, 10 min
3: Prepare Sauce and Veggies to Braise: Remove beef from pan and place on a plate. Turn down the burner to medium and add 1 sliced onion, 3-4 ribs of celery, 4 carrots in 3rds, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until onions are transparent or slightly brown. Add 2-3 cups of red table wine, turn the heat up again to medium high and bring the wine and veggies boil, then add 1 cup of stock (I use chicken or beef, whatever is convenient) 
4. Braise:Place the browned roast on top of the veggies and wine in your Dutch oven and cover. I take the knob off my Dutch oven cover which leaves a small whole in the top of the cover-it makes the sauce thicken as it simmers down. Braise in a preheated 325 degree oven for 2.5-3 hours, turning the roast 1/2 way through cooking.
5. Plate:Take the meat out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Slice across the grain or pull it with 2 forks if it is a brisket. Taste the cooking liquid (your sauce) and season it with a little bit of maple syrup if you desire. If you see a lot of clear liquid on top of the sauce, separate it out. I set the veggies aside and pour the sauce into a 4 C liquid measure cup, the clear liquid(fat) rises to the top and I pour it off carefully and reserve the sauce that remains.  Place the meat back into the Dutch oven or a serving plate, top with the veggies and reserved sauce and you have your meal!

Where can you buy a brisket or chuck roasts? Most people have heard of smoked brisket at a BBQ restaurant but they are rarely found in a store—especially grass fed beef brisket.

If you buy one of our assorted packages you might just get one, especially if you request it. Braising cuts rival pizza at our house in the winter and fit the bill for satisfying hunger without the extra carbs!


Want to know a secret?

A big secret to staying motivated to cook new dishes if you buy our products is in the organization of your freezer! When I get my meat home from the processor, I make sure it is stored in the freezer in cardboard boxes labelled according to cooking style. I have 3 types of boxes with mixed cuts; braise/roast, grill or ground.

Once a week, I take out several random cuts, put them in the refrigerator to thaw. While the meat is thawing, I find a recipe to match the cut I have randomly chosen and plan my shopping for ingredients, veggies and sides accordingly. You won’t find yourself digging around in the freezer anymore, saying things your children shouldn’t hear. You’ve gotta try it!

If you are new to SWF, now that you are thinking of it, request your free sample of ground beef by contacting me and make an order today. You won’t regret it!

Happy Healthy Holiday wishes to all,

Warmly, Amy


Not sure about cooking a roast like a brisket? I hear you, ground meat is the go to for most of us, no mess, no fuss, thaws in a jiffy, predictively amazing. Now roasts on the other hand— Roasts—get a bad rap, dry, easy to over cook, gravy to be made, huge groups of guests needed to share with—Not So—this recipe is so simple, low stress and predictable that it challenges those stereotypes.

Get Inspired! 3 Reasons Why You Should Change Your Food Shopping Routine

12 years ago I was expending way too much energy on food shopping—it wasn’t fun. As a practicing Physical Therapist, unfortunately I was had seen far too many examples of what can happen if you don’t take care of yourself over the years. After reading the Ominivore’s Dilema by Michael Pollan and watching the documentary by film maker Robert Kenner FOOD, Inc AND becoming pregnant, I was hormonal and horrified about the future of food systems in this country. I needed a plan to make the BEST food choices I could for my family.

I believed wholeheartedly that diet was a cornerstone to health. I was buying organic and natural foods, rotating between 3 stores in the Upper Valley. Trying to pull together the best quality food, for the best value and cooking from scratch. All that shopping and decision making was hard, time consuming and unfulfilling.

I was in a tough spot until my husband Ben came to the rescue. He bought a chest freezer with money we didn’t have, opened a Sears card and put it on a payment plan—I was horrified, what, another appliance, it is just going to cost more electricity to eat well, I thought, and the things that I buy at the store will be all freezer burnt by the time we get around to eating them.

Then he really shocked me by filling it up with MEAT—-he bought 1/4 cow, 1/2 pig, 1/2 lamb from our neighbors and friends and joined a CSA. We’ll never eat all of this I thought, this is over kill. Well, Ben took the reins and was the cook for a while and he amazed me. He would thaw out a few pieces of meat on the weekend and cook with them all week. Instead of gaining weight we both lost weight, didn’t wake up starving, didn’t crave carbs or my baked goods. I was sold.

So, get inspired and think about what buying and eating farm fresh products can do for you! I think they can do some amazing things for us as humans such as:

Boost YOUR Health: Cooking meals with locally sourced ingredients such as Second Wind Farm meats will save you time in the grocery store and the kitchen(I can show you how if you doubt this!)

Potential mental health benefits are numerous and related to the act of planning a meal or anticipation of amazing flavors, slowing down to actually cook a meal or the enjoyment of sharing excellent food with friends or family. Physical health benefits abound with increased with high quality protein and minerals, CLA’s etc from grass raised and finished meats.

INCREASE YOUR CONNECTION: Being part of our farm community by investing in our products does far more than support our farm(and give you an excuse to think about or experience Vermont hill farm life). It demonstrates that you are taking the initiative to decrease your carbon footprint, support local agriculture AND care about Vermont traditions such as living off the land.

FOLLOW TRADITION: Clearly, things have changed since Vermonter’s lived completely self sufficient lives(and I can’t say that we have made choices that enable us to do this right now), but together we can relive some of these traditions 2018 style! It always feels good to follow tradition.

Let’s try this together, challenge yourself to pick one product to buy this week that is direct from a farmer! I am going for raw milk! Kiss the Cow Farm has a great winter CSA. Take care and be in touch,

Warmly xoxx, Amy