Meet Joe – Why We Support Our Local Rancher

A couple of weeks ago, I waited in the parking lot behind a local mall for our yearly delivery of beef from Morris Grassfed of San Juan Bautista.  After the last of the folks picked up their orders, Joe Morris and I got to talking about how long we’ve been a customer (has it been 7 years?  More?) and how his ranching and our knowledge about where our beef comes from have grown. We chuckled about the first delivery year – the instructions were to show up at a street corner in the East Bay at an EXACT time and our boxes of beef came out of the back of an unmarked, small delivery van.  I’ve got to say, it felt slightly illegal!

Delivery Day 2016

Delivery Day 2016


I know what our family experience has been with a yearly beef order but I wanted everyone to join in on our conversation so I asked Joe what he would like people to know about the importance of buying locally and knowing the people who produce our food. We share the same opinions.

Why Buy Local?

Grassfed beef is showing up in grocery stores with more regularity these days. This is great – and necessary as we “clean up our act” around food.  But much of it is shipped from Central America, New Zealand or Australia, so there’s still an issue with how much it costs to ship products (our carbon footprint). And then there’s the sticker shock of the price at the meat counter.

Local farms and ranches are the backbone of the food production in our country.  Buying local keeps dollars in our own community. If we place a priority on supporting local farms and ranches, we will see where the beef we are buying comes from and know the it meets U.S.D.A. and other standards (if its certified organic; animal welfare laws are met).

Our family has also found that we can keep to our food budget much more successfully when we buy what we need from a local ranch or farm. We also know who has touched the meat; that the highest standards are held by the rancher, the butcher, through the delivery.

Not just a customer, but part of the family. The ranch in San Juan Bautista

Not just a customer, but part of the family. The ranch in San Juan Bautista

But There’s More

For our family, it’s about the whole relationship.  Without Joe and Julie Morris, we would not know about soil health, land management and what part cows play in the process.  We wouldn’t know what care and responsibility are taken with the animals that are part of our food source.  Our grandchildren are growing up walking the pastureland, sitting at table with others who care deeply, and having conversations over brownies with the man who makes sure they have food that is the best possible quality to help them grow big and strong. They are also learning respect and gratitude.

We urge everyone we know to find a rancher near to you and forge a relationship.  Learn how they support you and how you can support them.

  • If you live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area,  Joe and Julie Morris would love to be your local ranchers.  Read more about them at Morris Grassfed.
  • Check out Eat Wild – here you’ll find both local people and ranchers who ship, if buying local doesn’t work for you.

What’s next?  How about what to do with that freezer of meat once you get your order?  Stay tuned for a riveting story of how our little city family has adapted our planning and cooking to fit this great beef into our busy life.



Tree To Table – Apple Pie Edition. . .Deliciousness Continues

Since I first wrote about my apples and pie, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Kate McDermott, the Pie Mama.  Her new cookbook – Art Of The Pie, A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life – is published and will be available in October 2016.  July is my Mom’s birthday month; she is the reason I have such an attachment to my garden and was my kitchen coach.  Her pies were legend.

To honor both of these women, I think it’s only fitting to republish this story.  I think you’ll be able to feel the warmth of the sun in my orchard and smell the hot apple pie if you close your eyes.

Happy reading!

It’s October – one of my favorite months and the beginning of my favorite time of year.  This year, in our worst California drought of my lifetime, our apple trees have put on a spectacular show of beauty and productivity.  It’s like they all rolled up their sleeves and said “Take THAT drought!”  We have a bumper crop of Gravensteins and Fuji apples.

Our 3-year old apple trees are just beautiful

Our 3-year old apple trees are just beautiful



Fortunately, my friend and business partner, Debi, has become my Pie Crust Queen, thanks to instruction from Kate McDermott’s Art Of The Pie (check this out but don’t get lost and forget to come back for the rest of the story….it can happen!).

Deb’s been tempting me with pie crust stories for weeks.  Coincidentally, it’s also time for our Q4 business planning – pie and planning – what a great idea!

Bucket of Fujis in hand….I made my way over to her house for our own Fall Kickoff.


Fresh Apples and our first rainfall of the season

Fresh Apples and our first rainfall of the season

Prepare yourselves for the best Apple Pie story EVER.


Let Pie Season Begin!

The Stage Is Set. . .Let Pie Season Begin!

Homegrown, organic, locally sources apples (hit all those high points, we did), coupled with the finest flour, leaf lard, grass fed butter….oh my!

Step-by-step, we sliced apples and added the sugar and spices.  It’s all by “feel” and sweetness of the apples. I love it when baking is more art form than strict science – that’s pies for sure!

Preparing the Apple Filling

Preparing the Apple Filling From The Heart

I have never….EVER…. worked with a crust that behaved as well as this one.  I’m an Art Of The Pie addict FOR LIFE!

We put together pie dough with our hands until it felt just right, rolled it out, and filled up our pie plates until not one more apple slice would fit.

This dough rolls out like a dream

This dough rolls out like a dream

Edges beautifully crimped and into the oven they went.

Baked To Perfection.

While they baked, Debi and I got our business plans out, planned strategies, training, events, and wrapped up our schedules through the end of the year.  Q4 – we knocked it out of the park!

The timer pinged and out came the pies.

It smells like Autumn!


Everything just seems to work out better when gathered around the pastry table.


If you’re dying for this cookbook (as I am) hop on over and place your preorder for  Art Of The Pie, A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life

Beef Bone Broth

It’s all the rage!

What my Mom and Grandmother just called Stock or Soup is now recognized for what it is – a big kettle of yummy and wellness.
Today Mr Hensong roasted up a big batch of beef marrow bones, then simmered them ALL DAY on the stove.  Here’s how we make our broth, it’s not so much a recipe as a set of instructions you can change up to fit your needs.  The steps are what’s important.
  1. Get good grassfed  beef bones – we buy ours from a rancher, but you can buy them from your butcher.
  2. Roast the bones – this is what makes the flavor
  3. Have patience – good things come to those who wait.


7-ish pounds beef marrow bones (they’ll be cut into pieces by your butcher)
2 large onions, chopped
2 cups of chopped vegetables/vegetable scraps/peelings (for us this is always raw celery, carrots, and other vegetable peelings we’ve saved – just NOT vegetables from the cabbage family)
20 peppercorns (Note – if you use ground pepper instead, start with a teaspoon; taste as you go along)
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs)
1 1/2 gallons water (approximately); use filtered if you can


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bones on a roasting pan (one you can put on a burner) and roast for 1 hour. Remove from the oven. Add the vegetables . Return to the oven and roast for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven.  Place the bones in a LARGE stock pot. Move the roasting pan to a burner and deglaze with water, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned particles.  Pour the deglazed mixture into the stock pot with the bones. Add the peppercorns, garlic, and herbs. Add the water – as close to 1 1/2 gallons as you can get. Season with salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a rolling simmer. Add the apple cider vinegar. Cook for 4 hours or more (can be a lot longer). Remove from the heat. Strain the liquid and discard the bones. Cool the broth, then refrigerate. The fat will float to the top and become solid, making it easy to remove. Save or discard the fat – whatever you wish to do.

At this point we canned our broth using our  All American Pressure Canner.  It’s the perfect size for the home kitchen.

Note:  For this batch, we removed the marrow from the bones and pureed it into the finished stock. We now have a marrow bone puree to use for cooking.  It has a different, creamier, look but tastes just as amazing as clear broth and includes all the goodness of the marrow.

Be creative with your broth – that’s your signature!