5 Spice Sticky Ribs

Traditionally Ninja Cow sells English style thick cut short ribs. These are great for the crock pot or dutch oven. For smaller families I recommend them or shanks instead of roasts. They have great flavor  & texture while still being quite a bit cheaper. This is what I usually feed my family  since we are now a party of 3 these days. The bonus is you can be pretty versatile with these and use any leftovers for sandwiches or fajitas.

This past spring we began getting requests for a thinner Asian style rib. I talked to Chaudhry’s. Unfortunately they couldn’t get us down to the 1/4″ that I had desired. The were able to cut them much thinner and horizontal to give me a more versatile product for grilling and stir frying.  Wait did I just say the word fry? Hmm what could be more delicious than an Asian style sticky rib. Ooo I have that 5 spice from the Drunk Duck.  

Boys & girls this is where being a Chef becomes 1 part art and another part mad scientist.  Last year I had a 5 spice rib on a food truck. I talked watched and learned now it is time to recreate with this awesome rib here at home. This will be a project where irresponsible children should not be in the kitchen. And one where distractions should be kept to a minimum.  And where I kinda wish I had one of those new fancy air fryers. After I remove the rib from the frying oil I will immediately be dredging in brown sugar. The heat will caramelize the sugar and spice to the rib. To add a bit of crisp to that we will hit it with the broiler.  MMMMM, let’s go.

The cost on ribs in the  Ninja Cow Store is $7.99 a lb.  That is roughly $1.75-$3 a lb cheaper than our roasts. And since we now carry the 2 different cuts they are quite versatile.  Let me also give an honorable mention to the Beef Osso Bucco cut at $8.49 lb. That is the perfect amount for 1-2 people, it is a perfect crock pot cut as well.

Store Manager and resident chef at Ninja Cow Farm LLC
Lucy lives and works on Ninja Cow Farm. Most days you'll find her tending to the garden or working in the store. She's cooked in restaurants and as a Personal Chef.

We have officially dried off our last milking animals for 2017

Our farm manager from our other farm called me today and informed me that she was drying off as of tomorrow. That’s both the cows and the goats. We will not being making the drive to that farm this week since the milk would be too old by Friday.

Almost empty milk bottles
Sad and empty

So, there will be NO PET MILK in the store from now till our cows start having calves. That should be around January but it depends on who gives birth when. Once we have calves on the ground, we’ll make an announcement here to let everyone know they can start getting pet milk again.

In the mean time, we will be increasing our orders on Simply Natural Dairy milk to supplement everyone till we are back in stock on raw milk.

For everyone who called me the past week and wanted to know when we’d have milk again, and I said this Friday, I’m sorry. I have to let my folks make the best decisions for the animals. I’m not there but once per week so I have to rely on trusted people to make the calls on when it’s time. If she says it’s time, then it’s time.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

We are closed today

Just a reminder that we are closed today for Thanksgiving. We look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow when we will be back to normal and open 8-5. Plus, the girls are making cookies for Saturday!!

Also, since we are closed today, there is a rumor that the girls and I will be making cup cakes as well. I’m not saying I already bought the ingredients for the worlds best, from scratch, cupcakes. I’m just saying that the pantry is stocked with unusual items.

See you Saturday.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Part 5, the conclusion and another question. Please answer.

So, we have the results in. People overall think what we are doing works. However there is a contingent of people who would like Mondays added to the schedule. There is also a contingent of people who would like to expand the hours. I have already interviewed a great new employee and she’s just waiting on us to decide what days/ hours we want to be open so that she can start. We are sitting on go, except I have no idea what is best for you fine folks. I can’t both be open Mondays, and expand our hours. That’s just too many hours for our people, and too much payroll for our little store. I can do one, or I can do the other. I cannot do both.

So, I’ve created a ONE QUESTION survey. It should literally take you a minute to answer. Do we expand to Mondays, or do we change our store hours on Wednesdays and Fridays? Saturdays as a reminder are unaffected.

Please give me your feedback on this follow up survey so we can announce our new dates/times and get people working those hours. With the holidays approaching I’d like to expand anyway so we have more time available for you.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Results from our survey about new store hours/days part 4

And our last customer comment that we will highlight.

Wish you had produce for one stop shop.

This is one that is interesting. This past year we dabbled in some produce in the store. We brought in mushrooms from a great local mushroom farmer right down in Willow Springs. We ended up feeding most of them to the pigs. I know not everyone likes mushrooms. Heck, even Spork, who eats just about everything doesn’t eat mushrooms. But these were beautiful mushrooms that tasted great. The price was good and nobody bought them. After a few weeks, they were no good anymore.

I don’t think with our hours and our days open, we are the kind of place that can carry produce. Produce has to turn daily as it’s shelf life is VERY limited. That’s why the produce guy is always roaming around restocking and removing stuff from the produce section in the grocery store. What I think instead is we need to partner with a local CSA. If your CSA drop was at Ninja Cow Farm, you could swing by and get your box of produce, and grab some meat while you are here. It would be a one stop shop for you. We’d have produce move in, and produce move out so it would work well for us. Maybe we could bring in a bit extra for the weekend for last minute items, I don’t know. But I just don’t see us being a produce stand based on experience and how we run our operation.

Does anyone have a CSA they recommend I contact? Somebody they already love dealing with?

The rest of the comments that we received were all very positive and made me feel really good. I love getting feedback that what we are doing helps people, that our kids do a good job, etc. I’m not highlighting those comments because it feels self serving but to all you kind people who left wonderful comments, thank you!

Question #3

Now we are back to the purpose of this survey. What days and hours should we be open. Except for one ambitious soul who thought we should be Wal-Mart, the majority of customers thought our existing days were fine. But there is a reasonable amount of people who think that adding Monday in makes sense. As do I. When I created this survey, I thought adding Monday to the week was a good idea. Then you can pretty much come today or tomorrow any time of the week. Of course there will be people that forget and come on Tuesday but at least we’ll have reasonable time frames to shop. So if we are going to expand the days, it looks like Monday is the day. However…

What hours should we be open.
So much for a throw away question

Since I was asking about days of the week, and remember I’d already figured that Monday was the day to add, I thought I’ll ask about hours as well. In retrospect, I should have thought this question out a bit more. It was kind of a throwaway question about hours. The top two choices were, your current hours are fine, and noon to 7pm would be better. Third in popularity was 10am to 7pm with 8am – 5pm coming in last of the ones with any volume of response.

So, noon to 7pm is the number one choice, barely over our normal hours are fine. Noon to 7 was a terrible choice of an answer. Is coming at noon what is attractive? Or is coming at 7pm what is attractive? I don’t know, which one helps the customers more? Like I said, this was a bit of a throwaway question and I messed it up by not asking the question better. Let’s handle the last question and then we’ll go to conclusions. 

Our last question was do you care who you meet when you walk in the store? Some people like to come on Saturdays and see the girls and maybe get a home made cookie. At least one person likes to see Lucy when they come. But the majority either don’t care, or don’t care as long as they know what they are doing. Good, that makes hiring another person easier since you are ok with whoever takes care of you, as long as they take care of you properly.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Turkey update! They are coming Tuesday now.

Our chicken/turkey farmer just contacted me and said that she now plans on bringing the turkeys on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. Some sort of SNAFU on her end but good news for those of you who are looking to get your turkeys sooner.

Lucy is going to open the store at 3pm on Tuesday so that she can meet anyone that wants to come a day early. Otherwise we’ll see you between 2-6pm on Wednesday as originally planned.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Results from our survey about new store hours/days part 3

Sometimes, I run out of things Saturday or Sunday and can’t wait until Wednesday afternoon to get stuff for the week. It’s poor planning on my part.

If I had to wait till we were open, I’d never have anything. We are open 24/7 for me because I just walk over here. This too gets to the heart of the question we are asking. Again, we’ll get to this in a later question.

There are probably 2 reasons. 1 – when I come by I stock up. I have a large freezer and the meats keep perfectly well. Secondly for the meat we eat the most of (chicken) it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for us to buy it at your store for $12/lb when I can get antibiotic free/free range chicken from fresh market for $4/lb. however for other things like whole chickens wings etc. the price is competitive enough. We just don’t eat that as much.

I didn’t call Fresh Market to check their prices. I’m going to take this customer at their word that the price comparison is correct. I think they know their business and I trust my customer. I’m not the chicken farmer so I’m not the expert on this part of the business. But I do buy chickens, and sell chicken meat, so I do have some experience beyond the norm.

There are two details I want to point out on this comment. Antibiotic free and free range.

According to the USDA, antibiotic free means that the chicken has not received antibiotics through its withdrawal period. So if the withdrawal period is seven day (typical) then the chicken hasn’t been fed antibiotics for SEVEN DAYS! This does not mean it didn’t receive antibiotics every day of its life prior to those seven days. In fact, you can bet your bottom dollar the chicken received antibiotics from the day it was born until the last minute before the withdrawal period. Actually I think we can even get antibiotics in the egg before it is hatched. And if pharma comes up with a 4 day withdrawal antibiotic, then that will get used instead.

Sanderson Farms had a marketing campaign recently taking advantage of this rule.

So by law, “all chickens are antibiotic free.” So buy our regular chicken or you are a dope. Except antibiotic free doesn’t mean what we (and what Sanderson would have us believe) would think it means.

Free range is another misnomer. It is a legal definition and a producer cannot utilize it unless they meet the federal guidelines. Those guidelines state that the chicken must be given access to an outdoor area. That area doesn’t look like this.

What we think free range chicken means
What we think free range means
What free range actually looks like
What free range actually looks like

In my previous career, I’ve walked through these chicken houses. The “free range” area is a small door which lets the chicken go outside onto a small concrete, wire enclosed area just a few feet across and long. There is no food, no water, no grass, and no bugs on this piece of concrete. There is literally no reason for a chicken, should they actually locate the door in a barn like the above, to actually go outside. And standing in the barn, I can tell you that the chickens do not, in fact, go outside. They pretty much avoid the outdoor area completely. Saying this is free range is the equivalent of saying you or I could go walk on the desert if we need to get exercise. Inside is food, water, and a breeze from the coolers that keep the chickens from dying of heat stroke. But they are “free range” according to the USDA.

Are these chickens in the second picture cheaper to raise than the first picture? Absolutely! Are they worth the $4 you are paying at Fresh Market vs. the non-free range chicken which is cheaper still? Nope. Same thing, different marketing. If you really want to help your budget, buy regular chicken from Sanderson Farm, or Tyson, or whoever is in the mega mart cooler. It’s tasteless, pumped full of saline to make it appear juicy (and sell you salt water as part of the paid for weight, salt water is cheap), and has lived a horrible life, but it is affordable… That sounds terrible, I’m not trying to shame you. Look, we all have budgets to live with. What I’m trying to say is, sometimes you can eat the meat that is better for you, and sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table. On the days when the budget is priority, don’t be fooled by “free range, cage free” at the mega mart or Fresh Market. Just buy the chicken that is on sale. If you want to try and stretch the budget, or have a better quality chicken for a special event, then go see your local farmer. The stuff that is marketed to you as better for you, isn’t. That rule pretty much applies to every aisle of the grocery store.

One last tip, the comparison of prices was unstated as to the cut, but it was for boneless, skinless chicken breast. That is the MOST expensive cut of meat on the chicken. For the price of one pack of boneless, skinless, you can buy the whole chicken. One whole chicken is three meals from one bird if you do it correctly. That’s how your grandmother did it and it REALLY helps the budget.

Tomorrow we’ll tackle some more comments in part 4.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

7125 Old Stage Road Raleigh NC