Faces at First Light

Mae Burke Emma sunrise 11-18-15

Our friend Mae Burke wanted pictures of Kayla and the girls at sunrise, without makeup, still a little sleepy. As part of her series, Mae Burke, Moments of Motherhood, Mae is capturing images of moms and their little ones in beautiful natural settings.

I asked Kayla how she felt about having pictures without makeup after just waking up. She pointed out that I posted pictures of her without makeup, in harsh hospital light, after not sleeping for 48 hours, and having just had a baby.  She thought Mae would be a little more gentle with the camera.

Mae Burke Emma looking at Madeliene 11-18-15

I went out in the still-dark morning to do my chores and Mae was sitting quietly on the porch, kindly waiting for everyone to be up and moving before she knocked on the door. They all went out to the lake to wait for sunrise.

I feel like these pictures could have been taken last week, or a hundred years ago. There is something timeless about the light, the gardens, the lake, and the people in the photographs.  To me, a really good picture makes you want to go there, to get into the picture.

My heart is in these pictures, rising with the sun, shining on these loves of mine, holding and beholding their faces at first light.

You can see more of Mae’s photography at Mae Burke.

Mae Burke Kayla Emma Madeliene field to left 11-18-15

Mae Burke Kayla Madeliene long view 11-18-15Mae Burke Madeliene Emma looking 11-18-15Mae Burke Emma dragging blanket 11-18-15Mae Burke Sunrise Kayla Madeliene 11-18-15Mae Burke Kayla holding Madeliene 11-18-15Mae Burke Kayla Emma looking left 11-18-15

Farm to Table Dinner at GLOW this Thursday!

GLOW Interior View (from Karey's web site)Friends, please join us for a farm to table dinner at GLOW in Rockport this Thursday at 7:00pm!

This Giving Thanks Farm Dinner is a celebration of our local harvest. Karey will feature our fresh Thanksgiving turkeys and also our grass-fed beef served in a wonderful and unique presentation. We will harvest our produce the evening of the dinner to keep the vegetables crisp and delicious.

We are so pleased to celebrate our partnership with Corpus Christi Aquaponics. Casey and Lawrence will bring their freshly-picked produce and tell us about the farming techiniques of the future.

We will also explore the past, the First Thanksgiving, where seafood was the main course. Karey will prepare a Rockport seafood stew that honors the harvest of the Gulf—you will not want to miss this.

The price for this dinner is only $35, reservations recommended.

Please join us for this prelude to Thanksgiving–a celebration of the local harvest cooked to its perfection. We will see you there!


Mini Turkey Pot Pies

Flank Steak Involtini with Horseradish and Micro Greens

Farm Radish with Sea Salt Butter

Green Bean and Purple Leaf Mizuna, with

Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette

Rockport Seafood Stew with Tomato, Saffron

and Fennel Fronds

Cranberry Bread Pudding with

Bourbon White Chocolate Sauce

$35 per person plus tax and gratuity

Wine Pairing Menu Available

Space is limited, reservations recommended

GLOW Exterior View (Karey's website)

Pumpkin-Fattened Turkeys Available for Thanksgiving!

Turkey Close-up by Blue Trailer

Friends, please order your Thanksgiving turkey now. We will reserve each turkey in order of responses received. These turkeys will sell out quickly, please order soon to reserve your bird.

To book your Thanksgiving turkey, e-mail me now at justinallenbutts@gmail.com. You can pick up your turkey from Coastal Bend Health Foods in Rockport on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Beautiful Pasture-Raised Turkeys

These turkeys were raised in the fields and forests of our farm on a diet of weeds, bugs, and our own garden produce.

Even better, we fattened these turkeys on an unlimited diet of fresh pumpkins. Turkeys love pumpkin and they will devour the entire pumpkin, seeds, flesh, rind, and all. I am very excited to find out how this amazing diet of fresh pumpkin, so rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, influences the flavor of these turkeys.

Raising the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

We raised these turkeys in brooders in our living room for the first month of their lives. We received them as day-old chicks in August, when it was much too hot to leave them outside.

For that month in our house, I am guessing the turkeys listened to at least five Beethoven symphonies, all his middle string quartets, Bach’s preludes, Rhapsody in Blue a few times, and so on—and they listened to a LOT of news. These are some cultured turkeys. Our family has adapted to having a house full of turkeys every August, to allow your family to have a wonderful bird for Thanksgiving.

Our dog Bando has worn himself ragged protecting these birds from coyotes and hawks in the forest. We have not lost a single bird (knock on wood) to predators this year. However, one evening I saw an osprey fly into the flock, attack a turkey, and pick it up to fly away with it. Bando ran barking at the osprey and the osprey dropped the turkey in the grass. The turkey was unbelievably not injured, not a scratch, and if you get that bird, I hope your family gets some of its luck also.

I checked each of the turkeys regularly (at night, in the dark, when they let me close) to pull all the stickers off of each bird. This is time-consuming delicate work. Stickers can cause cuts on the skin, and we want perfect birds. Still, these turkeys were raised in the forest and fields and will naturally get cuts and scrapes as part of living a happy pastured life.

What is the Price?

These turkeys sell for $7.99 per pound, and the birds will weigh around 12 to 15 pounds. Our birds should cost around $100 or so. To give you an idea of the value of our turkeys, I researched prices of pastured and conventional turkeys on-line.

If you order a quality turkey on-line, you will pay $8.14 per lb up to $9.94 per lb and higher. Many of these birds cost nearly $200. Further, you have to pay shipping, an additional $25, and you will get a frozen bird in the mail.

Our locally-raised birds will be delivered fresh for Thanksgiving, never frozen. You can judge for yourself the taste, freshness, tenderness, and quality of our turkeys compared to anything else on the market.

When to Pick Up?

You can pick up your turkey from Coastal Bend Health Foods on the Tuesday or Wed before Thanksgiving. Please pick up your turkey with enough time to brine it overnight before cooking it for Thanksgiving.

We will share some excellent recipes for your pastured bird. Your turkey will be full of flavor and tenderness when you pick up, which makes your job as a home chef easier and more fun.

E-mail me at justinallenbutts@gmail.com to book your turkey now. Thank you, friends!

Turkey Strutting

Colonial Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Bean Sauce

Colonial Pumpkin Pie (photo courtesy www.racheldurrent.com)

Colonial Pumpkin Pie (photo courtesy http://www.racheldurrent.com)

Colonial Pumpkin Pie

For our colonial pumpkin pie recipe, we used lovely Galeux D’Eysines heirloom pumpkins, but these are rare and hard to find. For your pie, use any small to medium-sized pumpkin, or a large acorn, buttercup, or red turban squash from the farmers’ market.

This recipe first appeared in the THE BEND MAGAZINE.  Please check out this beautiful magazine for other recipes and more.

Serves 8-10

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 3 hours, 5 minutes


10-12 lb pumpkin with top, seeds and pulp removed

2 apples, diced (recommend pink lady, granny smith, or Fuji varieties)

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup raisins

1 cup pecans, chopped

8 tbsp butter, cubed

For Vanilla Bean Sauce:

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup granulated sugar

4 tbsp butter

1 vanilla bean

Pinch of salt

Optional: 2 tbsp rum or brandy


Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine spices and brown sugar in a small bowl. Place pumpkin on a rimmed, aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Place half of the apples in the bottom of the pumpkin and top with 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup pecans, and half of the butter. Top fruit and nut mixture with half of the sugar-spice mixture.

Using the remaining ingredients, repeat the process forming a second layer inside the pumpkin. Cover pumpkin with aluminum foil and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for three hours, or until pumpkin flesh is fork tender and filling is bubbling. Serve with Vanilla Bean Sauce.

Vanilla Bean Sauce:

In a medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar, salt, (optional liquor), and butter over medium-low heat. Using a paring knife, cut down the length of the vanilla bean and scrape its contents into the cream mixture. Whisk sauce until bubbling and a creamy consistency is reached. Serve warm by spooning sauce over each serving of pumpkin pie.

The Pie of St. Pompion’s Day

Rouge Vif D' Etampes Pumpkins (photo by www.racheldurrent.com)

Rouge Vif D’ Etampes Pumpkins (photo by http://www.racheldurrent.com)

In the days of Colonial America, the most commonly served food at Thanksgiving was pumpkin. Pumpkin was made into bread, butter, sugar, sauce, and syrup. Pumpkin was even brewed into beer.

Pumpkin was so ubiquitous that colonists mockingly referred to Thanksgiving as St. Pompion’s Day. Pompion was the French word for pumpkin, which the English mispronounced as pompom and the colonists finally mangled into pumpkin.

The colonists made pumpkin pie, of course, but not pie as we know it. They often didn’t have wheat for crust, nor cane sugar, nor pie tins, nor even ovens to bake their pies.

Pioneer farmers in the wilderness of America needed a simple preparation for pie that could be cooked in an open fire. To make their pie, colonists hollowed out a pumpkin, stuffed it with apples, spices, and milk, and baked the stuffed pumpkin in the ashes of a fire. We call this colonial pumpkin pie.

You can bake a colonial pumpkin pie in your own kitchen.  It may be the easiest and most original pie you serve at Thanksgiving.

To make this pie:

  1. Cut out the top of a medium-sized pumpkin and remove the seeds and flesh.
  2. Fill the pumpkin with sliced apples, brown sugar, pecans, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cream. Layer the ingredients as you fill the pumpkin to allow the filling to bake evenly.
  3. Replace the top and set the entire pumpkin into a 375 degree oven for about three hours, or until the flesh is fork tender and the filling is bubbling.

You can use a small pumpkin for your pie, which bakes quickly, or use any round winter squash, such as buttercup, acorn, or red turban.

You can also make a savory pumpkin pie, which is, I think, even better than the sweet version. For a savory pie, fill the pumpkin with bacon, gruyere, onion, garlic, thyme, cream, and toasted homemade bread. This dish is commonly served in the south of France as a rustic yet elegant main course for open air dinners.

A colonial pumpkin pie makes a stunning centerpiece for your Thanksgiving feast–a delicious piece of American history on display at your holiday table.

Galeux D' Eysines Pumpkin (photo by www.racheldurrent.com)

Galeux D’ Eysines Pumpkin (photo by http://www.racheldurrent.com)


New Recipes from the First Thanksgiving

Check out the November issue of THE BEND for some wonderful recipes inspired by the First Thanksgiving.

Kayla was quite pregnant during this photo shoot–we had Madeleine two days after these pictures.  The one of Emma smelling the onion is priceless.

If you like seafood, you will love to know that the Pilgrims served seafood as the main course at the First Thanksgiving.  This Colonial Pumpkin Pie recipe may be the most original, unique, and delicious pie on your Thanksgiving table.

Flip to page 109 for these recipes and enjoy every page of this beautiful magazine.

Help KEDT with the BIG MOVE!

Friends, our public radio and television station is relocating to Del Mar College in Corpus Christi.  Getting a new public broadcasting facility is a once-in-a-lifetime proposition.  Please donate now to help KEDT with the big move!

There are many good reasons to support your public radio and television station, particularly the wide range of programs you can’t find anywhere else.

Here is another good reason:  public television is the last bastion of wholesome entertainment you can find anywhere on the dial.  KEDT is the only channel you can watch with your children and never be embarrassed by the content.

From Big Bird to Sherlock Holmes, from Downton Abbey to Nature, there is always something good for the family on your public television station.  Please help support KEDT with a few dollars and keep these wonderful programs going!  Click on the video below for details.


New Partnership with CC Aquaponics

Justin with Lawrence and Casey of CC Aquaponics

Justin with Lawrence and Casey of CC Aquaponics

Four String Farm is pleased to announce our partnership with CC Aquaponics. Starting in January, we will include the fresh produce of CC Aquaponics (CCAP) in our farm share program.

CCAP is a new venture by Casey Williams and Lawrence Palreiro. They have worked four years to launch this project. Casey and Lawrence are committed to growing produce without the use of chemicals and they expect to receive organic certification.

We will continue to sell our own produce through the farm share. Our partnership with CCAP allows us to increase the volume and diversity of our vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers. Casey and I will coordinate our seasonal plantings to achieve the greatest variety of heirloom produce.

Our partnership will also help us maintain a continual and balanced supply of your favorite fruit and vegetables throughout the year. The challenges of nature–drought, flood, pests, and other surprises—will impact CCAP differently than our farm. By working together, we can ensure a greater supply of produce early and late in the season and have less likelihood of gaps in production.

In aquaponics, the nutrient-rich water from farmed fish tanks is circulated to grow plants hydroponically on rafts or in shale material. The plants filter and cleanse the water, which is circulated back to the fish tanks. “Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable methods of food production,” Casey said.

Kayla and I have been so impressed with Casey’s commitment to his customers, his passion for the business, and the way he has invested himself to master the art of farming. We believe our alignment with CC Aquaponics will be a great benefit for our customers.

For more information about the Four String Farm Share program, send me a message or subscribe to this site for updates.

We will share more information soon about CC Aquaponics and the benefits of this partnership to the community.

Young Plant Growing in Raft

Young Plant Growing in Raft

Water Circulates through Shale Grow Bed

Water Circulates through Shale Grow Bed

Fish in Tanks to Treat Water

Fish in Tanks to Treat Water

Casey Williams of Corpus Christi Aquaponics

Casey Williams of Corpus Christi Aquaponics

Water Circulates from Tank to Plants and Back

Water Circulates from Tank to Plants and Back

Running Yelling Baby gets a

Running Yelling Baby gets a “Mom Face”

Emma is Gentle with the Plants

Emma is Gentle with the Plants

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