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

Writing for THE BEND

THE BEND is an upscale monthly magazine that celebrates the lifestyle, culture, and cuisine of the Coastal Bend.

Kayla and I are Culinary Editors for the magazine. We write a monthly column with recipes, plus other contributions.  Check out page 93 in the October issue below for some fun Halloween recipes.

Our friends Jordan and Kaley Regas are owners and publishers of THE BEND. Jordan is a writer. His passion for writing—for telling a great story–led him to launch the magazine, and in the process he has built an amazing business. He has a clear vision for the company and he and the team show endless energy in executing the thousands of details that make THE BEND a world-class publication.

Kayla and I are thrilled to be a part of THE BEND. The photography is gorgeous, the stories are compelling, and every single page of this magazine is beautiful.

Here are previous issues back to July 2014. Click here to subscribe and have this beautiful magazine delivered to your door.

Fall Gardening Class next Tuesday

Kayla with Siberian Kale (photo courtesy racheldurrent.com)

Kayla with Siberian Kale (photo courtesy racheldurrent.com)

Friends, join me for a “Fall Gardening Class” in Rockport this Tuesday, September 15, from noon to 1:00pm.  The class will be held at the Agri-Life Extension Office, 892 Airport Road, Rockport, TX. 361-790-0103.

This class is free and open to the public.  Bring your lunch to this “brown bag lunch” gardening class, and bring a friend!

Fall is the best time of year to garden in South Texas. You can grow all of your favorite produce, the pests are not so bad, and the weather is gorgeous. Your Fall garden can deliver a harvest by Thanksgiving and grow all the way into next summer!

In this class, we will discuss what and when to plant in your Fall garden.  We will cover intensive, successive, companion planting.  We will also show how your garden design helps minimize pests, conserve water, and increase your harvest.

Gardeners of all ages and skill levels are welcome!

What:  “Fall Gardening Class” with Justin Butts

When:  Noon-1:00pm on Tuesday, Sept 15, 2015

Where:  Agri-Life Extension Office, 892 Airport Road, Rockport, TX 361-790-0103

Who: All gardeners of all ages!

Justin with Turnips (photo courtesy racheldurrent.com)

Justin with Turnips (photo courtesy racheldurrent.com)

The Epicurean President

Jefferson tomatoes

Thomas Jefferson was our most brilliant president. He helped invent America, a new nation, from scratch. He conceived a grand vision for our country, articulated in the Declaration of Independence, and he served two terms in the White House to bring his vision to life.

America, at that time, ended at the Allegheny Mountains, but Jefferson saw a horizon that stretched to the Pacific Ocean–a land where thousands of new farms would rise from the black soil.

He sent Lewis and Clark to explore this wilderness, and at the opportune moment, he purchased the land from Napoleon. Jefferson personally drew the state lines of Middle America, and it is the choicest farmland on the planet.

Jefferson lifted our laws, our culture, and even our gardens from the dank conventions of Europe, where peasants fought for scraps from the tables of the lords. In Jefferson’s America, every man and woman could rise above his circumstances to create something beautiful–to create a better life.

For Jefferson, good food and wine fed not just the physical self; it freed the mind to dream. He was at his most creative when dining well. He designed his home and gardens at Monticello, an architectural masterpiece.  He invented the swivel chair, the dumb waiter, the lazy Susan, and he invented what was, up to that point in history, the best plow in the world.

Jefferson was an ambassador of agriculture. He toured the lush gardens of France and sent sketches to farmers back home. He purchased the best Merino sheep from Spain to start a new bloodline in America. And he literally risked his life by smuggling Piedmont rice out of Italy to help invigorate rice production in the Carolinas.

Jefferson mailed thousands of rare and unusual seeds to farmers across America.  He introduced tomatoes, okra, and many other vegetables to the American palette.

For Thomas Jefferson, good food and wine, enjoyed in a beautiful setting, with the intelligent conservation of decent people, was the highest achievement of mankind.

We will celebrate that achievement, that epicurean ideal, at the KEDT Food and Wine Classic this Thursday evening.  The VIP reception will be held at the art museum beginning at 6:30, and the main event will be at 7:00 at the Museum of Science and History.  Tickets are available here.

The best food and finest wine in Corpus Christi will be laid out in the museum, with the art and history of our country hanging on the walls. Good people will be there, and excellent conversation. The only thing needed to bring the evening to its perfection is your presence.

A Land Free of Garden Pests

(Kayla in Vineyard in Cephalonia)

(Kayla in Vineyard in Cephalonia)

My wife and I stood with a farmer in her vineyard in Greece, on the western island of Cephalonia. The hills rose behind us into the mountains, and in front, the ground sloped gently down to the Ionian Sea. The grape leaves were green in the hot sun, and not a blemish on them.

The farmer laughed at our questions about garden pests. She said garden pests had never existed in Greece. She fertilized her soil with sheep in winter and picked her grapes in the summer and never worried about pests. Farming, for her, was that simple.

Coming down from Delphi, the road winds in and out of the rocky cliffs, and on the last rise above Itea, the Gulf of Corinth appears, blue and shining, and for thousands of acres down to the water, olive trees, and not a pest upon them.

There are miles of well-tilled fields along the roads from Pirgos up to Patras, onions, cabbages, lentils, and chickpeas, patchworks of tomatoes and sugar beets, then fields of pumpkins with the vines withered in the reddish dirt, and finally ripe round watermelons with green and golden stripes; and in all of that farmland, there is not a single pest.

In Athens, fig trees grow from the broken sidewalks where pulpy fruit drops between the cracks and the seeds sprout, and nobody bothers to cut them down or tend to them, but still the trees grow tall and the branches sag with the weight of fresh figs, and there is not a sign of pests upon any the trees.

For reasons of climate, soil, and plain old luck, the gardens of Greece have been blessed since the age of Achilles.

South Texas, of course, is far from Greece, and this is not a land free of garden pests. Gardening today is actually more difficult than it was for our ancestors. Native Americans tilled the soil in a time of garden purity, before Europeans introduced non-native pests to the soil.

The worst of our pests came from Asia in the 20th Century. These plant-devouring insects proliferated mainly due to industrial agriculture. The chemicals meant to kill them only made them worse.

But, as we have learned on our farm in Rockport, you can virtually eliminate the pest problems from your garden. We cannot restore the American Eden, but we can recover the garden purity of former days—a purity that is highly effective in practice.

In this series on natural pest control, we will explore strategies to fight pests; including some ancient techniques that may surprise you. Next week, we will discover how garden design–the placement of the plants themselves–can repel pests from your garden.

(Kayla in Itea, about to swim to the other side)

(Kayla in Itea, about to swim to the other side)

(Grape Leaves)

(Grape Leaves)

(Vineyard View toward Mountains)

(Vineyard View toward Mountains)

Vineyard, Kayla and Justin Greece 9-2011

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