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The Latest News from Wheatsville

Posts by Mark Maddy

How Do We Choose Our Seafood?

Sustainability is one of those tricky words that get tossed around the natural foods world. We have the feeling that sustainable means the process can go on indefinitely without harm to a species or its environment. But there is no universal meaning of harm. It is impossible to have a unified theory of sustainability because different species have different needs.
Freshwater fish need to be farmed to be sustainable and saltwater fish generally should be wild caught. How wild caught fish are harvested can affect sea life from the surface of the water to the sea floor from bycatch, the unintentional catch of species other than what are being fished for. This may also include juveniles or underdeveloped fish of the intended species which are not sold, but disposed of. Some types of nets and lines tear up sea-life habitats. Third party sustainability certifiers evaluate these types of practices and attempt to raise awareness to help keep our oceans and fresh waters abundant with sea life. These agencies look at how the fisherman and the tools they use interact with the environment where the fish are grown and harvested. They observe if the life cycle of the species can maintain itself. They evaluate the impact that consumer demand has on seafood and the environment.

Wheatsville uses two of these watchdog agencies to determine our seafood selection.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program has been around since 1999. They use science based, peer reviewed reports- that are available on their website- to evaluate fisheries and seafood. They use their regional pocket guides to raise consumer awareness of the best choices to keep our seafood healthy and sustainable. If scientific data is inconclusive or unavailable they err on the conservative side. Wheatsville only offers best choice and good alternative choices from the MBA Seafood Watch list.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a non-profit organization that uses a third party team to establish the highest standards of traceability and sustainability. This is a voluntary certification, whose standards exceed internationally recognized best practices for fisheries. Products with the MSC seal can be traced back to a certified Sustainable fishery.

Both of these organizations have mobile apps that can be downloaded to your phone or mobile device.
Most of our Seafood comes from the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.
• The Gulf is the closest ocean to Wheatsville. We’re glad of the opportunity to support Texas fisherman and fisheries.
• Alaska: Seafood is the state’s biggest revenue source. It is one of the best managed and maintained fisheries in the world. Alaska has rigid laws to maintain a clean, healthy and sustainable resource.

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Atlantic Farmed Salmon-from Scotland

Atlantic Salmon is in the 'Avoid' selection on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch List, but MBA focuses on a whole fishery and not individual farms and fisheries. There are certainly sustainable salmon farms but the certifying world is still catching up with responsibly managed fisheries.

That being said, aquaculture and fish farming have come a long way in the last several years. Unfortunately, or possibly fortunately, sustainable certification has been pretty slow to catch up (an exception being fresh water fish) with fish farming. That is not to say that there are not plenty of farms and aquaculture that are doing everything right.

The Loch Duart fishery is one of those farms. With almost twice the amount of space given to most farmed Salmon, Loch Duart has tried to make their Atlantic Farmed Salmon as close to a wild caught product as possible. The clean, clear waters of the Scottish Highlands are a perfect place for a superb product that has a great pedigree and the honor of being one of the first farms to be awarded the RSPC's Freedom Food Certifications. This is a sustainability and welfare certification and monitoring program developed by the Royal Society of the the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

For more information, visit Loch Duart.

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Knowing the Source of Your Food

It’s always rewarding to see where your food comes from. Whether it’s at a team-building event at Urban Roots or traveling to another part of the country to see the running of the salmon, pig farms in the midwest or just taking a ride to one of the dairies or chicken farms that are in our neighboring counties, being able to feel the land that brought forth your food brings a shared sense of home.

One of the ways for national programs to reduce the need for more and more industrialization is to use many farms with the same standards and genetics as a supply chain. This accomplishes a couple things. It helps to mitigate natural situations like weather and other random events that crop up on farms. It also helps to keep family farms on the land.

Niman Ranch

History: Niman Ranch started in the early 1970s on a small eleven acre ranch in a small coastal town, just north of San Francisco. The animals were raised using traditional, humane husbandry methods and given wholesome all-natural feeds. Before long, Niman Ranch beef became a favorite in local grocery stores and at San Francisco Bay Area restaurants.

In 1995, Niman Ranch added pork to its offering when Paul Willis, of Thornton Iowa was working to revitalize sustainable hog farming methods in the Midwest. Paul's commitment to raise hogs in a humane, old-fashioned way matched Niman Ranch's own principles. Niman Ranch now offered beef, pork and lamb - as rancher Jeannie McCormack had been raising lamb for Niman Ranch since 1992.

Today, the Niman Ranch network has grown to include over 650 independent American farmers and ranchers. Whether they raise hogs, beef or lamb, they all share Niman Ranch's dedication to strict protocols and the belief that all-natural, humane and sustainable methods produce great flavor.

  • Humanely Raised by the Largest Network of U.S. Family Farmers and Ranchers
  • Never Given Antibiotics or Added Hormones - Ever
  • Fed Only the Finest All Vegetarian Feeds

Going Beyond Natural: They go beyond the USDA definition of natural (minimally processed - no artificial ingredients) because they believe it also means the animals have been raised humanely, without antibiotics or added hormones and fed an all natural vegetarian diet. At Niman Ranch, “naturally raised” isn’t a trend. Naturally raised has been their business and passion for over 30 years. Their mission has remained steadfast: to raise livestock traditionally, humanely, and sustainably to deliver the finest tasting meat in the world.

Breeds:The finest tasting meat in the world starts with the finest breeds. To obtain the quality of marbling and tenderness that Niman Ranch pork has become famous for, they suggest Niman farmers raise a genetic cross of Durok, Berkshire and Chester White hogs. All of the cattle in the Niman Ranch program are from Angus breeds.

Feeds: You care about what you and your family eat. That’s why Niman cares about what their animals eat too—and maybe more importantly what they don’t. All their livestock are fed all vegetarian feeds. They are never given added hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products—ever.

Animal Care: We know that an animal’s quality of life impacts the quality of the meat we eat. Niman Ranch has the strictest rules for how livestock is raised. The hogs spend their time out of doors and in deeply bedded pens, with continual access to fresh water and protection from the elements. The cattle and lamb are raised on pasture and then finished on high quality feeds on lots where they are provided with plenty of space and access to water and feed.

Third Party Verification: Niman Ranch is proud to have to have set the industry standard, for sustainable and humane practices. They have worked with animal handling expert and renowned author Dr. Temple Grandin to further improve their program.

Farm Visits — I Saw for Myself How the Animals are Raised

I have been to Paul Willis’ pig farm in Iowa. Situated amongst corn farms, it is picturesque and smells alive. After you put on your boot-length shoe covers you approach a field of hogs. Round open-ended shelters appear out of the dust and corn. Sows and piglets are lounging about in their shelters. Some piglets run after each other, curious about the strangers, then seek the safety of their mothers. The land looks a little chewed over, but it is hog heaven.

Even though Paul Willis is one of the founders of Niman Ranch, when his farm’s turn comes, one of the inspectors from Niman Ranch’s third party organization will come make sure that his farm is living up to the breeding and feed standards and all of the humane treatment standards that all Niman Ranch farms adhere to.

I, along with many other people, was given a tour of this hog farm as part of a yearly celebration event that Niman Ranch holds for their hog farmers. Several chefs are chosen from around the country to prepare a very special meal for the farmers. Niman also give out educational grants for the children of farmers who are planning to go into the agriculture business.

When I attended, the median age for farmers was continuing to go up and most of the younger generation were not interested in becoming farmers. The last I heard, things were starting to improve and younger folks were getting more excited about keeping the family farms. Keeping family farms and helping to make them financially viable is one of the core beliefs of the Niman Ranch organization.

Smart Chicken

I’ve also been to the Smart Chicken Organic Farm in Nebraska. Their organic antibiotic-free line is produced by family farms in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. It is far more challenging to maintain certifications of many small farms than just the one.

The organic barns are nestled into the Nebraska countryside. Chickens are very sensitive to moisture and temperature, so the climate inside the large barns where they are housed is carefully regulated. About every three feet, a door is open where the chickens are free to go outside and eat bugs and small rocks while still being protected from predators. The barns are odor free and the chickens are docile and surprisingly quiet. Even when being transported to the processing facility, they are calm and stress-free. The organic farm is certified humane, not all of the family farms use the same size barns and Smart Chicken has not required that they change this. This is one of the ways that Smart Chicken helps to support their chicken farmers.

It is rewarding to maintain relationships with those who share our high standards. I am proud that Wheatsville contributes to making viable agricultural businesses, which is at the very heart of sustainability.

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Cooking Wings for Your Football Party

Click for Game Day Party Planner and Snack Ideas!

Wings Know How

Few things in life say football and party like chicken wings. Hot wings are a staple menu item in sports bars all over the US and deep frying or roasting are the most popular methods of cooking wings. Some BBQ joints offer smoked wings.

I think wings have been relegated to sports bars and wing shops for far too long—wings are amenable to many flavor profiles and cooking methods. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t braise them and let them crisp up in the pan! I don’t follow a recipe but boldly mix flavors and techniques to achieve wings that are specialized beyond the humble sports bar wings. Here are some ideas to fix wings your own way.

Rubbing and Marinating

The great thing about chicken wings is they can take more intense flavors. You can easily use rubs and marinades that are designed more for red meat and pork rather than poultry.

Rubs

Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning  is what I use the most for a wing rub. It has great flavor, no MSG, and it is always in my kitchen. Also carried here at Wheatsville, The Paleo Powder is a no-gluten no-MSG product made here in Texas, and the Salt Lick makes a couple of rub options. Lemon Pepper is another great flavor.

Marinades

Like rubs, you can use just about anything for marinating wings. Try one of the Wheatsville Marinades like Teriyaki or Mojo. Howard Miller, S. Lamar Meat Dept. Supervisor, likes to mix ranch dressing or buttermilk with Yellowbird Sauce.

Sauce

I like to make a kitchen sink sort of sauce, but Sriracha is pretty much always an ingredient. Vinegar is always a good addition, along with some sort of fat. I usually use a mild oil like canola, but butter is the traditional way to go. I then add a little mustard and honey and start adding hot sauces like Yellowbird.

If you don’t want to make your own sauce, there are plenty of excellent premade sauces. I really like the Stubb’s Wing Sauce. The Texas Texas Dang Good Sauce is an all around good sauce for anything and goes well with wings.

Bringing It All Together

If you are deep frying wings, use a rub, fry them, and then toss them in sauce,
but I usually roast them. I rub them and put them in the oven without sauce until they start to dry out, about 10 minutes, then I start basting them. I remove them from the oven and toss them in sauce several times during cooking. 
You can also dredge them in a flour and rub mixture and just let them be in the oven. The flour gives them a nice crust that is like fried chicken. The rub added to the flour kicks up the flavor.

I cook them for no less than 45 minutes at 375°– 400° F, but I open the oven four times to baste and my family likes a little carbon on their wings. If you leave the oven closed, use the lower temperature for a few less minutes.

Sometimes having loose suggestions rather than a set recipe is intimidating but wings can be a great way to stretch out and share some adventure with your family and friends—especially with beer and sports!

Howard’s Yellowbird Buffalo Wings

1 lb chicken wings, separated at joints, discard the tips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup ranch dressing
several squirts of Yellowbird Habanero Sauce
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder

Mix the butter, ranch dressing, and Yellowbird sauce. Coat the wings and let the wings marinade in the mixture for a couple hours in the fridge in a large storage bag.

Preheat Oven to 425°F.

Coat wings with with seasoned flour (flour, salt,  black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder) and arrange a single layer of wings on a lightly greased baking sheet. Adorn each wing with a little melted butter.

Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and crispy on the outside, about 35-45 minutes. Turn the wings over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly.

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Stock Options at Wheatsville

My family has been using stock in our home for many years now. I try to make enough stock to get through the summer, which helps keep the kitchen cooler in the summer and warmer in the …colder months. Stock is really quite simple, a broth that is made with bones. The collagen content of the bones, when extracted turns into gelatin. This gelatin has nutritive and culinary properties that are beneficial.

I use the same basic ingredients when I make stock:
• 3 stalks of Celery
• 3 carrots
• 1 medium to large onion
• 3-5 cloves of garlic
• Cracked Peppercorns
• Salt (optional)
• One bunch of parsley

Beef Bones
I like a combination of neck, round/femur/marrow, and knuckle. Any of these by themselves would be great. If you are looking for a lighter clear stock-do not roast your beef bones, this would be great for Beef Pho. If you want a deeper flavor and a dark colored stock- roast them at 350 for about 45 minutes. Let them cool and pour about a cup of vinegar (I use white vinegar for this-the acid helps  to start extracting the collagen) and let them sit for an hour.

Chicken Bones
I will use a whole chicken and take off the meat after cooking and use it for chicken salads or enchiladas. We also carry some soup bones from Dewberry Hills. This is the best Chicken we sell. They are fed Locally raised corn and soy and are moved around Jane and Terry’s farm in pens. These pens keep them safe from predators and other conditions while letting them engage with the outdoors. I also use Dewberry chicken feet in my stock. Pour about a cup of vinegar over the carcasses (if you are using a whole bird, cut off the wings and separate the drumette from the flapper-we also have Freebird Chicken Backs, and wings are a great part to use here) let them sit for an hour.

Pork and Lamb Bones
We are a little more limited in this area, but we do usually have some pork and lamb bones and they would be dealt with exactly like beef.

Easy Cooking Instructions

  1. Coarsely chop your vegetables (except parsley) and toss into your stock pot.
  2. Fill with water to about an inch or an inch and a half above your ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. You can add salt if you would like. I have always left it out and salted when I was making a dish.
  4. Cook for at least four hours. I cook mine for 12 hours for chicken and sometimes for days with beef.
  5. After you strain out the solids, put your stock into a container and put it into the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for a couple of hours (it is best to let the stock get to room temperature before chilling). This gets the fat to float to the top and solidify. I have had good results using the 2 court wide mouth mason jars. You can also use that rendered fat puck that forms at the top of the jar in other places in the kitchen like refried beans or even in biscuits. There is a kitchen gadget ingeniously called a fat separator ,that will do this for you must quicker than chilling.
  6. Fill ice trays for smaller portions of your stock for things like sauces or pour it into quart size freezer to be frozen and used at you leisure.

Easy Chicken Stock from the Co+op Kitchen

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Roasts

Roasts can be very intimidating. They are large, expensive pieces of meat that are loaded with family memories of the perfect bite or flashbacks of scorched leather. Cooking a roast is actually pretty simple. Like most things in the world of meat, it is not all that complicated, it’s just pretty easy to mess up.  Now you need to choose a roast. For the sake of this article, we will consider beef roasts.

Rib Roast and Tenderloin Roast
The royalty of roasts! Perfectly marbled, tender and delicious.

Eye of Round Roast
Similar to a tenderloin and very lean.

Chuck Eye Roast
An extension of the rib eye that carries over into the chuck and is therefore very similar. These would be dry heat roasts and you would use the oven to cook them.

After you pick your roast, you are three steps from a fantastic family meal center piece.

  1. Rub It
    Do you want an herby crust? Spicy? Simple? You can do whatever you want here. Just make sure there is plenty of salt. Salt brings out the natural flavors of the roast and helps to form that crust that really makes a strong roast.
  2. Cook It
    Even if you only use it a couple times a year, do yourself a favor and invest in an oven probe thermometer. They can be found for as little as $20 and they are an indispensible kitchen gadget. Just set your desired temperature and wait for it to get there.  Do you sear it? I think you do. While it does not actually caramelize, searing meat is the closest way to achieve that end and I think it brings enough flavor to the party to justify it.

    All of the other questions of cooking are subject to debate. Some people swear by high temperature roasting. Some use lower temperatures. There are tricks to retain moisture or maintain a crust. The most important thing through all of it is the internal temperature of the roast and since you’re waiting for that alarm to go off at 135 to 140 degrees for your medium rare roast then you have already nailed it.
  3. Let It Rest
    Some consider this the most important step. I would suggest covering it with foil to maintain some of the surface heat. The temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes while all of the juices that have balled up in the center redistribute themselves back into the roast. You should let it rest for about 20 minutes. It will be hard, but it will be well worth the wait for that moist and juicy, perfectly cooked roast.
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Chicken Wings for Football Season

Making your own chicken wings is super easy, but I think the proliferation of wing restaurants has given the illusion that cooking wings is too much for the home cook. This is not true. They are easy, so easy in fact, that there are several methods you can use.

Deep Frying

I don't do this for wings, personally, but the idea is pretty simple-light seasoned breading-fry in oil until done and toss them in sauce.

Baking

This would be the way to get that texture of frying without the frying. Dredge in flower and toss in your sauce of choice. Pop them in the oven until the crust is firm and crispy.

Roasting & Basting

This is the method I use the most. Season with your favorite rub and put into the oven for 10 minutes. Let the skin dry out a little so that it can take on sauce. I put sauce in a stainless steel bowl and dump the wings in to toss. I put them back on the tray and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes. I do this three times.

One thing to look out for if you are basting or baking your wings is how much sugar is in your sauce.Too much sugar will burn and carbonize your wings. I like a little carbon and crunch, but it can be easy to overdo.

I use a 350 degree oven, others use hotter-up to 425 degrees, but you are still talking about 30 to 40 minutes in the oven. I know it sounds crazy, you can roast a whole chicken in that amount of time and these are little bitty wings, but you do want them to slide off the bone.

There are so many options for wings, from rubs to sauces and even marinades. Avoid marinating in highly acidic marinades as it will start the cooking process which you do not want with wings. They can pack a lot of flavor so make something bold and crazy.

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Marination Nation

Marinades work by adding flavor and moisture to what ever you are marinating, which in our case, is meat. Marinades are either directly acidic-vinegars and citrus juices, or enzyematic-like pineapple or pipaya. Both of theses start to breakdown connective tissue which allows more of the liguid to penetrate. The proper balance of acid and other ingredients will bring flavor and moisture without turning the surface of your food to mush.

Keep in mind that your marinade is only going to penetrate about a 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch into the meat. In the case of stew or kababs, all of that surface area means it will make it all the way through. A roast on the underhand will only get the marinade in around the surface. This is true over time as well. 3 hours at room temperature will get you the same amount of penetration as overnight in the refridgerator. It is recommended that you do not use the left over marinade that held meat as a sauce. If you bring that marinade to a boil you can safely use it, or just reserve some marinade to use as a sauce. Reducing the sauce will concentrate flavor and thicken it. Also-the raw marinade will be stronger before it is cooked. The fats  and heat will mellow some of the stronger or spicier marinades.

Our selection includes:

Teriyaki
Great on the grill with any meat. It can be reduced and used as a glaze. It is a good dipping sauce and works splendidly as an ingredient in other sauces and marinades.

Fajita Marinade
This fajita marinade is a fresh green marinade. Cilantro and jalapeno give it a great color and a mild to medium heat. This works amazingly on beef and poultry.

Mojo Marinade
This is a take on a South American and Carribean suace or marinade. We use raspberry vinegar, orange juice and coffee and turn up the heat with chili and chipotle flavors with cumin. It works for beef, pork and poultry and shrimp. You could even add some sugar and reduce it to use it as a glaze on fish like salmon.

Come try out o

ur new marinades and let us know what you think!

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