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It's 2021!

Welcome to the first full week of 2021.  This weeklyish focuses on clarifying delivery and pickup selection, shares a hearty recipe that can feed you for a week, begins sharing our annual review process, and looks at our word of the year, "Focus," through my winter reading list.

Order Deadlines

Delivery Option     Deadline
Home delivery | Thursday     Tuesday, 10pm*
Pickup @ Culver Farmers' Market | Saturday     Thursday, 10pm
*Sourdough orders for delivery require an additional 24 hours

Delivery or Pickup

We've had a couple of customers over the last week report that they thought they had missed their opportunity to order, when they hadn't.  A recent phone call from one revealed the cause of the issue.

When shopping via the Culver Farmers' Market Store, you check out with each vendor after making your selections.  Most of the vendors only offer pickup, not home delivery, and so the option for pickup is automatically selected.  You then select your pickup date/location option.  However, because our farm offers both pickup at the market AND home delivery, you must first select one option or the other.  Only then will you have the option to select the date you wish to receive your order.

Beef Vegetable Stoup (recipe 2-fer)

Is it soup yet?  This was a common question back in my days as a custom software developer.  It was short for "you showed me a semi-working prototype yesterday time ago.  Is it ready to be delivered to the beta testers/customer yet?"  I didn't the etymology much thought at the time, but I'm sure it was related to this kind of soup making.

This isn't a recipe, so much as a practical philosophy.  How do you make an inexpensive piece of meat feed a family for a week? And how do you not get bored with it?  The answer is to start with stoup in mind.  What's stoup?  It's a dish that has a wide variety of flavors and is eaten with a spoon like a soup, but is much, much thicker and heartier, like a stew.  It's perfect for cold, icy-snowy January weeks!  It's also a twofer: make a pot roast, then make stoup!

Easy Beef Roast

This is the way I remember mom making pot roast, though I'm sure I nudged things around a little bit over the years.  It's stupid easy, and for years I didn't know there was any other way, and never could figure out how people could struggle to make tender, juicy pot roast.

1 largish beef roast (mom usually used a rump roast.  I prefer a bone-in arm roast.  Either way, Amor Beef has you covered!)
1 potato per person (I just used the last of ours.  But something semi-waxy, like Kenebec or Yukon Gold is a good choice)
a generous splash of Worcestershire Sauce (for a 3 pound roast, I use about a tablespoon.  But go with your gut)
1 Pint canned tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed all work)

Put the roast in a crock pot.  Arrange the potatoes around the sides.  Pour in the Worcestershire sauce, and dump the tomatoes right on top.  Put the crock pot on low, and go about your day.  8+ hours later (and timing is not critical), dinner is wonderfully ready.

Use tongs to gently pull out some beef for each person.  It will completely fall apart, so a fork won't work.  Serve each person a potato.  If you have heritage from any Hoosier Anabaptist sect, you'll want to serve with bread and butter, and corn.  I suggest a nice salad of mixed microgreens.

Leave the leftovers in the crock, and put it in the fridge.

Beef Vegetable Stoup

Leftovers from easy beef roast
Lots of veggies of your choice
A pint or two of tomatoes (diced works best)
Bay leaves
Dried herbs (oregano and thyme are a good place to start)

The next day, remove the crock from the fridge.  All of the fat will have solidified on the surface (it is now essentially suet).  Remove it with a spoon, and make birdfeed (woodpeckers love it) or let the dogs enjoy a small amount.  Remove any bones (make stock!), and shred the leftover beef - just use a couple of forks and do it in the crock..  Leave all of the juices in the crock.

Go to the freezer and/or pantry, and grab whatever veggies you have a surplus of.  I like corn, peas, green beans, onions, carrots, and potatoes most, but often include okra (small amounts only!), broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, squash, and more.  Leafy greens don't seem to work too well, though.  I also like to include kidney or pinto beans - the texture is a nice addition.  Drain any canned veggies (except beans).  No need to thaw the frozen.  Dump the veggies on top of the shredded beef and juices. Keep going until the crock cannot hold any more (hint: start with the largest veggies, and work your way to the smaller ones).

When the crock cannot possibly hold any more veggies, add several bay leaves, a few grinds of pepper, a pinch of salt, and a hearty sprinkle of herbs.  Pour the tomatoes over the top - the liquid will work its way between all of the veggies.

Cover, put the crock pot on high, and let it go all day.  The longer the better.  It needs to have at least an hour or two of actual simmering in the pot.  Adjust seasoning before serving.  Refrigerate leftovers - it actually tastes better re-heated the next day!).

It's now a meal unto itself, with enough different flavors and tons of vitamins and minerals to keep you satisfied and not bored eating it for both lunch and dinner for a few days, or for one meal a day for a week.

Experiential Capital

We'll begin our annual review examining where we stand in Experiential Capital.  If you are a little lost, please check last week's newsletter for a description of our annual review process, and the eight forms of capital. Experiential capital is value that is gained by actually doing things: producing something, building something, succeeding, and failing. 

Experiential capital, like each form of capital, has a currency - a means by which value can be exchanged or transformed.  For experiential capital, that is action: we gain experiential capital only when we actually do something.  The result of accumulating experiential capital is wisdom.

2020 was a year that saw intense growth in our experiential capital. We hired, our first team members, and gained insights into managing employees, dealing with the payroll taxes, insurance changes, paperwork, and other aspects that come with becoming an employer, rather than doing all of the labor ourselves.  We experienced a massive shift in markets as our restaurant sales nearly stopped, while our sales to individual families increased during the early stages of the shutdown. and slowed down later.  We added online sales.  I managed opening an online store for the Culver Farmers' Market, as well as a couple of prototype weeks of manual online orders for all of the vendors.  We social distanced, dealt with supply chain disruptions, sanitized everything all the time, and began offering home delivery services.  We expanded the outlets for our products, at the height of the summer attending farmers' markets three days a week, plus two days of deliveries, which completely changed the way time flows on the farm.

Prior to 2020, I felt confident in the core production processes we've built on the farm.  The past year has done a lot to ameliorate our inexperience on the business side (where I would say I was fairly strong in intellectual capital, but not experiential.  Knowledge, not wisdom....).  There remain, however, gaps in experience that will be relevant moving towards the future.  Some things that we'll need to gain experience with include systematizing farm processes, managing a larger team, delegation to and management of supervisors and managers, scaling post-harvest processes, managing sales of meat products, and expanding delivery options.  It is also impossible to be completely confident about what we'll learn from experience: what mistakes are we now making that we won't know are mistakes until we gain more experience and wisdom?

Overall, I am quite pleased with our level of experiential capital.  We have 11 years of experience at small scale production, and we are rapidly gaining experience with mid-scale production and business management.  On our scale from tragic to great, I would rate our current experiential capital as "good."

What did you experience in 2020?  Have you gained wisdom?  What do you want to experience this year?  Let us know!

Winter Reading

Keeping in mind 2021's word of the year, "Focus," I spent much of this week cataloging and shelving my book clutter.  I have a bit of a book problem...

Anyway, I tend to be in the middle of many books all at the same time.  This means that it takes quite a while to finish one book.  And it means piles of books mid-read that get to be a bit much.  I've reduced my "currently reading" pile by about 75%.  Some of the shelved books will be back to finish/re-read later.  But, I vow not to add any more books to my current reading pile until I get it under 10.  To this end, I'm actually going to limit myself to reading just two books at a time.  This should help keep things better under control.

And what am I reading?  You can check it out in real-time in the "currently reading" collection of my library catalog.  It currently sits at 21 books, so it'll be a few weeks before I'm allowed to add any to it.

What are you reading?  Do you have any recommendations for me to read?  I'd love to hear from you!

Order Deadlines

Delivery Option     Deadline
Home delivery | Thursday     Tuesday, 10pm*
Pickup @ Culver Farmers' Market | Saturday     Thursday, 10pm
*Sourdough orders for delivery require an additional 24 hours
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