Milk-Fed Pork at Sutton Ridge Farm

Milk-fed pork


Jennifer gathering apples from their orchard for the pigs to eat.

Jennifer gathering apples from their orchard for the pigs to eat.

Milk-fed pork?  This seems like a bizarre combination, but this is what the Jensen’s say makes their pork so tender.

Mark and Jennifer Jensen, along with their four children: Dawson, Audrey, Olivia and Jay own and operate a small, organic family farm – Sutton Ridge Farm – in Jordan, Minnesota, southwest of the Twin Cities. The 80 acre farm is home to 8 pigs, 20 sheep, 31 cows, a few barn cats and a variety of crops.

Eight years ago they bought the farm and moved their family out of the city because they knew it would provide many memories and opportunities for their children and allow Jennifer to expand her passion for gardening.

Raising pigs was not a thought until pork prices spiked. Jennifer thought, “We should raise our own pigs!” Even though she didn’t have experience, but she did have unwavering determination driven by her passion for nutrition. Raising hogs would provide quality meat at a much lower price for their family and neighboring families.

That first year they started with three piglets, and through the help of neighbors six years latter Sutton Ridge Farm is still raising hogs and living out Jennifer’s dream.


Why a Pig’s Diet is so Important-

Jay Jensen picking tomatoes for the pigs to eat.

“A pig, more than any other animal is what it eats. If a pig has a regular diet of apples, the meat will taste sweet. If they eat acorns, the flavor will be nutty. If they eat bakery waste or ‘garbage’, guess what? You won’t want to eat it.” Said Jennifer.

This is why their pigs eat fresh produce from their garden and orchard and a variety freshly-ground grains grown on the farm, in addition of their daily buckets of milk.

Sutton Ridge Farm is forging their own path by not excluding traditional feed- corn and soy beans- from their pigs’ diets. They have found that the grains negatively affect their meat’s flavor profile, instead of enhancing it like the other foods they receive. 



Better Taste through a Stress-Free Life-

When first starting the Jensen’s made a commitment to raise their livestock with respect to ensure they live good lives before transitioning into the food chain. Fostering a stress-free life not only makes the pigs happier, which positively affects the meat. When they are unhappy or stressed their bodies release hormones that creates “off-flavors” in the meat.

Pigs playing with their bowling ball.



Learn More about Sutton Ridge Farm by vising their website 


Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

Looking for a delicous drink to accompany your Thanksgiving celebration?  Try spicing up your hot chocolate with pumpkin.Coffee002

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 cups milk
  • whipped cream
  • marshmallows
  • cinnamon

In a small saucepan heat milk and whisk in cocoa powder.  Add in pumpkin, confectioners sugar, and pumpkin spice.  Heat until sugar is dissolved.  Portion into cups and top with whipped cream, marshmallows, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Make-Ahead Holiday Tips

On Thanksgiving Day just about every kitchen in America is full of food and family for a full day.  Give yourself more time to spend with family by making as much of your meal ahead of time.  Here are some make-ahead tips

  • Make pie dough and cakes ahead of time, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in freezer bags.  If you are making them enough ahead of time freeze them, or refrigerate if it is only a couple days ahead.
  • Make your sauce, stocks, or gravy ahead of time and store in air tight jars or containers.
  • Cook items like potatoes ahead of time, freeze them on a baking sheet in a single layer so that they do not stick together.  Once frozen completely transfer to a plastic container of freezer bag.
  • Bread for stuffing can be cut the day before, store it in a paper bag.
  • Have your turkey seasoned and in the pan the night before.  In the morning all you have to do is put it in the oven.
  • Chop all your vegetables the day before and store in plastic containers of plastic bags. 

Share your make-ahead tips with us, we would love to hear what you do to simplify your Thanksgiving meal.

Homemade Caramel Corn – make with the kids!

caramelcornMake it a family night and prepare this classic recipe that the whole family will enjoy.  Small kids can pop popcorn while older kids or parents can heat up the caramel.  Break out a board game or moive and enjoy family time tonight!


Caramel Corn

Prep:  20 Minutes, Bake 20 Minutes


Nonstick spray coating

8 cups popped popcorn

3/4 cub packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter (no substitutes)

3 Tablespoons light color corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Spray an 18X12X2 baking pan with nonstick spray.  Remove unpopped kernals from popped corn.  Place popcorn in pan; keep warm in a 300 degree oven.

2.  Butter sides of heavy 1 1/2 quart saucepan.  Add brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup.  Clip candy thermometer to side of pan.  Cook and stir over medium heat to 225, hard-ball stage (about 4 mins.) Remove saucepan from heat.  Stir in baking soda and vanilla; pour over popcorn.  Stir gently to coat.

3.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Stir and bake 5 minutes more.  Remove from oven; spread onto a large piece of foil and cool completely.  Break into clusters.

Nutrition facts per serving:  171 calories, 7g total fat, 4g saturate fat, 18 mg cholesterol, 113 mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Recipe is available in the “Now That’s Cookin'” cookbook available at the Machine Shed restaurant.

Cooking with Teenagers – make it fun!

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Encouraging your teenagers to cook may need some….encouraging.  One of our restaurant chefs recently helped his son and his friends find inspiration in cooking by creating a “Chopped” food competition.  This activity is ideal for youth groups, siblings, or a party.  Here is how one of our Chefs, Steve Hall, organized the “Chopped Event”.

 Start with a theme – our theme was “Breakfast”.  The youth created a breakfast entrée out of mystery items as well as pantry items.  We stocked the pantry with eggs, butter, spices, flour, sugar, etc., then we created a “mystery basket” of 4 items to be incorporated into the dish.  They were given 35 minutes to consult, prepare and cook their entrée and then present to a group of judges (parents). 

AsburyChopped2013 002The mystery items we chose were:

  • Pears
  • Parsley
  • Goldfish
  • McDonald’s French fries

 Teams were seleceted and divided into two groups.  They were also given a one time pass to consult with the chef.

 Both teams quickly reviewed the items and grabbed from the pantry items and planned their entrée.  One team worked on creating an omelet, the other team prepared a puffed pastry mini egg casserole.  After a 10 minute warning, the kids started to feel the pressure of time management and getting an end product plated in time.  When time was called, one group was finished, while the other group learned that baking a casserole took longer than they expected.  To make the tasting fair, we gave them extra time so they could present a finished product. 

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In the end, we got to taste two awesome breakfast entrees that tasted great.

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The groups were creative, learned about time management and how to work as a team.  The mini egg casserole was the winner, but both teams really won and can’t wait to do it again.  Best of all, the parents were shocked that “their child” prepared a dish!  Cooking with teenagers is fun, just make it fun.

 Our theme for the next “Chopped” competition:  Dessert

The words to “So, God Made a Farmer”

Many of our guests and facebook fans have been asking to view all the words to “So, God Made a Farmer”.   The author is unkown, but USA Today reports that this Paul Harvey monologue was originally given to the Future Farmers of America (now FFA) convention in 1978. Harvey, who died in 2009, was a longtime radio favorite in the Midwest.
And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker!”. So, God made a farmer!
God said I need somebody to get up before dawn and milk cows and work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board. So, God made a farmer!
I need somebody with strong arms. Strong enough to rustle a calf, yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry and have to wait for lunch until his wife is done feeding and visiting with the ladies and telling them to be sure to come back real soon…and mean it. So, God made a farmer!
God said “I need somebody that can shape an ax handle, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And…who, at planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon. Then, pain’n from “tractor back”, put in another seventy two hours. So, God made a farmer!
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop on mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So, God made a farmer!
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees, heave bails and yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink combed pullets…and who will stop his mower for an hour to mend the broken leg of a meadow lark. So, God made a farmer!

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard days work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”. So, God made a farmer!




watch. share. support.

You watch the video, you share a badge, the Ram brand makes a donation.+ Help raise $1 million to support FFA and assist in local hunger and educational programs. (visit the Ram site here for details)

Thank you Farmers!


So God Made a Farmer

We, at the Machine Shed, were all so moved by ‘So God Made a Farmer’ commercial created by Ram Trucks that aired last night.

Mike Whalen, CEO and owner of the Machine Shed restaurant comments:  “We are dedicated to the American Farmer.  That dedication meant that we worked hard to have a restaurant that wasn’t just “farm themed” but would be something that farmers could be proud of.  The spirit and courage of these men and women live on, we are proud to salute the American farmer.”


watch. share. support.

You watch the video, you share a badge, the Ram brand makes a donation.+ Help raise $1 million to support FFA and assist in local hunger and educational programs. (visit the Ram site here for details)

Thank you Farmers!


2 Fun Games for kids (or yourself)

In honor of Pork Month, have your kids (or be a kid again) and play these great games.

The games are divided by age (even better!).

Our favorite was the “Pick the Pork” in which you are at a grocery store check out lane and have to put only pork items in your bag – see how well you (I mean your kids) do.

Click on this link below:

Pigs love marshmellows + what’s it like to be a Hog Farmer

Blog post written by staff writer, Stacy Christoffersen

 This week I had the great opportunity to interview a farmer! 

Lindsay Greiner, a grain and livestock farmer from Keota, IA took some time out of his busy harvest day to tell me what it’s like to be a hog farmer.  I know very little about farming and it turns out several of my colleagues didn’t know much either.  We came up with these simple and amusing questions that Lindsay chuckled and gratefully answered.  We hope this gives you a little insight into a farmers life  and how appreciative we should be for these dedicated farmers! 

You can also meet Lindsay in person this Saturday (9/29/12) at the Iowa Machine Shed in Des Moines where he will be at the featured guest throughout dinner.   Click here for more info

 How long have you been a Grain and Livestock Farmer?

35 years.

 How many hogs/pigs do you have at one time?

Varies anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 hogs. (sidenote:  Farmers call them “hogs”, non-farmers, like myself, call them “pigs”).

 Where do they live?

In confinement sheds.  Each shed is 400 feet long and 52 feet wide. 30 pigs per pen, 2500 full grown hogs in a shed.

 Do you order pigs or do you breed them yourself?

We contract a grower, the owners bring the hogs when they are 10lbs, 10 days old.  Within 160 days, a good healthy weight is 280 lbs.

 Are baby pigs really that cute?


 What do you feed them?

Primarily ground corn and soy bean meal.

 Do pigs have a favorite snack or treat?

The show pigs like marshmallows and a liquid oil that  tastes like chococlate chip cookies, and Ensure protein drinks!  Show pigs are cared for and treated like our own kids.  Lindsey’s son is in charge of show pigs, he’ll raise and take care of them and sell about 150 show pigs to students and kids.

 Are they scared of anything or any animal?

Hogs are scared of about everything – they will run away at anything.  However, mothers with babies aren’t sacred of anything and will bite you!

Is it smelly?  Do you get used to the smell?

Yes it is smelly and you get used to it.

 How much do you get for a full grown pig?

A full grown hogs is worth $150.  Just this week, we sold hogs for $0.56 cents a pound at 260lbs that would be $145.60 each.

Is there a down time or seasonality to hog farming? Do you get the winters off?

No down time on the farm.  When the hogs go to market, we are down for one week.  We powerwash the sheds and get them spotless and then fill it up!  Harvest time is the hardest, for 6 weeks you need to harvest and take care of livestock.  That’s when farmers work the hardest and longest days.

What questions would you like to ask a farmer?  I’m planning on interviewing another farmer this month!

Yummy After School Snack Recipe



Chicken Feed Snack Mix

What is your go-to after-school snack?  Our Facebook fans said “Rice Krispie Treats”, but as parents we also know to be stocked up on grab-n-go fruit, granola bars and crackers.

 Need some more ideas?  From our Machine Shed “Now That’s Cookin’” cookbook, here is a recipe for “Chicken Feed Snack Mix.”  Enjoy!



Prep Time:  12 minutes  ♥   Bake:  20 minutes


 ¼ cup apple jelly or desired-flavor jelly

 3 Tablespoons sugar

 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

 1 cup rolled oats

 ½ cup peanuts or slivered almonds

 ¼ cup shelled sunflower seeds

 ¼ cup coconut

 1 cup candy-coated peanuts


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  In a medium saucepan stir together jelly, sugar, butter or margarine and cinnamon.  Cook and stir over low heat until butter or margarine melts and sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the oats, peanuts or almonds, sunflower seeds and coconut until combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into an ungreased baking pan.  Spread the mixture in an even layer.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once or twice.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large piece of foil; let cool.  Store in a covered container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.  An airtight container will keep the mixture crisp.  Just before serving, stir in candy-coated peanuts.  Makes 5 cups.


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