It’s Turkey Time!

As Thanksgiving draws near, the bakers at Little Rooster are busy preparing for the hungry holiday season! Not only are we making homemade stuffing mix from our best Multi-Grain Bread, but the week before Thanksgiving means making HUNDREDS of Harvest, Rosemary, and Garlic-Pepper Rolls for people to enjoy as they tuck into their holiday feasts.

But for as hard as the bakers are working, we are outshone by the hard work of the ones on the farm who are the real centerpiece of many Thanksgiving feasts: the TURKEYS! These increasingly plump and happy birds scratch, peck, and strut away in the pastures we look at every day and we are so grateful for the gift they provide for our tables. If you’ve never seen happy turkeys up close and personal, we wanted to share a few snapshots of the ones doing their noble work here at Lubbers Family Farm.

If you are interested in having one of these organic, ethically-raised turkeys for your table this year, there are still some left to purchase! Place your order here at lubbersfarm.com.

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Mac and Cheese with a Zesty Cruncher Crust

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs the weather gets cooler, everyone heads indoors to keep cozy and warm. What better way to keep cozy on the inside than with a steaming pan of homemade macaroni and cheese? Gather together friends and family and serve up this beloved dish with a twist, adding a bit of zip by topping it with crushed up Little Rooster Garlic and Herb Crunchers. Our Crunchers add not only an extra punch of flavor but a delicious crispy crust atop the smooth creaminess of your homemade cheese sauce. This dish goes well with a variety of favorite mac and cheese mix-ins, such as crumbled bacon, steamed broccoli, sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized onions. Customize this classic to suit those gathered around your table.

This recipe is a perfect fall treat that will warm you up from the inside out!

Mac and Cheese with a Zesty Cruncher Crust

Serves 6

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

1/2 pound dried elbow or other short-cut pasta
1 1/2 cups grated good quality extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup Little Rooster Garlic and Herb Crunchers

To begin, make the béchamel sauce, which will serve as the base for your cheese sauce. Heat the milk in a small pot over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, but not boil, and remove from the heat and set aside. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. When the butter has just melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Slowly pour the hot milk, about 1 cup at a time, into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. Once all the milk has been added, place the pot back over medium-high heat and continue to whisk constantly for the next 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is silky and thick, and can coat a spoon. Add the salt, whisk to combine, and set 2 cups of this sauce aside. (You will have an extra cup of béchamel, which can be used for another dish.)

Using a plastic bag and a rolling pin, crush 1 cup Crunchers to your desired crumb consistency. You may also crush them by hand, if you prefer larger pieces of Crunchers in your crust. Set aside.

Add both shredded cheeses to the remaining two cups of béchamel sauce and stir over medium-low heat, until the cheese is mostly melted, then take off the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water, until a little less than al dente. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Add the cooked pasta into the warm cheese sauce and stir well. Pour into a buttered 9×13 dish and evenly spread the crushed Crunchers on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the topping is browned and crispy and the pasta is creamy and bubbling.

Serve immediately.

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Farm Buddies: The Dogs

This ongoing series, Farm Buddies, introduces you to some of our “co-workers” on Lubbers Family Farm and share with you some of the stories of what happens when you bake on a farm full of mischievous animals.

The two farm dogs, Jewel and Tucker, are the welcoming committee to any farm visitors and are furry buddies to our Little Rooster bakers. Jewel is more mild-mannered and fond of chasing tennis balls (see the photo), while Tucker, the star of this story, is a bit of a rascal. This funny yarn was passed along to us from Karen, one of the owners of the farm and our resident story-teller.

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It’s evening, at last, and I’m in the den when I hear a strange clucking sound.  I pause to listen trying to identify the source. I begin to worry that some of the chickens may have gotten out and strayed up to the house.  We had just moved them out on pasture for the season during the day and at night, being strong creatures of habit, they may have sought to return to the hen house instead of the egg mobile; this would make them predator bait. So I heave my weary self up and go to investigate.

First I see Tucker standing at alert under a tree on the edge of the forest — way too alert — peering up into the branches.  There, in the lowest but still quite high branch is one of our two tom turkeys.  Good grief — how did he get out and, more importantly, how do I get him back in?  Fortuitously, and regrettably for him, our son Doug arrives.  We find a long tree limb and begin to whack at the branch occupied by the turkey, while scolding Tucker who is now barking and leaping in the air.  After ten minutes of awkward effort on our part, the tom capitulates and flies off the branch, unfortunately deeper into the forest.  The chase is on.

Doug runs through the woods, ducking branches and leaping logs, while the turkey runs with amazing agility all around the outside perimeter of the hen house pasture. (This is a path that could easily take a half mile.)  Doug is not happy and Tucker, who undoubtedly contributed to the turkey getting out in the first place, is increasingly unpopular. I take the pasture route to keep the tom from heading to the barn.  I am thinking of names for the as-yet-unnamed turkey — not a good time. Doug manages to get around the turkey by the irrigation pond and head him back.  By then, we have the door to the hen house open and Jamie stationed inside to keep the other tom from escaping. As the free tom runs along the fence line toward the hen house, I keep him from breaking out into the gardens. Just as he approaches the hen house, he decides to turn around and head back. Doug has had enough, takes a flying leap, and lands squarely on the tom; a tackle worthy of the Rose Bowl!  

All is now well, and in place, except perhaps for Tucker’s future on the farm.

 

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Warm Fuzzies

We love what we do around here. And we love when you love it, too.

It’s a tremendous and welcome boost to our staff when we get notes and calls from our customers about how much our bread and other products impact their lives and their families. We hear from new and longtime customers alike, about the excitement of finding our products, as well as the benefits they find from eating our healthy, fermented bread. Occasionally here on our blog, we want to share some of these “warm fuzzies” with you!

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 “I bought your Little Rooster Multi Grain bread yesterday at Ken’s Market on Plainfield. I love it! I will not be buying ‘big store brand’ breads ever again. I love that it is organic, made here, and I understand all the ingredients on the list. Thank you!”
– Sherry

“We just tried your hotdog buns for the first time this week and loved them.  I made a trip to Kingma’s to buy their brats and picked up some of your buns to go with them.  What a nice treat! We appreciate good products from local people who make things right and with wholesome ingredients.”


– Colleen

“I found out about Little Rooster Bread several months ago, and was so happy to find a local bakery that supported my ideas about food. I just purchased my first Little Rooster product yesterday – Harvest Rolls at Harvest Health Foods – and I am in love. Seriously, delish. Thank you so much for doing what you do and making what you make and doing it and making it the way you do.”
– Meg

If you have any fuzzies or thoughts you’d like to pass along, please send them to casey@littlerooster.net or give us a call at (616) 453-4257. Thank you for your support and enjoyment of Little Rooster!

 

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Whole Wheat Grilled Cheese with Strawberry Jam and Basil

Here on our blog, we will be occasionally bringing you fun and fresh ways to use our Little Rooster products in your home and at your dinner table. Enjoy these tasty recipes!

This dressed-up grilled cheese uses our 100% Whole Wheat Bread as a hearty base for this surprisingly sweet and savory sandwich. Soft, melted cheese meets fresh basil and fruity jam for a unique and delicious combination.

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Whole Wheat Grilled Cheese with Strawberry Jam and Basil

4 slices Little Rooster Whole Wheat Bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 slices provolone cheese*
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
4 to 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces

Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium to medium-low heat. Spread the softened butter onto one side of each slice of Little Rooster bread. Spread one tablespoon of the strawberry jam on each sandwich and layer the slices of cheese and basil leaves evenly. Grill the sandwiches for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Slice in half and serve immediately.

Makes 2 sandwiches

*Any creamy, mild cheese would work well. Other suggestions include Fontina, white cheddar, and goat cheese.

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Why Is Little Rooster Bread Different?

We often get questions from our customers about what makes our bread different.

What does “fermented” mean? Are we all organic? How long does the bread last? What makes it worth the switch from your average bread off the supermarket shelf? Do you use local ingredients?

In order to give you a better understanding of what sets Little Rooster apart from commercial breads and buns, let’s tackle some of our most common questions.

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Q: What does “fermented” mean?

A: When you look at a Little Rooster bread label, you see the word “fermented” right at the top. This refers to the process in which we make our bread. There are five types of fermentation used in bread-making; in each of the five types, bacteria reacts differently, causing different flavors and characteristics in the final product. The type we use differs from what most people traditionally think of as “fermented” (i.e. sourdough bread). Our fermentation process means that a day ahead of time, we mix a portion of the dough and refrigerate it overnight, allowing the elements of the dough to begin developing. For our bread, this means that it tastes sweeter naturally and is able to last longer without the use of commercial chemicals. Because of this process, we also hear from many customers that our bread is easier to digest and has, for some, been a good option for some who have gluten intolerance problems.

Q: Why does Little Rooster make their bread this way?

A: Fermentation is an ages-old way of making bread. As part of our commitment to making good quality bread with traditional methods, we are proud to be connected to the roots of making bread in a way that honors the product, the earth, and those who eat what we bake.

Q: Do you use local ingredients?

A: The honey in all our breads is local, from Meadowland Honey in Lowell, MI. We also use as many local eggs as possible, from right on the Lubbers Family Farm, where our bakery is located. We are also committed to using primarily organic ingredients, which includes all of our flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and herbs. When you enjoy Little Rooster Bread, you can know that we take great care in selecting high quality ingredients, with a mind to where they came from and how they were produced.

If you have any questions about our products, you can always contact us directly.

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Farm Buddies: The Cows

This ongoing series, Farm Buddies, introduces you to some of our “co-workers” on Lubbers Family Farm and share with you some of the stories of what happens when you bake on a farm full of mischievous animals.

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When your bakery is on a working farm, things can go from “normal” to “Oh no! The cows got loose!” faster than you can slice a loaf of bread. Though all the Little Rooster bakers are not trained to deal with curious cows, menacing geese, raucous dogs, and pigs that will literally eat anything, we get to deal with them anyway. A farm is full of the unpredictable and the unexpected and when things go awry, it’s all hands to deck — especially when what’s gone wrong is that the cows have gotten out.

The Lubbers Farm cows, when not being milked once a day or snoozing in the hay of the barn, spend much of their time wandering peaceably through the fields, munching on grass and flicking off flies. However, there is the occasional moment when they seem to feel they don’t have quite enough freedom. When walking across the farm to the milk-house, each of our bakers have, at one time or another, come face to face with a cow that was quite obviously not supposed to be there. Once, we even looked out the bakery door to see a cow staring right in at us. (They do love Little Rooster bread. When trying to get the cows to behave, the Lubbers use our leftover bread to lure them. It’s called “cow crack” around the farm.)

One time, our baker Nathan had to try and block an angry bull from getting out of the farm property. (Being close to a road, this is a major concern.) Other times, it has meant everyone dropping everything in the bakery, making sure nothing would burn, and running outside to chase the cows back towards the barn. Of course, the cows often just stare at you dolefully, as you frantically wave your arms and shout things you think might encourage them to move. (Sadly, none of us speak cow.)

But then there are those really great moments, when it’s the season for new life and the baby calves have arrived. They stumble around on spindly legs, seeming to be mostly big brown eyes and wet noses. If you play your cards right, you can stick your thumb out and they’ll suck on it and you can pet them. It may sound odd but it’s inescapably cute.

When you think of someone baking bread, you wouldn’t normally think that cow chasing and corralling is part of the job. Then again, we here at Little Rooster like to do things a just little differently.

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Our Story

Bread-making is an venerable and primal art, stretching back an estimated 30,000 years. It’s a way that humans have sustained and fed their families for countless generations. It was the mystique and appeal of this ancient process that helped Little Rooster Bread Company come into being nine years ago.

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Casey Lubbers, owner and founder of Little Rooster, first found his interest in baking at the age of seven, when he’d sneak cookies out of his mom’s kitchen to bring to school and trade with at lunchtime. Years later, while going to school for computer programming, he came to realize that “I didn’t want to spend my life with ones and zeros.” While seeking to bring meaning and value to the world, he found himself thinking about bread-making.

So he started making bread. “Terrible, terrible bread,” he jokes. His family’s farm was home to a CSA and he would try out his breads on their customers. He knew he wanted to learn more, so he left home in 2003 to train at the San Francisco Baking Institute in California.

Upon returning to Grand Rapids, he went back to work, working two jobs and baking bread for the Farmer’s Market on the weekends. Then, he got his first store customer; a local, small health food store that wanted to carry his bread. Casey quit his second job and, after working all day, would come and bake bread at nights, then do his deliveries during his work breaks during the day.

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This went for about a year until the business grew enough that at the age of 28 in 2005, he left his job behind for baking full-time. In the past nine years, Little Rooster has grown and expanded to employ three additional full-time bakers and supplies thousands of loaves, buns, and rolls to local stores, restaurants, and the Farmer’s Market each year.

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