Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Archive for tag: cooking

Your hosts at Rancho Dos Amantes, located in Paso Robles, California truly do it all. There are the TWO farm gardens, goats and chickens, and cooking experiences in their Red Barn Kitchen. Wedding parties can rent out the entire 40-acre ranch (also available to family reunions, corporate retreats, group getaways and so on), and, last but not least, there is the Farm Stay B&B!

Rancho Dos Amantes: Relax and Unwind in the California Countryside

Guests at Rancho Dos Amantes can choose to stay in one of the two casitas or in a private 2nd floor studio apartment with full kitchen inside the barn. The barn also houses a professional kitchen downstairs, which is not only used for cooking experiences and private events, but is available to all guests renting casitas.

Rancho Dos Amantes: Relax and Unwind in the California Countryside

With access to the large guest garden and this kitchen, you might never want to leave! The guest garden features fruit and olive trees, raised beds and in-ground crops, flowers, and a two-tiered patio for relaxing and socializing.

Rancho Dos Amantes: Relax and Unwind in the California Countryside

Tucked between Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento, Rancho Dos Amantes is part of a vibrant community in and around Paso Robles. With over 200 local wineries plus shopping, breweries, farmers' markets (two!), dining, and entertainment, guests will never be short of something to do -- if they can tear themselves away from the farm, that is. Day trippers can head to the coast and tour the famous Hearst Castle or visit the beach towns of Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria, and San Simeon.

Rancho Dos Amantes: Relax and Unwind in the California Countryside

Finally, we must mention the weddings. What a backdrop for a wedding! Just take a look at the farm's photo galleries: Venue Gallery and Wedding Gallery (both links will take you to their website). By renting out the entire ranch to the wedding party, guests are assured a private and comfortable celebration in a beautiful setting.

Rancho Dos Amantes: Relax and Unwind in the California Countryside

To learn more about Rancho Dos Amantes, visit their listing here on Farm Stay U.S., and then head to their website to start planning your California getaway!

Photos provided by Rancho Dos Amantes

Farm Stays: Not Just For Kids

Farm and ranch stays are generally a very family friendly vacation, and we tend to focus a lot of our attention on that. Travel Blogging Moms want to share the farm stay experience with their family-focused readers, and other writers often base their inquiries on the best places to enjoy vacation time with multiple generations of family.

But kids aren’t the only ones who can get something great out of a stay on a working farm. Whether single, part of a couple, or with a group of friends, there are plenty of farm vacation ideas for grown ups:

1) Wine Tasting & Tours


Rustridge Ranch and Winery, St. Helena, CA


Sakura Ridge Farm and Lodge, Hood River, OR

From well-appointed tasting rooms, to farms situated near world-class wine regions, wine and farm stays often go hand-in-hand. Rustridge Ranch and Winery is a rustic Napa Valley vineyard, winery, and thoroughbred racehorse ranch. Gather in the B&B kitchen in the evenings for hors d'ouevres and sampling Rustridge wines. During the day, learn about wine making and growing grapes, or about breeding and training racehorses.

Sakura Ridge Farm and Lodge in Hood River, Oregon, is located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. Cherry, pear, and apple orchards bloom and beckon, and you'll be in great proximity to wineries and tour opportunities in the Mt. Hood region.

Find more farm stays with wine tasting/touring activities.

2) Cheese Making or Tasting


Flint Hill Farm, Coopersburg, PA


Mountain Farm, Burnsville, NC

Cheese goes with wine, after all! Whether you want to learn how to make cheese at home, or just sample some farm fresh goodness, farm stays can hook you up. At Flint Hill Farm in Pennsylvania, the "Cheese Artist Package" will give guests a 2-night stay in their 1850s farmhouse, and hands-on immersion in the process of making cheese, from milking to packaging of the final product for sale.

Mountain Farm is the smallest certified dairy in North Carolina, and a member of the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail. They make unique aged goat cheeses, soft flavored cheeses and marinated Feta, and as they are only occasionally open to the public for special events, your stay will be peaceful and private.

Find more farm stays offering cheese making or tasting.


3) Cattle Drives or Cattle Sorting


Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, Sandpoint, ID


Horses N Courage Camp, Lennep, MT

Whether you're a bonafide "city slicker", or you've spent some time on horseback, authentic cattle drives or cattle sorting activities are experiences you won't soon forget. At Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Idaho, put on your game face and participate in competitive team cattle sorting. They even offer five-night adult only getaways during select weeks in the summer.

At Horses N Courage Camp in Montana, you'll ride alongside the Hereim family while you herd and move cattle. Their cabin, tent, or teepee accommodations, along with camp cooked meals and songs around the campfire will give you a taste of Montana's backcountry.

Find more farm or ranch stays offering cattle drives or cattle sorting.

4. Cooking School


The Inn at Crippen Creek Farm, Skamokawa, WA


Bean Tree Farm, Tucson, AZ

Watching a chef (or even just a talented cook) prepare a meal is a delight. Taking it to the next level and actually learning from such a person is something really special. Hosts Don and Kitty Speranza at The Inn at Crippen Creek Farm in Washington owned and operated a successful catering company in Portland before turning to the farm life. These days, they will teach farm guests how to make artisan bread, pasta, and comforting country Italian meals. And then you get to feast on your hard work!

For something really different - and really interesting - check out Bean Tree Farm in Arizona and learn to identify, harvest, process, and pepare seasonal Sonoran Desert foods.  You might harvest and process barrel cactus fruit, saguaro fruit, dragonfruit, paloverde seeds, and much more. They even make a desert kimchi!

Find more farm stays offering cooking classes.

These are just a few getaway ideas that adults can enjoy, but almost any farm, ranch, or vineyard stay will fit the bill. From relaxing in a quiet farm cottage with a good book, to throwing yourself into farm chores, taking in the night sky, or learning some new skills - alone, or with a friend or partner - these vacations aren't just for kids!

12 Days of Christmas (on the farm) - Day 2

Everyone who celebrates... did you have a good Christmas surrounded by friends and loved ones? Hope so! Here at USFSA HQ and its satellite office (AKA, my house) there was lots of tamale making - a big group effort - and then gathering around the dining table to polish them off. Holiday gatherings around here never seem to stray far from the kitchen!

With that in mind, today's post centers around food... and of course it should, since farms and ranches are all about the production of food. What wonderful places, then, to go and connect over a cooking class, or gather around a wood-fired oven!

tamales1 tamales2
Yeah... we Instagrammed our tamales. No shame.

We have many farms, ranches, and vineyards listed on the site which offer all meals as part of their farm stay packages, and some are even offered as family style dining, which really make guests feel at home with their hosts.

Cooking school at Cold Moon Farm.

It's easy to find a farm to visit that appeals to exactly the kind of connection you want to forge with your traveling companions. On our search page, click on "show more search options", then choose from the Food options. Be sure to check under Amenities and Activities, too. (Just a note: select one or two options to narrow your search - the search results bring back only members who match ALL your criteria, so pick the one thing that's most important to you and then narrow it down by looking through those results.)

Pass the nog?

The alpacalypse is coming! Here, this llama will explain...




Okay, all jokes about the end of the world aside, farms are great places to learn a skill or two that might see you through some tough times -- or at the very least, impress your friends at parties. (Seriously. Homemade cheese? I would be so impressed while I hid it all in my purse to take home.) (I like cheese, is what I'm saying.)

Day 5 - Bread, Butter, Jam, and Cheese Making; Canning and Preserving; Soap Making; Teaching Farms; Teaching Ranches; Cooking School

Homemade Butter

Homemade butter

Fresh, whole ingredients, usually straight from the source. A knowledgeable farmer or rancher to teach. These are some invaluable gifts!

The Farm Stay U.S. search page can help you find all kinds of new skills to learn. Just click on "Show More Search Options" and select an activity to see what our members have to offer.

Please join us in giving a hearty welcome to four new site members who joined us in November! Here are some quick highlights from their listings:

Kitts Marsh Farm

Kitts Marsh Farm

Prince Federick, Maryland

Patuxent riverfront cabin just feet from sandy shore and pier. Fishing, crabbing, swimming, and kayaks available. Glamping on our working farm - farming in beautiful Calvert County, MD since 1707. We sustainably raise grass fed Angus beef and a variety of cage free laying hens, and we just added meat rabbits. We raise and harvest our own hay for winter use. Lots of berries to pick in season: raspberry, blueberry & blackberry. We also have a herb & vegetable garden.

Snug Hollow Farm

Snug Hollow Farm

Irvine, Kentucky

An organic farm that boasts 300 acres of babbling creeks, glorious wildflowers, abundant wildlife, wooded mountainsides and the simplicity of country life both past and present. Accommodations consist of a restored chestnut log cabin, a pine/cedar cabin by the creek, and a spacious two story farmhouse... read a book by the fireplace, enjoy the panoramic views, or simply daydream.


Mississippi Modern Homestead Center

Mississippi Modern Homested Center

Starkville, Mississippi

The Homestead is a large house on six acres of lakefront property with over a mile of nature trails, chickens, bees, two teaching gardens, gray-water, rain catchment, and compost systems, and a fruit tree orchard. The house, partially powered by solar, includes 5 bedrooms, a large kitchen with a walk-out screened in porch for nutrition/cooking classes, a large meeting space with a view of the gardens and lake, an art space dedicated to all things messy in the walk-out basement, and a children's education classroom with an attached greenhouse. We encourage guests to stay overnight for activities, workshops, and events.

Chelsea Sun Inn

Chelsea Sun Inn

Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania

Rolling hills, cornfields, deer and farm animals abound at this farm stay located near the Delaware Water Gap. Year around activities are available for adventure seekers as well as opportunities for exploration or relaxation. This stunning bed and breakfast, with its luxury accommodations, captures the flavor and concept behind Tuscany's agri-tourism, all on an operating farm, vineyard, and winery. Perfect for a weekend getaway, just 70 miles from New York City or Philadelphia. Schedule a relaxing couples' massage or enroll in an introductory wine-making course as you participate in making your own case of select wine and custom labels.

Lard. (Yep. Lard.)

This is not a post for the vegetarians among us -- sorry!

Have you ever rendered your own lard? Would you do it if I said that fresh lard has healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids? AND less saturated fat than butter?

Lard you render yourself is different from the store-bought, shelf-stable stuff. In order to have a long shelf-life, commercial products have hydrogenated oils that are solid at room temperature. These are your trans fats, which raise your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) while at the same time, lowering your "good" cholesterol (HDL).*

Besides... lard... it just can't be beat for a good pie crust, fried chicken, or those New Years Eve tamales, right?

Some of our farms and ranches touch on the topic of lard in cooking, such as in the Folklore Foods class at Tierra Soul Urban Farm in Portland. Others offer free receipes that use lard as an ingredient, like Splendor Farms in Louisiana (click on their website and find the recipe of the month). Still others sell lard, or the fat to render your own, in their farm shops, like Tyner Pond Farm in Indiana.

I love the idea of using as much of an animal as possible, so I've been rendering my own lard for a few years now. It's easy:

Step 1: cut the fat into smaller pieces


The fat with the least amount of pork flavor is called leaf lard, and this is what you would want for baking.

Above, I defrosted one of the packages that came with a whole pig that I purchased, and cut the fat into smaller pieces. This was the most labor intensive part of the entire process.

Step 2: simmer!


While the fat melted down, I washed my jars and rings in my dishwasher on the sanitize setting. The jars came out of the dishwasher still hot, and I was ready to package it all up.

lard2 Lard1
Step 3: strain into clean jars and let cool; Step 4: keep refrigerated or frozen


Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain into the clean jars. The processed lard is a clear golden color which cools to an almost pristine white. (The final color can vary, so don't be concerned if it's not completely pure white.)Lard Book


I have my eye on this book, Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother's Secret Ingredient for more recipes, so that none of this wonderful ingredient goes to waste! (Note: We use an affiliate link with Changing Hands Bookstore, an independent, locally owned book store in Tempe, AZ.)

Pie crust, anyone?




*There is a wealth of information on the internet about lard and how it compares to other shortenings and shelf-stable products made with trans fats. Read up, and as with all good things, use in moderation. Happy cooking!