Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Water Buffalo, Bison Two Ways, Rutabaga Mash

We visit Jeff Mease's farm in Indiana to meet his herd of water buffalo. Then we use potatoes, rutabagas and bison meat in three hearty, winter dishes.

three water buffalos

Photo: January Jones/WFIU

A baby water buffalo with other members of the buffalo herd at local farmer Jeff Mease's water buffalo and pig farm (from January 2009).

Local And Seasonal All Year Round

Just because winter weather has taken hold of the Midwest doesn’t mean that area gardeners are taking a break. It takes quite a bit of planning in the fall and perhaps even more attention and care than gardening in the spring and summer, but as Jami Scholl and Leigh Bush prove, it is possible to harvest fresh food when there’s snow on the ground.

For our first recipe, Chef Daniel Orr is channeling his Grandma with a Polish Rutabaga mash.

Then we hop in the car to visit a unique area farm. Jeff Mease is a restaurateur by trade, owning a number of pizza places in south-central Indiana, but his true passion seems to be his 69-acre farm and his herd of water buffalo.

Bison, also commonly called American buffaloes, are only distantly related to the buffaloes on Mease’s farm. Bison meat is called “America’s Original Red Meat” because it was the main protein source for Plains Indians until the animals were nearly hunted to extinction in the late-19th century. These days, in addition to wild bison herds in national parks and nature preserves, farms are keeping bison as livestock. According to the website Eat Bison Meat, Indiana boasts 34 bison farms, including Buffalo Nickel Ranch in Monroe, County.

Chef Orr is using bison meat in his Bison, Pumpkin and Lentil Chili.

Bison is a good substitute for beef since it’s lower in both fat and cholesterol. But for our final recipe for stew, we will be using some beef brisket.

News Stories In The Program:

Stories On This Episode

Ask A Gardener: Successful Cold Weather Gardening

Leigh Bush By Her Cold Frames

Jami Scholl doesn't put her garden to bed once the ground starts to freeze -- she continues to grow food. Read her advice for gardening throughout the winter.

Grandma Orr’s Polish Rutabaga Mash

Rutabaga Mash

This recipe combines the rutabagas with potatoes for a twist on your traditional mashed potato recipe.

Water Buffalo: From Milk To Mozzarella With Jeff Mease

Jeff Mease With His Water Buffalos

Jeff Mease is a local farmer and restaurateur who is now operating one of the few water buffalo farms in the United States.

Bison, Pumpkin And Lentil Chili

buffalo chili

In addition to the three marquee ingredients, coffee adds some zing to this chili.

Beef Or Bison Stew With Winter Vegetables

bison or beef stew

We're using beef brisket in the stew, a tough cut of meat, because we're going to be cooking it for hours.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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