Pork Chops & Calving Season

By Sara Ross

Hello from southwest Iowa,

It feels like the weather has been teasing us with spring-like days, then smacking us with the reality of winter weather. I personally like the sunny, 20 to 30-degree days and I know our cattle do, too.

As cattle farmers, this time of year means we are coming up on calving season. Our farm will soon turn into an around-the-clock maternity ward.

Earlier this week, we brought all our cows to the lots behind our house so we can sort out heifers. Heifers are female cows who have never had a calf before. We separate the heifers because they were bred a week earlier than the cows that have had calves before. It’s also important to separate them because they’re first-time moms. We like to have a close eye on them and will keep them near the barn in case we need to step in to help.

No matter the weather, our daily cattle chores include feedings, making sure there is plenty of bedding, checking waterers and watching for calves to be born!  

We may still have a lot of winter weather left, but before we know it, our family will be pulling the planter out of the shed and getting ready to plant our corn and soybean crop. We’ve already made decisions on our input (seed types, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) and have paid for many of those products. This allows us to be ready to jump into planting season as soon as the soil temperatures warm up.

On top of busy farm life, I’m in the process of training for my first half marathon. I have found that I don’t mind running in the colder temperatures. I’ve learned that running long distances seems to be a lot more enjoyable when I can listen to an audiobook! 

To fuel my body for farm life and workouts, I make sure to eat well-balanced meals with plenty of protein. Our family eats a variety of meat, including pork, venison, lamb, chicken and fish. One of our favorite and easy-to-make pork recipes is for Moroccan Pork Chops. I like to serve it with a side of rice and broccoli. 

Thanks for following along with my wellness journey during the Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Wellness Challenge. It’s been great motivation to keep moving during the cold winter months. I’ve also enjoyed sharing our farm, family and fitness with all of you! 

Moroccan Pork Chops

Adapted from Pampered Chef’s 29 Minute Meals Cookbook



  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  •  1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons capers


  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati and wild rice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


  • 4 boneless loin chops (we use thick Iowa Chops)
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To start the sauce, pour balsamic vinegar into a bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Add raisins; set aside to soak.  

To start the rice, combine water and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Add rice; cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat.

For the pork, season it with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shake off excess. Add oil to a large skillet; heat over medium-high for 1-3 minutes or until shimmering. Add pork; cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown (may need to cook a few extra minutes if using the thick Iowa chops). Remove from skillet.

To finish the sauce, using the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium. Add shallots; cook and stir until golden. Add raisin mixture; simmer 1 minute or until liquid is slightly reduced. Stir in olives, brown sugar and capers. Simmer 2 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken.

Add pork chops to sauce; simmer gently 3-5 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, turning pork chops to coat well with sauce. Remove from heat (temperature will rise to 160 degrees F).

Stir parsley into cooked rice.

To serve, place rice on plate, then a pork chop and then top with some of the sauce. Enjoy!