Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

This week's recipe contributor is my neighbor Jody.  Jody and her husband Chris are hog farmers.  Jody is unique among my farm wife friends as she grew up and worked in the city before marrying Chris.  A friend convinced Jody to go on a blind date with a farmer named Chris.  She was a little skeptical and had some preconceived notions of what a farmer on a date might look like, however, Jody was pleasantly surprised and shortly after Chris and Jody were married. 

One thing that Jody learned about farming once she was married is that farming is a business.  She had always heard that farming is a way of life.  However, Jody says that farming is first and foremost a business.  "Just like any other business, in farming you have to do financial reports, payroll, projections, hedges, receivables and payables."   While you won't find Jody in the hog buildings you will find her in the farm office going over records and reports with her mother in-law Pat.  Jody's background is in business and she was able to walk right into the business side of their farming operation. 

Jody with one of her young farmers and Ace.
Jody and Chris are the parents of four active kids - two girls and two boys.  They have the best of both worlds.  Don't just assume that the boys will be part of Chris and Jody's farm succession years from now.  Rumor has it that one of their daughters loves being in the hog barns working with Dad. 

Jody loves to spot light their pork any time she can.  I can tell you from first hand experience that these Italian pork sandwiches are wonderful.

Italian Pork Sandwiches

5 lb pork roast
3 cups beef broth
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf
2 packets Italian dressing seasoning

Combine broth and all seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Add mixture to roast in a crock pot.  Cook for 10 to 12 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high.  Shred pork.  Add back to crock pot adding peppers and onions.  Cook for an additional hour.  Serve on toasted or crusty rolls with pepperjack cheese or mozzarella.   **Great reheated**

I do have to share one Jody story that still makes me giggle.  One day shortly after Jody and Chris were married we were experiencing some nasty weather.  There were severe thunderstorms warnings and tornado watches out for the area.  Chris was leaving the farm and told Jody to watch the weather.  Jody told Chris not to worry - if the tornado sirens went off she would go to the basement.  That is when Chris informed Jody that there aren't tornado sirens in the country!  Jody had a weather scanner radio shortly after that.

Thank you Jody for sharing your recipe and incite.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Time Out!

Sorry for the lack of blog entries this week.  We are taking a time out.  The Shirbrouns have the flu, sinus infections and general crap & crud.  Plus, I have some sort of fungus and amungus growing on my fingers.  I will be back Friday with another Favorite Farm Recipe!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

A CommonGround Web Release

Lost in the Food Fact Clutter?
CommonGroundTM website now answers consumer questions about farming and food
ST. LOUIS (January 30, 2011) — Contrary to popular belief, straightforward answers to your farming and food questions do exist. Now, consumers can find answers in one location as a result of
The website has transitioned from informing audiences about the CommonGround program to providing a resource for consumers on many of the most popular food and farming topics. As CommonGround sorts through the questions and some of the misconceptions consumers may have, the program’s volunteers will provide visitors with a combination of firsthand accounts of what happens on their farms and scientific research.
“I hope our website will make people aware of the fact there is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Jennifer Schmidt, a CommonGround volunteer and diversified farmer from Sudlersville, Md. “Not all farmers live near or have access to urban consumers like I do in the mid-Atlantic region. Our website is a great way for farm women from all over the country to connect with consumers and share our stories.”
The enhanced site will introduce visitors to farmer volunteers such as Schmidt, who also is a registered dietitian. It also streamlines its focus on the top eight issues consumers ask volunteers about food. Those issues include:

  • Animal Welfare
  • Antibiotics
  • Corporate Farms
  • Food Prices

  • GMO Foods
  • Hormones
  • Local/Organic
  • Safety

CommonGround volunteers, like Bennett, Colo., farmer Danell Kalcevic, will dive into each issue by addressing consumer misconceptions related to their farm.

“For me, I want consumers to know that we (farmers) do not do things to harm anyone, and we eat the same food they do,” said Kalcevic, who raises a variety of crops, including wheat, millet, sunflowers, corn and cattle. “It is counterproductive to intentionally do things to the land, crops or animals we raise, and eventually sell or export, because that food ends up on our tables. I encourage consumers to check things out before spreading information that could be false.”

But sharing farmers’ personal stories serves as only one part of the equation. Making sure consumers understand the regulations farmers must follow is just as important, said CommonGround Volunteer, Renee Fordyce, who raises crops and cattle on her farm in Bethany, Mo.

“I am not a scientist, nor do I have a Ph.D., but I can speak from my personal experiences,” said Fordyce. “Sometimes all people want is a simple answer to address their concerns about food. If they want more meat to my answer, I feel comfortable directing them to CommonGround’s website because of the sound science we have to back up our experiences.”

From research to recipes, CommonGround volunteers hope to help visitors will find the answers to their important questions about food.

Have a question you want answered? CommonGround will not let it go unanswered. Find us online:

About CommonGround™
CommonGround is a grassroots movement to foster conversation among women – on farms and in cities – about where our food comes from. The United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) developed CommonGround to give farm women the opportunity to engage with consumers using a wide range of activities. USB and NCGA provide support and a platform for the volunteers to tell their stories. The opinions and statements made by the volunteers are not necessarily representative of the policies and opinions of USB or NCGA.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

Suzy, this week's recipe contributor, in a kindred farm mom.  We wave to each other every day - often two or three times a day - as we meet each other delivering kids to and from school, church, and 4H activities.  Suzy is a dairy farm wife and the mother of four very busy kids. 

Dairy farm wives are amazing ladies.  If you don't know a dairy farm wife you need to meet one.  She (Meaning any dairy farm wife I have met) is busy working in the barn or at least helping out her husband in the barn or wherever necessary, keeping the kids going to all of their activities, and doing record and book keeping because dairy farming adds another dimension to accountability.  She is also one of the best cooks in the county. And, she does all of this without a set schedule because when you work with animals and they are your livelihood the animals take priority over having supper every evening at 6:30.  This pretty much sums up Suzy but then I also need to add in the three off the farm part time jobs!  Yes, Suzy is busy but I don't think she would have it any other way.

Suzy grew up on a farm that included beef, hogs and poultry.  When she married Scott she was introduced into the life of a dairy farmer.  Suzy says it took a little getting used to but dairy farming is a great way of life.  Suzy and Scott like the fact that their kids are learning to be responsible for another life.  The kids know that they need to do their chores because the cows and calves are relying on them.  If the chores aren't done or aren't done properly the animals may not produce well or even get sick.  Suzy and Scott also like the fact that their kids understand where their food comes from and can appreciate how it gets from the farm to the table.

Suzy & Scott's oldest daughter setting up her Register Holstein
heifer at the Clayton County Fair.

All four of the kids are budding cooks.  The oldest has a couple of Iowa State Fair blue ribbons under his belt for a tea ring and a peach pie, next in line can make a mean batch of potato rolls, the youngest son can make an angel food cake to die for and the youngest daughter has mastered a very good apple cake.  Suzy says that every one of her kids is going to know how to cook before they leave home!

Suzy with three of her budding cooks.

Suzy let the kids pick out the recipe to put on this blog.  Apparently it wasn't a very difficult decision - The Hamburger Soup won hands down.

Hamburger Soup
    1 lb Hamburger
    1/2 cup chopped Onion
    2 cups Tomato juice
    2 cups Water
    1 cup diced Carrots
    1 cup cubed Potatoes
    1 cup diced Celery
    1/4 cup Rice
    2 Beef bouillon cubes
    Salt & Pepper to taste

Brown hamburger with onion.  Transfer to stock pot and add rest of ingredients.  Simmer for 1 hour or until vegetable are tender.  If using minute rice, wait to add near end of cooking.  This recipe can be adjusted to suit - adding more or less of the vegetables or different kinds of vegetables.  I (Suzy) use my canned whole tomatoes instead of juice.  This makes a thicker soup and one we are able to eat out of homemade bread bowls. 

The neat thing about this recipe is that when Suzy makes this the hamburger, onion, tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots all come from Suzy and Scott's farm. 

Now I would be happy with the homemade soup but nooooo Suzy goes the extra mile and makes homemade bread bowls.  This is what puts Suzy to the next level of cooking that I can only admire from afar. :-)

Bread Bowls
     2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry Yeast
     2 1/2 cups warm water (110F or 45C)
     2 teaspoons Salt
     2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
     7 cups all-purpose Flour
     1 tablespoon Cornmeal
     1 Egg white
     1 tablespoon Water

1.  In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2.  Add salt, oil, and 4 cups flour to the yeast; beat well.  Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition.
3.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a light floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.  Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. 
4.  Punch dough down and divide into 8 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a 4 inch round loaf.  Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
5.  Preheat oven to 400F (200 C).  In a small bowl beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash.
6.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Brush remaining egg mixture and bake 10 to 15 minutes more or until golden.  Cool on wire racks.
7.  To make bowls:  Cut a 1/2 inch thick slice from top of each loaf; scoop out centers, leaving 3/4 inch thick shells.  Fill bread bowls with hot soup and serve immediately. 

Yum!  Thank you Suzy for sharing these recipes with us.

Suzy's youngest trying to give my #3 son pointers before showing
his kiddie calf at the Clayton County Fair.  Gosh, 4H is great.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

This week's recipe contributor is a brand new farm wife.  But, Emily is definitely not new to farm life!  In August, Emily married Derk who is a cattleman and our farm employee.

Emily with her favorite bucket calf.

Emily grew up on a dairy farm so she is no stranger to taking care of cows and calves.  Emily and Derk have a registered Angus cow/calf herd, they grow corn and soybeans, and Emily also raises bottle/bucket calves.  Did I mention that Emily also works off the farm as a dental assistant?  By far Emily's passion is taking care of their cows.  Emily is a very caring person
so I can see where the cow herd would be her favorite part of farming.
Mixing up milk for the bucket calves.

One of Emily's favorite things to do is ride the Gator with Cowboy, the dog, in the passengers seat.  Derk says those two go all over the farm together. 

Emily mentioned that she looks forward to the day when she and Derk are raising their children on the farm.  Derk, I think that is a hint.

Derk & Emily checking on the calves.

Emily's recipe came to her via her wedding shower.  It's a great recipe to mix up in the morning and then come home to.

Creamy Ranch Potatoes

    2 1/2 lbs small red potatoes quartered
    8 oz. sour cream
    1 (.4 oz) package Buttermilk Ranch mix
    1 (10.75 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
    1/2 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and mix well.  Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours.  Yields 6 servings

Don't click away quite yet! 

I asked Emily and Derk if they wouldn't mind sharing one of their wedding pictures with us.  They had the neatest wedding pictures taken on the farm!
Thank you for sharing.

And, we can't forget Cowboy - he is the official calf milk taste tester. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Great For You?

 Walmart has announced that it will be helping it's customers decide whether a food is healthy with a new addition to it's products labels.  A little green person doing jumping jacks over the words Great For You is being added to food labels that Walmart deems healthy.  My first cynical thought was, "yah, I have a tough time deciding which is healthier snow peas or that super sized package of Snickers." My second thought was - the dumbing down of the America - we now need stores to inform us which products to buy.  I set aside this topic yesterday and decided I needed to sleep on it before addressing the little green person.

After a great nights sleep here are my thoughts on the Walmart Great For You campaign.

In the Walmart news release I have read about the new Great For You icon Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart says, "Walmart moms are telling us they want to make healthier choices for their families, but need help deciphering all the claims and information displayed on products."  Walmart's willingness to help it's customers make important decisions seems very altruistic at first glance, however, shoppers already have all the information they need on the food label.  By mandate most foods are already labeled with the Nutrition Facts Panel under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.  All a Walmart customer needs to do is turn the box or can around and take a look at the Nutrition Facts Panel to determine if a food is a healthy choice.  We don't need a special rating system to tell us that fruits, vegetables, and lean meats are good for us!  I'm insulted that Walmart doesn't consider me or any other customer smart enough to read a label already present. 

Walmart does show it's criteria for selecting foods that have received the Great For You seal as well as a list of the products considered great for you at it's website. This list includes canned vegetables with no salt added, low fat milk, canned fruit in juice, and canned chunk breast of chicken and canned tuna packed in water.   I don't consider chunks of cooked chicken injected with salt water as being my best choice for protein.  Not a single fresh pork, beef or poultry cut is listed.  Pork and beef are nutrient dense products.  Both of these offer protein and other essential nutrients such iron, vitamin B12, and niacin.

I give Walmart credit for it's creativity.  Walmarts private label is called Great Value.  The new seal is called Great For You.  What a great tie together!  To be fair I should say that all grocery stores have the same goal - to sell food and make money.  Grocery stores typically make more money with their own private label foods so it makes sense that Walmart would spot light it's own products.  Walmarts press release does say that this new seal will be available to national brand products.  However, do you really think the HyVees, Krogers, and Piggley Wiggleys of the world want a Walmart icon on the cans Green Giant LeSueur Peas they sell? 

Thanks Walmart but no thanks.  I will continue to read the Nutrition Facts Panel supplied by the FDA and make quality buying decisions to fit my family's needs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

This week I would spot light one of my mother in-law's recipes.  Jan's raisin cream pie is very popular in Carroll County.  People have been known to come to church dinners just for this pie.  Jan grew up in town but married a farmer.  Jan and Joe's farm over the years has included beef cow/calf herds, hogs, sheep, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa.  Because of the diversity of their farm I think Jan can say she has done it all.  Today, they still raise red Angus cattle as well as corn and soybeans.

Today, Jan and Joe farm with their younger son Jeff.  But, when things get hectic in the fall Jan can be found in the auger cart tractor taking loads of corn to the trucks. 

Grandma Jan with 3 of her 13 grand kids. 
Raisin Cream Pie
   1 cup Raisins cooked in 1 1/2 cups water
   1/2 cup Sugar
   2 Tblsp Vinegar
   Lump of Butter (For us lesser humans that is 1 tablespoon)
   Yolks of 3 Eggs
   3/4 cup Carnation Milk

Cook sugar, vinegar, butter, egg yolks and evaporated milk together until thick stirring constantly.  Add cooked raisins and water to cooked mixture.  Add 1 teaspoon Vanilla and sprinkle Cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp) in mixture.  Pour into a baked pie crust.  Beat remaining egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tarter and 3 to 4 tablespoons of sugar.  Beat egg whites till peeked and place over cooked mixture.  Bake in over at 350 F for 15 minutes until meringue is lightly browned.