Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Interest in Farming

A few weeks ago we had a nice visit with Anna Brewer, a local artist, whose specialty is cartoons that capture images about farming. Here is one of her drawings and more about her illustrations can be accessed at Joe and I spent the afternoon answering Anna's questions and were in awe of Anna's artistic ability. Her drawings are very detailed and precise as well as accurate. Anna had contacted us after reading about the Dinner on the Farm series last Fall. It was interesting as well as amusing to see our lifestyle put in the form of a cartoon and one more (great) way to give the reader an insight on what farmers do. As we were parting, we invited Anna to our farm anytime so she can ride in the tractors and combines when we are in the field.

Shortly after our visit with Anna we were reading about "FarmVille" being one of the most popular games being played on the internet. People can be virtual farmers and get to plant crops and harvest them and sort of see what we do, all without the financial risk I might add. The article went on to say that people were interested in where their food is grown. It again reconfirms that people are trying to get back to the basics, whether by playing the virtual farming game, drawing about farming or trying to grow their own food on their own plots of land. It's a positive plus for Agriculture and we welcome the interest as it opens up dialogue.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Life on the Farm 12.23.09

Last evening after writing on my blog I was cold so I sat down in front of the fire with a glass of wine and was reading a folksy publication put out by Massey Ferguson call "Farmlife". This little booklet had the usual stuff in it advertising, articles about invasive weeds and fencing but what caught my eye was the article that featured "Maple Farmers" in Quebec, which is the sugar making capital of the world. I read with fascination about how this family taps the trees, how they process the sap and make it into yummy maple syrup. I thought, even though we farm, this is completely different than what we do and very interesting. I enjoyed reading about what maple farmers do and hope the readers of this blog enjoy the items about our farm life too. That is why I added the survey feature on my blog as I want to tailor this to what is of interest to those that read it.

As for the farm activity, Joe was working some in the shop today and changed the oil in his combine. . Joe was explaining that having clean oil in the combine over the winter is better for it and the clean oil doesn't have the bad acids that can corrode bearings. So it's sort of like putting your baby to bed, you want it safe, clean and dry. We also have a special oil burning furnace for heat in the shop that uses the old oil. So it is one more way to be a good steward of the earth.

As for me I decided to give myself permission to stay home and putter in the kitchen. With Christmas music playing I made 3 pies, a French Chocolate Breakfast Cake, a batch of cinnamon rolls and homemade doggie biscuits. When I bake I use every available spot in my kitchen and I'm really messy! I like to think of myself as an enthusiastic baker. So in the midst of my mess, my mom stopped over to visit. I was on the phone when she popped in so as she was waiting for me to conclude my business call, she was looking at all the stuff I had made. When I saw her grab a dog biscuit off the cookie sheet and pop it into her mouth, of course I started giggling. I managed to finish my call before I nearly died laughing. My poor mom who has a sweet tooth a mile wide, was wiping her tongue on her sleeve and gagging. She thought I had made gingerbread squares, only it turned out to be doggie biscuits for our spoiled pooch. I had to assure her nothing yucky was in them in the way of ingredients. She will now forever be wary of what I'm cooking. Things like this always seem to happen to my mom and of course we tease her about it. So this will be one of the latest funny things to add to her list.

Tomorrow the rest of my family will join us for dinner and we will open our gifts, so I still need to get some stuff done- so better finish. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I was reading a newsletter wherein it featured an article from the Wall Street Journal called "Green Acres is the Place to Be". This article talks about people who left their urban life to embrace the rural life with the goal of becoming more sustainable and adopting a more self reliant lifestyle. It was an interesting article and I'm half tempted to google the people they talk about and give them a call to ask about how this change has turned out for them. The article just gives a brief overview noting where they lived then and where they moved to without much info on their day to day lives. Living in rural areas is wonderful for those of us who understand what living in the country entails. So I'm really curious how the "city slickers" cope with country life. I want to ask if living in the country and being self sufficient is really what they envisioned. I'm sure it is harder than they ever thought possible and hopefully the rewards outweigh any hardships they may face.

The next day after putting my project house up for sale, I received a call from a friend inquiring on behalf of an older couple near retirement whose goal was to become more self sufficient, raise chickens and get a dairy cow. How refreshing is that? This couple didn't want to move to Florida and take up golf; rather they were looking to become farmer-ettes and putter around with chickens, a cow and raise their own vegetables. I like the trend that people want to get back to more basics things, then perhaps they will get a feel for what we farmers do only on a larger scale.

Monday, December 21, 2009

End of my “Bucket List Wish”

Yea, my project house is almost complete; it's done enough to put it on the market. Quick re-cap, on October 27th we purchased the farm ground across from us and a cute 1950's ish house came with the land. So with this purchase I got to cross off a "bucket list wish" which was to get to re-do a house. After about ten gallons of paint or so (I've lost count) the house changed it's appearance.

It is amazing what paint and a few upgrades can do. Those who had seen the house before I worked on it, couldn't believe the changes…. Here's some before and after pictures. This was so much fun, I'm sad to see it end.A new island, new flooring, new sink, paint… a totally new look.

The main bathroom before:

Most of the walls were all white-ish, non descript, so here I've added color to make some of the cool built-ins stand out.

The living room only needed some color and new curtains:

The color scheme for most of the house was milk chocolate and cream with accents of dark brown and blue.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve and cooking

It is 9pm on Thanksgiving eve and I'm in the kitchen cooking for tomorrow. I'm in between what is cooking & what needs to be put together so with a few minutes to spare I'm currently sipping a glass of wine (plus I have Christmas music playing) – life is good. My oldest brother, Doug is hosting Thanksgiving at his house and my job is to bring the strawberry pretzel salad. Hosting Thanksgiving has become his special tradition and it started when he moved into his home just outside of Moscow. Doug's girlfriend, Edie, is really the mastermind of the event, organizing and making sure all is perfect. Later on in the day, we will also have a dinner with Joe's side of the family and it is hosted at Jay & Lisa's. They always put on a great dinner and are wonderful hosts. Joe's sister and her family are visiting from Seattle, so it will be a houseful as well. Lisa has me bringing pumpkin pies and a fruit salad. This holiday is bittersweet, as both my step dad and Joe's dad have serious health issues and realistically this could be our last holiday together with our dads. So we'll eat lots and enjoy the day with both of our families.

Recipe updates!

On my last blog I had posted the pumpkin dip (from memory) but when I checked the recipe I found I had the spices wrong, so here is the correct recipe:

Pumpkin Dip

15 oz canned pumpkin

8 oz softened cream cheese

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teas cinnamon

½ teas ginger

Beat cream cheese till creamy, blend in pumpkin, sugar and spices. Serve with apples & enjoy!

Turkey with a citrus flavor

Because Joe and I like to have family over, many of the holiday or family events are hosted at our house. I'm almost a complete vegan vegetarian (with the exception of having a fondness for cheese and yogurt) and do not eat meat/poultry/fish, but I am willing to cook it. So when hosting family events so I like to experiment and try new recipes and I have had rave reviews about the following way to prepare a turkey. This recipe has been requested now for a few years so I know my family really likes it and wanted to share it. They tell me is has a nice mild citrus taste and is very moist.

1 turkey

1 orange, lemon, lime –cut into wedges

1 small onion, cut into wedges

½ cup softened butter (no substitutions)

1-2 teas rosemary

½ tsp poultry seasoning

Salt & pepper

Pastry bag

Citrus Turkey

  1. Thaw the turkey, rinse, pat dry, salt and pepper the cavity
  2. In the cavity, insert 1 sliced orange, 1 sliced lemon, 1 sliced lime (no stuffing goes into the cavity) along with the onion
  3. Mix the butter, rosemary, poultry seasoning, put into a pastry bag – no tip is needed
  4. Next cut the top of the turkey skin with kitchen scissors and in-between the skin and meat, pipe in the butter mixture- this will melt into the meat, add flavor and help keep the turkey moist
  5. Oil the outside of the skin w/olive oil
  6. Bake as you usually like. I usually use a turkey bag and don't baste. Very easy and no mess.
  7. Once the turkey is done, remove the fruit and serve as usual

Also, to my friends at LaBella Hair Salon, here is the recipe you have patiently been waiting for! (This was created by my friend, Lezah)

Peanut butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cup peanut butter

2 cup softened butter

2 cup brown sugar

1 ½ cup white sugar

4 eggs

Mix well. Then add

4 cup flour

2 cup oatmeal

4 teas baking soda

1 teas salt

3 ¾ cup choc chips

Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake approx 10-12 min @ 350 or until lightly brown. Do not over bake.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A day on the farm 11.23.09

With the snow this morning and it looking like it was going to stay, my husband finally conceded that "Fall work" was officially over and he could unhook the tile plow from the tractor and move the equipment into the storage shed for winter. Before the snow falls, there are always outdoor projects that can be done, weather permitting. Just last week brother in law, Jay was putting in some tile lines in one of the fields close to our house. The tile lines help channel water in soggy ground areas that show up in the Spring to dry out so it can be seeded with a crop. Regular field maintenance is a never ending process and because of diligent tending it helps the farmer in the end. Sort of like keeping up on the maintenance with a vehicle or home, not the most exciting, but necessary.

With Joe and Jay officially out of the fields, they focus their time in the farm shop. Days are spent fixing, repairing, or doing maintenance on the equipment. The winter time months are a more relaxed work mode after a busy Spring, Summer and Fall schedule. A welcome time to work just a 40 hour work week as we do not have livestock to tend. Winter on the farm also means this is a time for farm related meetings. Joe was recently elected onto the Idaho Grain Growers Association (IGPA) board and many of meetings are geared to the winter months. Last month was a joint meeting between IGPA and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) held in Salt Lake City.

As for me, I've been working almost every spare moment on a "project house". Some farm land that is across from our home, and in which we have farmed over 27 years, came up for sale and it contained a house. We purchased it on 10/27/09 and almost all of my waking hours since then have been focused on fixing the house up. While Joe admittedly does not like household fixing up projects, I relish them. So this was truly a bucket list dream come true. It was a perfect house for me to work on - it's newer (built in the 1950's), sturdy and well built, but it had lacked good maintenance & upkeep for several years. My goal is to fix it up as soon as possible to get it on the market to sell. Home Depot, Moscow Building Supply and Columbia Paint Store have been my favorite haunts now. I comb the isles, talk to the clerks and am learning how to fix drywall as well as what paints to use and in what rooms. I have an arsenal of tools that I use and have been enjoying the freedom to be a little creative and put a little zest into fixing the place up. It has become addictive to say the least. All of my time spent watching HGTV on fixing up houses for resale have been hours well spent. I am on a first name basis with Grant at the paint store and several gallons of paint later; the house is evolving out of dull, dreary and ugly to fashionable and contemporary (hopefully the prospective buyers will think so too!)

I've spent so much time at my project house, that I think my husband bought me a new laptop computer to try to lure me to stay home a little bit more. =) He commented that I had not blogged in a while. So thought I'd post what I was doing. I've been taking before and after shots. So stay tuned!

On the recipe side- while attending the Salt Lake City meetings with Joe last month, I did score a really yummy pumpkin dip. It was a catered dinner at one of the director's homes and the caterer gave me the recipe. The pumpkin dip was served in a hollowed out pumpkin and served with apple slices. I literally could not stay out of it. So try this for your Thanksgiving gathering.

Pumpkin Dip

15 oz canned pumpkin

2 cups powdered sugar

8 oz softened cream cheese

½ tsp cinnamon

Beat cream cheese till creamy, add in pumpkin, pwd sugar and cinnamon. Mix well and serve with apple slices.


P.S. thanks to all who read this, and please feel free to comment on what you like or ways to make this blog better. G

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cooking on the Farm

In case you missed the movie Julia and Julie, it was made into a movie about the blogger preparing all of the recipes in Julia Child's cook book. I am not a gourmet cook, just one that likes easy and comfort kinds of food, without lots of fussing. I recently received permission from the Pea & Lentil Commission to publish recipes from their cookbook so long as I gave them the proper credit.

So a couple of weeks ago, it was a cold Fall day and I wanted a hearty soup that I could throw together and cook in a crock pot. The recipe I used from the Pea & Lentil Cookbook was not intended for the crock pot, but it worked out very well, so I'll list the recipe as it was written, but I'll note the changes that I made.

Zippy Bean Soup
1 scant cup of dry lentils, rinsed
2 cups water
(1) 16 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
(1) 15 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), undrained
(1) 16 oz can kidney beans, undrained
1 teas chili powder
1 cup salsa

In a large saucepan, combine lentils and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender (about 30 minutes).

Add remaining ingredients to lentils, and bring to boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes to blend flavors.

Gayle's version: I added 2 link Italian sausages (sliced) to the above ingredients. I added in all the ingredients into a crock pot and cooked them on low for 7 or 8 hours. Prep took about 5 minutes to throw everything into the crock pot and it was very tasty.

Legume update: Did you know that 1/2 cup of cooked peas or lentils provides 8 grams of fiber? Vegetables average 5 grams, whole grains average 3 grams. Eating foods that contain dietary fiber and are low in fat may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Good Steward in Farming and Life Part 2

As mentioned in the Good Steward Part 1 blog, our interactions with others are important. I think for too long producers just went about their work and assumed people understood what we were doing and why. But that is not the case, as those of us in the Ag industry are realizing that mainstream America may truly not know where their food comes from nor why farmers/ranchers do the things that we need to do on our farms and ranches. It's a serious wake-up call for us when we find ourselves having to conform or work through adverse policies and regulations imposed upon us by those in power who may not understand what the outcomes will be. Do we need to remind the EPA and special environmental interest groups that farmers feed the world?

Personally, I think education and reaching out to others is up to us in order to begin bridging gaps that have been created. It may not be perfect, but it is a start. We also need to begin being approachable and telling "our story" as we are the ones who live it. At a recent conference we were told "if farmers don't tell their own story, it will get written for us, and it may be unfavorable".

Yes it takes time out of our operation and lives to volunteer in organizations, attend meetings or participate in worthy functions, but it is the right thing to do and it helps others.

For example, earlier in October my sister-in-law, Lisa and I were co-hosts for the Pink Tea. This is a community fundraising event for breast cancer awareness & treatment. All proceeds go to our local hospital wherein an account is set up to pay for mammograms for women who could not afford to have one. Over 500 women participate in the great event. Each hostess is in charge of table decorations and this year Lisa was in charge and we were the "Farm Goddesses"! Note the "pink" wheat bouquet as well as the pink John Deere hats that we were wearing. Pictures will be uploaded soon!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good Stewards in Farming & Life Part 1

Yea it rained and more is expected, this is good. Fall rains are needed to get the winter crops that have recently been seeded to begin their germination process. We, as with most farmers, do crop rotation on our fields to manage weeds and diseases. If one kind of crop is planted year after year in the same field, plant diseases will thrive and thus reduce the yields for the farmer. So by rotating crops, we can effectively kill the diseases. Also by rotating crops, we can use different kinds of crop treatments to control the weeds as some are geared to kill broad leaf plants, while some are geared to kill a grass type plant. Typically, the rotation is winter wheat (planted in October), then the next year that same field would be seeded (in late March/April/early May) with a Spring wheat, then the 3rd year it would be seeded in the Spring with a legume, usually garbanzo beans.

My husband, Joe, and brother-in-law Jay finished seeding wheat and mustard at the Tammany farm and winter wheat at the Genesee farm. There is still some field work left on the fields that will be seeded next March/April. This is the tractor and seeding drill that was used. This particular tractor has a special GPS unit mounted wherein it helps the driver to know where he has been in the field so we don't overlap seed and fertilizer. Not only is this a cost saving measure, but a time saving one too. The unit also helps with ratios of fertilizer to put in the ground based upon the soil composition.

This GPS unit was purchased as a matching funds federal grant as it was a costly item, but one we felt was worth the cost and effort to try for the grant. We feel we can be better farmers by utilizing state-of-the-art technology. The grant requires a quarterly report on it's usage and part of the requirement was community education. Joe has made presentations to other farm related groups as well as to our visitors when we did our Dinner on the Farm series in September.

Even when we are not hosting farm dinners, we feel we are ambassadors for the Ag industry in the everyday things that we do, the organizations we belong to and our interactions with others.

More to come on the Good Steward subject, so stay tuned!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Life on the farm - 10.12.09

Joe and brother-in-law Jay are still down seeding winter wheat at the Tammany farm. They are hoping to be done in the next day or two and then will get the equipment moved up here to begin the seeding process on our Genesee farm. Once all the seeding is complete, life slows down for us and our guys will then only work a 40 hour work week instead of the 100 (or more) hour week. We don't have livestock, so the winter months provide a little bit of respite before the busy spring work cycle.

For me, it seems like life is always busy. Most of it is self-imposed tho! My daughter, Jen and I were vendors at the Red Barn Fall Festival this past week-end and it was lots of fun & lots of work too. We call ourselves S-Wheatie-Pie and we also have a blog that both of us will try to keep up (what did I say about self-imposed busyness! ) From our booth, I would people watch and it just reconfirmed that people take pleasure getting out and enjoying the farm scene. I saw moms, dads and kids picking out pumpkins, going on a hay ride and just enjoying a day in the country. The weather was sunny, but quite cold with temps in the mid-40's, so you know they really wanted to be there and brave the chilly weather. It was a perfect "Amerciana" kind of event.

After a successful day on Saturday of selling our treasures, I got the bright idea that I should make up some Pumpkin Butterscotch baking mixes to sell. So I found my old beat up cook book with the sticky pages and globs of goo on it and made up 12 dry mixes and then one batch to give out samples . The recipe is as follows:

Pumpkin Butterscotch Bread

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 c water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup butterscotch chips (you can either add into the batter or sprinkle on top once the batter is in the pan - either way is yummy). I personally like to sprinkle the chips and 1/2 cup of walnuts on top

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and turn batter into a greased and floured 8 x 8 pan. Bake @ 350 for 1 hour or until done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life on the farm - 10.06.09

The skies are warm and sunny and we didn't get the rain we were really hoping for from last week's storms. The ground at the Genesee farm is concrete hard and it makes seeding difficult, not to mention the added wear and tear on the equipment. My husband Joe and his brother, Jay decided to try seeding at the Tammany farm, which is about 37 miles away. The soil in the Tammany area doesn't have the clay and we need to start getting the winter wheat seed in the ground. Weather forcast for next week is rain, rain and more rain. Yea, hope the weatherman is right.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall planting time on the Anderson Farm

Harvest is over and the crops were average to above average, this is always a good thing. Now my husband Joe and his brother, Jay have begin the ritual of planting the winter wheat. This year we have selected three different kinds of wheat to plant in different fields. It's sort of a guessing game as to what variety to select as we can only guess what the weather for next year will bring. One variety was selected due to it's high yielding potential, plus it did very well in our neighbor's field - which borders our field, so we will hope for the same results. We will know next harvest if we chose the right varieties for the other 2 varieties.

On our farm, Joe and Jay work in tandem, one driving the tractor which pulls the air drill (which puts the seeds & fertilizer) in the ground and the other is the support team, hauling fertilizer and seed to the other to keep him running efficiently as well as spraying Round-up to kill unwanted foliage.

The weather has turned cool and very Fall feeling. Kip Mayer, the local hardware store manager at Pacific Northwest Farmer's Cooperative gave me his last copy of the Pea & Lentil Cookbook, so I thought I'd try one new recipe each week and give my comments about it. Growing up, I really didn't eat many legumes - I was a picky eater (and still am). So thumbing through the cookbook, I looked at what I had on hand and chose the Golden Pea and Squash Soup. (I literally have a wheel barrow full of acorn squash from my garden) Peeling the squash took a little bit of time, but the effort was worth it, as the soup was quite tasty. It needed a tad bit more salt than the recipe called for, but the hint of Allspice was perfect. I didn't have leeks as called for in the recipe, plus they were kind of expensive at the grocery store, so I substituted 1/2 white onion for them. Next time I make it I'll probably add some canned green chili's. Over all, it passed the picky Gayle test and I would serve it again. =) If I get permission to publish the recipe from the Pea and Lentil Commission, I will so stay tuned. I pared the soup up with a Zuchinni Parmeasan Bread which is easy to make and very good. That recipe is as follows:
Zucchini Parmesan Bread
3 cups flour
1 cup peeled, shredded zuchinni
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teas baking soda
1 teas baking powder
1 teas salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 Tbl parmesan cheese
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon grated onion (optional)
Mix all ingrediants into a bowl and mix well. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased & floured bread loaf pan and bake @ 350 for 1 hour or until done.

Also, here is a great web site that have very good Ag related articles on:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Follow up from the Dinner on the Farm Series

My husband Joe and I have learned so many things from our guests and loved having the opportunity to do some community outreach on behalf of the Ag Industry. Some of the guests came prepared with questions and had some knowledge of what farmers do. They asked very intelligent, sometimes hard questions. Others really didn't have much of an idea of exactly what we did, but were just generally interested in what farmers do and why. Knowing this now, will help us define how best to create the kind of learning/sharing experience to benefit those groups for future dinners. Visiting over dinner in a relaxed atmosphere is a perfect medium and helps sets the stage to foster good rapport with those who may not understand the Ag industry. We found that the perfect number for the event was 4-6 people, and that another farm host couple really helped . It also helped to have someone else taking pictures as I would get involved in a conversation and forget to snap photos.

I wanted to thank the businesses that helped us along the way. A special thanks to:

Pacific Northwest Farmer's Cooperatives (formerly Genesee Union) who donated the 2lb bags of lentils that were given to our guests, the Pea & Lentil Commission for donating magnetic clips along with recipes, to Panhandle Artisan Bread Co. for donating their yummy bread for our dinners, to Allegra Printing for giving me a discount when printing my posters for this event, and lastly to Kristi and Kris Peterson for donating their time and talent in designing the poster and taking the wonderful photographs during the 2nd dinner event.

I want to thank our good friends who agreed to help out and be our other farm hosts, and they are Wayne & Jacie Jensen, Russ & Kathy Zenner and Randy & Cindy Schlee. We could not have done it without these wonderful people. It helped to have an extra set of hosts at the dinners, not only to share their perspectives but to help ensure the evening flowed smoothly.

Russ visiting with a guest.

Kathy pouring wine for dinner.

We hope this blog will catch on and inspire others in the Ag industry to try something along these lines. We also have a couple of national organizations who are interested in our outcome, so I'll be touching base with them in the near future.

We will be sharing some special bottles of wine (given to us by our new friends from the dinners) and will gather the other farm host couple friends to visit more about and critique ourselves and as always strive to look for ways to better promote Ag and reach out to people.

3rd Dinner on the Farm, September 26

Our 3rd Dinner on the Farm was held September 26, 2009, and it was bittersweet, knowing this was the last one for the year. Two of the three couples attending were hand picked by me due to their prominence and standing within the community. I felt it would be beneficial for us to develop a good rapport with these leaders and together could be a resource to one another. So when I extended the invite, both couples graciously agreed to attend and helped me get the word out about our dinner series which got the attention of our third guest couple, a University of Idaho professor and his wife.

The weatherman was right on target when he said Saturday would have gusty winds. Our guests were given the option to brave the winds or stay in the kitchen and drink wine, they opted to have a quick lesson about the tractor and the drill attached to it that would be used for the fall seeding process. One week makes so much difference in the Fall as to when the sun sets, and even though we were basically conducting the outdoor tour at the same times as previous sessions, we ended this outdoor tour in almost complete darkness.

The old saying about 'it ends with a bang' was very descriptive of our evening. We had topics ranging from concern of depletion of natural resources & sustainability in every one's lives to GMO's (genetically modified organisms). Conversation was fast paced, passionate and lively. The guests themselves coined the phrase that we had a "sparkling conversation", which is true. Our guest farm hosts were the Schlee's, who were very well suited to this group and contributed to the engaging conversation and viewpoints expressed. Visiting over dinner and wine is very conducive to share opinions, visions, passions and perspectives in a comfortable setting. We had a couple of toasts during the meal to meeting new friends. After dinner, one guest mentioned something along the lines of I should either open a food business or at least take orders for dinners.... I think it's fair to say he enjoyed the hearty meal set before him.

The menu was the same from last week's dinner:

Honey Lemon Chicken, Spinach Lasagna and Lentil Chili
Garbanzo and Zucchini Salad
Wild Rice Bake

Ciabatta & Miche Bread (donated by Panhandle Artisan Bread Co.)

I made some of my favorite desserts:
Lemon Tart, Chocolate Zucchini Cake and Peach/Blueberry Crumble

Our farm host couple also contributed 2 bottles of local wines from the area

Again as in the past 2 dinners, the guest left armed with as many left overs as I could pawn on them, as well as a 2 lb bag of Clipper lentils donated by Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative, a magnet clip and lentil recipe cards donated by the Pea & Lentil Commission and homemade lentil brownies made by me.

We felt this dinner series was a step in the right direction to connect with those in our community and fostering many new friendships and alliances. This was a great adventure and experiment, one of which we will do again next year. I've already started a list of people who want to attend. I've received many lovely thank you notes and emails from the participants.

Spinach Lasagna

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
3 ¾ cups half and half
1 cup whipping cream
1 ¼ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
2 eggs
32 oz of ricotta cheese
2 pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup shredded carrots
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced and each slice cut in half
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
12 lasagna noodles, cooked per directions
2 lb of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
½ cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup Parmesan cheese (the dry kind that comes in a plastic bottle)

In large saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour until smooth; gradually add creams. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in ¾ cup of the fresh Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat, set aside while preparing vegetable mixture.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, spinach carrots, zucchini & mushrooms.

Pour a thin layer of the white sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, then layer 4 noodles on the bottom, then 1/3 of the ricotta/vegetable mixture, then pour around 1 ¼ cup of the white sauce, layer with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat process 2 more times. Once all three layers are done, mix the bread crumbs with the dry Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top.

*Cover and bake at 350 for 45 min, uncover and bake 15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 5-10 min before cutting. Enjoy!

Hint: * to avoid the cheese on any covered casserole sticking to the foil, simply put a piece of plastic wrap over the cheese mixture, careful to stay within the perimeters of the casserole dish, then completely cover it with foil and bake. The cheese will create an oil barrier with the plastic wrap and will not allow the cheese to stick, and the foil protects it from melting.


Honey Lemon Chicken

8-10 boneless chicken breasts
2/3 cup of honey
1/8 cup lemon juice
8 teas minced garlic, divided
1 1/2 teas dried Rosemary

Lemon pepper
2 lemons, sliced
Olive oil

In small bowl mix honey, lemon juice, 2 teas garlic, set aside. In 9x13 drizzle a small amount of olive oil to barely cover the bottom of the pans. Next arrange the sliced lemons in the pans and add 1/2 teas minced garlic throught out the pan. Arrange chicken in pan making sure at least 1/2 teas of garlic and at least one slice of lemon is under each of the breasts. Next with a pastry brush, brush the honey mixture over the chicken breasts to coat, then sprinkle lemon pepper over top and sprinkle the rosemary over the chicken. Bake covered in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until no longer pink.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2nd Dinner on the Farm, September 19

Our 2nd Dinner on the Farm was also a good follow up to the first. We had 6 guests, again from a variety of backgrounds. I was especially glad I didn't know beforehand that an apprentice chef was one of my guests. At the evening's conclusion he complimented me on the food presentation, quality and noted it was evident that I added "love" into what I had prepared.... what better compliment could anyone receive!!

Given some dietary considerations from this group, I needed to change the menu, so I started looking for honey/lemon/garlic chicken recipes.... one time I awoke at 2:30am and started looking for the recipes. This is weird, because I'm a vegetarian - almost complete. So in the early a.m. hours, I'm searching for a specific recipe that I think will be good, one that I won't ever taste and can't sleep until I find it.... I think there are doctors for this kind of thing!! =) Anyway, the menu consisted of:

Main Dishes: Honey Lemon Chicken, Vegetable Lasagna, Lentil Chili

Salad: Garbanzo Bean & Zucchini Salad

Side: Wild Rice Bake

Assorted yummy breads: Ciabota & Sourdough - donated from Panhandle Bakery - & the owner was also a guest

Desserts: Zucchini Chocolate Cake, Lemon Tart, Peach/blueberry Crumble

Also attending the dinner were the Zenners, who were our other farm host couple, plus my friends Kristi & Kris who are semi-professional photographers. After the last photo blunder from the first dinner, I really wanted pictures!

We were not able to have a good selection of equipment on hand as we are right in the middle of garbanzo harvest. The combines were in fields too far away to bring to the house, the semi's were in use, so the only piece of equipment for viewing was again our tractor with the seeding drill attached. The weather which had started out nice, deteriorated quickly and it was cool and windy... so we didn't linger out in the fields too long, but opted for the warm kitchen and drinks.

We had photo's of different things on the farm, and passed those around during dinner. In hindsight I realize that we should explained more in depth of what the photos were of and their importance. I'd equate looking at the photo's without an explanation as to looking at someone's pictures of their dog or vacation - not very interesting. All in all it was a fine evening. Only one more dinner to go.

Garbanzo Bean & Zucchini Salad

2 Tbl lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teas salt
¼ teas freshly ground black pepper

In small bowl, whisk together.

1 can garbanzo beans, drained
2 medium zucchini, diced into ¼ inch pieces
½ cup frozen, thawed corn
½ small red onions, thinly sliced
5 romaine lettuce leaves, cut crosswise into ½ inch strips
1 ounce Parmesan cheese

Add all of the ingredients into a salad bowl – except the parmesan cheese. Just before serving pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss well, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

1st Dinner on the Farm, September 12

Our first Dinner on the Farm held 09.12.09 was a great event. I'm the one in the purple shirt, my husband, Joe is in the very back to the left of the welcome sign. We had 5 guests from a wide variety of back grounds, plus our other farm host couple, the Jensen's, and the conversation was amazing. The weather was perfect - no wind and a rare warm September evening - all in all what a great kick-off.

Everyone arrived within 5 minutes of each other and after getting drinks in hand, we walked out into the harvested wheat field where we had an assortment of equipment for viewing. There were 2 combines, 1 of our semi-trucks, and a tractor with the seeding drill attached. Dresses and all, everyone got a combine ride around the field and up and down the hills. I was visiting with guests when I remembered the need to take pictures, but by then it was too dark.... the pictures didn't turn out, so I'm bummed about that.

We snapped the group picture before heading into the house for dinner. The menu was carefully chosen to represent things that either we grow, or is grown in the region, plus fresh items from my small garden.

The menu was:

Main Dishes: Lasagna, made with whole wheat noodles, Spinach Roll-ups also made with whole wheat noodles, Lentil Chili

Salads: Garbanzo & zucchini salad, Broccoli with almonds, Fresh fruit salad

Desserts: Pumpkin chocolate cake, Walnut tart, Fresh peach/blueberry crumble

Did I say I like to bake and cook? You know when people like the food as I was asked for some of the recipes.

The evening concluded with farewells (plus as many leftovers as people would take) and an overall feeling that a good rapport had been established. Guests also left with a 2lb bag of lentils donated by Genesee Union, a magnet with recipes donated by the Pea & Lentil Commission and Lentil brownies, plus our business card. Looking forward to the next 2 dinner series!


1 lb hamburger
½ - 1 lb ground Italian sausage
(1) 6 oz (small) can of tomato paste
(1) 29 oz can of tomato sauce or tomato puree
2 teas Italian seasoning
¾ teas seasoned salt
16 oz container of ricotta cheese
16 oz cottage cheese works
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 lbs grated mozzarella cheese ( 8 cups of cheese)
1 box lasagna noodles

Cook noodles as per package instructions. Rinse noodles and set aside.

In a skillet or electric frying pan, brown the hamburger & sausage, drain well. Add tomato paste and 1 can of water, add tomato sauce (or puree), Italian seasoning and seasoning salt. Simmer 5 -10 min & then shut off the heat source.

Next in a bowl, combine the ricotta, cottage cheese with the parmesan cheese, blending by hand.

In a 9x13 rectangle cake pan, layer as follows: layer noodles so it covers the entire bottom of pan (divide up the noodles so you have enough for 3 layers), then layer 1/3 meat mixture, sprinkle 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over the meat mixture, next sprinkle evenly about 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, repeat with 2 more layers. Bake uncovered @350 for 45-50min. If the cheese gets too brown after 30 min, cover loosely with foil. Let sit 5 min before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Education - Dinner on the Farm Series

I wanted to reach out and educate people who are not in the Ag industry but perhaps want to know more about where their food comes from. I thought what better way than visit over dinner in a relaxed fashion? Good food and conversation. I pitched the idea to my hubby who thought this was a good idea! So we are doing a Dinner on the Farm Series for 3 week-ends in September, with the first beginning on the 12th. We have found out that we aren't really getting concerns (just yet) over farming with chemicals or other hot topics, but that those wanting to attend are just plain curious what farmers do. I'm excited, yet nervous about this adventure. It's an experiment.

What is making me nervous is what to make for dinner... will they like what I make, will it turn out ok? Are people placing expectations on me, or is it me that is doing that? I'm sure it's me that sets those lofty goals for myself... I like to bake and cook and will experiment with new foods on friends, but have never had people we didn't know over for dinner. I'm starting to dream about it. I saw the movie Julia & Julie, that food is way too complex and gourmet, so will just make good old comfort food that I know will turn out. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wind-down of Harvest 2009


The Farm Perspective

Harvest around the Palouse is almost finished. Winter wheat, spring wheat, peas, lentils, barley have been cut and all that remains so far is the occasional field where the spring wheat field is still a tad too green to harvest plus the garbanzo beans aren't ready for harvest until mid-September. So this allows a breather from the fast and furious pace.

Yesterday I helped my hubby move equipment from one field to another by flagging. Flagging is something that I find needs a little bit of thought and timing to be perfect. The vehicle flagging for the farm equipment needs to be just the perfect distance in order to give the implement driver enough time to find a place to either pull off or try to move the equipment over when meeting a vehicle. Plus the terminology when referring to trucks or pickups is important. We find that many people refer to their pickups as "trucks". On the farm, a pickup is called a pickup, and semis are called trucks. So when radioing back to the equipment driver that a "truck" is heading their way, it is important to have the terminology right as they would be expecting a semi-truck and would therefore, make width allowances for the big rig. Just one of those little details the normal public doesn't think about.

Last Thursday, we hosted a wonderful legislative aid (Staci) for Senator Crapo around the area. She asked lots of questions, listened intently about concerns those of us in the Ag industry had and all in all, was a good visit. I volunteered to write a follow up letter to give a re-cap on areas we chatted about. We got a nice picture of Staci and my husband so we could send it on for the Idaho Grain Producers publication. It was a good opportunity for us to make a connection with the people that represent us in Washington DC.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Harvest 08.26.09

The Farm perspective

We are finishing up the field of spring wheat next to the house and will be done with it sometime today. The next and last field of spring wheat field is too green and not ripe enough to harvest, meaning the moisture content isn't in an acceptable range in order for the warehouse to accept the grain. So we will have to wait for the field to continue to ripen for another day or two. Good thing the weather forecast is for hot and dry, otherwise it makes for nervous farmers with crops out and bad weather looming.

I'm hoping we can be harvesting on Friday as that is when we will be hosting a legislative aid (L.A.)for Senator Crapo on our farm. This is a great opportunity to help educate those that make laws that affect the Ag industry. Primary focus will be to explain what crops are planted, where we are hauling them, industry concerns, and just answering questions that the L.A. may have. It's a huge benefit to have the L.A. experience first hand what we do, why we do the things we do and she can relate this back to the Senator on what she has learned. It also provides a good rapport for the Senator and L.A. to call on us if they have questions about Ag issues.

The Farmwife perspective

I love to cook and bake, so when my husband asked if we could have the L.A. over for dinner plus invite a few other farmers and spouses over to our house after the tour was done, I said yes! =) Of course, this would be contingent if the other farmers had all their wheat harvested too so I don't know how many will be coming - of course that is just a detail.... So I really won't know if dinner is a go or not until late Thursday when Joe calls the other growers to see if they can come. I only have to work a half day on Friday, so I'll have a little bit of time to whip up come yummy food.

A couple days ago, we hosted a farm couple from Oklahoma. I had met the wife at a Women's Ag Leadership session in North Carolina back in April. So this couple, Hope and Ryan were attending an Ag conference in the Tri-Cities and I invited them to stay with us as they were so close and that they made the effort to come to Idaho to see us. The visit went well and we made new friends. Joe took Ryan out with him so Ryan got to see what combines do on hills, a novelty given that Oklahoma is flat. I took Hope with me to visit an "Agro -tourism farm" called MaryJane's farm and also a friends nature seed plant operation called Palouse Native Seeds. The visit was short, but enjoyable for all of us and our new Oklahoma friends got to see what harvest is like in Northern Idaho.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Harvest, 08.22.09

From here on out, I decided to have two sections, one basic info and facts, the other will be more of an insight of a farm wife.

The Farm perspective:

Harvest is in full swing on the Palouse. There was a sign outside of an implement dealer that said farmers have 3 kinds of seasons, before harvest, harvest and after harvest - which is true! Harvest is what farmer's live for, it's the final completion of all of our efforts and hard work. No one feels rested until the last grain, bean or kernel is in storage.

Two of our neighbors are harvesting their wheat which borders our land, so there is activity all around our house. The semi trucks are a frequent sight on our road, either loaded up with grain to go to the warehouse or empty and heading back into the field. Once harvest is complete then, another kind of busy activity occurs, which is the fall planting for next year's crop and that is a future topic.

Harvest brings a frenzied kind of energy into everyone's life. The day starts early, usually around 5:30am ish, lunches are made, plans to meet the crew at a certain spot are made, combines & tractors are inspected and dieseled up, windows cleaned and we are off to begin another round of bringing in the crops to feed America. Our farm has winter wheat, spring wheat, mustard and garbanzo beans. All our winter wheat has been harvested as well as the spring wheat on our Tammany farm. Today we started harvesting mustard and once that is done, then we will move the equipment up to our Genesee farm to begin the spring wheat harvest.

The Farmwife perspective:

I thought about my very first harvest after we married, I was working off the farm full time and hadn't quite gotten it figured out about the grocery thing and what all I needed for harvest lunches. So as I was making a lunch before work for my new husband, and me being the almost "vegan vegetarian" I only had one piece of Bologna and a little bit of tuna fish, not really enough of each for a sandwich - so I thought, well they are both disgusting, I'm sure they go together and put both the tuna and Bologna in one sandwich. Well, new hubby ate half of the sandwich before he realized how bad it tasted.... haven't quite ever lived that one down. Now of course, I'm seasoned and know what kinds of things to have on hand, make proper sandwiches for his lunch, it makes for a much calmer harvest for both of us. =)

As I said, harvest is a frenzy of activity, especially with two farms, one in Tammany which is an hour away from the home (Genesee) farm. It makes for lots of time traveling between the two and the need to move equipment from one farm to another. Farming isn't just a job, it is a great way of life and what other job affects every single person in the world? Think about it, if every farmer and rancher in the world decided to not do their job, world disaster and famine! Good thing farmers/ranchers love what they do. This is not a 9 to 5 kind of job, there are lots of long hours and for months at a time. For those who have livestock, it is all the time, 365 days of the year. We don't have animals, we only farm, and so from March through October is a busy time on the farm. It takes special people who love what they do to face the challenges of raising crops and livestock given that we have no control over weather and the price of crops/animals. But raising a family on the farm has it's special rewards and we are thankful for the life . As my husband heads out the door, he says, I'm off to feed America! I love it, and tho some may view it as corny, it warms my heart and makes me proud.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Harvest on the Anderson Farm


We got back in the field around 4pm on Monday. Yea! Rain and wheat are not a good mix and the rain can damage the wheat. We will not know if there is any dockage on our wheat until the warehouse tests it . The crops look good, seems to be a little above average, so that is a plus. The crew was harvesting in one of the fields around our house yesterday, and you can smell that heavenly scent. Wheat has a smell all it's own, not over powering, just an aromic, earthly smell. Trucks were scurring up and down the gravel roads taking their golden knernels to the warehouse or their own home storage. We don't use home storage and haul everything into the warehouse.

I sort of miss driving the grain trucks into town and all the activity in the fields. Back in the mid-1990's when combines and trucks were on a smaller scale, most everyone used 2 ton trucks to haul the grain into the warehouse. I would take my vacation from my full time job to drive truck. I loved it, no phone, faxes, email, clients..... it was hot, dusty and perfect. I'd bring magazines or books into the field and read while waiting for the combines to come fill my truck. Once in town, I'd always stop at the impromptu "lemonaid stands" run by entrepeneurial kids. It was just bad karma to not stop, so I'd have lots of quarters with me, even tho I rarely drank the product, I just liked to stop and make my purchase and chat with the eager kids trying to make some money. At the warehouse, I'd have to re-learn the route to go to the correct dumping pit, sometimes making one of the warehouse guys have to chase the truck to route me to the right place. I don't know my directions, so go to the north pit on the east side doesn't mean anything to me.... I need more specific directions like take a right and go behind the warehouse and unload at the first stop. So the warehouse guys learned to help guide me on those first hectic days of harvest. =) Plus they liked me cause I'd bring cookies with me, bribes help. My husband and brother in law also learned to be more specific when coming back into the field after a trip to town. Lots happen when you leave to dump the truck and then make it back, as it takes a while to get into town (can't drive fast or the grain will fly off the top of the truck), there are lines of trucks waiting to get dumped & lemonaid stands to visit. So once back in the field, the terms like head South, go over the saddle and turn North would make me retort back that I needed the "english version"... plus I made my husband's lunch, so he also made it a point to not be cranky with me. Now that combines are bigger, we use semi's to haul the grain in, I didn't want to learn to drive the semi's so I enjoy harvest while riding in the combine or taking refreshments out to the field.