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.