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.