Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Farmer Perspective, Part I

As promised, I said I would start blogging about my recent experience seeing Michael Pollan's presentation called "The Sun Food Agenda". The speaker had expressed many points regarding agriculture, it's production both in crops and animal harvest, and his views of how things should be done by those of us who farm and ranch. Although he did have some interesting points of view, some of which I agreed with and some I didn't, it was interesting to have someone who has never farmed, tell us how he thought we should conduct our business.

One of the things that he was talking about was the farm wife needing to work off the farm to keep medical benefits for her family. The speaker felt that it was detrimental to the farm that the women had to work off the farm to keep medical benefits for her family. This I agree with as I have always had to work off the farm and been the one to keep our family covered with medical insurance. Although each family's situation is unique, ultimately each family must do what they need to do. As for me,the positions that I held were full time and it was not an option to make them part time or job share, so I always worked full time and juggled family, farm and work duties. One of my first blogs was about taking 2 weeks off during wheat harvest to drive truck. Only in the past year or so have I had the opportunity to work part time off the farm and yet still maintain medical benefits for our family. From my perspective, it is the wife/mom that is the glue to keep the farm and family running smoothly. We are the ones often doing the behind the scenes kind of things to keep operations running smoothly.

One of the things that the speaker stressed was eating together, preparing foods that your great grandmother would prepare (cooking at home from scratch) and having a garden. All of these, I heartily agree with and if you think about it, food is an important part of our lives. We associate food with holiday or special celebrations. I could go on and on about this subject, so let's just say I agree with his views. I can say our family always ate dinner together, we didn't go out to dinner often, and I cooked from scratch. With a little bit of organization it was not hard and was a good basis for our daughters growing up. I do not like fussy food and usually stick to basics, plus I like to make things from scratch. Here are some new favorites:

Mac n Cheese (this is very upscale and tasty - not what your mom would have made)
8 Tbl butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices good white bread, crust removed, torn into 1/4inch pieces ( You can substitute fine bread crumbs, -about 1 cup)
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
2 teas salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 oz ) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups (about 5 oz) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 lb or about 2 cups of macaroni (cooked per instructions but slightly underdone)

1) Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 3 quart casserole dish, set aside. Place bread crumbs in medium bowl and pour 2 Tbl of melted butter over bread, toss well. (same method with fine bread crumbs)
Set aside.

2)Warm milk in microwave or saucepan. Melt remaining butter in high sided pan over medium heat, when butter bubbles, add flour, whisking till combined, about 30 seconds.

3)While whisking, add hot milk a little at a time, whisk so mixture is smooth. Continue to cook till mixture thickens and bubbles, about 8-12 min.

4) Remove from heat, stir in salt, peppers, nutmeg, 3 cups of white cheddar cheese and 1 cup of Romano cheese. Set the remaining cheeses aside.

5) Add cooked macaroni to cheese mixture and pour into prepared casserole dish, top with
remaining cheeses and bread crumbs. Bake uncovered until golden, about 30 minutes. Let sit 5 min, then serve and enjoy.


Butternut Squash Bake

1 butternut squash, cut in half, seeded

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped onion or 2 TBl dried onion
1 egg
1 teas sugar
salt/pepper to taste
Mix this in a bowl till well blended.

1/4 cup crushed saltines (about 8 crackers)
2 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl melted butter
Mix this in a separate bowl.

Preheat oven 350, place halved squash on a cookie sheet, cut side down and bake about 20-25 min. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out pulp leaving a shell. Add cooked squash to mayo mixture. Then evenly add the mixture back into the empty shells, place back on the cookie sheet and sprinkle the cracker mixture over the squash. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is golden brown.

Happy cooking and enjoy.

As for gardening, well..... let's just say it is a good thing Joe is a better farmer than I am as a gardner! (Basically I'm a crappy gardner, but I'm trying) I'll tell you about my gardening adventures some other time.

Also, thank you for reading my blog. Please email me if you ever any questions about farm life or recipes. I will try to quickly respond and I'm happy to chat with you.