Monday, October 31, 2011

What a busy, but fun few days

The last few days seem like a whirlwind.  Big Sissy and Bubby were on Fall Break last Thursday and Friday and we tried to squeeze in as much fun as we could and that didn't end until just a few minutes ago as we just got home from trick-or-treat.

On Friday afternoon, we headed up North for a quick 24 hour visit with my family.  My Aunt S came home from the hospital on Thursday so it was a blessing to be able to spend some time with her.  (Thank you for all the prayers and thoughts.  Please keep them coming as she still has a long road ahead of her, but she is doing much better than she was two weeks ago this time when she was suffering from an unknown at the time drug reaction.)

On Saturday, we had a family Halloween themed birthday party for Big Sissy, Bubby, and two of my nieces, Cousin B and A.  Their 4 birthdays fall within a month of each other between October and November so we have tried to celebrate all of their birthdays together the last couple of years which always is a lot of fun for all involved.

We headed back home late on Saturday night so everyone could sleep in their own beds and be well rested for Sunday as we decided to head to Kelsay Farms after church on Sunday.  You see I just happen to be lucky enough to know those Two Maids a Milking personally so they were kind enough to give us free tickets to visit the farm this year.  Thank you again, Amy and Liz!!

Now I realize you may find it odd that as farmers, we would want to go tour another farm, but we love visiting Kelsay Farms.  You see they are dairy farmers and there is just something about the cow.  I have always been a fan and it appears my kids are too.

In fact, Bubby tells us all the time that he wants to have dairy cows in addition to pigs when he gets bigger so time will tell.

Any way, we had a blast at Kelsay Farms and were even lucky enough to spend some one-on-one time with Miss Liz.

We might still be in the corn maze if she hadn't been with us.

Now Kelsay Farms is closed for 2011 as they are only open to the public during the month of October, but I would suggest that if you live close that you put it on your calendar now for 2012 as it really is a lot of fun for all ages and Bubby highly recommends the chocolate milk.  

Much to Big Sissy and Bubby's dismay, they had to head back to school today, but we squeezed in a little bit more fun as we went trick-or-treating tonight.

Trick-or-treating in the country is slightly different than when you live in a subdivision, but we wouldn't trade it for anything.  My good friend Miss Megan from Gal in the Middle did a great job of explaining trick-or-treat when you live in the country so be sure to check it out.  Let me just say our evening consisted of 2 1/2 hours in the car, 7 stops including one in a corn field, and over 41 miles on my van.

Needless to say, all three kids are fast asleep and I'm not far behind.

Happy Halloween!!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grilled Garlic Artichokes

I've decided that my kitchen must have been pretty boring before I met Ott, A and she decided to start challenging me with her monthly Iron Chef Challenge.  Let me tell you for October, she did not disappoint as the secret ingredient was artichokes.  Now I love me some spinach and artichoke dip and my mother-in-law and Uncle M make a good one, but I had never ever worked with a fresh artichoke until now.

After searching on, I stumbled upon a couple of different recipes and decided to try out the Grilled Garlic Artichokes recipe for a Latte' with Ott,A's October Iron Chef Challenge.

Grilled Garlic Artichokes
2 large artichokes
1 lemon, quartered (I had to substitute with lemon juice as I forgot to pick up a lemon at the store.)
3/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Fill a large bowl with cold water.  Squeeze the juice from one lemon wedge into the water.  

    Trim the tops from the artichokes.

    Cut in half lengthwise.  

    Place halves into the bowl of lemon water to prevent them from turning brown.  (Hint:  I dip my apple slices in lemon juice or Sprite before serving at a party to prevent them from turning brown.)

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, preheat an outdoor grill for medium high heat.

    Add artichokes to boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes.


    Squeeze the remaining lemon wedges into a medium bowl.  Stir in the olive oil and garlic, and season with salt and pepper.

    Brush the artichokes with a coating of the garlic dip and place them on the preheated grill.  (My kitchen adventures usually involve family, but these artichokes involved the whole family as my mother-in-law helped me with the grilling and Big Sissy took the pictures so I could run Bubby to football practice.  Remember, there is never a dull moment at this pigpen.)

    Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with the dip and turning frequently until the tips are a little charred.

    Serve immediately with the remaining dip.  

    Now I must admit, we weren't quite sure how to eat the artichokes, but thanks to our friends at Ocean Mist Farms and their website, we got a great tutorial.

    And thanks to the great tutorial and a yummy recipe, the artichokes got two thumbs up from Big Sissy which is not an easy feat and my mother-in-law used the leftover dip as a marinade for grilled potatoes the next day.  

    All in all, I'd say we conquered the artichoke with lots of help and will be trying them again at this pigpen.  



Monday, October 24, 2011

My Food Day with a Hunk of Meat Monday recipe

The Farmer's family and mine have been involved in agriculture and essentially food production for generations.

We hope it is something that will be carried on in our family for generations to come so essentially every day is food day on our family farm.

For generations, we have worked hard each and every day to provide the best care possible for our crops and pigs so that we can provide healthy and nutritious food for your family and ours.  That is what it is all about.

As farmers, we not only take great pride in producing food for our family and yours, but we also feel it is our social responsibility to help feed the world.  On our family farm, we take this literally a little closer to home as we donate pork to our local food bank throughout the year.

So how did my family celebrate Food Day today, we celebrated like we do every day by taking the best possible care of our pigs and harvesting corn as we are in full-blown harvest mode at our family farm.

I didn't have time to whip something up in my kitchen so tonight was a real treat as we had pizza in the fields.  My kids love doing this during planting and harvest season each year. I may not have made the pizza myself, but I have confidence that the ingredients came from family farms just like mine across this great nation.

If I would have had the time to cook tonight, it probably would have been a pork recipe so I thought I'd share one with you in honor of Food Day and National Pork Month.

Cream of Mushroom Pork Chops
Cream of Mushroom Soup (I use 2 cans for 8 chops)
Pork Chops

I love this recipe because you can start with frozen or thawed pork chops and as much as I usually follow recipes, this is kind of an eyeball it/throw it together recipe that I hope you will like as much as this pigpen does.

Place the pork chops in a 9x13 pan.  (I usually use Pyrex for this recipe, but I'm sure any 9x13 pan would work.)

In a separate bowl, dilute the cream of mushroom soup with milk to thin out the soup.  (You can leave this as thick as you want or make as thin as you want.)

Pour the diluted cream of mushroom soup over the pork chops trying to cover all of the pork chops.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for a 2 - 2 1/2 hours or when a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees.

Enjoy this recipe and please let me know what questions you have about the food America's farmers work hard to produce each and every day for your family and mine.

Hunk of Meat Mondays


Friday, October 21, 2011

Farmer Fridays - Do you believe in signs?


This time of year our family is usually in full harvest mode harvesting our corn and soybean crop to ultimately feed our pigs.  However, the combine has not moved on our farm since Monday night as the rain that we needed all summer arrived on Tuesday and didn't leave until last night.  After it was all said it done, we got 3 inches of rain this week which means it will be a few more days until the combine is back in the fields.  

The bright side of the cold, windy, rainy weather we had this week is that today was an absolutely beautiful fall day and tomorrow looks like it will be the same.  For me, I'm hoping this is a sign that harvest will be back on track soon.  Additionally, I'm taking this sign a little farther.

My Aunt S who was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this summer had a bone marrow transplant 4 weeks ago.  She came home from the hospital a week and a half ago which was well ahead of schedule and all appeared to be going well until this week.  Wednesday night she was readmitted to the hospital with some side effects that the doctors are still trying to diagnose.  When she was admitted on Wednesday, the prognosis looked potentially grim, but it is starting to sound a little better today.  We are still waiting on all the test results and only time will tell, but I'm taking today's beautiful weather as a sign that she is going to be OK.  So I'm asking for all of your prayers and thoughts for my Aunt S as that's really all I can do as it is out of my control.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Angel Sugar Cookies

I've had a bit sweeter than normal sweet tooth lately so it was of no surprise that I thought I needed to make some cookies this past weekend.  It's also no secret that I'm a big fan of The Pioneer Woman so I thought a recipe from her cookbook was only appropriate.  This is how I came to make Angel Sugar Cookies over the weekend and they did not disappoint.

2 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for the tops of the cookies
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cream together eggs, oil, butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.  When you take the dough out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Use a cookie scoop or spoon to drop balls of cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  (I did line my cookie sheets with parchment paper.)

Smear butter on the bottom of a glass, then dip it into granulated sugar.

Use the glass to flatten the balls of dough, dipping into the sugar each time.

Repeat until all are flattened.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until the cookies are just barely turning brown around the edges.

Cool before eating... I dare you to wait. :-)

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