The Evolution of a Modern-Day Farm Wife

Archive for the ‘Domestic Tranquility’ Category

Apricot Pecan Crisp

Happy summer!  We’re going to skip the small talk about where I’ve been for six months and jump straight to today’s post.

OK?

OK.

I currently have an apricot tree that is full of fruit right now.

Like, LOADED FULL!

Having apricots is a special treat since my trees don’t produce the little fruit every year due to a number of conditions (like the weather).

Tiny apricots heavily fill one of my trees.

Tiny apricots heavily fill one of my trees.

They aren’t very big apricots.  In fact, each one is smaller than a ping-pong ball.

BUT, these little fruits sure are delicious!

So what do you do if you have tons of apricots on your tree?

If you’re like me, you either pick them and freeze them, or make some apricot crisp!

I had a lot of mouths to feed the other day at lunch, so I thought what better way to share these delicious fruits than to whip up a crisp.

And if you know me, I don’t like complicated recipes.

This is a seriously quick and easy recipe that will hit the spot.

For me, the results were unanimous; this recipe is a keeper!

Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and reap the rewards.

Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and reap the rewards of summer.

Apricot Pecan Crisp (serves 6 people)

  • Approximately 5 cups of halved apricots
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup of chopped pecans

Preheat the oven  to 375˚F

Step 1.  Cut apricots into halves or quarters and place fruit in a square, 2-quart baking dish and stir in the granulated sugar.

Step 2. In a separate bowl, mix the oats, brown sugar, flour and nutmeg together.  Then cut the butter into the mixture.  Add the pecans and then sprinkle the mix over the apricots.

Step 3.  Bake in a 375˚ oven for 35-45 minutes or until the topping is golden.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and enjoy this piece of summer!

Easy, peasy summer recipe!

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Pearled Sorghum, Spinach & Strawberry Salad

 

closeup

Aside from wheat, our farm produces corn, soybeans, and grain sorghum.  Grain Sorghum–also known as milo– is harvested in the fall.  I don’t generally take a lot of pictures of this harvest because I try to stay away.  You see, milo is itchy.  Very, very, very itchy!

Just a few more rows to go!

Just a few more rows to go!

Kansas is the top producing grain sorghum state in the country.  It is a cereal grain known as the “camel of crops” due to its heat and drought tolerance.  In Asia and Africa, grain sorghum is used for human food consumption.  In the U.S., however, it has generally been used as livestock feed and is increasingly being used in ethanol plants.

As I was driving home from school this year I caught a nice little segment on NPR about a “revival” of sorts concerning the growing importance of  grain sorghum and how farmers are including this “ancient grain” in crop rotations due to the fact it requires less water.  The story also discussed how there is a rapidly increasing market for this grain for American food consumption because grain sorghum is gluten free.

Nu Life Market, based in Scott City, Kansas, is helping get this grain to the tables of American consumers.  Their facilities mill grain sorghum and package products including Sorghum Bran, Whole Grain and Pearled Grain Sorghum Flour, and Pearled Sorghum.

Since the Whole Grains Council has identified Sorghum as the June Grain of the Month, I thought I’d give it try.

I used a recipe that Nu Life Market has on their website for a Pearled Sorghum Strawberry Salad–although I made a few minor adjustments.

The results were positive–even a teenager liked it!  With that being said, I’m adding this to my rotation of summer salads.

ingredients

Pearled Sorghum, Spinach & Strawberry Salad

  • 1 cup White Pearled Sorghum Grain (from Nu Life Market)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Water
  • 6 cups of Fresh Spinach Leaves (I used a 10 oz. container of spinach)
  • 2 cups of Strawberries (Not going to lie, I used the whole 16 oz. container–I have no regrets!!)
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of Honey (Blaze Fork Honey–straight from McPherson County, Kansas)
  • 1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • 1/4 cup of Sunflower Kernels 

The Run-Down

Add 1 cup of the pearled sorghum to 1½ cups water.  Cover, and bring to a boil.  

Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. 

After 15 minutes, remove the lid and allow excess water to evaporate off while cooking for another 5  minutes. 

When the kernels are soft and fully cooked, remove from heat and mix in 1 tsp of olive oil to cooked sorghum kernels.  Cover and place to the side until your salad is prepared.

To make the dressing, chop ¼ cup of strawberries (approximately 3-4 large strawberries) into small pieces.  Add the ¼ cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, lemon juice, pepper and chopped strawberries into a small bowl and whisk.

Slice the remainder of the strawberries and toss in a bowl with the spinach leaves, sunflower kernels, pearled sorghum and dressing.

Serve immediately.

finished

The recipe said it makes 4 servings.  I think I could have fed 6-8 people with the amount of salad we had.

I served the salad with grilled chicken breasts that were sprinkled with garlic salt while they grilled.

Adam serves on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program board and has come home from many meetings with some interesting recipes.  This summer I plan to try some of them out and share them with you.

If you’re looking for a simple, yet “different” salad this summer, you might give this recipe a try!

Enjoy!

 

And That’s a Wrap!

I know we were cutting corn and soybeans in September.

I know we were cutting soybeans and milo in October.

I know we were cutting milo in November…until yesterday.

I don’t exactly remember when our fall harvest started, but I’m happy to report that we are officially done!

Just a few more rows to go!

The final rows!

This has been a long, busy fall.

Between school starting, a little boy toddling, wheat sowing, and a husband traveling, I’m thankful to wrap up this fall’s harvest.

It was time to be done.

Get that milo unloaded and sent to the elevator!

Get that milo unloaded and sent to the elevator!

School has kept me very busy this fall, but Banks and I have still been able to get out into the fields to visit Adam.

The Baldwin boys taking a break from sowing wheat.

The Baldwin boys taking a break from sowing wheat.

We’ve kept him company in the combine.

Riding in the combine.

Riding in the combine.

We’ve kept him company in the tractor.

CAUTION: Driver in Training

CAUTION: Driver in Training

We’ve kept him company in the fields.

Three generations: Only two chose to wear pants.

Three generations: Only two chose to wear pants.

This little boy enjoys spending time with his daddy–especially if it involves buttons to push, levers to pull, horns to honk, and wheels to turn.

Banks taking over the steering in a soybean field.

Banks taking over the steering in a soybean field.

Let me take over, Daddy!

Let me take over, Daddy!

We’ve delivered meals to the fields.

Meals to the field.

Meals to the field.

We’ve shuttled people to the fields.

We’ve sat in the car, rolled down the windows and watched the machines go through the fields.

This little boy can watch the machines go for hours.

This little boy can watch the machines go for hours.

We’ve also listened to the guys radio each other while eating Cheerios half naked in our living room.

Little man sitting underneath the radio listening to what's going on in the field.

Little man sitting underneath the radio listening to what’s going on in the field.

And now things will begin to slow down.

Cattle will need to be moved and fed this winter.

Projects around the house and on the farm will get done.

Wheat will continue to grow.

And we can all get some much needed rest before the next busy season rolls around.

Meals to the Fields…

While the crew is out harvesting wheat all day, my mother-in-law and I like to lay by the pool and eat our bon-bons while working on our tans.

In our dreams!

This is as close to a pool and bon-bons for me during harvest!

In reality, while the crew is out in the fields, my mother-in-law and I are doing our part to help make life more pleasant during harvest.

Making life more pleasant during harvest for our crew means keeping them well-fed.

Buns in bulk…

During harvest–although there are some days when the crew will come to one of our houses to eat inside– the majority of meals have to be prepared, packed, and hauled out to a field somewhere.

Meals to the Fields!

Adam told me the other morning that he likes going to a house to eat a meal during harvest–but when that’s done they lose enough time that could’ve been used to cut 23 acres of wheat. And with the constant sense of urgency in getting all of the wheat cut before the summer storms, there’s not a lot of time to stop and enjoy a meal in the comfort of our air conditioned homes.

Enter the proverbial chuck wagon here…

Stopping for a meal in the field.

My mother-in-law, Cindy, has perfected feeding the masses.

She’s a rock star!!

Cindy provides delivery service of quality meals to fields twice a day–shortly after 12:00 and at 6:30pm.

Guaranteed.

It’s like a picnic–for the Duggar family, but with less kids!

I’m her helper.

And while it would be easy to make a massive amount of ham & cheese sandwiches every day, ham & cheese sandwiches every day would get pretty old, pretty quickly.

Order up! Ham & cheese and more ham & cheese…

So Cindy mixes things up.

Yes, sometimes a nice cold sandwich is really all the guys want to eat, but they also like (and deserve) some hot meals.

Goulash, cole slaw & french bread–delivered to the field.

Whether it’s cold sandwiches or hot meals, a heck of a lot of food is made during harvest.

We officially started harvest on May 28th this year. We were out of the fields due to rain for three days.

Between May 28th and today, there have been days where we have needed to feed up to 12 people per meal.

With so much food being made for so many hungry mouths, our kitchens have been transformed into lean, mean, food prep machines.

I refuse to show you pictures!

And with so many hungry mouths to feed at every meal, a heck of a lot of trips are made to town to pick up groceries during wheat harvest.

And with a heck of a lot of trips made to town, our brains start thinking in bulk…

A loaf of bread has 24 slices (not including the ends). That’s enough to make 12 sandwiches.

A Crystal Light package contains enough mix to make 2 1/2 gallons.

We go through two gallons of this stuff at every meal.

About two pounds of ground beef is needed to make enough Sloppy Joes for each person to have two sandwiches.

A family pack of single serving chips contains 32 bags.

Providing variety…

A cookie recipe makes about four dozen cookies.

Expect each person to eat two cookies during the meal, plus take some “for the road”.

The guys like bananas, nectarines, and peaches.

They also like bottled water, and an occasional afternoon (around 3:30) sweet treat like a candy bar.

You can do the math to figure out what our grocery bills look like during harvest time!

I don’t want to think about it.

Some days I think we are harvesting the wheat in our fields just to make enough bread to keep feeding our crew.

In reality, according to http://www.kswheat.com, Kansas farmers alone produce roughly 380 million bushels of wheat each year.

That’s enough to feed every man, woman and child in the world for an entire week!

Now THAT would be a lot of meals to the fields!

So we’ll continue baking, mixing, shopping–not to mention cleaning and dishwashing– packaging, and delivering for our sweaty harvest crew so we can help provide meals for others, too.

Sicko

Sicko…

We’ve been a little ill at the farm this past week.

And when I say “we” I mean Adam.

I’ve been the nurse–hydrating, temperature reading, and praying that my husband gets back to good health.

For some reason all I can think about is snot when I look at this picture. Forgive me.


Because when your husband– a man who vehemently proclaims that he NEVER gets sick–gets sick, it ain’t pretty.

Swirls has requested the house be thoroughly disinfected before he re-enters.

Adam had done been knocked out.

He’s a sicko!

Apparently Swirls the Cat has issues with germs.

My poor, poor husband.

He had to rely on others to run some business meetings this week.

He had to rely on his dad to feed the cattle solo this week.

He had to rely on me to make meals this week.

Luckily for him, he didn’t have much of an appetite.

On top of the super bug that apparently took residence at our house and knocked out my husband, I have officially started our Forensics season at school– the speaking and performing type of forensics, not the CSI one.

I have started hauling students around central Kansas and coaching them on their performances.

It makes for long days.

And long nights.

But it’s fun….as long as the weather is good.

Snow in February?!? Come on, Mother Nature, Bring It!

Speaking of the weather…It’s been fairly cold this week.

I guess it is February.

I tend to forget those things when you’re not wearing wool socks and sweaters to work everyday.

We had some snow earlier last week–just in time for the cows to start calving.

I've been hauling kids and attempting to heal my husband...so this is the closest picture of a calf you'll get today. Just use your imagination 🙂


Hopefully the calves will stay healthy with the recent change in weather.

Hopefully everyone else in this house (in other words: Me!) stays healthy, too.  

Hopefully I'll take down wreaths that were put up in December, too! Good grief!

Holy Tamales, Batman!

I vividly remember living in the Pueblo of Zuni in western New Mexico when I was a kid.

In reality, we didn’t live in the actual “pueblo”. We lived on the mesa near the hospital where my dad worked as the hospital’s administrator.

I remember riding in my mom’s red Honda and driving down into the pueblo to go to the post office.

I remember seeing Kachinas dancing in a Shalako ceremony (now closed to non-tribal members).

I remember riding my bike and being chased by the “Rez” dogs and having to take an alternate route home which caused me to be late, which caused my parents to call the tribal police.

Good times!

I remember my little sister, Christine, being very, very sick with a horrible fever and my very, very concerned parents driving her to another hospital in Gallup, New Mexico, during a winter storm.

I remember OshKosh B’Gosh was all the wardrobe rage in our house and Santa knew Cabbage Patch dolls were the babies of choice.

Circa 1980-something.

Memories. Oh, memories!

I also remember an old Zuni woman coming to our house and showing my mom how to make tamales. A vat of creamy, white lard in a light blue container and stacks of paper-crisp corn husks adorned the work area.

Even after we left Zuni and moved to central New Mexico, tamales were a natural part of the holiday culture–just like putting out luminarias (paper lunch sacks filled with sand and candles), baking biscochitos with real vanilla from Mexico, and buying alfalfa hay and Piñon seeds from strangers on the side of the highway.

I remember my mom would make or order tamales every year during the Christmas season. And we would gobble them up with melted cheese and chile sauce on top.

After my family moved to Missouri, it was my job to order tamales and deliver them to Missouri during my Christmas breaks from New Mexico State University.

It’s a family tradition.

Last year, because he’s a good guy, Adam singlehandedly researched tamale recipes and rounded up ingredients to help bring this tradition to our family in central Kansas. He caught some flack from me– not because Adam’s tamales were bad (because they were really good), but because they weren’t my mom’s tamales.

They weren’t my momma’s tamales!!
They weren’t authentic New Mexican tamales!!
Waaaaaa!!!!

I wanted nothing to do with them.

And after I had my freak-out session, I ate half a dozen of them!

Luckily, Adam still puts up with me.

I’ve apologized since last year’s fiasco and humbly requested we have a do-over this year, and I’d help (and take pictures).

It’s a major process to make these suckers.
A MAJOR PROCESS!
But they are so worth it.  And even though it’s not my mom’s exact recipe, I don’t think I can tell the difference from our tamales and the ones I consumed every year growing up.

In fact, it’s too good not to share.

Stick with me, I promise it’s worth it…

Traditional Pork Tamales

3 1/2 pounds of pork shoulder or butt (cut up with fat trimmed off)
10 cups water
3 minced garlic cloves
1 onion
3 1/2 teaspoons of salt
3/4 cup of Crisco
6 cups of Masa
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
Approx. 50 dried corn husks
4 cups of red chile sauce

The ingredients...give or take a few items.

Red Chile Sauce

15 dried chiles (Anaheim or New Mexico)

4 or 5 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of melted shortening

Directions for the sauce:

1. Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chile peppers.

Disclaimer: This is chile, people. Don't rub your eyes!

2. Throw the chile on a baking sheet and then throw in a 350 degree oven for 2 to 5 minutes (or until it smells like a sweet roasted (not burned) smell).

3. Remove the chile from the oven and soak in water that covers all chile for about 30 minutes.

4. After 30 minutes, put the chile, 2 1/2 cups of the soaking water, the garlic, cumin, and salt into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Be sure to save the leftover soaking water.

Grab the nearest little kid and make him push the button to blend!

5. In a 2-quart sauce pan, stir the flour and the melted shortening over medium heat until it’s browned and then stir in the blended chile mix.

6. Simmer uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes. The sauce will slightly thicken. If the sauce gets too thick for you, this is where you can add the leftover soaking water for your desired thickness.

Now, onto the meat portion…

1. Slice up your pork, quarter your onion, mince your garlic and throw it into a 5-quart Dutch oven. Go ahead and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Bring it all boil.

2. Keeping it covered, simmer the above for about 2 1/2 hours (or until the meat is super tender).

Go ahead, take the lid off and stir it occasionally. You know you want to.

3. Do the laundry, feed the cows, wash the dishes, visit the Co-op…

Or find another little kid and take some pictures of him while you wait.

4. Remove the meat from the broth. Allow both to cool in separate bowls.

5. Shred the pork.

6. Strain the broth and keep 6 cups.

7. In a large sauce pan, heat half of the red chile sauce and throw in the shredded pork. Simmer covered for 10 minutes.

You can also just mix it up in a bowl.

8. Refrigerate the leftover sauce to use on top of your tamales.

Now, onto the tamales…

1. To make your masa, beat the shortening in a large bowl on medium speed for one minute.

2. In another bowl, stir the masa, baking powder and 2 teaspoons of salt together.

3. Alternately add the masa mixture and broth into the shortening– beating well after each addition. The goal is to add just enough broth to make a thick, creamy paste.

Remember: The key is to alternate.

4. Soak the corn husks in warm water for at least 20 minutes. Be sure to remove any silks.

Clear off a table because you're going to need some space.

5. To make each tamale, spread about 2 tablespoons of the masa mix into the center of the corn husk.

Find any extra people, including husbands, and put them to work making tamales.

6. Place about a tablespoon of the meat/sauce mix in the middle of the masa.

7. Fold in the sides of the husk and then fold up the bottom.

Still don’t understand how to roll a tamale?  

Click here to see How To Wrap A Tamale.

8. Place the tamales in a steamer basket that’s been placed in a Dutch oven. The tamales need to lean in the basket, open side up.

9. Add water to the Dutch oven, just below the basket.

10. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat.

11. Cover and steam for 40 minutes– adding water if needed.

12. After 40 minutes, remove from basket, warm up your leftover chile sauce and chow down!

Disclaimer: Be sure to remove the tamales from the husks before eating.

Throw some chile sauce, cheese, or salsa on top...or just eat it plain. It's up to you.

You will have more tamales than you’ll know what to do with. You can freeze them– still in husks– and then steam them in the microwave when you’re ready to eat them.

Before I owned a microwave steamer, I’d just wrap the tamales in a wet paper towel and reheat in the microwave.

And there you have it… Traditional Pork Tamales.

Keep in mind that the more people that are available to help in all of the processes is better.  That’s why it makes making tamales so enjoyable, and a family tradition during the holidays–getting lots of people in on the action.

Wishing you many yummy tamales in 2012!

Slap Yo’ Momma Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes…

After posting the last blog post, I’m beginning to think that another reason why I love pumpkin so much is because it is the main ingredient used to make Pumpkin Pie.

If you were to ask me what my favorite pie would be, I would hands down, unequivocally, answer PUMPKIN PIE.

I would also begin salivating.

Apple Pie doesn’t cut it, Pecan Pie gets close, and homegirl loves a good Blueberry Pie.

Really, if it’s put in front of me, I’ll eat it.

But there’s nothing as delicious as a good ol’ Pumpkin Pie!  It’s a seasonal dessert that could easily be turned into an entire meal for me.

If you let me.

Or weren’t watching!

OK, or maybe were watching.

What can I say?  I’m shameless!

I think my first cookbook will be all about pumpkin.

The cookbook will never be published and sold world-wide, but it’ll be full of easy recipes that I didn’t mess up.  It could help tons of other men and women–like me–who realize they have the culinary skills equivalent to that of a squirrel.

Where’d that come from?

I don’t know.  Just keep typing.

I’ve started a board on Pinterest that’s all about recipes of things that I want to make and eat before I die.

The board is called Bucket List:  Food That I’d Like To Make.

Follow it if you dare.

It’s powerful.

And dangerous. 

Today’s easy recipe was also found on Pinterest and is on my Bucket List board.

It’s from the Baker Chick.  She has some amazing pictures of the finished product–unlike mine.

And so I present to you, Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes.

If I could name them I’d call them “So good you’ll want to slap yo’ momma Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes”!  

I picked that little saying up when I was in the South.

Forgive me, please.

OK…here we go.

Be sure to use eggs that haven't expired. Good Lord!

Gather the following ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 can of Pumpkin (15 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup of Sugar
  • 1/4 cup of Brown Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup of Half & Half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fill your muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Spray the liners with cooking spray.

Lesson learned: Spray the cupcake liners with cooking spray once you put them in the muffin tin. Duh, Kim!

Once you have the oven preheating AND you’ve washed your greasy, cooking-sprayed hands, start throwing all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Technically, the Baker Chick says you should mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl.  

“In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half until well combined.”

Kim Baldwin says, that’s too difficult.  Throw everything together in one bowl and go!!

Mmmmm Pumpkin!

Once you’ve mixed the ingredients and the batter looks smooth, fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full and throw those babies in the oven.

Using my new muffin tin, Thank you, Adam Baldwin.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Your house will begin to smell like Pumpkin Pie.

The inside of your oven will begin to look like this…

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

After 20 minutes, remove from oven and allow the cupcakes to cool in the muffin tin.

While the cupcakes are cooling in the muffin tin, don’t start crying when the cupcakes begin to look like this…

Trust me, this is normal when they cool.

I would highly recommend throwing the cupcakes in the refrigerator to chill before serving.

But we all know you’ll pop about 5 of these in your mouth as soon as they are cool enough to eat.  

Don’t forget to spray some whipped cream directly into your mouth, too.  

It helps with the cooling process.

Honestly.

Once the cupcakes are chilled, throw some whipped cream on top.

Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice on top for an added effect.

Mini morsels of pumpkin heaven.

I was able to get 12 cupcakes out of this recipe.

I was only able to take pictures of the last four.

The others somehow disappeared.

I’ve called off the search and have decided to just make some more.

Gosh, I wonder where they went.

So good you'll want to slap yo' momma!

Now that I have TWO great pumpkin recipes I’m waiting for my phone call from a book publisher.  Ha!

Seriously, call me.

Happy Thanksgiving from Baldwin Farms!

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