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Friday, July 15, 2016

Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad


Are your evenings and nights super busy? It seems like we never have a slow day here on the farm, and I've found a quick answer to supper when we are hustling around: Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad

Farm Report:  Corn is tasseling and the silks of the new ears are coming out, so that means there will be some pollinating going on out the fields.   Pollen falling from the tassel to the silks is how how the kernels are made on the corn cob.  You might say that there are a lot of babies being made out in the corn fields right now!  Watch for the silks to turn brown to know that baby corn is on the way!  So with the corn doing its thing, all focus around here is gearing up for the 4-H fair in about 12 days~!

When we are finishing up projects and working with our calves and checking the sweet corn for critters and to know when it is ready to eat, meals are not at the top of anyone's list until that moment we are all hungry, and everyone looks at me to see what the next meal is.  Crazy thing, I'm usually out there with them working!!!  This Quick and Easy Chicken Salad is a great go-to if you do a little prep work ahead of time.

To get ready for this meal, It's nice to have some chicken breasts cooked as you like them ahead of time.  It can be last night's leftovers, or what we sometimes do is use rotisserie chicken.  I'm kind of in love with rotisserie chicken, and if I am in a grocery store that offers them, I will usually grab one or two to take home.  At around $5.00 a chicken, it's a great meal in itself.  We all love the dark meat, so it's legs and thighs for supper, and the breasts are saved for the next day.

Alrighty!  Let's get this salad started. First, diced up your chicken breasts and put in a large mixing bowl. Do the same with your veggies. I love these little peppers because you get just as much as you want!


 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

Red Gold tomatoes are grown right here in Indiana, and I love that the tomatoes and chilies are ready to go!  *I use referral links to products I love.

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

Ok, now your bowl should look like this:

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

Well, not quite....Sigh, Yes, I put my bowl in the dishwasher, so yes, it has that lovely milky-foggy look to it.  Any ideas on how to make it clear again?  I would love to know what you know about this.

This next part is a bit tricky because, as I always remind you my Peeps, I don't faithfully measure as I go..... Start with adding 3/4 a cup of Miracle Whip, the minced garlic, horseradish, and Farm Dust seasonings to the bowl of chicken and veggies.  Stir it up gently, taste, and see what ingredient you might want to add.

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!

I have to stop here a minute, and tell you that this is a VERY Indiana-based recipe!  Besides the Red Gold tomatoes and chilies, Miracle Whip and horseradish are pretty much staples in Hoosier kitchens.  The Farm Dust has a great name, and it too is made in Shipshewana, Indiana!  This is an Amish family business and goes by Weaver's Dutch Country Seasoning!  It's delish on everything you put it on.  Amazon is packaging it with a spicy version I didn't know about so YUM!  and Yea Indiana!

When you have the salad tasting the way you like it, add a lettuce leaf to a plate, grab yourself some water or Sweet Tea, and enjoy!

Printable Recipe here:

 Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad.  With just a few tricks, you can have this salad made and ready to share in 15 minutes, and around here that's a very good meal!



Quick and Healthy Chicken Salad

Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
Cooking Directions
  1. Chop or dice chicken breasts, and add to large mixing bowl
  2. Chop or dice vegetables. May also add onions and radishes if desired. Add to mixing bowl.
  3. Start with 3/4 C. Miracle Whip and add to bowl.
  4. Add rest of ingredients.
  5. Gently stir together. Add more Miracle Whip or other seasonings to suit your taste.
  6. Refrigerate any leftovers immediately.

                                                                                      

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Farmer Q & A: How Has Weed Control Evolved in Farming?

At the end of June and around the first of July, farmers are ready to let Mother Nature take over their crops.   It's time to sit back and watch them grow.  As you drive around our great country this weekend, you should be treated to tall rows of corn and rows of beans beginning to close the gap between themselves.  Every once in a while, however, you will come across a weedy field of beans and wonder how that can be when most of the bean field are clean, pristine, even, acres of uniform green.  It's all about treating your weeds.



Once upon a time, in a world far far away, farm children would walk out by a barn or shed or truck and see this tool........


......the tool that could make even the best kid moan and groan a bit inside his or her mind.  Do you know what this is?  I would love for you to leave me a message at the end of this post telling me just how and when you used it.

It kind of looks like something Miss Bo Peep might use on her miniature goats right?  Yeah, no such luck!  It is called a "Hook," but its function is not quite that whimsical...  It was/is carried down bean rows and used to "hook" large weeds out of the bean rows. Here's a picture of how it works.


Back in the late 60's and early 70's, my brother and I would find several of those tools hanging around our grandparents' barn lot, and when we saw a couple make their way to the bed of Grandpa's truck, we knew what that meant.  "Time to weed the beans!"  Now Grandpa Bill felt it a personal affront to his ability to farm if a weed dare show itself in his bean field.  He didn't care if it was just one lousy weed at the OTHER end of the field; if he saw it, it had to go, and we had to take our hooks out to get it.  It earned us a bit of money and a nice tan, so we didn't grump too much, but Grandpa was a bit OCD when it came to weeds, and most farmers still are!



In today's world as fences disappear and farms grow larger in size, weed management has changed its ways.  Today there are many tools farmers can use to manage the weeds trying to grow in our fields. From tillage practices like no-till to treated seeds to prescription weed sprays, we are able to keep weed populations down without having to spend extra time in the field.  Some farmers plant in 15 inch rows or drill beans so that exposed ground is limited to open time in the sun, and emergent weeds are choked out by growing bean plants.

Farmers are always looking for better environmental and economical ways to keep weed populations down in our fields.  It is important to find a way to stop weed growth, promote crop plant growth, and still be good stewards of the land.




                                             

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The BEST Strawberry Shortcake Ever!

There are about as many ways to prepare strawberry shortcake as there are ways to fix Bubba's shrimp.  I've seen it with pound cake, angel food cake, sponge cake, biscuits, and pancakes!  One of my family's most favorite recipe's is my Grandma Lyons' Strawberry Shortcake, and I am about to share this treasured family recipe with you, my favorite Peeps!  It is The Best Strawberry Shortcake Ever!



There is a story that goes along with this recipe; actually there are many stories surrounding the making and sharing of this recipe, but the one I share happened 55-56 years ago.  It was the day my dad's parents came over to meet my mom's parents. Grandma Flossie, my mom's mother, knew that Dad absolutely loved strawberry shortcake.  Since this was a big, important occasion Grandma planned on making his favorite dessert.  As she brought out the strawberries and the little round pound cakes she bought from the store, Dad was on high alert that this was NOT his idea of short cake, so in his most polite, so-to-be-son-in-law manners, he suggested that Grandma Flossie wait until HIS mom got there, and she would make it for them!  ACK!  So glad everyone had a good sense of humor about his remark,or I might not be typing this!

So Mom learned how to make this, and my brother and I learned how to make this, my niece can make it, and now it is Miss Bear's turn to learn this storied recipe, with a little help from Grandma Becky. I'm sure Grandma Lyons is looking over our shoulders every time someone in the family makes her creation.

I have a picture of Grandma Lyons out at our farm near Brook with my brother and I showing off strawberries we picked at a U-Pick strawberry patch my Grandma Phyllis had on the farm....but of course I can't put my hands on it. Here's another picture of Grandma and I on a Christmas Eve a long long time ago.  It's my favorite.


Back in the day, there was a fairly good sized strawberry patch out at what we now call "our" farm. People would come from all over the area to pick Grandma's strawberries. That made me happy because then we didn't have to pick the patch!  It just one more memory I have of the farm that I treasure.  The strawberries are gone now, but the memories are safely in my mind.......

In present time, we were serving 17 people this day, so we tripled the recipe.  Yep, Everyone in my family LOVES this delightful dessert, and we usually only eat it in late May or June when the strawberries are ripe. Here are a couple of shots with Mom and Hannah working together, but I was never able to grab a shot of the finished dessert.  Poof!  It seriously was all gone by the time I came to grab a piece of cake and some strawberries.  We were able to remake it a couple nights ago just for the four of us, and I will be darned if most of it was gone by the end of supper.  Luckily, I served up my dish FIRST and was able to get a shot of the finished masterpiece, again made by Miss Bear.  She is becoming quite the chef, and I am really loving this new development!






And here it is!  Shortcake on the bottom, covered with sweetened strawberries, and swimming in some creamy half and half.  Sigh........ 


Now it's your turn to try Grandma Lyons' BEST Strawberry Shortcake Recipe!  Go to your favorite farmer's market or U-pick patch, get the sweetest ripest reddest berries you can find, some half and half in the dairy section of your grocery store, and enjoy this dish as much as my family does.

Let's get this party started!

Printable Recipe

Grandma Lyons' Strawberry Shortcake

Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 T. lard, can use Crisco
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • milk
  • 2 T. butter, melted in the baking dish
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together
  2. Cut lard into dry ingredients with a fork and knife, then use fingers to make the dough crumbly.
  3. Add enough milk to make a soft dough.
  4. Knead on a floured board , and then divide in half and roll into a square.
  5. Form one half into the bottom of a 9 x 9 baking dish (pour butter out first!)
  6. Pour half of the butter on dough in pan, then place other half of dough on top of the butter, and pour remaining butter on top and spread evenly.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

I have to tell you, dear readers, that sometimes I just smack the whole dough into the warm pan, punch it around with my hands and fingers until all corners are covered, then spread the butter on top and pop it in the oven.  This way you get crispy edges to your crust, but never fear!  The dough is all soft and yum.

We rarely make just this recipe; usually it is doubled or tripled.  Once you have some, you will understand!  From my grandma to all of my Peeps.....Enjoy!

P.S. If Grandma Lyons was still with us, she would be 118 years old!  I guess you could say this is an heirloom recipe!



Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Continuation: "Why aren't farmers out planting their crops?"


If you are traveling along highways and interstates this weekend, you might look out the car/van/truck window and see what looks like many unplanted fields once you leave urbana behind you.  There might even be a conversation in your vehicle of choice that goes along the lines of "Why haven't those farmers been out planting their crops???"  Be patient.... Most are already in the ground and starting to pop out of the ground....Really!




If you go by our farm just west of the house, you won't see anything growing unless you slow down and have a sharp eye.  In between last year's corn  rows, though, this year's soybean crop is popping up out of the ground!


Like I talked about in last month's chat about cover crops, we also left the corn fields untilled to save our top soil from blowing away (and it's a pretty good snow fence during the winter months!).  No-till is another name for this process.  You might see some of the ends of the fields worked, or having dirt showing.  We do work some of those end rows to break up the ground from all the harvest equipmentrunning back and forth on it in the fall.  That constant travel of combines, tractors and wagons and even semis. creates compaction of the soils, making it pretty tough to dig at and in if left alone all winter.

Top update you on the corn crop across the road, the cover crop has completely died out, and the corn is getting tall enough to start covering some of the dead plants from view.


The two pictures below show where our field cornstops and our sweet corn starts.  Tall Guy planted seven rows of sweet corn for us.  Can't wait until it's ready! Field corn is on your left, and the sweet corn in on your right.




If you look more closely at the next picture and the one following, you will see a hidden crop that we will get ready to harvest next.



Those green grass strips running through our fields are grass waterways.  It's a way we filter any run-off water from our fields before that water makes its way in to the drainage creeks.  As soon as the weather man gives us the green light of about 3-4 clear, rain-free days, TG will be out with this hay conditioner to cut the waterways, and he will bail it up as grass hay for our cattle.



Hope you are having a great weekend this Memorial Day Holiday.  Please keep in your hearts those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in this great country of ours.  This was also a HUGE weekend here in Indiana because the Indianapolis 500 turned 100 years old.  In honor of this milestone, the black out issued back in 1950 on all Indianapolis channels to carry the race was lifted. Translation: It was the first time in my lifetime I could watch the race in the comfort of my home!

                                                                                       

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Country Girl's Hack on Iced Mocha Lattes


Coffee is very much a mainstay on most farms.  You might have seen pictures of a farmer warming his hands around a steaming hot cup of Joe.  Sometimes they just hold the cup to warm up their cold fingers from milking cows or feeding livestock With farmers answering that internal early alarm going off in their head, it's nice to give the rest of the body a bit of a boost to catch up with its top part.  See what happens when farmers drink coffee???? 


Sigh...... Well maybe it doesn't quite happen that way, but most farmers are a bit more easy going AFTER they have had their coffee!

One of my favorite stories to tell is about a trip to the Big Town, Indianapolis, and talking to a salesperson as I check out of one of the fun stores in Indy's Circle Center Mall.  She was all bummed, so I asked her what was wrong.  She proceeded to lament the fact that because of construction, she had to an extra mile to find Starbucks for her daily fun coffee drink.  I chuckled and told her, "Honey, I have to drive about 30 miles to get to a Starbucks store."  I think it took her a while to process that horrific bit of information...... Ah,.... the list of differences between the country mouse and the city mouse just got bigger.

When I do get to visit an urban coffee shop, I have the dangedest time trying to figure out how to order what I want.  I just can't pop in or go through the drive through and say, " Hi! I would like a mochalattedoubleespressoandrealcreamtwosquirtsofmochaplease!" I'm not even sure of what I said. It's more like, "Hi, I'm not sure what the name is, but I want coffee with cream, espresso, sugar-free chocolate and hazelnut syrups......on ice please." Gah!

Now that we ladies are taking to the field, many of us are also fond of our morning java, but some of us out here like a bit more in our coffee besides, well, coffee.  We are hard pressed out here in the country to find a java roasting oasis within five miles of home. Here's my solution to this dilemma.

I have survived this most horrid gap between myself and "civilized coffee" by making my own. During six months of the year, I drink it hot, and thanks to our fickle Indiana weather, I'm just now transitioning over to the other side with iced coffee.  Want to know my secret? 



Here is what you will need, kind of.  Base your drink on what you like.  I usually use decaf instant coffee unless I really need a kick in the pants.  The flavorings are all subject to the creator's tastes. Have fun with this Peeps!


I have to remind you that I am not a measuring kind of cook by nature, but let the record state I really tried to measure this all out for you who like numbers.

For this tumbler, I went with three spoonfuls of instant coffee.  Tall Guy used to drink coffee, especially when he went out to milk at 4:00 in the morning during those cold months, but now the caffeine kind of messes with his sleep.  I use instant because I don't need to drink a whole pot full myself.   


To start putting the yummy in this drink, I add 2 spoonfuls of chocolate creamer and ......


2 spoonfuls of hazelnut creamer.


I like to shake this stuff up before pouring in the liquids.


While I'm mixing the dry parts of this potion, I'm boiling some water in the microwave. Pour about a cup over the dry ingredients, and stir.



Like this!


Next, I add some ice and three secret ingredients that make this iced mocha The. Bomb.

The first ingredient will make any dairy farmer tickled pink!  Yep, I put REAL CREAM in my coffee, about a 1/4 of a cup for a drink this big.  It's MOOOOOrvalous!



Next, add some Skinny Syrup, English toffee flavor! YUM!  Seriously Peeps!  Use Amazon Prime and order what you want.  Why?  You will get what you want in just 2 days or less, AND more flavors are available online.  I've also found that grocery stores usually do not carry the brands I like in the flavors I like.  Again, gotta keep it easy-peasy!


And on those very cold or long or special mornings, I just might add a wee bit of Kahlua. Hey, it tastes better than the flavored syrup.  No judging!


Fill the cup up with ice, and maybe leave a little room to pour some of your hot water left over the ice to help along the melting process.  Ah..... Now I can sit back, drink my yummy iced mocha latte and watch the dark blobs out in our foggy pasture turn in to cows as they come closer to the fence.



There you have it!  Easy-peasy, and I'm pretty sure it comes out cheaper than a venti or grande at you-know-where!  Take this recipe below and turn it in to your favorite flavored iced coffee drink!


Homemade Iced Mocha Lattes 24 oz. glass/tumbler

Ingredients
  • 3 spoonfuls Instant coffee
  • 2 spoonfuls Sugar-free chocolate creamer
  • 2 spoonfuls Sugar-free Hazelnut creamer
  • 1-1 1/2 Cups boiling water
  • 1/4 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 oz. Sugar-free flavored coffee syrup
  • 1 oz. (more or less) Kahlua liquor
  • ice cubes
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix dry ingredients into the glass/tumble. Shake around or stir together so they are mixed.
  2. Add boiling water, and stir together until dry ingredients are dissolved. Add a few ice cubes.
  3. Add cream and flavored liquids, stir, and then fill glass/tumbler with ice. You might want to pour a bit of the hot water over the ice to start the melting process.  Enjoy! Substitute coffees, creamers, and liquids to suit your taste.
Printable recipe
                                                                    

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