Archive for Farming

Apples

Last weekend was my birthday and as usual I got treated with apple dumplings. Despite all the nutritious value found in apples that my Grandmother describes below, those dumplings should probably not be enjoyed more than once a year, though they are quite delicious.

October 1982

As my farmer and I sat on the porch this morning eating our breakfast between the dark of the night and the light of the day there was an unmistakable feeling of fall in the crisp air.

The rising wind sighed through the windbreak and rustled the leaves of the little spring- planted cottonwood tree into an early morning song. Gleaming dull gold, the milo field stretched to the south while across the road George Miller’s cattle grazed in the tall Sedan grass, silhouetted in the misty haze.

Four young robins winged in from the vegetable garden and settled in the driveway to busily run about in search of grain, looking for all the world like plump Dutch matrons hustling about their morning chores.

Out west the last of the apples hung high on the tree where they had escaped all my efforts to reach them with a ladder and a grappling hook. The sparrows and the blackbirds are pecking away at them for an early snack.

The apple tree is old and broken and each year we say, “This crop will surely be the swan song for that tree.” It was planted soon after our marriage and for over 35 years has kept the family supplied with apple pies and cobblers, apple crisp and apple sauce, as well as apple dumplings.

The children used to eat so many green apples I just knew they would have a stomach ache, but they never did. This year two small grandchildren took up the green apple eating tradition with no ill effects.

Each April the old tree blossoms into a beautiful halo of flowers and sets on a crop of apples that grow plump and red by August. Then, we begin making applesauce for the freezer.

My farmer and I spend many companionable evenings removing the worms and bad spots from the raw apples, cooking them and pushing them through a colander before sacking the sauce in plastic bags for freezer or, if it is full, canning them.

Applesauce sprinkled with black walnuts or pecans, with light cream poured over the top is a delightful winter dessert after a heavy dinner.

Sliced raw apples freeze well and can be used in any recipe the same as fresh ones. Incidentally a food processor makes fast work of slicing them.

The good news about apples is that nutritionists are rediscovering what your grandmother knew – apples are not only good, they’re also good for you.

Apples are high in fiber. Fiber is the name for a quite a few indigestible substances namely cellulose, lignin, pectin, hemicellulose, and gum. Apples contain lots of pectin.

Quite a few authorities think fiber reduces the incidence of some types of cancer. It is also suggested that fiber may help to protect people from heart disease by its effect on cholesterol- lowering effect on the body.

While this research on heart disease, cancer, and diet is still in the beginning stages and not conclusively proven it looks as if you can enjoy apples with a clear conscience. These recipes make the most of the apple’s juicy, tart flavor.

Cheese Crumble Apple Pie

Topping:

½ cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

5 tablespoons butter

Filling:

5 cups apples, sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese

4 teaspoons flour

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Make one 9-inch pie crust with a high rim using your favorite recipe. For the topping combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry blender. Set aside.

For filling, toss together apples and lemon juice. Mix cheese, flour and nutmeg; toss with apples. Arrange this fruit mixture in the crust. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 375° for 40 to 50 minutes.

Serves 6-8.

 

Apple Dumplings

1 ½ cups white flour

1 cup lard

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour

1/3 to ½ cup cold water

½ teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in lard with pastry blender until size of peas. Add the smallest amount of water in driblets that you can and still have the dough stick together. Roll out ¼ inch. Cut into 6 or 7 squares. Set aside.

Core and partially peel 6 apples of a large and juicy variety. Then prepare this syrup:

Syrup:

1 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup brown sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Boil for 3 minutes. Place apples on each pastry square. Fill cavities of apple with mixture of:

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Bring opposite points of pastry up over the apple. Overlap, moisten and seal. Place separately in shallow baking dish. Pour hot syrup around dumplings.

Bake at once at 425° for 40 to 45 minutes until brown and apple is tender. Serve warm with the syrup and Half and Half.

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Fall in Kansas

Fall is a wonderful colorful season. Below is a beautiful description of fall in Kansas.

 

October 1979

 

A Report on Fall

 

In the southwest sky the sun glows red and the drowsy air is satiated with the incessant chorus of the locust. The fields of milo are sculpted in bronze and copper heads reaching in stately ranks toward the blue arc of the heavens. Nearby, the soft violet of an alfalfa plot is slashed to pale green by each round of the swather.

 

Out by a weatherbeaten shed an ancient apple tree is weighed down with a crop of Red Delicious. The apples that were wormy, bird pecked, half rotted, or windfalls are all made into applesauce and resting safely in the freezer.

 

Pheasants with their half grown young run across the road to a brushy shelter to escape the wheels of a passing car. Knowing at first hand what man and a gun can do to their delicate bodies, doves are wary of all movement.

 

Sunflowers bloom extravagantly in any available spot. Where the soil is moist, smartweed grows luxuriantly, putting out great feathery clusters of dainty pale lavender plumes. The goldenrod is thick along the roads wherever it has escaped man’s effort to tidy up the countryside with a mower.

 

Toward dusk a moth hovers over the petunia bed sticking its long proboscis into each bloom and sucking out the nectar. A few bees are flying about gathering honey. The usual brisk Kansas wind is a gentle zephyr as it blows over the ripening land.

 

Overhead, momentarily, is the roar of an airplane and in the distance is the continual drone of tractors. The wheat fields are worked and fertilized awaiting the magical moment when each farmer knows in his bones that it is time to plant. The black walnuts are hanging thick on the trees along Emma Creek with the early drop offs being carried down stream by the current or laying water soaked in a quiet inlet.

 

In the garden the last planting of sweet corn is finished. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers can still be found, but the vines are shop worn and seedy looking. Tomato plants have escaped their trellis and wire cages and sprawling every which way, but with fruit still ripening in abundance.

 

The fall planting of green beans is ready to be picked. The radishes planted in August have been pulled and September planting is coming in. The turnips and beets have grown good globes, one white and one red according to the imprinted message of their seeds.

 

Queen of the late garden is the okra – a plant growing over five feet tall that can – oh, blessed thought – be picked with the pickee in an upright position. It has an olive green five pointed leaf growing from a main stalk that is about one or two inches thick. This soft green stem is streaked and splotched with dark red coloring. The flower is conical shaped before opening to five creamy yellow petals with a maroon base. Inside is a stamen ending in a blood red bulb divided into seven small velvety cushions. Okra is prolific. A small patch will produce enough pods each day for a large family. It is almost a miracle – the more you gather the more there is the next day.

 

In sorting out the images of fall I find the one sure portent is the daily passing of the school buses as they rumble by picking up and delivering children, that most precious asset of any farm, to school and bringing them back home in the late afternoon.

 

Bread and Butter Pickles

 

12 medium cucumbers

3 teaspoons celery seed

8 onions

¼ cup white mustard seed

4 green peppers

1 ½ teaspoons turmeric

1 medium cauliflower

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

¾ cup cooking salt

1 teaspoon ginger powder

6 ½ quarts water

 

Sauce:

7 cups sugar

¼ teaspoon mace

6 cups vinegar

Few dashes red pepper

 

Slice pickles, onions, peppers, cauliflower and soak in salt water over night. Boil syrup with ½ quart of water. Boil three minutes. Add vegetables and boil 20 minutes or until clear. Seal.

 

Apple Cake

 

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon soda

¼ cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

5 large apples, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup white flour

½ cup raisins or nuts

 

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and apples. Sift dry ingredients. Add to first mixture. Add raisins or nuts. Pour into greased 8 x 8 inch pan. Bake at 350° F for 35 minutes. Allow cake to cool.

 

Sauce

 

½ cup water

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

½ teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons sugar

 

Put first 4 ingredients in a pan. Cook until thick. Add vanilla. Spread over top of cake. Serve warm or cold

 

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Garden Vegetables

Summer is winding down and the garden is flourishing. Here are some recipes for those garden vegetables.

August 1979

After all the long, hot days of harvest, haying, and truck driving it is exhausting to even think about continuing to cook 3 good meals a day for the rest of summer. Then, just when you feel you are too tired to hustle one more time, the garden goes into high gear and turns out bushels of produce. So it is time to rev up your failing motor and push through the picking, preparing, freezing, and canning chores.

While the garden bonanza is flourishing, let’s review the best method of cooking vegetables for the table. A good principle to remember is the fresher the food the better it tastes. If it is not to be eaten raw, cook it quickly in a small amount water to conserve the nutrients. Here are some recipes that will dress up your own garden vegetables for a little variety.

 

Sweet and Sour Swiss Chard

6 Cups torn or cut raw Swiss chard or spinach

3 slices bacon

½ cup sliced green onions

4 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons flour

1/3 cup water

¼ cup vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

Place chard in large salad bowl. Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, keeping ¼ cup bacon fat. Crumble bacon. Cook onion in the ¼ cup bacon fat. Blend in sugar, flour and salt. Pour over chard, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with bacon. Serve at once.

Makes 6 servings. 45 calories each.

 

Zucchini Casserole

3 medium zucchini

1 cup rice

¾ pound cheese

1 can mushroom soup

½ cup milk

3 slices bacon, cut in inch squares

Combines soup and milk. Layer zucchini, rice, and cheese in 8” x 13” casserole. Pour soup over. Place bacon on top. Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes.

Serves 8 or 10

 

Skinny Carrots

6 medium-size carrots, grated (3 cups)

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. butter flavored salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 tsp. Butter

Measure carrots, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper into lightly greased one-quart baking dish. Mix well. Dot with butter. Cook covered in 350° F oven for 25 minutes or until carrots are cooked as desired.

6 servings. 30 calories each.

 

 

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National Dairy Month

This article from June 1982 celebrates National Dairy month. Enjoy a glass of milk while you read about the work that goes into getting it there. There is also an added recipe at the end that goes nicely with milk.

 

June 1982

June is Dairy Month. We are so accustomed to seeing the dairy case filled with reasonably priced milk that most of us take it for granted. Few people realize that behind the scenes is a complicated set of marketing problems that must be solved in order to provide consumers with an adequate supply of fresh dairy products.

Since the demand for milk varies from season to season it appears on the surface it would be simple to produce milk only when it is needed. It isn’t.

Unfortunately, dairy cows are temperamental creatures who hate cold, wet weather and love warm, sunny days. They like to freshen in the spring, feast on lush green pastures, lie in the shade and give torrents of milk just when school is out and the lemonade and soft drink season hits the whole country. Result: less demand for milk at the time more milk is being produced.

This situation has long been a problem of the dairy Co-ops who constantly work to even out the yearly supply of milk and, at the same time, have the dairy cases full when the consumer is ready to drink more milk.

Behind every tanker truck of milk you pass on the highway are several dairy families who get up early 365 days a year, slosh out to the barn in the rain or snow or early sun to get in the cows, wash the udder, and start the milking machines. Since no one has bred a profitable one- time- a- day milking cow the whole process of preparation, feeding, milking and clean- up is repeated again in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter if it’s graduation day, a wedding in the family, or Christmas. To the cows each day is the same.

Family vacations are a problem since cows definitely prefer milkers to whom they are accustomed. Often the family takes no vacation or arranges for some member to stay behind and milk, which partially spoils the fun for the ones vacationing.

When you buy a gallon of clean, health- giving milk say a silent word of thanks to the people who have chosen dairying as a way of life. They’ll keep right on making personal sacrifices in order to keep the barn conditions serene and the milking schedule regular for that most temperamental of all prima donnas – the dairy cows.

Beef/Corn Bread Casserole
Casserole: 8 ounces lean ground beef 2/3 cup chopped onions
¼ cup sliced pitted ripe olives ¼ cup catsup
1 teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow corn meal 2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk ¼ cup ( ½ stick) butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beated 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (3 to 4 ears) OR 1 can (12 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
8 slices (8 oz.) Monterey Jack cheese
Sauce: 1 can (16 oz.) tomatoes, undrained 2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup chopped celery ¼ cup chopped green pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
For casserole, cook meat and onion in skillet until meat is browned and crumbly; drain off excess fat. Stir in olives, catsup and seasonings. Cook and stir 2 minutes; set aside. Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl. Add milk, butter, and egg. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened. Stir in corn until combined. Place half of the meat mixture over batter. Place 5 slices of cheese over meat. Cover with remaining batter and meat mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Cut remaining cheese slices into 2 triangles each. Place cheese over meat. Return to oven just until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, for sauce, combine all ingredients in medium-sized saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf. To serve, cut corn bread mixture in squares; spoon sauce over each serving.

 

Serve with a green salad, milk and ice cream for dessert.

The bland coolness of dairy products will cool the palate after a zesty main dish.

 

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