Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

Creamy Chicken Sandwich

Creamy Chicken Sandwich

What you will need 

2- tablespoons of oil

2- tablespoons of butter

1- med onion finely chopped

2- cooked chicken breasts or the remains of chicken meat from a bird you have roasted

1 teaspoon of garlic

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 cup of water

Creamy Sauce 

whisk together

1 cup of sour cream

1 cup of whole milk

2 tablespoons of flour

1 tablespoon of sugar

Start with oil and butter in pan add onions and seasonings sweat out on med to low heat about 10 mins (if you have chicken grease from the bottom of the pan from roasting a chicken add some of that to the pan that’s the good stuff); add chopped chicken simmer add 1/2 cup of water simmer about 10 mins

Add creamy sauce mixture simmer till thick

Serve on your favorite bread, rice or mashed potatoes. I bet you could even serve it on noodles. 1B05DA49-7DC9-4C67-877D-FB593197F9DF

I brown the inside of my buns with butter, so good. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The problem with keeping ourselves in boxes

This Column was originally published in Agweek on October 26, 2019

This last year I began struggling with my identity. The idea that my identity needed to fit in just one box hindered my creativity.

As people, it is our natural way to be always wanting or striving to be able to place each other in boxes. We want to be part of boxes. We want to know how we relate to each other with our own commonalities. We think being put in a box will somehow make us feel like we belong somewhere thus supporting our identity.

Not fitting into a box, I began to feel lost. I began to question my “why.” I have never felt like I fit into just one box. I couldn’t understand my need to fit into just one box. I have always felt like I am stuck between two worlds. A world of being a farmer and a world of being a consumer.

I have felt stuck between living rural and seeing value in urban areas. I have felt stuck between conventional vs. organic. I felt lost asking myself, “what is the definition of a farmer?” What makes a farmer? Who can be a farmer? Who gives authority to the social license to farm?

One of the boxes I don’t feel like I belong in a good chunk of the time is agriculture.

At times I didn’t belong in the agriculture box because my husband was the farmer and I was just the farmer’s wife. I didn’t fit in the agriculture box because I didn’t grow up on a farm. I didn’t fit in agriculture because I didn’t dress like a man. I had too much of an opinion to fit in. I didn’t fit in agriculture because — fill in the blank, the list is endless.

There have been times I am left questioning myself. Why do I want to be in this box when I am always having to prove I belong?

The moment I realized I needed to stop putting myself in a box was in the hallway of Vivian’s dance class. As my 4-year-old put her ballet shoes on for dance class, I picked up her pink hooded sweatshirt. I wondered what was so heavy in it. So I searched her pockets to find a rusty bracket. I wondered, “what box would a ballet-loving girl who carries around farm supplies in her pockets fit in?”

When we put ourselves and others in boxes, we start drawing lines between each other. We stop listening to each other. We exclude each other. We don’t support each other.

We miss out on some amazing people and ideas because we box people out. We don’t allow ourselves to grow.

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Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Winter has arrived. It has arrived like a slap to the face. It has been about 10 degrees outside. Today was a good day to make soup. I love soup.

Ingredients you will need:

1 large onion

4-5 cloves of garlic

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of paprika

3 table spoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1-2 pounds of mushrooms

5 cups of chicken broth or 5 cups of water with 2 heaping tablespoons of chicken flavor base broth seasoning

1 1/2 cups of whole milk

4 tablespoons of flour

1/2 cup of sour cream

dash of salt

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Start by

sautéing onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoons of olive oil about 5 mins in a 8qt pot

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Seasoning (Salt, pepper and paprika) , onions & garlic 

Mushrooms

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Add mushrooms to pot stir add 1 tablespoons gently stir on low to med heat.

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Add 5 cups of chicken broth. If you do not have chicken broth on hand add 5 cups of water and 2 heaping tablespoons of chicken broth seasoning base. Bring to an almost boil.

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1 1/2 cups of milk and 4 tablespoons heaping of flour. Mix well without lumps.

Slowly stir into pot. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream. Stir. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Dash of Salt. Reduce heat simmer about 20 mins. Enjoy!

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Enjoy & stay warm!

 

 

 

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Farmers need to be part of the conversation on local foods

This column was originally published in Agweek July 21, 2019

 

I recently was invited to a meeting in town. A meeting that was focused on how to use local foods to better a downtown. How to use local foods to better a community. How to use local foods to create a better food experience. Questions were asked about how to use local foods to address food insecurities and food deserts.

As the meeting began, it was the normal run of the mill go around the room, introduce yourself, why you are there and what local foods mean to you. There were about 50 people in the room.

As attendees went around the room, I listened. I listened to the words they used to describe food, but I listened more to how they introduced themselves. Only about 3, including myself introduce themselves as a farmer or employee of a farm.

Only three. Three.

As I sat there wondering why is that? I looked around the room and paid attention to what organizations were represented. Who in my community are talking about food? I paid attention to what organizations are wanting to take action surrounding food. I kept asking myself, “Why are only 3 farmers here talking about food? Why are only three people introducing themselves first as a farmer? Why?”

The people who are growing, raising and producing the food we eat were not there to listen to what their OWN communities are needing and wanting. Why is that?

In agriculture, we talk about bridging the gap between urban and rural. But I wonder how well of a job are we doing that. As attendees went around the room, I listened very closely to the words they used to describe what local meant to them. Some of the words they used were; healthier, better for us, taste better, fresh, good. I was the only one who mentioned the farmer first.

As a farmer of course my main focus is farmers, but I also listened to the other side. I listened to how foods are viewed in my community. I listened to how urban residents thought foods can be used to better our communities. I believe farmers need to listen more to the other side instead of being defensive or having the mentality “I’m the farmer so you need to listen to me.”

We need to listen more but how are we listening when we are not at the table. We need to listen more to the conversations that are surrounding food in our own communities.

Food is a personal thing. Food is personal to me and my family not just because I am a farmer but because food brings us together. In my household we use the same words urban residents use when we talk about food; better for us, taste good, fresh, healthy.

We may think rural and urban are very different when it comes to talking about food, but we are very similar, we each know what we like and need. They only difference between the two is I am a farmer.

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Gardening stirs thoughts about the food web

This column was originally published in Agweek June 8, 2019

 

The kids and I spent a day planting the garden with two dear friends of ours.

Throughout the day, Vivian played “green house lady” going in and out of the green house telling us all about the plants. Everett found toads, worms and everything in between.

As we planted and worked together, our conversations went from where to plant, to how well the plants looked, to looking forward to fresh cucumbers out of the garden.

As we planted throughout the day, my thoughts went to food and how we are all connected around food. What does that look like? Thoughts to canning and freezing later in the summer. When will the strawberry patches be open? I thought of how spending time in a garden teaches my children about food. The simple act of placing a plant and seed in the ground will have a significant impact on their lives around food.

I thought about last summer when Everett and I were on a food panel at the Minnesota State Fair talking about food and farming. One of the questions that has crossed my mind so many times since then was when a lady asked me what I thought about Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. A simple question. I think CSA’s are important and play a vital role in our food. I have talked with my kids about in-season foods. My kids understand tomatoes do not grow year round in Minnesota.

CSA food boxes, I think, bring the conversation and the realizations of what foods are in season. They also make a person use foods that they might not normally purchase. They make people look up different recipes of how to prepare. They make people cook. CSA’s have a very important role.

I also added how a tomato out of my garden or at the local farmers market tastes so good compared to the one in the store. With that being said, when I want a tomato in January I need the grocery store to bring in tomatoes from where they are grown out of state. That is the reason why in Minnesota we are a high meat and potatoes cuisine because that is what we had all winter 50 years ago. The “privilege” of having every kind of food at our fingertips wasn’t always there.

As the sun began to set on the garden, I went to take a picture of one of the newly planted pepper plants. As I snapped the picture, a tractor and wagon drove past. A tractor on a mission to fill with haylage to take back to their farm for food for their dairy cows. Those dairy cows produce milk. Milk for all of us to enjoy. Milk to provide for their families.

In the distance we could hear the hum of the chopper and the rumble of the haylage wagons coming up the gravel road. The song of a dairy farmer echoed through the air as we placed some of our seeds of lettuce, radishes, peas and beans in the ground.

We are all connected by food.

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Pesole Soup~ I liked it but everyone else didn’t

Fall is a time for soup. Great soups and maybe some mediocre soups. Dumpling soups. Noodle soups. Bean soups. And everything in the pot soups. Here is my take on Pesole. Everett didn’t like the white things. Nate didn’t like the jalapeño in the soup. Vivian just didn’t like it.

But I did. I liked it. I had two bowls for supper.

Things you will start with:

1-onion Diced (or in my case I had tiny onions from the garden, so it was about 4 mini onions)

1-green pepper cored and diced (also I used about 3 small to make one big pepper)

1-small jalapeño seeds removed and diced (this is what I used one small jalapeño)

2- average sized carrots diced

 

In a large pot add 2 tablespoons of butter and about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add Vegetables and Seasoning

Seasoning:

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Garlic

1 teaspoon of coriander

1 teaspoon of Tajn Classico (you could use chili powder more or less depending on you heat level of likeness)

Simmer till vegetables are tender

Add 2-3 quarts of chicken broth (I make broth with chicken bones when I make a chicken and freeze for a later date. This was a later date and I made soup. Store bought is just fine. Sometimes I will add water to my chicken broth depending on our brothy I would like my soup. If you add to much water just simmer longer.)

Add cooked chicken. (It could be from a can, left over from the night before, cooked just for this. Add how much you would like depending how much chicken to vegetable ratio you would like. When you make homemade chicken broth there is still a lot of meat still on the bones. This is what I used.)

Add can of Hominy-drain about half of the liquid out of can and add to pot)- (You can find this is the Mexican aisle at the grocery store it almost looks like popcorn in a can) This was the stuff Everett didn’t like.

Simmer till all the goodness in the pot melds their flavors together.

Serve topped with fresh cilantro and/or Queso Fresco and lime juice.

Enjoy!

Pesole

 

 

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Graduation dreams aren’t always what they seem to be

This column was originally published in Agweek May 25, 2019

 

The number question I am always asked is, “Did you grow up on a farm?” No, I did not grow up on a farm, but I did work on my uncle’s farm when I was in high school and my first year in college.

Growing up on a farm and working on a farm are two completely different things. I grew up on a lake. My main goal for summer during my formative years was to see how dark my tan could get. A farmer’s tan was considered a sin to me.

The second question I get asked often is, “Did you always want to be in agriculture?” The short answer is “No.”

When spring comes and I have a lot of tractor time during spring planting, my mind wanders to my own high school graduation and what my hopes, dreams and goals were at that time for me. I silently laugh to myself when high school grads are always asked, “So what are your plans for your future?”

Married to a dairy farmer, working alongside him every day with two kids in tow was not my 18-year-old self dream. Not even close. It is a life I didn’t dream of but is truly a gift.

When I graduated high school, my dream was to become an actress. Yes, that was my dream. I kept it to myself and joked out loud about it.

I loved everything and all of theater. At my high school graduation party, I needed to say something when I was asked “So what are your plans?” I replied I’m going to be a nurse.

At the time, it made sense. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer the winter of my senior year. It made sense socially for me to say I was going to be a nurse.

It was not socially acceptable to say I was going to become an actress. I could not have said that in rural central Minnesota.

Life happened. I didn’t finish college, but I always made sure my electives were in theater. I loved those classes. For final exams, I was the second one in the auditorium class because I loved it. I wanted to learn everything I could possibly want about it.

A couple weekends ago, I was discussing with one of my cousins how and where I am in life. I met Nate, fell in love and we began planning our life together and what that would look like. Moving was not an option and by that time my dream was just that a dream. I truly wanted to stay in central Minnesota.

My cousin and I discussed how in the late ’90s, there was no way I could have said to the world, “I want to become an actress!” Even in my family’s eyes I am a bit overdramatic, eccentric, talk too much and it would have been ridiculous to dream that.

Instead of looking at how my high school self dream that didn’t come true, I look at how my life has come full circle and continues to grow. I look at how I can enjoy both rural and urban. I am a high school speech judge, a high school costume director, I create content on Raising a Farmer, I create videos, I write. I am able to be creative in rural Minnesota. I am able to collaborate outside of agriculture.

All of that is possible because I listen to my inner self dream.

 

 

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To turn the Furnace on or not to the furnace on

The question every Minnesotan asks themselves in the fall, To turn the furnae on or not to turn the furnace on.  “When do we turn on the furnace?” Our house is always on the cooler side not because we have an older farm house but I like things cooler. Nathan does not like things cooler, one of the many “discussions” we have in our household. Its too cold. Its too hot. I would rather wear socks and a sweatshirt then turn the furnace on. Usually in the fall it becomes cool at night but warm enough during the day to warm the house up again. There is a saying in Minnesota about how you can just turn the oven on or start baking. Doing this will warm up the house enough to just take the chill out. Yes, “Just take the chill out.” is a real thing and everyone in Minnesota knows what that means. It does work. I have been baking a lot of squash and eggplant the last couple of days. As a child I remember in the fall my mom would turn the oven on and open the oven door a crack while we ate breakfast and waited for the bus. Yes, I did that this morning, I turned the oven on to take the chill out of the kitchen.

 

This last week it has been rainy, wet and cold and chilly. I keep thinking it will warm up again so we won’t have to turn the furnace on. I have this irrational theory of when we turn the furnace on we will have the furnace on until spring. We will never turn it off. I call this theory irrational because I have no problem turning the air conditioner on in the late spring months to take the stuffiness out of the air. Waiting out the cold I do the same thing with winter clothes and bibs. I refuse to put them on until I absolutely can’t take the cold anymore. Because again I know they will always be put on until spring once you put them on.

 

This evening I decided it was time to turn the furnace on. I had made soup all day, baked squash and eggplant in the oven. The chill never left the house. I even had wool socks on. I finally caved. It was time to turn the furnace on. When I mentioned to Nate that I think I was ready to turn the furnace on. He blankly looked at me. I again said if he could go and check on it to turn it on. He replied, “It’s on. I have been turning the furnace on when you are not here and turning it off when you are here.”

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Vivan helping bake Squash

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Agri/Culture~ Ep 2 Burnout

Heidi Jeub and I share how August had us in burnout mode or complete purpose meltdown.

We share how burnout can have many different meanings and how we each approach them differently but also very similar.

And we have agreed we need to self-preserve ourselves or just eat the burnt tomato sauce and we don’t want to sell vacuum cleaners.

Let us know what you think burnout is?

 

http://raisingafarmer.libsyn.com/agricultureburn-out-what-is-that-ep2

 

You can also find Heidi at

http://www.heidijeub.com

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Blank words: Stream of consciousness overcomes writer’s block

This column was originally published in Agweek September 21, 2019

I am struggling to put words on my blank computer screen. I have about three different documents open with random thoughts put down. I am starting and then deleting and starting again and then again. There are so many words in my heart. I am struggling to put them in sentences to make sense or have a direction.

I am looking through pictures on my phone and then on my computer to find a glimpse of inspiration for words to form. Pictures of Everett and Vivian, Hans, sunrises and sunsets. Pictures of Everett with his chickens. Pictures from our county fair. Pictures of art and agriculture together, a project my artist friend Heidi and I worked on together and will continue to work on for our county.

The picture of the kids and me with my birthday cake right before I blew out my candles making a wish. I pause at this picture. I smile as I look at my phone screen because Nate and the kids made the cake two weeks after my actual birthday. Everett and Vivian greeted me at the door after I came home from a religious ed meeting excited they had finally made a cake for me.

The background noise of me sitting at my kitchen counter now is Vivian singing songs as she plays with her Barbies and some of Everett’s Battle Bots. My mind goes from “Where did she learn that song, it is kinda catchy, to you need to write, to thoughts about the conversation Nate and I had earlier this morning and so many times before — What are we going to do, will this ever turn around, what are we going to do?” The consolation of knowing we are not alone in struggling with agriculture is no longer helpful.

I have stood up, closed my eyes, hoping to clear my head. I have reached for the ceiling with my hands. I bend over to touch my toes. At this moment Vivian sees me from the spot where she is playing on the dining room floor, jumps up and explains happily “Let’s do yoga!” She reaches for the ceiling like I am, and she asks, “Like this?”

I sit back down at my computer. My eyes wander around my kitchen from where I sit. I wonder if I should put away the water bath canner that has called the stove home since the end of July. I feel like I am done canning tomatoes, but I know there will be more to can. I have jars of tomato soup and spaghetti sauce on the counter because they do not fit in the pantry. I need to find a place for them off my counter.

Vivian is now sitting next to me. She sings, hums and talks to herself. She has wrapped a small toy in a wet wipe. She asks herself, “What is this?” as she unwraps her self-made package. She continues to say “I see something colorful…” She explains happily “It’s Flips!”

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