Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

What does Advent mean to me

As I share this with you I type with one hand. Vivian is snuggling with me in the chair as I wrap my other arm around her. The earth is white. The sky begins to glow a light blue as rain and snow falls from the sky. This afternoon I will gather with family to celebrate Christmas. Five years ago I sat in this same chair snuggling my newborn. Listening to every breathe she took. Every noise she created. Our heartbeats were one. Every breathe I took, I could smell her newness. Now as I sit with her, I can smell traces of Play dough on her hands.

We didn’t celebrate Christmas the year Vivian was born with gatherings and celebrations. We didn’t even make it to church that year. We celebrated quietly in our home. Thankful we were a family of four.

Below are the links for my  two part meaning of Advent for Catholic Rural Life 

The Meaning of Advent (Part 1)

The Meaning of Advent (Part 2)

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Vivian in December 2014 in my arms 

 

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Holiday Baking Videos

My favorite cooking video.

Vivian with the flour.

She was so tiny.

Everett had short hair.

I wish I could report Vivian stays off the counter.

 

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Popcorn Stuffing

We tried a new recipe.

At first I thought it was a joke recipe I found in one of my mom’s old cookbooks. My uncle thought it could most defiantly work.

So we had to try to see if it would work to stuff a bird with popcorn and see if it would pop.

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Pumpkin Roll

My favorite Thanksgiving dessert is a pumpkin roll.

A couple years ago the kids and I shared how to make one.

I would be kicked off of Holiday Baking Championship. Flavor would have to carry me through.

As I watch this I see how I let my kids cook with me. We taste, we make a mess and we smile. This isn’t staged or pretend. This is how I am with my kids. I am not perfect. When I watch this I think of my first  year in college when I stayed with my aunt and uncle. My aunt made a pumpkin roll about every week that fall until she had it perfected.

I watch this, I see Vivian’s bangs or there lack of is a better description. She had cut them so short she didn’t need a bang trip until June. I watch this and I see the same mannerisms Everett has today as he did then two years ago.

I watch this and I am reminded how much I enjoy my time with my kids in the kitchen.

Happy baking!

 

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Chicken Dumpling Soup

Chicken Dumpling Soup

In a big pot Start with:

14 cups of water

1 teaspoon of celery seed

1 teaspoon of garlic

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of salt

4-5 bay leaves

add left over chicken from a roasted chicken, I added a chicken leg and thigh, a wing and part of a breast.

Simmer for about 40 mins on med- low, strain bones out add meat back into pot with broth add 6 cups of water2C61DDF5-561F-48E9-9AD9-27B5D520CA4B

In a pan sauté with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 large onion and many carrots chopped. (I like a lot of carrots in my soup add how ever many you prefer) add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic 2 teaspoons dried parsley, 1 tablespoon of chicken broth base: saute till tender add to pot: simmer again for about 40 mins- good soup takes time. 0dc120bf-6a0c-4d79-a2ae-20b949fd798f.jpeg

Veggies Sautéing with the Crown in the background.

Bring to a boil add noodles or dumplings. Today I felt like dumplings.

Dumplings

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of flour

Mix together.

2F0821C4-AF5A-4CCF-8223-567EB1E4DDA1Drop by the fork into boiling soup. Dumplings will float to the top when done.

Bring to a simmer for all the goodness to collide together!

Enjoy!

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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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