Tuesday, April 29, 2014

And the Winner is.........

My first winner did not get back with me, so I am drawing again......

This time Angie Frost is my winner!  Woo!  Stay tuned Angie, and your book will arrive very soon!

I am trying to get my blog posts lined up and ready for you all.  I am working on a series of posts about the newest addition to our house!  I also want to chat with you about some important health issues I've been dealing with.  They are not serious or even life-threatening, but the whole deal is a royal pain in the backside.

I'm also hoping that Mother Nature finally cuts this area some slack and allows us back in the field to plant our corn and soybeans!  As of tonight, we have just 150 acres planted, and those acres include our silage and sweet corn.

Please keep those folks living in Tornado Alley in your hearts and prayers. I'm waiting to hear back from
Ashley from Deep South Kikos News.  This lovely family with their goats, beautiful dogs, horses, and icky, humonsterous rattlesnakes hale from Brooklyn, Mississippi. That puts them pretty darned far south but still in the line of fire for those bad storms!

Stay tuned for more fun coming your way, and I love hearing/reading your comments.  Keep them coming!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Watch Out Annie Oakley!

It was actually my idea.  Nice way to start a story, huh?  Well it was; I wanted the girls to learn how to shoot a gun.  It's an important skill to have out here in the country, and I want them to know the right way to handle a gun.  I was brought up learning about guns and how to shoot.  I can still pick off a ground squirrel in one shot.  Those critters are pesky little chewers, and they like to chew around the house.  Another reason I want the girls to be able to handle a gun is the alarmingly increasing number of coyotes here.  There are holes along our road where the coyotes have been doing their own best to catch ground squirrels.  In a pack, they could take down a calf, and they are not afraid of humans.  One was not 50 yards from the girls and I one day when we were out in the field picking up rocks.

So while I was in Washington D.C., Tall Guy took the girls to lessons to help with their 4-H project of shooting sports.  Both did very well in the classes, and the first warm day we had, they wanted to show me what they could do.

Now, here's a story..... Tall Guy brought out an old BB gun for them to use.  I wanted to shoot too, so when I took aim with it, I was in for a big surprise.  The barrel was bent!  TG told me the story that started "back in the day......

when there were dairy cows on this farm, there were also beef cattle here and a bull or two.  One day one of the bulls got out, and it was up to TG and Grandpa to get him back in....  If you don't know much about cows, remember this: One does not get near a bull!  They are big and cantankerous!  In their attempt to coax the bull back in the pen, they tried to "nudge him" with the BB gun.  Well he didn't like that much and apparently he charged. The barrel was bent because it was the only line of defense between man and bull. Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention and preservation!

The girls had a lot of fun hitting cans on and off the box.

After the long cold winter here, it was nice to sit out in the sun.  Tink was content just to hang with her four-legged peeps.

 It is our hope that the girls will continue to practice their shooting skills and learn about the safety and responsibility that goes with handling a gun.  Several girls around here hunt wild turkey, rabbits, and deer with their dads.

Don't forget to read my three recipe posts from Gooseberry Patch's new cookbook, Good for You.  Leave a comment and be eligible to win a copy of this book for your kitchen.  Click here, here, and here.  I will draw a name tomorrow around 5:00.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Gooseberry Patch "Good for You Cookbook" Giveaway Part 3: Spectacular Roast Chicken & Veggies

When your name starts with "Spectacular," there are some expectations you should live up to, and this recipe from Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Good for You succeeds!

Tall Guy LOVED this mix of chicken and veggies, and we both discovered our love of roasted potatoes. We have had several servings of them since I made this meal!

The hardest , time-consuming part of the dish is cutting up all the veggies and chicken!

Lisa Engwell from Bellevue, Nebraska, your recipe is now on my family's list of Favorite Supper Choices!

Here is how you can make it yourself:

2         sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
4         redskin potatoes, coarsely chopped
4         plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
1         green pepper, coarsely chopped (I had a red pepper on hand,
           so I used it,)
1/4 C. olive oil
4 t.      seasoned salt
2 t.      garlic pepper seasoning
2 t.      dried basil
3 1/2 lbs.  chicken, cut up

Combine vegetables in a bowl and set aside. Mix olive oil and seasonings in a small bowl; drizzle half of the mixture over vegetables and toss to coat well.  Spread vegetables on a lightly oiled 15"x10" jelly roll pan. Arrange chicken on top of vegetables ; brush with remaining olive oil mixture.  Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until vegetables are tender and chicken is crisp, golden, and juices run clear.
Makes 6 servings.

If this recipe sounds as heavenly to you as it did to me, please leave a comment so I can put your name in the drawing for a free copy of Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Good for You.  You can also comment on the previous recipes posted earlier this week. Part 1:  3 Yummy Dips  Part 2:  Heart Breakfast Quinoa. If I have the time, I may post one more recipe!  Stay tuned!

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gooseberry Patch Cookbook "Good for You" Giveaway Part 2: Hearty Breakfast Quinoa

In my quest to eat  healthier meals (and rid my pantry of things gone unused in 2013!), I spied this breakfast recipe that used Quinoa in Gooseberry Patch's cookbook, Good for You.  I knew it was good for me, and I had picked up a box last fall with good intentions, but there it was, still lonely and unopened on my pantry shelf.  

I also have, stashed away in my fruits and vegetables freezer, several gallon freezer bags of blueberries!

I am actually keeping extra berries on hand for my dad. He usually eats up all of his surplus way before these luscious berries are ripe, so I keep some back to get him through May and June.  That's just between you and me!

This recipe was super easy to make, and I had enough Quinoa to make three breakfast meals!  LOVE that!

Here, from Highland, Utah, is Jill Ball's recipe, found on page 13 of the Good for You cookbook.

Hearty Breakfast Quinoa

1  C.  non-fat milk               2     C. blueberries or raspberries, fresh or thawed
1  C.  water                          1/3  C.  chopped, toasted walnuts
1/4 t. salt                              3     t.   sweetened, flaked coconut
1  C. quinoa, uncooked    1     T.  sugar
1  t.   cinnamon

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together milk, water, salt, and quinoa.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low; cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes.  Gently stir in cinnamon and berries.  Just before serving, top with walnuts and coconut; sprinkle with sugar.  Makes 4 servings.

I followed this recipe right up to the walnuts and coconut.  I'm not a huge fan, but I'm sure you who like these ingredients will add them with a smile.

Don't forget to leave a comment about this blog post and Part 1's Dips so you will be entered in my giveaway at the end of the week.  One of you lucky readers will have your very own copy of Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Good for You
to explore and love.

Next on the menu is Spectacular Chicken and Roasted Vegetables.........This recipe earned 5 stars from all who sit around my supper table!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Gooseberry Cookbook "Good for You" Giveaway Part 1 Healthy, Yummy Dips

Well,  How is everyone after the big Easter weekend?  Here, we are all trying to find ways to work off our Easter meal.  For the first time in a LONG time, I am seeing a calendar without any big deadlines looming, and that takes a world of weight off my shoulders!

Now I have time to share some great recipes from my friends at Gooseberry Patch.  Reviews on the recipes from Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Good for You have received 4 and 5 stars from the family.  I think it is soooo important to find healthy recipes that taste like you are cheating and eating on the DO NOT EAT list!  At the end of the week, I will choose a name from all comments left on the posts, and that person will receive his/her very own copy of this cookbook! .

Yesterday was Easter here, and I wanted to have some snacks out for everyone to nibble on while we waited for dinner time.  The bonus is these recipes are so delicious that no one realized they were also healthy!

First up, Dip #1 is "Avocado Feta Dip"
By Anne Alesauskas from Minocqua,, Wisconsin

2      avocados, halved, pitted,      1   green onion, thinly sliced
        and diced                                    1T lemon juice
1 C. crumbled feta cheese              2 t. dill weed
1      red pepper, diced                     salt/pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl; mix until smooth.
Makes 12 servings or 3 cups of dip
* This one might have won my taste testing contest.  I made a few changes by leaving out the dill weed and adding green tabasco sauce for a little kick.

Dip #2 is "Creamy Spinach Dip"
by  Karen Augustsson from Frederick, Maryland

1 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped            1/4 C. light sour cream
             spinach, cooked                        1/4 C. roasted sunflower
1/4 C.   finely shredded Parmesan                    seed kernels
             cheese                                          1/4 t.  garlic powder
1/4 C.   ricotta cheese                            salt to taste

I served all the dips with a bag of Tostito Scoops.  They were a big hit all the way around!  I had people who swore they could not eat avocados loving Dip #1, and the same thing with garbanzo beans in Dip # 3 and spinach in Dip #3!

Last is Dip #3 "Chickpea and Red Pepper Dip"
by Paulette Alexander from St. George's, Newfoundland

1 19 oz. can garbanzo beans,           1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
                    drained and rinsed           1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 12 oz. jar  roasted red peppers,    1/4 t. salt
                    drained and sliced             1/4 t. pepper
1/2 C.          sour cream

Put all these ingredients in a food processor/blender.  Process until smooth; transfer into a serving dish.
Makes 8 servings or 2 cups of dip. * I added some green tabasco sauce to this dip to give it a bit of a kick since I did not have any red pepper flakes.

I served all the dips with a bag of Tostito Scoops.  They were a big hit all the way around!  I had people who swore they could not eat avocados loving Dip #1, and the same thing with garbanzo beans in Dip # 3 and spinach in Dip #2!

Don't forget to leave a comment here on this post and future posts this week to be eligible for the giveaway of Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Good for You at the end of the week .  Next up: Hearty Breakfast Quinoa

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Three Gadgets Saved My Vacation Happiness

New gadgets ROCK!  My friend Kyle at Verizon  recently sent me a fun box of toys to play with over spring break.

The first fun item was a MotorolaSonic Rider.  It’s a Bluetooth in-car speakerphone that allows you to talk hands free on your phone while driving AND listen to music!  That last part caught my attention because Tall Guy will NOT spring for Sirius or XM music in the van L  With this handy little gadget, I could connect my phone to it via Bluetooth and listen to music from Pandora.  Oh.Be.Still.My.Heart! We always drive south to Florida, and one (of my many) pet peeves is listening to a radio station as it starts to go out of range. I STRONGLY DISLIKE scratchy noises!  Then there is the added aggravation of trying to find another station that plays the music we want to listen to.  Usually we go country, but with my new hook up to Pandora, TG was rocking out to Def Leppard as we cruised over the Smokey Mountains!  BTW, the girls didn’t quite know what to think of this music station.  “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” and other hard rock tunes from that genre just didn't fit their idea of parental music... Hee hee!

The next toy Kyle included was a HUGE life-saver, a SamsungGalaxy Tab 2.  Yes, we do have an iPad, but only one, so the loner tablet meant both girls could be entertained with games when the scenery was boring, and/or they were tired of watching movies.  No one asked to play on my phone! Whew!  One less battle to settle while on an 1100 mile trip (one way!) is a check in my Happy Box!

The last goodie in the box is one that I am using as I type.  It’s called a Mophie, and it is a charger for electronic devices.  It can go Mac or PC with two outlets to use, a USB port and a micro USB (the  little thing goes in to a device).  Anywho, no matter what its name is, this little dude is charging my phone right this minute.  I forgot to plug it in last night, and our electricity went out around noon today.  The same thing, well at least the first part happened to me while we were in Orlando.  The day we went to Disney was the day I woke up to see that I had not plugged in my phone!  ACK!!!!!  I planned to use my phone as my camera (Samsung 4 phone ROCKS in so many ways!), and let Bear have the little camera to take pics potentially for her 4-H photography project.  I just slipped Mophie into my purse connected to my phone, and in a couple hours it was back to a full charge! Thanks Mophie! 

Thanks, again, to Verizon for allowing me to test drive these new gadgets.  You can find them all by clicking here.

The views I presented in this post are my own.  I did not keep these devices nor was I paid for the thoughts shared in this post.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Part 3 Farm Life Series: Help Wanted!

Wanted:  Hired hand to work on our farm.  Should be in good health, preferably young, mechanically inclined, good with animals, hopefully with a CDL (Commercial Driver's License), experienced in driving tractors, able to quickly absorb new technology and apply when needed.  You should be able to follow instructions, and there might be some yard work and wood cutting involved during off-peak seasons.

Any takers?  That’s who we are looking for here at our farm, and a person who meets all or at least most is very hard to find.

20-30 years ago, we might not have had such trouble, but it is getting harder and harder to find someone who will commit to the strange hours, often time hot/cold/wet/dry weather conditions, and like-mindedness of my farmer.

Why are we looking?  I suppose if you know that we farm 1800 acres and feed out 130 cattle for beef production, you would think we need at least ten people to get it all done.  With today’s new, larger equipment and ground management methods, it really can be done by two people IF both are young, healthy, and have no other obligations. 

Grandpa and I are the ones looking.  The girls are getting busier, and we both are getting older.  The girls are still a bit young to drive the tractors; although I know some kids out there are sitting in the driver’s seat.  We do have a gentleman or two to help out during the crazy parts of planting and harvest, but Tall Guy carries the brunt of all the work, and this is his last year to be on the UP side of the hill.  Grandpa and I are already working our way careful down the other side of it. Remember what happened when I tried to climb up our bins? (This link includes a great view of the ground we farm around the house!)

We are lucky, though, to have one of TG’s cousin's sons come out to help and learn.  It’s fun to sit back and watch Tall Guy teach this young man, we will call him YJK  (young Jedi Knight) about the “behind the scenes” aspects of farming, like making a new hot wire fence to go around our new addition.  He’s also great at scooping out bins (Grandpa and I are especially happy about that!), and he is learning about filling semi’s and taking care of the cattle.  The only thing is he is a bit too young to have his CDL, the license needed to operate a semi.  Yeah, don’t look at me!  I can usually drive them around the barn lot and a bit down the road if we are in a pinch, but I have enough road rage driving in Lafayette and surrounding areas in my van.  I don’t think anyone wants to see me coming down US 52 from the top of the hill in West Lafayette, over the Wabash, and in to Lafayette proper!

1800 acre farms are not as big as they sound if you have the right set of work skills to cover all your needs.  So we will keep on looking for the mysterious, elusive, CDL carrying hired hand, AND continue to work with YJK.  A lot of promise he has!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Part 2 Farm Life Series: Can Anyone Find Me a Plain Ol' Hamburger?

Ok Weight Watchers, “I’m BAAACCKKKK….;” however, I have an issue with your food tracking options.

Yep, in an attempt to get back into the good numbers on the scales and hopefully offset some health issues this extra weight maybe creating, I've re-upped to Weight Watchers, and I am taking some extra nutritional measures to try and help my poor metabolism to find its life.

I was chugging right along until yesterday, when I went to enter the hamburger I had made and eaten for lunch……NO LISTING FOR PLAIN HAMBURGER!!!!!!!!!


Oh they have listings for hamburger that include fast food, and others you can find, I guess, in the frozen food section, BUT I could not find a listing for a good ol’ hamburger patty, made by hand, and slapped onto the fire to cook.  As someone who raises beef cattle, that kind of bothers me.

My beef came from the freezer, but it was MY freezer, and MY beef.  It wasn't a pre-made hamburger on a bun.  Even in this crazy busy world there has to be others like me who make their own hamburger patties.....Right?.....Anybody?  I truly do not know how much ground beef is at the store; we get our beef by the quarter from our own cows, and many of you out there have bought your own quarter/half/ whole beef from us.  The best feeling in the world, especially if you live out in the middle of no where like we do, is knowing you just have to step over to your freezer for some outstanding grain fed, raised by someone you know, packaged beef!  Here's the process in a nutshell of three pictures.

Maybe some of you more seasoned WW veterans can steer (oh, I am so punny!) me in the right direction, but everything I typed in to the search box, every different way I could describe the hamburger I made by hand and cooked myself, came up empty.

I came up with 4 WW Points for my hamburger (no bread/bun), and I'm sticking to it!