Friday, December 7, 2012

Back Home

Smoky Chicken Tacos

Made this is cooking class, a chipotle lime coleslaw and my middle school students ate it up!  Another meal they can make for their family!    Smoky Chicken Tacos - Martha Stewart Recipes
Photo from Everyday Food

I am heading back over to my tried and true blog site.  I tried a different name and even bought the domain and got a web host.  I hated it.  I am not a smart enough person to understand all the ins and outs.  So back to what I believe is a name that fits me well.

With that said, I have a new Facebook page, Skills Cooking Class! it is all about my cooking classes.  Yes real, hands on cooking classes.  I have done the first one, "Chicken Breakdown, taking the bird apart".  It was a huge success and I enjoyed doing the class so much.

I really can not seem to explain the joy it brings me to teach you basic skills and create real confidence in the kitchen.  To give you the tools that seem to be missing in today's world.  Skills that we must give to our own children.  We are just one generation away from not being able to cook...and making a blue box of mac and cheese does not count as "cooking".  How about learning to make a "gourmet" meal using everyday ingredients, but knowing and understanding how to make them into a meal that your family will oh and ah over.  Oh yes it can be done!

I work full time, teach a middle school cooking class, help my husband run our small scale farm with 75 chickens, two donkeys, Bantams (they are pets) and two dogs.  Oh and one cat and three adult children and all of my crafts.  So we do live full lives, and this year, busier than normal.  We are also gone one night every week to care for my husbands mother, which we cherish this time with her.  Oh and DH is the scholars bowl coach so he is also gone one to three nights a week on top of all of this.  Yes we are busy and we often to do not make it to the dinner table.

We do go out sometimes, but it takes so much time-and it gets dark early.  Chores have to be done before dark, feeding everyone, collecting eggs (we average 5 dozen a day, we also sell eggs!) and making sure everyone is in the coop and locked up.  We also have a major coyote problem.  Then I go and pick up our youngest daughter who is 16 from her job at 5:30.  If things have gone awry and they often do, I will pick up Freddy's, but that is not cheap.

Last night things got very busy because we had to go and get feed, pick up Clare which would put us home late with no dinner started.  DH suggested going out, but that would have been another hour plus, and I wanted to go home.  I had a quick recipe in the ready....Smokey Chicken Tacos and 20 minutes later we were eating a hot yummy dinner, at the table!  Clare also had a friend over so it was nice to sit together and eat.

The recipe comes from Sarah Carey and Everyday Foods.  I use so many of her recipes for cooking class at school, we did this one and the kids wolfed it down.  This is what we did last night.

1-2 lbs of frozen breaded chicken (I had some sweet potato crusted chicken tenders, it is a new product that has not hit the shelves yet)
1-2 packages of finely shredded cabbage.  Or if you shred your own about 1/2 head
1/4 - 1/2 mayo-start out with the smaller amount
1/2 lime
Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
Corn Tortillas-flour will work but it will not be as good.

Heat your oven and cook your chicken according to the package.

In a large bowl add your shredded cabbage, one or two bags it will depend on how much you need.  I used one bag and fed 5 people with no left overs.  To your cabbage add 1/4 mayo.  Open your can of Chipotles in Adobo and fish out one chili, diced it up fine; add that to the cabbage and about a teaspoon of the sauce. Squeeze the half lime into the cabbage.  Stir and let this sit while you do every thing else.  It will break down and reduce.  After 5 minutes stir, let it sit for another five.  If it looks dry, add a bit more mayo.

The Chipotles in Adobo sauce is a hot, spicy, and smoky condiment.  The more you add, the hotter it will be.  So go slow and taste.  The remainder of the can should be tossed into a zip lock bag, flattened and thrown into the freezer.  You can then break off what you need for future recipes.

Now for the corn tortillas- Gas Stove method:  turn your gas burner on to a medium flame.  I use two burners at a time.  Using tongs place a tortilla on the flame, let it bubble and blacken the edges.  Flip over and repeat.
Electric Oven method: Lay your corn tortillas out on a baking sheet.  Place on the top rack and cook till they bubble, flip them over.  Do enough for at least three tacos a person.

Assembly: In your warm smoky taco lay a piece of chicken, top with the coleslaw, add any other items you might like, sour cream, shredded cheese and such.  I am a purest and only use the slaw and then a squeeze of lime.  Dig in and watch it disappear.  Including the spicy coleslaw. So far every one who has tried the slaw expressed how much they liked it and how different it was.  So use the slaw for a simple side dish anytime.
You can add a side dish, or just chips and salsa.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dinner Last Night...

I did not want to cook last night.  We were cleaning and I really did not want to mess up my kitchen...I knew I would be the one cleaning it, again.  But I have made a promise to myself to cook nightly and not let circumstances dictate going out to eat....I am a push over for the circumstances....

Maybe I am the only one who does this or feels this way...I doubt it, but who knows.  If I come home and the kitchen is a wreck....dirty dishes, stove has dried on food from E making something for lunch, or there is no counter space...I choose for hubby and I to go out.  I am too tired to spend an hour cleaning up everyone else mess before I can even get to the cooking part.  I hate it when nobody (does he live at your house as well?) cleans out the sink, debris from the day is left in the strain guard to harden and get down right nasty.  If anybody (another full time resident) used a knife or a spoon on the far counter, there it sits, till is a created a life long bond with the counter itself.  The thought of placing the dirty utensil in the dishwasher is a a puzzle that no one has the answer to.  And then there are the glasses....everywhere half full of something...water, blue stuff, juice from the morning.  Did I mention we have a dishwasher and it works?  Not that many in my family seem to understand.  So here it is dinner time and the kitchen looks like that Fabreeze commercial where they try to convince us, the audience that a simple puff of their stuff and you only smell flowers.  That is my kitchen at times.  So I am a wimp and I let circumstances control my life, not this month!  We are eating nightly and I am working my far so good.

So back to last night, the kitchen was not a wasn't clean clean, but it was doable.  So here is what I did for dinner and it was a huge hit!


Green Chicken Enchiladas
This recipe is a nod to Mad Hungry

1 1/2 lbs of chicken breast-trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 an onion-diced
1 t. of kosher salt and several grinds of fresh cracked pepper
1-2 jalapeno-diced, seeded if you want less heat...I don't seed mine and it is perfect
1-2 T. olive oil or coconut oil
12 corn tortillas
2-3 c green salsa (I use Herdez)
2 cups of shredded cheese
1/2 of a wheel of Queso Fresco or more if you like
1 9x13 baking dish brushed with olive oil or coconut oil

In a large skillet heat oil, add the onion, chicken, and salt & pepper, cook for about 5 minutes.  Add your jalapeno towards the end, you don't want it to over cook, the whole dish will finish in the oven.

While your chicken and onions are cooking, in a small 8" skillet heat up one cup of the green salsa.  Now here is the strange part...take your corn tortilla and heat them up right on the burner.  I have gas and this works great...if you have a flat top then you will need to do this under the broiler.  Lay your corn tortillas out on a sheet pan, no over lapping.  Place your rack on the very top and slide your sheet pan in, watch them very closely, when they are starting brown and bubble and almost look like they are burning flip them over.  If you have gas or coil burners you can do it right on the burner.

Once you have all 12 corn tortillas a lovely charred around the edges look, set them aside for just a moment.  Is your chicken cooked?  Turn the heat off.  Get your cheeses out and the other cup or more of green salsa ready.  Here is the assembling....

Dip your tortilla into the skillet with the warmed salsa....
Place the tortilla in your 9x13, add about 1/4 c of the chicken mixture, add a bit of shredded cheese, roll and place in your baking dish seam side down.  Repeat till all the mixture and tortilla is gone.  If you have any extra mixture left that is okay you can spread it over the top of the enchiladas.

Break up the Queso Fresco cheese over the top of the enchiladas, and then add the rest of the green salsa. Pop into the oven at 350 for about 20-30 minutes.  When it is bubbly and starting to brown it is ready!

I serve this with a salad that goes on top:
Shredded lettuce, thinly sliced radish, tomatoes, shredded cheese and a bit more of the crumbled Queso Fresco
Everything topped with sour cream
You can also make a batch of Rice if you like.

This was a big hit last night and hubby told me it was a keeper.  It was so easy as well.  Give it a try and cook for your family tonight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Last Days of School

Hard to believe that we are almost done with 2011-2012 school year.  It has been a rough year for all of us.  We have gone through cancer with several friends here at school and in our own family life.  We have watched our economy tank....Boeing leave Wichita....watched as jobs bottomed out and food prices soar.  This has been  a hard year to raise a family, feed a family and send our children to private school.

Sending our children to private school has not been a choice of privilege, but a choice of sacrifice.  We do not pay out for tuition because we are trying to keep up with "Jones" (who are in debt up to their eyeballs and their entire life style is built on a flimsy deck of cards).  We pay for private education because we have a set of core values that we want taught to our children.  We want a Christian based school, that our children will have lived out before them.  It is not just about is also about all the little things...watching a teacher bow their head before they eat lunch,  a chapel service that is dedicated to praying for a family who dealing with  cancer; listening to a 5 years old recite their very first memory verse.  We pay tuition so that our children are surrounded by Jesus, there is no other way to say it.  We pay tuition so that our children have every opportunity to know God, through us their parents, through their teachers, through their friends and through their school.  Overprotective?  Maybe....but I want to grow strong children that will have a fighting chance with their faith out in the world.  I realize God has no grandchildren, only first born, and I want my three children to have the best path to God I can provide.

So we pay tuition because we want strong christian, faith based, Christ centered world view, adults.  I think it is a bargain.....

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 8, 2012

Last night my father In law died. He slipped in to an uneasy and fretful sleep, his body only doing what it had done for 87 years, breathing. His breaths were hard and labored...he seemed to be sleeping; I think he was waiting... I brought dinner, potato soup, it is mom's favorite. Kathy, Kent, mom and myself sat down to a simpe meal...we talked and we even laughed. I realized that I could not hear dad breathing...had he slipped away while we were laughing? Do I say something or let everyone finish? I said nothing and as we cleared the table I went in to the bedroom, he was breathing but it was very shallow. I talked to him, said "I love you", and we were here, he was not alone. Kent came in and I told him, " Stay with him don't leave. Kent had tears streaming down his face as he sat with his dad and told him things; things that we struggle to say face to face when everything is right with the world. Statements like,  "Dad I love you, you were the best dad ever; Dad, you were my hero; I could not have had a better father". Kent prayed, he prayed that God would take him home and end this horrid suffering. All of a sudden dad raised his hand toward heaven, took a deep beath, let it out, took a shallow breath and let it out and did not breath again. By this time Krnt has called for us, we got mom in there as that last breathed escaped into eternity and took dad to Jesus's feet. Mom started to quietly weep as she watched her husband of 66 years walk into Heaven.  I sat next to her with my arms gently wrapped around her as she shook with soft sobs.  I cried as I watched people around me that I love dearly start a grieving process that always takes us by surprise.  We talked....we even laughed as we expressed what Dad would do first in Heaven.  For forty five minutes we sat with him and wished him a great home coming.

Then the actions of saying good bye started, calling sisters who were not there but on their way that Dad was gone form this world.  Pastor came over, more family.  When the Hospice Nurse arrived we moved out to the living room and got on with the business of dealing with the process of burying someone we loved.  It was hard, but it was also done with a sense of relief.  It was over, the waiting, the watching, the wondering of why.  Dad was in Heaven and we were left behind to wait out this life.  Sad but joyous all at the same time.  Also the realization of never hearing him laugh, argue with the TV about a news story that upset him, telling us stories of his younger years....all of that gone.  Now it would be our turn to tell those stories and keep the memory of who Dad was alive for a younger generation.  Good Bye Dad you are so loved.

May 14, 2012

Yesterday we buried dad....back to the business of burying someone we loved and saying final good byes.  It was hard, yet their was an element of joy.  Looking on his wasted body knowing that he was back to full form and strength...knowing that he could now climb any mountain, he was being sought after by those family members who went before him....he could see his dear mother again.  All of this was going through my mind as we walked through the entire funeral process.

We did the reading of the cards, then there was a family viewing for any who wanted to, I did not.  But when I got back to the reception hall where lunch was going to be served I lost it.  I saw my grown children walk in the door and that was it.  Each one held me as I cried.  I just wanted my children with me during this.

Then the Patriot Guard showed up.  Two of the hardest things for me, Veterans with flags saying good by to another Veteran.  We shook hands with each one and thanked them.  It was momentous, and dad would have liked it.

Then we ate and waited and waited....there was a lot of family and I do mean a lot, we filled the small church surprising the funeral director on our numbers.  Dad was the true patriarch of the family and everyone  came to say good-bye.  So we had to wait for about an hour, everyone visited and I sat with mom.  Ethan had to go back to her house and find her a sweater, she was freezing.  She called Ethan her hero of the day, because he found her a heavy pink sweater that worked out great.  She wore it the rest of the day.

The funeral began and we all filed in, Kent was next to mom with the wheel chair  and then me....Kent was going to to speak and I was so nervous about him being able to get through it.  First his niece by marriage got up and sang Amazing Grace, no music, with the most perfect voice I have ever hear.  Then the pastor then Kent.  I was praying, hard that God would give him the strength and peace to get through, and he did.  It was perfect and managed to speak out loud what we were all thinking.  Dad was a Patriot, He was a Passionate Outdoors man, and he was a Family Patriarch, and yes my hubby had to have alliteration!

When they took out dads coffin that is when I lost it again, it was so final.  Ethan was a pall bearer and I was very proud of him.  Clare was right behind me when we exited and she was crying, we just held each other and sobbed.  Emily came up and put her arms around the both of us.  It is a true joy when we can grieve together and not feel overly self conscious.

The grave site service was short and elegant.  Taps were played and the flag folded by the Marine Honor Guard.  They gave mom the flag and she will keep it with her.  It was hot out and mom was really getting tired.  So back to the house we went.  Along with all the family...about 50 or so.

We fed everyone and I soon fell asleep in a chair in Dad's man cave.  It was quiet and cooler in there and I was so tired.  We stayed until after 8 and finally heading home.  Note to self, take the next day off as well.  Both Kent and I were a mess.  Tired and emotional empty.  But life does go on, regardless of what we are feeling or needing.  The grieving has just started for all of us and we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  And remember for God's Born Again Children death is but a shadow that Jesus destroyed for all of us who choose His Gift.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Field Day

Tomorrow is Field Day...therefore it is Field Day Lunch....our biggest day of the year.  We spend a week getting ready for it.  Here is the break down...

350 fresh hamburgers
250 all beef Angus hot dogs
Honey Wheat Buns
BBQ Baked Beans
Fresh Strawberries
Fresh Fruit
and of course Monster Cookies!

We are hoping for about 400-450 with parents and siblings.  So we have 500 Monster Cookies staring us in the face...and yes they are good, they are very good.  They make the entire building smell incredible. Both of our walk-in freezer and fridge are stuffed to the gills, we have to pull stuff out in order to move around.  There are two cases of Allen's Baked Beans ready to be duded up with BBQ sauce, brown sugar and a bit of mustard....they really are very good.  And next to the Monster Cookies are the fresh ripe strawberries, some of the first of the season.  They are so sweet, like little red sugar jewels.  And that is lunch for tomorrow.

Here is the recipe for the BBQ Baked Beans:

2 large cans of your favorite baked beans, Allen's or Bushes are my favorites (28 oz )
6 strips of good bacon, diced
1 onion diced
1/2 c of BBQ sauce
1/4 c of good mustard
1/2 c brown sugar
kosher salt and a lot of fresh cracked pepper

In a large skillet cook the bacon until crispy, remove to paper towel.  In the pan with the bacon fat add your onions and cook till they are soft and starting to break down.

Add your beans, BBQ sauce, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low.  Let this simmer for about 20 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning and top with the bacon bits.

I love duding up my BBQ Baked Beans....I think it is called speed scratch start with a pre-done items and go from there.  Such as a rotisserie chicken, or a real ham.  All kinds of simple dinner ideas...

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I like normal, I actually crave it.  I like routine and everyday things...I love coming home from work, getting a little nap in, helping my husband with chores, cooking dinner, doing laundry, and just sitting and knitting.  I also love to sit outside and watch my chickens, donkeys and dogs play.  I am a very boring person, and I love it.  But my life is taking a huge change...things are happening very quickly, some of it is very very good, and another is extremely sad.  So our lives are up in the air and I struggle to get the simple things done around the house.  My house right now is a wreck and I hate that, that is not normal, we have chickens to process this weekend and I have a short fast trip down to my moms.

My husband father is just this side of Heaven.  I am calling these his glory days....days spent waiting for God to take him home to heaven and be cradled in his arms.  I know once he is on that side of heaven he will never wish to return to this side.  He will see the perfection God has created us for and start living his real life; he is done with this temporary sinful existence.  Glory Days!

The other news is happy and startling....34 years ago I gave up a baby girl for adoption to a christian couple who could not have children.  I wanted to protect her from the stigma and looks that would have been cast her way so many years ago.  Back then the church in general could not separate bad behavior from the consequences....a small innocent baby who did not deserve those looks.  I wanted her raised by a two parent family who themselves were believers.  I prayed always that she was safe, happy and growing up well.  I prayed that she would find her way back to me, but it would be her choice, not my invasion.  Through Adoption Angles I was found.  They asked if I wanted to peruse this and I said yes.  So right then and right there they did a three way call and I was talking to her.

This all a bit surreal and a bit weird.  I have no context for this outside of a happy heart and love that has been stored up for 34 years.  I am not her mom, she has one, but  I am her mother in that I gave birth, made the biggest sacrifice outside of giving my own life for her.  I have had a hole in my heart for her and now I have the opportunity to fill it.

I am being careful and have cautioned her, that if we have unattainable expectation we will fail.  I don't want to fail.  So we are starting as friends, with a life long connection and working from there.  We have to build memories, and companionship, we have to get to know one another!  And for her, bless her heart, there are a lot of us!  We will work at easing into this relationship..

With all of that said, I still have my boring life here in Kansas and cooking family meals, or at least pretending to right now.  I have been using my Emeals menu planner and their new Clean Eating menu....I love it, no processed food what so ever.  I have made several of the recipes and love the ease and how good they really are.  Tonight I am making 5 Star Chinese Spice Pork with rice and fresh snow-peas.  I will make this at my in-laws tonight so that we can enjoy a meal together.  The recipe is so simple; it only takes about 20-30 minutes to put together.  The rice takes the longest.  Check out Emeals and for $15.00 underthings three months it is a huge bargain!

Here is my take on Emeals Bolognese Meat Sauce

2 T. olive oil
1 cup of diced onion
1/2 c diced carrots
1/2 c diced celery
3 cloves of garlic smashed and minced
2 lbs of lean ground beef or a mix of sweet Italian pork and beef
1 c beef broth (organic, please)
1 28 oz can of whole roma tomatoes with basil
1 28 oz can of pureed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
2 heaping T. of good Italian seasoning blend (I use Spice Island)
2 lbs of pasta, your choice

In a large cast iron skillet (American made and safe)  add 2 T. of olive oil, heat set at medium.  Add the veggies, onions, carrots, celery and cook for about 5 minutes; add the garlic and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the ground beef and or pork breaking it up with the back of a spoon, or my favorite tool Pampered Chef's  Mix & Chop.  Cook the meat till no longer pink and all the liquid has cooked off.  You can drain it, but I like to continue cooking till the liquid has evaporated...I think the meat taste more meaty...
Add everything through the tomatoes...both cans.  Break the roma tomatoes up; they will cook down as well.  Add the bay leaves and let this simmer for at least 30  minutes on very low, and hour would even be better.  About 5 minutes before serving stir in the Italian seasoning...let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Prepare your pasta according to package...make sure your water is heavily salted, like sea water.

Enjoy and go take a look at Emeals

Thursday, April 12, 2012


More baby chicks arrived today!!  Twenty-five balls of yellow fluff.  They are so cute and fun to watch.  They will soon follow our other meat chicks onto the pasture.

The bottom picture is of red star pullets, our choice for laying hens.  We bought several last year and they lay well.  Also, their eggs are large and so tasty with deep yellow-orange yolks and solid whites that are not watery. And there is a cute factor going for them.  When I walk up to their area they all whoosh to the side farthest away and act like the world's biggest chicken hawk just flew over.

We love our little babies, but also know they must pay their way on the farm.  And so, as we welcome new babies into our world, some of the older hens will get harvested and beome nice big stewing hens for a hug pot of chicken noodles.   

Our meat birds are Cornish Cross Rocks. This breed has been bred to have larger portions of breast meat, a larger meat-to-bone ratio with legs are that are far apart in order to support their weight.  They convert feed to meat more economically than any other breed.  They look different and they do act different, but they are the type of chicken you are use to - the one in the meat section at the supermarket.

We raise ours on pasture...that means they are outside eating grass, bugs and their organic feed.  They breathe fresh air, not the fecal dust common in chicken factories.  They have lots of room to walk, attempt to fly, chest bump and squawk.  Each has its own personality and has the right to a good life this side of the processing table.  We raise them in comfort and sunshine.  So far they have loved it,  although they are getting very large and processing time is getting closer... 

        Now, to another topic...I have found a new food issue that has made me nauseated.....I mean, makes me queasy and just turns my stomach.  Go to Robin O'Brian and watch the video to the right. Watch the part where companies such as Kellogg, Coke, and Kraft change their recipes for the European market but feel it is okay to do this to us.  Listen carefully and let me know what you think.  I hope you are as angry as I am.  Please comment here!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This has been a whirlwind last three days.  And yesterday was such a perfect Easter Sunday!  Outside was perfect....having all my kids at home for Sunday lunch was wonderful.....both sets of parents are doing was a blessed day.  Add to that the reason for Easter....well my heart was over flowing....
Then of course Monday roles around....but it has been a good day, very busy, but good.

Here at school we are making home made Mac & Cheese...the students are getting use to it, due to the fact it does not come out of a blue is real pasta with real milk and real cheese.  I don't know what is in the yellow powder but it scares me a little.  Here are pictures of Mac & Cheese for 300!  That is a lot of yellow stuff.  We also balance the entire meal out with veggies, whole grain rolls fresh fruit and our bribe....chocolate brownies, but wait they really are good for you, these are whole grain brownies with fiber that taste awesome.  They are looking at me from a bakers rack screaming my name...

I have some exciting news I have been invited to do a cooking demo at the down town farmers market here in Wichita.  I submitted a recipe to Kansas Farmers Markets and was selected for their "Savor the Season" recipe cards.  From that came in invitation to demo the recipe down town.  I am very excited and just a tiny bit SCARED!  But as my mine slowly gets wrapped around this, it will be a little bit less scary.  I am very thankful to Tracy Graham and her encouragement and the right introductions!

Here is the recipe:

Warm Green Lentils and Arugula Salad
1 c dry green lentils
3 c chicken stock or water, the chicken stock will up the flavor
1 bay leaf1
1 t. kosher salt and several grinds of fresh cracked pepper

Bring to a boil and cook for about 25 minutes.  I like to leave them a bit chewy.  Drain and place into a large bowl.  Add half the dressing and stir to coat.

Dressing-Simple Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/3 c red wine vinegar (you can sue any that you have on hand)
1 shallot minced
2-3 t. Dijon mustard (to taste)
2/3 c olive oil, the good stuff

Assemble the salad:
Add about half of the dressing to the lentils while still hot.
Add 6 c of loosely packed rinsed and dried Arugula
Toss everything together, the arugula will wilt just a bit and the lentils will soak up some of the dressing because they are warm.  Add more dressing if desired.

Grape tomatoes cut in half
Red Onion slivered and rinsed in cold water to remove some of their heat
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Fresh Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Crisp thick cut bacon

This weekend I made a great came from Bon Appetit Magazine...the article was from Canal House.  I have just recently found this sight and really have enjoyed getting to see their recipes.  Very jealous on how they live in a cool place and cook....
Pictures are from Bon Apptit.......great magazine....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pink Slime....

Part of this is our own fault.  We demand cheap cheap food.  5 years ago we spent something like 9% of our home budget on food, 25 years ago it was around 15 do you think that happened?  Cheap processed food, cheap ways of raising food, cheap chemicals to produce more food than we can eat.  So we take cattle and inject them with growth hormones, feed them corn (which they were never meant to eat) that cause them to have ulcers, then we treat that with antibiotics, then on top of all of this we finish them out in feed lots....nasty, horrid, dirty, pens filled with poo that they walk in and through for the last 6-8 weeks of their lives while eating corn (that their stomachs can't digest). And by the way that is not mud.                    
Yum I am so glad my meat is raised that way (insert snarky sound).  Then when we get upset about these things, our rage ends at the check book.  Grass raised, happy cows that are raised the way God meant, cost more!!!  We are insulting the true ranchers of our time by being upset about the cost of quality beef.  We can afford to drop 60.00 at a restaurant and not think another thing about it, but not spend 5.00 a pound for happy beef.  We eat the beef that was raised so contrary to it's own well being and never consider what we just did. Seems a bit skewed to me.I was disgusted at what the government has been putting over us for the last 20-30 years.  I am also amazed that they really believe that they are the van guards to our health. The sooner we choose not put faith in our government the better our health and well being will be.  Pink Slime is one example of many; the things done for the almighty dollar.  Yet the "government" can not keep our dollar strong enough to make gas affordable.

Anyhow, back to pink slime....I had all but given up on ground beef, the bits of bone and gristle that you would come just cracked your tooth...I hated running into those bits.  We have been buying great quality grass fed only small farm raised beef and there is non of that in there.  They don't bust down the bones, cartilage and fat to get every particle of beef...they turn that into pet food; and those bits twenty years ago were turned into pet food.  But with the governments blessing the beef manufactures figured out how to eek out this little bit of finely textured lean beef, build plants to collect in and form it into bricks and then send it to supermarkets to help their bottom line.

I am not saying that we have to change today, all at once, although that would be great if we could.  But we do need to change.  If pink slime upsets you, you should also be upset with feed lots, massive pig farms and chicken factories.  They are all giving us cheap food, at a terrible cost; to the animals for sure and to ourselves in health issues.  I find it very hard to believe that our current food chain dose not bring with it multitude of health issues.  All the chemicals and non-nutritious food that we eat adds to our disease.  So start small....choose to eat at home instead of going out....choose to eat smaller portions of meat...choose to shop and not toss....choose to get rid of everything processed in your home....choose to live better, healthier, cleaner, and happier.  We do have the control, the government only has what power we choose to give them.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Potato Salad...

How do you make potato salad for 200?  With a very large bowl!!!!  We are making our very own potato salad for the students.  None of that chemical laden junk that comes in paper cartons.  If you can not pronounce the ingredient list, maybe you should not eat it....just saying.  We decided to make it ourselves and hope that everyone would try it and be surprised at how good it taste.

Here is the recipe
 37Lb of red skin potatoes
1 galleon of chopped celery
3 c of pickle relish-sweet
48 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
2qt. 2 c good quality mayo
4 T. kosher Salt
4 t. fresh cracked pepper
4 T. dry mustard

This makes 8 gallons of potato salad or 200 1/2 c servings.....

We boil the potatoes in our large tilt skillet, then chop them up a bit and mix everything together while the potatoes are still hot.  That way they soak up all the good flavor in the really makes a huge difference when you make your potato or even pasta salad; mix while the potatoes or pasta is hot.

This will sit over night getting better and better and will go with our hamburgers tomorrow.

Here is Joni cutting up the potatoes while they are really really hot.  We dice them into bite size pieces and then make the dressing.  This is a lot of potatoes!

And here is the finished product....and having done the taste testing I can attest that is good! There are four pans total, they will be wrapped and stored in the fridge for tomorrow.  Cheese Burgers with BBQ Baked Beans and Potato Salad...Fresh Fruit and a milk to top it off....sounds yummy.
Here is a home version:
Basic Potato Salad
2 1/2 lbs of red potatoes, washed, boiled, cooled a bit and quatered
3/4 c diced celery
1/2 c red onion, diced and rinsed in cold running water for about a minute
1/8 c sweet pickle relish
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
3/4-1 c mayo (use a quality brand like Hellmans)
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. fresh cracked pepper
1 t. dry mustard

Mix everything together while the potatoes are still warm.  Cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.  Serve with your favorite grilled meal.

This recipe is a jumping off point.  You can add your favorite items, like crisp bacon.....spicy pickles....jalapeno.....chipotle in adobe sauce (a little will go a long ways)....grainy get the idea do it your way!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break, Really???

Sorry about the disappearing act....I don't know who is left to read this since it has been two weeks from the last post.  We went through a pretty rough time with my husbands elderly parents and my own mother.  We were in and out of hospitals, going back forth from their home and ours (a 50 minute drive one way but very thankful, it use to be a five hour drive.)  Then I had to run down to Tulsa due to the fact that my mom broke her  wrist in my drive way!  She had surgery and I helped out since she really could not do anything.  So it has been a rough two weeks.  But I am back home, getting mountains of wash done and cooking for my family.  They are thankful!

We have finished our Chicken Tractor!  And the first batch of meat chickens look great in it, they look happy and playful.  We have moved our layers into the lean too that also has a chicken tractor and they are happy they can fly now.  The last batch of meat chickens are in their hover and loving it.  Everyone is happy.

We are getting more chickens either tonight or tomorrow night...more layers, then by the end of the week we will order more meat chickens.

At School we have a short week, we have Friday off for Good Friday.  This will be our last day off until the end of the school year.  I can not believe it is Easter already.  This year has flown by. Check out the next post about PINK SLIME!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break...

For many of you out there, spring break means taking a vacation.  Getting that last ski trip of the year in, heading to a warm beach somewhere, or staying at home and doing nothing. I love those spring breaks.  For my husband and myself Spring Break has a different meaning....

Spring Breaks means getting our garden started, planting lettuce, carrots, parsnips, kale, Swiss chard, radishes and spinach.  It means weeding and getting the other beds ready for tomatoes and peppers.  We are also working on our market garden where we grow around 300 hundred tomato plants to sell.  If you need tomatoes plants that have been raised with out chemicals we have those.

Spring Break means getting new baby chicks, both layers and meat chickens.  We have 27 layers at the moment and 23 meat chicks.  We need to build our chicken tractor for the layers and meat chickens.  We need to order our next batch of both layers and meat chicks.  We need to plant grass seed so the donkeys will have grass to eat through the summer.  And on top of all of that we will be learning how to process our meat chickens in order to sell whole  pastured chickens that have been fed only organic grain..

Spring Breaks means 10 days of dawn till dusk work to get ready for the busy summer life we lead. We will need to go back to work in order to rest.  LOL  One thing I can say though is that we love living this life.  When we built our brooder for the meat chicks, we worked outside, my hubby and I, for four hours, I also cooked dinner, and we built this thing into the night.  Once we put the chicks in their new home, they all said thank you.  They were so happy, they checked out the new digs, and then tried to fly.  They don't have the landing down and they end up face planting.....or bowling over nine other chicks for a strike.

I love our meaning of Spring Break and can not wait to get started with the list we have to work from.
That is what Spring Breaks means to us....what does it mean to you?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Roast Chicken

I love Roasted Chicken, I think it is one of the simplest meals and yet one of the most fulfilling; from making it, to the carving it and of course to eating it.  It fills the soul with a sense of home, comfort, and even a bit of security.
Roast Chicken plays with our emotions also.  Mom or grandma in the kitchen, placing a big fat bird in the oven covered with spices and surrounded with onions, carrots, celery and in our case sliced lemons.  The aroma of the chicken as it cooks, filling the house with a warm heady scent.  Since it takes a good hour or more to roast the chicken, the house fills with the aroma, getting your appetite ready for some really food.
My favorite part is when I plate the whole chicken, it's all golden brown and juicy; placing the veggies all around and setting it on the table.  We all sit, bow our heads and say Grace.  That is the moment of accomplishment for me.  Then I slice pieces of it and place it on the plates for my mom and dad in law, knowing that I have brought a little sense of their childhood forward to them.  Mom and Dad are in their mid eighty's, and smells bring back the most vivid of memories.  I take joy in being able to give them both a gift of food and memories.

On Sat. night I made a home cooked meal for 12 teenagers.  We had my own pasta sauce, spaghetti, salad with home made dressing, crusty bread and two simple but different cakes.  The kids were so surprised that I did this, they are so use to getting pizza and eating that, I think the home made meal threw them a bit, in a good way.  Here is the recipe for the sauce:

Hearty Pasta Sauce

2 lbs of ground beef
1 onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 28 ounce cans of pureed tomatoes
2 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes with garlic and basil
2 T. of Italian seasoning
2-3 bay leaves
2 t. sugar
1 t. of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

In a large skillet brown the meat till no pink remains,  Drain and rinse with hot water, return back to the skillet.
Add the onions and continue to cook for 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue for another 4 minutes stirring well.

Add the tomatoes, all of them.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle bubble. Partially cover with a lid and let this simmer on low for about 30 minutes.  The sauce will thicken and the flavors will learn to get along.

This sauce is now ready for pasta.....

Variations; you can use any type of ground meat from turkey and chicken to pork.  I will use a couple of links of sweet Italian sausage or plain ground pork.  Do use quality ground beef, ground round is my personal favorite.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, we are making our home made lasagna for lunch at school.  I will be adding pictures of the process.  Making lasagna for 250 is very interesting......

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I have a lot to pass on and most of it has to do with chicken. I currently have 52 baby chicks at my house and they are so adorable.  Let me begin at the beginning....

We ordered 25 barred rock chickens from a hatchery, these are laying chickens and we ordered only females. We shall see about that, seems like a rooster always sneaks in, kind of like the man from the titanic who dressed up in woman's clothes in order to board a life boat....

We also have 25 Cornish Cross-Rocks, these are a hybrid and they are what you get when you buy chicken at Target or Dillon's or any grocery store.  They have been bred to be large and they covert food to meat very efficiently.  There is some controversy over whether we should even attempt to raise these chickens for meat, but since ours will be raised humanely, outside in open pastures, under sunshine and atop of green grass we deemed it the best.  These are the chickens people expect when they order them, so we shall do it, but do it the way God intended.


So we also have one extra barred rock and they always add a "rare" chick.  She is a silver gray color so we can tell her from the others and her name is Pippin.  She will be a pet more than anything.

      They are friends!

Okay that is the first chicken story....although I will admit they are so much cuter.....
At school today we are doing home style Spaghetti with meat sauce and french bread and romaine salad
we also made a Hearty Chicken and Pasta Soup adapted from a Pioneer Woman recipe.  (If you don't know already I am a Ree Drumond aka The Pioneer Woman Groupie.)  We needed to make about 2 1/2 gallons of soup for today.

It came out fantastic!!  We all had a bit for lunch.  It was so easy!!!
Here is the home version of the recipe:

Hearty Chicken and Pasta Soup

1/2 c of olive oil divided 1/4 c each
4 bone in skin on chicken breast
4 carrots, diced (the carrots that have a stalk top and narrow bottom, no baby carrots here)
4 ribs of celery, diced
1/2 c diced onion
2 boxes of good chicken stock ( I love Kitchen Basics the best)
2 cups of a short pasta
1 t. of kosher salt and a bunch of fresh cracked pepper
2 t. of dried thyme
1/4 c of dried parsley or 1/2 c of chopped fresh

Heat a large heavy bottomed soup pot, let it get really hot, then add 1/4 c of olive oil, now add your chicken skin side down...let this brown really well.  When you can move the chicken it is done, this takes a little time, but adds so much to the soup.
Remove the chicken and add the rest of the olive oil.  Add the vegetables and cook them for about 5 minutes on high heat.  Then add everything into the pot, including the chicken on the bone with the skin intact.  Bring this to a boil for about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and shred the meat off of it, return the meat to the pot, discard the bones and skin; they have done their work.

Add the pasta and the seasoning.  Bring back up to a boil for about 10 minutes, check the pasta, when it is tender the soup is done.

I like to add lots of fresh cracked pepper to my bowl, but season how you enjoy it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

66 years....

This weekend we are celebrating my husband's parents 66th year anniversary.  That is a huge thing....they both made it thus far together, they got married very young, they still love each other.  They have had several major bumps in the last 5 years, cancer, lack of mobility, a move from their house of 55 years to a new place close to their kids and grand-kids.  So they have seen a lot and they have lived a lot.

We are having a big family get together on Saturday with as many as can come and a big dinner.  I am making a huge salad and the typical potato casserole....only mine will be a little different.  I just can not dump a can of cream of whatever soup into it.  I am not condemning, but there has to be a better way, more healthy and free of chemicals.  Watching The Pioneer Woman this last weekend helped me find my way!  She made a green bean casserole without the soup and it looked yummy.  Her youngest said it was the best ever, he is like 8.  So this is the recipe I have come up with.

Potato Casserole
This is an old standby, tasty, easy, and ready in no time.
2 lbs of frozen hash browns, thawed
½ c melted butter
1 t. of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 can of cream of chicken soup
2 c shredded cheese
½ c diced onion
2 c sour cream
2 c of crushed cornflakes mix with ¼ c of melted butter

Thaw potatoes, in a large bowl mix all the ingredients together, except the cornflakes.
Turn out into a 9x13 casserole dish, top with the cornflake mixture. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour.

I dislike cream of whatever soup, texture issue for me.  So I will make a cream base that can be used.

2 T. of flour
2 T. butter
½ c of good chicken stock
½ cup of whole milk or half and half
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan melt the butter, then add the flour till combined, cook for 1 minute.
Add your stock and milk and stir to combine and continue to cook till thick.  Season as needed. 

Use this in place of the cream soup, the taste will be far better and there really was little effort going into it.

I love this casserole, but I think this way it will taste even better.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Perfect Steak...

The perfect steak, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Thick cut rib eye, with just the right amount of beef fat, juicy and packed full of flavor.  Oh that sounds so good.  After years, and I do mean years, of practicing I think I have managed to figure out "the perfect steak".  It is simple, uncomplicated and utterly delicious.

Buy the best meat that you can.  I love a good, lean rib eye and they can be found.  I like them cut about an inch and a half.  This is how I do it....

About an hour before you cook your steaks, remove them from the fridge so that they can come to room temp.  Cold steaks do not like being cooked, and your meat may be more rare that you like.  Rub both sides of the steak with olive oil, using kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper season well.  I love lots and lots of cracked pepper.  Set your steaks aside on a plate, they will be fine.

This is when I prep my baked potatoes, Idaho are my favorite.  Scrub them well, then prick them with a fork all over.  Rub them with olive oil and lots of salt, wrap in foil.  Place these on your grill, cover and let them bake for an hour.

Prep your salad, I grill my romaine, here is how....taking a heart of romaine, cut it length wise leaving the root end intact.  Drizzle olive oil over the cut side and again season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Set aside.

Start your grill with lump charcoal and using the chimney starter get your fire going.  The entire menu will be cooked on the grill so use plenty of coals.  Clean your grill and let the grate heat up.  Bake your potatoes as stated earlier...
Hour later....
Price your potatoes and make sure they are done.  Now for those steaks.

Using tongs, never a fork, lay your steaks on one half of the grill.  Time it for 4-5 minutes.  Don't move them about, walk away if you need to.  Once the time is up flip your steaks to the other side of the grate that is still screaming hot.  Grill for 4-5 minutes, again walk away.  Depending on how you want your steak you can stop cooking them now, or you may flip them back over to the opposite side and turn them a bit to create cross hatch marks.  Rare is when the meat feels like the inside of your palm below your thumb, that is how I cook them.  Cook them a couple minutes more for medium rare.  Wrap your cooked steaks up in foil and let them rest for 10 minutes.  They need this to remain tender and let all those wonderful juices flow back through the meat.
While the steaks are resting, finish your salad.....take your romaine halves and lay them on the grill, cut side down, for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and then flip.  Remove to a plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or your fave dressing.

Cut your steaks into thin strips, break open a baked potato and top with butter, sour cream and shredded cheese...lay your grilled romaine on the plate cut side up and serve with some fresh tomatoes.

You now have the prefect steak and meal!!!
If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment section...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chili Day

Today we are making chili, with the quintessential cinnamon roll.  We make our chili from scratch and make it mild for the students.  But on the East Side you will always find a container of red pepper flakes, so you can make it as hot as you like.  Here is some info about the how we make our chili:
We use very lean, already de-fatted burger, we use dark kidney beans instead of chili beans so that we can control the sodium, our tomatoes are a quality and not bottom of the barrel, we use the best spices I can get for the cost, and they are very good.

 We will be making this in our Tilt skillet so that we can get 200 servings in one cooking round.  Then today we will be cooking off the sausage we are using for our gravy for the CCA Prayer Breakfast.  Trying to use our time to the best of our advantage.  Since we have to clean the skillet today might as well kill to birds with one stone.

Now for the cinnamon rolls.....

Baking in the oven filling this entire end of the building with the aroma of warm cinnamon and yeast baking away.

Then the finished product, continuing to drive us crazy....after 10 years you know just how many cinnamon rolls one can eat and not look like one.

Oh the woes of cooking for 300 plus.....

but someone has to do it.........

Friday, February 17, 2012


This is how we measure our recipes.  Remember we cook for 300+ each day.  So everything is in large bowls, large bags and of course large skillets.
The kids eat the chicken and noodles fair.  Our numbers do drop when we cook from scratch.  Kids are not use to eating like we did when we were growing up.  We can rant about it, but I have learned it doesn't change things.  Kids can be taught to eat things from scratch, that comes with having them help out more in the kitchen and repeating that dozens of times. And I do know from whence I speak....I have a very very picky daughter, and I have taught cooking classes.  Exposure to foods, cooking, and eating all work together.  But in our current society we get lost, I know I do.  I work full time, I have a family of 5, all adults now to cook for.  I have a house to clean (yeah right) and also have 35 chickens, 2 donkeys (who had escaped from their stall into the muddy back is now churned up ready for seed), 2 dogs and a lone cat.  So I know busy....but I still need to cook, clean, do laundry and run around with the kids.

I also did cooking classes and loved it.  It was extra work on my part and J.M. who  would help me.  But watching the kids chop lemon grass, fresh ginger, smash garlic cloves (the boys love that) tearing apart cilantro and making "Sizzling Beef with lemon grass and scallions" then scraf it down and ask for more was astounding. So we can teach ourselves and our kids to eat better.

Eating Better: there is a catch phrase loaded with complication.  We tend to complicate it...we tend to complicate a lot of things.  We second guess everything we we have a baby, raise a baby, what we do with toddlers, what we feed them, what kind of clothes to where and so on.  We have trouble listening to our gut....our instincts that God gave us.  I remember having a 25 month old and a new born, wondering what have I done????  But I had learned to listen to my gut, instincts that God gave me in raising my children.  When ever I got my eyes off God and started to listens to man's advice that is when I grew dis-satisfied with my life.  That is a word we could use to paint our current lifestyle, dissatisfaction.

In our quest to find the perfect spot we grow so unhappy; dissatisfied with our lives.  I know I do.  When I no longer listen to my insides, that God voice, I become frustrated and start to hate my life.  What a dumb thing....
Take a deep breath and starting counting your blessings; house over your head, showers, heat in the winter, a car that runs and so forth.  It really does help.

So today we are having Cheesy Bread Sticks with Spaghetti Sauce to dip in.  The bread sticks have two ounces of cheese in them for the protein count and the kids love these!  We also serve a variety of fresh veggies and fresh fruit to keep it well balanced and yummy.

On to another issue...I am sure you have heard about the little girl who had her lunch taken away and replaced with a school lunch because hers was not deemed "healthy".  And of course I was asked about this and what did I know.  I was upset that any school would embarrass a child like this.  Her mom packed her a great sounding lunch-turkey and cheese sandwich, chips, banana and apple juice.  They replaced it with a chicken nugget meal (now sound have sounded off that the nugget was fried, it most likely was baked since most schools no longer fry, we haven't in over 5 years) with all the sides.
The person who did this was on a little power trip, I mean the child was only four....she had all her facts wrong and so does just about every other article I have read concerning this story.

First, the USDA has not given power to anyone to mess with lunches brought to the school from a parent.  Ever....If a school is in a poverty stricken area they have the ability to give a child a healthy lunch for free.
So if you are a blog writer and decided to go at this story, get your facts right.  When christian go off half cocked they simply look like idiots.  As God's children we should take the time to find out the truth.

Second, I am not an advocate for the National School Lunch Program even though we participate in it.  I do not have my head so far in the sand that I don't see what is happening.  The agenda from our government is to create a cradle to grave society.  That we need to stand against.

Okay done with the soap box.  Now back to work.  Have a great weekend all.......

Recipe for the day:

Bierock Pie

2 cans of crescent rolls
1 lb of ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 package of angle hair cabbage
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 t. of Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
several dashes of hot sauce

Open one of the crescent rolls and keep them in their squares, there will be two of them.  Press the seams together then roll them out a bit.  Lay them in a 9x9 baking dish, half on each side and come up the sides.  Press everything together, this does not need to be perfect.
Bake this in the oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes.  You don't want it to brown, but you want it to cook enough that it will not get soggy when the meat mixture is baking on it.

Meanwhile fry up the hamburger till all the pink is gone, drain and return to the skillet.  Add your onions, garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add your cabbage and turn your heat off.  Keep stirring as the cabbage breaks down.  Add the salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Pour the meat mixture into the oven dish that has the pre-cooked crescent roll bottom.  Spread everything out evenly.  Top with the cheese and repeat the process with the other crescent roll package to make the top layer.

Bake the entire dish in a 350 oven for about 35-40 minutes.  You want the top crust to be a deep golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Cut into pieces and serve with sweet and sour green beans and fresh fruit.