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!