Ham & Potatoes

Today is the day. Today we finished fall harvest for 2019. And today is still October. I’ve been told that fall harvest NEVER wraps up in October. Those farmers must have been pulling extra hours in the field (with a little help from Mother Nature, too). To say that I am thankful is a huge understatement!

Not only are all the family and friends who have been helping with harvest safe at home and the crops from this harvest stored securely in the grain bins or at the elevator, but even more so, we have a quick second to breathe before Baby #2 arrives. Phew!

This last month, days on the farm have been long. Farmer Scott leaves first thing when the sun is up and typically isn’t home until 8:00-9:00 pm. That’s hours after Cowboy Lewis goes to bed and only minutes before I typically hit the hay.

As incredibly thankful as I am that the combine or tractor holds all three of us and that Cowboy Lewis adores our dinner dates in the field (he has “vroom, vroom” on repeat just as soon as he spots his dad in the combine), I am also looking forward to having Farmer Scott back at home, even just for the company. Comfort.

Speaking of comfort, I have a family recipe for a comfort food I would like to share with you. Ham and potatoes (Cowboy Lewis would add, “Yum, yum!” here).

This next month, we will be cleaning and storing equipment from harvest and planing as well as hauling cattle from pasture to fields closer to the farm (and other odds or ends). More on those days to come!

For now, cheers to the farming family and tasty food.

Ham & Potatoes

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

6 tablespoons of butter

1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 cups water

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

6 medium russet potatoes, sliced and chopped

3 cups ham, diced

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in medium stockpot over medium heat.
  3. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly with whisk. This is the base of the roux.
  4. Slowly add water and milk. Continue to stir constantly and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add Better Than Bouillon and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  6. Layer potatoes and ham in prepared 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour roux over the ham and potatoes to cover completely.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Remove from the oven and stir in shredded cheese. Serve warm.

Notes

  1. Although not as convenient as pre-shredded cheese, shredding your own cheese is well worth the extra effort in this recipe. The cheese melts perfectly to blend with the cooked ham and potatoes. Yum!


Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie

A snowy winter, complete with howling winds and sub-zero temperatures. That Kansas weather will get you real good.

Pastures has been in a battle with Mother Nature these last couple months. First, gotta keep those mama cows comfortable and healthy. Rolling out extra alfalfa and hay bales, distiller grains, along with protein and mineral, gives these cows just enough extra fuel to stay warm in these frigid temps. Supplementing with extra feed is especially important when snow or ice covers the ground, since grazing is no longer an option.

The mamas aren’t his only concern though. This time of year, we are welcoming new calves into the world, too. Similar to their mamas, the calves need food for energy and warmth. At all hours then, Pastures is out checking on calves to be sure they have been licked dry and are nursing on the mama. If one isn’t, that calf is scooped up, warmed in the truck, given a little colostrum for an energy boost and plopped back out in the pasture to be with its mama.

There are a few other things Pastures does to keep these cow-calf pairs comfortable during the winter. First, gotta break the ice on all water tanks constantly to ensure there is access to fresh water. Second, all pastures have a wind break to protect the cows. Pastures rolls the bales and fills the feed bunks near the wind breaks in hopes the cows will bunk there for the night for extra protection.

Needless to say then, when Pastures catches a short break to run home, he is itching for a warm meal. That’s one of my roles on the farm, feeding my family. Leave your boots on the porch and hurry in, I’ve got a Midwest classic, pot pie! Hot from the oven, this meal will warm you right up. Then, back to work you go until Mother Nature decides to warm things up just a bit.

Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter

2 cups carrots, chopped

2 cups celery, chopped

2 cups yellow onion, chopped

1/3 cup flour

4 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

16 frozen biscuits

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add vegetables and cook until tender.
  4. Add flour, stirring constantly to coat the vegetables and keep the flour from burning. Cook for one minute.
  5. Slowly add chicken broth and milk, continuing to stir constantly as the mixture thickens.
  6. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer 1/2 the mixture to a foil pan to freeze for another meal.
  8. Top the remaining mixture in the Dutch oven with frozen biscuits.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through.


A Sheet Pan Meal

When our little cowboy arrived last fall, family and friends so kindly dropped off meals. Frozen meals piled in the fridge to warm when ready. Lots of tasty food to help our growing family get through the next couple weeks. Our first baby, and we had NO idea what to expect.

One meal; however, was still in whole-food form. As in, the meat was still in the package, the vegetables hadn’t come in contact with a knife quite yet and a foil pan was nowhere in sight. This was a special delivery from my sister. What could it be?

With the best of intentions, she did plan on prepping and cooking a hot meal for us that night; however, she was a little busy holding a sleepy baby while I shut my eyes for a quick snooze that afternoon. That was that, and I was left to pull together supper that night.

How was I supposed to spend an hour tied up in an apron and stuck behind the stove when I had now had a million other things on my to-do list. As in, checking this new baby every minute (no joke) to make sure he was breathing, worrying over his temperature or if he was hungry, just staring at him swaddled and snug, etc. Motherhood got me good. Got me real good.

A pleasant surprise then, to find that this mystery meal was, in fact, as easy as it gets. Guess she knows a thing or two about feeding a family, three kids later 🙂 It was a sheet pan meal, and she nailed it.

The beauty of this recipe (can we even call it a recipe when it is this stinkin’ easy?) is the flexibility to toss any vegetables on that pan. Broccoli has only a few more hours before it’s going bad? Perfect, throw it in. Bell peppers were buy one, get one at the grocery store? Chop ’em up.

So here it is, the breakdown of a sheet pan meal.

Ingredients

1 pound kielbasa sausage (beef or pork), chopped in 2 inch pieces

3 cups fresh vegetables, chopped in large chunks

1 cup white or sweet potato, cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (or lightly spray with oil).
  3. In a large bowl, toss kielbasa, vegetables and potatoes in oil and sprinkle with seasoning.
  4. Spread mixture evenly on sheet pan.
  5. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned.

Notes

Be sure there’s space between the meat, vegetables and potatoes. Packed together, the vegetables will steam, resulting in a different texture. Some prefer this, others (like me), enjoy a more crisp, roasted vegetable.