One Year of Life as a Farmer’s Wife

 

The first year of married life has come and gone, and now, hopeful for the many more to come! This week, Scott and I celebrated our one year anniversary. Folks aren’t joking when they say, “Time FLIES”! One year of life as a farmer’s wife, and one year of lessons learned. Let me share a few with you 🙂

  1. Over the years, I’ve binge-watched plenty of HGTV and have grown fond of the ever-popular farmhouse style. White and neutral tones flood our home. A year later, the term “farmhouse” to describe this style of interior decorating has me stumped. With the constant traffic of work boots and filthy hands from handling cattle, it’s become obvious that white is not at all cut out for the actual farmhouse style. Lesson learned.
  2. Scott once asked me if we ought to plant alfalfa for hay bales this year. Bring it on, why not? The seed was planted last fall and sprouted in the spring. Over time, the crop was ready for harvest. Then comes the moment you realize that bales are rolled at night… as in begin working at 10 p.m. and finished at 3 a.m. Another lesson learned.
  3.  A home-grown vegetable garden has always been a dream of mine. Fresh squash, cucumbers and cantaloupe. A dietitian’s dream. Scott was on board with my plans and even built raised beds, a real fancy garden! He spread soil and, of course, a little fertilizer. I understand now that a “little” is an BIG understatement. The dozens of dried clumps of cow manure (that would typically cover over half an acre of pasture) may have been a little overkill for the two 4’x4′ garden beds we have in the yard. That puts a little damper on the term “fresh vegetables”, especially when they begin growing in shapes and colors I’ve never seen that vegetable in before.  Another lesson learned.
  4. On the note of gardens and our yard and such, a farmer’s most prized accessory– the rain gauge. Our yard happens to be home to two, one for the front and one for the back (because cloud coverage and rainfall may differ over 100 ft? I’m not sure). Either way, dumping the gauge before Scott’s read it as a good ol’ fashioned morning prank is not as funny as you’d think. For those of you having a mild panic attack at that thought, yes, I made a mental note of the reading for him. Still doesn’t change how NOT funny it was. Another lesson learned.
  5. My love language happens to be quality time. Quality time was redefined over this last year to include, but is not limited to, plenty of tractor time (which I love). The pieces of farm equipment that were foreign to me only a few short years ago now have my permanent indention on the passenger seat. Another lesson learned.
  6. With a bit of a Type A personality, I tend to love plans. Not only is my monthly calendar organized, but also, my daily–complete with a to-do list (it’s okay to cringe a little). Flexibility has never been my strong suite, so imagine my surprise when I have supper hot and ready for 6:30 p.m. and Scott’s chair at the kitchen table is empty. Unfortunately, the farm isn’t always able to stick to my plans. Another lesson learned.
  7. The radio, a previous companion of mine during long hours on the road, has certain stations it WILL play at certain times. This includes Farm Talk Radio, Kansas City Royal’s baseball games, the Market Report and all pre- or post-game talks for Kansas State University. This is non-negotiable. Another lesson learned.
  8. Tater Tot Casserole. If you are like me, this would mean nothing. If you are like Scott, you’d have a pile of drool hanging from the corner of your mouth by now. Luckily, this was a recipe I could learn quickly to keep a happy husband. Ground beef–French onion seasoning–cream of mushroom soup–frozen tots–shredded cheese. Nailed it. Another lesson learned.
  9. Yes, the tractor does have brakes; however, the farmer is only willing to use those brakes a limited number of times. We only have so much daylight! Plan your tractor rides and meals accordingly. Another lesson learned.
  10. I was raised to be a strong, independent woman. This may have something to do with being the youngest of three girls, and my dad never having a son to teach the handy-man way of life to. A year later though, I now understand the importance of being vulnerable enough to ask for help. Faith, family and friends are essential in the life of a farmer’s wife. Extra thankful for all three! Another lesson learned.

Not a lesson learned, but something I’ve known for awhile now. I am married to an incredible man. Between the long hours at the farm, he still walks into our home every day with the biggest grin and brightest eyes. His perseverance through the tough times astounds me, driven by hope and a trusting faith. Not a man of all too many words, he still gives a listening ear and has a willingness to learn. First a son, next a farmer, then a husband, and now, A DAD.

Lots of adventures ahead! Baby Stroberg is expected in September 2018. Follow along with our growing farm family for year two!

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Black Bean Dip

BeanDip

 

I spent 4 glorious years on the Kansas State University campus. Studying, yes. Chowing down on delicious grub, yes. One of the ultimate stops in Manhattan, KS is So Long Saloon. I’m beginning to drool just imaging those burgers. A stop at So Longs was never complete without their ever-famous Chipotle Raspberry & Black Bean Dip. Being that we are a couple hours from Manhattan, KS,  I had to find a way to kick this bean dip craving. Here’s what I’ve got, see what you think!

Makes: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

15 oz can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup raspberry jam

1 jalapeño, diced

1 cup mozzarella cheese

4 oz cream cheese, block

tortilla chips

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the beans, jam, jalapeño and mozzarella in a cast iron skillet.
  3. Place the cream cheese in the center of the mixture.
  4.  Bake dip for 30 minutes or to desired warmness.

 

Notes

It’s a dip, so of course, you can enjoy with tortilla strips or other desirable dippers. BUT, you could also mix things up, enjoy this bean dip layered on a burger or sandwich, or even smothered over chicken or pork. You won’t regret it. I promise.

 


Re-purposing Leftovers

Most everyone has had the experience of opening the refrigerator to find next to nothing. Empty shelves and a variety of condiments isn’t going to make much of a meal.

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At this sight, it is easy to call it quits, throw in the towel, jump in the car and drive to the restaurant down the street for some quick eats. I beg you though, STOP! You haven’t lost all hope quite yet, and in fact, you can probably pull together a few scraps from here and there to build a meal at home.

It’s hard to imagine this in a world that expects the creme de la creme, but a meal doesn’t actually have to be perfect.

More than likely, you have a meat of some sort stored away. That could be leftover pork chops, frozen beef strips or canned chicken. Either way, there’s a protein.

Even though the fruit or veggie drawer may be barren, don’t knock the frozen or canned veggies. Pull those out for a semi-homemade meal.

Sandwich bread or tortillas or rice or a potato? Any of those will work to build a meal into. Pick one!

The key to re-purposing leftovers, no matter how empty your refrigerator or pantry shelves may be is creativity. Use your imagination and the meal options become limitless (and MUCH easier to throw together at the last minute).

When I am in a pinch, here are a few meal ideas I keep in my back pocket.

  • grilled sandwich
  • loaded baked potato
  • pasta
  • tossed salad
  • quesadilla or taco
  • tortilla pizza
  • soup
  • enchilada or burrito
  • stir fry

Hopefully these meals don’t sound too foreign. And more than likely, you have enough ingredients on-hand to throw one together.

Just the other day I was working with leftover rotisserie chicken and a spinach and artichoke dip. Well, nuking each for a couple minutes is okay, but how boring! Instead, I thought to boil pasta and combine the chicken and dip with the pasta for a delicious, creamy take on “chicken alfredo”. Strawberries and green beans were the fruits and veggies around that day, which will work. Now THAT puts a fun twist on those ingredients to make a meal.

What about the always-popular baked potato? It never fails, we have a bag of potatoes on hand and ready for action. Yes, wrapping the potato in foil to bake is an option, nothing wrong there. I’ll challenge you though, throw a curve ball in sometime by chopping the potato into cubes, tossing in a bit of olive oil and seasoning for roasting. Layer the roasted potatoes with leftover meat, a drizzle of BBQ, dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of cheese. Now you know why this is such a hit at our house 🙂 Served with a fruit and veggie to make a meal and balanced plate!

Or, earlier last week we had leftover pork tenderloin and romaine lettuce that needed to be used. After glancing through the pantry, I found tostada shells that would work as a perfect base. A little further below, corn and refried beans. Nailed it. Next thing you know, everyone is shuffling through the build-your-own tostada bar: chopped pork, canned refried beans, corn dip (cream cheese, ranch seasoning, corn and rotel), shredded cheese and lettuce.

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Does this look like something your family may enjoy?

It is important to me that I feed my family well. Sometimes though, I just don’t have the time or energy it takes to cook something fresh from scratch. By re-purposing leftovers, I able able to save LOTS of time and effort, and all-the-while, build a meal that I know my family will enjoy and is nutritious for us, too. Both are important to me, food that fuels and tastes amazing!

To build a more balanced plate out of these meals, bring on the fruits and veggies and dairy. Even if they aren’t fresh, no biggie. Pop open a can of low-sodium veggies or fruit packed in it’s own juice or a frozen bag to steam and serve. Those are fantastic, too! See a whole gallery of balanced plates here.

The ideas listed above are just a few meals that work for my family. Which of these could you try with yours? Or even better, can you add to my list? Share how you re-purpose leftovers at your house in the comments below!


Meat the Only Stromboli Recipe You Will Ever Need

In my previous life (a few months ago), I would roll out a pre-made crust from the can to treat my family on pizza night. Our lives forever changed the day I stepped up and experimented with homemade pizza dough. The feeling of molding a perfectly developed dough—irreplaceable. I can’t say that I will never-ever use a can of crust again, but I can say that my family will be completely crushed on that day. Roll-up this hearty, meat-filled Stromboli for a REAL treat this week!

Makes: 10 pieces

 

Ingredients

For the Dough:

1 cup warm water

2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Cooking spray

 

For the Filling:

1 cup marinara sauce

½ pound lean ground beef, cooked

½ pound deli pepperoni, sliced thin

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning, divided

1 tablespoon butter, melted

 

Directions

  1. Combine the yeast and water. Let set for 5 minutes.
  2. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt and olive oil. After 5 minutes, when the yeast is frothy, pour the water over the flour mixture. Using the dough hook, begin mixing the dough. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Knead the dough on medium speed until fully developed. See notes.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball. Lightly spritz the inside of the bowl with cooking spray and return the ball to the bowl. Lightly spritz the top of the dough with cooking spray as well and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until double in size.
  4. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Roll the dough out on a clean surface into a 1 ½ x 2-foot rectangle, about ½ an inch thick.
  6. Spread the marinara evenly across the dough, leaving about 1″ around the edge.
  7. Layer the ground beef, pepperoni and cheese over the marinara sauce and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon seasoning.
  8. Beginning with the shorter side, roll the dough into a log. When rolled entirely, transfer to a greased baking sheet with the crease from the dough tucked under.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a golden crown crust has formed on the top.
  10. Remove the Stromboli from the oven. Spread melted butter across the top and sprinkle with remaining seasoning.
  11. Let set for 5-10 minutes before slicing into 1” pieces for serving.

 

Notes

Kneading the dough usually takes around 5 minutes. A fun way to test and see if your dough is fully developed is the “windowpane test”. Pull apart a small piece of dough and begin to stretch it between your fingers. When the dough is fully developed, it will thin as it is stretched to create a small window but won’t break apart. That’s when you know that you are ready to rock-and-roll on to the next step!

Pizza dough adapted from the Crazy for Crust recipe, https://www.crazyforcrust.com/the-ultimate-pizza-crust-recipe/.

Alert. Family-friendly recipe here! Get your kids’ (or borrowed nieces and nephews) hands in the dough: measuring, rolling, filling. Fun stuff!

 

 

Tell me, what would you pair with Stromboli to build a balanced plate?


A Hungry Cowboy’s Chunky Chili

Ever crunched for time and that special someone asks, “What’s for supper?” Rather than letting yourself begin to boil, may I suggest taking this as-easy-as-it-gets chili to a gentle boil instead? Dump. Dump. Dump. Stir. Enjoy as-is, or pour over chips with cheese and sour cream for a take on the ever-classic chili pie.

Makes: 8-10 servings

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cans chili beans, 15 oz

1 can black beans, 15 oz

1 can diced tomatoes, 15 oz

1-2 cups of meat (chopped brisket, shredded chicken, ground beef, etc.)

1 package chili seasoning, 1.25 ounces (or homemade chili seasoning)

1-2 cups of water

 

Directions

  1. In a large dutch oven or stockpot, sauté the onion in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the beans, tomatoes, meat and seasoning to the onions.
  3. Simmer on low heat for an hour.
  4. Add water to thin chili to the desired consistency.

 

Notes

For a more balanced plate, serve with a fruit or veggie or glass of milk! You could even be a little sneaky and stash some veggies in the chili. So sneaky.

 

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