Category Archives: Food

Getting the Lard Out

I have become wary of telling Husband what I want, or if I like something, because he takes it on himself to make certain I get  it.  Sometimes  I just make an offhand comment about liking something, with no expectation of getting it, and Husband takes it to heart and feels responsible  for it.   I think it has something to do with his being an older brother of a younger sister and feeling responsible for her happiness. My father was the same way with me.  One can only be considered spoiled under these circumstances if one comes to expect such treatment.  I don’t expect it, so I am not spoiled!

Last week I took the last jar of home-rendered lard out of the freezer as I needed it for pie crusts. I told Husband that we would need to render more lard some time. I didn’t mean that I wanted to do it right away, but that was how Husband interpreted it, and he set to work finding some pork fat for me to render.  I came home for lunch to find a disgruntled man who had been unsuccessful in finding any pork fat from our usual sources. He even phoned butcher shops in Fargo, Brookings, and Canby, MN.   I assured him that it wasn’t a crisis, and that it was fine if we didn’t find any.  There are lots of good pie crust recipes that don’t call for lard. Husband was still  fretful. I just hoped he would forget about it and stop ruminating.

Yesterday while I was in my meetings, Husband chanced on a farmers market on Nicollet Avenue, and found a source for leaf lard and pork fat from a guy who raises hogs in New Richmond, WI.  He and Husband talked lard and, after several phone calls back to the farm to check on supplies, he and Husband arranged for us to pick up 10 pounds of leaf lard and other pork fat from him at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Saturday morning.   Lard crisis averted.  It remains to be seen what Husband will ruminate about next.

What have you gone to extremes to find or accomplish? What is your favorite pie crust?  What do you ruminate about?

Remembrance of Things Past

Today’s post comes from Ben:

I came home and said hello to the dogs. Went out another door and said “Hi” to the dogs again, and then, as one does with dogs, said “Hi Hi Hi”

And then, from the depths of my mind, out of nowhere, sang  “Ayi Yi Yi Yi, I am the Frito Bandito”.
Wow.
I said to myself “Where did that come from??”
Forgotten anything lately? 
Remembered anything lately? 

Irony

Tuesday the temperature here was 75. Yesterday we had a winter storm blowing in.  I was getting ready for work yesterday and I noticed a large welt on my calf. It was a mosquito bite!  I searched and saw it flying around in the dining room. The little devil got me  while I was wandering around the house with my coffee cup. It probably stowed away in the spinach I harvested on Tuesday night. How ironic!   A mosquito bite on the day of a snow storm.

What are the recent or not so recent ironies in your life? Got any good mosquito stories?

Seasons

It snowed here on Wednesday.  The header photo is a view out of my work window Wednesday afternoon.   The buildings in the background are part of an assisted living facility.  The season changed here suddenly, and incontrovertibly.

PJ mentioned yesterday her horror at seeing all the Christmas decorations while she was shopping. I suppose the merchant’s view is that the season has changed, and the store is announcing it.

Husband says we have six seasons out here: Winter, Calving, Spring, Summer, Harvest, and Autumn. I say a sure sign of Winter is green tomatoes ripening in paper bags or boxes in the house.  I ordered glaceed fruit and nuts for my Christmas baking today, another sign of seasonal change.

What are the seasons in your year? What do you look for in nature or in people around you for signs of the seasons changing?

Taking My Show On The Road

The following is an excerpt from an article in our local paper, The Dickinson Press, for September 17, 2019, written by reporter Josiah Cuellar.

“An 18-wheeler loaded with a massive, four-ton potato, on its annual tour of the country, stopped by The Hub at West Dakota Oils which was having their grand reopening Tuesday, Sept. 17.  The Big Idaho Potato crew filled up and welcomed the public to get photos and ask questions to the truck driver, Melissa Bradford, and the “Tater Twins,” Kaylee Wells and Jessica Coulthard.  “No two potatoes look alike, neither do the Tater Twins,” Wells said.  “It’s just a really fun campaign,” Coulthard added. The annual tour began in 2012, and the popularity of it keeps bringing the colossal spud back. “They built the potato truck to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission,” Coulthard said,  “It was originally supposed to be one-year tour, but it got so popular they just kept it going.”  While every trip in the giant, potato-shaped truck is unique, this year’s tour is extra special because it features the first all-female group. “We are the first all-female team that they had on tour,” Wells said. “We get to show other women that you can do anything that you put your mind to, that you can succeed in a man’s world; you can do whatever you want.””

Ok. I think this is pretty silly and weirdly wonderful.  No matter what happens in the next few weeks in Washington, I think it is important to remember that this is what makes us a great nation.

What would you like to load up on a big truck and take on tour? Where would you take it?

My Favorite Food

It seems that whenever Husband and I go to the grocery store our cart is full of dairy products. We are big milk drinkers, and we use lots of butter, cheese, sour cream, ice cream, yogurt, and skyr. I put half and half in my coffee.  Thank goodness I don’t have lactose intolerance.  I even have read reports recently that whole milk and full fat dairy products may help to prevent heart disease. Our son and daughter-in-law are instructed by the pediatrician to feed their son whole milk. I was told to offer 1% milk when our children were young. Things have changed.

One of my favorite memories of living in Winnipeg was attending the Winnipeg Folk Festival. I loved the music, of course, but also some of the non-musical acts like the poet Peter Paul Van Camp. He is an Ohio native and was a regular on the Canadian folk festival circuit and lived for a while in Winnipeg.  He writes and recites some wonderful and clever poems. I wouldn’t be surprised if most Baboons know of him, but if not, I am happy to introduce you.  It was really something to be at the Winnipeg Festival out under the stars and hear several thousand people shout,  “DAIRY PRODUCTS”, until he began his recitation. The following YouTube clip was filmed at a smaller venue:

What is your favorite food? Write a haiku for hot dogs or a sonnet for soup.

Farm Update

Today’s crop update comes to us from Ben.

Been checking some fields.

Soybeans are about 85% yellow and starting to lose some leaves

It’s interesting because right there by a stalk that’s lost all its leaves is another plant fully green. This picture taken two weeks ago

and there’s a waterway in the middle there. It’s good and green to the left and to the right it’s rocky and yellow. Typically crops do poorly in the rocky areas. The roots don’t establish as well, and it tends to dry out faster. So presumably this area was less robust to start with and that’s why it dries out sooner. Still, to see a line like that is interesting.

Notice there are a decent number of pods on the plants,

and they all have 3 beans in them. But the pods are very wet yet. Even when the leaves fall off, the stalk and pods need to dry down in order to harvest. I cracked one open but it was tough to get open and the beans are firm, but not dry. They should be round, about ¼” to 5/16ths diameter. These are still bigger than that; swollen with water. They’ll get smaller as they dry down. I pay more money to have soybeans combined than corn, because beans are harder on the combine. Because they’re running the combine so low it picks up more dirt and rocks. And as the heads get bigger and wider (my guy is using a head for beans that is 30’ wide) and lots of newer combines have ‘auto float’ for the head, but if my field curves a bit, the header can be on the ground in the center and 4” up on the ends. Then you’re leaving more beans on the ends. So, it’s important to keep the field as smooth as possible in the spring when planting.  These beans are about 20” tall. Normally, they should be 36” tall at least and filled with pods to the top. Sometimes you’ll see 4 beans in a pod but that’s unusual and they say extra pods on the top of the plant indicate an exceptional good year. Won’t be any like that this year. Remember one day I said beans respond to the length of day light? Everyone’s beans look about the same now no matter when planted. Height may be taller if planted early, but colors are about the same. I’ve seen a few people already combining beans. The rest won’t be too far behind getting started on combining beans.

Three weeks ago, I noticed a little bit of yellow in a field and I thought there was some disease damage happening. Nope, just starting to turn, but that first hint of yellow always surprises me. Takes about 3 or 4 weeks to all turn and loose leaves. That happens fast, once they start to turn and then they still have to dry out. Often, it’s not until a killing frost that the stalks are dry enough to go. Not always, again, depends on the weather.

I’ve got some beans on a rental field. They look terrible this year.

They’re short, and the stupid deer have eaten the tops off the entire field!

Everytime I go look at that field I just feel sick about it. The beans there are only about 8” tall. See all those pods near the bottom? The combine will have a hard time getting them so close to the ground. Sigh.

The corn is looking good.

The ears in the field are surprisingly good looking in size.

You can see the deer damage on the outside here.

Notice all the ears standing upright yet. Once they get down to a certain moisture, the ears will drop and hang down.

I don’t know what that moisture % is, but when they’re standing upright, all the rainwater can run down inside the husks. Course that can cause mold issues.

You all know there is a silk to every kernel, right? Notice the odd kernels in this ear.

So that silk didn’t get pollinated for some reason. And the odd shapes, I’m not sure, but obviously, something didn’t all work right. Too cool, too wet? Too dry at that point? Who knows? All part of the mystery.  Splitting the ear, there are nice kernels in there.

See how its’ all dented? But still a drop of milk when I squeeze it. So not quite to ‘black layer’ yet. That will start at the bottom and move up the kernel as it dries. I’m not there yet. I’ve seen a few people starting to chop corn silage for feed. This wouldn’t quite be ready yet either. You want it in black stage before chopping. Maybe another week or two depending on weather. Not that I chop anymore. I kind of miss that. I always liked chopping corn. It smells good and goes easy and was fun to do.

I have one field that has gone down in a kinda random way. I hired a kid to fly his drone over the field. He didn’t know what he was looking for and I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but he did good enough that I could get an overview. The header photo comes from him. (Thanks to Nick Casper’s drone!) It’s called ‘lodging’ when the corn goes down like this.

I don’t think all the deer walking through helped. But the rows and tassels should all be in nice lines. See the mess in part of the field?

Corn puts out extra roots called ‘brace roots’ as it’s gets bigger. Usually they’re 4” above the ground, just to help brace the corn as it gets bigger. Notice these roots coming out 18” up?

An effect of wind and lodging and weather conditions I’m told. Weird. Hopefully it stands until harvest and doesn’t fall over. It’s a mess to combine if they all fall down.

I wish Clyde was still here to add his farm comments.

What was the last ag related commercial you saw on TV?