Category Archives: Seasons

Cookie Making Machine

Normally I spread holiday baking out over a week or so, but this year with Thanksgiving being so late this year along with a work trip next week, I don’t have as much time as usual. So yesterday and today I am a cookie-making machine!

I marked all my recipes in their various books and then went through and made an ingredient list. The shopping went pretty quickly, although I did need to hit two stores.  No Andes Mints or good peanut butter at the first store.  Except for getting our tree on Friday (the only shopping I’m willing to do on Black Friday), I’ve been doing pretty much nothing but measuring, stirring, shaping and baking.  The tins are starting to pile up on the front porch; it’s like having a walk-in freezer.  I don’t know if I’ll get all of them done before my trip, but that’s my goal.  Here is this year’s list:

    • Anna’s Chocolate Chip (yes, our Anna) – using mini red and green candies
    • Pecan Meltaways
    • Vanilla Walnut Crescents
    • Peanut Butter Bon Bons
    • Peanut Butter Blossoms
    • Soft Gingerbread
    • White Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints
    • Spritz
    • Mint Surprises
    • Derby Cookies
    • Milk Chocolate Fudge
    • Milk Chocolate/PB Fudge

That should keep us in cookies until 2020!

Tell me your very favorite holiday cookie.

Turkey, Eggs, & Onions

This past Sunday was an early Thanksgiving Feast, a potluck at our Unitarian Fellowship. Husband is on the planning committee for that, so we ended up roasting two 12# turkeys. There is still some leftover turkey.

The next morning I woke up realizing “Oh, we get to have Turkey, Eggs, and Onions for breakfast!” This is a dish I learned about when married to Wasband, and living in and around New York City. He was from a Russian Jewish tradition, though I suspect this dish is more an East Coast thing than Jewish. (East coasters eat turkey all year round – a good inexpensive fowl to have any time.)

It was quite a learning curve when I arrived in New York with Wasband in 1974. I had absorbed four years’ worth of San Francisco and coastal California culture, and thought of myself as rather worldly. Ha! Within a couple of months I experienced living (briefly) in a household with completely different family dynamics from mine (and a strong Brooklyn accent); a new religion, though they mostly practiced what I call “Holiday Judaism”; and the death of Wasband’s father, with all the rituals and drama that surround that.  

A couple of months later we were living in our own apartment in Brooklyn, and I had found a job being messenger for a typographic firm in midtown Manhattan. As I ferried packages of type from one building to another, I was a pretender to a whole new set of cultural mores – riding the subway up and down Manhattan (from, i.e., Wall Street to Central Park); ordering “kwahfee” or buying a pretzel from a street vendor. At first, Wasband’s friends were my only social circle. Then one woman invited me to join her Ladies Poker Night, so I was able to have some of my own experiences with other “real New Yorkers”.

After two years, I left all that for the more familiar Midwest territory. But I’m very glad I was able to experience these other cultures. And once in a while I’ll do something that reminds me of that time, which makes me smile.

When have you adopted customs of a culture different from the one you grew up with?

What’s your favorite thing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

Day of Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving.

  • I’m grateful that thanks to Mother Nature, I don’t have to worry about any more raking for awhile. Or pruning.
  • I’m thankful that although I don’t have a working chimney right now (until repairs in spring – maybe), I do have a working chimney liner, thus heat.
  • I’m grateful that Nonny is still spry and vibrant, and coming to visit in a couple of weeks.
  • I’m thankful that YA’s foot is healing nicely and she can now get around on her own, drive and go back to work.
  • I’m grateful that most of my friends and loved ones afflicted with the big “c” have beat it back with a stick and am thankful that this community was able to surround the friend and loved one who didn’t with caring and support.
  • I’m thankful that I haven’t thrown my new cell phone out the window (yet).
  • I’m grateful that usually once a day a stranger shows me kindness (even if it’s just stopping on Lyndale so I can either pull into or out of my driveway).

Enough about me. Anything good on your grateful list this year?

Preparedness?

It’s Tuesday afternoon and folks all around me are panicking. In the last hour I’ve overheard at least 5 different conversations about how much snow we’re likely to get in the next 24 hours.  Our boss has declared tomorrow a “work-at-home” day so the office will be officially closed.  YA has texted me to please stop on the way home to pick up a couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese.  Even Nonny has called from St. Louis to tell me she’s glad she’s coming to visit in December this year and not this week. And I see from the Weather Channel that the coming storm now has a name – Dorothy.

I just can’t get worked up about this. There have been many times that extreme weather has been forecast and then never arrives.  Or arrives in a dribble.   I’ll take my laptop home just in case and will probably stop and get YA’s mac and cheese, but I don’t think I’ll be investing any emotional energy in a winter storm.  I live in Minnesota – we get winter storms.  Snow shovels, snow blower, salt – all at the ready for whenever they are needed at this time of year.

How will you be entertaining yourself if the big snow comes?

Ask Me Why

If you asked YA if traditions were important to her, she would emphatically say “No”. So ask me why I am making a whole batch of iced sugar cookies in the shapes of leaves this week (and airbrushed in autumn colors)?  Or trying to find the iconic green bean casserole recipe for Thanksgiving day?  Or why we’re going to get a tree on Black Friday, even though I’m going out of town two days later?

Any traditions you’d like to leave by the wayside?

2019 Crop Wrap Up

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I hear lots of farmers saying “2019,” and they sigh, “It is what it is. And it needs to be over.”  Yep.

For me, it was December 15th, 2018 when the guy ran into me and totaled my car, and from there it was the leg infection and the rain and now the kidney stone and this year just needs to be over and I’m going to start fresh on December 16th 2019! With Jury duty!  A whole new experience!

I was big on having ‘Experience Adventures’ when I was younger. I quit using that term at some point, but I’m still up for an adventure or experience and they keep coming. Attitude is everything. 

Got the soybeans out. Yield was terrible. Mostly just the weather caused that. No one had great yields, but some were OK. I had that one field that was short. The one I said made me sick to my stomach every time I looked at it. That entire field yielded 89 bushels. Well heck. That was a 10 acre field. Should have done 45 bushels each ACRE! Should have had half a semi load from there! Should have had 450 Bushels! I had some fields here at home that ran 40 – 50 bushels / acre. Don’t know what was up with that one field. Planted same day, same variety of bean. Too wet, too many deer eating the tops off, too cool… it is what it is.

Overall, my beans averaged 28 bushels / acre which is about half of what they should have done. Crop insurance will kick in and cover some of the yield loss. At least they got combined before they got snowed on. Price was on the lower side. But test weight was good and soybeans are almost always dry enough that they don’t need to be dried so all that was good.

Corn was done last week. I knew the yield looked good. Which is pretty amazing considering again, it was planted late, it was cool, it rained, it had windstorms, and then it froze early. It averaged 167 bushels / acre. Above average for me. It doesn’t make any sense considering everything done wrong, but it is what it is. With the raccoons pulling stalks down and wasting the corn, deer knocking them down and eating the corn, and turkeys pulling up young plants, it’s a wonder any survives. Every night you’d see deer out there eating. And as I rode in the combine and he finished the last field, we chased 6 raccoons out of the last rows.

And it was wet, but we knew that. The combine was saying 25% moisture. Delivered corn to the elevator (where it really matters) and the loads were between 24% and 28% moisture. It has to be dried to 15% to store it and that cost me $0.50 / bushel to dry it down. Cost a few thousand dollars for drying. Price wasn’t great to start with. It is what it is. A good year, better soils, less deer, it’s not unusual to average 200+ bushels / acre on some farms in some places. The “Pie-in-the-sky” goal is 300. Takes lots of management to make that happen.

My dad, before hybrid seeds, got 50 bu/Acre so he’d be impressed with the 167.

Crop insurance may kick some in as a price insurance coverage. (because I can buy “revenue” insurance too. NOTE: In fact, the agent was here. No payment on corn because even though price was low, the yield was good. They always get ya).

It froze before I could get any fall fieldwork done. I thought maybe with the warmer weather the last few days maybe it would go; I hooked the chiselplow up and ran out and tried and no. Three inches of frost yet and I should have known but I would be mad at myself if I didn’t try.  2019 – It is what it is.

I’m wondering if the warmer weather the last few days might have helped take the frost out? But it rained too and it’s too muddy to try. Oh well. It is what it is. Next year will be better.

I got some cool pictures of the combine at night.

In the end we didn’t make as much money as we do some years. But I’ve been saying we’ll be OK. And we will; We won’t go broke.

The difference between me and the really big farmers is a matter of a few more zero’s on our checks AND bills.

I asked Craig, who was combining my corn, how much they had left to do. He grunted. “A lot” he said. Later on I asked again. About 900 acres he figured. Yikes.

And of course, the propane shortage we had wasn’t helping but I think that’s passed. Even the coop elevator was shut down because their natural gas was turned off. No one had ever heard of that before. Forty years, no one has heard of that. Craig said they use 1500 gallons of LP / day to dry. One day they got 500 gallons. So they just have to wait.

One guy I watch on YouTube (Mn Millennial Farmer) has a huge, multi-thousand gallon tank and contracts his LP for the year. Yep, he has a contract, he just can’t get it delivered either. He wanted a semi-full, got ½ a load.

I’ve heard it was Illinois’ fault. They usually are a month ahead of us combining corn and they don’t usually need to dry it. And it’s not usually this cold this time of year. It is what it is.

Next year will be better!   Right??

Again?

Well, the heat is finally back on. I’m not going to bore you all with the details but suffice it to say that six days without heat really brought out my need for comfort food.

On Thursday, YA made macaroni and cheese. Nothing fancy – just out of a box, but I had a few bites right out of the pan and it really hit the spot.  So on Friday, as I was waiting for what turned out to be the first of a series of boiler/chimney bad news, I decided to make a big batch of mac and cheese for the weekend.  I used my Instant Pot and instead of water, I used a box of vegetable broth that I had in the cabinet.  Then instead of cheddar, I used some pepper jack, a little mozzarella and a handful of shredded parmesan.  I wasn’t following a recipe – just punting.  It was really really good.  So I had mac and cheese for dinner.  Then for lunch on Saturday.  And Sunday.

So you’d think that by Monday I might be sick of mac and cheese? I would have thought so too.  But when the caterers showed up at my warehouse event to set up the mac & cheese bar, I wanted to just dive right into the big chaffing dish.  The mac & cheese bar had been my idea, but I hadn’t known how much I would personally want it myself.  There were lots of toppings on the bar (bacon, scallions, toasted breadcrumbs, etc.) but when the participants headed back to their hotel, I had a bowl without anything but the pasta and cheese.  If I’m counting correctly, that’s mac and cheese five days in a row!  And I still have some of the pepper jack dish in the fridge, so it might be six days in a row.  If YA doesn’t have any tomorrow, maybe I can make it seven days!

Do you like to adulterate your mac & cheese??