Recipes

Souper Sunday

It's that day again friends... Sunday. For those of you who work all week, this day sometimes feels like "Shmonday" a.k.a. "I feel stress because the work week is staring me right in the face." I've got to be honest, each Sunday I feel the anxiety levels rise. My stress level has decreased a bit over the years however, thanks to a few sneaky tricks. I've replaced "Shmonday" with what I like to call Souper Sunday.

What is Souper Sunday? Well, it is the day I pretty much cook our meals for the entire week. That's right friends; I cook enough food to make us through the week. Crazy? Maybe. Stay with me people.

How does it work? Well... lazy coffee drinking Saturday mornings equal pulling up my favorite Pinterest pins and checking what we have in the freezer. This is followed by an intense amount of defrosting and come Sunday morning, the Klann kitchen is a cooking warzone. I typically make two crock pot meals, quick weekday grab and go breakfast, and something for Sunday dinner.

Tortilla Soup and all the fixings.

Tortilla Soup and all the fixings.

If you've lived on a farm (or are a parent for that matter), you know that there are constant projects and mouths to feed on the weekend. This means time is of the essence. By cooking for a few hours on what used to be stressful "Shmonday," those projects are still possible. By dedicating some forward thinking and a few hours of cooking time, hungry mouths will have something delicious to dig into after a long day of chores. Am I convincing or what?

There are a few tricks I would like to also share about Souper Sunday and here are some pictures to help illustrate:

1. Have precut vegetables on hand. I keep a gallon freezer bag full of veggies on hand in the freezer for Souper Sunday. My bag has carrots, celery, and onion ready to go.

2. Process your vegetables as you buy them. I am a firm believer in shaving time off tasks as much as possible. Exhibit A: I purchased a large package of celery from Costco and I make sure to clean and cut all of it during one session. We have veggies to eat in the fridge, veggies for the meal I am cooking on that day, and divided packages of veggies for another day. This not only saves me time later, I only have to wash these dishes ONE time.

Lunch for the week- leftover minestrone and four days of cabbage soup.

Lunch for the week- leftover minestrone and four days of cabbage soup.

3. Serve up lunch. Each week I prepackage my lunches in mason jars. I like mason jars for Souper Sunday soup because they don't leak. I love being able to pack my lunch quickly in the morning, and making lunches each week saves our family lots of money.

Even the hens win on Souper Sunday. Our well deserving, super egg laying, spoiled girls were served warmed up leftovers this morning. Happy hens = yummy eggs.

Think about making Souper Sunday a tradition at your house, I think you will be glad you did. By cooking ahead, I can enjoy a few hours the day outside with our feathered and furry friends. "Shmonday" no longer feels so stressful, and I like the sound of Souper Sunday better!

 Here are a few updates from the Honey Bee Haven:

Today's projects include checking on my honey bee girls, playing on the teeter-totter with the goats, and thinking about which seeds to start in the greenhouse. Lots to do, but it's possible with Souper Sunday.

Eldora's Lefse

The tools you need to make lefse: lefse pan, turning stick, ricer, rolling pin and cloth.

The tools you need to make lefse: lefse pan, turning stick, ricer, rolling pin and cloth.

Today on the farm we made lefse in honor of my sweet grandmother Eldora Mae. For as long as I can remember, lefse (think potato tortilla) has been a tradition of the holiday season. Taking a fresh piece of lefse, spreading butter, cinnamon and sugar, and finally folding the tasty concoction together is synonymous with the holidays. Today I made lefse with our two children to honor tradition and my Grandma Eldora.

Let me introduce my grandmother first before I begin describing the process of lefse making. Eldora Mae lives in the Midwest and I admire her beyond measure.  She is smart, well read, hard working, courageous, and she encompasses all that you can imagine in a grandmother. "Five foot two, eyes are blue..." a song she would sing to us when we were young. Eldora really is all of 5' 2" tall, but you wouldn't know it based on her work ethic and absolute presence in a room. She has a contagious laugh, an aura of absolute kindness and a love for life. Although 2,000 + miles separate us, her influence on my life easily spans the distance between us.

I thank Eldora for my love of gardening, my daily ritual of hanging clothes on the line,  my frugality, my creative side, and my steadfast determination to adhere to her advice, "Sarah, you must learn how to do EVERYTHING on your own." Be "self-sufficient" she would say to me. On more than one occasion she would remind me how important is was to be able to rely on myself no matter what. In all honesty, Eldora has given me much more than a character list. I am thankful every day for her presence in my life and for the gifts she has shared. 

The process of making lefse isn't too difficult. If you've ever made tortillas before, the idea is the same. The Scandinavian culture took the Spanish culture's Masa and replaced it with potatoes. The harder part of making lefse is narrowing down an actual recipe. You see, when you ask Eldora what her recipe is for lefse, she says something like, "you put potatoes, milk and sugar through the ricer." She doesn't tell you how MUCH of the ingredients you need. Recipes are done by "feel" and "taste" rather than quantified amounts. She then follows each sentence with a "you do" affirmation. When I was able to actually get some sort of final measurable quantity, Eldora validates my work with a "yah, you betcha," in true Midwest fashion.  Did I mention how much I love her yet? 

Lefse on the griddle. 

Lefse on the griddle. 

Begin by peeling and boiling the potatoes. I started with about 12 medium sized potatoes thinking that I was doubling the recipe I was given. After the potatoes have softened, drain them and run them through the ricer to get a nice smooth consistency.  To ensure that the measurements are in balance,  double check how many cups the potatoes actually make. It was about 8 cups of potatoes for this particular batch. (On a side note, I use a ricer on occasion to separate the honey from the wax comb. Works like a charm!) 

Once the potatoes are smooth, add milk, sugar, and butter to the mix. I replaced the oil in Grandma's recipe with actual butter. If you were to stop at this point in the recipe and taste the potatoes, you would have a subtly sweet mashed potato mix. 

Next, add the flour. Most recipes call for 1/2 cup flour for each cup of  riced potatoes. Carefully mix, mix, mix and then knead, knead, knead the dough to create a bread-like consistency. I ended up adding more flour to my mix because of the sticky nature of my original batch. I also used whole wheat flour instead of traditional white enriched flour. This way, all that sugar and butter slathered on the finished product is "healthy," considering I used whole wheat!

Emmett with his lefse stick ready to flip the lefse. 

Emmett with his lefse stick ready to flip the lefse. 

Now comes the almost favorite part- the stick flip. The idea of a stick, a little poking and something hot is right up our son's alley. The dough is separated into small golf ball size pieces and rolled out onto a flowered surface. 

It is important to keep the surface well floured and to roll the dough out very thin. The lefse sticks pick up the flattened pieces and make transporting them to the grill much easier. 

Once the pieces have been flipped and cooked on both sides, the lefse is left to cool. Of course it is important to have a few obligatory "test" pieces to ensure a quality product. This part is the best part of the whole adventure and the kids were in full support of multiple samples! The lefse is stored in the refrigerator and must be eaten within a few days. 

Eleanor gave it a thumbs up!

Eleanor gave it a thumbs up!

For as long as I can remember, lefse has been a staple of the holiday season. I am thankful for all of the times my grandmother walked me through the process and I cherish being able to do the same thing with our two sweet kids. We may add a little honey bee flair this year and see how lefse and a drizzle of honey go together. I'm guessing that would taste quite wonderful!

Fall on the Farm

Sometimes I feel like I am part squirrel during the autumn months. I know it isn't technically fall yet, but that doesn't keep a farm from having "fall-like" chores. I couldn't choose topics specifically on this blustery afternoon, as the variety of things we have going on here is just too diverse! Introducing my life this weekend in pictures:

Potatoes curing on the table in the carport for future meals.

Potatoes curing on the table in the carport for future meals.

First up, potatoes. The kids and I dug up the potatoes in the patch this weekend. I leave them sitting out on a table for a few days (no washing the dirt off) so that they "cure" for winter storage. This conglomeration of starchy yumminess will last us through the holidays for sure. 

I must mention that when you dig up potatoes, it's fairly certain that you will hit a few with the shovel as you work. I seemed particularly on target this weekend slicing and dicing several, so we are having potatoes for dinner tonight. It is important to not have any cuts or bruises on the potatoes you plan to store because they will rot all the others. This inspection takes time, but it is well worth the effort to have your own potatoes through the winter months. 

Breakfast burritos for the next two weeks. 

Breakfast burritos for the next two weeks. 

Next up- meal prep. I cooked and prepped a ridiculous amount of food this weekend! I can't tell you how much stress this saves during the week when meals are ready to go. These burritos are an easy warm up in the morning as we race to school and work. 

I stick extras of these meals in the freezer and just pull them out when we need them. Making lunches can be exhausting, stressful and expensive unless you think ahead. 

Poppy and Flax seed drying on the counter for next year.

Poppy and Flax seed drying on the counter for next year.

Next- seed saving. I told you I was a squirrel right? I save all kinds of seeds as they turn on the flower heads. After they dry, I put them in ventilated containers and stick them in the refrigerator. This is called "stratification." It is like simulating winter for the seeds. I pull them out of the fridge when I am ready to plant. 

The honey bees love the sunflowers that line the gravel driveway to our house. We have hundreds of sunflowers along the lane. I purchased these little mesh bags from the Dollar Store to help salvage the seeds from the eager birds visiting the bee garden. The bags allow the air to flow and dry the heads while protecting the heads from hungry birds. There are PLENTY of left over seed heads for our feathered friends and I will enjoy using the seeds next year in the garden. The  seed heads in the bucket will dry in the basement this winter and guarantee a pretty garden next year!

The pumpkins along the lane are changing colors with the seasons. The honey bees have worked their magic pollinating carving pumpkins, gourds and all sorts of zucchini plants. This harvest will come in a few weeks (hopefully) as the first frost settles in. Besides the pumpkins, we have grapes, peppers and tomatoes left on the list to harvest and tuck away. It's a good thing that work gives us a break from farming during the week right? 

 

Cabbage and Sauerkraut

Just as the cauliflower harvest brought great yields this garden season, so did the cabbage here on the farm. After slowly recovering from our recent loss of Ida Mae, we've spent the last few weeks harvesting, eating and preserving the enormous cabbage crop. 

Wonder Woman and Alice joined me for the morning pick.

Wonder Woman and Alice joined me for the morning pick.

A typical year of cauliflower brings fresh cabbage salad, coleslaw, fish tacos and cabbage rolls for a few weeks over the early summer months. As quickly as those yummy dishes arrive, it seams that they in turn quickly disappear. This year I wanted to preserve the harvest beyond a 2-3 week window and I set out to make sauerkraut. 

 Both Wonder Woman (my inspiration and bracelet wearing alter ego) and my dedicated companion Alice helped make the initial harvest a bit easier. I had to move fairly quickly on the harvest too, as Little Bunny Foo Foo was enjoying late night snacks on different heads of cabbage in the garden. The culprit couldn't even commit to which cabbage head to sample, so I had various cabbage heads decorated with small nibbles here and there. 

I pulled about 23 heads of cabbage from both gardens by the time it was all said and done. The dreaded cabbage moth had made her mark on a few of the heads and other garden friends sampled along the growing season too. Even after all of that, I had an ENORMOUS bounty to tackle. 

Farm girls get dirty- 

Farm girls get dirty- 

To get a little perspective about what I was taking on the next several days, I asked our kids to come outside when they woke up and sit with the cabbage. They are getting good at smiling by produce these days!

My Cabbage Patch Kids

My Cabbage Patch Kids

As I mentioned earlier, the process of making sauerkraut took several days. A day for picking, sorting and washing, a day for prepping the canner, jars and supplies and a day of cutting and actual canning. Exhausting right? 

I went online to find recipes for making sauerkraut and found lots of resources. As with all canning, you want to be sure to follow directions specifically and practice good food handling practices. I pinned several recipes to my "Summer Bounty" Pinterest board if you are interested.

We ended up making two kinds of sauerkraut this year. In a nutshell, the sauerkraut process is the same for all types until a given point. You can preserve it for long term use using a water bath (see picture above) or you can ferment it in a crock/jar for 21+ days and then keep it in the refrigerator. The difference between the two is the probiotic benefit of the refrigerated type. Once the kraut is cooked and sealed, it loses that perk. The taste is the same, but the benefits are different. Probiotics+short term storage or sauerkraut+ months of eating. You get to decide.

Sauerkraut "cooking" in the cool/dark pantry for the next several weeks.

Sauerkraut "cooking" in the cool/dark pantry for the next several weeks.

If you don't count the time it took to plant, care for and grow the actual cabbage, the sauerkraut creation process took about three days. Sixty three plus pounds of cabbage heads passed through the kitchen on those days and they are now settled in on the shelves of the pantry. It is fun to look a the variegated colors and think about the dishes we can make from them. I will note that there is NO WAY we will be able to eat all of these jars! Christmas is just around the corner and I like nothing more than handing out a homemade gift. 


Cauliflower: A Harvest Win For The Whole Farm

Large cauliflower leaves provide a water source for our thirsty bees.

Large cauliflower leaves provide a water source for our thirsty bees.

I've been busy lately with the cauliflower in the garden. This is the first year I was able to successfully grow it and I have to say it has been an exceptional harvest year. I started this journey in early February when I first planted the cauliflower seeds in the greenhouse. It was February 2nd to be exact. The kids and I made our daily trip into the retreat of the insulated greenhouse on a cold morning. Believe it or not, a sunny winter day with temperatures below freezing can deliver an 80 degree retreat in the greenhouse.

Below is a picture of what we planted this year. This variety comes from the company Territorial Seeds. I devour their catalog during the winter months wishing and dreaming and this year I felt like this short season variety would give me the best chance. Notice the part about "50-60 days." We will get back to that part in a bit.

Fast forward to the tail end of June (4+ months later). I've harvested roughly 20-25 heads of this amazing and delicious stuff. Yes, that is correct, 20-25. I apologize for losing count, but I can make up for it with pictures of what I did (and still am doing) with it. 

The cold crop bed at the farm. This bed includes onions, cabbage, broccoli, potatoes and cauliflower. 

The cold crop bed at the farm. This bed includes onions, cabbage, broccoli, potatoes and cauliflower. 

With 20+ cauliflower heads ready all at once, I had to have a plan for what to do with them. I knew I wanted to harvest them before the big heat set in around here and I knew that meant pulling the entire plant. Cauliflower offers only one harvest as opposed to broccoli, which may send another shoot up. This left some gaping holes in the garden space, but I have plans for those!

Time to find some new things to add to those empty spaces.

Time to find some new things to add to those empty spaces.

In order not to make this post too long, I'll quickly show you a few of the things I did with this amazing harvest. The story of how to blanch vegetables and how to can them will come another day.

I made sure to wash the cauliflower when I brought it into the house to ensure that none of nature's little friends tried to join us inside. Soaking the heads for a few hours in a light salt water helps with this. I used my trusty Ball Canning book in my experiment with a few jars of pickled cauliflower. 

I can't forget to note that we had other winners in this great harvest here on the farm. Our chickens earned the right to forage and devour the left over leaves after my harvest. They were happy ladies too.


I feel very pleased with how this year's harvest turned out. We have fresh cauliflower in the fridge for snacking and meals. We have plenty of enticing cauliflower resources to reach for during the cold winter months ahead too. It has been an enormous task to "put it away" in the freezer and in canning jars, but I am thankful to have had the chance to do it. February 2nd to June 28th... not quite the timeline noted on the seed package. That is gardening in Central Oregon for you! This little face makes it all worth it though.

Strawberry Rhubarb "Dump Cake"

Tis the season for strawberries and rhubarb. Here is an easy recipe that consistently proves to appease the pickiest of palates. A bonus feature, it is so easy to make.

1. Ingredients:

* 1 cup of chopped rhubarb                     * 1 cup of freshly sliced strawberries                               * 1 stick of butter (cut in cubes)               * 1 box of yellow cake mix

2. "Dump" these ingredients in a greased glass baking dish in this order: fruit, cake mix, butter

3. Bake @ 350 degrees for 1 hour, cool and enjoy. 

May I suggest a little ice cream to go with this?