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Changes Don’t Wait for the New Year

December 18, 2014


I don’t often crosspost things from the farm blog, but this is one that is food related, and importantly need related. Some changes have come up, and going forward will be much different, but much more determined. If you’re interested in putting action to your food choices please read and consider a purchase at one of the links. Thank you.

Originally posted on Food, Farm, Life Choices:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn farms, in life sometimes personal and professional life intertwines. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes not so good. Sometimes it just is and takes re-adjustment.

From the beginning bit by bit SlowMoneyFarm has grown – still very small but grown from an idea. We get used to speedbumps. Then comes a pothole. Sink hole. Going forward it’s just me and Connor – Scoutman is bowing out to follow other personal interests. That leaves a gap in income and in skills here, but with support through a major transition we’ll survive. We’ve had the luxury of the last few years being able to expand with outside income. That is now gone.

Merry Christmas! It won’t be this year. It’s all focus on getting the greenhouse up, getting materials for raised beds up, getting fencing up and getting rolling so that we have income. There have been some things happening – listed with

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Preparing a Delicious Christmas Ham

December 17, 2014

416px-StateLibQld_1_110796_Advertisement_for_J._C._Hutton's_hamsFor many the meal of choice for Christmas is ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, fresh hot rolls and a couple of side dishes. Ham is a dish that is reasonable in price, easy to prepare and good not only in the original meal but there are so many ways to use leftovers that you don’t have to worry too much about hearing groans of “ham again?!’

Ham is among the easiest of meals to prepare. It’s ideal for those who “can’t cook” as there is little preparation. Selection of a good ham means some basic decisions such as do you want a “fresh” or “green” ham that is untreated or do you prefer one that has been smoked or salted. “Country” ham is sometimes saltier than other types of ham due to this. In the 1930s, Pineapple Ham was advertised as a Christmas necessity.

Traditional means of preparing a ham involve a glaze. This is not difficult. Place the ham in a baking dish, then into a 350F oven. A basic rule of thumb for cooking is 20 minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer in the thick part of the meat to insure it gets to 160F. Make sure this doesn’t touch the bone as it may then not give an accurate reading of temperature.

About an hour before it’s done take the ham out and with a sharp knife and “score” – slightly cut into – the meat. Combine a cup of brown sugar with a quarter cup of honey or maple syrup, and add two teaspoons dry mustard. Mix this together and spread over the ham. You can secure cloves in the ham as well as, if desired, pineapple rings secured with toothpicks to hold in place. Return to the oven for the last hour, insuring that it’s 160F when done.

Some cover in foil while others choose not to. I prefer just the honey/brown sugar or maple syrup as flavoring and it’s so easy to do. Today there are also processed “honey hams” but this basic recipe is tasty enough for holidays as well as Sunday dinner.

When everyone has had their fill cut the rest of the meat off the bone. Cube some and dice some and bag in zipper bags in 2 cup amounts. This can be frozen until needed or stored in the refrigerator until the next meal it’s needed for. Leftover ham is extremely versatile in casseroles,

You might find a particular favoring that you like that is perfect for ham – try it!

Christmas Brunch Makes Memories

December 16, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFamily traditions can vary regarding meals and Christmas. Some have a dinner on Christmas eve then smaller meals on Christmas day, while others have Christmas dinner midday and some in the evening with a Christmas brunch.

For many families Christmas morning is full of the sounds of tearing paper as gifts are opened followed by gathering for a Christmas brunch. This is something that can be done easily by setting up much the night before. If you have a Christmas Eve dinner you can ‘make’ a casserole while putting away leftovers!

For example, if you had ham on Christmas eve, dice up about a pound of it beat a half dozen eggs with a 13 ounce can evaporated milk (not condensed!) slightly. Mix in the ham (or a pound of browned sausage), 1 ½ slices of bread, cubed and 2 cups grated cheese. You can substitute a little stuffing or crumbled leftover biscuits or rolls for the bread. Cover and refrigerate. In the morning pull it out, uncover and bake for45 minutes at 350F or until firm and done clear through. Serve with sliced fruit if desired. This can easily be stretched if company comes by adding up to 3 cups of shredded potatoes. You can also add peppers, onion or other seasonings to taste.

Another easy casserole that can make use of leftovers is slightly different, using two pounds hash browns/shredded potatoes, 4 cups grated cheese, a can of cream of chicken soup, 2 cup sour cream, ½ cup melted butter, 1 cup chopped onion and a pound of bacon or sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled. You can also use diced leftover ham or turkey. Reserve ½ the cheese but combine all other ingredients. Place in a buttered casserole dish and bake at 350 for 40 minutes, removing to top with the reserved cheese then baking an additional 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

As with most casseroles you can vary the ingredients according to taste. Other popular items for brunch include pancakes or waffles with syrup, fruit or whipped cream, or French toast, cinnamon rolls or other standard breakfast fare.

The nice thing about the casserole dishes is it allows a no-fuss little time way to provide a hot meal. If organizing waffles or pancakes make up the batter the night before and store in the refrigerator. Organize helpers to prepare the meal with the least time, allowing for memories making brunch as well as spending time together for one more meal. It’s precious memories…enjoy them as life changes so quickly and next year may be different. Enjoy the holidays!

Easy No Bake Christmas Candy

December 15, 2014

800px-MashedPotatoesChristmas candy is traditional and for many it’s an art form to find new candy to share. Hard candy that is shoved to the bulk bins becomes popular, old recipes are gone through and new favorites come to light.

Chocolate pretzels are very easy to make simply melting chocolate and dipping pretzel sticks or twists into the chocolate. Another yummy treat that is easy – while you are melting chocolate – is use a toothpick and dip mini marshmallows in the chocolate then set on waxed paper. You can also after dipping dip them in sprinkles or chopped nuts or just plain chocolate. These are very easy to make and good to eat too.

Looking for a “new” way to use up mashed potatoes? Make candy! Combine about ¼ cup mashed potatoes with a box of powdered sugar, mixing in gradually until it forms a soft dough. Add and mix in a teaspoon of vanilla then divide the dough into four pieces. Use waxed paper and roll until about 1/8 inch thick and gently spread the peanut butter on each one. Roll up each one like a jelly roll, refrigerate overnight and cut into pieces. Don’t tell them they’re eating leftover potatoes – they’ll never guess! You could also probably make some with jelly but I haven’t tried that.

Buckeyes are a favorite for many and not just at Christmas! Soften 4 tablespoons butter and combine with a cup smooth peanut butter, 1 ½ cups powdered sugar and a teaspoon vanilla. Mix thoroughly until a smooth batter is formed, and use a teaspoon to make quarter sized balls, placing on a cookie sheet. Place in the refrigerator to chill and while that is happening melt a cup of chocolate. I prefer the milk chocolate but dark chocolate is good too. When chocolate is melted take the peanut butter balls out and, using a toothpick dip in chocolate leaving a spot at the top uncovered. These get their name from an appearance like a buckeye. Work quickly to dip all of the candies and return to the refrigerator.

If you plan to give these as gifts package them up right away and store in the refrigerator. This is important because unpackaged buckeyes have a tendency to disappear from the refrigerator if allowed to be unpackaged. Entire pans of them migrate a half dozen at a time and are never seen again!

These are both great no bake recipes that can be a family activity to make.

Roast Beef Makes Special Christmas Meal

December 14, 2014

RoastBeefProduceFarmersMktFor many people a Christmas roast beef dinner is traditional as a meal. For those whom the children are no longer at home and there’s few people sharing the Christmas dinner table, roast beef leaves less for leftovers and those that are left over have several easy options to use.

Roast beef is also easy to prepare, allowing more time to relax and be with friends and family for the holiday. You can even do some of the preparation in advance.

Take a five pound boneless sirloin tip and cut in half horizontally. Tie each half across the meat in two places then once lengthwise with kitchen twine. No plastic based twine – remember this will go in the oven! Rub the meat down with soy sauce and a little vegetable oil. Sprinkle with black pepper as desired. Place the pieces side by side on a rack inside a 13X9 pan, inserting a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Place in a preheated 450F oven and roast to preferred doneness. For rare this is 50-60 minutes or to 125F on the meat thermometer up to an hour to hour and 10 minutes for medium, (150F) and a little longer for well done. Let stand for 10-15 minutes on a warm platter before slicing.

Leftovers should there be any make excellent roast beef sandwiches, or French dip with little effort. This allows a “day after” meal with little effort by reusing, or adapting, leftovers from the original meal.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer use the touch method to get close. This works for grilled meats also but does take some practice to get it right! The important thing is not undercooking or overcooking for safety or drying it out respectively. The sirloin tenderloin has very little fat so getting it done without overdone is a challenge but one that is so worth the effort! It is also one of the prime cuts of meat on the steer because it’s naturally lean and tender. For those without as much to spend a good rump roast or tip roast also works well. Some consumers have also found loin tail in the grocery store for under $2 per pound, making roast beef very economical.

Another great way to prepare a beef roast is in the slow cooker. A little rub down with seasonings and just a little bit of water. Turn it on low and let it slow cook all day – if the bottom gets dry add a little more water – you can use the juices on the beef or to make gravy.

Don’t overlook a Christmas beef roast for a wonderful meal. You may just find a new tradition!

Rum Roasted Pineapple & The Hungry Cowboy

December 11, 2014

If you’ve never seen Eric Neznik’s Hungry Cowboy videos stop now. Go visit but don’t do so hungry. It’s food and country music – pack a sense of humor and let’s go visit!

Eric’s a good guy – order a CD or two, check out some yummy tempting posts – not always strictly health food! Or just enjoy his Hungry Cowboy series, and subscribe for updates.

Make a Special Christmas Eve Dinner with Lamb

December 10, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas eve dinner is as big for many people as Christmas day. For some it’s even more so with a festive dinner to share with family who may have other plans on Christmas day. This often brings a quest for Christmas eve diner ideas. Those having ham or turkey for Christmas dinner may not want it also on Christmas eve.

There is an alternative that fits in with the season – American lamb. Why lamb on Christmas eve for dinner? Because lamb (sheep) fits in perfectly with the Christmas story. Who noticed the bright star? SHEPHERDS watching their flocks! Today’s shepherds are every bit as diligent in caring for their sheep, although many today employ dogs or even donkeys to watch the flocks from predators.

Lamb is a tasty meal that does take a little bit of a tender handling. Overcooking a good cut of lamb can dry it out. Lamb is leaner than some other meats such as beef and pork that many are familiar with.

An easy way to prepare leg of lamb is rubbing with herbs. Use a 5-7 pound leg of lamb. Combine tablespoon dried parsley flakes, a teaspoon dried mint, a half teaspoon each of onion salt and crushed dried rosemary, a quarter teaspoon or pepper and 2 cloves of slivered garlic. There’s a thin layer on the outer surface of the meat to remove and trim the fat from it. Combine the herbs and rub over the meat thoroughly. Place in a roasting pan and cook at 325F oven for 2-3 hours for medium (160F on a meat thermometer, or to 170F for well done. Let the leg of lamb rest for 15 minutes before carving.

This is a nice departure that is tasty and does well with leftovers. Another option is lamb curry. A couple of side dishes, rolls and desserts and it’s a wonderful full meal.

Another Christmas eve dinner possibility is duck or goose. This too can take some different handling as it is much different to cook than chicken or turkey. In years past a Christmas goose was tradition.

Another option is pheasant which is best cooked in broth. Still another option for a Christmas eve dinner is quail, which can be browned in fat, placed in a glass baking dish. Pour a pint of cream over the quail, cover and steam over low for 45 minutes, cooked at 300F.

There are many great ideas for a different and special meal for Christmas eve. These are a few to make some memories with!


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