S’more bars made easy….

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 25-07-2014

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When my niece and nephew came to visit earlier this week, Grandma Mahoney sent along the makings for S’mores. However, the mosquitos had other plans and being outside in the evening for more than a few minutes was not going to happen. Instead, I decided to make them into bars so they could eat them throughout the day as well as held some back for my brother and sister-in-law to try-the kids can’t eat them all! I looked on the internet and found a few, but each had something about it I didn’t like, so I made my own up and the kids loved them. Yes, I’m sharing a recipe and here it is:

S’more Bars

one package graham crackers (from a large box)
14 large marshmallows
6 Hershey candy bars
one box 9 x 13 size brownie mix, prepared

Line a 9 x 13 with parchment paper-this makes for easy clean up and cutting of the bars; lay the graham crackers on the bottom-it’s ok if they overlap a little and you will have to break one or more in two to make it fit.
Pour the prepared brownie mix over it so it won’t have to be spread; bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until done; don’t over bake!
While it’s baking, grab a pair of scissors, dip them in powdered sugar, and snip the marshmallows into two (see pic)

While you’re waiting, have the candy bars open and ready to roll. As soon as the brownie part is done, take it out and turn the oven to broil. Place the candy bars on the brownie; you’ll have to break one lengthwise to fit on the end. Then place the marshmallows on top (see pic)

Place this back in the oven and watch closely; it will only take a minute to get the tops toasty..make them as as dark as your kids like their S’mores…had this been for me, those tops would have been a lot darker!  You could use more marshmallows, but I like to make them even so cutting them is a breeze.(see pic)

Voila! Let them cool, grab the parchment paper on the sides and remove from the pan. Slice and devour…there was nothing left at the end of the day. Makes 28 S’mores (see final pic) Enjoy-this would be a great recipe for a beginner 4-Her!

The wind button must have broken…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-07-2014

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Monday late afternoon/evening was one wild ride in North Dakota. We were at the State Fair in the Pride of Dakota tent when the sky began looking funky; by 3:30 they were telling us to pack up and leave early, but by the time most of us got packed up and to our cars, the monsoon began. After returning to the tent from having parked my car in the fairgrounds, it was obvious we were not going to be taking boxes to the car because a) they are boxes and would have disintegrated immediately and b) my three helpers were no where to be found. I brought my son, niece, and nephew to the fair-this way they helped me load/unload and then got to go enjoy the fair on their own. They did eventually show up; the niece first, followed later by the two boys who felt the need to (shock) get some food to eat. We waited out the storm but saw on radar it wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, so when it let up a bit, we made the mad dash for the car to load it up. Afterwards, four wet bodies, three of which are teenagers, were about to embark on a two hour trip home. Let’s just say the deodorant did its job and despite wet feet, we survived. However, before leaving Minot, hail began…I have a newer car and really don’t want any damage nor do I want to drive in that crazy snowstorm-in-summer so we scanned the area looking for an empty garage. Yep, it didn’t matter to me whose it was, I was going to use it. I spotted one across the road and made a beeline for it; I have no idea what company it was, but no one was there, the door was open, and just like Goldilocks, we made ourselves at home until the hail stopped. We literally outran the storm and beat it home by fifteen minutes; enough time to put things away (like the tent used to detract the deer), batten down the hatches on the chickens, and close doors on the big buildings. When we left Minot it was 68-when we got home it was 83, so I knew there was fun coming our way. We received four inches in a few hours’ time, but no wind damage; I feel for those just a few miles south of us since the damage was much worse-trees down, crops flattened, etc.

The next morning was so still and calm…which the mosquitos loved. I tried to go out to the garden to pick beans and even with bug spray they had a feast. I have to go out there today to snip spinach, harvest beets and do some weed clean up, but who wants to go out there and be something else’s meal?! A breeze would be nice, but I think the storm used up our allotment of wind for the month.

I have two products on trellises outside our front door-grapes and cucumbers. The grapes are purely for fun and act as a shade for the porch, but the cucs are used for pickles. Guess which one the cats feel the need to lay under? The daddy cat lays there and then the two kittens come to play, batting at the bright yellow cucumber flowers until they have conquered them, or play with a big fat green leaf until it too, crashes to the ground. They survived the previous wind storm, are finally producing, and now some felines are going to lay waste to them?! I think not. I need to train them to play with the grapes…because I have so much spare time on my hands. Today is beet pickle day again; the beans and peas are picked and ready to be canned, and the spinach needs to be frozen. The raspberries are just starting, too, so that means a daily trek out there to pick those delicious delicacies…I can already tell more bug spray is needed.

I will leave you with a picture of my new medication-a water fall. I used to listen to music on the computer but my son hooked this up on the counter next to me, so now I turn it on and feel so much more relaxed as I pay bills, blog, try to remember passwords, etc. Seriously, I now have a file with all my user names and passwords because I keep forgetting them; life used to be so easy and now with all the hacking, one has to change up all the passwords-did I capitalize that one? what number order did I use for this one? what was I thinking when I made up that one?! Now the waterfall sings a melody that puts me at ease…and makes me want to use the bathroom more. There’s a price to pay for everything. May your Wednesday be what your make of it…whether it’s a cold, refreshing waterfall or a giant mosquito full of your blood. Swat!

The ‘sin’ in cilantro

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 16-07-2014

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Growing up in the Midwest meant limited exposure to ‘exotic’ vegetables and fruits. Kiwi and mango were introduced in college, but I didn’t discover cilantro until moving to south Texas in 1990. What was that strange flake they were using with tomatoes and onions and why did it smell so good? I fell in love immediately and haven’t looked back. Now I grow a lot of it to use in several of my salsas-rhubarb, peach, and corn. It adds a nice depth to their flavors without overwhelming them. We eat it a lot in July and August-chop up a tomato, snip off a bunch of cilantro leaves, add some onion and chopped pepper, a squeeze of lime juice and voila! Adding an avocado would be icing on the cake. We use that same mixture over our lettuce to give it a kick and surprisingly, lettuce and cilantro taste really good together. We also ate it in our tomato hotdish last night and we liked that flavor, too.  Then there’s the smell….I love it so much that I told my son when he gets married, cilantro needs to be in the flower vases on the table. He wasn’t impressed. Since I made pickled beets yesterday he did like the smell of cilantro better than the smell of apple cider vinegar and beets.  Yesterday I picked a large box of it:

Since I am going to see my siblings this weekend, they received  a text asking if anyone was interested; after giving away more than half, I washed the rest, snipped the leaves off, and put them in the dryer:

This morning, I put them in a large bowl, crushed them up, and now they are tucked away in a container until I need them. I think I’ll do this one more time and should be set for the salsa season:

It is kind of sad how so much cilantro only makes a little bit dried, but a little goes a long ways…and I can’t keep it fresh forever!

This past weekend we spent our time in Blaisdell, ND, at a 100 year family farm reunion. It was three days of food, family, fun, and did I mention food?! One can’t be at a function and not be full; there were cookie jars and doughnuts out, snacks, ice cream, and meals large enough to feed a Naval aircraft carrier. I was introduced to cream and bread, something my husband’s side (the brothers) talk about every time there is a family function. It’s only taken me 15 years, but I finally tried it-and liked it! It is literally a slice of homemade white bread (store bought will not do) with cream (whipping for us) poured over it and topped with a variety of things: brown sugar, rhubarb sauce, chokecherry syrup-you get the idea. I used brown sugar and thought it was really tasty. At the next function I host, I will have that out for dessert! Enough about the food…when we were driving there, my son asked how many 100 year anniversaries this one was for the family farm. I looked at him strangely and I think he realized what he had just asked.  100 years in one family’s name is a big feat, especially in this day and age; the 80s took a lot of family farms out of business and broke the cycle. Of the six sisters born there, only two remain, and they were both there throughout the weekend reminiscing about the past and such.

As I am blogging, I am getting a tad worried; our son spent the night in the tent by the corn patch to keep out the deer until we can get a fence up-hopefully today. He woke up to the sound of a cow mooing; now this isn’t unusual, but it sounded awfully close, and sure enough, one was wandering the yard. Three had gotten out somehow, but only one left the confines of the corral. Naughty girl. She did wander back in and he closed the gate, but now he’s been out there for two hours mending the broken fence. I am hoping he fixes it without too much trouble. That is one of the drawbacks of having a commuter husband, but our son is capable and can do the job. Think of what boys were responsible for during the World Wars; our kiddos have it easy. Back to the sleeping arrangements; when we came home Sunday evening, I went out to check the garden while our son checked the cattle. I noticed the tops of all my sunflowers were eaten as well as the center of several stalks of corn. Then I saw several more stalks rooted up and laying dead. Deer. Game on. No one messes with my corn; it’s used for my salsa AND we love corn on the cob! Our son agreed to set up the tent and sleep out there for a few nights until he and I can get a portable electric fence going. I hate fencing my garden; I’ve never had to do it until these past few years, and then it’s to keep the raccoons out of the corn in August. When hubby comes home, we’ll put up the big fence, but hopefully a double strand of poly will keep them out while we’re gone.

Ok, after whining about too much rain in May/June, the water spigot in the sky has shut off and now we’re dry. I only have a week’s worth of water in the rain barrels for the front garden, and have been drip irrigating the raspberries daily. Last night it was completely still outside, and so I irrigated the rest of the garden; I normally do it in the morning, but the stillness was too tempting. I have woken up too many morning to a wind around here…

It is already the middle of July. Get out there and soak up some Vitamin D-for delightful!

Somebody’s Watching Me…just like the 80s song

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-07-2014

This little chap has been hanging out on our air conditioner chatting with us for the past few days. We don’t know why, we certainly don’t know what it is saying, but it is incessant. If you know what kind of bird it is, let me know. It’s starting to grow on us and now we are thinking of a name for it. Entertainment is at a premium around here…

I made an apple praline pie yesterday for some dear friends and there was left over dough so I rolled it out, sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on it and threw it on a stone. As it was baking, it suddenly brought me back to making pies with our grandma in our old house kitchen. That lady could make a pie like no other and tried to teach us six ragamuffins how to make them; our favorite part was when she rolled out the excess, put it in a pie tin, and did the same thing I did. When it came out of the oven, we fought over that little piece of heaven-flaky, slightly sweet, and just enough for all of us to get a taste until the pies came out of the oven. While breads and kuchen are still my favorite thing to make, pie is slowly making a come back to me as I experiment with different crusts, fillings and toppings. That way Grandma Behrens can always be a part of what I love to do-bake…

Yesterday we also went into the garden for our hour of power and ended up with maybe a bit more than that, but since it had rained the day before, we ‘had’ to make up that hour. Weeding is getting easier, the rains have helped the garden shoot up, and fertilizing was on the menu. We snacked on a few peas as well-nothing like a warm pea from the garden. The beans are blossoming and next week the first beet harvest will be pulled to make beet pickles. I usually do three plantings of them so they don’t overwhelm me at once. I also spotted a few tomatoes on the vine and the zucchinis are a few inches long. They had some serious damage from the winds last week and their production will be affected. While the strawberries were an epic failure this year, the raspberries look amazing, which is good considering a lot of product gets made from them, whereas the strawberries have one. I went to Runnings to get the last of their 75% off greenhouse sale and snagged more kohlrabis; I love those things and can’t plant enough. A lady was there, going through flowers, and asked me what I was buying; she had never eaten a kohlrabi before and thus talked her into buying a pack to try. As long as you don’t let them get to be huge, a baseball sized kohlrabi is simply divine. I cannot understand why the fairs around here give grand champions to the softball sized kohlrabis; that would be the woodiest, hottest, and most tasteless one there. Reward for picking them at the height of the season, not for size. This isn’t a steer…

Time to make the donuts! Not really; that’s from a commercial in the 80s…but it is time to get outside and clean the strawberries one last time before we heavily mulch them and ignore them until the fall. With that, enjoy your Wednesday, tickle a child today, and hug someone just because. It will make the day so much better…and make people wonder what you are up to.

Patriotic Pickles

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-07-2014

Happy birthday, nation! Normally, this would be full of cucumber vines, but since the wind beat them up, they are bare until I coax them to come out to play again. It looked so empty, so I decided to put up the two flags we had and show a little patriotism. Maybe it will inspire the cucs to get a move on and grow.

Yesterday and today are full of outside work; I spent the entire day in the garden yesterday tilling (for the last time this season), cleaning, mulching, planting, thinning, and laying down some plastic which (surprise) the wind blew off. We used more staples and rocks-that plastic isn’t going anywhere this time! Today we got up early to put down wood chips between the strawberry and raspberry rows. It keeps the weeds and shoots at bay as well as hold some of the moisture in that the WIND sucked up. I have a bit more mulching to do around some of the vines and then I promised my hubby we’d work together and replant some trees that bit the dust last year in the heat. Finally, I will get my trusty foam pad, a small hoe, put on the radio to an 80s station, and clean out the strawberries one last time this season before laying down straw around them. They did not have a good season and I am really disappointed in their production; last year we averaged a pound a row every other day; today we barely managed a half pound in the entire patch. Sigh…There is always next year.

With that in mind,  I am wishing you a happy 4th of July; say a prayer of thanks for the men and women in uniform who are protecting our freedom today.

Internet recipes investigated…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 01-07-2014

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Ok, who stole summer?! We had a few weeks of it in early June, and then suddenly, the rain began and blue skies took a hike. My poor plants don’t know what to think; we had a blast of heat at the end of May which nearly cooked them, followed by some nice days, and now it’s cool, cloudy, and windy. Did I mention the wind?! The past two days have taken a toll on the garden plants; two days of harsh, strong winds have left them ripped, whipped, and broken. The vines snapped, wilting the entire vine and all its beautiful blooms. On Saturday, I was admiring how well the cucumbers were climbing and blooming in front of the house; this is what they look like this morning:

I don’t know if I’ll get to make pickles this year, and this makes me sad; we love pickles! We’ll see what happens in the next week or so, I guess. We went outside yesterday between rainfalls to pick the strawberries which are also suffering; there was a large winter kill this year and they are acting as if they are first year producers with few berries on them. This cool weather isn’t helping them, either. The raspberries, however, are loving the rain and will do well when they start to produce within the month. My saddest thing to see was the potatoes; we spent a lot of time hilling and mulching them last week; despite the protection, the wind pushed them over, exposing the roots and tearing them. I don’t know if they’ll pull out of that, either. After the rain comes the rainbow, so for now we’ll hold off on judgment until the sun comes out…because it will eventually! All of the plastic survived the winds except the one first exposed to the harsh west wind; when we went out there yesterday, it was being held by one staple-that is one stubborn staple!

Now to today’s topic: with the extra time inside, I have been making some of the recipes people are sharing on facebook. It’s funny to see how facebook has become the online recipe book for the older generation; you don’t see teens or twenty-somethings sharing recipes, but get a mother on there, and recipes are flying off their wall. While that is fine and dandy, anyone can post a recipe on a blog; the trick is to see if it actually looks and tastes like the mouth-watering pictures they take. They must have really good cameras, because my smart phone doesn’t take that good of pictures no matter what I do. I won’t say whose blog these came from, but I got them off shared facebook recipes so you can figure it out. The first one is a rhubarb cream cheese bar everyone was sharing a few weeks back; in the Midwest, any recipe involving rhubarb is fair game and if it seems different, all the better. The bars called for two bricks of cream cheese and that was way too much; one brick would have been plenty. It also only called for two cups of rhubarb and needed more. The result was a cheesecake rhubarb bar, heavy on the cream cheese and light on the rhubarb. I made some changes:4 v 2 c rhubarb and the cream cheese filling (1 brick cream cheese, 1/3 c sugar, one egg) and it turned out much better.  Last week there was a blog about a brookie-a brownie and cookie put together. I mixed it up and followed the time allotment of ten minutes baking; had I taken them out at that time, they would have been gooey and soggy. They needed sixteen minutes minimum to bake. I used two pampered chef scoops; the smallest and the largest. I put the brownie in the small one, transferred it to the large one and added the cookie dough. I also used my own chocolate chip recipe since it is a soft one and like it a lot. They did taste really good and will make them more often. Here’s a picture of one:

I guess the moral of the story is be wary of what you grab off the internet; it might look appealing but once made, eh, not so much. It’s another rainy day and that means more indoor work for us; we processed a bunch of rhubarb yesterday and today are baking pies, buns, rolls, and prep work for a catering job tomorrow. The forecast calls for a nice day tomorrow when I’ll be inside working. Yep, that’s how it goes. Put on some 80s music, dance with the broom or mop, and have a great day. Who doesn’t love a good 80s pop song?!

‘Amish’ Iced Coffee for me, please…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 27-06-2014

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I don’t normally drink coffee in the summer; it’s hot, I’m sweaty, and it doesn’t make sense unless we have company or it’s cool, rainy, and windy (like this morning!) and my hubby and I are enjoying a cup together as we plan out the day. However, a few weeks ago I was driving home from Minnesota and became extremely tired to the point of unsafe driving; since it was just my son and me, there was no driver exchanging, so we went into McDonald’s to get one of their $1 coffees. Then I saw their iced coffee on sale and decided to try it; as a consumer, one should always ask what is in a drink before imbibing in it. The regular, plain iced coffee had four creamers, multiple squirts of syrup and sugar; that just sounded like trouble so  I asked for the sugar free version and liked it. A lot. It kept me awake and didn’t taste like dirty water which is what happened when I tried to make my own iced coffee once-but in my defense I thought I could just refrigerate the hot coffee I had made earlier in the day. Nope, not the same. So I went online and found some recipes for iced coffee, experimented, and came up with my Amish version because many of them called for a ridiculous amount of coffee. In the past, women would make the coffee on a pot on the stove and just add grounds and water throughout the week so by Saturday, it was coffee you could grow chest hair with-as a woman. Since I am too cheap to drive an hour to get an iced coffee, here it is:

Amish Iced Coffee (makes enough for two 16 oz coffees per day)

The night before you want the coffee, get a plastic pitcher and dump 2/3 c coffee grounds (you can grind your own) in it; fill to half (one quart) and add a tsp of cinnamon (optional, but I like it)
Place in fridge overnight; in the morning, use a large bowl, paper towel, and colander to strain the coffee; don’t get it all out-keep the grounds in the pitcher. Pour into a glass quart jar or another pitcher if you don’t have a million jars like I do. Add three heaping tablespoons (see picture) of fresh grounds to the pitcher, refill with to half full, add cinnamon, and put in fridge for tomorrow or the next day. (far right in picture). I do this for about a week; on the last day, I fill it with water and dump the grounds and water on my plants outside-they love it, especially flowers. It’s what pioneer women did and if it’s good enough for them, it works for me…

The night before I also made ice cubes using Silk Almond milk, regular or unsweetened, and filling the trays half full; if you make full cubes, they won’t melt fast enough and you’ll have cubes at the end. I like to have them melt into the coffee and add texture/flavor. Keep in mind they will ‘flake’ when they melt, but you aren’t a wienie and can handle it. You could also use whipping cream, half and half, etc., but milk gives me issues sometimes so I have switched to Silk to keep the tummy happy. Experiment! Have fun! With the first batch, I usually make a few trays of iced coffee cubes as well. Once you get the starter going, this process becomes pretty easy. I keep each in a ziplock baggie in the freezer and make new cubes every four days.

Now to assemble: Get out a 16 oz glass (one in the freezer would really be special!) and add three cubes each of iced coffee and Silk cubes. I sprinkled two pkgs of Truvia on them, but you can use whatever suites your taste. Fill with the coffee and add Silk milk-mine’s about 1/8 cup (I never measure), a capful of sugar free Torani syrup (I use caramel but there are many flavors available at the store) and a tablespoon of creamer. Stir, grab a straw, and sip away. Here’s the after picture:

This is a lot better for you than the Frappinis, etc you get out there calorie and fat wise, has a great taste, and will keep you awake when the day gets long. Try it and let me know how you make your iced coffee!

I was going to work in the garden today but the weather is not cooperating, so instead will work inside. Juneberry pies, breads, and cleaning are on the menu. The Foster County Fair just finished up and we are tired, but happy. The two kittens we have are still wasting way too much of our time; who can resist them when they are sleeping? Not me. We made a little box for them in the corner of our porch under the grill (I promise they won’t end up as dinner) so they are out of the elements yet easily accessed for petting. We are fairly certain there is a raccoon up in our barn loft since the mamma cat brought them to the porch…plus my hubby found a rather large doo doo up there and it’s too big for a cat to produce. The realities of farm life…

We had our first picking of spinach and strawberries, so that salad is on the menu for lunch. Yummy. My husband also got a large batch of radishes to take back to the oil fields today for his salads; I don’t care for them but will plant them for him if that’s what he likes.

There is a telemarketer calling my cell phone from New York-trust me, I know no one there-so instead of answering, I just hit the button, put it on speaker and let the person hear whatever it is I’m doing. Typing? Sure! Flushing a toilet? You bet! Stop wasting my time…

It’s the last Friday in June already. Yikes! Be the sunshine needed for the day; don’t rely on the orb in the sky to do it for you…

Some days I feel like this…

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 16-06-2014

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Don’t we all feel like this at one time or another? It’s been raining for a few days now and my get up and go got up and left the building. My dog discovered this turtle on our driveway on our morning walk the other day; I told her to leave it alone, but that night she had drug it to the house. Silly dog. Our son returned it to the slough where it belonged. When the sun is out, I am a bundle of energy; the trick is finding said energy when the sun is taking a break. I would rather curl up with a book or watch a good movie than clean the bathrooms, vacuum, dust, or do the other million things that need to be done on a weekend such as the one we had. We did manage to get over 750 jars labeled on Saturday for the upcoming selling season; we are the dynamic duo when it comes to that process! We watched The Blind Side as a reward that night; my son hadn’t seen it in awhile, and I will watch any movie with football in it…except lame ones such as The Longest Yard-nothing could save that movie. We spent Sunday working on 4-H projects because the fair is right around the corner and don’t want to be doing things at the last minute…even though we probably still will be doing just that.

Monday was a mixed bag of weather; the morning was sunny and beautiful, the afternoon cloudy, windy, and cool, and suddenly around 4 the sun came out, the clouds disappeared and the day was gorgeous again. The cattle are grazing literally two feet from my garden and it makes me nervous, but my husband reassures me they will respect the wire (the same wire they got out of just a few days ago in the cell, but who remembers that?!) and not trample the garden. We are opening the windows in the bedroom and I swear, if I hear a cow mooing outside the window like I did our first year of grazing (when the garden DID get trampled) tonight, there will be a very unhappy lady in the house.

I picked the haskaps and got about two cups’ worth. If you don’t know what that is, they look like a blueberry in a football shape and are fun to grow. Google it and learn something; don’t make me have to explain it all to you! We eat them on our cereal in the morning, with cantaloupe during lunch, and my new favorite, in Napa salad-you know, ramen noodles, cabbage, mandarin oranges, etc…the berries add a new layer to the flavor profile. Ok, that just sounded high faluttin’. I am just happy the birds, deer, mice, etc aren’t eating them this year. I aim to starve them all…I don’t mind sharing with humans, but unless I put it in a feeder or a bowl, the animal kingdom is not welcome to treat our produce as their fruit bowl. Here is a picture of the haskaps; I have to sit on the ground cross-legged to pick under the fence, but it’s worth it and not too difficult. I pretend I’m meditating…

Enjoy your night…I’ll let you know if the cows wake me in the night. You may hear me screaming from where you are…

 

A picture is worth a thousand words…or a few giggles.

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 14-06-2014

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Happy Father’s Day! You will have to click on this picture to see what it’s all about; I found this in my husband’s office on the whiteboard when I walked in there a while ago. When he’s gone to the oil fields, our son is in charge of the cattle, checking the water supply and fences as well as hunting gophers. We’ll get back to the latter, but as he was out there yesterday morning, he discovered the cattle were ‘out’. Not out of the pasture, but out of the cell they were supposed to be in at the time. He moved the cattle, fixed the fence, and got them back on track all without me knowing it. He must have come into the house, drawn the diagram, and then snapped a picture of it to send to his dad so they could chat about what happened. Pretty clever on both fronts, but I am digging the explanations and detailed drawings of things-what the heck is on the quonset?! His use of arrows is pretty funny, too. I think his dad was relieved he fixed the problem himself, I’m relieved he fixed it without my help, and I am certain he feels proud of what he did. The gophers are also causing a lot of problems out in the pastures so our son hunts them daily; every morning and evening he goes out on the four wheeler with the .22 and a hammer to check the two traps he has set. He’s up to 44 of those varmints caught and killed; the three cats get to eat them and right now they are happy and fat-we are saving money on cat food for a change! It’s the perfect summer activity for a boy…

We own one tractor and my husband uses it quite a bit for bush hogging, snow removal, grading the driveway and more. He also likes to drink his morning coffee or adult beverage while working so he came up with a solution; he drilled a can to the hub and voila! an instant cup holder! That man is the MacGyver of our farm…

It’s been a busy week or so on the farm since the last blog. The chicks were moved to their second pen and next week will be going outside in the rotating pen. The garden is coming along thanks to some rain we received a few days ago. We mulched some of it and will finish when the beets and carrots are a little taller;it’s so hard to weed the plants when they look like a weed as a youngster. The day after the rain my son and I tackled the strawberry beds, cleaning out the grass, bindweed, dandelions and thistles which seem to multiply yearly. After that, it was still early and since it was a perfect summer day, decided to clean out the three rows of trees that were planted last year. The first two rows weren’t bad, but the third row took us forever to do; the grass was tall and thick, making pulling a real butt burner. However, we didn’t give up; it was sunny, breezy, and cool-no mosquitos, so we had to plow on and get it done. By 7:30 we had it conquered…or did it conquer us?! It’s three days later and I am still sore…

Last night was the Putnam House Wine Tasting event and it was so much fun! They hired me to make some appetizers and work in the kitchen-something I love doing. The band outside was terrific, the weather cooperated, and the crowd was both hungry and thirsty. I had a great time working with an energetic group of ladies and look forward to doing it again next year. The birding festival is going on right now in Carrington, and many of those people came to the event. I think they had a good time…

Tomorrow is Father’s Day; let the dads in your life know they are important and cherished. I am leaving you with a picture of our cat hiding in the Nanking cherry bush. He loves to sleep there…or at least he did until we put fencing around it to keep the birds out. Sorry, kitty! I love how the eyes match the leaves…

Apple butter IS better!

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Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-06-2014

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Making apple butter is a labor of love; unlike jams, salsas, or relishes, it takes ALL day to make it-there’s no rushing it or you pay the price in a scorched pan. Last fall, we processed all the apples into unsweetened applesauce at the end of the season so when winter hit, apple butter would be made. This way I have all day to heat up the house and stir for hours on end. Who has time for THAT in the fall? Well, as most of you know, we were busy constructing the commercial kitchen this winter and so the applesauce sat patiently waiting for the big conversion. Honestly, by April, I had forgotten about the applesauce until I stumbled upon it in the pantry. Gotta love that memory. So when we got some rain the other day, I saw my chance to make it in the new kitchen. Had I made it in the winter, I would have done this over three or four days time, but since there are twelve million other things to do in the summer, I knew the window of opportunity would be small and so used four pots and made from one to three batches in each pan at one time. It was slightly comical since I had the biggest pot in my kitchen and the other three in the commercial; every ten minutes you have to stir, so I’d run into the kitchen, stir like crazy, set the timer, and run into the ‘lab’ and stir the other three. This went on for five hours, because it takes that long and by the fifth hour, I was a bit frazzled. On top of that, the butter ‘bites’ you while you’re stirring; it’s a low boil and when you stir, it plops up and gets you if you aren’t careful. And again, by the witching hour, I was getting bitten by all four pots. Then there is the sticky mess; the floors, the walls, the back of the stove-all covered in splotches of apple goodness. We opened over one hundred quart jars and when it was all said and done, made ninety 14 oz jars; that is a lot of cooking down. Is it worth it? Absolutely; apple butter is great on toast, on waffles or pancakes, warmed up and plopped on cold ice cream, used with any pork dish, or simply eaten out of the jar either warm or cold. It’s like applesauce on steroids. If you look at the picture, the top right pot is the before shot with applesauce, sugar, and spices. The bottom left is what it looks like five hours later.

Yesterday was our first long day in the garden; we hoed the weeds, put on black plastic, and put mulch around all the orchard bushes/trees. Normally, we do our ‘hour of power’ and that’s it, but this won’t happen until we lay the ground work such as today. My son wasn’t thrilled, but he realizes it has to be done and we do it together. Gardening is a lot like raising a child; at first it’s cute (the planting) but soon it’s waking you up every hour with a constant need. When the plants emerge, the weeds do too, and suddenly gardening is a lot of work. Watering, mulching, more weeding, transplanting, and pest control keep you on your toes just as a baby does. If you ignore it, there will be consequences just as there are when you ignore your child’s needs.  But it’s worth it in the end when the garden flourishes and produces, just as your child grows, flourishing under your nurturing care until he or she leaves the nest. You might call your child a melon head for some of the dumb things he or she does yet we all know they aren’t edible…

Well, that’s enough deep thoughts by Jack Handy (allusion to Saturday Night Live in the late 80s) so it’s time to take on the day. Our dog is going to the vet for her yearly shots and she hates going in the car. She shouldn’t feel bad; I saw a dog wearing the ‘cone of shame’ yesterday and that is embarrassing for everyone involved. She’s had to wear one and I still shudder…oh who am I kidding? It was funny and we gave her extra love because of how demoralized she was wearing it. So with that in mind, it’s already Thursday; the weekend begins in less than twenty-four hours-that’s got to make you smile!