Sunday, December 27, 2009

Perfect Prime Rib

Few things in life are as satisfying as a good piece of meat! A fine example of a good piece of meat is 11 pounds of prime rib. Yum! My sis was ever so kind as to provide me with one such hunk of beef for Christmas dinner. I was ever so kind (and delighted) to cook it.
Here's how I prepare a fool proof prime rib:

I line a big roasting pan with foil and liberally coat it with cooking spray.
I place the rib in fat side up.

I mince an entire head of garlic and place it in a small bowl with about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
(I used canola oil...'cause it's what I had...and I like it...)

To the garlic and oil, you need to add a few more ingredients:
salt, ground thyme, and black pepper. Use pre-ground or fresh cracked black pepper...whatever you like. (I use half ground and half fresh cracked.)

Add two teaspoons each of the salt, pepper, and thyme to the garlic.

Give it a good stir to form a blissfully wonderful garlic paste.
Inhale! It's magical! Try not to weep!

Use your hand, or a spatula, or the back of a spoon (whatever floats your boat) and slather the garlic paste over the hunka hunka meaty goodness.
Leave the hunka hunka meaty goodness setting out on the counter for an hour.
Don't freak! It'll be just fine. I promise. Unless you live somewhere where the internal temperature of your house is like 95 degrees F or something.
(Or you have a very large hungry dog.)
Then you might want to rethink that. Your goal is to just warm the meat up closer to room temperature and let the magic garlic paste penetrate the meat.
Start that oven up 'cause you'll want to cook the roast at 500 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Then, turn down your oven to 350 degrees F and continue to
cook it foranother 60 to 75 minutes.
I like mine medium rare so the internal temperature should be at
145 degrees F if you care to take it's temp.

Now for the hard part:
Let the meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before you slice into it, otherwise, all of those wonderful juices will gush out of the meat and you'll cry. Well, I'd cry...then I'd go find a straw.
P.S. Don't forget the horseradish! I'm a firm believer in horseradish with prime rib.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

We were blessed this morning with something that we haven't had in a good long while...
a white Christmas!
But, it came in the form of a blizzard last night. Although we didn't get that much snow, just a few inches, it did drift quite a bit.

This is what we call a snow plow on the farm: a tractor with a bucket on it.
Hey! It gets the job done.
This is how much snow was drifted in front of my garage this morning. Without braving the 17 degree temps (plus windchill) to take out a yard-stick, I'm going to guesstimate that it's about
2 1/2 feet of drift.

Unlike an actual blade, with a bucket, you have to "plow" backwards.
Ted raises the bucket, sets it down...

then backs down the driveway.
If I know Ted, and I KNOW Ted, right now he is driving around the countryside seeing who he can rescue or plow out. He's a good man, Charlie Brown!
Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good Fences

On a grain farm, we're not exactly about building fences. No cattle to keep in, so fences are kind of "bothersome."
Equipment can get too close and then you have a problem, or (more likely) lots of trees start to grow in the fence line, and that's also a problem.

Although I wouldn't know first hand, I imagine taking down fences is easier than removing hundreds of trees.

Goin', goin', goin',
keep that pace a strollin',
barbed wire needs a rollin',
(sorry, I apologize.)

Ted was getting ready to cut this field of beans (nope, still not done with harvest), but the fence was keeping him from getting the header on the combine through the gate. The opening was made for a truck and possibly a trailer, not a combine. It had to go!
Poor farmer Ted had lots of poked fingers that night, not that he complains. He's not a complainer...unless it comes to splinters!

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Pancake Recipe

I was checking out one of my favorite sites yesterday ( to look up what on earth I was going to do with a 4 pound pork butt that was in my fridge. I needed some inspiration. Was I going to make a traditional roast with root veggies? (Too redundant at the moment.) Maybe some tamales? (Too time consuming.) A ha! Pulled pork for BBQ sandwiches. Perfect! Easy, yummy, and just what the Dr. ordered. So, what does pork have to do with pancakes? Well, nothing...Other than the darling children's book "If you give a Pig a Pancake."

But as I was on the site, I happened to catch something out of the corner of my eye that looked familiar.


My very own pancake recipe was the featured recipe of the day. How cool is that? (Well, probably only cool to me...but still...)

So, I thought I'd share that recipe here. I've made these pancakes for more years than I can count. Okay, well maybe not THAT long. But still, a couple of decades anyway. My mother always used soured milk in her pancakes, waffles, cakes...whatever called for buttermilk. We just never had buttermilk in the house, but we always had milk and vinegar. So, don't let that trip you up. Soured milk is a perfectly perfect substitute for buttermilk. Don't let anyone tell you different!

This link will take you right to the recipe page:

If you want to see some of my food photos, click on my name (kris) in blue next to the recipe's picture. That will take you to my profile page and you can get to my photo gallery from there. And don't tell me how nutty I am that I take pictures of food! I love food! Why not take pictures of it? The hard part is taking the picture before I eat the stuff. I love eating even more than I love photography!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Death of a few thousand sunflowers

It's time! The sunflowers have been looking quite sad for a long time now.The seed heads get so heavy that the stems can't support the weight, and they snap over.
The heads aren't as heavy now, because they've dried down. (Here you can see a couple of bare spots where the blackbirds have been working on pulling out the seeds.)

Hard to believe that this was once a glorious bright yellow sunflower field.

Oh well! Just one thing left to do...
Get them harvested before these feathered friends eat them all!
Today is the day!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Combine: 101

I really wanted to get some pictures of the combine unloading, but as I got to the field, this is what I saw. One of our "straight" trucks driving away. Dang! Missed my opportunity...for now. Anyway, why is it called a "straight" truck? Because, unlike a semi, it has a bed connected to the truck and therefore doesn't bend. Didn't think the explanation would make sense, did ya? These are terms that I lived with for years and never bothered to ponder. I still call them grain trucks, but the hubby seems to call them straight trucks. I don't know why. Now that truly makes me ponder things.

I arrived just as Ted was finishing up cutting the beans (that's soybeans) in this field. Beans get cut with a "flex" head. It's called a flex head because it is...well...flexible. More on the flex head later, but this is what it looks like. (And that is Ted inside the combine cleaning the windshield...again.) Combining beans is dusty work!Is that duct tape on the end of the unloading auger? Duct tape fixes EVERYTHING! (For those that don't know, the unloading auger is that arm sticking out of the back of the combine at the top.) And for those that don't know, duct tape is a farmer's best friend. Driving through the field, the reel (flex head) rotates much like a paddle boat. It grabs the beans, and those "fingers" on the reel feed them back into the cutters. If you look about smack dab in the middle of this photo, just under the reel , you can see the cutters. The cutters are actually called sickle knives. Let me tell you, they are sharp, sharp, sharp! And they slide back and forth faster than you can see them move. My camera has frozen them in time for us, but to watch in real time, you just see a blur of silver metal.
Under the sickle knives is an auger. The auger has retractable fingers that help grab the crop being cut and feed it all to the center of the combine where it will go through a magic transformation. I call it magic because the "separator" truly does separate all of the "chaff" (a.k.a. "junk") from the beans, or corn, or sunflower seeds, or wheat, or whatever...
Clean seeds then get pushed up into the hopper on top of the combine. Amazing! Now, how can you tell if this combine has gas? It doesn't. It runs on diesel.
(Sorry, I just couldn't help myself!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What may crop up...

We love to have people come out and take pictures of the sunflowers. Half the fun is seeing where some of the pictures will crop up. This came in the mail yesterday. It was sent by my Alma matter...The University of Kansas. Looking at the picture, I noticed the pretty sunflowers. Then I noticed that is was very definitely our field.

Our field is too popular to hang out with the likes of us. Over the years, it has been on the cover of the Lawrence phone book, on posters, in photography books, in calendars, picked up by the associated press for newspapers, in popular magazines, on TV...local and national. It is clearly too good for us now. I hope it remembers us when it gets too big for it's britches!

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's in a name?

By conservative estimates, we farm more than 3,864,297 fields. Not really! But we do have a lot! It's somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 or 60, depending on how particular the guys want to get when they are harvesting crops. Sometimes they break a field up into sections to be more descriptive, especially if it's a large field. Where we live, we don't have lots of large expanses of open land, but we do have land to farm. So we travel around quite a bit going from one field to the next.And everything has a name. You wouldn't believe how long it took me, as a new bride and transplant to Kansas, to learn the names of the fields. Ted would call me up and say: "Pick me up at Hiller's," and I would have a nervous breakdown when I showed up at the wrong field. (Did I mention this was before cell phones?) Oh, this particular field (with the sunflowers) is called "Around Ted and Kris," because it's...well...around our house.
I don't know that this field has a name. It's a tiny patch in front of the grain bins. I shall call it "George!" And I will love it and hug it and pet it... Sorry, I got carried back to my Looney Tune days. Actually, I think it's just a part of "Around Ted and Kris."

Now this field I know! This is "Rumsey's." Across the highway is "Tornaden's." I call them the separated conjoined twins, because they would be complete, but for the highway that divides them. They are named (like so many of our fields) after the people who originally owned the land.

This is Torneden's. Even though it's just across the highway from Rumsey's, it always gets planted to a different crop. This picture was taken this spring when the creek was out of it's banks.
This is the "Deal Hill." Originally, it was spelled "Diehl," after that owner. But over the years, the spelling has morphed into "Deal" which is how it is pronounced. This field had such a deer problem, the owner decided to have us plant it to wildflowers, which we maintain.
I won't bore you by posting a picture of every field, but I'll tell you some of the more colorful, and/or practical, names.
Let me tell you about our field named 9 Mile. 9 Mile creek actually runs along the edge of the field. You would think that that is where it got it's name. Not so! (Well, not completely.) The field used to be part of 9 Mile Ranch, and that's why it is called 9 Mile.
Like I said, most field's are either named after the previous owner, or the current landlord, if we lease the ground from them.
My favorite field name has always been "Betty's Bottom." It's not actually named after someone's posterior, but rather a woman who used to live across the road from the field. And it happens to be bottom ground (that means creek bottom), thus the name "Betty's Bottom." Across the highway from that field is the "Woods Piece." It is a small field with a very large oak tree in the middle of it.
We have the "Big Field," which is far from our biggest field. It was, at one time, the farm's biggest field when Ted's grandad started farming in this area.
There is "Across Pony," which is a field that you literally have to cross Pony Creek via a low water crossing to get to.
We have small field's named after sizes: "10 acre" and "20 acre."
Field's named by location: "South of Turnpike," "Next to Blooms," "Across from June's."
I won't mention all of the field names, but I will tell you one more: "The War Zone." The story is that our neighbor saw several people walk across the field carrying large semi-automatic weapons. It looked to him like something out of a war movie. The name "War Zone" stuck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No time to waste

They were calling for rain the night before, so the combine was brought in out of the field. It got to spend a cozy night in the machine shed. "Shed" sounds misleading. Growing up, the lawnmower was kept in the shed. Garden tools were kept in the shed. Here, on the farm, all manner of very large (and very small) things are kept in the shed. The shed is actually a huge building. But, I digress...
The next morning, they decided that it hadn't rained enough to keep them out of the field so they got the combine back out of the shed and unloaded it. It was still full of corn from cutting the night before. Not to mention covered with stalks. See them piled up below the window?
Normally, the combine would just stay out in the field. It takes a lot of time (and money) to move a combine.
Ted's faithful pal, Buddy, is always near Ted...or Ted's truck. (See him waiting for Ted to get out of the combine?) Back before Buddy got old and his hip got bad, Ted use to carry him up into the combine so that he could ride with him. Now Buddy is content to just lay near Ted's truck... patiently waiting for him to return.
This is the grain cart. It can be loaded "on the go" driving next to the combine in the field, saving lots of valuable time. When the grain is ready, every second counts. Especially with all of this rainy weather. The grain cart then travels to a semi or a grain truck and loads it up. (Grain gets shoveled around a pun intended.)
Soon these will all have gone back out to the field...whichever one they are in today. That reminds me, we have some pretty odd field names. But that's a topic for another day.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Combine

It's time!!! Time (finally) to start cutting corn. Since everything was late this year, harvest is late, too. We've been waiting (not so patiently) for the corn to dry down enough to cut. We've decided, it's close enough.
This is Ted doing spring cleaning...and I'm completely aware that it isn't spring. He's in there cleaning the windshield. Hey...some body's got to do it!

It's the CLAW!!! Run! Run for your lives!!!

Seriously, this is where you never want to be when a combine is running. This is a corn header. Those big pointy green things go between the rows of corn, and then the teeth between grabs the stalks, cuts them off, and feeds then back to the auger.

The auger feeds it into the combine where the stalk is stripped of its ears. The ear corn gets fed through the combine where thousands of tiny elves pull all of the kernels off of the cob. All of the unusable stuff gets thrown out of the backside of the combine.

Inside the combine are just a few buttons, bells, and whistles.

A panel of lights will tell you what's going on...hopefully. You don't want a lot of these lights to come on. That means something bad has happened.

Time to boot up! Yes, our combine is subjected to software issues, too.

This is the GPS unit. It feeds that computer screen that you just saw. It draws a nice picture of our field and tells us how many bushels are being cut where. It's pretty neat.

Don't laugh at the fire extinguisher! All I'm sayin' is that fields are dry and dusty places. And static electricity is prone to ignite dry dust. Don't ask us how we know this...but that fire extinguisher works.

Some perspective. Don't laugh...I just got back from the gym and I hadn't changed out of my yoga pants.

See ya farmer Ted! He may come home when it rains...or when he gets hungry...