Monday, September 19, 2011

Thriving in Lean Times

I'm hearing it on every front..."times are tough"..."we're going to have to do something "..."we're not going to make it"... As a Momma to 13 in these "tough times" I surely understand. We've gone from one steady paycheck for almost 35 years to being farmers with an uncertain income...from eating all we can produce to sharing it with 164 other families...from patches on the overalls and jeans to patching the patches that were patched. Am I singing a woe-be-gone song? No! Though things are not as easy as my flesh would desire, I'm facing this challenge with dependance on God for wisdom and creativity. God is teaching me just what my NEEDS are and changing my wants to be more in line with what I should be desiring. How am I making the "ends meet"...well, in reality they've never met. Our family testimony has been to ask God for wisdom, work hard, trust God, and watch Him alone provide in ways that look impossible!

The first step in surviving in lean times is to acknowledge all that we have comes from the hand of God. As I look around my home I see soooo many items that I cherish have come from God's hand through the hand of another. My husband had a corporate job for almost 35 years. During that time he worked hard to provide for our family. We learned to be obedient to God's Word and tithe his earnings back to was all His anyway! We saw how the 90% we had left after tithing went farther than the 100% could was only God! Many, many people have asked over the years how in the world we could "make it" on one income. Striving to honor God in all areas of your life is the key...

The next key to not only surviving, but enjoying these days is all in our attitude. We can choose to be frustrated that we can't make our favorite casserole because we don't have the cream of chicken soup it calls for, or you can learn to make a cream sauce and add a chicken bouillon cube! The picture God gave me YEARS ago was, "What do you have in your hand now? That's what I am to use." Lean times are creative times...time to rise to a challenge as a wife and's time for us all to learn to pray and see God's hand provide!

Thank you for making an investment into our farm by buying a share. One thing I've learned is that during challenging times money spent on QUALITY food will be the best investment for our families in several ways. Here are a couple of ideas to ponder on:
1. Good food boosts the morale of the family, making it easier to meet the other challenges that life WILL send our way.
2. Cheap food choices are often not nutritious. When our bodies are weakened by poor food choices, we easily come down with the latest "bug" going around. Sickness in the family makes it hard to stay "on top of" the challenges that lean times send us.

With this in mind, we're excited about the fall line-up of of the odd greens that you'll see is in your box this week is sweet potato greens. I've not tried my "mess" out yet, but here is the recipes I'll be trying. Buying a share of our vegetables also is a weekly entertainment and educational investment as you research ideas on how to use the vegetables and prayerfully cook together as a family.

Sauteed Sweet Potato Greens

2 cups Sweet Potato Greens - de-stemmed, rinsed & chopped
1.5 Tblsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Onion, diced
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 fresh red or cayenne pepper - de-seeded, & diced


1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in saute pan.
2. Add an onion, ground pepper, and cayenne pepper & saute until tender & aromatic.
3. Lower heat to medium-low & add greens. Stir constantly until greens are slightly wilted and a deep green. Be careful not to over-cook.

Makes 2 servings.

Country-Style Sweet Potato Greens

  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 quart, approximately, boiling water plus cold water (for blanching)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 pound sweet potato greens, thoroughly rinsed, stems removed

Rinse sweet potato greens and remove stems. Place in a strainer in the sink. Boil water and pour over greens in strainer. Let cool for 2 minutes, then pour on cool water. While that is draining, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add oil. When warm, add garlic, onion and chili powder. Saute for about 3-5 minutes, till golden brown. Pat greens with paper towels to eliminate excess water. Add greens to skillet, toss all well, and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes. Greens will wilt and soften like spinach. Serve immediately.

I hope you also like the broccoli in your share! (Well, half of the shares are getting it this week.) It's one of my personal favorite vegetables. :) I'm looking forward to freezing as much as possible again this year. If you find you are unable to eat all that came in your share, you might want to freeze some also! There is nothing like eating freshly frozen/canned greens and other vegetables when the wind and snow are blowing in the winter!

How to Freeze Broccoli

Wash; soak heads down 1/2 hour in salted water (1/4 c. salt per gallon water) to drive out insects. Rinse in fresh water and drain. For uniformity in blanching, split stalks lengthwise, leaving heads about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Blanch in water for 3 minutes. Cool immediately in cold water; drain and put in freezer bags. (Cool water in clean sink with a milk jug that has been filled with water and frozen. Refreeze for quick and easy cooling of blanched vegetables.)

Like I said, I enjoy broccoli...but I REALLY enjoy our freshly grown broccoli. We eat simply, so I won't give out casserole recipes that mask the taste of the broccoli with cream of soups or cheese. You can find them easily on the Internet or in ladies magazines. Our society has acquired the taste for "special" that I mean I have friends that make almost every recipe special with processed amendments. (Creamed soups, cheeses, stuffing mixes, or flavored vinegars, etc.) This adds to the cost of a meal and in my opinion takes away the fresh unique taste of each vegetable. At our home we save the special dishes for special occasions...thus keeping them special. We like steamed vegetables...simple dishes that highlight what God has created, not what man has conjured up to make more sales for their processed product. With this in mind, here are our everyday favorites and our holiday favorite.

Steamed Broccoli

Bring 1-inch of waqter to a boil in a large kettle. Add 4C. broccolli florets and peeled, sliced stems and 1/2-1 t. sea salt. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 7-10 minutes or until tender crisp. Drain. Serve buttered.
Variation: Sprinkle buttered broccoli with Parmesan cheese or bacon.

Broccoli Roll-Ups

1-2 slices of ham/turkey ham per person served
1 broccoli spear per ham slice
1/2 slice of your family's favorite cheese per ham slice -optional

On a cutting board place one slice of ham. Lay a broccoli spear crosswise at one end of the ham. If using cheese, lay cheese on top of the broccoli. Roll the ham up starting at the edge closest to the broccoli. Lay seam side down in a casserole dish. Secure with wooden toothpicks IF they are unrolling. Bake covered approximately 1/2 hour at 350 degrees or until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Variation: Place cooked brown rice in the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Place the brooccoli ham roll-ups on to of the rice. Cover with foil. Bake as usual until broccoli is cooked.

Broccoli Salad

1 medium sized bunch of broccoli-cut into bite small bite sized pieces
a small onion- diced
1/2 C. raisins
2 T. sugar
1 C. mayonnaise
2 T. raw apple cider vinegar (or what you have on hand)
Marinade above ingredients. Just before serving ad 1/2 lb. dried and crisp bacon and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds for garnish (optional)

We pray often for your family, as you are our farm family. We know of several families that are facing job relocations, job changes, and simply struggling to make the ends meet. If you are a believer go to THE only one who can meet those needs. Jesus Christ is waiting to hear your request...He wants to show Himself strong "on the behalf of those whose hearts are perfect towards him." No...we will not be perfect until we see His face, but perfect here means mature. Are we learning the lessons He's sending our way...or are we frustrated with "doing without". Let's all examine our hearts before Him and be teachable. Only then will we see the challenges as He does...lessons to conform us to His image. :)

How are you making your share stretch? I'd love to hear about it and the farm family as a whole will benefit if you will post your comments below. We need each others wisdom; so please share! I'll start us off...

How Do You Make Your Share Stretch?

1. I cut my vegetables in smaller slices so it appears like my family is getting a bigger serving. This works great for carrot and cucumber slices especially.
2. If possible when cleaning and slicing your vegetables, include the stems in your dishes. This is most easily seen in broccoli where you can peel the green off the stems and have a tender core to steam. This also works with greens...try chopping the collard, broccoli, mustard, or kale stems into small pieces. Put them on the bottom of your pot and lay the greens on top. The stems will steam longer and be tender.
3. I like to make vegetable soup stock from the clean peelings and outer skins of my weekly share of vegetables. For instance, wash the carrots or potatoes before peeling. save the outter oinon skins, save the tops to your celery, save the outer stem of the broccoli, etc. and place it into a ziploc type bag or jar in your freezer. When the jar or bag is full and you'd like to make vegetable broth for a recipe or to add nutrients to a soup place the contents of your bag into a large pot. Cover with water and simmer. Strain out the vegetable remnants. Freeze, can, or use immediately.
4. Serve your vegetables in a stir fry with a nice bed of brown rice. This stretches your meat as well as your vegetables.
5. Serve at least one raw vegetable or fruit at each meal. Raw vegetables and fruits have greater bulk.

Now it's your turn! Share how your family is making your vegetable or bread share stretch! Comment below.

"And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the filed, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewith shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. "

Matthew 6:28-33

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife

P.S. I don't know why there is a big gap between here and the post comments...just scroll down please. :)