Friday, August 15, 2014

The Farmer's Wife Week 11 Cutting or Carving?

Fall is starting to show her purples and yellows on
the edges of the fields and roadways, and
pumpkins and winter squash are being harvested for the markets.
The seasonal pages of God's calender are being turned...

The yellows of fall ..
graceful goldenrod.
The final plantings of the season were made in the greenhouse this week. It is hard for me to grasp as I've been minimally involved this season with farm operations. Time is slipping by quicker as I grow older.

Everyone in the family is taking part in some way to put food back for the winter. Our root cellar crates will soon be filled with winter squash and potatoes, while onions are filling old mesh grapefruit bags that will hang from the rafters in the root cellar. 

Jars of canned okra, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkin, green beans, squash relish, and carrots are starting to overflow the pantry and be stored also in the basement. Prayerfully by the first frost we'll have put well over 1,000 jars of food put up! 

I want to publicly thank Cerina O'Neil for coming to the farm weekly to help me can. Really, she's an undercover agent sent by the Farmer to make me rest. I've got them figured out!

Noah's (15 for a few more days) favorite meal is stuffed peppers. I've been collecting peppers from the porch packing shed and finally had enough to make it for him this week. This is a recipe I posted 3 years ago, but many of you are new, so here it is!

             The Farmer's Wife's
Stuffed Peppers

Enough brown rice to  feed your family.
We use 4 C. dry brown rice with 8 C. water.
1/4 lb. Hot Italian Sausage or breakfast sausage per cup of rice
1 large onion, diced
1 lb. farm fresh mushrooms , coarsely chopped (available at several markets)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 C. butter
1/8 c. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Man-sized peppers!

1. Cook the brown rice as directed. (I highly recommend a rice cooker!)

2. When the rice is almost done, melt the butter and oil in a saute pan. 

3. Add sausage. Crumble the sausage as you brown it.

4. Add garlic and onions, stirring carefully as to not burn the garlic.

5. Add mushrooms and stir until they become somewhat limp.


6. Stir this mixture into cooked rice.

7. Season with salt and pepper if desired. 

8. Cut the tops off bell peppers of any color and clean out the seeds as much as possible.

9. Spoon rice mixture into the cavity until well mounded. 

10. Place filled peppers into a casserole dish. If the peppers are tippy, place them in a muffin pan to hold upright. 

11. Top with Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese.

12. Bake until the pepper is crisp tender, and the cheese is melted. 

13. Serve with leftover rice mixture. 

The Farmer's Wife prepares pie pumpkins for
the oven while she gets breakfast cooking.

Pumpkins of all shapes and colors are now being harvested for fall sales. I've had a few questions on how to cook these beauties. I cook winter squash in the same way, so I'll combine the descriptions.

I don't like to peel large butternuts, or Hubbards, so I handle them just like I do pumpkins. It's a
 hands-off method that allows me to do the 100 other things on my to-do list and come back to the kitchen and finish the job quickly once the baking is done.

1. Rinse off the outside of the squash 
Acorn Squash
or pumpkin.

2. Place on cutting board and using a large knife  cut in half.

3. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet with a lip.

4. Place tray on the oven rack in the middle of the oven.

5. Pour at least an inch of water onto the cookie sheet.

6. Bake until a knife inserted easily pierces the skin and slips through the flesh easily.
7. Remove from the oven. 

8. Carefully turn the cut side up.

9. Let cool until it's comfortable to work with.

10. Carefully scoop the flesh out and place in a large bowl.

For Squash:
1. Mash by either putting into a mixer and whipping or by using a potato masher.

2. Add butter to taste.

Butternut Squash: If desired add a small amount of sorghum molasses or brown sugar to taste. Another idea I like to use in the winter for a Sunday meal is to top the casserole dish of squash with a mixture of brown sugar, sunflower seeds, and butter. Mix the ingredients together and sprinkle over the top. I make it up on Saturday and place it in the frig overnight. It heats up quickly along with our roast on Sunday.

Acorn Squash: After baking, we like to use each half as a personal serving bowl. We serve each half with a dab of butter. Each person gets the pleasure of scraping the squash and mixing in the butter at their seat. This is a very special treat for our family as it takes at least 6 acorn squash for each meal if there are no guests. 

Hubbard (or other huge squash): Have a man take an ax or saw to the squash and bake it with the above method. Scoop out the flesh and freeze/can in 2 cup portions. These packages of squash make quick pies or quick breads in the winter.

Charity and Faith
scoop out the tender
flesh to can.
For Pumpkin:

1. Spoon flesh of the pumpkin into a food processor or mixer.

2. Process until the flesh of the pumpkin isn't stringy anymore.

3. Freeze in 2 C. portions.

4. Can in pints. 10 pounds pressure, 30 minutes.

Canned pumpkin all ready pre-measured for pies and quick breads.

I've cut up a lot of over-sized (but still tender) okra lately. We love okra in the winter...frankly, that's when we get to slow down and enjoy the fruits of our labors better. 

Our top 3 ways to enjoy okra:

1. Pickled! When the public gets their fill of okra and the plants slow way down we pick for ourselves! The small to medium pods get pickled for QUICK winter side dishes. We'll eat 2 quarts at a meal!
2. We mix make a "Vegetable Medley" that is tops on everyone's list of favorites.
    A. Mix together cubed potatoes, cubed yellow squash, diced onions, and sliced okra into a large bowl. (I measure how much we need by how it fits a particular frying pan.)
    B. Preheat a cast iron frying pan on medium heat.
    C. Make a mixture of cornmeal, garlic powder, and salt together. You'll know you have enough seasonings when you dip a damp finger into the dry mixture and taste it. If you are comfortable with the taste, you have enough seasoning. If it's overly salty, add more cornmeal. (The seasoning stores well in the frig or freezer.)
    D. Add a good spoonful of lard/bacon drippings to your cast iron pan. Let melt.
    E. In a small bowl or 2 C. measuring cup scramble an egg. Pour over vegetables in bowl. Thoroughly coat the vegetables with egg.
    F. Pour cornmeal mixture over vegetables and mix.
    G. Pour into hot pan. Do not stir.
    H. Test the vegetables with a spatula to see if they are brown. When they are it's time to "turn", not stir.
    I. When the vegetables are browned all over and tender, it's time to serve!
3. Canned...yes, you can can okra 
 and it not be a 
slimy mess! Half the recipe if you don't have that's very forgiving.
    A. Wash jars and put them in a 250 degree oven for 25 minutes.

    B. Chop okra into 1/2" slices.

    C. Measure 2 quarts okra into a stockpot.

    D. Add 2 1/2 T. sea salt (non iodized salt), 1/2 C. vinegar. (I use raw apple cider vinegar.)

    E. Hold the pan under your kitchen faucet, add water until you can see it easily at the level of okra. (About 4+ cups)

    F. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute.

    G. Remove the jars from the oven and fill with okra. You'll need enough liquid to "cover" the okra at the top. 
   H. Place a hot flat and band on the jar. 

    I. Let set on your counter and it should seal. There is enough vinegar in the mixture to treat it like a pickle. No further canning is needed in our kitchen.
We enjoy serving canned okra just heated
has a hint of the pickled okra taste. If you'd like fried okra, you must
rinse it first using a collander. It fries up great! I'm going to try Full Tummies idea to fry it with olive oil and salsa. It sounds yummy!

Indian Paintbrush
There is a lot of cutting and carving going on in the farm the fruits and vegetables we're "laying by" and also to our lives. When I submitted my life to the Lord's saving power He became my Lord. 

Webster's 1828 Dictionary Definition:

Lord, n. 1. A master; a person possessing supreme power and authority; a ruler

If Jesus is really the Lord of my life I've submitted to His "supreme power and authority" to work His will in my life. He doesn't force me...He awaits my

willing spirit to allow Him to "carve" me into the virtuous woman He planned me to be. 

Joe Pye Weed
If on the other hand I do not submit, I view the loving plan to mold me as "cutting" and become frustrated, angry, and then bitter.

 I have the choice whether to be "carved" or "cut". Being carved brings peace and even joy when life seems to be out of my control. Being "cut" does one of two things to me...either I get down or angry within. 

Morning Glory
There is GOOD news though! When I fail to submit to the "carving" Jesus speaks to me...urging me to yield. When I do, He forgives me and gives me the joy and reassurance of His Spirit's presence and plans for my life. Praise His name!

Are the "circumstances" of your life "carving" or "cutting" you?

  "Oh blows that smite! Oh hurts that pierce
This shrinking heart of mine!
What are ye but the Master's tools
Forming a work Divine."

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife