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Archive for August, 2009

beans!

August 22nd, 2009 at 11:47 pm

I don't remember who exactly suggested this blog (it was someone here, on a blog, or in a comment to a blog):
http://crockpot365.blogspot.com
but it is pretty good. I like to cook using the crock pot, especially in the summer.

One post she had was how to make beans:
http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/cooking-dried-beans-in-crockpot.html

I never knew how to make dried beans...I was always scared to try. But her post made it look so easy.

I bought two bags of dried black beans this week, and on Thursday night I picked through them to make sure there weren't any split ones, or shriveled ones. I just dumped them out on our kitchen table, and sorted through them...took probably 10 minutes. I put both bags-worth in the crock pot, and waited until Friday.

I have a crock pot that has a removable bowl, so it is really easy to clean. (I have two of those in fact). If you are buying one, I suggest to get one like this...you can soak it to clean it, instead of having to worry about the cord on other kinds.

Friday, when I got home, I covered them with water, so it had about 2" worth above them. I put the crock in the refrigerator. That step took like, um, 2 minutes. Most of that time was finding room in the refrigerator. The blog said to soak them 6 hours in the refrigerator to keep germies from growing. We were going out last night, so I figured I would rinse them when I got home...

Well, I forgot about them until about 11:30 this morning! Oops. They really swelled, almost to the top of the crock. I rinsed them, put them back in the crock, filled it up with water, and cooked them on high until around 6:00. The directions said to do it for 8 hours, or bite tender, but they really smelled good, so I tried them. They were ready, as far as I could tell. And they tasted good. I rinsed them again, and decided since I already had the crock pot dirty with beans, I might as well use it to make supper with.

I put 4 cups worth of beans, 1 can of corn, 1 small can of mushrooms, a jar of salsa, a can of chicken broth and 2 cups of uncooked brown rice in the crock pot, and put it on high. I didn't drain anything, just dumped the cans in. I thawed out some chicken and put that in there too. On high, that should only take about 4 hours to make. I love that meal! Put some salsa on it, and some sour cream, and it just tastes awesome. Then, the next day, you can use it in tortillas to make burritos. The flavors really go well together.

After I used the first 4 cups for tonight's meal, I rinsed the rest of them again with cold water and put them in ziploc baggies, 2 cups each (she said one can was 1 2/3 cups, but my recipes aren't precise enough to bother with 2 measuring cups, so I just used a 1 cup measure twice). I got 4 of those baggies worth, flattened them out some (so when they were frozen they would stack better, and to get the air out of the bags, but not enough to actually squish the beans) and put them in the freezer. That step took, maybe 5 minutes.

So, even though I started them at 6:00 p.m. yesterday and they weren't in the freezer until 6:00 p.m. today, I only spent less than 20 minutes doing anything with them.

I will definitely do this again. But since I have two crock pots, I will probably get 4 bags of beans and split them up between the two. It was really easy, and I know that there isn't any extra ingredients (like salt or preservatives or that goopy icky stuff on the bottom of the cans when you use canned beans). Doing 4 bags won't make much difference in time.

So, whoever turned me on to that website, thanks a lot!

thank a farmer

August 20th, 2009 at 03:16 am

I was reading another poster's blog, talking about how high the cost of all organic, all local, all natural food was in New York. I offered a suggestion that she could start a container garden, or freeze some of the produce that she got during the season to stretch it out over the year.

That suggestion was made in good faith.

However, I have been reflecting over her post for a couple hours now, and I have a slightly different take on it. I didn't think I should impede on her blog with perhaps a contentious post, so I thought I should make my own entry. For the record, I am not attacking her. I have just been ruminating on people's buying habits and what people expect.

I started to think about how our grandparents (or great grandparents...how ever far back you have to go) used to do things. They didn't buy food at the grocery store every couple of days; they grew it (vegetables, fruit, grains), raised it (animals for meat, chickens for eggs), ground it (flour), milked it (cows/goats), baked it (bread) etc all themselves, or did without. They also dried it, smoked it, salted it, canned it, or hung it outside in winter to freeze it. If they had tried to buy everything, it would have been cost prohibitive. And they took a lot of time to do these things...I imagine back in the day leisure time was a commodity not many had.

So what makes it possible for people to not spend that much time procuring their food? Modern farming. Modern farming is why you don't have to spend $1200 a month for nutritious food for 2 people, but can if you choose. Modern farming is why you can play on the internet, exercise, have hobbies other than hunting/fishing/gardening. Modern farming is why you can live hundreds or thousands of miles away from where the food is grown, in fact, maybe not even know where it comes from (milk comes from a cow, not the grocery store). Modern farming is why food costs (the actual commodities, not the processed result) get lower and lower when compared to inflation, due to the ground getting more productive, plants getting higher yields, producing more bushels / acre than ever before.

People like to disparage modern farming techniques, saying things like "we are cutting down forests" etc. That is not true it the U.S. There are more trees in this country now than there were 100 years ago. Modern agriculture is sustainable on the ground already in production, or less as the years go on, with such techniques as rotational planting (growing plants that replenish the ground with nitrogen...soybeans and others), letting the ground rest every couple of years, controlling noxious and other bothersome weed with judicious use of herbicides, and continued improvement of plant seeds.

In short, I guess, thank a farmer for providing you with good, inexpensive, healthy food, so you have time and money to do other things. If not for us, everyone would be spending >$1200 a month on food for 2.

I hope I'm not this way the rest of my life

August 15th, 2009 at 05:39 am

Reading the forums has been a little hard lately w.r.t. the baby boomlet going on over there lately. I COMPLETELY understand the excitement, but I just want to quietly pipe in and say a little circumspection may be prudent. Especially with some of them so early on in their pregnancy.

I know that the easiest way to stop a conversation cold is to mention you had a miscarriage. It is very uncomfortable. They don't know what to say, you don't know what to say...so you just wait three beats in awkward silence and then change the subject.

I hope that when I get pregnant again I can be as happy and excited as I was before, and not reserved, waiting for something to go wrong. But I do know that I won't be telling anyone (except DH and maybe parents/brothers/sisters) until after 12 weeks next time.

I just realized every post I've had on this blog since it has happened has had some reference to it. I hope I'm not being a party pooper to anyone!

hot day today

August 9th, 2009 at 04:09 am

It was over 105 degrees today! Wowzers, it was hot. I didn't get much accomplished. My calves got out AGAIN and our neighbor found them, so I had to hook up the trailer and go get them, and then I got some water for the calves and our new horse.

Let's get caught up. I started buying calves from a local dairy in March after I was laid off, and gradually got up to 8 of them. The plan was to get them on grain and get them up to 1000 lbs or so and then sell them. I had them on milk replacer for a month and then weaned them onto grain. I also had bought an angus calf, had three given to me (but one died) and took care of one where the mom had stopped giving enough milk. Just last week we had another cow die so I am taking care of that one too. When I knew I had the job, I needed to sell the calves because DH would NOT feed and water them for me. He thought they were a pain and didn't want to add those chores to his list. So, I called a cousin of my dad's (which I call an uncle) that bought dairy calves as well to see if he wanted 8 calves. He didn't want 8, but wanted 1! Sorry, that doesn't make sense...I might as well keep them all. But he did say his nephew was starting to feed calves and might be interested. So I called my (second? or is it third?) cousin to see if he wanted 7 calves (I would let my "uncle" have the one he wanted). 4 of them I had been feeding since March/April and 4 of them I had just got about 2 weeks ago. I got $200 for the older 4 and $110 for the younger 4. I bought them all for $80, so a small profit, as we had the grain to feed them.

So, now I just have 5 Angus ones left. I have them in our corral because they kept getting out of the grass with the electric fence around it, and the gate on the corral is such that it rests on a piece of cement, but then we have a chain to put around it too. I have been just putting it on the cement without the chain, but I think the wind blew so much yesterday morning that it blew it open and they were gone. DH tried to find them when I was at work, but couldn't. This morning, he got a call from our neighbor, and they were in with his calves, so I went and got them.

DH mentioned tonight that his uncle took a calf to the sale barn last Monday that were about the size of ours (which doesn't make much sense, because they are all different sizes! lol) and got over $300 for them. After commissions and everything, it was about $280. I think he wants to sell them on Monday. Ok. I'm not able to take care of them anymore what with working, so if he doesn't want to take care of them, that's fine. I just thought we only had a few more months before weaning our other calves and he would be feeding all of them everyday then anyway, so we could put these in with them and it wouldn't be another chore. But, he wants to get rid of them and it isn't worth a fight, so ok. Like I said before, I bought one of them for $200, and two were given to me and two were from cows that were too old/died, so I'll make a profit on them too.

As for the horse, we've been looking for one since before we were married. My family is a big horse family, and his dad is, but DH just isn't. Or maybe he just wanted his own and didn't want to have to go get the one I own (that my dad has) 10 miles away to do anything. He rides pretty well, though hasn't ridden a lot ever since I've known him.

But he had been looking for one on our local craigslist-type website, and the broke ones were all over $1000. Well, he came across a 4 year old gelding quarter horse the other day that was $400 (down from $500) and it said "experienced rider needed." Usually, this means the horse is greenbroke. But he called and asked about it, and instead of being greenbroke, it had been used in a feedlot (which means REALLY well trained...those guys are in the saddle 8 hrs a day on their horse. I think they eat, drink and pee off the top of the horse without ever getting off) and it had spunk, so it is definitely NOT a kids horse - thus the experienced rider par. The guy DH was talking to had bought the horse from the feedlot worker so him and his wife could go trail riding, but they only had the same day off 1 time a week and never rode him. He was really skinny because this guy was feeding him rye grass that looked like straw and it had no nutritional content at all. The horse is skin and bones, really.

But, we got him for $400, and a saddle, blanket and bit for another $125. The bit itself is worth over $100 and the blanket is worth like $70, new. Don't know about the saddle. I bought mine a few years ago at a pawn shop for around $200 but it looks little more heavy duty. My sister trains horses and has bought 2 year old, not even halter broke horses for $400, so this is a great deal!

We have him in a different part of the corral and are giving him sweet feed and brome hay for a while to try to fatten him up a little, and then he will just go out in the pasture. We don't have a headstall yet, so we can't ride him until we go somewhere to get one of those, but I am excited to ride him. Apparently he neck reigns very well and knows leg cues (although I don't know leg cues, so I'll have to learn that!) He is very friendly and comes up to us to pet him and hasn't spooked once. I'm pretty excited!

Anyway, I just fed all of them and watered them today and moved some bales. That was it, all day. DH built some fence with a landlord and the landlord's daughter, and he was pretty exhausted when he came home. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and it tasted salty!

I've started running lately. My sister is turning 35 in February and got a wild hair up her @$$ that she wanted to run a 5k before she turned 35. She found a running program called "couch potato to 5k" and invited all of us to run with her. We were going to do the Komen race in Wichita, but we found out that Komen donates some of their money to Planned Parenthood, and we didn't want to support that organization at all. So, we found one in KC (where 2 sisters/1 brother live) that is for Parkinson's research. My Grandpa died of Parkinson's disease in 2001, so we decided to invite our first cousins to see if they wanted to do it too. All of my family (mom, dad, uncle who lives with them, all 9 of us kids) are doing it, as well as another uncle and his daughter and an aunt and 2 of her sons. We are getting bright blue t-shirts that have "in memory of eptacek" (my grandpa) on it.

I was on week 4 of the running program when last week my knee hurt so bad I almost couldn't finish the work out. My left knee hurt, my right shin hurt because I was altering my stride to compensate, and I came home crying. I wasn't getting any sweat or cardiovascular work out at all because I couldn't even strike the ground with my left heel. That was on Tuesday night. I went to the chiropractor on Wednesday after work and he did some magic on my lower back and my knee started to feel alot better. I waited until today to run again because I wanted the ligaments to have time to heal from the stretch I had put them through. This time I was out of breath and sweating for sure! I'm starting week 4 over tonight, and hopefully I can go every other night instead of 3 times a week and make up for the lost time. Our last week of workout was supposed to just get us to 5k, so I'm worried about not finishing.

Because of this, I've lost a bit of the "baby weight" I had put on from when I was pregnant. I've lost 6 pounds last time I checked, which is not a lot but at least is going in the right direction. People don't realize that even though I miscarried, my body was going through a lot-lot-lot of changes, and I've had to deal with that too. It wasn't just over that afternoon, physically or emotionally. I went through the entire labor, I was fully dilated, delivered everything myself, and didn't get to bring the baby home with me when all that pain was over. Frown I'm back on track cycle wise and hopefully we can try again really soon (maybe tonight? Oh, was that TMI? LOL)

Tomorrow I think we are going to Hays because I need to get two prescriptions filled at Walmart and we need to get that headstall for the horse. DH needs some parts for his pickup too. Hope to not spend too much money!

back to work

August 8th, 2009 at 01:40 am

I finally found a job, after being laid off Feb 9 this year. Started this past Monday. I was making $96,000 before I got laid off and now make $60,000...but it is only an hour away (60 miles) instead of 2.5 hours away (160 miles), so I get to see DH every night at least. I also get a $.05 discount on the cash price of gas, so that is a nice perk! Smile I was applying for jobs every week since Feb, and this is the only interview that I had, and I got the job. And, it is a brand new position, so I get to kind of define what I do, which will be extremely nice. But right now, it is kind of slow because I haven't defined it yet!

Wow, getting up at 6:00 a.m. after 6 months of sleeping in was hard Smile But this morning was better than Tuesday, and we had even gone to the bar for a few beers last night until midnight before coming home.

It has been really rough around here money wise. I was on unemployment, getting $450ish a week, and that covered all of our normal monthly bills as well as food/gas, but no farm bills, and we had mucho farm bills this past month. We did quite a bit of planting and swathing for people that brought in money, and worked some part time stuff until I miscarried (after that, I needed a few weeks to get my head back on my shoulders) and then got offered this job. We are waiting with bated breath for my first paycheck on August 13, even though it will be only half a paycheck.

I don't know why I haven't posted much since the lay off. I think I didn't have anything nice to say about money so I didn't want to say anything at all Smile But now we need to start digging ourselves out of this little hole, so hopefully I will have positive things to say here.