Thanksgiving Fare

Happy Thanksgiving all!

I expect you are busy preparing to make and/or eat some delicious things in the upcoming days. I also sincerely hope the busyness of preparations, travel, cooking, or guests aren’t stopping you from reflecting on the positive and what you are thankful for this season.

I know our culture has a way of inflating expectations and making us question if we are good enough, if we’re doing enough, and if our contribution is worthy. Let me assure you that you are enough. Whether your turkey is burned or golden perfection and your whipped cream is fluffy or runny – your celebration is special. 

While JR and I will gather with our families to celebrate, I’m not in charge of bringing anything specific to the feast. Maybe I’ll bring something small anyway, but there is always more than plenty to go around. Instead my main food venture is preparing things for the barn. I don’t mean for the cows though — they will eat their normal diet without any extra cranberries or gravy on top. 

I always plan to put out something tasty for our workers on holidays because most are here for the day,  and we don’t close down the farm. We appreciate our team of people, and the cows do too! For Halloween it was just candy, but in my mind Thanksgiving and Christmas especially require something more. I’ll be working at least part of the day too, and I appreciate being able to grab a snack as I go about my chores. 

So far the spread will include scotcheroos, carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting, and lots of sliced cheese, meat and crackers. We had JR’s deer from this fall turned into a variety of delicacies, so the meat will be sliced venison summer sausage.


I also want to make something with pumpkin, so we’ll see how ambitious I am tonight. 
The Scotcheroos in question are actually a misnomer because I don’t use butterscotch chips at all. It’s the easiest recipe ever, so I’ll share it briefly even though you probably have your own version. 

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

6-7 cups cereal (Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies or Special K)

1 package chocolate chips

Heat and stir the sugar and syrup together until they just come to a boil. Remove from heat immediately after and stir in peanut butter until melted. In a larger bowl combine this mixture together with the cereal. Press into a 9 x 13 pan. Melt the chocolate chips and spread over the top of the bars. Let cool to room temperature or refrigerate if desired.

A few notes: I like semi-sweet chips, but JR prefers milk chocolate. Sometimes I add peanut butter to the chocolate, and you can also use half chocolate and half butterscotch chips. Feel free to decorate the top with festive sprinkles, chopped nuts, or candies if you wish.

In the midst of our celebrations and planning I continue to think about those across the world suffering right now. Sometimes it’s evident such as refugees fleeing war or persecution, and sometimes it’s people in your town or city you didn’t even realize needed help. Whether you give time, money, or prayers, I hope we can all make the effort to reach out as well as give thanks. I know it’s hard to be certain your efforts will actually bring support to what you intend, but I do think each gesture and prayer can combine to work toward good. Wishing you lots of happiness this Thanksgiving. 

What easy recipe can I make last-minute with pumpkin? 

Do you have any charities or programs you especially recommend supporting? 

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November Running and Rain

We’ve had several solid days of drizzle and rain here, and I heard on the radio we are already getting close to the wettest Novembers on record. Still, I will not complain because it’s not snow! 

Snow is okay with me in due time, but in my mind that means mid-December. We also got a beautiful break in the rain showers this morning where sunshine and rainbows radiated through the clouds.

I’m grateful the rain held off until now because I really appreciated the beautiful weather on Saturday for running. 

Several friends and I were signed up for a Jingle Bell 5K, and the day couldn’t have been better. I even opted for shorts in November.
We met for coffee and breakfast beforehand because the race didn’t start until 10:00. It felt strange but nice to not rush around in the pre-dawn hours on a race morning. (I did leave home in the dark, but oh well.) We were treating it as a fun run without specific time goals, and we ran together much of the way.

I’m impressed both of these ladies ran in full Christmas hats. I opted to look more like a holiday gift in my ribbon headband. 


Here we are powering through the finish!
We finished in a little over 28:00 and tried to smile extra big for the camera. Several booths were handing out food, water, and goodies after and we all got a box of chocolates. Even though there weren’t official awards I was pretty excited about my sweets!

I’m not sure if this will be my last race of the year or not, but if so it’s a nice note to end on. I’ve rarely done a race just for fun with friends, and it is refreshing not to put pressure on myself. I still like competing and going after goals, but every race doesn’t have to be about chasing a PR. Sometimes you’ve got to remind yourself of the basics and why you love to do something. 
Will you compete in any races yet this year –maybe a turkey trot or holiday run? 

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The Blog Cow and Baby Number Three

It has been a beautiful start to November. We’ve got most of the normal autumn warmth of September, and I’m choosing to believe winter is still a ways in the distance.

Last year, you might remember we went from this to this between Novemeber 9th and 10th.

I am happy to report November 10th this year is green, and we reached nearly 60 degrees. We also poured cement today, so I’m very glad the weather cooperated.

The other big farm news lately is Henrietta, our blog cow, gave birth to her third calf. It was a bull calf this time around, and he was born in the wee hours of November 6th. I was thwarted once again in my effort to get a picture with Etta and baby together. Each time she has delivered early in the morning, and each time it has been a day when I didn’t get to the farm until later. (The early calf person arrives about 5:00 a.m., and I don’t come that early unless I’m working solo that morning or there is a problem.) 

I did get a nice close-up of our new arrival though. He’s already walking around easily and eating very well. 

Here’s mom at the feed bunk this morning, which is an important place for her to be!

You can see there isn’t much feed left, and she’s actually turning her ears toward the sound of the skid loader and feed wagon. The loader cleans up the remaining leftovers from yesterday, and the feed wagon brings freshly mixed feed. 

I hope you can also continue to enjoy autumn as long as possible –no matter what temperature and weather that means for you! 

What are you keeping busy with in November? 

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Should I Worry About Eating Meat? 

Media headlines and news stories from the past few weeks might have you asking yourself this very question. 

“Should I worry about eating meat?” 

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, I am tempted to tell you to forget I mentioned it and go about your business. And have a great day!

I can’t do that though. As a farmer, as a runner, as a nutrition -conscious person, and as a woman, I think this is too important not to talk about. Many people already get too many empty carbs and not enough protein, and I don’t want this announcement to skew that even further. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to explore the issue. I would also welcome your exploration and feedback. 

Last week the World Health Organization announced processed meat and red meat may cause cancer. The exact headlines varied, so I went right to the source. From the WHO’s press release,

“A Working Group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A) based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.”

The press release goes on to say, “Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”

Stated toward the end of the release under the Public Health section is this information, “Therefore, these results are important in enabling governments and international regulatory agencies to conduct risk assessments, in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations.”

What are we supposed to do with this information?

This was my biggest question after the initial shock I felt at hearing all the media buzz. I’m glad I took the time to read this release because it answered a few questions for me. First, it pointed out the evidence against red meat is “limited” at best. Things sounded a little worse for processed meat, but I’ll get to that in a minute. 

Second, the press release says very plainly who these results and findings are important for. They are important for “governments and international regulatory agencies.” This data isn’t really written to be scrutinized by the average consumer like me. Even if I did wade through all the research and scientific data behind the announcement, I wouldn’t understand all the food chemistry and processes behind it.

Taken in context, this announcement is basically one more building block of information to help governments and agencies set nutrition guidelines and standards. While some of us may or may not meet or agree with all these standards, the USDA does indeed set Dietary Guidelines to help us eat well. Just as meat has both pros and cons, so do many other foods. 

Far more servings of grains were pushed when I was a kid (remember the 6-11 servings of grains from the food guide pyramid?), and now unfortunately it seems like gluten is becoming the enemy. Even though many people have no idea what gluten is. While grains and especially whole grains can definitely part of a healthy diet for many, the recommendations have since been changed toward more fruits and vegetables and more protein. 

Eggs were looked at with skeptism for many years because of the cholesterol they contained, and now many nutrition experts agree their benefits and quality protein in a balanced diet generally outweigh risks. Researchers also now understand cholesterol in specific foods we eat has a smaller effect on cholesterol  in our bodies than previously thought. The Harvard School of Public Health talks about eggs and cholesterol here. 

I don’t bring up these examples to suggest the WHO will suddenly change its position. I simply see that food and nutrition science is complex, our understanding changes with time, and best dietary choices can vary a lot from person to person. 

There was enough confusion and inquery about the WHO’s announcement that later last week they took time to issue another press release. The main quote that stuck out to me was, “the latest IARC review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats but indicates that reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.”

They also issued a thorough Q & A Section on the meat topic. I would encourage you to check this out if you have time. They were admittedly vague on what type or how much meat to eat because research doesn’t tell us that. Many of their answers do solidify we have more to learn on the issue. The Q&A also clearly points out even though they classified processed meat as a Group 1 item with things like alcohol and tobacco, “this does NOT mean that they are all equally dangerous.”

Ok. Point taken. I know all this information about meat may still seem unsettling, but I actually don’t plan to change my current meat eating.  


Here’s why:

– I’m an active person with a reasonably balanced diet and a stable, healthy weight. I’ll keep eating what’s working. 

-Quality protein helps build lean muscle. Period. I’m a runner who love my carbs, and they give me energy for working out. They don’t, however, do much for building strength and muscle tissue. The more absorbable iron, B12, and certain amino acids found only in meat make it one of the protein sources I need. 

– I know far too many women who struggle with low iron, anemia, and problems finding the right iron supplements they can tolerate. Many of them limit meat for various reasons, and this is not a path I want to take. It’s also important to me to keep my iron high enough to donate blood, and meat helps me do that.

– I try to live responsibly and happily, and I refuse to live my life worrying about everything that may raise my risk of cancer. It’s a terrible disease that has killed many people I love, but I won’t let fear rule my thoughts.

– Processed meat is a hugely broad category of food. Deli meat and sausage are different from bacon or venison jerky, and I know this research can’t break down the intricacies of hundreds or thousands of different products separately. I think variety is key, and I plan to keep including a reasonable variety of different poultry, fish, red meat, and even processed meat products. 

– I believe in and support livestock farms. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t include this. I know my connection to agriculture and livestock sways my opinion in favor of meat. I see the care farmers put into their livestock, and I’m confident this way of life still plays a key role in providing healthy food.

As I finish this post, I’m slurping down a bowl of homemade beef noodle and wondering how my words will be received. I’m not writing this to say you have to eat meat. I am grateful to have affordable access to the nutrition of meat, so I write this post to explore why it’s still ok to eat meat if you choose.

What are your thoughts? 

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End of the Season

Sometimes you are tired, and words don’t always come out right. See example below:

Did you know that these tasty green bites are named after the Belgian city? 

Our garden is mostly empty of produce now, but we still have a few of these hearty sprouts to pick and use up. We have had a few frosts in the past two weeks, but for this late in the season I’m surprised we still haven’t had a truly hard frost. I think one morning last week was about 25*, and that’s as low as it goes. I am loving this mild and beautiful October.

We opened one of the sauerkraut crocks over the weekend and were pleased with the results. Thank goodness! We packed some in jars to keep cold in the fridge — and theoretically let the good bacteria keep up a slow fermentation. We canned about 10 quarts in boiling water bath so they would be easy to store and not overtake our whole refrigerator. 

Our little kitchen: Nothing fancy but she gets the job done. Someday I do hope to get rid of the carpet!

We didn’t grow pumpkins this year, so I have nothing to add to the annual fall recipe craze. I will probably buy a bunch of canned pumpkin to make muffins and pie anyway. I count my dad as an expert  pumpkin grower, and he gave us plenty of nice jack-o-lantern varieties to make our house look festive. 


This is from last fall at my parents, but you get the effect, right?

I hope you’re all enjoying October as well. Soak up the warmth while you can, and give those tractors and trucks a little extra room on the roads if you live near farm country. We all thank you! 

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