Amber Waves of Grain

Amber Waves of Grain

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Definitely a Treat!


Note the UNICEF tag beside the Jesus print. Photo taken June 26, 2011, at the closing of Byers UMC.

To some, it may seem sacrilegious to mention Halloween and church in the same breath. But at the little country church of my childhood, Halloween meant a time to trick or treat for UNICEF.
Byers United Methodist Church, Byers, Kansas
We ghosts and goblins at Byers United Methodist Church had school-lunch-sized milk cartons decorated with the UNICEF logo. As we collected our sweet treats, people would drop coins for UNICEF through the crudely-cut slots at the top of the carton.

Some of us would stay in Byers and go door-to-door. I always wanted to go on the northwesterly country route by car so I could have one of my Grandma Neelly's homemade popcorn balls in my goodie sack.

Unlike today, our parents (and grandparents) didn't have cell phones with cameras to document the festivities, so I couldn't find a photo from one of my childhood October 31 forays. There are still some churches that trick or treat for UNICEF. (A former pastor posted a photo last weekend of she and her two boys dressed and ready to trick or treat for UNICEF at their Nebraska church.)

But many more churches today now sponsor Truck and Treat events. This past Friday, Randy and I got to join Kinley and Brooke at Susanna Wesley UMC's version. And, of course, Grandma pulled out the cell phone camera to take a photo before we departed.
Before we arrived, I wasn't sure what to expect when Kinley said she was going to be a raccoon. The raccoons around here are more often on the "naughty" list than not. Grandpa Randy would say they are into tricks, not treats. But I could see the appeal after I saw Kinley's version. My mental photo of Brooke's princess unicorn was much easier to conjure up before the big day.
Jill and Eric decorated their trunk with an under the sea theme. They were told they needed to plan for 1,000 trick or treaters! I haven't had that many ghosts and goblins visit my rural door step in my lifetime!
Pinterest for the win! It turned out really cute.
The girls had quite the entourage, too. We were there. And so were Eric's parents.
 
Grandma Christy helped us get in the spirit of the event by providing ears. She had the kitty ears. I had the bunny ears. The minister surmised that both Randy and Alan were dressed up as Bill Snyder for Halloween.
The girls fixed my ears, and we took off through the maze of car trunks.
I thought it was fun to see Kinley's tail in this shot.
Then it was time for some games.
 Afterwards, Brooke joined Mommy to hand out the treats, while Kinley played with her cousins.
Brooke had to hide behind Mommy when there was a creature with a scary mask.
The next day was definitely a treat when our K-State Wildcats pulled out an upset over No. 5-ranked Oklahoma ... and we were there to see it. (Brent was, too: I just didn't get a photo of him.)
After the game, it was on to the Little Munchkin Pumpkin Patch near Alma for some more Halloween fun. Like Goldilocks says: It was just right!
There were slides ...
... and photo stops.
Jill says Kinley has been talking about a corn maze all fall. Even though it wasn't corn, Kinley was satisfied with her adventure through the maze. (And we didn't lose anyone.)
There were plenty of opportunities for sliding, bouncing, running and playing.
Grandpa bought some do-it-yourself s'more kits. He originally bought them for the girls, but then he "claimed" he'd never had a s'more himself. So he bought another kit. For the record, he says he's roasted plenty of marshmallows: He's just never put them inside a graham cracker and chocolate sandwich. He has evidently led a sheltered life. Now he knows what he's been missing.
The girls tolerated Grandma's desire to take lots of photos.
And Grandma even relinquished the camera for a shot with Brooke.
Even though we don't get to witness the girls' trick-or-treat festivities tonight, we were thrilled to get in on the fall fun this past weekend.
All the ghosts and goblins in our neighborhood have grown up. It doesn't seem so long ago that our two were making the rounds to Grandpa Melvin's and Grandma Marie's - where they were surprised by a couple of spooks.

I hope our raccoon and princess unicorn have as much frivolity tonight as these two did - once upon a time.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

No Tricks! These Are Tasty Treats

It's "H" week in Pre-K. Brooke told me that's because it's Halloween week.

Brooke and her sister will have more reasons to celebrate the spooktacular holiday this week, since their Mommy got creative and has several spooky suppers on the meal plan. Randy and I got in on one of them for Sunday lunch after church.
As with most Pinterest creations, the "real" version wasn't quite like the air-brushed and "fluffed" photo:
Photo from Pocket Change Gourmet
For one thing, Jill knew that her diners would prefer their salad in a separate bowl. Brooke still ate her fair share of the green stuff, but it stayed separate from the spider's "web." Jill also knew that the leftovers for her and Eric's lunch would be less soggy without the lettuce touching the bread. Jill also served homemade guacamole and salsa with chips. (And the girls - and Daddy - might have had one piece of candy from their stash after their church's Trunk and Treat.)

Even if it didn't look exactly like the photo, the girls seemed to like the results of Mommy's nod to the upcoming holiday.
Also on the menu plan this week are these Candy Corn Quesadillas. (Eric wanted to make sure it didn't involve melted down candy corn. It does not: It's a savory "candy" corn.)

For the recipe, go to Taste of Home's website. (Click on this link.)

And if you want to "spin" your own excitement for supper this week, here's the recipe Jill used:

Spider Taco Ring

1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
1 small onion (about ½ cup) chopped finely
½ cup green pepper, chopped finely
1 package taco seasoning
¾ cup of water
2 tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
1 tube refrigerated bread sticks (you will only need 4)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Shredded lettuce
2 large pitted black olives

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef with onion and green pepper until cooked through and the vegetables are tender; drain well. Return to pan; add taco seasoning and water. Simmer until liquid is gone, about 15 minutes.

On a round pan or cookie sheet, lay out the crescent rolls in an overlapping circle with the small point facing out. Add ground beef mixture around the ring. Flip the crescent dough rolls into the center.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Spider Legs
Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Divide each breadstick in half, then form a "V" and place on cookie sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Assemble
Add lettuce to the center of the taco ring, then add olives for eyes. Add legs. Serve salsa and cheddar cheese on the side, if desired to make the dish a little more filling.

Jill has also made this mummified Cheeseburger Roll-Up during other Halloween seasons.
And here are some treats with a Halloween or fall theme. (Click on the links under the photos for the recipes. They are definitely treats - not tricks!)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Letting the Beauty Speak for Itself

My sunrise tree at sunset

A Time to Think

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf. 
–Albert Schweitzer, theologian and medical doctor

A Time to Act

Take time today to nourish your soul with beauty and silence.
Devotional from Guideposts.com

Not many words today: I'll let the beauty speak for itself.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Anticlimactic: Milo Harvest 2019

Say "harvest" in a room of farmers and it could be a little like shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.
However, milo harvest on our farm this year was anticlimactic. While Kansas grows more sorghum than any other U.S. state, here on the County Line, we are not contributing much to the total.
In 2014, Kansas ranked first in grain sorghum production in the U.S. with more than 200 million bushels grown, which equated to more than 40 percent of the country's total production. 

The use of sorghum for human consumption is being developed further in countries where malnutrition and hunger are prevalent. Kansas State University College of Agriculture Ag Report says:
In the Mara Region of Tanzania, one of the most starved areas of the world, K-State grain scientist Sajid Alavi is part of a research team working to improve child nutrition and health by providing a sorghum-soybean porridge blend to children younger than 5. ... While the results of the five-month study are yet to be finalized, Alavi said the early indications are that children were more healthy and had average growth rates.
But milo is getting some additional traction in the U.S., too, as consumers seek gluten-free alternatives. On a Discover Kansas trip with our Kansas Master Farmer Homemaker group a couple of years ago, we toured NuLife Market in Scott City.
NuLife Market Founder and President Earl Roemer gave us a tour. Earl’s family has farmed in the western Kansas for four generations. For years, his family grew grain sorghum – also called milo – as a feed grain crop for livestock. But then Earl began exploring how sorghum could be a human food source, especially as more and more consumers wanted gluten-free products. Sorghum has no gluten.

He admits that the early grain sorghum products “tasted like cardboard and the texture was like sand.” In 2007, Earl founded NuLife Market in Scott City to produce and market sorghum-based products and sell sorghum ingredients to other food companies.

NuLife uses sorghum grown in the region, providing value-added opportunities for area farmers. And now NuLife supplies sorghum and sorghum products for companies like Kashi, Bear Naked, Go Lean and Annie's Organic, just to name a few. Their sorghum products can be found in more than a thousand products, such as gluten-free baked goods, cereal bars and snacks, represented by some 80 brands. Nu Life Market is shipping its products coast to coast and beyond.

Our little milo crop just travels a few miles to the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op. Some of the milo in our area goes to the ethanol plant near Pratt.
 We only had 95 acres of milo, so it only took a couple of afternoons from start to finish.
It was not a bin buster in yield either. The overall average was 40.1 bushels per acre, with a range from 27 to 67 bushels per acre on different fields.
I came home from an afternoon meeting and decided I'd better go ride the combine if I wanted to experience milo harvest at all this year. A parts run took me away from the field the other afternoon.

Compared to wheat, the whole life cycle of milo is much shorter, too. Randy planted the crop in early June.
By June 13, it was up and growing.
June 13, 2019
 
By August 23, when I took the photo below, the milo was headed out and starting to turn.
 And, with that, the sun sets on another harvest of 2019.