Amber Waves of Grain

Amber Waves of Grain

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Super Bowl = Super Snacks

At Christmastime, I typed "cheese dip" into my blog's search engine, hoping to save a little time and not dig through a pile of printed-out recipes. Some cheesy recipes popped up, but it wasn't the dip recipe I was looking for. I tried other combinations because I was just sure that I must have shared such a tried-and-true recipe before on Kim's County Line.

Nope.

So when one of my friends asked if I was going to do a Super Bowl food blog post, I decided it was time to remedy that oversight. After all, we'll need all the sustenance possible to cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl this Sunday!

This Southwest Ranch Cheese Dip was a recipe shared by my friend, Kim Volker, back when I was compiling favorites for a recipe book project as a shower gift for Jill and Eric.
They've been married more than 10 years now, and both Jill and I have used the recipe over and over again. Even though we eat leftovers for our after-Christmas-dinner supper, I always stir together Southwest Ranch Cheese Dip to serve alongside the ham sandwiches. And it's a favorite with Mexican meals and for parties, too.

It's super simple, and I usually have all the ingredients on hand in my fridge and pantry. Though the original recipe's directions called for using a slow cooker to heat up the dip, I've also sped up the process by combining the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and "zapping" it.
It's great served as-is with chips or fresh veggies. You can also use it as a topping on tostadas or baked potatoes.

It's been 50 years since our Kansas City Chiefs have been in the Big Game, so having the right munchies is paramount. Besides the recipe for the cheese dip, I've provided links to more tried-and-true recipes from Kim's County Line. I don't put them on the blog unless we've enjoyed them ourselves.

With Kansas City known as a barbecue hub, try out the BBQ Oven-Baked Ribs, BBQ Meatballs or BBQ Beef Under a Bun.

Since the Super Bowl is in Miami this year, I shared some tropical flavors with both the Lemon Buddy Snack Mix and the Chili Lime Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Salsa. Or try Jill's Guacamole recipe.

You'll also find a variety of sandwiches, snack mixes and sweet treats compiled below.

Enjoy and Gooooooooo CHIIIIEEEEEFFFFS!
Southwest Ranch Cheese Dip
From the kitchen of Kim Volker
1 can fiesta corn, drained
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. fiesta blend cheese, shredded (the original recipe called for Monterey Jack. I always have the fiesta on hand)
4 oz. can diced japalenos
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
8 oz. sour cream
A little milk, if needed

Mix together all of the ingredients (except milk). Heat for 2 hours on low in a slow cooker, stirring every 30 minutes or so. If the dip is too thick, add a little milk to thin it.

Optional: Microwave the ingredients in a glass bowl. Microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes at a time and stir. Keep heating and stirring intermittently until it's melted. Add additional milk as needed to thin it.

It's also good as a dip for raw vegetables or served as a topping for tosadas and baked potatoes, for example.

***

Click on the links for the recipes pictured below. Looking for something else? Type "bar cookie," "snack mix," "cookies," "sandwiches," "soup," etc., into the blog search engine. The search engine is found in the upper lefthand corner of the blog post.

Oven-Baked BBQ Ribs AND Sweet & Sour Baked Beans

BBQ Meatballs - Make them full-size or bite-sized
Brownies for a Crowd

Let's hope the San Francisco 49ers have Butterfingers - NOT the Chiefs!
Butterfinger Blondies

Peanut Butter S'Mores Bars

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

And So It Begins Again: Class of 2020

There's no hiding from it: Calving season 2020 has begun. With more snow on the way today, we'll see if the expectant mamas respond to that old wives' tale that says births happen when there are changes in the weather.

We didn't get off to a momentous start. Last Tuesday, a baby was born 3 weeks early to a cow on Peace Creek. It was just too small to survive.

Our 25 heifers began calving last Thursday. While the projected due date was today (January 28), the heifers who are calving are delivering full-term babies. We schedule our heifers to begin calving a couple of weeks prior to the whole cow herd, since the first-time moms require more frequent checking.
This little white-faced guy was the first one to join the Class of 2020. However, the ear tag doesn't support that claim.
Even though this black calf was born second, he got the 000 ear tag.
 
Location, location, location: He was closer to the gate when we arrived with the ear tags the next morning. And, contrary to the triple-zero moniker, it doesn't mean this calf is worth nothing ... nada ... zip. In our herd, the first number signifies the year that the baby was born. In this case, the year 2020 meant our numbers begin with "0" for this calving season.
We have the heifers in a corral near our house. The mamas were born on The County Line in 2018, and Randy chose 25 of them to retain for our own herd.

The too-early arrival wasn't the only challenge we've already faced. This little guy's mama was not interested in claiming it.
Randy moved the calf into the calving shed to warm it up. Then, we tried to corral the mother and put it in the calving shed with the calf. She jumped the fence twice, leading a few of her compatriots astray as they all tried out for the heifer version of the Olympic high jump trials.

After the second time, I told Randy, "We need to find some higher panels." So we added three more panels to the corral right outside the calving shed. (I can testify that my muscles could feel the "burn" the next morning after lifting the panels into the back of the pickup, taking them out and helping to position them.)
We ran a group of the heifers into the corral again. And the mom (No. 849, for the record) tried to jump the fence again. The taller fence prevailed, and we finally got it into the shed. But then she burst through the head gate. And Randy decided it wasn't worth getting either of us hurt.
We mixed up some colostrum and fed the calf with a tube feeder. (Yes, the photo is blurry. It's not easy to do a job and take photos at the same time. That's why there are no photos of the round-up itself, and this one is blurry. Someone asked me the other day how I can work and take photos at the same time. The answer is this: Sometimes I can't.)

After we fed the calf, we left it in the calving shed, figuring we'd have to continue to tube feed it or bottle feed it.
 
Then Randy had a brainstorm. Another heifer had lost a calf the same day. We would attempt to graft that heifer and the orphaned baby calf.
This heifer is much calmer and more cooperative. At first, Randy milked the heifer.
She wasn't sold on the idea at first.
But, as the song from "Fiddler on the Roof" says, "Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles" the two have found each other.

As you can see in the top two photos, it took awhile for the calf to figure out which end of the mother yielded the warm treat.  Success!
That makes the farmer happy. (And the farmer's wife, too!)
Tomorrow - January 29 - is Kansas Day, and our state celebrates its 159th birthday. Kansas was admitted as a state of the Union in 1861. Even back in those days, the livestock industry was an important aspect of the state's agricultural economy. The state ranked third in the nation in cattle population by 1890, a position it held for several decades. Mixed farming (grain-livestock) has always been the predominant form of agriculture on Kansas family farms, including both the Fritzemeier and Moore agricultural legacies.

Thousands of head of cattle were shipped on trains from rail heads in Kansas to packing plants in Kansas City, Chicago, and other cities to the east.  Between 1867 and 1885, towns like Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Newton, Caldwell, and Dodge City became famous for their place in the cattle industry.
Photo from the Kansas State Historical Society, dated between 1891 and 1912
With the closing of the open range, Kansas cattlemen began to place greater emphasis on the breeding of better stock.  Shorthorns and Herefords were popular in the 1890s, according to the Kansas State Historical Society. Herefords are still part of the genetics on our County Line farm, along with Angus.
 
Happy Birthday, Kansas! Maybe we'll increase our party attendance with a few more calves.
For more on my family's arrival in Kansas, check out this blog post from Kansas Day 2016. More information about the Fritzemeier's history in the Kansas cattle industry can be found here.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Decade Later: A Blog Anniversary

Sunset, January 18, 2020
Quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. have been everywhere this week - from internet memes to television broadcasts. One that arrived via my daily email devotional from Guideposts resonated with me:
 
If I cannot do great things,
 I can do small things in a great way.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Class Prophecy for Skyline High School's Class of 1975 predicted I'd be a writer at The New York Times by now. Since I'm a small-town girl through and through, I never bought into the vision some creative classmate penned 45 years ago.

At the time, I suppose we all envisioned that success was measured far, far away from the plains of Kansas. But maybe our 17- and 18-year-old selves were a little short-sighted. (Imagine that.)
Sunset, January 18, 2020
Even with the supposed wisdom that comes in living 60-plus years, I can still get caught up in measuring success by measuring numbers or by comparing myself to others. And it doesn't take long to figure that I don't add up. No, we don't have the biggest, most modern house. No, we don't farm as much as that person. No, I'm not the Kansas farm wife version of a super model. No, I don't have legions of blog readers or a line of cookware so those blog readers can adore me even more and clutter their kitchen cabinets with "my" cookware.

As I read Martin Luther King's words, a song we used to sing in the basement of the Byers United Methodist Church popped into my head. I hadn't thought of "Brighten the Corner Where You Are" for years, and I doubt I'd actually sung it since I'd belted it out from the yellow children's chairs lined up by the out-of-tune upright piano in the church basement. Even so, I remembered the words of the chorus, and when I found Burl Ives' version on YouTube, I remembered some of the verses, too:
Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.
Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
Brighten the corner where you are ...

Songwriters: Robert Lee Black / Charles Hutchison Gabriel / Ina Duley Ogdon / R Price
Brighten the Corner Where You Are lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
 

This week, I celebrate my 10th blog anniversary. I first clicked "publish" on Blogger on January 24, 2010. Today was my 1,873rd blog post.

If I were doing this for the numbers, I'd have quit a long time ago.

But for the past 10 years, Kim's County Line has helped me track our lives on a five-generation Central Kansas farm. Having this avenue to collect words and photos has helped me to connect with our  heritage and this life in a new way. It's helped me pay attention. I've approached telling our story like the reporter I am. I take notes. I ask more questions. I want my farmer's "farm speak" translated in a way that makes sense to me so I can share it with others.
So often, we overlook the things that we see every day. It's like we're living life at 60 miles an hour, flying by familiar places and people, thinking we already know everything there is to know about these ordinary things that make up our lives and livelihoods.
Taken earlier this week
Even the most mundane, everyday things can cause us to pause in wonder. It may be something as simple as the morning light and a lacy curtain creating momentary art. The blog has given me the eyes to see how small, simple things are really the most important things of all. It's part of how I try to "brighten the corner" where I am.
 
Each quarter, I've compiled my blog posts into hardcover blog books. I got my latest one just yesterday, and I struggled to cram yet another volume into an already overflowing cabinet. But, for now, I will continue to write. I'll continue to tell the stories. And I want to thank those of you who come along for the journey - whether it's every time I post or whether you just take an occasional jaunt down the County Line.

It's my blogiversary, but to celebrate, one person will get a gift from me ...
  • a selection of my photo notecards, or ...
 
  •  a copy of "Count on It! Adventures from a Kansas Farm" my rhyming, farm-themed counting book, ...
  • OR a revamped version of my farm alphabet book
To qualify, either comment about this blog post in the comment section of the blog or on my Facebook page, Kim Moore Fritzemeier. Or, if you have trouble with either of those avenues, you may email me at rkjbfarms@gmail.com. The winner will be chosen at random from the commenters. Enter your comment by January 31 for a chance to win.

Again, I thank you!



UPDATE
The winner of the blog anniversary gift is Eileen Loomis. She chose the ABC book. Thanks to all who played along, and most of all, thanks for visiting The County Line. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Cheeseburger Soup

Cold day + hot soup = Winning lunch (or supper).

Two of my friends - Barb and Julie - served a Cheeseburger Soup at a Bible study at church before Christmas, and it got rave reviews. I asked for the recipe, but with the hectic pace of the holidays, I hadn't yet given it a try myself. With freezing rain in the forecast last week, I decided it would hit the spot after a morning of feeding and watering calves in the cold. With snow a possibility again today, it's good we still have leftovers.

I made some changes to how the original recipe was constructed. In addition, the recipe called for shredded carrots, but I just chopped them, since I prefer chunky soup. It also lists shredded Velveeta cheese. They do have shredded Velveeta in the dairy case these days, but I just used a portion of the block of Velveeta and chopped it instead. It may have taken a few more stirs to get it melted, but the warm milk mixture did its part quickly.

It was just as good as I remembered. And Randy thought it was mighty tasty, too. It will be making repeat appearances in the rotation of soups we enjoy.

Enjoy!
Cheeseburger Soup
From my friend, Barb's kitchen
(adapted from Taste of Home)
1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots (I just chopped them, rather than shredded them)
3/4 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-3/4 pounds (about 4 cups) cubed peeled potatoes
3 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole milk
2 to 4 cups shredded Velveeta
1/4 cup sour cream

Brown and crumble beef until no longer pink; drain well. Combine browned hamburger, chopped vegetables, chicken broth, dried basil and parsley, salt and pepper in a large stock pot.  Cook until veggies are tender, but not mushy.

In a separate skillet, melt butter. Stir in flour and combine well, making a roux, cooking about 2 minutes while stirring constantly so that it doesn't burn. Stir in milk and cook until smooth and thickened. Stir in cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat; add sour cream. Stir the cheese mixture into the stock pot and stir until well blended.

Serve with crackers, fresh veggies and fruit. Makes 2 1/4 quarts.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Winter Sky

Winter's sky is an old blue soul,
weaving dark clouds with wonder.
Angie Wieland-Crosby
A windmill just off 4th Street on my way home from Hutchinson
Watching the skies will be more than a hobby today. The weathermen are talking about freezing precipitation tonight.
Taken on the way home from Pratt one evening.
One of them even said the dreaded words, "It could affect power lines."
I vote "no" on that. I also hope none of the heifers decide that freezing rain is a good welcome for our first baby calves of the year.

As for me, I'll be wearing my long underwear for feeding today. Brrrr! The cold makes for beautiful blue winter skies, but the feed truck doesn't get very warm.