Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lifesaving 101

The hubby asked me to accompany him for a fence-fixing adventure. My job? To rescue him if he was swept away in the current of the Rattlesnake Creek.

I was probably not the best candidate for the job.

Yes, as a child, I took American Red Cross swimming lessons at the Pratt Municipal Swimming Pool. My mom carpooled with other farm moms and transported us to summer swimming lessons for a couple of weeks each summer.

However, going to swimming lessons does not a swimmer make. More than once, I did not collect my little billfold-sized card and lapel pin denoting another Red Cross swimming level had been achieved.

I tried. I really did. But I just wasn't all that good at it.

If I recall correctly, I was a repeat customer in Level 4 Stroke Improvement and Level 5 Stroke Refinement. I'm not sure I ever made it to Level 6 Swimming and Skill Proficiency.

I think part of the problem was the lack of additional practice time. We sometimes got to go to the swimming pool just for fun. But summertime is busy on the farm, and it's not like we could ride our bikes to town.

On our way to the pasture yesterday morning, I asked for a little clarification about my role.

"Are you really expecting me to rescue you? I didn't make it as far as the lifesaving courses," I told my hubby.

And he replied: "No, you can just call for help."

Well, that really inspired tons of confidence. Number 1, the cell phone reception is not that dependable in the boonies. And second, even if I could describe where we were to potential rescuers, it would take way too long for help to arrive.

The fence needed to be rebuilt because high water levels had wiped it out. In the photo below, you can see the debris caught on the wire fence. The debris had pulled the wire under the surface of the water.

If cattle don't see a fence, it just invites them to explore other regions. It doesn't matter that the pasture on the other side of the bridge looks just like the one they are supposed to live in. I guess it's just the curiosity. Curiosity isn't exclusive to cats. It is alive and well in cattle, too.

So far, so good. It wasn't looking too deep. So, instead of figuring out how I was going to get down the steep incline to save Randy, I started seeing all the great light and shadows. That's a side effect of taking me anywhere: I start seeing photos in everything.

At this juncture, Randy tells me that he may be just about ready to step in a hole. The water line was creeping upwards on his jeans. So I was considering where I could gently lay my camera for safekeeping in case a water rescue was eminent. But ... then again, just look at those sparkles on the water.

OK, OK ... I'm paying attention. I really am.

As it turns out, my services were not required - at least when it came to lifesaving. I guess I was a lifesaver in a way because I delivered the wire cutters and a piece of wire, saving my farmer several steps.

And, as usual, I was stellar company. If I do say so myself.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Do you need a recipe that you can throw together in under 30 minutes? Bar-B-Cups is a recipe that fills the bill.

As I have said before, if you're reading my recipe posts looking for gourmet food, you will be disappointed. In Food Network terms, the meals at the County Line are more Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade than Iron Chef America.

As cattle producers, we have a freezer full of beef. So beef in some form is the centerpiece for the majority of meals around here.

When I'm browning hamburger, I often brown more than I need for one recipe. It can really speed meal preparation to have browned hamburger in the refrigerator, ready for the next recipe.

Bar-B-Cups is one of those go-to meals when the clock is ticking toward noon and I need something fast. Enjoy!

3/4 lb. ground beef, browned
Minced onion
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I use Curly's)
1 8-oz. can refrigerator biscuits (10 biscuits)
3/4 cup shredded cheese

Brown ground beef and onion; drain. Add barbecue sauce. Press each biscuit individually into greased muffin cups, trying to line the muffin cup as well as you can. (Note: Now that the kids aren't home, I usually use a small can of refrigerator biscuits. The small can has 5 biscuits. I take a little dough off each biscuit and use it to make a sixth Bar-B-Cup. I like symmetry. What can I say?)

Spoon meat mixture into the cups.
Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

This time, I served the Bar-B-Cups with oven baked french fries (for Randy) and a salad.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tag - I'm It!

I was never a fast runner. The speed bypassed this first child and went directly to my sister, Lisa. Once upon a time, she was part of a national relay team record.

I, on the other hand, was a track manager.

I still don't run. I walk. So it's not surprising that Mrs. E at Easy Street could tag me before her run this morning.

I'm new to this tagging stuff in Blog World, so maybe you are, too. Mrs. E got tagged by another blogger, then she had to tag several of her blogging acquaintances.

My sister participates in some of these Blog World links where everyone answers the same questions and then links them to a central location.

I have never done it because I don't think my responses will be nearly clever enough.

You are now all going to watch me realize my greatest fear. Here goes:

1- What’s your staple meal (ie. what meal do you cook most often when you can’t be bothered to be adventurous)?
I have a lot of go-to meals that I can throw together without a recipe. I guess today I'll choose Taco Pizza. The hubby and the son really like this meal. The daughter ... not so much. But it's also a hit with our farm employee during supper runs to the field.

2- What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I was little, I thought I'd like to be a composer. Since I had no skills in that area, that didn't work out. I have always thought it would be great to publish a children's book. It's a tough road to get a book published, but I have ideas rattle around inside my head. I need to spend more time "doing" it instead of "thinking" about it!

3- What book are you reading at the moment (if any)?
I'm reading Jane Green's "Promises to Keep." I just finished Lee Child's "61 Hours." I always have a book to read. I am NEVER without one. They know me at my library because I always have books on hold. (And, unfortunately, they know me because I usually have overdue books. Really, this last time wasn't my fault. I was confined to home due to harvest.)

4- How do you relax?
Reading is my favorite way to relax. Playing the piano "just because" is relaxing, though practicing to accompany 25 soloists is decidedly not. Watching the Food Network or HGTV are mindless relaxation.

5- What color are the interior walls of your home?
Most of my walls are as boring as me - off white. My bathrooms are blue, and my bedroom is lavender.

6- What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Staying in my PJs to work. No one can see that I do my KFRM Central Kansas report in PJs most days. Or that I often blog and check Facebook in my PJs. It's part of the beauty of living in the country 12 miles from town. (I do get surprised on occasion, which is NOT a good thing. I always hope that Ralph will give me a warning bark so I can race upstairs and be visitor worthy.) I am working. Really.

7- What time is bedtime and getting up time?
During the summer, we are usually up by 6 AM. I'd say I am usually in bed by 10:45 or so. If it's Monday and Headline night on Jay Leno, I usually stay up to watch that. As a former headline writer, I really like that segment and am just glad none of my work ever ended up there. Last Friday, after we finished harvest, I was falling asleep in my chair at 9:15. So I went to bed.

8- How long do you spend reading blogs (per day or per week)?
I don't think I want to figure this out. Let's just say I spend way too much time on the internet. Part of it really is work. Really.

Now, I get to tag a few people. So, I'm tagging Lisa at Bauer Banter, Jill at Longitude and LADDitude, Chelsie at Doodles and Company, and Paige because she really needs to start blogging again. Ladies, all you have to do is answer the same questions and then tag a few people.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Aesop-Like Fable

The start of another harvest day on the County Line

Our temporary harvest employee turned out to be more temporary than we had planned. Long story. So I'll give you the Aesop's Fable moral-of-the-story version, as provided by our daughter: Don't lie. The End.

All the drama came the same day I posted about the glass being half full or half empty. So I had to put what I'd written into action. How inconvenient, right? I actually had to follow through and be that person who sees the glass as half full even when a situation was causing some storm clouds in my head and stomach. OK, God, I hear You!

So part of Thursday and all day yesterday, I included full-time truck driving with full-time cook and go-fer duties.

However, we can't spend our lives looking back in the rearview mirror. We need to look forward and figure out the next step (or the next swath, in this case).

Life truly does put things in perspective. The day of our temporary employee drama was also the same day that two young men were killed in the grain elevator collapse at Russell. My problems and inconveniences seem pretty trivial when stacked against the grief of their families and that community.

Really, if I just look around, it sure doesn't take long for me to rediscover that my glass is indeed full to overflowing.

So I'll just leave you with a few more glimpses of Harvest 2010. We finished last night!

My farmer

His shadow reflected in the windshield glass

The shadow of the combine reflected in the windshield as the wheat goes through the combine header

Me, casting a shadow in the wheat (while taking a photo, of course)

Shadows at the end of daylight on the County Line
(not necessarily the end of the day)!

May your joys be as bright as the morning, and your sorrows merely be shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
An Irish blessing

Friday, June 25, 2010

Harvesting Memories

I've been around for my share of harvests. In fact, I entered this world at harvest time more than 50 years ago. However, back in 1957, it had rained enough that harvest was momentarily stopped just in time for my arrival into this world. So my Dad didn't even have to get off the combine to take my mom to the hospital.

However, I was not around for the harvest pictured above. I rediscovered the photo when I was digging through a box, looking for some other photos. It was one we brought home from Randy's folks' house. When we were going through all the "stuff" of their lives, we got down to the photos and everyone was tired of sorting.

As an admitted photo fiend, I didn't want to throw them away, so I said I'd take them home and store them until people wanted to go through them and divide the rest of them. That day never came. So here they still sit, taking up space in my basement.

Anyway, with harvest 2010 in full swing, I thought it was perfect timing to find a photo of a harvest from days gone by. I don't know who the people are or the year it was taken. I assume they are some of Randy's relatives. My Grandpa Leonard, who was also a farmer, had a similar photo hanging in his home office in Haskell County.

It does make me thankful for modern equipment. And I also appreciate that I don't have to feed a crew that big. Sure, I have a couple of extra people at the table or gathered around for our impromptu field "picnics." But I count at least nine people in the long-ago harvest crew. That would be a lot of meat and potatoes!

The combine pictured above was owned by my parents. It was a 1957 model, just like me. My Mom and Dad gave all the grandkids a history book several years ago and included family and farm photos and stories. It was a great gift (and one that I haven't yet passed along to my kids. I am storing the books for safekeeping. My sister says her kids have to be 30 before they get their books. I think that's a good idea, since I pull them out all the time and use the photos and information.)

My Dad, who is also a saver, kept sales receipts and other records. I think it's fascinating that a brand new combine had a $6,275 price tag. Let's just say the price for new combines has gone up faster than the price of grain.

In 1964, my sisters and I posed with my Dad in the photo below. I would have been 7. I hadn't debuted as a harvest helper yet, but by this age, I was already driving the pickup in the field while my Dad picked up fence posts. My sister, Lisa, worked the foot pedals on the pickup, since we needed to use the clutch. I do remember it took us a little while to get the hang of it.

Maybe that's why my Dad had me helping in the harvest field at about age 12. I was the oldest child and the first to qualify for harvest duty. I began moving the grain trucks around in the wheat field before I was old enough to make trips to the elevator. After my Dad would make another swath with the combine, I'd move the truck closer so he didn't have to take time driving to the truck. I don't know whether that was really helpful or whether it was a job to get me used to driving the truck.

I can't remember for sure, but I think this old truck was still around the farm when I started, though we had bigger and more modern trucks, too.

When I had my license, I was promoted to a "real" truck driver and took loads of wheat to the Iuka Coop. I remember being coached by my Dad and also by another truck driver named Ed, who taught me the fine points of waiting in line, unrolling the tarp, how to dump the truck and instruction in the fine art of elevator etiquette.

My Dad always said I was a better truck driver than any teenage boy would be. I don't think he was just "saying" that. I know I wasn't whipping the truck around corners to show off, gunning the engine or anything like that.

That's not to say I wasn't trying to impress. I distinctly remember putting on makeup and eye shadow before going to the field for the day. Those cute custom harvesting crew drivers might see me when I got out to unroll the tarp at the coop.

When I think back about that now, I can't help but laugh at myself. I doubt those drivers were looking in my direction - other than to see if it was their turn to drive onto the scales at the elevator. And any efforts to "doll" myself up were probably lost in a cloud of wheat dust anyway.

But I think it's a natural phenomenon among teenage girl truck drivers. I seem to remember a certain truck driver named Jill who was definitely interested in the whole seeing-and-being-seen part of trips to the elevator.

Yes, the truck driving skill was passed down to the next generation here on the County Line. She was all about working on her tan while waiting on Dad to load the truck.

There also was some multi-generational teamwork going on at my childhood farm during Harvest 2010. My Mom took these photos from the Moore family harvest, featuring my nephew Brian as combine driver. My Dad was his personal consultant. My brother kept irrigation systems going, but he happened to be available for a three-generation shot.

The equipment has changed. The technology has changed. But the teamwork to accomplish the harvest is still there. Brian was driving the combine on ground homesteaded by his great-great-great-grandfather. He's the sixth generation to work the Pratt County land.

Randy is the fourth generation of his family to farm in Stafford County.

Brian, Kent & Bob Moore

I'm proud to be part of this century-old tradition on the Kansas plains.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Half Full? Or Half Empty?

Is the glass half full or half empty? Is a rain good or bad?

Is everything black or white? Or are there some subtle shades of gray?

These are the things I ponder as I walk along our country roads. Nature provides lots of illustrations about life in general, if you just open your eyes and your heart.

As I walked yesterday morning at 7 AM, I was sure it was going to rain. It smelled like rain. The air was heavy with moisture. The blue skies overhead seemed swollen and pregnant with raindrops.

I have to admit: I was grumbling a little bit about the possibility that it might rain. Sure, it was making for pretty scenery while I walked. That blue sky against the golden wheat? It's the stuff of picture postcards from Kansas and June calendar pages.

But we aren't done with wheat harvest. I didn't particularly want an interruption that would stretch it out even further.

However, you must remember that I live with the eternal optimist. Even though he wasn't with me, I could hear him whispering in my ear: "A little rain would be good for the milo. Rain makes the pastures grow. Rain will help the alfalfa crop."

Winston Churchill once said: "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." I've seen that quote on more than one classroom wall.

It's probably with good reason.

When I shifted my perspective, my eyes were opened to other beauty.

Thanks to the rains which delayed harvest for nearly a week before we ever got started, the milo is starting to shoot up.

It's grown several inches since I took the photos of the first shoots just peeking through the ground.
Further along my way, I saw the neighbor's dryland corn. There's no irrigation system to make sure it gets enough moisture, so a rain would help his crop, too.

The alfalfa will be ready to swath again once we get wheat harvest out of the way. It, too, was nourished by the rains a week and a half ago.

By the time I walked home, the skies were clearing. I had been wasting time worrying about something that wasn't going to happen anyway. Chalk up another lesson from nature.

So, with my mind's soundtrack playing Three Dog Night's "Black and White" in the background, I again considered: Is the glass half full or half empty?

I think I'll side with my husband who always seems to find the glass full to overflowing.

And with Charles Swindoll:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Charles R. Swindoll

I pray you will find your glass full today - whether you are in the midst of harvest stress or just living life with all its peaks and valleys.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Workout Buddy

All the fitness experts say that companionship while exercising is a good motivator. Ralph is my usual workout buddy. However, he doesn't help me much in the motivation department. Come to think about it, as he gets older, he's becoming a bad influence. He often opts to sleep under the bush in the front yard until I get back.

Once in awhile, Randy is my workout buddy. He does marginally better at communicating while we walk. He also does a better job at actually staying with me instead of running off to explore jackrabbits, water holes and other distractions. I do, however, walk at a pretty brisk pace, so I'm sometimes the one who has a tendency to go off and leave him if I'm not careful.

My other workout buddy is Leslie. I think I can call her Leslie instead of Ms. Sansone because I have five - yes, five - of her workout DVDs.

Jill purchased my first couple of Leslie Sansone "Walk at Home" DVDs when I complained that my 4 mile-a-day walking habit wasn't producing any further weight loss results. I'm sorry, but I think an hour of exercise a day ought to continue yielding measurable results. But that's just me, I guess.

My personal dietitian - also known as my daughter - said I needed to switch things up a bit. My body was getting used to walking 24 miles a week. (I take Sundays off.)

She talked to some dietitian friends who recommended the Leslie Sansone "Walk at Home" tapes for women of a certain age. Yes, I am of that "certain age."

Another important consideration for my friend Leslie's tapes? She uses four basic steps: power walking, side steps, kicks and knee lifts with a few minor variations thrown in.

While I have some gifts for music, I am not gifted as a dancer. Just ask my college voice instructor. She had her son's girlfriend attempt to give me a crash course in show choir choreography so I could try out for K-State Singers back in the day.

It was an unmitigated disaster. She tried valiantly. I was pathetic. I passed the vocal audition easily. The dancing was a different story entirely.

I always contend that K-State Concert Choir was a better fit for me anyway. No dancing was required.

So my aptitude for complicated dance moves is slim to none. But Leslie and I get along just fine.

After awhile of working out with Leslie, I decided I needed a little variety in my workout life. Through my additional purchases, I have to believe I am contributing to her considerable budget for hairspray and cute workout clothes. I am keeping her in sequins to bejewel "WALK" on her colorful tank tops.

I'm glad she can't see through the television screen. She would be appalled at my less-than-fashionable clothing selections and less-than-perfect workout hair.

Sometimes it's just Leslie and me. But more often than not, she also has other people in her studio.

I have been known to talk to the people in the video. See, I do have companionship when I exercise, if only in my head. There's Nicki, who needs to turn the smile down a notch. I'm all for being pleasant, but nobody can be that perky all of the time.

Then there's Audra who wears a midriff-baring workout bra to show off her perfectly toned abs and arms. I would just like to tell Leslie and Audra that I know Audra didn't get those muscles by simply using the "walk away weighted balls," the walk belt" or the "punch up your walk weighted gloves." It's false advertising if you ask me.

I wasn't born yesterday, Leslie (or I wouldn't be a woman of a certain age, you know)!

For Mother's Day 2009, Jill bought me a couple of "The Biggest Loser" boot camp workout tapes. I seriously think she was trying to kill me.

After attempting those tapes for awhile, I felt like a loser all right - and I don't mean in a good way. My doctor said maybe I should try something else.

I tried a couple of other low-dollar DVDs. They required too many dance moves, sending me back to my nightmarish K-State Singers audition.

So, it's just me and Leslie again. My most recent purchase was the 5-Mile Fat Burning Walk. It incorporates some interval training, which is supposed to pump up the workout.

I also had been wearing some wrist weights in an effort to provide a little more resistance. But recently I noticed some "sparkles" on the basement floor. Since I no longer have young "artists" doing craft projects around here, I was baffled.

Then I noticed my wrist weights had sprung a leak. I guess it is evidence that my workout equipment doesn't just sit around: It gets used.

So far, I haven't found any weights like them. And I think I may have to invest in a magnet, too. Those little metal "bullets" are hard to sweep up.

Maybe I should email Leslie and see if she could find me some. You know, we are best workout buddies.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Special Delivery

Harvest Crew 2010: Eric, Jake, Monica and Randy

Who needs a pizza delivery guy when you have me? Well, come to think of it, a delivery person bringing hot, fresh Elroy's Pizza from town might be a nice change of pace.

But, alas, Elroy's doesn't deliver, so it's up to me to get meals to the field. So far, the harvest crew has come to me for the noon meal. I deliver the evening meal to the field.

When we move "up north" - as we call one location - I'll probably deliver both the noon and evening meals.

It's definitely less complicated than it used to be when the kids were little. While I was dirtying every pot and pan in the kitchen, they also needed attention. But it was a great adventure for my two "helpers."

I think Jill would have been 1 1/2 at the harvest pictured here.

Back then, I would bring an old blanket, which we'd spread out on the freshly cut wheat stubble. Jill would usually find a lap to sit on, though. These days, I don't take a blanket to spread out. I usually just use some old towels as a makeshift tablecloth on the car trunk.

Rides with Daddy were often included as the after-dinner entertainment.

Brent was a just a little over a month old at his first harvest. Thankfully, he slept through a lot of meals that year, though I did hire a teenager to help me with meal preparation and childcare.

Yesterday, I found a couple of old clippings from my days writing the "At Home with Kim" column for The Hutchinson News.

In June 1990, when Jill would have been 4 and Brent had just turned 2, I wrote: "In fiction, dinner for eight conjures up images of a cozy little dinner party, the men in black tie and the women in slinky evening gowns. In my world, the only black the men are wearing is an ample smear of oil from cantankerous combines and trucks. And the only thing clinging to the women is scratchy cheat, sweaty shirts and itchy wheat dust.

"It's harvest time, and dinner for eight is a time to throw a little fuel into the body's engine between swaths cut from golden carpets of grain or slow trips to Zenith in trucks "air-conditioned" the old-fashioned way.

"For me, it's a race against time to get a well-balanced, tasty meal on the table before noon, all the while tap-dancing around Brent's own Gleaner cutting imaginary wheat on my kitchen floor."

In June 1992, Jill was 6 1/2 and Brent had just turned 4.

I wrote: "Jill and Brent think picnics are loads of fun, especially if they get rides on the combine with Daddy or Grandpa Melvin for dessert. On rides to the elevator with Grandma Marie, they have the important job of getting the ticket.

"They get pop for supper every night, which never happens in 'real life.' And they get to have 'guest-es', as Brent calls them, for dinner every single day."

It's always a challenge to remember all the utensils needed when packing up a meal for the field. On one harvest meal run when the kids were little, I forgot the Dutch apple pie that was the intended dessert. It's not that the harvest crew was going to go hungry. But it was still frustrating for this Type A "caterer."

Even though it's not food, one accessory is almost as mandatory: Wet towels help the harvesters wipe away the wheat dust and grime before the meal.

I had already planned my noon meal for today by the time I found the 1992 column. Ironically, the recipe included in the 18-year-old newspaper clipping is what's on the menu today. BBQ Meatballs is obviously a tried-and-true harvest main dish. But it's one I use all year.

These freeze well. In fact, the ones we are having today are ones I pulled from the freezer. I'll pair them with a potato casserole, green salad and fresh banana muffins. Enjoy!

BBQ Meatballs
3 lbs. hamburger
2 cups quick oatmeal
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 eggs

Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Mix all together ingredients and form meatballs. (I usually use an ice cream scoop to make uniform balls.) Place in single layer in baking dish and cover with sauce below or use your favorite barbecue sauce. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

I usually use Curly's Barbecue Sauce these days. But if you want to make your own, here's the recipe:

2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup chopped onion (or onion powder to taste)
2 tbsp. liquid smoke

Mix all together and pour over meatballs.

This other recipe is one my mother-in-law, Marie, used when she had to take the noon meal to the field. She had a pan that fit into a Styrofoam caddy. I seriously considered bringing that container home when we cleaned out her kitchen. But after years of using it for harvest transport, it was grungy, at best. I have my own thermal containers and coolers that are looking a little worse for wear these days. But they still do the job.

When the kids were little, I did the meals, and Marie drove the truck. But I usually used this recipe for one meal since it combined the meat and veggies into one dish. She called it "Baked Steak Meal in One." I renamed it "Harvest Helper."

Harvest Helper
4 minute cube steaks
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp. shortening
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced carrots
1 can green beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced celery
2 cans beef broth
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf

Cut steaks into strips 1/8-inch wide (meat cuts easier if partially frozen). Dredge meat in flour and brown in hot shortening. Combine vegetables, browned meat and lemon juice. Put in 2 1/2-quart casserole. Cover with beef broth. Cover casserole and bake at 275 degrees for 4 hours. Or bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, stirring once or twice during baking.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just Peachy!

Dessert every day: It's just another reason Randy loves harvest.

Here on the County Line, we don't usually have dessert after every meal. But during harvest, dessert is just as much a part of the day as wheat dust. The only difference? People like the dessert. Not so much on the whole wheat dust thing.

With extra people at the dinner table, dessert is on the menu daily.

Saturday's dessert was called Butter Brickle. It's kind of false advertising. It should have "Peach" in the title somewhere. The original recipe called for a butter brickle cake mix. I rarely find those any more. But the recipe says to use a caramel cake mix as an alternative.

I know it's almost sacrilegious to admit it in the summertime, but it also uses canned - not fresh -peaches. Yes, I know I could have used fresh, especially since I obviously had fresh peaches sitting on my counter (as documented in the photo below.) But I'm not sure how to make the adjustments in the recipe to account for using the canned fruit in syrup.

Plus, as any farm wife knows, time is a precious commodity during harvest. It is much easier to open the big can of peaches instead of standing there peeling and slicing.

So, now you know all my little secrets. Yes, I used a cake mix again. Yes, I used canned peaches, not fresh. Yes, I used a caramel cake mix instead of butter brickle.

Top it with a little vanilla ice cream on the warm dessert right out of the oven, and all three of my harvest crew guys were happy.

Randy was happy again when he came in at the end of the day, and there were leftovers.

Did I mention Randy loves this time of year?

Butter Brickle
1 large (29 oz.) can sliced peaches, not drained
1 pkg. butter brickle or caramel cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Put peaches and juice in the bottom of the pan. Pour dry cake mix over peaches. Pour butter over cake mix. Sprinkle with coconut and pecans. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until bubbly. If the coconut starts to brown too quickly, top with foil.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Fortunately, all our harvest crew likes coconut. But if you have someone who doesn't, I think you could omit the coconut and it would still turn out great.