Veteran’s Day

Today is a day that we stop and take time to say thank you to the men and women who have given a part of their life, and in some cases, their life itself, to protect and defend the freedoms that many in this country take for granted.
Just recently, Americans exercised that freedom to make history.
Here, a week later, in a little school in a little corner of a big prairie, ranchers left their cows, farmers parked their tractors and an auditorium was standing room only, to honor the veterans from this small community.
In a land where the houses are few and far between, everyone came to show their appreciation. Even the local radio station showed up to broadcast the program.

Young voices were raised in song. “If you love your country, if you cherish your freedom, thank a vet!”, were the simple words sung in high pitched voices that brought tears to the eyes of those in uniform.

In this time of controversy over the current war, those from past wars rarely experience gratitude. This was their chance to bask in a moment of spotlight and ceremony.
A young man stands in uniform at the front and shares his experiences in Afghanistan. Of being blown up in his Humvee by an IED. Of the brothers that pulled him from the wreckage and visited him in the hospital. Pictures are shown of his wrecked vehicle and the aftermath of the explosion.

Young eyes gaze in hero worship and a taste of war is brought home. Little boys shake his hand and finger the medals on his chest.
He jokingly shares a MRE with a young man called to the front to answer war history questions.

Certificates of appreciation and small gifts are passed to the veterans by fourth graders wearing their fathers and grandfathers uniforms.
Several hundred people joined in singing “God Bless America” and “I’m Proud to be an American”. Gray heads joined with young heads for pictures. The room is abuzz with voices, laughter, handshaking and hugs. Past and future; brought together in a simple program with profound meaning.

These men and women represent so many of the values of this community—hard work and dedication, family and friends, faithfulness, patriotism— it seems that so many of these values are beginning to be lost in this fast paced technological age that we live—
But for today, in a little school in a little corner of a big prairie, they were found…..
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Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 8:26 pm  Comments (1)  
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Fragrant Indian Butter Chicken

I feel the need to add a disclaimer here- I attended a Taste of Home cooking show last night with some friends– this was a dish that was cooked on stage– we were tormented by the amazing smells wafting from the prep area (you’ll understand when you actually try the recipe) and we were not even able to take a bite!!

So on my weekly run to Wally World today ,in addition to, the bank, the post office, and taking the puppies to get their shots,  (you cram lots into a run to town when you live in the middle of nowhere and Wally World is really our only shopping option)  I picked up some of the ingredients-

Of course, because it was a crazy run to town and I had 7 puppies in the trunk of my car, I got all the way home, only to realize I forgot a few key ingredients–

Of course, when you live in the middle of nowhere, you DO NOT run back to town– You Improvise!!

So all this to say, this is NOT typical cowboy food, (although the way my family scarfed it down you would have never known it!) I admit it’s a bit out of the box, and the ingredients are not quite what the recipe calls for– but it was amazing, the fam loved it and we will definitely make it again— that’s really all that matters, right? 

So without further ado…..

The Cast of Characters

fragrant-indian-butter-chicken-002I’m aiming for a new camera for Christmas so forgive any out of focus, bad lighting, chaotic shots- if anyone is interested, I would like a Nikon D-90–(hint,hint)

We have our chicken tenderloins (on sale at Wally), onion, chili powder, turmeric, brown sugar, cinnamon, canned diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, half and half, and light sour cream. 

The ingredients I forgot to put in the picture are–butter, garlic, ginger, black pepper,fragrant-indian-butter-chicken-007 and cilantro and hot cooked rice–

(It was a crazy day and I am not used to cooking dinner while taking pictures!)

Start by slicing your chicken into bite size pieces and dicing your onion and garlic.

Place 2 Tablespoons of butter in your pan– Love my cast iron, don’t cook with anything else, but you can cook in whatever pan your little heart desires—

Melt your butter over medium heat, and add diced onion and minced fresh garlic, stir until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  fragrant-indian-butter-chicken-009

 

 

 

 

 

Throw in your chicken, cinnamon, ginger, chili powder, turmeric and cinnamon.  Cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink and your mouth is watering because of the amazing smell coming from your skillet-fragrant-indian-butter-chicken-013

 

 

 

 

This is my Saint, Bandit, trying to play cool- she’s really praying that a miracle will happen and the entire skillet will somehow fall off the stove and into her large jowls– she does not care about burned tongue– it would all be worth it–she does this every day, every meal– it’s a way of life for her and one day, she just knows her patience will be rewarded…

 fragrant-indian-butter-chicken-010

 

 

 

 

 

Where was I?  Oh yeah, the incredible smells coming from your skillet- Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt and pefragrant-indian-butter-chicken-016pper. 

 

 

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 fragrant-indian-butter-chicken-018

 

 

 

 

     Lift lid, breathe deep, swoon, pick yourself up, add half and half, sour cream and stirfragrant-indian-butter-chicken-021

 

We like more sauce on our rice, so I added chicken broth as well, even though the recipe did not call for it- I could have added even more broth–did not affect thickness- just gave more juice for the rice–

Simmer uncovered for 5 more minutes– Remove from heat, stir in chopped, fresh cilantro, spoon over hot rice and……..fragrant-indian-butter-chicken-019

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                    

                  SERVE!fragrant-indian-butter-chicken-024  Disclaimer– this is where my improvising kicked in- forgot the cilantro at Wally World, so we used dried parsley, not near as good, and I am looking forward to making it with cilantro– LOVE fresh cilantro!!  

Original recipe also called for this to be made with cooked rotisserie chicken- this would make it a very fast, very good midweek option- I was too cheap to buy a rotisserie chicken when the raw stuff was already on sale- It works both ways pretty well- if you make it with rotisserie, you stir in the chicken with the sour cream and half and half.

Also did not have fresh gingerroot on hand, but did have a jar of fresh ginger on the door of my fridge- worked in a pinch-

In my house, I do not measure- feel free to adjust, experiment, go crazy- send me your improvisations- we are ALL about creativity here!

Fragrant Indian Butter Chicken

2 Tblsp butter

1 C chopped onion

2 tsp minced garlic

1 Tblsp grated fresh gingerroot or jarred fresh ginger

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 can (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

2 Tblsp tomato paste

1 Tblsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (or regular)

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenderloin

1/3 C half and half cream

1/3 C reduced- fat sour cream

1/2 c chicken broth, optional

Fresh Cilantro, chopped, to taste

Hot Cooked Rice, optional

                             

 

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 8:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Combines and Buffalo

“Just as the soul feeds the body, so God gives food to the world.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

The majestic parade of green machines moves across the prairie with stately grace. The dusty kernels of hard winter wheat fill the back in a red-gold shower.
The culmination of months of labor is deposited in the back of grain semis to be trucked to the silos for storage and subsequent delivery to the bread factories.

This is the proud beginnings of the lovely loaves of whole grain bread that populate the shelves of every grocery store across the nation.

There is something incredibly peaceful and almost primal about sitting in the cab of a combine as harvest commences. To know that this wheat means a paycheck for the farmer and bread for the hungry.

Plus, if your kids aren’t there, it’s pretty romantic to watch the sunset with your honey…. Ok, I realize this may not be a shared experience–

I wanted to take handfuls of the wheat home to set in a jar on the windowsill- to remind myself that no matter how technological this world becomes, we still rely on the humble wheat kernel to make our bread.

This also is a family affair- the kids ride along in combine, drive the trucks, clean the combine heads and help deliver dinner to the hungry crews in the fields.

Farm kids- no one cares if your shirt matches your shorts or if your face is dirty and you get to climb on the semi’s!

Note the lights on the front of the combine- harvest does not stop just because it gets dark.

20 hour days are not unheard of and are usually close to the norm.

Oh yeah- the aforementioned buffaloes—

Look closely– here it comes!!







BUFFALO STAMPEDE!!

Ok, Ok, they were half a mile away but they were stampeding and we did have to take our car and hide behind a parked semi just in case.

Buffaloes have no respect for anything that gets in their way!

Only in our crazy corner of the prairie can we take our city nephew to see my husband in the combine and get to show him an actual stampeding buffalo herd on the way.




And, by the way, friends don’t let friends drive red tractors!!
(Country joke- see, red tractors are not John Deere’s and anything that’s not John Deere is, well, not as good…..you see? you get it, right? oh, forget it…)

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 3:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Branding Part II

One thing you learn pretty quickly out here, is that everyone has their own way of doing things. Alot of ranches brand in the manner illustrated by the previous post, but some choose to do things a little different.

 
Everyone has their own reasons for the way that they do it and its best just to smile, nod, pitch in and try not to get in the way.
 
Friends of ours up north invited us to come and help them with their family branding day. This is truly a family affair as daughter, son in law, grandkids and grandparents all live and work the same ranch that great grandparents homesteaded in the 1800’s.
 
The original sod house is still on the property right next to the barn- as we will share in future posts, prairie winters make that location a huge necessity!!
 
This family uses an instrument called a calf table- this is a metal chute with moveable sides- the calf is pushed down an alley into the chute, the sides are collapsed onto the calf, the table is flipped sideways and the calf is systematically vaccinated, branded and if need be, castrated.

Again, this would seem somewhat heartless and cruel, especially when the calf is bawling like crazy, the mama’s are mooing in the the background and the smoke is rising from the calf’s side, but the necessity for this cannot be illustrated enough.
Vaccinations have helped to save countless numbers of America’s beef, brands help to identify cows when they are loose on thousands of acres of pasture land, and castration keeps breed lines clean and allows for the nice cuts of steak that are so valuable in the grocery stores.

 

And of course, the kids are right in the middle of things- notice the nice manure stain right down my daughter’s white shirt- whatever possessed me to send her in a white shirt, I will never know- you do a lot of laundry in ranch country!!

She learned the hard way that the key to not getting kicked by a calf was to get right up behind it, pushing on its hind end- sometime those calves just can’t wait til the proper time to go to the bathroom! So your choice is a calf kick, (not pretty and very painful) or manure down the shirt- you can see what her option was!!

I won’t even go into cowboys in chaps- let’s just say that if my husband would let me, this would be a poster size picture hanging on our wall- Whew! Is it getting hot in here?
My littlest had a hard time with not being able to get into the pens and wrestle the calves- so this was her big job- once the calves were let loose from the calf table, she was responsible for chasing them into their pen and keeping them there- you can see that she is taking it very seriously….

This is my crazy son in his psychedelic t-shirt looking like something more out of the peaceloving 60’s than a ranch kid- well, you can put kids in the country but you can’t make ’em dress like it!
He worked hard that day, took a few well placed calf kicks for the team, and kept on wrestling those calves into the chute- those calves really don’t want to go in the chute! Can ya blame ’em?

This process moves a little more slowly- we only did around 100 calves that morning- but once again, a huge ranch lunch, lots of lemonade and iced tea and amazing desserts-

it’s a good thing that we work hard around here!!!

 

Published in: on November 5, 2008 at 8:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Welcome to Prairie Perspective

Two and half years ago, we moved from rural mountain life to plains of rural America.

This is big sky country. Where your closest neighbor is 8 miles down the road. Your town has a cafe and a liquor store but no stoplight. Friday night football games under the lights are well attended but Sunday morning services are not. The local town fair quadruples the town’s population overnight. Gunshots are a regular occurence but the turf war is over prairie dogs and rattlesnakes, not gangs and drug sales. The highway department is in charge of putting the neighbor’s cows back in when they wander onto the roads. The only thing needed to mail a letter is first and last name and a stamp-sometimes even just the last name works.

This is the heartland of USA-where agriculture is king and Americans food is grown and raised. A land of cattle and combines, horses and harrows, family and friends.

This is our life- Enjoy a taste of the prairie!

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment