I can’t wait for this…
I’m sick. It doesn’t happen very often, and this cold is really making me feel cruddy. I am craving foods that give my insides a cuddle that only a warm, fuzzy blanket on a cold day can bring. Since my throat is pretty raw, and talking has become an issue, my first love has been tea.
When I was growing up, my mom would whip up a batch of Russian Tea mix in the fall. I loved coming inside from playing in the snow, and smelling the orange and spicy aroma of this tea. I still make a batch every fall, just to make sure I am prepared for the cold, snowy days of winter.
The ingredient list is pretty simple:
I have modified the recipe that is listed in our church cookbook, but that is the beauty of this recipe. You can tweak it to suit your taste.
Russian Tea Mix
2 cups Tang powdered orange drink (this works much better than orange Kool-aid)
1 1/2 cups sugar (I omit the sugar – this is sweet enough without it)
3/4 cup unsweetened lemon flavored instant tea
1/3 cup powdered lemonade (I use a couple packets of True Lemon instead)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix all ingredients…or, if you are like me, put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all particles are the same size. I prefer everything to be well mixed, and the same size so everything dissolves evenly. Store in an airtight container. Add 2 tablespoons of tea mix to an 8 ounce mug of boiling water.
Lately, I’ve been adding a splash of cranberry juice to my tea. If it’s before bed, I may add a splash of Prairie Vodka as well. It is my form of NyQuil.
What are some of your favorite comfort foods that you crave when not feeling well? Share your recipes, if you’d like. I’d love to try them!
I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile. Jonathan and I have attended three farming conferences in January. All three had important sessions that we could use on our farm, yet the conferences were very different. This is what started the theme rolling in my head…
I was reading my friend’s blog about his trip to the American Farm Bureau’s annual meeting a few weeks ago, where the theme was “Many Voices, One Vision.”
In church this past Sunday, one of the scripture lessons helped make the theme that was swirling around a little more clear.
1 Corinthians 12:14-26
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
One Body with Many Members
14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Many parts…one body. What an awesome concept. It works with everything in life, really. It is the same with a school board, our government, or our occupations.
With farming, we have such a wide variety of passions…a wide array of crops…and a very diverse landscape. If we all tried to grow just corn, some would fail while others thrived. Our soils and our climate is not the same north to south, or east to west. While some states are great at growing wheat, others are more suitable for peanuts. Isn’t that awesome! Because of the diversity, I can make peanut butter cookies.
I would love to see us all embracing the differences, knowing that we are all part of the body of agriculture. “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”
When I am having troubles with inspiration on what to make for supper, I’ll ask Jonathan to bring a random package of meat in from the freezer. This time, he brought in a boneless pork loin roast. We put it in the fridge to thaw overnight, so I had a few hours to decide what I wanted to do with it.
Typically I like to use the Crock Pot, but since I wasn’t roasting any veggies with this one, I decided to use the oven. I have a Corning French White baking dish that we received for a wedding gift 24 years ago. It is the perfect size for most roasts.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. It is a good idea to spray the baking dish with non-stick spray. Unwrapping the roast is a little like unwrapping a Christmas present. You know that you are going to love what’s inside, you just don’t know exactly what it looks like. This one did not disappoint!
The layer of fat on top of this roast was beautiful! It wasn’t too thick, yet it covered nearly the whole top. When you are shopping for roasts, look for one with a layer of fat like this one. It helps keep the meat moist while it is roasting, yet isn’t so thick that your seasonings can’t flavor the meat.
Speaking of seasonings, I decided to go old school with a twist. I don’t know what is tradition in your area, but around this Scandinavian area, we don’t get too wild with the spice.
I love the Hy-Vee brand of dry onion soup mix. It is inexpensive, and has a great flavor. Emeril’s Vegetable Stock has a good flavor, and isn’t too salty. The red wine may break some rules, but I really have no clue what wine is supposed to go with what meat. I just use what I like…as you should! If you don’t like wine, use apple juice.
Pour the liquids over the roast to get the surface moist. I used just under a cup of liquid total. After the liquid is in, sprinkle the dry onion soup mix over the top. It should look like this:
Cover the whole thing with aluminum foil, and place on the middle rack of the oven.
This roast was still slightly frozen when I put it in, so I set the timer for 2 hours. I took it out about 5 minutes before the timer went off, and let it rest while still covered. If you are using a meat thermometer that you leave in while it is cooking, set your timer for 145 degrees. This is what it looked like after the rest period:
I’m always a little nervous when I make the first cut into a roast. I don’t want to mess it up with a bad slicing job! I should mention – it is okay for the center to have a bit of pink in it if the meat reached 145 degrees. The first few slices revealed a slight pink, and lots of juice!
I sliced the roast into 3 ounce portions, or one slice per serving. If you are weight conscious – as I am – one serving of lean pork roast is an excellent source of protein.
I went traditional with our sides. We love Bird’s Eye Baby Sweet Peas, mashed potatoes, and homemade gravy. One final photo before Jonathan and I devoured our supper. The meat was moist, and tender…sooo good!
I hope you are able to try a similar recipe soon!
We were hit with a blizzard warning this weekend, the first major snow of the season. Our forecast on Friday was for 3-4 inches of snow for the weekend, and no watches or warnings. That changed in a hurry on Saturday. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a winter weather advisory for Saturday night, and a blizzard warning for Sunday. Our 3-4 inches became 15 inches…and a lot of wind. We had wind gusts in excess of 40 mph.
This is one of our little trees on Saturday morning. I ran out in flip flops and a fleece jacket to take this photo since it was a beautiful 34 degrees.
This is what the tree looked like early Sunday morning. It was still snowing pretty good at this point. I wore my snow boots with my fleece jacket this time. The snow was coming in over the tops of my 10 inch boots.
When the winds picked up around 2:00pm, the temps dropped from 34 degrees to 16 degrees in about a half an hour. When trees and power lines are loaded with snow, and the winds kick up to over 40 mph, chances are good we’re going to lose power. The first time the power flashed, both Jonathan and I held our breath. Then, it was lights out. This meant a trip to our other farm site in a whiteout.
Our pigs are housed inside barns where they are warm and dry in the winter, cool and comfy in the summer. They have curtain sides that act like windows in the summer, and, when opened several inches, are emergency ventilation systems in the winter. The barns were built on the farm site where Jonathan and I lived for the first 10 years of our marriage.
When the power goes out, we hook up a generator that attaches to a tractor, keeping the barns running as normal. This means that Jonathan must bundle up and drive the tractor the 2.5 miles to the other farm. The tar roads were somewhat manageable, if he drove slowly enough. The turn onto the gravel road meant that all ditch edges were pretty much invisible. It really made me think about all the stories of people getting turned around in blizzards, and being found miles from home. This is the part where I did a lot of praying!
The kindly neighbor, who lives on the corner where Jonathan turned, said he would check on Jonathan when I called and told him the situation. That was a good thing! Jonathan had gone off the road, and had troubles seeing which direction he needed to go. He finally could make out the edge of the grove at the kindly neighbors, and headed back in that direction. That is where he ended up staying for the night.
Fortunately, the renters in our little house on the barn site were home. The husband agreed to check on the barns, and make sure the automatic curtains dropped for emergency ventilation. The power was out for just over 5 hours…the first time. It stayed on for about 20 minutes before going out for another hour. The last time we lost power was in the middle of the night, for about an hour that time as well. The outside temperatures were in the -14 degree range at that point. Our renter went out to the barns and adjusted the curtains to make sure there was plenty of fresh air, yet the pigs weren’t getting too cold.
This is what we woke up to. A gorgeous December day.
After Jonathan finally made it home, he went to work clearing out our yard with our little cab-less tractor. He cleaned enough snow to get the pickup out of the yard, then went into town to help his sister. After dinner, our friends went over to the other farm site with their big tractor that has a blade on the front. In the summer, this blade is used for pushing silage into piles. In the winter, we hire him to clear snow. When the barn site was cleaned out, they pulled our tractor out of the ditch, then they came over to our home place and cleaned out our yard.
While our yard was being cleaned out, Jonathan was over checking on things at the barn. There were a few things to take care of due to the weather, but thankfully, all the pigs looked good!
We are so thankful that Jonathan had a warm place to stay last night! This was the first time in 14 years that he hasn’t made it to the barns in a storm. He has driven over in blizzards, tornado warnings, and severe thunderstorms. To him, it’s the right thing to do.
Time flies when you are having fun, right? I can’t believe how fast the last month has gone!
Jonathan and Laura returned from Tanzania full of stories, videos, and photos. I’ll let Jonathan tell you about his experiences in another blog.
After the travelers returned home, we jumped right into a full schedule. Laura wanted to head back to college right away to try and catch up on more assignments, so I took her back to USF just a day after they returned home. A day later, Jonathan and I had an organic farming seminar to attend a few hours from home, so he basically hit the ground running as well.
The following week was Thanksgiving. We were hosting this year, so I was able to plan the event how I wanted it. My rule this year – nobody brings anything, and everyone stays out of the kitchen until time for dishes. The exceptions were Christina, who made the dinner rolls, and Laura, who was my sous chef. The day was awesome. It was the most stress-free Thanksgiving I have ever hosted!
Our menu was partly traditional, and partly not. As in, we didn’t have any cranberry anything, and no marshmallows made an appearance on sweet potatoes.
We started the meal with a Squash Soup appetizer. While our guests were eating their soup, Laura and I set the rest of the meal on the table.
The rest of our menu looked like this:
A Simple Gravy made with chicken stock (no drippings)
Dinner Rolls (recipe follows)
After our meal, everyone pitched in on dishes, and then we relaxed. We took our Olson family photo (minus one nephew who is currently studying in India) so Grandpa could send out his Christmas letter. It was nice to celebrate with Anita and Charles, who will be heading back to Canada in a couple of days to celebrate Christmas with Charles’ family. They will be heading back to the mission field after the New Year.
I am so thankful for my family, my in-laws, the outlaws, my friends. The list could go on forever. I have been so blessed this past year! Thank you, my dear readers, for being a part of my life for the last two years. I look forward to sharing more stories about my family, my farm, and successful ventures in the kitchen.
Fly Off the Plate Dinner Rolls
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons instant dry milk
3 Tablespoons oil
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
Mix egg with fork. Add ingredients in order recommended by your bread machine manufacturer. Put pan in bread machine. Select dough cycle, push start. After about 10 minutes, push finger into dough. If it is sticky, add more flour. When bread machine is done, shape into buns. Allow to rise about 20 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake 10-15 minutes