Monday, March 31, 2014

A Sample of Spring

We have had another taste of Spring. 
It stayed above freezing for more than 24 hours. 
The temperatures, combined with sun and wind have melted most of the remaining snow. 
 I imagine the trees are applauding the sky and the weather it brought them.
March came in like a lion and is predicted to leave like a lion. The forecast has promised another dose of Winter this week, with cold temperatures and a snowstorm to finish March. 
A taste of Spring reminds us that Winter will not prevail. And so we wait in GriggsDakota.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Recipe: Grandma Esther's Lefse Recipe

When Iris gave me this piece of paper, she thought I would like to have it. I took a glance at the note. 
Then a few special words caught my eye: It's Grandma's 
Lefse recipe. 
And so it was.
The recipe had been sent to Iris by my cousin Dean, who used to like to hang out at the farm in the Summertime. He evidently had grown to like Grandma's Lefse and she had given him the recipe. 
 It made all the lefse makers happy because we didn't have her recipe. We had lefse recipes galore. They all tasted good to us. We didn't realize that we didn't have her particular recipe until she wasn't around to ask which one it was. So now we have it, and here it is. First please note that in the bowl on the counter pictured above are egg-sized pieces of lefse dough ready to go.
Lefse making takes some specialized equipment: Above is a potato ricer. 
Above is a pastry board and flour covered pastry cloth. Some lefse makers don't use these, but we do in GriggsDakota.  A special lefse rolling pin that has circles milled into its roller works best. A lefse stick is the only way to move the lefse around the kitchen as you make it.
Rolling is tricky. It takes flour, but too much and the lefse loses its flavor, too little and it sticks to the rolling pin and the pastry cloth. 
This is an electric lefse griddle which is set at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Electric lefse grills make keeping an even temperature much easier than the wood fired cook stoves of years gone by.  
When brown spots appear on the griddle side, turn it over. 
Then remove it from the griddle. We use a towel and a layer of wax paper to keep the rounds from drying out until we can package them.
 Lefse freezes well.

Grandma Esther's Lefse Recipe
10 pounds of potatoes
 peeled cooked until tender, drained and riced with a potato ricer (pictured above)
1/2 cup Butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon White Sugar
Into the hot riced potatoes. Cool this mixture, then stir in:
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour.
Form the dough into egg size portions and roll out into about 1/8 inch thickness.
Fry on a hot griddle (about 400 degrees Fahrenheit) until bubbles form and brown spots appear on the underside. Turn and cook until spots appear on second side. 
Remove from griddle and stack on a slightly dampened towel (or on a wax paper lined towel as pictured above)
Note: In GriggsDakota, we call it frying, but there is no additional fat added to the griddle. Some families refer to the process as baking or cooking, but it all happens on the griddle.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Planning for the Acres

As we prepare to begin another season of farming, we should review the size of an acre.
Every discipline has its own language. That is true in farming, too.
I often mention the word acre. What is that exactly? Let me try to explain.
It is a standard land measurement used in the United States of America.
In the city, a large lot is half an acre. 
 Two lots, an acre.
It takes about 2.25 acres for a city block.
City lots and blocks vary in size.
  An acre does not.
If you would stand just past the 90 yard line on a football field and look back to the opposite goal line, 
that piece of field is about an acre.
A quarter of land is 160 acres. 
It takes four quarters of land to make a section of land which is one square mile.
In the times when America was settled, an ox pulled a plow over about one acre of land per day.
Each ox and plow was driven by a person who walked behind that plow.
It is a wonder we ever started farming out here.
 The land is big.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Barley Seed Delivered

 The Barley seed is being delivered to our customers.
Farmer Fred and other farmers in the area believe Spring will arrive despite the clear cold weather. 
Remember when we added hopper bottoms to bins in the yard? The hopper bottoms are mounted on the former floor of the bin that now rests on its stilts above the hopper. 
 The barley seed, cleaned and ready for the drill, flows out of the bin through the gravity spout where it is captured by the auger.
A whiff of grain is sweet perfume on this cold March morning. It smells like Summertime. 
 The barley seed travels up the auger.
The auger deposits it into the truck box. 
The box is filled from front to back. When Farmer Fred notices the grain is visible above the box, he will pull the truck forward to fill the middle then repeat and fill the back of the truck box. 
The process will continue until the box and trailer are filled before the load will be topped with a tarp and driven away from GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Feathered Optimists Return

In the middle of our frozen lake, there is an optimist waiting. 
Conventional wisdom would lead me to believe that this silly goose will freeze to death on that spot, waiting for something that will never happen. 
That conclusion would be incorrect, because soon he is not alone. 
 One becomes a pair.
Soon there is a gaggle, the Canada geese are returning to GriggsDakota. 
There must be enough melting each day for them to get a drink of water. They don't mind resting on the ice. 
Other birds are arriving at our feeder each day now, as well.
So we will borrow optimism from our returning feathered residents and believe that Spring is here as the calendar claims. 
The weather is wintery in GriggsDakota.

Monday, March 24, 2014

About Robbie

 If you had been born a girl,
We were going to name you PollyEsther after your Great Grandma Esther. 
You were due to be born on her birthday, 
but you were born a week early and a boy. 
So we named you Robbie. 
 You grew up as a bike riding,
farm loving,
 autograph seeking,
You have made us proud 
As a patient Uncle, 
Coach,  Teacher, 
and Husband
Who knows the road 
to GriggsDakota.