Friday, August 29, 2014

Finished with Winter Wheat- Back to Barley

After rain over the weekend, things dried out sufficiently to start the combines on Wednesday. 
  These photos were taken on our last field of Winter Wheat.
 The combines have their straight, or cutting heads on for harvesting grain that is standing in the field.
 Field hand Joe has taken over the grain cart duties.
We have taken samples from our remaining fields of barley and begun combining standing barley. 
The ground is damp and none of the grain that we are combining is dried down to safe storage moisture content. 
It will all go into air bins to finish the dry down. 
Chaff is the chopped stems, leaves, husks, and beards that is spread back on the field as it is blown out the rear of the combine. 
 The chaff is itchy and dirty, but very good for soil health.
We are pushing for the small grain harvest finish line in GriggsDakota.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Iris is 109 Years Old Today!

In general Iris doesn't want to be fussed over, and she doesn't feel that she deserves attention, just for being old. Honestly, today she is 109 years old. Iris is, of course, the oldest member of our family and is holding the youngest, our dear Energy Advisor. 
Happy Birthday, dear Iris, Happy Birthday to You!!! 
Today we will eat cake in GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Field of Flowers Already in Bouquets

The wild flowers in this field seem already to be arranged, with butterflies perching or flying around. 
 This surely must be the most beautiful barley field I have ever come across.
 I don't know exactly why it looks this way.
However, it brings brightness to our partly cloudy day. 
The sun has been trying to break through today. 
 And it seems to be on the road to success.
Could we title this one "The talking head?" 
The field is speaking. 
 "Enjoy me now." 
"While warmth is in the sunshine" 
"And we can face the days and night exuberantly." 
"For Summer is waning in GriggsDakota."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kuchen Recipe for a Beginner

When I decided that I wanted to learn to make kuchen, I texted Hunter, who loves to eat kuchen. He responded with, "Kuchen? You German woman!"
And therein lies the joke. 
I am not a German woman, but I have been German on my husband's side for a good many years. My children and grandchildren think kuchen is delicious and I decided to try to make it. 
In some of the authentic cookbooks containing kuchen recipes, there are secrets included. Lard in the dough, farm cream in the custard or only traditional fruits were suggested. I wanted an Americanized recipe, that would be straight forward for a woman who had never been in a kuchen making kitchen before.
The Ritzy Rhubarb Cookbook provided a recipe that I was willing to try. I have never had a failure with a recipe from this book.
I have eaten enough kuchen to know that the best kuchen sits on a delicately sweet yeast dough. The recipe on page 70 looked promising. 
This was a rhubarb recipe, of course, to make rhubarb kuchen. It provided leeway to use more or less fruit according to taste and other fruit if desired. 
I made two batches of dough. That would yield 14 kuchens, but how many does one need to make before one really learns how to do it? 
Quite a few, I suppose. 
I made the dough, and let it rise a couple of times before rolling it out to fit the pans. I am very experienced with dough, but had not rolled and stretched it into a round in this way before. I fought with the dough more than I needed to. I eventually learned to roll it out thin, moving the rolling pin around the edge. Make it bigger than you think it needs to be. When it was picked up off the counter, the elastic dough snapped back a little to a smaller size. The dough softens as it rises and is easy to stretch after a bit of resting in the pan. Be sure that the dough is firmly against the bottom of the pan. An air bubble will show in the finished product.
Creating fruit fillings was my favorite step: Peaches and raspberries both came from the freezer as did the rhubarb. I was careful to thaw it and remove the excess juice before placing the fruit on the dough. I also made some with fresh blueberries. 
I decided to try one with mandarin oranges, because they are a family favorite. If you like the oranges, it seemed likely to be good. 
 I also made one with mandarin oranges and rhubarb, because my family enjoys rhubarb sauce with the oranges added. I avoided the traditional kuchen fruits of prune and apricot, which are both delicious when made by a real German kuchen baker.
The next layer is custard.  Flour,  salt, sugar, eggs, and cream are whisked together and heated until the mixture begins to thicken. Each recipe of custard fills two kuchens.
This is topped with a Tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. 
I baked two at a time in my oven, preparing the custard for the next duo as the first pair baked. 
And so it went for a while, until I had made 14 kuchens. 
I had a couple of kuchens where an air bubble under the dough at the bottom of the pan expanded into a bubble on the surface as you can see in the upper right of the one pictured above. Otherwise, things went well.
 I was serving coffee at church on Sunday and decided that these would make a fine treat with coffee. I told Farmer Fred that the church goers could be my focus group and analyze the kuchen. He laughed and wisely reminded me that these folks are more of a fan club than a focus group.
But the reviews were good. 
No one seemed to mind that it was made by an American without a drop of German heritage, except on her husband's side.
The recipe follows. And my grandchildren are proud of me in GriggsDakota.

Ritzy Rhubarb Kuchen Recipe
originally contributed by Dianna Formo

1 1/2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 pkg Yeast
Mix ingredients and let stand 1/2 hour.

1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
4 1/2 Cups Flour
2 Eggs
Add these ingredients to yeast mixture. Mix well. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise in warm place. Knead dough, return to greased bowl, cover and let rise again in warm place. Roll dough for seven 9 inch greased pans.

1 1/2 Cups rhubarb cut in 1/2" pieces
Put rhubarb and 1/2 custard recipe on dough in each pan. Preferences on how much custard and rhubarb vary. You may wish to use other fruit for some of the kuchens. Mix 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together and sprinke over top. Bake in 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Makes 7 kuchens which freeze well.

Custard:
for two Kuchens
2 Cup Cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
Cook all ingredients except vanilla until custard starts to thicken. Stir in vanilla, pour over fruit.
Note from Jane: I cooked the custard in the microwave, stirring it every minute just until it was heated and coating the spoon. I used less than 1-1/2 cups of fruit, just enough to sparsely cover the dough, but 1/2 batch of custard went on top of the fruit in each kuchen. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

After the Rain

 The question is not if it rained. 
It rained all over Greater Dakota.
 The question is: How much did it rain? 
It rained quite a bit.
 We were happy to see that the grain was not plastered to the ground, which can happen in a heavy rain this time of year.
At first we didn't believe our rain gauge which registered four inches of rain. We thought that we hadn't emptied it out from last week's rain. 
But after consulting with neighbors, we believe we were on the West edge of a cloud that did indeed drop four inches of rain in our yard. 
 Sunday afternoon sunshine broke up the clouds.
 We will have enough moisture in the soil now to finish the late crops, so we hope to dry up and get back to harvest as soon as possible.
 Farmer Fred slogged through the mud to check the soybeans.
He was looking for aphids, which are present in sufficient numbers to warrant attention. 
Some of the aphids surely were washed away in the rain, but not enough to ignore them.
The sun is finally shining, the wind is blowing, and we are drying down in GriggsDakota.