Monthly Archives: March 2014

How to Make Lard

Ever make lard?

Wanna learn how to?

I thought so! :)

lard

Actually, it’s real easy. I am making beef tallow here – but the directions are the same for pork lard or any kind of lard. Although I haven’t made or used any kind other than beef or pork, but I hear some people like bear lard?! ( I have one word – eww!) 😉

OK. So first you have to get some fat. Pig or beef fat. I asked for some from the butcher at the local grocery (chain store) and they just gave me a pound and a half at no cost. No guarantees on your town.

Update: My husband just bought 10 pounds from a local butcher for about .80 cents a lb. He uses it to condition his reatas.

You can skip trimming off the meat bits – it isn’t necessary. If there is a reason why you should trim off bits of meat – please leave a comment and tell me, because I truly have no idea why you would waste that kind of time. 

UPDATE: A friend informed me that the reason you trim off the meat bits is to prevent the lard from going rancid too quickly. Makes total sense! I guess because I never make much at a time, I did not realize this. I just use mine up pretty quick. So please trim the meat. I will too. 😉

) I just cut the fat into small pieces, about an inch or so.

Then you put them into a kettle with a 1/2 cup of water.

Heat it on low… first the water will evaporate and you will think this is never going to work! It’s just a bunch of stinky blobs of fat! …but keep stirring, and keep it on low, and eventually you will notice that there is a small amount of liquid fat on the bottom of the pan… then a bit more, and soon your “cracklings” will be swimming in melted lard!

lardCollage

Just keep it on low for about an hour, or until the crackling are pretty brown and shrunken.

Then all you have to do is strain the lard through a mesh strainer, or cheesecloth, and store it in the fridge in a glass jar. The lard will be a golden brown color when warm, and turn creamy white when cold.

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I used 1½ lbs of raw fat, and it produced about 2 cups of lard.

Use the lard in pie crust, to fry things, making soap… lots of possibilities!

Sharing at: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2014/04/homestead-barn-hop-155.html

and http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2014/04/17/thrifty-thursday-week-56/

Sweet BBQ Mini-Meatloaves

Beef is a staple at our house, as you have probably figured out by now! :) We have ranch-raised natural beef in the freezer, and we eat it every day. Sometimes I pull a package of ground beef out of the freezer and let it thaw – just so I have something to work with at dinnertime! I know – I should be organized enough to have a menu plan – but I am just not always that organized, ya know? 😉

minimeatloaves

Now this recipe is very quick and very delicious – due in part to the super-sweet sauce. But – before I lose you on the sugar content, let me just tell you that you can substitute any kind of liquid sweetener, like honey, agave, etc, if you want a healthier option. 😉 I don’t make this all that often – it is a treat when I do make it!

Make the sauce, slice the onion, and fry the mini-meatloaves.

minimeatCollage

Put the fully-cooked meatloaves onto a covered plate to keep warm.
(Don’t worry about the browned bits on the pan – that just adds flavor!)
Add a little butter to the skillet and caramelize the onions.
Add sauce to onions and de-glaze the pan.
Pour the sauce and onions over the meatloaves.
Serve with potatoes or pasta.
meatloavesCollage

 

This has been one of my husband’s favorite meals for a long time. You should try it! You will like it. 😉

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Sweet BBQ Mini-Meatloaves
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ⅓ cup dark Karo
  • 6 TBL steak sauce
  • 6 tsp mustard
  • 1 onion
  • 1 TBL butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix ground beef with salt and pepper, shape into 8 patties.
  2. Fry over med. heat until fully cooked.
  3. Remove to covered serving plate, keep warm.
  4. Put butter in frying pan - add onions.
  5. When onions are sauteed, add sauce.
  6. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Pour over mini-meatloaves.
  8. Serve.
  9. To make sauce:
  10. Mix the karo, steak sauce, and mustard together.

 

Sharing at: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2014/04/homestead-barn-hop-155.html

Calving Season, and what it means to ranchers.

Calving season means sleepless nights and cute baby calves,
Blowing snow during night time checks
Bottle-calves and cleaning pens
milking wild heifers and carrying heavy calves
Tired backs and worried mama cows
calling the vet and disinfecting your hands
stocking up on milk replacer and latex gloves
“Honey can you help pull this calf?”
and going out to check before you go to bed
but through it all,
despite the weariness,
you look up and see this:

Calvingand this:calvingcalvingAnd you know you’ll do it all again  next year – because this is what you do.

You raise healthy calves.
You are a beef supplier.
You fight the elements.
Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.
But you keep fighting – because you are a fighter.
A provider for thousands.
A caretaker of livestock and grasslands.
And even when the bureaucrats and government and vegans protest, slander and demean you – you keep doing what you have done for years.
What your family has done for generations.
You quietly keep on tending livestock and wearing your body out, so that your family (and thousands of others) will have food to eat.
And when you get weary of it all – when your body cracks under the strain of those night checks and calf-pullings in below-zero weather, well, you just stop for a moment and look at the faces of healthy babies, and remember why you are doing it all.

calving

Because tomorrow you will get up and do it all again.

Fabulous, Easy Steak Tips

Ok, folks. I have the best recipe for you today! I am so excited to share this one, because it is easy and delicious!  I am blessed to live on a ranch with access to great beef, but even if you have to buy from the grocery store – please make this recipe! :) It’s that good.

steak tips

First off, use whatever steak you have – I had some rib steaks in the freezer, but  whatever you have will work fine.

Mix the marinade in a bag or dish. I like to use plastic containers with lids, then I just turn them over once in a while to coat the meat.

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Then you spread the beef on a baking tray (with sides!) and broil on high for about 7-10 minutes. Turn them over with a spatula and broil 7-10 min more, or till desired done-ness. We like ours pretty well cooked, so if you like your steak rare, you should check the steak at 5-7 minutes.

steak tips 2I cooked ours about 9 minutes on each side, and they were well-done. Despite being well-done, they were still tender and juicy! I served them with rice and green beans on the side. the kids liked them too – even my little 5 year old who isn’t crazy about meat. :)

Fabulous, Easy Steak Tips
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4 large steaks (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons steak seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Cut the steak into one-inch pieces.
  2. pour the marinade over steak and mix well.
  3. Put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Broil on a baking sheet under high heat for 7 minutes, turn and broil for 7-10 minutes more.

 

 

Pairing Out

When I was a teenager, if you’d told me that one day I would be cooking for real cowboys and snapping photos of them working – let alone being married to one… well. I would have laughed at you. :) Mainly because I knew practically nothing about the working ranches in America. I had the vague notion that there were a few wanna-be’s who rode the rodeo circuit (sorry!) and that’s about it.

Little did I know how God would plan my life…

Pairing out at the ranch

Two of our horses, Cisco (dun) and J.Lo. (paint) Jenni rode the dun today.

My oldest daughter rode out with her Dad this morning, and helped gather the cows and their babies into the trap. Then they separated the heifer calves and their mama’s into one pasture, while the bull calves and their mama’s went to different pasture.

Pairing out at the ranch

Mr. Obermeyer

Meanwhile, I was back at the house, making lunch for everyone. With my right-hand helper gone, I called on my son to help me entertain the baby, wash dishes and vacuum. He decided that next time they work cattle, he wants to go with dad! :)

Pairing out at the ranch

Mr. Wilson

I made beef enchiladas, rice, and re-fried beans,  with butterscotch pie for dessert. There were only four guys, so it wasn’t a big deal. Still fun, though! I just love cooking huge pans of food for grateful people. Somehow, men are always more grateful for food than women. Especially working men. No offense to men with office jobs, you just don’t seem to work up the appetite that laborers do! 😀 Likewise, no offense to women, but between the ever-changing ‘lifestyle changes’ involving food, and your insatiable need to lose weight – you are nearly impossible to cook for. Hard-working men – that is who I like to cook for. They eat anything I make and are genuinely thankful for it. What a blessing to serve such thankful people!

Pairing out cattle on the ranch

Mr. Mcrady

After lunch, I drove out to the pasture where they were working on the second bunch of pairs, and snapped some quick photos. It was a beautiful day! And by beautiful – I mean beautiful for March in Wyoming! Windy and about 40 degrees, but the sun was shining! :)

I just love calves!

I just love calves!

My Cowboy and the Boss - tagging and keeping records.

My Cowboy and the Boss – tagging and keeping records.

 

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Hi, cutie!

Hi, cutie!

pairing out1

 

 

 

 

The Ranch Cook

 the ranch cook

The Ranch Cook

I get up early
I mix and I knead
Making things from scratch
for that is my creed.

I feed my husband,
see him out the door
Then start peeling taters –
which is quite a chore!

I frost the sweet rolls
to take out for break
Then I have many
apple pies to bake.

I bake and I boil
I stew and saute
I roast and I boil
and toast the bruleé.

Then lunch is ready
but where are the men?
It’s noon, but they’re still
in the brandin’ pen.

Just turn the oven low
Sit down with a book
Doesn’t bother me – it’s
The life of a ranch cook!

©Kay Schrock

Sharing at: Fridays Unfolded

My Mother Was Amish ~ Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the story!

I wrote how my parents met, how my mother left her family and church to marry my father. But I neglected to tell you how the story ends. So today I am going to answer some questions about the rest of the story…

My Mother Was Amish

Did her family forgive her? 

Yes. I really don’t know if they ever had a sit-down-talk-it-out conversations about her choices, but they certainly forgave her. I know a lot of people who leave the Amish are put in the ‘ban‘ and not associated with, etc. But for my mom it wasn’t that way. For whatever reason, she was treated kindly by her family, from what I know. 

Does she have any contact with them?

Most certainly! She has a good relationship with each of her family members. They respect her religious beliefs, and hold nothing against her. In fact, out of 12 kids, only two are still Amish. My grandparents were Amish till they died, of course, but the rest of the kids have went separate paths. Several are Mennonite, and several have left the plain churches altogether. They still love God, mind you, and hold to the Christian faith, but just don’t follow the Amish/Mennonite beliefs. 

I grew up being good friends with all my cousins, whether Amish, Mennonite, or whatever. My mom loved nothing better than a good chat (in PA Dutch, mind you!) with her sister! :) 

My parents didn’t tell me a lot of details about their early married life – I just heard bits and pieces. I think because I was number 6 in line, I missed some of the stories? Anyways, from what I gathered, they lived in Maryland after their marriage, (same community as both families) and they would often go to one or the other of their families places for visits frequently. I think it was more of a culture shock for my mom to learn the non-plain way of living than it was for my dad to learn about Amish. :) They lived in MD for several years before moving to another state.

We frequently went back to MD to visit relatives when I was a kid, and my memories of those trips are all good. I loved both sides of the family. I feel privileged to have such a varied background. I feel right at home with my Amish family, and just as at home with my non-plain family on my dad’s side. 

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! :)

Pushin’ A String

The weather has been so nice this week. Windy, yes. But that is to be expected in Wyoming. Yesterday was sunny and warm – felt like spring! I was out pruning my apple tree and my lilacs. I am not done with either, but at least I got started. 

I have been having issues with our internet connection – it is working OK in the morning, but by afternoon it won’t load pages properly. So my writing and blogging has been quite hampered, since I normally write in the afternoon when Baby is sleeping.

In the early afternoon, The Boss and My Cowboy were moving the bulls. I happened to be driving out the lane as My Cowboy took part of the bunch past. So I grabbed a couple of photos…Moving Bulls on the Nimmo RanchMoving Bulls on the Nimmo Ranch

Normally the kids would’ve wanted to help – but bulls… they have helped move bulls before, but it is more dangerous when you have a couple ornery Herefords in the mix. (sorry, Hereford ranchers! 😉 ) Moving Bulls on the Nimmo RanchMoving Bulls on the Nimmo Ranch

pushing bulls03

He was having a little trouble keeping them together and going in the right direction. Bulls are not as herd-bound* as cows, therefore are a bit more difficult to move. Later that evening, when I asked Cliff how it went, I believe his exact words were:

“About like always… kind of like pushin’ a string.” 

Hmm. I don’t think I have ever tried to push a string, but I can imagine it would be an exercise in futility. 😀 

Moving Bulls on the Nimmo Ranch

Check out the shu-fly hanging off the cinch under that saddle. Yeah – I made the cinch. :)

Moving Bulls on the Nimmo Ranch

“Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.”  ~Old West Proverb

 

*Cows are typical females – they like to be together. Which helps out when you are moving them from one pasture to another. They follow the herd, hence the term, herd-bound.

Bulls, on the other hand, are independent. They would rather do their own thing, and walking along in a group of other bulls is not their idea of a fun afternoon. 😉

5 Reasons I Won’t Ditch My Smartphone

5 Reasons I won't ditch the smartphone

You hear it all the time – why you should go unplugged, and why you should get rid of the smartphone. Or at least turn it off while you are in a 5 mile radius of another human being.
I disagree.
At least for now.
For me.
I think they are a wonderful invention, and one to be taken advantage of. Of course they can be misused, but they can also be tremendously helpful.

I have a feeling that the smartphone revolution is similar to the telephone revolution – back when it became possible for the common person to afford it. They used to have party lines back then… I remember living in a rural area of West Virginia ( is there any other kind of area in WV?! 😉 ) where the neighbors listened in to every phone call. I was too young to make calls myself, mind you, but I remember my mom getting frustrated with them! :)

Anyways, I suppose those women spent too much time sitting and listening to their party lines, just like sometimes we spend too much time glued to our phones. If it’s not one thing – it would be another. Before my days of computer and smartphone, I sat and read books and magazines or talked on the phone by the hour. I ask you: Is one distraction really better or worse than another?

I get it. I try to limit my tech time. I leave my phone in another room so that it isn’t as easy to pick it up every time I walk past. I deleted the Fb app, so I don’t have that  distraction at my fingertips. Did it help? No. I just end up on Instagram more, haha! :) (truth, people!)

There are several reasons I love my smartphone.

1. I stay more connected to my family. I mean, group texts are the coolest invention ever!!! The amount of group texts between the three of us (sadlyone sister doesn’t have an iPhone) is staggering. It is one of the highlights of my day – to get a funny pic from my sister, or a “could you pray for me” request. We share stories, jokes, anecdotes, and lots of photos. I feel like I am in the same room with them, as we share conversations about life.

2. Photos. Seriously, a photo-crazy person such as myself should settle for nothing less than a smartphone! The quality is great, if you take time to figure it out. Those fleeting, random moments of life that are so hard to capture – well, grab that phone and snap! you have it! Plus you always have your phone with you. And you can be very sneaky with it. So cool. 😉

3. I can send my husband all sorts of things, from screenshots of maps, to great pics of the kids being dorky, to long, mushy, love notes, full of cute graphics! :) Also – he can now look up businesses phone numbers online via his phone.

4. Games. Yes, I do love the game apps, for my kids. Especially when I am stuck in a Dr.s’ office waiting room, or airport, or whatever. Could I teach them to watch people and be quiet? Sure. But what’s the fun in that?! 😉 I personally don’t take time to play them much, maybe once the kids are older? :)

5. Information. The same reason we love the World Wide Web, is the same reason I love the smartphone. I can be discussing some random topic with a friend, and if I need to know something – it’s only clicks away. I can research how to treat my kids’ illness, or how to make poppyseed dressing in seconds.

What about you?
Do you stay far away from them?
Do you set limits?
What are some reasons you like them?

4H Annual Fundraiser

Last Saturday was the annual 4H fundraiser for Laramie county. My kids absolutely love 4H! Their club meets about once per month, and it just so happens that they rest of the group is also homeschooling. Well, maybe it’s more than chance – I believe the 4H coordinator tends to point new homeschooling 4h-ers toward our group. But anyways, we are open to anyone – it just has turned out this way for now. It makes it kinda nice, though, to have all home schooled kids – just because they kids feel more connected that way. Sometimes my kids feel a bit out of the loop, since most of their friends go to a school, so having their 4H buddies who are also home schooled, well, just adds to the comradeship they have found. Don’t get me wrong – my kids love home school! They have went to a school for several weeks, and have told me that while it was fun, they would rather be home schooled.

Not that they have an option. :) I refuse to let them waste an hour or two of their life every day –  sitting on a bus. I would rather have them running around outside, helping their dad, or learning to bake bread or feed chicks.

OK, randomness aside…

So every year, the County fundraiser is a fun affair. Each club designs a booth with games, etc, and charges a few tickets per person. Each club also puts together a basket of goodies to raffle off, and all the proceeds go to the County 4H. It was a lovely day this year – so lots and lots of people came out. Yay! :)

Our club (The Prairiedusters Club) has a tradition of a lifesize Candyland game. We were there at 8:30 am, setting it up…

First, Jenni and Frank placed the mats for the pathway. Kays iphone pics March-14 461

 

Then they decorated the rest of the booth. Every character on the path had a corresponding bin of treats. If you landed on Miss Lolly, for instance, you received a lollipop. If you land on Mr Peanut – you get a circus peanut.

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Balloons were wrapped with plastic wrap and tied to stakes to look like lollipops.

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There were giant, soft fabric ‘dice’ that each person would roll. The kids took turns helping each person through. They especially enjoyed helping the littlest kids, and the handicapped. Our group leader has a soft heart, and every time this sweet boy came through, (he came through multiple times, because it was the only booth he could do) she would begin to tear up! It was touching, and I was so glad we had something that everyone could participate in! Kays iphone pics March-14 491

I sat there for hours, just chatting with the other 4H moms, and watching my kids helping the guests play the game. You know, it may seem like a silly game. An unhealthy one, even. But the sweet spirit those kids displayed – helping others… well, I was touched. Not just my kids, either. All the kids in the Prairie Dusters club were so sweet and helpful and mannerly. I was blessed when two of them told me that they liked helping the little kids the most – even though they needed the most help.

Homeschooling takes many forms, my friends. And some of the best schooling there is has nothing to do with academics. It is heart-teaching. Learning to slow down and help the weaker ones. Do repetitious work for the sake of others’ enjoyment. Forgoing your own fun for theirs.

Do your kids participate in 4H? I like to call it the country kids’ sport – since there is no way we could have ours in the more popular city sports, such as dance, –ball, etc. :)

What are some ways you incorporate heart-teaching into your kids’ days?