Category Archives: Ranch Kitchen

Cowboy Poetry – The Ranch Wife.

ranch wife

First published in Working Ranch Magazine.

The Ranch Wife
by Kay Schrock

The cowboy is a dashing figure
With wide-brimmed hat and jangling spur.
He’s the hero of the big screen
Riding and roping in his blue jeans.

But there is someone behind the scenes
Who tends the babies, and cooks, and cleans.
She’s not well-known to the public eye
Her life is obscure under western skies.

Up at dawn to fry the bacon
Wash the clothes, and feed the children.
When her cowboy needs help, she is called
If errands need run, or calves need hauled.

When the neighbors come – she cooks the food,
For branding and shipping and pregging, too.
She knows how to drench a leppy,
And what to do, if it’s not too peppy.

She takes a turn at the night-calving –
Dreaming of sleep she could be having!
But when the calves sell for a good price,
When her man cleans up so nice,

When she watches a stunning sunrise,
Crimson and gold – cov’ring the skies.
When she tucks her babies in bed,
Still chuckling inside from things they said,

When she rides the prairies wide,
She feels a thrill of joy inside.
She thanks God again for this wonderful life,
Wanting nothing else but to be a ranch wife!

Cooking with mamaMom and babyranch coupleIMG_0839

Blackberry Pie Recipe

blackberry pie recipeBig drops of sweat ran down my face as I gently pulled the briars away from my skirt. I gingerly stomped at the base of the brambles ahead of me, trying to mash them down away from me, so they wouldn’t grab my clothes and skin. I steadied the plastic ice-cream bucket with my other hand, careful not to allow any berries to spill.

I picked all the ripe blackberries within reach, then carefully reached through the briars to pick a few more. I reached as far as I could without spilling my bucket of berries, or falling face-first into the briars. No matter how careful I was, I would get my arm caught on a thorn, then I’d grit my teeth as I unhooked my skin. Sweat ran down my face and down my back and down my legs.

The bees buzzed lazily around the sweet blossoms, and crawled over the ripe, juicy berries. Ants scurried over the berries, too, getting their fill of the sweetness. Every so often, I’d have to pick a tick off my arms or my dress. But they were less annoying than the chiggers that I would certainly find the following day. We’d rub Avon ‘Skin-So-Soft’ oil all over our arms and legs before we began, but it didn’t work that great. We still came home loaded with ticks and chiggers.

After several hours of picking wild blackberries in the soggy, stifling heat, Mom would finally sigh and say: “Well, I guess that’s as much as we can get today. We better go home.”

Sweeter words were never spoken.

We’d untie the scarves from our waists, carefully pouring our buckets of berries into the huge, stainless steel bowls. We’d climb wearily into the van, picking off the last few briars and sticks and other debris from hours trampling around in brambles higher than our heads.

If mom had a bit of extra money, she’d stop at the Little Red Barn on the way home, and buy us an ice cream cone. It didn’t make up for picking blackberries, but it sure was delicious! I would lick the ice cream as fast as I could, trying to get every drop of cool sweetness before it dripped and was wasted. The hot summer sun burned down and the wind from the open windows felt hot, not cooling at all. But with no AC, moving air seemed better than still air, somehow.

When we arrived at home, mom carefully washed the berries, and spread them on a clean towel to dry. Then she would put them in bags and into the freezer. They would make many delicious pies all year long.

But she didn’t freeze all of them – she made pie, too. And jam. But the pie was my favorite! We’d have blackberry pie for dessert, Saturday evening, then we would have a slice for breakfast Sunday morning. It was the most delicious thing I ever ate! It tasted like hot sun and sweet summertime and mom’s love.blackberry pie-3

Here is my personal recipe for blackberry pie. Mom never measured, and I don’t either. We add and taste! But just for you, I measured. I measured several times, over several weeks, trying to perfect the taste. I think I have it!

Now, I don’t live in the blackberry mecca of the Midwest, anymore. There aren’t any blackberry bushes out here, that I have found. So, I start with frozen blackberries from the grocery store.

Put them in a kettle, add some water, and let them simmer. You don’t want too much water or you will end up with a lot of sauce and not much fruit. The berries really cook down! Also, I buy Clear Jell from Amazon. You can substitute corn starch, but I do not know the ratio. Here is the kind I buy: (click on photo)

When the berries come to a simmer, add sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Stir occasionally till it boils.

Add the clear jell mixture, and stir quickly because it begins to thicken almost immediately. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. You can fill your crust immediately, or let the filling cool. Either way works.

Tips:
–Cornstarch thickens more as it cools. Clear Jell reaches its full thickening when it boils.

–This recipe is crafted for tame, store-bought blackberries. if you use wild berries, they will definitely need more sugar! They make better pies, in my opinion, but they are much more tart. :) Fresh berries work great, too. 

–This goes well with my Pie Crust Recipe. 😉

Blackberry Pie Recipe
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen blackberries (or 3 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 TBLS butter
  • juice from ½ lemon (about 2 TBLS)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 TBLS clear jell
  • 2 9-inch pie crust
Instructions
  1. Put berries in large saucepan, add water. Bring to a simmer, add sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Simmer till sugar is dissolved, and butter is melted, stirring occasionally.
  2. Mix Clear Jell and ¼ cup water in a cup. Stir with spoon till dissolved.
  3. Taste the blackberry mix to see if it tastes ok. Add more sugar or lemon juice, if needed.
  4. Stir in the clear jell and bring to a boil. Caution! At this point it will bubble and splash, and the filling is quite hot!
  5. Once it is at a boil and the filling is no longer cloudy, remove from heat and let cool. Fill one pie crust and top with second crust. Pinch edges closed, and bake at 350* for 1 hour.

 

April Showers Bring Snow-plowers.

My daughter's pony.

My daughter’s pony.

In Wyoming we have a saying:

“April showers bring snow-plowers.”

Last week we had a bit of snow, again. It covered the mud and made it pretty for a day or so. We have had some type of snow/sleet/rain mix periodically over the past two weeks. Great stuff for a ranch! Moisture at this time of year should make the grass (hay) grow pretty good.

cats in snow

My parents were here for a little over a week in April. My sister Jane and her family (5 kids) came up for a couple days too. That was fun! Our kids played in the mud, fished in the creek, and just ran around like cousins like to do!

Family hotdog roast.

Family hotdog roast.

While my parents were here, we received a call about a little girl who needed a place to stay. We had said “no more foster kiddos”, but when there’s a need, the DFS tends to call anyways! Ha!

Well, hearing her story turned our hearts to mush, (every story does!) and we said ‘yes’.
foster kid

I bought a smoker/grill combo last summer. I am finally trying my hand at smoking, recently. The first attempt was tasty, but not soft enough for pulled pork. Yesterday I loaded my smoker in the morning and by evening it was done. The ribs were less tender than I wished, but the pork butt was pretty great! The elk roast is surprisingly tender too, although the outer crust is pretty hard. I may try wrapping in bacon next time. I can say I am hooked on smoking! Delicious! I miss southern bbq sometimes, so now I can finally make my own!

 

smoking meat

smoked, pulled pork

smoked, pulled pork

Smoked elk roast

Smoked elk roast. Check out that smoke ring!

The month of May promises to be full to the brim with fun events. Brandings, recital for my musical kids, church meetings, visiting with old friends, a wedding, and more brandings! 😀 Not to mention; gardening time is here! Chicks! Flowers! Woohoo! 😀 I have started working on my raised beds, and plan to finish them and plant them this month.

That’s what we’ve been up to; what about you? Anything special going on?

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms

Welcome to another guest contributor: Mrs. Kauffman. This is my sister, and she runs a gluten-free cooking blog. Her husband is sensitive to gluten, so she cooks gluten-free daily in her home. I am anxious to try this recipe, myself! You can find her blog with more delicious GF recipes right here: Gluten Free Cook Shack

This is possibly the easiest gluten free cookie recipe ever. It only takes four ordinary ingredients. And I’ve had people say they taste better than regular peanut butter cookies. But that is for you to decide and then let me know what you think. 😊

Gather the ingredients.

Gather the ingredients.

You will need:

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. baking soda

These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.

Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.

Gluten-free Peanut blossoms.
Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.

Stir together.

Stir together.

Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms.
Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Now the most important part – leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.

Enjoy fresh or frozen, dunked in milk or however you like to eat them!

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
Instructions
  1. These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.
  2. Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.
  3. Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.
  4. Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.
  5. Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.
  6. Now the most important part - leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.

 

Balsamic Chicken Recipe

Balsamic Chicken

I bought a family-sized package of chicken drumsticks on sale, and wanted to make them tasty and yet easy. Right now I have 3 kids I am homeschooling, a 3 year old, and an infant, so I don’t have much time to peruse cookbooks or experiment. I wanted a new fun flavor, though, so I came up with this simple marinade, and it was an instant hit!

I didn’t take time to let it marinade – it was close to lunch, so I just popped it in the oven right way. But marinating it a few hours would only improve the flavor, I’m thinkin. I baked them for most of the time in a normal oven, but the last 30 min or so, I turned on the convection roast feature in my oven, to get the skin crispy and brown. If you don’t have that feature – just turn on broiler for a few minutes – watching closely so it doesn’t burn.

Balsamic Chicken
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • One family pack of drumsticks. Or a full 9X13 pan of preferred chicken pieces.
  • 3 TBL soy sauce
  • 3 TBL Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place chicken in a baking pan. I used a 9X13 cake pan. Chicken shrinks when baked, so squish it in there tight!
  3. Mix sauces and spices together and pour over chicken.
  4. Bake, covered, at 325 for 2 hours.
  5. Optional: broil the last 10 minutes to brown the skin.

 

Easy Breakfast Tarts

Easy Breakfast Tarts

 

Breakfast quickly falls into a rut, for me. Toast, eggs, sausage… pancakes… biscuits and gravy…
Great food, of course, but once in a while I like to switch it up. So this week, I tried my hand at inventing some tasty little breakfast tarts! Now, ‘tarts’ may be a bit misleading, since they don’t have a crumbly, homemade crust. But I hope you forgive me when you realize how simple and tasty these are. :)

Take a package of wonton wrappers, place one in each muffin cup. I gave my muffin tin a light spray of cooking spray – to keep the cheese from sticking, and give it a bit of that fried texture.

They will look like they aren’t big enough – not coming up the sides very far – but they will be fine, no worries!

Easy Breakfast Tarts

Then you add the eggs and sausage, topping with a small slice (or spoonful of shredded) cheddar cheese. I think swiss would be good, too! I used about a tablespoon each of eggs and sausage.Easy Breakfast Tarts

 

Slide it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, depending how crispy you like your crusts. Serve with fruit or juice. Perfect for little hands to grab and eat on the way to school! (not messy at all)Easy Breakfast Tarts

What are you serving for breakfast, these days? I’m always open to new ideas! :)

Easy Breakfast Tarts
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¼ lb sausage
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 TBLS milk
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 1 TBLS butter or oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400*.
  2. Whisk eggs and milk together, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Fry eggs just till set.
  4. Fry sausage till no longer pink.
  5. Spray muffin tin lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Place wonton wrappers into each muffin cup.
  7. Fill wrappers with 1 tablespoon scrambled eggs, 1 tablespoon fried sausage, and 1 tablespoon (or small slice) cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 400* for 8-10 minutes.

 

Make your home smell amazing!

Home made fall scent

I have a simple way to make your home smell amazing! My husband read a Facebook post to me recently… something about orange peels and spices. I didn’t have time right then to try it, but a few weeks later I thought of it, and wanted to see if it worked. Only by then – I had forgotten the recipe! So I had to come up with my own.

It is super easy if you do any Indian cooking – you will probably already have the spices. If you don’t have the whole spices, just use the ground version, I’m sure it will work just as well. :) I just place all the spices and orange peel in a small kettle, and fill with water, and simmer on the stove-top. You want to keep an eye on it, though, as the water will all evaporate after several hours.

Home made fall scent

Ingredients:
Peel of an orange
3 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups of water
Place in a small kettle, fill with water, and simmer.

Enjoy!

Yellow Cake Recipe

yellow butter cake2Do you ever wish for a basic yellow cake recipe? Me too. It took me years of trying cake recipes, to get the one I like best. Most recipes were too dry or too complicated. I just wanted a simple, delicious, yellow cake! Well, today I have for you a perfect recipe. It is soft, moist, and buttery. So yummy that you don’t even need frosting! 😉yellow cake recipe

 

I like to use it for Strawberry Shortcake. Just cover a piece with sliced, sweetened berries, and add a dollop of whipped cream on top. Yum!
My kids prefer it plain.
You can also use it is this recipe: Easy Strawberry Cake

yellow cake recipe

 

 

Yellow Cake Recipe
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Add eggs and beat.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Add milk and vanilla, blend well.
  5. Pour into greased cake pan. (9X9 or 7X11)
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

 

Zucchini Pie

zucchinipieThe legend of the multiplying zucchini is everywhere… don’t leave your door unlocked in summer, or you will find boxes of zucchini piled high! 😉
Well, if that’s the case for you – I have a recipe that will make you want more!

Zucchini pie.

Yep.

OK, it’s basically pumpkin pie, but who cares? 😀  Zucchini needs used, and here’s a good way to use it, right?

First, you wash the zucchini, and cut it into chunks. Big chunks are fine. If there’s big seeds, maybe scrape them into the trash. No need to peel.
Then you plop them in a big ‘ole kettle, and put some water with them, and let them cook till tender.
Drain off the water, dump them in a blender, and give ’em a whirl. Actually, give them several whirls – you really want the puree smooth.
Then it’s ready to use.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! It is my favorite way of using zucchini, and my family’s favorite way of eating it! :)

Zucchini pie

Zucchini Pie
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 8 pieces
Ingredients
  • 1 pie crust, unbaked
  • 1 cup zucchini puree
  • 1¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 TBS flour
  • ¼ tsp. cloves (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend well.
  2. Pour into a 9 inch pie shell.
  3. Bake at 350* for 1 hour.

 

Cottage Cheese Roll-ups

Cottage Cheese Roll-ups

If you are looking for a cookie that is not too sweet – consider these delightful little roll-ups. Made with a dollop of cottage cheese, they will satisfy your sweet tooth and give a you a nice shot of protein as well. I like to make these for parties because they are really pretty as well as tasty. They include the extra step of rolling them out, then cutting and rolling back up. But they are totally worth it in flavor! Dense and almost chewy – the cottage cheese gives them a delicious flavor and texture.

Country Crock® provided me with the spread to use in this recipe. (I’m participating in a fun Easter baking contest. :) )Cottage Cheese Roll-ups

 

Cottage Cheese Roll-ups
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1½ cup small-curd cottage cheese
  • ½ cup Country Crock Original Spread
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 TBLS milk
  • 1 drop red food coloring (optional)
Instructions
  1. Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut in Country Crock Original Spread with pastry blender.
  3. Stir in cottage cheese gently with a spoon.
  4. Divide into two portions.
  5. Turn one portion onto a floured surface and roll out to ¼ inch thick. Cut into 12 wedges, roll each wedge up - starting with wide end.
  6. Place roll-ups onto an un-greased cookie sheet.
  7. Repeat with second portion of dough.
  8. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or till edges are golden.
  9. Cool on rack. Drizzle with glaze.
  10. Glaze: Mix powdered sugar, butter, food coloring and vanilla in a bowl. Add milk as needed.