Thursday, April 17, 2014

Grocery Prices are Going Down

By Sarah Correll

How much do those carrots cost? The Indiana Farm Bureau just released the details of their semi-annual “market basket” survey, and they found that grocery prices are down slightly from a year ago!

The “market basket” survey includes 16 items, 8 of which have decreased in price since spring 2013. The biggest decrease was in sirloin tip roast, which has gone down by 70 cents. The full results are here!

Grocery items
Spring 2013
Fall 2013
Spring 2014
Apples, 1 lb.
Potatoes, 5 lb.
Bagged salad mix, 1 lb.
Orange juice, 1/2 gal
Ground chuck, 1 lb.
Sirloin tip roast, 1 lb
Bacon, 1lb.
Sliced deli ham, 1 lb.
Boneless chicken breast, 1 lb.
Whole milk, 1 gal.
Shredded cheddar cheese,
1 lb.
Grade A  large eggs, 1 doz.
Flour, 5 lb.
Vegetable oil, 32 oz.
Cereal, 10-oz. box
White bread, 20-oz. loaf

While only 16% of every dollar spent at the grocery store makes it back to the farmer, we’re proud that Americans spend less than 10% of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world! If you’re looking for some frugal meal ideas, check these out!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tomorrow is National Cheeseball Day!

By Diane Ruyack of Winners Drink Milk

What are round, fun and tasty?  Cheese balls! They were born to party! They’re also one of the easiest cold appetizers to prepare.  

April 17th is National Cheeseball Day. Cheeseballs make a great presentation for any party, and they aren’t just delicious for the winter holiday season.

With Easter just 3 days after National Cheeseball Day this year, why not include a cheeseball as part of your Easter festivities.  Let the children help build a bunny, baby chicks or a plate of miniature cheese balls decorated like Easter eggs.

There are savory or sweet cheeseballs   Savory cheese balls are usually made by blending cream cheese with your favorite shredded hard cheese, spices, chopped onions and garlic. Sweeter options are made with cream cheese with fruit and/or candy additions.  Then, the ingredients are rolled into a ball and rolled in a crunchy topping such as chopped pecans, almonds, bacon bits, etc. You can really add just about anything, and then serve with crackers, veggies or fruit or cookies fanned out around the cheese ball.

Cheeseball Recipe
8-16 ounces of cream cheese, regular, low fat, Neufchatel

Add any of the following ingredients that blend together taste-wise:

For Savory:
1 Cup or more of other cheeses: Cheddar, bleu, Colby, Swiss
½ cup green or black chopped olives
½ cup of ham, pepperoni, dried beef or bacon
½ package of onion or vegetable soup or ranch dressing mix
½ cup chutney
Spices such as garlic and/or onion powder, parsley, Worcestershire sauce

For Sweet:
8 ounces crushed pineapple
½ cup dried cranberries or cherries, chopped apricots
¼ cup maraschino cherries, chopped
½ cup chocolate chips, toffee bits, peanut butter chips
Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice
½ cup coconut

To Make your own cheeseball, mix cream cheese with other ingredients that go together, form into a ball and roll in chopped pecans, walnuts or if you are making a sweet cheeseball, toasted coconut or miniature chocolate chips. 

For Easter, decorate a bunny-shaped cheese ball with bunny ears made from romaine lettuce leaves, lengthwise carrot or cucumber slices or pear or apple slices.  Black olives or gum drops would make eyes and nose. Use alfalfa sprouts or green coconut as grass.  Rolling smaller cheese balls in a variety of toppings such as parsley, nuts, chopped carrots and different colored peppers, crushed cookies etc. would give the appearance of Easter eggs or in yellow coconut to make baby chicks.  Whether you're planning a large dinner party or just looking for a fun snack, cheeseballs are simple and delicious.

Serve with savory crackers or vanilla wafers for either an appetizer cheeseball or as a sweet snack cheeseball.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We are Indiana Agriculture: Supplying Eggs for Kroger a Family Affair

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

If you buy Kroger brand eggs from any Kroger store in Indiana, then you are supporting Indiana agriculture. Bob and Sally Krouse are fifth generation egg farmers at Midwest Poultry Services in Mentone, Indiana who supply eggs to Kroger stores across the state. The operation has been family-owned since 1875. There are currently 9 buildings housing 2.5 million chickens that produce about 2 million eggs a day. Bob and Sally are proud of the quality of food they produce and the number of jobs they are able to provide for their community.

Midwest Poultry Services is dedicated to the health and welfare of their hens and ensure their houses are run with great care and safety. “Thirty years ago, when Sally’s dad owned the operation, it was customary to keep the birds outdoors, Bob explains. This made it very difficult to keep the birds healthy and protect them from extreme weather. Since then, we’ve been able to move the birds indoors into a modern caged system to provide a much healthier and safer environment.”

“One of the issues that seem to be foremost in consumer’s minds is how much space hens need to be comfortable, “Bob says. “Adequate space means the birds need to be able to stand comfortably, lie down, that they have proper access to feed and water and they need to be able to turn around and preen. A caged system allows us to monitor their health and welfare better than you could in a free range or cage free system.”

Once the hen lays the eggs in the hen house, the eggs are carried forward to the processing area on a series of conveyor belts. The eggs are then washed, graded and packaged for the local consumer. “It’s interesting to note that from the time the hen lays that egg to the time the consumer takes the egg out of the carton, that’s the only person that has ever touched that egg,” Bob explains. “We go to great lengths throughout this whole process to make certain eggs are made an inexpensive and safe, high-quality choice of pro food.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10 Recipes to Celebrate National Pecan Month

By Sarah Correll

PEE-can or pee-KAHN? No matter how you say it, it’s National Pecan Month! The ladies of the Real Farmwives of America and Friends have shared some fabulous pecan recipes.

1. Liz of Two Maids a Milking’s Peach Pecan Upside-Down Pancake

2. Crispy Pecan Chicken Casserole from Leah at Beyer Beware

3. Not Your Grandma’s Fruitcake from Mary Beth of Alarm Clock Wars

4. Heather of 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs’ Pecan Coffee Cake

5. Caramel Pecan Pie from Cris of Goodeness Gracious

6. Amy of Two Maids a Milking’s Cheddar Apple Pie Dip

7. Meg of Gal in the Middle’s Grandma’s Butterscotch Rolls

9. Bourbon Balls from Amy of A Latte with Ott, A

Interesting in growing your own pecans? Learn how here

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Eat Right" Family-Friendly Recipes

By Diane Ruyack of Winners Drink Milk

Who doesn’t like to eat! If you read Danielle’s blog about March being National Nutrition Month, you know the theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”.  Most of us choose taste over nutrition, so let’s look at our plates this year and find ways to enhance both nutrition and taste. Try new food combinations, different spices, and different cooking methods to enjoy the taste of eating right!

Meatza pizza is one of our family’s favorite original recipes.  Our son has a gluten sensitivity so eating a regular dough-based pizza is out for him unless we choose a gluten-free pizza or recipe that does not use wheat flour in the dough.  This recipe combines the flavor of pizza without the crust and makes a perfect main dish for the whole family to enjoy.


1 ½  pounds lean ground beef
1 t. garlic powder
2/3 cup evaporated milk 
1 can chopped mushrooms (optional)

¼ oregano and other Italian herbs
1 cup tomato sauce/or use prepared pizza sauce
1 cup Mozzarella cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Mix beef, garlic powder, milk and mushrooms and pat into 8 or 9 inch pie pan.  Spread sauce and sprinkle cheeses on top.  Bake 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until completely cooked.  Cut into 4 wedges. 

Another original recipe from our family cookbook is Castle Burgers.  While is college, during the summers I worked in the kitchen at a Church camp, Stronghold Castle, overlooking the Rock River in Illinois. The recipe can be formed into burgers and cooked or spread on hamburger buns and baked for open-faced sandwiches.


2 pounds lean ground beef
½ cup grated cheese
1 onion, grated
1 cup ketchup
½ cup pickle relish
2 T. prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and form into patties or spread on hamburger buns.  Grill or bake patties.  For open-faced sandwiches, bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until completely cooked.  Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Both of these recipes provide you with high-quality protein. Protein is the building block for your body from muscles to hair, bones, to teeth, every one of your billion cells need protein.  Another high-quality protein is milk protein. So if you are looking to add more protein to your diet, as are 57% of Americans, consume an 8 ounce glass of milk and you will add 8 grams of protein to your meal.  Experts recommend including 20-30 grams of protein at each meal so including milk will go a long way in reaching your daily needs.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Meet the Reinkes from Big Barn Shrimp Farm

Jerry Reinke had been a funeral director for 25 years before deciding to change professions.  Jerry worked in funeral homes in Ft. Wayne and Flora and owned Reinke Funeral Home in Flora with his dad for the last 20 years.  When his dad passed away in 2010, he lost a “fire for the funeral business.”  “It was something I had always done with my dad and without him there, it just wasn’t fun anymore,” Jerry said.  He and his wife Cindy researched shrimp farming for nearly two years before opening their own shrimp farm.  Big Barn Shrimp Farm in Flora opened for business in October of 2013.

The Reinkes don’t have a nursery up and running yet so their process is a little different than most.  Shrimp babies are shipped from Miami, Florida to another shrimp farm in Fowler, Indiana.  They will raise them in grow-out tanks for the next three months.  “Our grow-out tanks are simply 18’ above ground swimming pools.  So after 4-5 months the shrimp are to the size we like to sell them,” Jerry explains.  “We usually try for a 20-25 count shrimp.  That means there are 20-25 whole shrimp to a pound.  This is for head-on live shrimp.”

Big Barn Shrimp Farm is currently producing around 65 pounds a week.  They have eight pools of shrimp in their building right now, but by the end of April they should be to their first goal of 16 pools of shrimp.  “By then the water should be conditioned to the point that we anticipate being able to harvest around 200 pounds of shrimp a week.  With only eight pools, we have to spread the harvest for each pool over two weeks, but with 16 pools we will have a pool a week to harvest.  When we reach 16 pools, we will be the single largest shrimp farm in the state!”

The public is able to purchase shrimp directly from Big Barn Shrimp Farm.  “As a matter of fact,” Jerry explains, “that is the only way we sell currently.  So many people are amazed that we don’t sell to any restaurants or groceries yet.  I would rather have them come right here to our farm to buy our shrimp!  I’m pretty proud of our building and business and love showing it off.  I would be willing to bet that 3 out of the 4 days we are open, someone stops by the farm simply for a tour.  It sounds interesting so they want to see what’s going on!  I get a kick out of telling people that in 25 years of working at a funeral home, never once did I have a family drive up, walk in, and ask for a tour of the place!”

The shrimp are sold live.  “Usually when a customer buys their shrimp, I scoop them up as the customer orders them.  So you simply can’t get fresher than that!  I put the shrimp in a bag and put that bag in a bag of ice.  That slows the shrimp’s metabolism down and kills them quicker than simply putting them in only one bag.”

The Reinkes have three children, Abigail, Hannah and Ethan.  Big Barn Shrimp Farm is located at 315 South Sycamore Street, Flora, Indiana.  They are open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 10-5 and Saturday 9-12.  Look for them on Facebook by searching Big Barn Shrimp Farm.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Freezing for You and Your Family

By Sarah Correll

March is Frozen Food Month! We’re all pretty familiar with the frozen food aisle at the grocery store, but did you know that cooking in bulk and freezing it can save you time and money? The Real Farmwives of America have some great tips and recipes to get you started!

Cris from Goodeness Gracious shares 10 freezer-friendly burrito recipes, including one for these Chicken, Rice, and Bean Freezer Burritos!

This Farm Family’s Life’s Sarah has a Pizza Casserole recipe that everyone in the family is sure to love!

Leah of Beyer Beware’s Crock Pot Sloppy Joes are definitely freezable!

On the sweeter side of life, Heather of 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs shares a recipe for Apple-Cranberry Pops.

From My Front Porch’s Jent shows us how to freeze berries.

Cris’ easy Freezer Ground Beef recipe speeds up prep work for a lot of meals!

Marybeth of Alarm Clock Wars has a Lazy Pierogie recipe that is perfect for the freezer.

The recipe for these Cheesy Chicken Chalupas is over at Two Maids a Milking!

Freezer cooking allows you to freeze any portion size you would like. Even this Cake Mix Sunrise Cinnamon Loaf recipe from Megan at Gal in the Middle can be split into large or small loaves!

Happy freezing!