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!

Monday, March 17, 2014

How Green is My Dairy?

By Deb Osza of Winners Drink Milk

What do Shamrock shakes, Derby Sage cheese and brightly colored smoothies that include spinach have in common?  They are green.  It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and we celebrate all things green. Did you know that dairy is green and getting greener? 

Dairy Farmers are the world's first recyclers.  Cows play a major recycling role as well.  They consume food we can't, turn it into food we can and add back food for the soil.  Click here to watch a brief video about dairy and sustainability.

Not only has dairy reduced its carbon footprint, farmers are finding ways to produce energy.  When you're looking to purchase 'green' products, pick up a gallon of milk.  It's green and getting greener.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We are Indiana Agriculture: Farming a Family Tradition for the Kelsays

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Liz Kelsay is no stranger to dairy farming.  The Real Farmwife of America grew up just west of West Lafayette.  Two of her uncles had dairy farms, and Liz grew up showing dairy cows in 4-H.

Liz and her husband are 6th generation farmers at Kelsay Farms in Johnson County.  Liz, her husband, Russell and 18 month old son, Rhett, farm with Russell’s grandmother, father, step-mother, brother and family.  They milk 500 cows three times a day and also grow corn, soybeans, hay and wheat.

In 1837, President Martin Van Buren land granted 80 acres to one of Kelsay’s ancestors, Benjamin Draper.  Benjamin then sold the farm to his sister Lucinda who later married Preserve Sefton.  The Seftons farmed for generations including Ruth Sefton, Russell’s grandmother.  Ruth married Joseph Kelsay and therefore the farm became Kelsay Farms.  Liz says, “I think the most interesting historical fact about the farm is that it has been passed down on the maternal side twice!”

The winter has been a tough one for everyone, but especially for farmers and livestock.  “During the brutal cold it was common for my husband to get home around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. after he made sure all or our cows were well taken care of,” Liz explains.   “This included checking that water fountains weren’t frozen, farm equipment was running, our milking equipment and lines didn’t freeze, new babies got extra special attention and that we could get our feed truck to all of our cows on top of a normal days work.  The cows depend on us to provide for them and that means 24 hours a day 365 days a year.  While it isn’t the easiest when he isn’t home in the evenings, we know the cows come first.  Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle, and it isn’t easy or glamorous, but it is our passion and our heritage.”

If you have read Liz’s blog at all, it is transparent that she loves to spend time in the kitchen.  Liz feels that the kitchen is the heart of the home.  “I love feeding people.  I love the conversations that are had at the dinner table.  I love the memories that are made with our loved ones, and I love the nostalgia of making recipes that have been passed down just like our farm has.  As farmers we take pride in producing the food that families nourish their bodies with.”

Liz says that it is difficult informing the public about farming because we aren’t all connected to agriculture on a daily basis like our ancestors were.  “We don’t all have to raise the pig in order to enjoy the bacon.  It’s only natural that those who aren’t connected to a farm might not understand why we do what we do on a daily basis just like I don’t, and never will, understand computer programming and a number of other things.  The majority of farmers do what they do because we love it.  We love our cows, we love being outside, we love growing food and we want to be able to provide future generations the opportunity to do the same.”

You can learn more about Liz and her farmwife life by visiting her blog, Two Maids a Milking,  where she blogs with her sister-in-law, Amy and on the Two Maids a Milking Facebook page.   Also visit Kelsay Farms on their Facebook page, and at Kelsay Farms website.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 Tips for Buying Meat without “Butchering” Your Grocery Budget

By Sarah Correll

Meat is often the most expensive item in our grocery carts. We need the protein, but how can we buy the meat we need without breaking the bank?

  1. Look for sales. You may even be able to ask your butcher when the sales regularly take place.
  2. If you find a great deal, buy a lot and make some freezer meals. Find some great freezer meal recipes here!
  3. Especially if you have a large freezer, considering buying meat in bulk. Many farmers and even local 4-H and FFA members sell quarters and halves of pigs and steers.
  4. Buy lean cuts. After the fat cooks away from what may be a less expensive pack of meat, you’ll be left with less than if you started with a lean cut.
  5. Use a crockpot to make any cut, no matter what the price, taste great! Find a collection of wonderful crockpot recipes here.