2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup dried onions
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
6 slices American cheese
1 dozen slider buns or dinner rolls
24-40 dill pickle slices
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a 9×13 inch baking dish, spread onions evenly.
3. Place the ground beef in the dish, pressing evenly into once large patty.
4. Sprinkle seasoning salt evenly over meat.
5. Back for 20-30 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and, using paper towels, soak up extra grease off the top of the meat.
7. Place cheese slices across the top and bake 2-3 minutes more until melted.
8. Let stand 2 minutes and then cut into small squares to fir the size of your bun or roll.
9. Remove meat squares from the baking dish with a spatula, place on the buns and top each with 2 pickle slices.
Yield: 12-20 Sliders
This past week I spent some time in Western Nebraska, near Chadron. After three day in the panhandle, I was ready to move. It is some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. Granted, It was 73 degrees and sunny while I was there. I was told, by a resident, not many people can handle the sideways snow blowing in during the winter. It can be a tough way of life out there. Your nearest neighbor might be an hour away. Getting snowed in happens nearly every winter. But, for folks out west, they wouldn’t trade a day of it for anything.
Western Nebraska is cattle country and ranching country. Now, most people don’t know that there is a difference between a farmer and a rancher. For most, it is an interchangeable title. But, a rancher is the first to tell you it’s not. Just because you farm, doesn’t mean you ranch and just because you ranch, doesn’t mean you farm.
The men and women who are proud to be called ranchers raise cattle. They aren’t usually sitting on a tractor planting corn. They are on horseback, raiding cross country and caring for a cattle herd. They often own or rent thousands of acres of land on which their cattle graze. They find land where they can. In that panhandle that might mean driving an hour from their house to their pasture. I did just that with one ranching family this week. The family, include three children, loaded horse and hauled them the 50 or so miles to one of their pastures. Most families are extremely close and any business can be a family affair. But on this family ranch gave the phrase a whole new meaning.
Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister saddled up on horses. I could tell, the six and four-year-old were already experienced with horses. The youngest road with Mom. Now, safety is of course their main concern and Dad made sure these kids had the best behaved horses. But, chasing cattle from one end of a field to the other is something these kids were more than capable of doing. Working and ranching is something they’ve been doing their whole lives. It’s the way they are being raised.
For this young family, they are already passing down Nebraskan values. While Mom and Dad are in the stages of growing their operation, they are setting up a future for their children and a future for their ranch. These kids will have the tools and know-how to take over a ranch and provide food for a hungry world.
1 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 (8 ounce) package toffee bits
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray a 9″x13″ baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs.
3. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture. stirring to combine.
4. Stir in toffee bits, coconut and pecans.
5. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 1 hour before cutting. Store in airtight container for up to a week.
Note: These blondies can be made in advance and frozen for up to a month.
Yield: 1-2 dozen blondies, depending on how big you choose to cut them.
There is something about Fall and Harvest that I love experiencing every year. Things like the cool morning air as the sun rises over the horizon, the deep rumble of the diesel engines warming, and the rows of finished crops just crying out to be picked. And while our harvest at the nursery is a bit different we also look forward to our fall harvest. For the Nurseryman, when we see fall colors coming onto our trees and we can begin our harvest our hearts beat a bit faster. To me, fall really hasn’t arrived until I see the combines in the fields harvesting and our equipment out digging fresh trees from our fields.
And every year as the fall harvest arrives, whether it is acres of crops, fields of shade, flowering and evergreen trees, or our own home landscapes and vegetable gardens, I believe we all smile a bit larger as we enjoy the fruits of our labor and the return of the fall.
Our fall harvest while similar to other farmers is also slightly different. Just like crop farmers who will wait for the beans or the corn to dry sufficiently to harvest we need our trees to show good fall color before we can safely harvest them from our fields. Once harvested our job is just beginning as we will spend the remaining time before winter planting our harvest in the landscapes of our clients. This means there is still plenty of time to install a new tree, shrub or even perennial in your landscape. Generally we feel you can safely plant perennials until early November, shrubs and evergreens through November, and shade & flowering trees until the ground freezes solid. Of course some years Mother Nature is kinder and other years a bit meaner so that schedule can vary from year to year based on weather so check with your local nursery professional for specific recommendations about your fall planting.
Beyond the harvesting and planting activities don’t forget that fall is also a great time to prepare for next year in our landscapes and gardens. Fall landscape cleanups and fall turf care are some wonderful ways to prepare for next year.
As cool fall weather arrives and our plants go into their dormant winter sleep, proper cleaning of our landscapes prepares our plants to sleep through winter and come back ready to grow next spring. Removing dead annuals opens the beds for next year’s planting and trimming off browned up perennial tops cleans them up and prepares them to regrow next spring. Also when removing your annuals or vegetables consider preparing your beds for next spring’s plantings by adding some compost or peat moss & manure to further enrich your beds.
On the turf side when the leaves begin to fall don’t forget to spend time on your lawn. September to early October is the time for the third step of the four step lawn programs and November is perfect for the fourth step usually known as the Winter Turf Fertilization. Proper fertilization of your lawn this fall will give your turf what it will need next spring for a healthier lawn. Fall is also the time to aerate your turf to reduce compaction, encourage a vigorous root system and to increase water / air movement into the soil. And while you may need to mow a few more times, make an effort to rake up fallen leaves every week or two. Frequent rakings will reduce the possibility the leaves will get left in place caught under the snow. Short-term, leaves aren’t really a problem but if they are left to sit under the snow all winter they can mat down the grass and leave areas to reseed or patch next spring.
Finally, if Mother Nature doesn’t give us plenty of moisture this fall even as the weather gets cooler make sure to water your turf and plants to keep them hydrated. By properly hydrating your plants, especially your evergreens, you ensure they are prepared for their winter sleep and your plants will be better prepared to begin growing again next spring. Just remember to detach your hoses between waterings to eliminate the potential of frozen or cracked pipes in your home.
When I think about it I really don’t know what it is about fall that I enjoy so much. Choices abound from the beauty of the fall foliage, the moderating weather, Husker football, the harvest, or any of the many other events that fall brings. What I do know though is that the events of fall, including the harvest, are such major parts of our lives here in Nebraska. So, as I will, make the most of a glorious fall this year and celebrate it before that evil beast winter shows up again.
Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. A Lancaster County Farm Bureau Member, Campbell’s, a family owned Nebraska business since 1912, offers assistance for all your landscaping and gardening needs at either of their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office. www.campbellsnursery.com.