Orange Cream Scones

Orange Cream Scones3

Ingredients

Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup cubed butter, cold

1 large egg

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze

1½ tablespoon butter, melted

¾ cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon orange juice

½ teaspoon orange zest (optional, but it really adds good flavor)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking oil spray.
  2. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter until the butter is about the size of peas and the dough resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, combine egg, sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface; gently knead the dough until it holds together. Pat into a 1-inch thick circle. Cut into 8 triangles.
  6. Brush the tops of each scone with a little bit of heavy cream or milk.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until scones are golden brown.
  8. While the scones are cooling, mix up the glaze.
  9. Spread the glaze over the sligntly warm scones. Serve.

 

Yield: 8 scones

A New Year’s Resolution Worth Keeping

steve corn head shotThere’s an old saying that to know where you’re going, it helps to know where you’ve been. And as we closed out 2015, it’s worth taking a look back at last year to see the work that’s been done and see how it helps moving forward in 2016. That applies not only to our farms and ranches, but also to Farm Bureau.

Farm Bureau is about making life better for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

In 2015 that meant working to provide property tax reform for farmers, ranchers and all members. It meant finding ways to grow Nebraska’s livestock sector to create home grown markets for our commodities. It meant investing time and resources working to promote agricultural trade opportunities to add value to the grain and livestock produced on our farms and ranches. And it meant pushing back on a landslide of regulations directed at agriculture, particularly EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule that poses the single largest threat to private property rights we’ve ever seen from a federal agency.

It also involved getting the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture up and running with new leadership and new staff which are integral to the Foundations’ efforts to engage and equip students, teachers and consumers with information about how their food is produced and where it comes from.

And it also meant providing support for our county farm bureau’s, growing our list of member benefits, and engaging more with the youth who will be the next generation of Farm Bureau leaders.

It was a good year with numerous successes; all of which have everything to do with your engagement as a Farm Bureau member. Listing all the activities members do to make Farm Bureau great at the county, state and national level is a nearly impossible task. But the results of all those actions are reflected in our list of 2015 achievements.

As we look to 2016, I’d ask you to consider a New Year’s Resolution; a resolution to continue to engage and be a leader for agriculture in the coming year. As I’ve said on many occasions the strength of Farm Bureau lies in the strength and engagement of our grassroots membership. Working together thru Farm Bureau we do things we could never accomplish alone. My hope for 2016 is that we continue to push forward together as we always have, engaging when and where we can, to help make life better for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. That’s truly a New Year’s Resolution worth keeping!

Sincerely,

Steve Nelson, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau

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What’s a typical day like on your farm?

noe 5My family has been farming in Spring Bay, Illinois since 1875. Over the years, the farm has seen quite a few changes in which crops are grown and how they are raised. Currently, we raise corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, hogs, cantaloupes and watermelons. Since the farm is so diversified, each day is different throughout the year. The spring season consists of working ground, planting corn and soybeans, starting the melons in the greenhouse and then transplanting them into the field.

noe 4Summer is our busiest season. In the early months, we finish transplanting melons and begin to cultivate and hoe them to keep the weeds out. In July, we cut wheat, bale straw and hay and begin to pick cantaloupe. We will usually handpick about 300-400 cantaloupes on a daily basis. In the middle of the season, it’s not unusual for us to pick 800-1200 cantaloupes each night. We deliver truckloads to local grocery stores in addition to selling them at local farmer’s markets six days a week. The watermelons are usually ready in mid-August. We pick them about three times a week and continue to go to farmer’s markets and grocery stores. On a typical summer day, you can find my family up and working by 6:30 a.m. loading pickups, picking flowers and produce to go to the farmer’s market, and doing hog chores. One of us will go to the market and sell until noon. When we come home, we unload the leftover produce, eat lunch, and relax. Then we go out to pick more cantaloupes, reload pickups, eat supper, and make sure everything is ready to go for the next day.

noe 3September is an in-between month for our farm. The cantaloupe and watermelon season winds down and my dad and brothers start preparing the combine and equipment for harvest. We usually begin cutting beans and picking corn in the first week of October. Once harvest starts, my family spends a majority of the day in the fields or on the road moving equipment and hauling the grain to the elevator for storage. Mom takes breaks from driving the trucks to pack lunches and make supper for the crew. Harvest is an exciting and stressful time for the whole family. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done and the weather just never seems to cooperate. There have been numerous times when Dad combined through the night to get a field done before an early snow or to get an extra load up to the elevator before it closed for the evening. Despite the stress, breakdowns, and disappointments, it’s very easy to love the harvest season. It’s an exciting time you spend out in the field working with your family and bringing in the crops that you started way back in the spring.

noe 2By early November, we are usually finished with harvest and begin to prepare the equipment for the next season. Once the crops are harvested, everything starts to slow down. The winter months are mundane compared to the rest of the year. From December to March, we work to repair the things that broke during the spring, summer, or fall that we didn’t have time to fix in that season. This is also the time that we get to work on fun projects, hobbies, and finish taxes and other book work. When it gets cold and starts snowing, we use skid-steers to clear snow off our driveways and out of the hog pens. We also have to put straw in the outdoor hog pens to help them keep warm in the cold weather.

noe 1Although we’re busy throughout the year with our crops and melons, the hogs are an additional year-round occupation. Every morning and evening, we have to feed the hogs in the indoor and outdoor pens. We also have to move any pregnant sows into the farrowing house, wean piglets and give them shots, and move sows out of the farrowing house and back into the pens with the boars so they can be rebred. Once the pigs have reached market weight, we arrange shipments and send them off on the semi to become pork chops, bacon, sausages, and pork burgers.

Our farm is an exciting place to be and there’s always plenty of work to be done. Through our family farm upbringing, my brothers and I learned what it takes to run a successful business and have built a lot of character through the work that we did. One of the benefits of farming is that the job changes every few months and each day is different from the day before. It can be overwhelming at times, but it’s a very rewarding career in the long run.

Rachel Noe bio pic

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Hot Cocoa Cookies

Hot Cocoa CookiesIngredients
½ cup unsalted butter
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips)
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Approx. 24 large marshmallows

Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup hot water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Assorted sprinkles (optional)

Directions
1. In microwave-safe bowl, using 50% power, melt butter and chocolate, stirring
frequently. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
3. In bowl of electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla on low speed until well
combined.
4. Add cooled chocolate mixture and blend until just combined.
5. Scrape down sides of bowl, cover the dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour. If
making dough a day ahead, let sit at room temp. for 30 minutes before shaping.
6. Preheat oven to 325º and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat
type liner.
7. Use a tablespoon (or cookie scoop) to scoop dough, then roll the dough in
hands to create balls. Arrange balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets, then
flatten slightly.
8. Bake cookies for 12 minutes.
9. While cookies bake, cut large marshmallows in half (crosswise).
10. When cookies have baked, remove from oven and press one marshmallow half
(cut side down) into center of each cookie. Return cookies to oven and bake
another 2-3 minutes. Allow pan of cookies to cool a few minutes, then transfer
cookies to a cooling rack.
11. Prepare icing by combining ingredients in medium bowl and mixing with whisk
or hand mixer. Place wire cooling rack of cookies over a baking sheet to catch
any excess icing. Spoon small amount of icing on top of each marshmallow and
use back of the spoon to spread. After you have iced a couple of cookies, top
them with sprinkles before the icing dries.
12. Allow icing to set up about 30 minutes before serving.
Yield; 4 dozen

 

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Belief and Engagement, Critical to Fixing School Funding Problem

steve corn head shotBefore I get to the heart of this month’s column I wanted to take a minute on behalf of the leadership and staff of the Nebraska Farm Bureau to wish everyone a safe and bountiful harvest season. As combines roll across the state, this time of year can be stressful, yet extremely rewarding. Please know here at Farm Bureau we wish you only the best as you work to safely harvest the fruit of your labors.

Speaking of harvest, we all know there would be a lot less to do in the fall if it wasn’t for the work done in the spring to sow the seeds for the coming year’s crop. The same holds true when it comes to addressing the number one issue we hear about from members, that being property tax relief.

Nothing worth having comes easy. To have a harvest you must first, successfully plant seeds. Over the past two legislative sessions Nebraska Farm Bureau has made providing property tax relief a top priority; planting the seeds and working to address the issue. Yet like many things, there is no simple fix. I’ve said many times that high property taxes in agriculture are the symptom of a larger problem with the way Nebraska funds schools. The reliance on property taxes and a diminished level of state support for districts with large agricultural land bases has created inequity in how schools are funded; and in who funds them. As you know all too well, much of the increased burden has fallen on farm and ranch families across the state.

The frustration I hear from members with the situation is growing in both size and scope. Yet at the same time, I sense some have doubts as to whether the legislature will do anything to address the issue and therefore there’s little reason to put forth the effort to fix the problem. As I think about the situation, a couple of quotes from some very successful coaches come to mind.

“You carry on no matter what are the obstacles. You simply refuse to give up – and, when the going gets tough, you get tougher. And, you win.” ~Vince Lombardi

“If you are going to be a successful duck hunter, you must go where the ducks are.” ~Paul “Bear” Bryant

To me, these two quotes provide great insight into how we must approach this critical issue. Leaders work to find solutions, not dwell on problems. Your Farm Bureau organization will head into the 2016 legislative session committed to finding solutions to the school funding issue, fully examining all of our options.

Having said that, engagement from members is also critical. As Paul Bryant points out, we have to take our message and our concerns to the people who can make a difference. That’s not just the rural contingency in the legislature, but all 49 state senators who have been elected to provide leadership and direction for our state. And that can’t be done just by Nebraska Farm Bureau staff. We need members to both believe in this effort and to engage to make a difference. The legislative process is a contact sport. We need to develop sound policy as we work through the policy development process this fall. And from there we need members to spread the message to elected officials and others who can assist in our cause. Your personal stories, experiences and voice carry weight.

This problem isn’t going away and it’s only going to get worse. Now is the time for us to roll up our sleeves and take heed of the message provided by Lombardi and Bryant who knew a thing or two about hard work and winning. As we head toward and through the 2016 legislative session there will be many opportunities for you work through Farm Bureau to make a difference. Farm Bureau is about engaging leaders for the betterment of agriculture. Never has there been a better time, or issue, for us to come together to show it.

Until Next Time,

Steve Nelson

Hearty Lentil Ham Soup

Hearty Lentil Ham SoupIngredients
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 cups water
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained or 1 qt. home canned tomatoes
¾ cup dry lentils, rinsed
¾ cup pearl barley
1 meaty leftover ham bone or 2 ham hocks
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules or 2 cubes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese, optional

 

Directions
1.   In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, saute the celery, onion, and garlic in butter until tender.
2.   Add water, tomatoes, lentils, barley, ham, bouillon,  herbs, and pepper; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Lentils and barley should be tender.
3.   Add carrots; simmer for 15-30 minutes, until carrots are tender.
4.   Remove ham bone/ham hocks from soup; remove meat from the bones and return it to the soup.
5.   May be served with a sprinkling of cheese in each bowl.

Yield:  8-10 servings

Family Dinners

family dinner1Being a traditional farm family, family dinners are a way of life! From Sunday dinners in the winter to Tuesday lunches in the summer. Everyone stops what he or she is doing and sits down to eat together.

My dad is a farmer. Now this means work hours vary so much for him throughout the year. Winter hours are the relaxed with days of 9 am to 4 pm. Planting season, aka spring, he could work 9am to 9pm or 6 am to 4 pm depending on the day. Summer months are a little more relaxed working from 8 am to 5 pm on average. During these ‘seasons’ as we call them, family meals are made a priority at least once a day. But then there’s the most glorious time of the year, harvest.

family dinner2Harvest is the time when people and animals stockpile their food for the year. But harvesting all that food for the people and animals of the world comes at a sacrifice for farm families. Most of the time that sacrifice comes at spending time with family. Now the crazy hours already mentioned might seems extreme but nothing gets as crazy as harvest when it comes to time away from family and home. My dad works on average during harvest season, 6 am to 12 am. My dad does what he can to see us during harvest time but I could go days without seeing him because of the time he spends in the field.

family dinner3Family dinners are a way for us to all catch up on the week and during harvest, these dinners are made a priority for Sunday evening. The amount of time my dad spends through out the year providing food for others is kind of crazy once you see the numbers. I know what he does, along with the thousands of farmers across the nation, is so important to the world.

Farmers spend way more time than forty hours a week providing for their families, family dinners are just a small way to always stay connected. family dinner4

 

Emily Puls bio pic