How to Cook :: Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup

Sometimes I go to the grocery store with a list and a plan for recipes I intend to make. Other times my strategy is to shop the sale items and plan around them, which exercises my creative-cooking muscles while helping out ye olde grocery budget.

So I’m strolling the sort of smallish produce section in our sort of smallish local grocery store, when what to my wondering sale-seeking eyes should appear? Kale.

I’ve never had kale (except for one unfortunate foray into kale chips), but I remembered seeing a recipe somewhere on the internets involving kale and sausage in a soup. We all know how I love me some Sunday afternoon soup making, so I threw a package in my cart and figured I’d figure it out later.

A quick Google search found me exactly what I was looking for: Pioneer Woman’s Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup. I made it last Sunday for the “Soup”-er Bowl (which I didn’t even really watch because I’m about the food part of that particular holiday. Or any holiday, for that matter.) Matt & I just finished off the last of it at lunch today and I’m already thinking about when I can make it again because it was that good.

I started with a package of our own Italian sausage:

The recipe calls for a dozen medium red potatoes. I never know what’s considered “medium”, but after slicing up the ones I had plus a few extra’s for good measure I felt like maybe I’d overdone it in the potato department. But it all seemed to work out fine.

The recipe calls for two bunches of kale, but I had only bought one package so that’s what I went with. But it all seemed to work out fine.

And finally a chopped onion.

I’ll let you get the details over at PW’s site, but please, I’m begging you, for the love of all that is holy, whatever you do, make this soup. It’s so lovely and creamy, with just the slightest hint of spice from the red pepper flakes. And eating kale in any form should make you feel like a superhero. Because, you know, it’s a superfood. (Right? I didn’t just make that up, did I?)

Next up, I’ll tell you about the wings I made on Sunday with the wings I’ve been hoarding since this post.

4 years ago:

Win some, lose some

Getting promoted


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Our plan for 2014 was to get a puppy late winter, and have it in the chicken pen this summer with Ike to train it. At 10 years old Ike was an old man, he had definitely slowed down some, but he was in great shape and health for his age.

So when he passed so unexpectedly last weekend, we found ourselves having to move up our timeline. Ordinarily, I’m not the type of person to get another dog right after losing one. Ordinarily, I’m the type of person that needs a bit of time to grieve. But now we were going to need a puppy that would be old enough to be alone with the chickens this May.

Pyrenees pups are not all that easy to find, and we wanted one with working parents on a working farm. I contacted three different people around Iowa and Minnesota, but pups they had advertised just last week had already been sold. Our best bet was starting to look like a farm in Missouri, a 6 and a half hour drive away.

One last desperate Google search found me another listing. They were only an hour and a half away. I emailed the owner and asked some questions. My heart about skipped a beat when she said the puppies enjoy following around their ducks and chickens. Puppies that have already been exposed to poultry! We decided with a snowstorm predicted for the next day we should go take a look that very night after work.

When we pulled in the farmyard it was dark. From each corner of the farm, an adult Pyr emerged from the darkness and they all made their way to our truck. I was excited to see the puppies’ parents at work like this. But it’s also intimidating to be surrounded by 4 very large guard dogs.

I made Matt get out first.

But those dogs were only ready to attack him with love. Their owners came out, and we made our way to the barn to see the puppies. They shared the barn with turkeys, ducks, white pheasants, pigeons, and more. How awesome that they were already used to the sounds and smells of all those birds! Every one of them was friendly and sweet and surprisingly mellow, obviously well loved and well socialized. Our only decision at this point was boy or girl. Since we’ve always had male Pyrs, we decided to stick with that.

Of course the hardest decision is the name. I gave the family a list of possibilities and we tried some of them out for a couple days before finally settling on Titus. It seems like such a big name for a little puppy (although “little” is relative – at 10 weeks he’s 28 pounds!), but just look at that head…

And his paws are absolutely ginormous. He’ll grow into his name in no time.

I’ve been amazed at how quickly he settled into the family. We tried to have him sleep in his crate the first night. He started crying and whining and yipping, and then Ava started howling, and I thought, “Nobody’s going to get any sleep this way.” So I brought him up to our bedroom and put a rug beside our bed. Within minutes he was snoring, and slept all night without any accidents.

He’s already acting like a Pyr. If I go from one room to another, he follows me in there and flops down where he can see me. When I move again, he moves with me and flops down again with that same big sigh that Ike used to give me that said, “If you’d just stay in one place my job would be so much easier.”

He loves the snow, loves going out for chores with Matt, and already seems to be keeping an eye on the pigs and cows when he’s out there. I’ll share chore time pictures soon!

I still miss Ike, of course. I still find myself looking for him when I go outside, or heading to the garage to let him in for the night at bedtime. I can’t call Titus his replacement – there’s no replacing him – so I call Titus his successor. Titus has some pretty big paws to fill, but so far he seems like he’s well on his way..

3 years ago:


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Our Ike, our family & chicken protector, our BWD, passed away last night.

He turned 10 in October. I’m grateful that he didn’t suffer, just passed away of old age in his sleep.

But still, there were tears.

He was Madeline’s purple ribbon dog.

He was Rafe’s playmate.

He was my lapdog, and my work-from-home companion.

And of course our chicken guardian.

On a practical note, we can’t raise chickens without a guard dog so if anyone knows of Great Pyrenees pups for sale from a working farm within driving distance please let us know.

But it’s hard to imagine a worthy replacement.

Here are my favorite Ike posts:

Hawk (5), Ike (4)


Fair Report

A boy and his dog


Back on duty

Dog pile

The ordinary story of today

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Mason City delivery this week!

Our next Mason City delivery will be Wednesday, January 29th. 6:00 p.m. in the southwest corner of the KMart parking lot.

Call orders to 641.732.4915 or email to by Tuesday, January 28th.

Current cut availability & pricing is on our deliveries page.

See you soon!

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The Help

Here’s something you don’t see everyday anymore…

our firstborn helping out on the farm. We had one last beef to take to the locker today, and she happened to be home from college for the long holiday weekend. So naturally she got recruited.

I was a little late to the party, so I didn’t get any pictures of them sorting off the one from the herd. By the time I got out there they were running her into the trailer. Mad’s job was to wait by the trailer, ready to push the gate closed behind her.

Except she brought a little friend with her.

So then Mad had to shut the divider gate in the middle of the trailer,

and try to get just the little one to go back out through it.


He gets to rejoin his cute little friends.

So then it was time to scratch the sows,

and pose for a picture.

Nice to have her home!

3 years ago:


Tutorial :: Kindle Case

Winter, revisited

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How to Cook :: Slow Cooker Beef Stew

This is one of the very first recipes I started handing out at farmers market. Really easy, really quick, really delicious!

You start with a couple pounds of beef stew meat:

Put the stew meat pieces in the bottom of your slow cooker. Then peel and cut the vegetables:

6 medium potatoes

8 carrots

2 medium onions

and if I had celery in the fridge, you’d be seeing a picture of 2 stalks chopped celery here. Instead you’re going to see a picture of…

celery seeds.

I wasn’t running back to town for 2 stalks of celery. It would be a little difficult to substitute for potatoes or carrots (although turnips or parsnips come to mind), but celery seed worked just fine here. I think I used about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon.

I cut the vegetables in biggish chunks – another reason I love this recipe! It doesn’t take much time when you’re cutting things in bigger pieces.

Then you need this cast of characters:

1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp paprika

Mix them together with 1/4 cup flour

and then sprinkle them over the meat in the slow cooker.

Give that a stir and then dump the vegetables in on top of the meat.

Now for the gravy:

2 cups beef broth (or water + beef broth base), and 1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce.

Pour that over the meat + vegetables, and give everything a big stir.

Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours. We usually pair it with just bread and butter.

And the leftovers are even better! After they’ve sat overnight in the gravy, everything just kind of thickens up and increases even more in flavor!


How to Cook :: Slow Cooker Beef Stew

How to Cook :: Slow Cooker Beef Stew


  • 2 pounds beef stew meat pieces
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 8 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 c. beef broth
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce


  1. Place stew meat in bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Mix salt, pepper, paprika and flour together and sprinkle over stew meat. Stir to coat.
  3. Add vegetables to slow cooker.
  4. Mix beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and pour over meat and vegetables. Stir everything together.
  5. Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.

2 years ago:

Noon Pictures

How to Cook :: Pork and Vegetable Soup II

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Story :: OLW 2014


I’ve written before about the “One Little Word” concept, where you choose a word for the year (or your word chooses you.) This year I’m again taking Ali Edward’s OLW class to help me focus on my word.

My word for this year is “story”. I felt this word choosing me, reminding me that I need to get back to telling stories. Words and photographs. Stories of family, past and present. Blogging. Food. Joy, creativity, legacy, connection. Those are the things that come to mind when I think about stories and storytelling.

But as I thought about what else “story” might mean in my life, it occurred to me that it might also mean making choices that add to my story. To consider which of two choices would be choosing “story”. And most of the time for me, a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, it means making the choice that gets me out of the house. (Ignore the fact that last week I didn’t leave the house for four straight days. Hey, there was a polar vortex going on!)

Another wrinkle on my word is using “story” to connect with others. The ability to draw others’ stories out of them is an art to be cultivated. I so enjoy and admire Brandon’s skill at this on his website Humans of New York.

I’ll leave you with some “story” quotes I’ve found. Do any of you choose a word for the new year? Please share!

“The universe is not made of tiny atoms; it’s made of tiny stories.” ~

“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” ~ Dr. Who

“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity…” ~ Gilda Radner

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” ~ Tom O’Brien

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

1 year ago:

Hello. Howdy. Hi. Guten tag. Hola.

How to Cook :: 2 beef stew recipes

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Today I am…

Today Ava is napping on Rafe’s new beanbag. Ahem.

Contemplating… getting my masters degree in CIS (Computer Information Systems.) I never thought I’d want to get a graduate degree. For whatever reason, the idea is intriguing me right now. But the thought of the costs and time involved scares me to death. How about somebody just pay me to blog, instead?

Farming…, or rather, doing the paperwork of farming. Getting ready for taxes, trying to project cash flow and build a budget. Yuck. I’m ready for spring and spring chickens and doing rather than filing.

Listening… to this album and this album on vinyl. Matt got me a little retro turntable for Christmas and I’m enjoying the process of curating a vinyl collection. These albums are my first two picks.

Crafting… my One Little Word album. My word this year is “story”, but more on that later (maybe tomorrow?) Also trying to finish my Project Life album for 2013 and start 2014. And I have a lot of thoughts in my head about other memory keeping/story telling projects I’d like to undertake… never enough time!

Missing… our firstborn, who went back to college Sunday after a really nice Christmas break home with us. (Even though she’ll be home again on Friday for the long holiday weekend. Ahem.) Love that she’s only an hour away.

Dreaming… of what I would do if only… I’ve got visions dancing in my head of expanding our free-range broiler operation, planting strawberries & raspberries, getting back into laying hens. *sigh* There’s that time & money thing, again.

Wondering… what my readers (all 2 of you?) would like to see on this here poor neglected blog. I really like to write about food, and I’m supposed to be cooking for the family anyway, so I’ve been thinking about cooking my way through each of our cuts. That way I’ll be able to point our customers to the website for recipes, and maybe create a little cookbook someday. But what would you like to read about? My lack of blogging the past few years has left a few holes ;)

Realizing… that come February 1, it will be the 10-year anniversary of this blog. Holy cow! I’m dreaming up a little something special for that…

What are you doing today?

One year ago:

Hello. Howdy. Hi. Guten tag. Hola

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Deadheading (from the Drafts folder)

I was going through my Drafts folder and found this little piece I wrote last fall but never published. Seemed appropriate as I start to think about 2014, so I thought I’d go ahead and share it now. What are your thoughts and wishes for the new year?


Even though I’m actually a fan of the Grateful Dead, that’s not what that title is referring to. I’m sure you’re relieved!

My mom is a wonder with flowers, as was her mother, as was my grandma’s mother-in-law.

That skill seems to have skipped right over me.

I can grow almost any kind of vegetable, but show me a flower and I’ll show you a dead plant walking. But I still try, and this fall I bought a few mums to brighten up the place for our farm tour. And I try to remember to water them every morning after chicken chores. As I water, I pick off the spent blooms – deadheading – as my mother must have taught me at some point in time.

Deadheading encourages the plant to keep on growing and blooming. One of the purposes of flowers is to produce seed that will fall to the ground to germinate and grow the next year. If you don’t deadhead, the plant thinks, “Got my flowers, produced my seed. Boo yah, I’m done for this year!” and it quits. But if you remove the spent blooms, the plant will keep producing flowers in an effort to produce those self-perpetuating seeds. It’s a practice that can keep annual (and some perennial) flowers blooming all through the summer and well into fall. And it got me to thinking metaphorically…

(insert dreamy metaphorical thinking music here)

Deadheading is a practice that can be applied to our lives periodically as well. We have to remove the things that are no longer serving us, that are preventing us from continuing to grow and blossom. We have certainly done some deadheading with our farm business over the years. In that case, the things we cut out and the things we cut back on weren’t necessarily to help the farm itself grow (although I think it’s important and necessary if that’s your goal, too). Rather they helped us grow as a family. We started this farm for the sake of our kids, so that they would have the experience of the farm life we both grew up with. But at the same time, we wanted their childhoods to be an expression of their own interests and passions and we wanted to be available to them in whatever capacity they needed us. So we cut back on the number of farmers markets we did, so that we could be there to cheer them on at volleyball tournaments and to coach the football team.

Having one gone to college hasn’t actually been the sad, depressing thing I anticipated it to be. I mean, there have been moments, but overall I’m feeling like I have just a little more time and space. A moment to catch my breath. And I’ve been thinking about what I might do in the coming years, as the other 2 leave the nest and that time and space continues to increase. I think it’s time for some new dreams, new plans, new goals.

But it’s also time to do some deadheading. For example, I think generally I need to spend less time online. But one of my dreams/plans/goals is to become an active writer/blogger/photographer again which means… time spent online. So what I need is to deadhead some of my online activities – Facebook, Twitter, games, etc. – so that I can focus my online time doing things that support my new goals. I’m feeling a serious need to deadhead my closet in the spirit of Project 333. And deadheading our possessions means less time cleaning or maintaining them, freeing up time for other things.

Letting go of things or activities or relationships can be difficult and even painful. But it can also open up the time and space for wonderful new experiences and continued growth.

2 years ago:

How to Cook : Mayonnaise

How to Cook : Cheddarwurst Mac & Cheese

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Restocked, and first Mason City delivery date set!

As of today, we’re fully stocked on most of our beef and pork again! Hooray! I’ve been making 7 pounds of ground beef stretch like you wouldn’t believe for a couple of months ;) You can see the updated list on our Cut Availability & Price List page.

A couple of new things we’re going to try are beef tenderloin filets and New York strips. Those will be available in a few weeks, along with our dried beef and all-beef sticks. A couple of things are already sold out, and some of our pork items we’re only going to have made for summer.

We also have some chickens still available, mostly cut-ups. Also just a few “irregulars”, meaning they might be missing part of a wing or a drumstick or some combination of those. These are discounted an additional 10 cents a pound. Perfect if you’re more of a white meat person anyways!

So we’ll be making our first Mason City winter delivery on Monday, December 9th. 6:00 p.m. in the KMart parking lot. Call your orders in to 641.732.4915 or email orders to by noon Sunday December 8th.

Can’t wait to see all of our customers again soon!

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