Don’t sweat the small stuff-ing, Get Half-Baked!

Preparing for the holiday season can get overwhelming! We have been preparing for the Thanksgiving Holiday for the past couple of weeks and I wanted to share a few preparations we have made to hopefully make the holidays a little less busy and less stressful!

I like to start by getting my kitchen organized!

I love the spice drawer because it helps me and my guests easily find whatever they need. I also use this time to take an inventory of what I have and what I need.

I also suggest recruiting some help to get everything cleaned and organized for your guests!

Not sure how much work I got out of her but she is fun to have at the ranch !

I try to buy everything I can that is not perishable well in advance because, #1 I don’t want to fight the crowds and #2 they run out of stuff so quickly! If you are early and prepared you can turn all this…

into these easy-to-make meals and partially prepared Thanksgiving dishes for your guests!!

Dressing (NOT STUFFING!) is my main dish and preparing ahead clears up a lot of room and time in the kitchen! Preparing ahead also enhances the flavor, to me!

Thanksgiving is only one day of the 4-6 days my family comes to visit for this holiday so I like to have other things prepared in advance for them! I have found making beef enchiladas ahead of time is perfect for family visits. I made several pans of enchiladas for my family. I also write the instructions for the dish on the top of the disposable pans or foil so everyone knows how to put it together just in case I get tied up with something else!

Planning ahead frees up my time to enjoy the company of my family and friends during the holidays, which is my favorite part! Here are a few suggestions for plan-ahead meals to freeze and also a “don’t make-ahead list!”

MAKE-AHEAD IDEAS to freeze:

1. Beef Enchiladas (recipe to follow)

2. Chicken Enchiladas

3. Lasagna

4. Dressing (NOT STUFFING)

5. Scalloped Potatoes

6. Breads: cornbread, biscuits, and rolls

7. Breakfast Casseroles

8. Breakfast Quesadillas (recipe to follow)

9. Soups and Stews (leave out rice or dumplings – those are best made fresh)

10. Fruit Pies

DON’T MAKE-AHEAD to freeze:

1. Custard or cream based pies

2. Chicken and Dumplings

3. Gravies of any kind

4. Salads of any kind (obviously)

RECIPES:

BEEF ENCHILADAS (Easy)

ENCHILADA PART

1.5 lbs ground beef

10 corn tortillas

1 medium onion

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

ENCHILADA SAUCE

2 heaping tablespoons crisco

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 and 3/4 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup water

1 small jar diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease rectangular foil pan 13 x 9.

Brown ground beef with onion, chili powder, garlic, onion powder and salt and pepper. Add seasoning at the end of browning for best flavor retention.

While browning meat, heat tortillas in foil in the oven so the are easily usable and don’t break. Approx. 10 min.

Fill tortilla with meat mixture and cheese. Approx. one heaping tablespoon of meat and one heaping tablespoon of cheese. Roll and place in pan seam side down. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. Place in freezer until ready to use.

FOR ENCHILADA SAUCE:

Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until slightly brown. It will be consistency of a thin paste and bubbly. Then add chicken broth, water and chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Bring to a boil. Then simmer for 10 min. Allow to cool then place in freezer safe container.

When ready to use, set out enchilada sauce in fridge for 24 hours prior to meal (or make fresh the day of.) Remove frozen enchiladas from freezer remove foil and plastic wrap, cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes covered; then uncover and bake 15 min.

Serve with corn or side salad.

BREAKFAST QUESADILLA

Flour tortillas

Eggs

Mix-ins

Butter

Breakfast meat

Cheese

These are super easy and very individualized. Scramble eggs. Shred cheese. Cook meat of choice.

Heat butter in skillet add flour tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, top with egg, choice of mix-in (mushrooms, pico, spinach, etc.), add meat, add cheese and then top with second tortilla. Flip until tortilla slightly browns and cheese melts. Allow to cool slightly. Then flash freeze (place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.) When frozen, add to zip lock bag for later use.

When ready to eat, heat in oven or toaster oven for best results! Or, simply place in microwave for 45-60 seconds.

 

Oh DEER!

Hunting season is upon us and we have been preparing FCR for hunters! We are looking forward to having our family here for this coming hunting season. I am also out of deer meat in the freezer and I have been craving fresh deep fried back-strap with mashed potatoes and gravy! YUM! (Not on my diet!)

We have been filling deer feeders with corn and antler max since the summer and we are looking for a good harvest this year.

 

We have also been adding some new stands this year. We have three new stands this year and two old ones from previous years. One we have had on our original place and an old one on the new property that we will slowly turn into Chasity’s She Shed for hunting! Because that stand has the best view and they biggest deer on the game camera! LOL. Popi and Baby Seydi have been checking the cameras pretty intently!

game camera photo

This is the new “Big Pond” stand when it was still under construction! It is just up this year! It’s going to be a cozy little hunting spot for someone!

Big pond stand

This is the beginnings of the “Creek Stand” that is now also completed! It is just past the “Willie Nelson Pond.” You know the one you have to get back on the road to get to! Right now we are calling it “1982 Willie Nelson” because the pond is over flowing after all this rain! This summer it was “1990 Willie Nelson” cause it was all dried up and broke!

creek stand

I can’t STAND it when he does dangerous stuff… or worse, makes me do it!

The mesquite stand below was the least dangerous to construct and it turned out great! Can’t wait to see it in use!

mesquite stand

All the hard work seems to be paying off, though. We caught this nice buck on the game camera!

bigbuck2

Hunting and fishing have always been a part of our lives. I remember learning to fish on Lake Murvaul in East Texas at my grandpa’s lake house. My job was to climb the catalpa “catawba” worm tree and throw the larvae down to my grandpa so we could use it as bait. The catawba worm (certomia catalpae) is actually a yellow and black looking caterpillar that turns into a brown looking moth called a hawk moth and the fish love it! Here is a little info on the catawba worm if you like:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratomia_catalpae Although, I am not sure what they are talking about pulling the head off and turning them inside out. We just put them on the hook and BAM!

My husband and I both hopefully have instilled a love of hunting and fishing in our children. I was speaking with one of my step daughters this summer and I asked her if she actually liked hunting. She said “I liked spending time with my dad, he would always make me coffee when we would go.” I then asked my own daughter if she liked hunting with her dad she said “yes, we would eat snack cakes in the deer stand.” LOL. Ok, our kids love their coffee and snacks!

I remember the excitement in the kids’ faces when they would get something! There were so many great memories with the kids.

rabbit

Hunter with his first rabbit. He was so excited! I think he killed it with a bb gun? All I remember was I had to pretend I knew how to cook rabbit because you have to eat it, right?! This was before we had internet at home and you just had to “hop” to it or call someone who knew!

Abby's first deer

Abby’s first deer was a little button buck when she was 10 years old. She had been hunting for a few years before she ever killed one. She was so excited! Now she had to help clean the deer.

Now, she had some “skin” in the game!

Tori fished all day with worms to catch this giant!

tori fishing

We do all these things to be able to get the big buck or big fish but really it isn’t about the size of the deer or fish or whatever, it is about the memories made with family and friends. It is about spending time together with your mom or dad or grandpa or uncle or aunt or whoever. I am so grateful for all the memories we have made! I look forward to making many more memories for years to come. With the recent loss of my grandfather, I hope that one day ALL our children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews will all look back at their time with us and remember the memories we have made both at the ranch and away from the ranch! I want them to remember what they learned from us and what they enjoyed with us.

Hot Damn! I can!

Well the garden is in full swing! We are collecting the fruits of our labor! We have more stuff than we can eat! So, it is time to start canning it up!

I really feel like canning is a lost art and skill! I feel a little nervous every time I do it because I am hoping no one dies from eating this if I don’t follow the step exactly! I am about three years into this and everyone is still living so that is a good sign! This week I worked on canning peppers! My husband likes it hot! Hotter than hot actually.

Last years peppers:

Me: Bryon are they too hot?

Bryon: NO!

(( I look over and he is sweating with hiccups ))

Me: Bryon? Really?

Bryon: What? they aren’t too hot. I just need to remember to use less of them next time!

My son-in-law also likes it hot too! So, I made a batch for him as well! I also threw in some banana peppers for my oldest daughter.

My advice on canning……. 1. Do it! Its a great skill to have! The food taste great fresh and it is so beautiful going into the cans! 2.Research it, we don’t want people getting sick! 3. Be careful and don’t always trust those pinterest recipes for this type of stuff.

 

-Chas

Lettuce Begin…..

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”- Audrey Hepburn

Our garden at Farnash Creek Ranch (FCR) has started to produce and we have began harvesting several of our meals. We love this time of year when you can go out to the garden and pick your dinner. The spring garden is in full swing. We have a total of four garden patches this year so we can beef up our rotational gardening program. Garden #1 is planted in peas and beans primarily to replace the nitrogen depleted by last years crop. Garden #2 is coming along nicely but not producing, yet. Garden #3 is where the action is happening right now and the one I will highlight  today. Garden #4 is still in progress but I better hurry up and get my stuff in the ground because it is getting late.

First, I would like to give a little props to that fall spinach plant that produced for us all winter even through a few pretty good frosts. It was still growing when I was planting for the spring. For a new gardener wanting to try out a few plants – spinach is easy to grow and is very versatile. We eat it raw in salads and also cook it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It grows well in containers and keeps growing after it is picked. I would suggests when planting in pots to use good quality potting soil such as miracle grow potting mix. I bought the cheap stuff one year and it turned into rock soil in the pots. Secondly, speaking from experience, there is a big different between potting mix and garden mix but the bags look exactly the same. Make sure it is potting mix.

The spring garden has really took off well after much planning and cultivating. Garden #3 has lettuce, cabbage, kale, yellow squash, cucumbers, few interspersed onions, broccoli, and cauliflower. The garden is flagged by dill and marigolds in an attempt to ward off pests.  The first thing produced was a ton of lettuce. Literally, one ton! Ok, almost a ton. This year we really concentrated on companion planting and staggered planting to keep a steady harvest and minimize pests. The lettuce loves it. I have had zero damage (knock on wood) to my lettuce from pests. I planted marigolds at the ends of the rows which I think was very beneficial or maybe our pests haven’t found them yet. Shhhhhh……. We planted butter lettuce and romaine lettuce. The butter lettuce was from seeds started in the ground and it is loving our alkaline soil! I think it is the softest most palpable lettuce I have ever put in my mouth! The romaine lettuce I started in pots and it is growing but slowly- I think my pot selection may have been too small. Luckily, we will be eating butter lettuce until the cows come home. Well really longer than that since the cows are home actually. Note, if you have not invested in a salad spinner please do so. The little device allows me to keep lettuce up to 2 weeks.

lettuce

Lettuce move on to another lettuce like plant. The Kale! The Kale has been the beauty of the garden! It is so vibrant and colorful with burst of deep green and purples. We have a little Dinosaur Kale and a ton of Red Russian Kale. This plant is also very versatile, healthy and has multiple uses. We eat it raw or cooked. This week I experimented with Kale Chips! They were delicious. This is a good healthy snack for us late night snackers! Even my son liked them. Maybe he is turning over a new leaf (he he he) since he has a brand new baby boy. May I introduce, our newest grandbaby at FCR. Holden Harrison:

Holden

Now, back to Kale. This too is an easy plant for beginners. We planted in the ground this year from seeds and they have done really well. They grow fast and are low maintenance. I have also planted some in pots and they have done really well. Although, this year the plants in the ground seem to be doing better. I have had problems in the past with not having enough to last us throughout the season. However, this year I may have over planted. So, tell me if I can send you some Kale! Also, the salad spinner works well for this too or a lettuce keeper.

LET’S GET TURNIP! These turnip greens are out of control and I love it! I have thinned them twice and was able to have a huge harvest just from thinning. The leaves were young and tender which tasted amazing. The turnips were small and I haven’t decided yet if I will roast them separately (found a delicious recipe on pinterest) or add them in with the greens. I froze the turnip part for now until I can decide. Just a side note, the turnip leaves or greens will have prickly points on the leaves so I don’t eat them raw but once they are cooked they go away and you never even knew they were there. I could eat greens at every meal. My only problems is that you can’t eat greens without cornbread and I probably shouldn’t have so much cornbread in my life. One pan won’t hurt, right?

 

We also enjoyed a great cream of broccoli & cauliflower soup & modified shepherds pie from the garden harvest! Finally, I will close with this wonderful cocktail made with fresh mint from the garden. I call it a “Barbara Bush” in honor of the recent passing of FLOTUS # 41.

Barbara Bush

It is muddled lemon juice and mint with one part Blanton’s Bourbon and one part gingerale. I know I shouldn’t mix that Bourbon with anything but i was living on the edge!

-Chas

Did you cite that recipe?

Do you cite recipes in MLA or APA? I mean it is part science and part art? Really? citing recipes? C’mon isn’t that the reason we write down recipes is to share them?

I have so many recipes that I would love to share. However, honestly I only have like three things that I make from memory or my own creation. This include chicken & dumplings, tomato gravy & biscuit, and Thanksgiving dressing.  I am sure there are other things I make from memory but part of the fun of cooking for me is making something new every time. I rarely make the same dish twice. Therefore, sharing a recipe would mean plagiarizing someones else ‘s recipe. I want to give credit where credit is due. If you crafted an Italian Manicotti from your memory or own creation that is impressive and I think you need a big WOW!

Plagiarizing recipes is a big issue these days with social media and the internet. Please see the article in Plagiarism Today (https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2015/03/24/recipes-copyright-and-plagiarism/) where they discuss Anne Thorton loosing her cooking show contract because of accusations of Recipe Plagiarism. This is really scary, as Mrs. Thorton says, because there are only so many ways to make a certain dish. According to the United States copyright guidelines (https://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html) you can list the ingredients without a problem but the issue comes with the execution. The problem is there are only so many ways to prepare a dish. For example, if you have a recipe for any type of baked chicken, typically you will bake it at about 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes depending on oven, thickness of chicken, and how juicy you like it. If you bake the chicken for less time or less temperature, it will be underdone and not fit. So, the fundamentals of most recipes will be the same. Which means plagiarizing a recipe is very easy and you can do it without even knowing.

For me, I get the majority of my recipes from Pinterest. I like using Pinterest for recipes because I can just search the ingredients I already have in the cupboard. I think it helps to have a basic working knowledge of cooking and the chemistry of ingredients to know what substitutions you can successfully use. However, we are in the information age and you can google anything. I like to make recipes that I have never made and ones where I can use stuff from my garden. It makes me feel all authentic and shit ( I mean stuff) ! I feel like I am feeding my family with love when I make something grown from my own hands and really it just tastes so much freaking better.

This week we had several tasty things! I am having nuts for dinner and this post is making me hungry but here it goes!

First, I made Baby Seydi some Granny Grub! This is a semi-original recipe. My grandmother would make this for me. Things just taste better when your grandma makes them. It is basically a fried egg (over-medium) over some cheese grits with crumbled bacon or sausage! If you are lucky enough to eat it outside that is the best way! Baby Seydi loved it!

breakfast

Next, I had a lot of spinach that needed to be cooked and I had a hankerin’ for chicken so I found this delicious recipe on Pinterest called (wait it does have an official name- I will name it) Chicken Yo Self Spinach. It’s actually a chicken, spinach, sun dried tomato and bacon dish. I had to modify this dish because I burnt the bacon – BAD! Timers are for babies or people without burnt bacon! I also used freshly shredded monterey cheese with jalepenos instead of sliced. My mother-in-law, Pat, always told me to use freshly shredded cheese because it was better and she was right! It was delicious! Here is the best picture I could get. We also had a side of parmesan zucchini! Which was scrumptious even though I shredded a little skin off my thumb into the parmesan (Just a little extra protein- right?) Just kidding!

SmotheredChicken (2)chickenmeal (2)

Over the weekend I also made a couple of Korean and Thai dishes that were not only mouth watering but healthy. The mandoline is also a very dangerous tool – use the guard! One of the dishes was a cabbage / beef stir fry. It was made with grass fed beef from the ranch! It was a steer we named “Rug” because we knew we wanted to keep his hide! I also had to modify this recipe because I ran out of Soy Sauce so I used Teriyaki sauce! I also used some fresh ginger I grew last year. Ginger is easy to grow and harvest just be patient ( I tried to throw it out like 47 times but my husband kept making me wait). I have several roots I froze last year and don’t foresee running out any time in the next couple of years! It freezes well! We had a side of Thai cucumber salad with this dish. It made for a light fresh meal for a warm spring afternoon!

cabbagestirfry and cucumbers

I tried to give credit where credit was due! The best part of cooking is watching the people you love enjoy it!

Gettin’ ReFarnash’d

britt and luke.jpg

Last week we had some visitors on the Ranch. My sister and her family came out to get ReFarnash’d! The Ranch is a great place for everyone to get rejuvenated and back to nature. Our family has had a particularly hard 2017 and we all needed to get renewed!

2017 was a season of sorrow and loss for us but we try to remember it is just a season of life that will pass. Our hearts will always be heavy for the losses we all share but we are grateful to still have each other.

My sister and our #4 daughter (Abby) share a birthday on March 13th which is usually spring break for us here in Texas. We have been so lucky to share those birthdays in such wonderful places such Ben and Jerry’s in San Francisco! But, this year we spent it on the ranch. We needed some ranch R&R or ReFarnashing! We started the day with breakfast in bed at the Frankston home before heading out to the Ranch! Lyla (my niece) and I decided she needed a big breakfast since it was such a BIG birthday!

breakfast

Then, we headed out to the Ranch. My sister and her husband did some detouring but Lyla and I headed straight for the antique stores (my choice not hers)! We had to make a few stops to get ready for the birthday celebrations. Once we arrived on the ranch we had a quick little candle blowing for the birthday girls……

abby bday.JPG

before we headed out on the new “little red wagon”!

wagon.jpg

Just kidding….. the battery was dead. So, we all headed out on the old “green mule”! Loaded with our usual Ranch Ramblers and the company of each others laughter! The next day we enjoyed a day at the Farmer’s Market picking up plants. We all spent the afternoon working in the garden getting ready for spring.

britt and chas.jpg

Lyla especially loved planting! More than anyone expected!

lyles in garden.jpg

That sounds like a fairy tale doesn’t it? We all know families are not fairy tales but they are what we make them. We all have a story but we can all choose happiness and love! We can blend families and try to help each other mend old wounds. It will take time, patience and understanding! It will take looking inside yourself and seeing things from others point of view. Nearly every visit there is a misunderstanding but on EVERY visit we are extremely grateful for the love of family and a feeling of belonging. I am so thankful to have such a beautiful and temperamental family! I guess I am the only one to blame! I would not have it any other way! Re-Farnash’d for 2018!

-C

Women in History- “Hussy”

In honor of Women’s History Month I would like to introduce one of our famous Women around here! Meet our little “Hussy”.  She is ranch legend and icon. We all know her by name and give her the due respect and caution. She makes history every year on the ranch!

Hussy.jpg

She has earned her name by always doing what she wants when she wants! She is one of those women who are always getting into trouble. She doesn’t care what the other cows and heifers think. She is not afraid of anything. She might charge or chase you if needed. She doesn’t even care what the horses think. She routinely breaks into the barn and steals the horses hay! She just bellies up to the hay bar and helps herself. She is a key player in the Bovine Women’s Suffrage movement. She is feisty and rowdy at times and always seems to find trouble. Even when she is in Bovine jail, she remains composed but fearless!

hussy in shoot.JPG

Someone advised us to not sell our ugly cows because they are good producers of calves…… and she is ugly! But, she is the best momma. She produces a calf every year and guards it with all her fury. The first calf she had we named “Baby Huey” because he was almost as big as her and he would run from the dog and hide behind her. She would charge the dog every time this happened. We later noticed that “Baby Huey” was actually female. So her name is “Baby Henrietta” now.  Good thing the ranch went Bovine transgender not too long ago. Sometimes the cows pick their gender and sometimes we do! Baby Henrietta and Hussy are both still with us and consistently produce calves that grow into food for your tables.

She reminds me of the woman in the Ashton Shepherd song “aint dead yet”. The lyrics go something like “I got a baby at home, a to do list a mile long…….its my responsibility……. I am usually in bed by nine……. BUT I STILL LIKE A COLD BEER AND A LONG DIRT ROAD”. That’s our hussy! She’s got babies on the ranch and takes care of them because its her responsibility and she usually does what she is suppose to but she still likes some GOOD HAY IN THE BARN!

We love our Hussy, but in all seriousness there are some really amazing women in ranching history. If you have not had the chance to read Texas Ranch Women: Three Centuries of Mettle and Moxie by Carmen Goldthwaite it is a great read. She talks about women in Texas Ranching history in a chronological order including ranching Giants such as the King Ranch Queen- Henrietta King. In addition to but not limited to Margaret “Peggy” MCCormick, Manuela Ramon and Patricia de la Garza de Leon. I hope you enjoy and would love your feedback on the read!

– C

It Takes a Village

You can’t always do everything yourself. It’s taken me a awhile to figure this out (mainly because I don’t listen.) Being out here on the Ranch has really opened my eyes to see that it really does take a Village to raise a family. Raising children, building fences, growing gardens, working cattle, and mucking horse stalls has honestly made me think about life in general, and how I want my daughter to be raised. We aren’t all perfect, but we are all perfect in our own way and when we come together to show our children how to be successful people, we become better ourselves.


I can’t teach my daughter everything, but I am blessed to be able to provide her with such a great support system that can teach her what I can’t. Luckily, Poppi can teach her to rope and Gramita(Leelee) can teach her to BE roped!

Sometimes you need your Gramita teaching you to ride…

And other days, you need your Poppi holding your saddle so you don’t fall!

It takes a village to build a fence in 20° weather with an 18 month old.

My point is, if you’ve got a village, keep them, and if you don’t, find one! Even if they’re a little off the beaten path, it’ll be okay! As long as the love is there you’ll have a child raised happy, smart, and LOVED!

I’ll be doing a monthly update from now on! Thanks for reading! **Sorry about the video, but if they’re gonna flaunting it, I’m gonna show it!!**

Transgender calves….??? 

This week at Farnash Creek Ranch we noticed one of our male calves sucking on a heifer’s titty. We DO NOT allow breastfeeding in public so we  immediately figured that he was sucking that titty because he really wanted to be a female calf instead of a male. We grabbed our gloves and equipment as fast as we could and threw him/her into the chute! Popi grabbed the scalpel, I grabbed the leg, and Gramita held the tail.  Popi then cut off his/her’s testicles! It seemed painless for him/her! We could see the happiness in this calves eyes, because finally he was a she! 

We have decided that at Farnash Creek Ranch our cows will tell us what gender they are and we will respect that 100% and do our best to accommodate our cattle! This coming up week we are doing at least 5 more ‘gender reassignment’ male to female! (Would be 6, but but one calve licked a ball and we guessed that meant that he wanted to keep his!)

It’s a hard life for cattle these days, but we feel that our herd will be happier picking there own genders! 

For everyone that is still reading: We did our 1st castration this week! Hopefully everyone got that I was joking throughout this post! We named him Cookie!

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