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What Does it All Mean?? Words, Sights & Experiences

Have you ever been reading along and felt like you totally understood and got the gist of what the words on the page were saying? Yep, I have too! But then you start talking with someone about what you read and they give you the look and probably a few comments expressing that you are out in left field and that what you thought you understood isn’t at all what they took away from the same piece. Yep, been there done that too!

So, how does one handle that situation and how does it come about? I am totally convinced that it is the  fault of three things either independent or comorbid with each other 1) lack of focus/ multi-tasking, 2) prior knowledge set, and perhaps what I blame the most 3) the miraculous brain that makes connections and assumptions without us even consciously knowing.

http-::mrslorber.weebly.com:
Source: Mrslorber.weebly,com
What exactly do I mean? Well, ….

  • Focus and multi-tasking: We, yes all of us, are always doing at least two things at once. We are focusing on one thing while trying to do another or trying to do two things while attempting to understand and/or listen, or we are really tuned in to one thing but the phone is ringing/ nose dripping/ radio buzzing/ or someone talking. There is always more than one thing happening! This also means that we often glance at words and assume what it says or means something.
  • Warning: This just kinda, sort of, well does connect to #3. We all have experiences. Not one of us processes each experience and set of information the same, nor have we been exposed to exactly the same experiences and information. We use these experiences to make meaning and create understanding of new situations, opportunities and information.
  • The Brain. What I can I say? It is awesome, miraculous and amazing. Sometimes it just does what it does. It can see words that “we think” are there but are really in all actuality different words. It assumes ( perhaps because of #1 or #2)  that something “says”, does or means one thing when it really is another. We skim over words and take in experiences superficially and thus the meaning we construct may not always be accurate.

So why do I write about all this? I write because as a mom, a consumer, teacher, and a farmer I need to be aware of these kind of scenarios. I need to make sure that I actually comprehend what is going on and know what I am doing, seeing, reading, experiencing etc. I figure if I need to, then a few others  probably do too.

Now, I bet you are thinking, “This is all fine and dandy, but what does she really mean?” Ok, ok. Here are some common examples….

Correlation vs. Causation. 

Correlation:  a tendency to vary together Causation:  a direct relation of cause and effect

Recommended vs. Restriction

Recommend: to advise or suggest Restriction: to stay within designated limits

Fact vs. Factoid

Fact: something that actually exists, reality, truth                                                          Factoid: Fun, false fact

Prohibit vs Outlaw

Prohibit: to forbid (by authority)       Outlaw: Exclude from the law

Guidelines vs. Directions

Guidelines: suggestion, framework, practice, indicator                              Directions: reference point, instruction, command

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Source: dreamstime.com
See, words can be confusing. We do, read, interpret within our constraints and biases. We all can do better at interpreting what is read, said, done, heard, and experienced.  It is easy to correlate something with another if given a direct and limited set of data. For example: Kids who play on the playground jungle gym get hurt.  It may be true, but how many? How often? What were the condition? Is it all kids? Are adults hurt to? Is it all jungle gyms? Can you really say that the jungle gym causes the children to get hurt or is there a simple correlation?  In another example, some would even venture to say that a certain food makes them sick. I ask, when do they get sick? How much do they eat? What are they eating with that food? Is it hot out? Has the stomach flu been going around? Are they on medications that interact with the food? Have they not eaten that food for a long time before they eat it and get sick? One may correlate the food item to a certain feeling or reaction, but without concrete evidence and eliminating all other possible influences causation cannot be made.

Same goes for the terms recommendation and restriction. Being a farmer there are a lot of different items used in planting and caring for a crop. Each seed and care product has different guidelines and directions. Often we have training to help us understand them, to help ensure that we use the products with efficacy. Many times, the human side of a trainer comes out. They don’t want to lower the hammer too harshly and they choose words that are easier on the ears and the hearts of those in attendance. Two terms that are often interchanged are recommended and restriction. It is important to make sure that the correct word is used and it directly impacts the actions taken. Recommended says that one should or it is suggested that a certain product is used a particular way. Restricted means that a product is only allowed to be used a specific way. Many times the term recommended is used because it is easier to digest, but it can have detrimental consequences.  If the label on a product says that it is restricted to a certain use at a specified quantity, then that is what is meant. Ot is not a suggestion. It is a requirement. Our words and actions impact others and can impact the livelihoods of ourselves and neighbors.

Anyway, ultimately, I wanted to remind myself and the few others out there that often float on the surface and skim though experiences and materials they read, to think about what it is that is happening, what it is that they are reading, and to take time to question the information and opportunities that we are engrossed in.

Words are tricky and our experiences and brain create miraculous meaning… it’s time we become active and help our brain understand what is really being said, done, experienced!

It’s time to engage!

Baking the Day Away

It is no secret that I like to cook and despise cleaning up after myself! Well, last week I had foot surgery and my mom came to visit and help a bit. You may be thinking, She didn’t. She didn’t make her mom clean up after her. She is almost 40 after all! No, I didn’t make my mom clean up after me, but she did allow me to make a mess along side her and volunteered to clean up so I could literally put my feet up.

I made several things…IMG_9354

  •  Apple Strawberry Rhubarb pie ( top left)
  • Peanut Butter Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola ( bars which became crumble) ( top Right)
  • Cinnamon Logs ( bottom left)
  • Pizza Dough – for breakfast pizza

These were all amazing! But the best was this bread (bottom right) that my mom has been sending pictures of for months… Bread? Really? Come on- Yes, Bread! IMG_9363

It is like an artisan bread- soft center with firm, yet chewable crust!

What makes it so amazing is that there isn’t sugar or salt? Well, there is a bit of sweetness -100% ND honey!

But really, it is the texture and natural flavors all working together that make it terrific and what will now be my “go to” recipe! Besides there being a great recipe, the secret is using a seasoned cast iron pan with a lid!

So here we go….

7 Grain Bread

FullSizeRender_1Ingredients:   3 cups bread flour, 1 cup multi-grain cereal ( I used Bob’s 5 Grain Hot Cereal), 1/3-1/2 c. flax, 1 3/4 tsp salt, 2 c. room temp water, 3 Tbs pure honey, 1 tsp instant yeast.

Supplies: 3-5 qt Cast iron pan with lid, parchment paper

Directions: Step 1) Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add honey to warm water and stir until mixed together. Step 2) Slowly add water solution to dry ingredients, mix well. ( It will be sloppy and loose). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Step 3) Flour counter to roll dough in to coat outer layer.  Cut parchment paper big enough to sit in and cover most of the inside of cast iron pot. When hour is done, take dough out of bowl and shape into round “ball”. Roll in flour on counter to coat outside layer. Place on parchment paper and lower into cast iron pot. Trim off any parchment paper that extends above the top of the pot. Cover with lid. Step 4) Bake at 425 degrees for 30 mins, remove cover and bake for 5-12 mins to get crust to turn a deep golden brown. Check ever couple minutes after the first five. Step 5) Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Lift from pan using parchment paper.

Additions: 1 c. dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, herbs ( rosemary, thyme, sage) , cinnamon, dried apricots, dried apples, raisins… possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

“Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”                                                                                                                                               –Mark Twain

Oh… Christmas Cookie

I LOVE to cook and despise cleaning up! Sometimes I get a wild hair and start cooking and baking away, not knowing if anything I end up with in the end will be good or if anyone will be around to eat it.

So what do I do in the cooking department for holiday baking? Well, it seems that I don’t do much. No real good excuses except that spontaneous cooking is much more my style and December always seems to be busy with little time for spontaneity. I do know though that I depend on almond bark! Almost everything can be coated or drizzled with it and if sprinkled or rolled in embellishments such as candy cane pieces, nuts, mini marshmallows and candy, it looks and taste scrumptious.

I also do make bars – often coloring the batter so that it is more festive. But cut-outs…. oh those cut outs… I just really struggle with them. They drive me crazy because my type A, controlling and perfectionistic personality causes me to have an quasi- panic attack. So cutouts in moderation are a must!

Last week when most of the kids at our house went downhill skiing the youngest and I were at home. She wanted to cook. So, I figured this was the perfect time for cut-outs. We made one batch of dough, cut and cooked, and then she decorated. Well, WE decorated. For you see, she still likes mom’s help when things start to get a little messy. It was a win-win for us both!

But I didn’t have any other holiday “baking” done. I hadn’t even made chocolate covered pretzels- boy was I behind! It was quiet and I had a little helper, so I figured that last Saturday was the day to try something new. With the sugar cookie recipe on the counter and my creative rarely follow a recipe cooking style in tow, I set to work. I switched out 1 stick of butter for a package of cream cheese, added a little almond extract and a bit of extra flour. They dough was tasty! So I rolled them into balls, used a cup with a grid pattern on the bottom and squashed them into what looked to be mini-pancakes and baked them for a bit…img_8147

When they were done cooking, they were a bit dull in color so an almond glaze went on top… then they were finished!

Easy, basic ingredients, tasty and enjoyed by many…. Next time I will split the dough and add color to each section. Then the cookie tray will be even more merry and bright!

 

Recipe: 

Dough: 3 1/2 half flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup white sugar, 1 stick butter, 1- 8 oz pkg cream cheese, 1 egg, 1 TBSP milk, 1 TBSP almond extract

Glaze: 4 TBSP powered sugar, 1 TBSP water ( or about) and a Tsp of Almond Extract. Mix until smooth and drizzle/ spread thin layer over top of cookies.

Preheat over to 350. Measure and mix dry ingredients- set aside. Mix butter, sugar,egg, milk, almond extract until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients until mixed well and a ball of dough is formed. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet. Roll dough into 1-2 inch balls, flatten and bake for about 7 minutes. They will be pale in color, check bottom- slightly golden is perfect!

Let sit for 2-5 minutes.

Add glaze and eat!

 

 

 

 

 

A Bag of Beans and More….

As I started making chili the other night, I wish I had taken a few minutes to soak some our farm raised Pinto Beans before heading off to work. I didn’t, so I used canned beans. Then I got to thinking, Beans…. who eats pinto, black, kidney, and white beans?  I always thought that beans were a sign of economic status- aka poverty. Meal kits and food baskets from food pantries and government food programs always provide and push eating them because they were cheep and nutritious- right? Is this true or my thoughts based on ignorance? And what are a bag of beans saying today?

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Pinto Beans

My thoughts then traveled through various memories. I reflected on the years when I was starting school. I remember money being tight. I remember my mom making some of our clothes and hand making Valentine’s – (how embarrassing). Often we ate scrambled hamburger and buttered noodles or a consisting of a canned soup, rice and a meat. I remember having pea soup made from a bag of 59 cent split peas, a bit of chicken broth, and a bay leaf. I remember swapping clothes with relatives and the “new to us” items.  During the same time I know that we received free or reduced lunch and I had to tell my teacher once that I couldn’t the pay the $3.50 field trip fee. Times were tight and tough. So, why do I share this back story? Because these experiences of homemade, a bags of beans and peas, and second-hand items still exist, but in many cases they carry very different meaning and value today than 30 years ago.

My thoughts then traveled through various memories. I reflected on the years when I was starting school. I remember money being tight. I remember my mom making some of our clothes and hand making Valentine’s – (how embarrassing). Often we ate scrambled hamburger and buttered noodles or a hotdish consisting of a canned soup, rice and a meat. I remember having pea soup made from a bag of 59 cent split peas, a bit of chicken broth, and a bay leaf. I remember swapping clothes with relatives and the “new to us” items.  During the same time I know that we received free or reduced lunch and I had to tell my teacher once that I couldn’t the pay the $3.50 field trip fee. Times were tight and tough. So, why do I share this back story? Because these experiences of homemade, a bags of beans and peas, and second-hand items still exist, but in many cases they carry very different meaning and value today than 30 years ago.

img_7546Trends have made the idea of homemade and rustic fashionable. Beans have become the alternate protein and highlighted in high-end restaurants and magazines. Online rummage sales and second-hand stores are popping up all the time. Fads and trends made popular with the influence of a few with people with some previlence of social status have made my experience of the less fortunate or financial challenged into the best “new” practices.

So, what do I think? I think the trend is great! Why? It encourages support for products that often went to the way side. It encourages creativity. It looks at options and provides variety. It can help people save money and potentially reduced stigma for the scenarios and people who have lived in the darkness of being less fortunate or going trough tough times.

Depite what I see as the cutain in which I hid behind and was emabarrassed of I see an open door of new chances. I have embraced this. I am working to help my children embrace this and help others see that what was doesn’t always have to be and some trends and fads are fabulous opportunities to break free! img_7542
Take time and visit a local second-hand store. Look up a quick bean recipes ( hint: many freezer meals include beans!). Have you thought of making your own halloween costume or birthday cards? A little bit of homemade and refurbished shows love and interest. Give it a try! Besides isn’t saving a few bucks, using your imagination and spending time with family making a few things something we can all do a little more of?

Do We Eat What We Grow? 

There are a lot of different crops grown in North Dakota. Our farm changes what we grow each year a little, but always raise corn, soybeans, and wheat. This year we also raised field peas and pinto beans.

So, that all sounds like food- do we eat it?

Yes and no.

When we grow a crop, we decide the type of seed that we are going to raise based on the growing conditions given to us (short growing season, moisture, and soil type). Most of the crops we are able to raise on our farm are not sold into the food market.

Our crops are used for the following…

Corn: ethanolimg_4162

Soybeans: oil, plastics, insulation, crayons, livestock feedimg_7431

Wheat: flour

img_7430-1

Field peas: livestock,  food aid for foreign countries 

Pinto beans: food- refined beans, canned beans, fast food market 

So back to the question “Do we eat the food we raise?.

We eat the field peas in pod right out of the field when they are plump and bright green. We eat the pinto beans once dry and combined in soups, chili and as homemade refried beans.

img_2683The other crops we do nimg_7437ot eat directly. With that said, we do eat the some of our corn, soybeans, and dried peas in the form of beef, pork, chevon as a result of the cattle, pigs and goats eating them ground as feed.

Additionally, we raise an acre of sweet corn and eat as much as we can when it is ripe. Most of the time we don’t even cook it- it’s shuck and eat for us!


In a Pickle

Good food is a passion of mine! Trying new things and / or  preparations keeps life interesting! So, when it came to seeing fried pickles in a menu- it was a no brainer- 1 order please! 

Pickles…. Are they really that big of a deal? Yah kinda! Sweet, spicy, refrigerator, garlic-ed… And then there is soggy – YUCK! 

Anyway, pickles are one of favorites. We ate jar after jar hanging out into the weeeee hours of the weeknights in the halls of the college dorm. When I get a craving for something sweet , it is a pickle I try to munch. And then there was the relish tray at every holiday gathering… Olives and crunchy pickles! 

So I had to try the fried pickles! Now there are two kinds- breaded or rolled in egg roll wrappers! The egg roll wrappers are the winner in my book! 

When you find a winner- why only have them for special occasions, right? Why not make them yourself for a snack or maybe on a day like today- for lunch! 

What do you need:

1 package egg roll wrappers

2 slices of Havarti cheese per roll

Clausen pickle spears- 1 per roll

Vegetable oil

Directions: 

Place on wrapper on counter so it looks like a diamond. Place 2 pieces of cheese just off center so they are slightly closer to you. Dry off the pickle spear and cut to the width of the cheese. Lay pickle on top of cheese. 


Wet the four corners of the wrapper. Fold corner closest to you over the top of the pickle and cheese. Fold/ tuck the sides like a burrito, the roll .
 Repeat until all wrappers are done!
Pour oil in a deep frying pan until about 1″ deep. Heat until oil sputters when when small drops of water are dropped. Gently place rolls in oil 3-4 at a time. Flip after about 90 secs or golden brown. Cook for 90 secs again. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to cool a bit. 


Cut in half and enjoy! 

GMO Labeling

There is steady chatter about labeling GMOS. Quite frankly I do not believe that it is going away anytime soon.

Chatter is one thing, but chatter about something that is not understood is another.

Right now there is the reality that food items will be labeled with a national QR code where if a consumer really wants to know more about the product they can scan it. This would be a national standard with a uniform symbol and unified information- not a patchwork. If there has to be a label, I can live with this, but it still sends my head spinning!

Spinning? Really? Is that really how I feel about this? Not happy! Why? Not for reasons you may think. I have no concerns over crops that are genetically modified being used, therefore I feel a label is unnecessary. I feel the general consumer has developed fear of the unknown and not taken to understand the process and is reacting to a marketing ploy.

Now before you scream, “what?” Or”this lady is crazy”, let me explain.

Labels of this nature signal that there is a safety concern. The longevity of research and approval by not only the USDA, FDA, and the EPA clearly states that there are no safety concerns. The process used in breeding plants, and thus seeds, is complex and time consuming, but simply boils down to replicating a process of resistance or tolerance that occurs naturally out in the environment, the Eco-system, over long periods of time. Several companies use this technology, it is not just one.

There is more research and approval given to the seeds I have available to choose from, then many of the medicines, dietary supplements, and vitamins you have in your cupboards, can purchase on the shelves, or get with a prescription. Just look at the labels and see which ones say “approval by FDA or USDA pending” or “statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA]”. Yet, we buy them without flinching. Why? Because someone told us they would do something for us, solve an ailment, or maybe even make us skinny!

FullSizeRender (11)

As a farmer, I am thankful for the availability of technology used and the research that goes into each seed we choose to use. Are we forced to plant a genetically modified seed-NO! Do we choose to plant them- YES, when it is the right decision. If a particular seed will allow me to reduce tillage and potentially pesticide and herbicide it is worth my consideration. If I can care for the soil by preserving its organic matter and reducing compaction, genetically modified seeds are worth my consideration.

So, I ask, why label something that has not risks, that isn’t a “thing” but a process. If we label this, then do we need to label all breeding techniques? Identifying genetic traits and breeding plants, thus seeds, is science, it’s nature, and it is something that advancement in technology and precision makes possible in a controlled setting, reducing variables and drastically cutting down on time- decades to be exact. We demand genetic identification of traits for disease, deformities, and cures for ailments; yet want to deny it when it comes to development in sustainability, preserving resources, and fiscal responsibility.

So, why label? Is it needed? Do we really even understand all “those” cute little designs, codes, etc? Do we really even know how to read or use the codes and pictures already on the package?

I do believe that a label for GMO’s is a waste and used for marketing, companies gaining a profit by protruding fear to the millions who have not idea what it means but that it must be bad because a product says “it doesn’t contain”, even if it never had a chance of it having it in the first place.

To label or not that is up to you- you have a right to your own opinion,  but will it really make a difference? Will you take time to understand what it means?

I encourage you to take minute to do a little more research:

Read an article by Mark Lynas, a former non- supporter of GMOs: http://www.marklynas.org/2016/07/time-compromise-gmo-labelling/

Watch a short video “What is a GMO?”

And visit the website below: 

https://gmoanswers.com/

or if all else fails ASK A FARMER or find a farmer at :  http://www.askthefarmers.com/

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