She Crab Soup

Dining-Rivah-Fare-She-Crab-SoupHave you ever thought about how you have made the friends and relationships in your life? I have.

As I was making a pot of crab soup this morning for the upcoming Soup-Off Contest at my local farmers market,  I thought about the people I have met throughout my life and how they have made footprints in my life. For instance, the soup recipe is from a couple in Maryland my family are friends with.

About 5 years ago I met Cecil and Michelle. My parent’s had decided that they were going to sell our family farm and purchase another one closer to Springfield, Mo. As soon as they put the farm up for sale, people were visiting from all over the county to look over the farm. There were people from California, Florida, Colorado, New York…I was amazed by the response.

But while all this was happening my parents were having their doubts about their choice to sell. I was unhappy about the decision from the get go. The family farm meant the world to me. Every childhood memory I had steamed from those hills, trees, creeks, barns, cattle, the swimming hole, dirt roads, fences and the “love tree.”

The “love tree” you ask? This is a very special place on my parent’s farm. My niece named this tree. The love tree is on the largest hilltop on my parent’s farm. It overlooks the entire farm, stock and barns. On this very special hilltop my husband proposed to me in 2002. We engraved our initials in this tree, and that is why my niece calls it the “love tree.”

Every memory of mine is wrapped into our family farm. So, when a couple from Maryland came for a visit (Cecil and Michelle) and decided to make an offer on my parents farm that matched my father’s asking price…..I became very worried!

This was the first buyer that asked the full asking price. Would my parent’s sell? Would I loose my hill country? Would I ever see our love tree again? Would I never be able to take my kids to the farm?

I met Cecil and Michelle and they were a wonderful couple. They had decied to move from Maryland to the Ozarks to escape the big city life and move their family to the country. They always wanted to have a farm and timber and they loved my parent’s farm.

For about four months the couple made frequent visits to our farm, as they were trying to sell their business in Maryland. During that time my parents and the couple became very good friends.Then one day my father called me and asked me, “Lane how would you feel is we didn’t sell the farm?” Although my father knew the answer to this question I gave him an answer. “That would be the best news in the world, dad.”

My parents after many months of “to sell or not to sell” had decided to remain on our Ozarks farm. But the friends they had made, Cecil and Michelle, did purchase a farm about 20 minutes from my parents and the couple remains close family friends of ours.

It’s experiences like these that bring all different types of people into our lives. My friends stem from Charolais cattle breeders, former FFA’ers, college friends, overseas experiences, co-workers, local Mid-Mo friends, local fishermen, many ag-related groups I serve on….all these experiences and relationships shape our lives and the individuals we become. I am thankful to have met so many wonderful people throughout my life like Cecil and Michelle an others.

Here is a crab soup recipe that Michelle passed on to my mother and me. It is way too easy to be as good as it is! Today I made the soup with fresh blue crab meat that my friend, Larry Burt, the owner of Big Pop’s Louisiana Seafood hooked me up with.  Let’s hope the soup fetches me a prize at the Soup-Off tomorrow.

Cream of Crab Soup
By Michelle
(This makes a very large batch. I usually cut it in half, unless I’m serving it for a party.)
6 cans of cream of celery soup
2 quarts half and half
1 stick of butter
1 lb. of crabmeat (if using canned crab meat 4-5 (6 oz) cans)
A bag of steamed broccoli florets
1 ½ tsps. of Old Bay seasonings (found in the spice area in your local grocery store)
2 T. garlic powder
3T. dry mustard powder

Put everything except the crabmeat and broccoli into a large pot. Bring ingredients to a slow simmer for 25 minutes. Be sure to stir quite often. Meanwhile, steam your broccoli florets and when steamed chop coarsely.

After the soup mixture has simmered for 25 minutes, place crabmeat and broccoli in pot and simmer till the mixture is thick enough for your own taste. Garnish with any white cheese and oyster crackers.* After I add the crabmeat and broccoli I usually only simmer the soup for another 10 minutes and then remove it from the heat.

Know Your Roots

Know Your Roots

My husband’s mother, Josefa, is from Madrid, Spain. Charlie’s family all still resides in Spain and we were lucky enough to go and visit them some years ago (that is why Charlie and I look so young…this was BEFORE we had wee ones).

We spent three weeks touring across Spain and I’m looking forward to a visit again soon. I was thankful to be apart of the real culture there, as we stayed outside of Madrid with Charlie’s family and no one spoke English (which was interesting at times). We had our own tour guides, as Charlie’s Uncle Andres drove us all over and we enjoyed the family environment found at the local bars.

Three foodie teachings I picked up in Spain that are now incorporated in my food “Must Haves” include: Anchovy Stuffed Olives, Prosciutto and Paella. The olives are a MUST HAVE in your pantry.  Perfect light meal option with some cheeses, crackers and sliced apples…and of coarse a local wine pairing for one of Missouri’s great wineries.

Find these items and more at the Global Market on S. Grant Street in Springfield, Mo., or order online through Latienda.

Chewbeads…A Must for Any Mommy

Chewbeads...A Must for Any Mommy

There are always new gizmos and baby gadgets to choose from, and for the most part, I stick to the basics. I mean they’ve worked for years and for many mommies before me, why not?

Teething…it’s hard stuff. On mommy, daddy, baby and siblings. All you want to do is take away the pain and help the little one through it quickly and painlessly. With my son frozen washcloths were the ticker. I would have at least 4 frozen in the freezer and we would switch off when one would loose it’s icy cold effect. But, with Cora – she hates frozen washcloths.

I tried everything for her to naw on, but nothing seem to pleased her…until the Chewbeads I ordered online (from the suggestion of my friend Lindsay) arrived in the mail.

I will always give credit, when credit is due…and these Chewbeads have been not only a lifesaver for the teething trials, but a fun toy to also help Cora with her grasp and reach.

Chewbeads are trendy jewelry that mommy can wear and baby can enjoy! I highly suggest putting it on your gift registry if you are expecting or if you are looking for a great mommy-to-be gift.

The Ins and Outs of Homemade Baby Food

Baby food pureeWhen I told folks I was going to make my own homemade baby food..they laughed. “Yeah, we will see how much time you have for that after the baby comes…” Mind over matter people! This was back in 2010, when my now 3-year-old son, Caston, was ready to begin solids.  He NEVER ate any jarred baby food and now I’m on my second little bundle of joy, Cora, and she’s just started on solids.

Well, come on over to my house and see the bags of baby food I’ve made over the past couple weeks – in a very short amount of time I might add. Only the best for Cora!

I choose fresh vegetables mostly (again another reason I love my job).  Foods that I can’t find locally, I choose the frozen counterparts.  I started buying a lot of products at the farmers market in August and started making Cora’s food and just placed the prepared food in the deep freeze.
Why local food for my baby?  I look at it this way…why wouldn’t I want my baby to have the freshest most nutritious food? Plus, have you smelled some of that jarred baby food- YUCK! I wouldn’t eat it, now will I make my kids.

I made sweet pea puree the other day and looked at how brightly colored the peas were. The jarred stuff looks like a brown-green color and I’ve never known a baby to like peas. Well, mine does! It’s hher favorite thus far.

I’m also making sure Cora has an adventurous palate by incorporating things like avocado, salmon, pumpkin, butternut squash and even kale. I think kids are picky eaters bc they aren’t shown how fun food is!  Caston is an incredible eater and love fruits and vegetables…I think in part to all tasty and diverse foods he was introduced to at an early age.

Plus, making your baby’s homemade food is not only healthier and tastier-you save money! Trust me on this and read this.

If you are interested in making your own baby food check out these resources.  These were sources that I have used in the past and still look back at from time to time.
Cookbook: So Fresh
Once a week I take about an hour and make a couple batches of baby food and freeze the food in ice cube trays and some freezer cups. At lunch and dinner I just pull out different bags of food and thaw it in the microwave.  Simple as that.  And when I’m on the go, I place a couple cubes in travel cups and put them in a insulated lunch box.

I whole-heartily believe this is the best food for your baby….no preservatives and additives- just fresh and healthy food!  Give it a shot, you will be so happy you did this for your baby!  Recipes to come…

When Life Throws You Jalapeños, Make Jelly

2825087645_e2bba05dd6One special homemade gift my mother and I enjoy making together is Jalapeno Jelly. We always have plenty of Jalapenos from the garden and it seems like we always have to find something to do with them.  Plus, I have this amazing job that gives me quite the hook-up on local produce at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks.

Making jelly isn’t as difficult as most believe- it’s actually quite simple. Just be sure and wear gloves when preparing the peppers so your hands aren’t burning for a week.  And yes…they will burn for a week – trust me on this! And whatever you do, don’t touch your eyes without throughly washing your hands, or-you-will-be-sorry.

This jelly makes a perfect holiday gift for neighbors and friends. Serve this jelly with a cream cheese topped cracker for your holiday gatherings! Simple and easy appetizer.

Jalapeno Jelly
Yields: about 5 half pints
from mom

¾ lb jalapeno peppers (or more if you want more heat)
2 pouches liquid pectin
2 c. cider vinegar (divided)
6 c. sugar
Green or red food coloring

Wash peppers; drain. Remove stems and seeds. Puree peppers and 1 c. vinegar and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Stir constantly.

Stir in liquid pectin and return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, while continuing to stir.

Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary. Stir in a few drops of food coloring of choice. Ladle hot jelly into jars in a boiling water canner.

NOTE: When cutting and seeding the peppers, wear rubber gloves to prevent hands from being burned.

Don’t know how to can? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Check out the University fo Missouri Extension website for info on how to can.

Mother’s Love: Adjusting to Two

Mother's Love: Adjusting to Two

They are both pretty beautiful, aren’t they? My mother and Lil Miss (my nickname for Cora) are quite the pair. At Thanksgiving while my mother and I were rolling out pie crusts and preparing the 20 pound fresh turkey I purchased from a local grower I, confessed to her how I was really adjusting to having two little wee ones.

“Mom, it’s mentally and physically draining,” I said. She laughed and said, “Boy isn’t that true. But – enjoy them, they are only this little once.”

She’s right, they are only little for a little while, however, there are the days when the tantrums, the crying and the non-exsistent listening skills are all too much and I’m ready to throw my hands up. Then, there’s the times where Caston calls me his “cupcake”and gives me one of those great big toddler messy kisses or when Cora gets so excited she’s done something new like experienced the taste of blueberries…and then I know that being a mommy is God’s truest gift.

What I’ve Learned Since Becoming A Mommy:

  1. I have the most awesome husband in the world! He is patient, kind, loving and incredibly supportive. He is my rock, my best friend and my soulmate that God gave to me to live an amazingly blessed life.
  2.  I can still function (well kinda) on no sleep and mini power naps.
  3.  My house doesn’t have to be spotless clean all the time and it probably will never will again. And, I’m okay with that.
  4.  I can’t fix/cure all of the reasons why my kids cry or do the things they do at times. They are kids and just when you think you have them pegged – they will show you that you don’t.
  5.  I never imagined I would be so deeply in love with my babies. When they are in pain, I feel it. When they are sad, I am empathic with them. When I make them laugh, my heart fills with joy.
  6. You have to ask for help from others! This one I never learned with Caston, but when baby Cora came along I had no choice.
  7. Don’t feel bad about sleeping when the kids sleep. You deserve it! I take naps with my kiddos quite frequently and it makes me a better, well-rested mommy. Plus, when Caston wakes up and puts his arms around me and tells me what a great mommy I am and kisses me…makes it even more worth it.
  8. It’s ok to cry- hormones are wacky, crazy things!
  9.  Remember to take time to reconnect with the hubby each night. Very, very, very important. We can get so catch up into everyday life, we forget about each other. We try and have a date night once a month, even if that means going out to eat (without the kids) and having a glass of wine and just talking…uninterrupted.
  10. I should have enjoyed those sleepy Saturday mornings while I had them. Once the kiddos come, goodbye to “sleeping in.” Although, you can con the hubby into letting you sleep in every once in awhile.
  11. No matter how much I read about babies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, childcare, sickness remedies, discipline, milestones – I still won’t know everything! Books can’t teach you it all, sometimes you just have to dive in and either sink or swim!
  12. I am internally grateful for the scarifies and love that my parents have shown me through the years! I think about all the sassing and eye rolling I did as a young girl and now looking at my daughter I know its coming…
  13.  Some people think they know everything about raising babies- when really they don’t know squat. But, just smile when they give you advice and go on about your business. It’s just not worth it!
  14.  There’s a major difference in Pampers and Huggies diapers- I will never buy Huggies ever again.
  15. It never gets old watching your babies sleep so peacefully in your arms. And those little noises they make are priceless.
  16.  Spit-up happens…so does pee and poop. Thank goodness for great cleaning products and washers/dryers.
  17.  Dreft laundry detergent is my all-time favorite smell.
  18.  Babies won’t be babies forever- so enjoy the snuggle time while you can.
  19.  Always give yourself at least 15 minutes longer to get ready to go anywhere.
  20.  Little boys…let them be boys. Sword fighting, Light Sabers, pop guns, running (everywhere), fishing, frogs, snakes, dirt (lots of it), peeing outside and being proud they can aim (yep that’s right) and don’t forget to be the mom that gets dirty with them.
  21.  If you plan on having a girl, start saving now because Etsy will make you go broke if you don’t watch it. Little girls have to have all the accessories, they -just- HAVE- to.
  22.  Make your own baby food – forget that jarred stuff. Homemade baby food is so much better for your babies, as is the taste. Buy local products at the market when it’s in season. Your baby will thank you later on!
  23.  Get Silver Dollar City Season Passes (if you live in 417 land). Best family trips with the kids and our friends. It’s cheap entertainment and there is so much to do. Go through the week, you’ll have the entire park to yourself. Whatever you do…make sure you take your kids at Christmas. The lights, parade, good eats and HUGE tree on the square are always a must every time we go.
  24.  If you keep your patience, so will they. We’ve learned that no matter what Caston does wrong, if we keep it together, so does he. Which makes the discipline much easier- on all of us.
  25.  Be on the same team with your spouse. Whatever discipline method you use in your house- be consistent.
  26.  Pee…it happens. Potty training can be stressful, if you let it be. Follow your little ones cues and never push them.
  27.  Take tons of photos! I am that mom that is always taking photos, because I had a mom that did the same. You will be glad you did later on, and so will your kiddos.
  28.  Cook with your kids and give them chores. Caston loves cooking with me. It’s like his own classroom in the kitchen at times with the measurements, counting, colors and using utensils. And, don’t be afraid to have young children have chores. Caston is excellent at setting the tables, putting away plastic bowls, cleaning the table…make them involved.
  29.  Read. Read. Read. Story time is a very special time for you and your children. Make it part of your routine.
  30.  Give yourself a break! You won’t be perfect every day. You will cry, loose your temper, forget things, have moments where you simply don’t know what to even say…but remember your wee ones love you and in their eyes you are the most incredible person on earth.

And, as my mother said, “Enjoy them while they’re young.”

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