Welcome to What I Served Saturday.   It’s just a weekly list of what meals I served my family, and I post it every Saturday.

I was able to take two nights off this week as part of our mini-vacation at the Central Plains Dairy Expo.  I just love the Brazilian Grill in Sioux Falls.  My husband isn’t the biggest fan but the meal was free!  The company that sells our dairy a vitamin and mineral mix takes all their clients out once a year.  Lots of meat and great conversation.

March 30, 2013

Sunday — Ham Sandwich

Monday — Pork Roast and Potatoes

Tuesday — Appetizers at Dairy Show

Wednesday — www.carnavalbraziliangrill.com/

Thursday — BBQ Meatballs

Friday — Herb-Marinated Pork Chops and sweet potatoes

Saturday — Slow-cooked Swiss Steak


Lots of Learning (and a photo op with Phil Vassar)

In February and March, we dairy farmers attend a lot of meetings.  Some meetings are to take care of business, some are to motivate, and others are to learn.  This week, I attended 2 fantastic events full of learning.

On Friday, I attended the AgStar Women’s Conference in Fulda.  What is AgStar, you ask?  AgStar, to many farmers, is the place to get a loan.  My son refers to their office as the money store.  Anyway, we had 2 speakers.  The first was Jolene Brown, CSP (which means Certified Speaking Professional) from West Branch, Iowa.  These are the take-away messages for me:

1.  Don’t cry over spilled milk.  Clean it up.  (take responsibility)

2.  There’s no right way to do a wrong thing.  Also, an ethics test for absolutely anything you do:  Is it legal?  If I did it, what would my family and friends think?  What if it is on the headlines of the local paper?

3.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it.  (I suppose especially in drought-stricken times.)

4.  When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

From her stories, I know she has helped a ton of families work out differences and make a plan when generations of families are trying to work together in a business.  For more info, visit www.jolenebrown.com.  Just last week she posted her mantra on Facebook:  “The way you honor the family is by doing the business right. If not, at the end of the day, you will have neither family nor business.”    Do you agree?

Next at the seminar, was Staci Martin, Director of Legislative Affairs for AgStar.  She encouraged us to be a strong voice for the things that matter to us.  She gave tips on how to contact your legislator and make your opinion heard.  Something she repeated often was that, when speaking to an elected official, in 30 seconds, you need to say who you are, why you are there, and why you care.  30 seconds may be all the time you get.

It was a great day of learning and laughing along the way.  Shout out to Aunt Sue for watching Liv and Ava!

On Tuesday, my family headed to the Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  http://centralplainsdairy.com/  We attended a welcome reception with hors d’oeuvres.  And then a Phil Vassar concert, all complimentary to dairy producers.Image

My parents arrived shortly after the concert, so I went to meet them in the hotel lobby.  As we were riding up the glass elevator, we spotted Phil eating at the hotel bar.  So, of course, I tracked him down for a photo!  Just for all my blog readers.


He has co-wrote songs for several country music artists including “My Next Thirty Years”, “Little Red Rodeo” and “Right on the Money”.    I really enjoy the song he wrote and sang “Just Another Day in Paradise”.

Ava loves music and did enough clapping for the entire crowd.



CEO of Select Sires, David Thorbahn

We stayed overnight.  The next morning (while Joe took the kids swimming, bless his heart), my dad and I attended a prayer breakfast that served as the official opener for the trade show.    We listened to a dairy farmer, David Hansen from Irene, South Dakota.  He and his family started a mission named “Helping Hands for Haiti”.  Then, the keynote speaker, David Thorbahn gave a message “Agriculturalists:  Called to Feed the World”.

Here are my take-aways:

1.  A Chicken Christian:  One who believes that if they go to church each Sunday and sit in a pew, they are a Christian.  It is the same as a person sitting in a chicken coop once a week and thinking they are a chicken.

2.  The Bible is the best business manual you can get.  It will help you learn to run your business, alleviate stress, work with people, manage money, etc.

3.  We all work so many hours that we can’t deny the importance of taking God to work.  (This will tie in nicely with my Youth Group lesson tonight.)

Now, on to the trade show.  Maybe I need to learn less so my blog posts become shorter!  Hundreds of booths to learn more about various products and tools of the trade, several different break-out sessions to choose from, and dairy farming friends to catch up with along the way.


I attended this break-out session.  We talked about how crucial it is to make cows as comfortable as possible, especially around the time of giving birth.

Tons of give-aways, not to mention all the cheese and ice cream you care to eat.


Gotta have a stroller!


Starbuck’s mocha for free? Okay, you twisted my arm.




Chocolate fountain!

The day ended with a terrible belly-ache for Vince (too much ice cream).  We all had tired feet.  My husband had some new information on lighting for the dairy, among a ton of other things.  Ava was still day-dreaming about the music concert.  Each year there is a breaking point where Joe and I look at each other and say, “Never again.  We are going without kids next year.”   Perhaps, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and my memory tends to forget the stressful times.   I already can’t wait until next year.


Hello!  Welcome to What I Served Saturday!  Each Saturday, I’ll post a list of the meals we have eaten the previous week.  I’m not a fancy cook and I rarely make complicated things with search-to-the-ends-of-the-earth, impossible-to-find ingredients.  However, I do try to be prepared and have a plan so we can enjoy our evenings together.   You may notice I don’t list fruits or vegetables.  I assure you that I do serve them, but it isn’t much of my planning as I just buy whatever is on sale and looks appealing when I’m shopping.  If you have any questions about any of the meals, fire away!  P.S.  The corned beef and cabbage was NOT a thumbs-up from the kids.

March 23, 2013

Sunday — Bacon-Wrapped Ribeye, Twice-Baked Potatoes

Monday —  Corned Beef, Cabbage (not planned, but I appreciate a sale)

Tuesday — Chicken Parmesan, Rice

Wednesday — Beef Roast, Slow-cooked potatoes

Thursday —  Chicken Potpie (one last time until next fall!)

Friday — Tacos

Saturday — Chili with Fritos

Why I’m Not Rah-Rah for Raw Milk

I know some people who are rah-rah for raw milk.  Raw milk — meaning that it hasn’t been pasteurized by heating to 161 degrees F for 15 seconds — is a subject that often comes up when giving a tour of our dairy.  Some people believe that consuming raw milk has health benefits (such as believing it will strengthen the immune system or cure asthma).  Also, at a recent MOPS meeting, one mom expressed that she just didn’t like the government regulating such stuff.  Lastly, if dairy farmers drink it, why can’t everyone?

Here’s what I figure:

No study has ever proven milk is better for you if not pasteurized.  Lots of people have studied it, but there isn’t a single peer-reviewed and accepted study that shows it.  Conversely, the Centers for Disease Control has concluded that “pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk”.  Milk always provides 9 essential nutrients (calcium, Vitamin D, riboflavin, phosphorous, protein, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, and niacin).  Perhaps the strong advocates and believers are experiencing a placebo effect.  Perhaps I can’t convince the strong advocates that they should change their ways, but this statistic scares me enough that I thought I should share:  From 1998-2008, the CDC identified 86 outbreaks related to raw milk, accounting for 1,676 illnesses, 191 hospitalizations and 2 deaths.  I wonder how many people got sick and were too ashamed to admit it.  Check out this link (http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/) to meet some real people who suffered big time.

Now, let’s talk about the government regulating stuff.  Well, it happens.  I think I am blessed to live in the Unites States which has the safest food supply of anywhere in the world.  Pretty cheap, too.  Perhaps if we all had a chance to reside in a different area of the world for a few years we would appreciate the government caring for our safety more.


Do you know a dairy farmer that drinks milk?  Well, you do know me!  Both my husband and I grew up drinking raw milk.  We get paid a lot less for our milk than what we are charged at the grocery store, and so it was simple economics.  (My mom says that when we were very young, she used to pasteurize it on the stove for us.)  Currently, my family drinks raw milk on occasion (when we have unexpected guests that drank all of our store-bought or a strange reason I can’t or didn’t buy any in town).  Does this make me a hypocrite?  I suppose it does.  We have never gotten sick from it and most dairy farmers will agree to this reasoning — we are exposed to these bacteria all the time.  Sometimes caring for animals involves getting dirty.  By dirty, I don’t mean dirt I mean manure.  Our kids climb on gates and the heifers lick their outstretched hands.  My kids pet the cat that was just meandering her way through the heifer yard (see above photo from last week).  We are just exposed to these bacteria all the time and have developed enough resistance.  Does that make any sense?

Thanks for reading!  I just worry about consumers that jump on bandwagons without doing their research first.  I’m not a cheerleader shouting rah-rah, but I do want to lead you to greater knowledge of your food!  For more info, check out these links:




Ah yes, my friends, I finally figured out how to do a link.  Yeehaw!

We decided winter is over

At our local MOPS group, we hosted a fantastic speaker last week. Her name is Elizabeth Hagen and she is a professional organizer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She’s fabulous. Full of energy, she motivates without being intimidating. I had heard her speak prior to this event, but it was again engaging and thought-provoking. One of the take-home messages for me was to ‘make decisions and move forward’. Well, she worded it more eloquently and catchy, but I transferred the thought from organizing (which I may write more about my successes and woes later) to changing seasons.

Today was the last day of winter. I decided so, and we’re moving forward into spring! Here’s the list:

1. I told Vince he can leave his snowboots and snowpants at school. I always had been making him wear them on the bus in the morning, fearing he will be frozen all day from sitting on a cold bus seat. And who can stand the thought of a first-grader with cold, wet feet all day? Vince was thrilled because, apparently, all the town kids in his class NEVER have to take their boots and snowpants home. Live it up, Vince, I’m finally the cool mom.

2. The mantel definitely needed refreshing. I don’t really like to dust; I prefer to wipe clean and wow, it was needing it.

Winter sports theme.

Winter sports theme.

The sled was a find at a neighbor’s auction this past summer. $7.50. I think I got some extra junk to go with it, but still worth it. The ski poles were something Farmer Joe and I found in our grainery nearly 10 years ago. We had placed them up in the rafters and they were still there. A little bit of history. I found the ice-skates this winter at our largest local thrift store, Bibles for Missions. I paid $10 for them, which seemed steep, but all the proceeds go to buy Bibles for missionaries (you would have never guessed THAT from the name), so I justified the purchase. The lady at the register smiled at Liv as we bought them and asked, “Is Mommy going to go skating with you?”. I informed her that they were just for my mantle and she raised her eyebrow.


Can you see the mischief in her eyes?

Liv is a packrat and had received these ribbons from a purging aunt last Easter. I tucked them away a year ago and, sure enough, she was absolutely delighted to see them again. Do you like her style?


Is it too empty? I do appreciate simplicity.

And here’s the Easter Theme!! Skipped right over Valentine’s Day and St. Patricks! My intentions had been spring things in general, but I was stuck. I have had the Go Fish song, “It’s about the Cross’ (www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyR0lwO-nXc) stuck in my head for some time. I asked Liv if we could make a cross and she thought that was fantastic. So spring transformed into Easter and I’m glad it did. I began to wonder if we had any wood in our old hoghouse or grainery, but then I thought to check first behind the freezer. Isn’t that where you check for random pieces of wood?


A leftover piece of trim from when we moved this very old door during basement remodeling. Painted off-white, but where the paint is flecking off you can see that it was turquoise. I love turquoise, even if barely there!

We headed outside in search of a saw. Ava was thrilled. She is nearly two, but a super-late walker. With all the ice this winter, she has had very limited time to explore. She found lots of mud today! Anyway, back to the saw. Liv told me she knew there was one and led me to Joe Farmer’s large Stihl chainsaw. Um, no. I searched the pegboard and found a small saw that has a specific name I will never know. Whenever I entered my dad’s shop as a little girl he would shout, “Get those bare feet out of my shop!”. So my knowledge of tools and fixing is minimal. This saw, believe it or not, was up as high as possible. I wondered if Joe Farmer was trying to protect me from myself. Anyway, the saw worked wonderfully, and it was lunchtime. So we headed back to the house, and Ava screamed passionately. It could be a long summer of hauling her indoors for mealtime. We hot-glued (now that is something I am knowledgeable about) and walaa — we have a cross.

Vince has a bible memory verse that he says each Thursday morning at school. Today, before the bus came, we practiced Matthew 28: 1,2. “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.” These words stuck with me, so I moved my ‘victory’ angel over to the mantel. We made a quick trip to the garden and Liv picked out a stone. Well, she actually began to pick out several stones (remember the pack rat characteristic?) and I made her stop at one. Just to keep with the story. The palm branch is from years ago on a Palm Sunday and it dried so beautifully that it is always on my mantel.

3. We ate our last squash. My kids were so excited to eat squash this fall (they never believed me that zucchini and yellow crookneck were squash) and I tried to hide my surprise. I let them sprinkle brown sugar on top and apparently that is motivation enough. I had never grown the Hubbard variety before. The skin is the toughest thing ever. I have used some of the ‘halves’ as cat dishes outside. It is akin to wood. Anyway, they kept really well over the winter. The last one was enjoyed tonight and now it is time, for me anyway, to look forward to zucchini!


I chased after this bug with my camera until I got a decent shot at the window. As if I couldn’t have found another one.

4. I emptied my vacuum cleaner, because I was on a mission. When the weather gets warm, it’s not just bears that wake up. We have had these box-elder bugs invading our house for a few days now. The only answer is the vacuum cleaner.  There were some cold days this winter, but these bugs seem extra hardy to cold weather and fly swatters.

So, that’s it!  Winter is officially gone from our house.  Have you said your good-byes yet?

How do you choose?

I’ve had some events happen in my family in the past week that really made me wonder.  How can one know when she has found the ‘keeper’?  I know a ton of people who just knew the moment their eyes met that they were destined for each other.  I can’t say the same for Farmer Joe and me, but I can say that as soon as I got to know him, the deal was pretty much done in my mind.

100_2766Isn’t he handsome?  Learning about agriculture in Cuba.

However, do you know anyone who fits this analogy?  Who just can’t seem to see the strange choice she is making?  She walks into the produce section at the grocery store and really isn’t sure what she wants.  She stumbles upon the apples, with so many fantastic ones to choose from in a half of a dozen varieties.  Soon enough, she spots a bruised apple and reaches for it.  All the onlookers are staring at her thinking she is way too good to pick that apple.  Nonetheless, she chooses that one — misshapen, bruised, and sour as it is.  WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD SHE DO THAT?  And all too often it isn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime decision.  I just don’t get it.

I am a Christian, so I pray.  Something that always comes up in my conversations with God is the topic of the future spouses of my children.  My oldest, my son, has grown up so quickly and spends so many of his days in school.  There is a pretty good chance that his future wife is already born and being influenced by this world, too.


So I pray for good influences.  That her family will raise her to be the perfect mate for my son.  Is that strange?

Farmer Joe tells me all the time (well, at least once a month) that marrying me was the best decision he has ever made.  That is a nice thing to hear at the end of a tiring day of caring for my little ones.  I never regret our decision to walk the rest of our steps on this earth together.  We are opposites but we are perfect for each other.  I am a pushover; he makes salesmen queasy.  My motto is “good enough”, he is a perfectionist.  The perfect example would be the 200 foot row of soybean stubble bales that he lines up each fall to provide our heifers with a clean, dry place to lay during the wintry months.  It also functions as a wind break for a few months.  It is straight as an arrow; I imagine pilots smile as they fly over our place.  (The photo below does not even begin to do it justice.)  Meanwhile, I just swept the kitchen floor in 20 seconds flat and it works for me.