What’s Cooking Wednesday: Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Call it the Great Dinner Debate or maybe the Rural/Urban Dinner Divide. When to use the term ‘dinner’ for a meal definitely differs based on where you’re from.

Growing up on a west-central Illinois farm, my family used ‘lunch’ or ‘dinner’ for the midday meal, but the evening meal was always ‘supper.’ More metropolitan folks tend to call the noon meal ‘lunch’ and save ‘dinner’ for evening.

So who’s correct?¬†Actually…both!

Dinner by definition is the main meal of the day – it’s not attached to a particular time. On the farm, we tended to eat the main/larger meal at noon in the middle of the working day and a lighter meal in the evening.

Folks in town often eat their bigger meal at night….unless of course it’s Thanksgiving Dinner, which all of us¬†probably eat at noon ūüôā

Anyway, Beef Stroganoff was always a family favorite for Sunday dinner (our noon meal), but you could eat it whenever you want. The secret ingredient in this rich & creamy sauce – ketchup! It adds a little punch of flavor and just the right amount of tang.

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. beef steak, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • ¬†Black pepper to taste
  • Parsley (for garnish)
  • 12 oz. egg noodles or dumpling noodles (my favorite!) – cook according to package directions

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet & saute the onion. Add the cubes of beef and garlic. Cook until beef is browned, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add mushrooms.
  3. Add flour and stir. The flour should ‘soak up’ the butter and juices from the meat.
  4. Add whipping cream in small amounts and stir thoroughly between each addition (If you add too much at once your sauce will have lumps of flour).
  5. Cook until sauce starts to simmer and thicken, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add ketchup & Worcestershire sauce and stir in completely.
  7. Add sour cream and stir in completely.
  8. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.
  9. Place your cooked noodles on plates to serve and divide sauce evenly over the top.
  10. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.

The Friday Five: Harvest

2013 soybeans, landscape

As you may have noticed by the waves of amber grain disappearing from farm fields, corn and soybean harvest is rolling in full force. For farmers, harvest brings the culmination of a full year’s worth of work and then some in planning, selecting, planting & caring for their crops.

For this week’s Friday Five, I though maybe we should take a look at five things harvest means on the farm:

  1. Long hours & hard work!¬†Harvest is a time-sensitive task and when it’s time to go, farmers are usually in the fields from sun-up to sundown or longer as long as a) the weather’s fit b) the crop conditions are right and c) the equipment cooperates. ¬†If you have friends or family who farm, you may notice they completely disappear from social events for a couple of months in the fall, as described by this chart from Illinois Corn Growers.
  2. Meals in the Fields:¬†¬†Farmers may not stop for lunch or dinner during harvest (see above), so meals are often delivered to the fields. Take a look at some creative and delicious ways farm families stay fed¬†during harvest with ‘How to Feed a Farmer’¬†posted on the Watch Us Grow blog and ‘Field Meals to Go’ from Katie Pratt’s Rural Route 2 Blog.
  3. Technology & equipment:¬†Today’s family farmers harvest data, not just crops. Sophisticated computer and GPS technology give farmers a wealth of information to make decisions and adjustments for next year. Take a closer look ¬†inside a combine with these photos from the blog¬†Daddy’s tractor and get a glimpse of the bits and bytes of precision farm data¬†¬†in this article from Business Insider. Or if you want to watch harvest in real time, check out this opportunity to watch it on Periscope!
  4. Danger: Farming is a dangerous occupation and harvest carries many hazards. Big machinery with lots of moving parts, dry corn stalks that can catch fire from a spark and even fatigue from the long hours can lead to accidents. Do your part to help keep farmers (and yourself) safe! Slow down & pass with caution when you meet equipment on the road. Check out this advice from blogger Celeste Harned for more tips to stay safe.
  5. Helping Hands: Farmers are a close-knit community.  Every year I see at least one story about farmers coming together to harvest crops for a neighbor in need. This week I saw three: One right here in McLean County, one near Champaign and another over by  Galva, Illinois.

To see more, search & follow #harvest15 on Facebook or Twitter.

What does harvest mean to you?

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Baked Butternut Squash

Bakes Butternut Squash

Butternut squash receives much less fanfare than it’s botanical cousin, the preeminent and ever-popular¬†pumpkin.¬†And while pumpkin will like remain king of fall flavors for the foreseeable future, one taste of this baked squash recipe just might cause you to rethink your palate priorities.

My freshman year of college, I took my roommate to my parent’s house for a home-cooked meal and baked butternut squash was on the menu. In my roommate’s words it ‘made her believe in the possibilities of squash,’ a vegetable she had never previously liked.

This recipe for baked squash came from my grandmother and is a perennial fall favorite for my family. The combination of squash, apples, sugar and spices make for a delicious side dish almost good enough to be called dessert and one that pairs particularly well with pork.

One warning: this is one dish that doesn’t taste as good¬†as leftovers, so only make what you plan to have eaten….not that eating all of it should be a problem!

 

Baked Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 -2 medium apples
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a knife, cut the neck off of the butternut squash. Cut off the top and peel. Cut into slices about 1″ thick. Peel the bottom and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1″ slices/pieces.
  3. Arrange all your slices into a glass baking dish.
  4. Core, peel & slice your apple into rings. Arrange on top of the squash pieces.
  5. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, stir in brown sugar, cinnamon & flour.
  6. Immediately pour the sauce over the apples & squash.
  7. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until squash is fork tender.

The Friday Five: Trash Talk

2013 soybeans, landscape

We’ve probably all done it. Forgotten something in the back of the refrigerator and then had to deal with the stinky, rotten or moldy consequences.

As Americans we’re also pretty bad at throwing away ‘good’ food, too – items that would be safe¬†to eat but end up in the garbage can for whatever reason. In fact, the USDA estimates we throw away 133 billion pounds of edible food every year at a cost of $370 per person.

Food waste has environmental costs, too – both in terms of wasted production and emissions from food waste in landfills.¬†To get a grip on the food garbage problem and ways to combat it, take a look at our fresh picked tidbits for this week’s Friday Five:

  1. For starters, ‘Let’s Talk Trash’ from USDA helps put the problem in perspective with a few numbers & pictures. The 90 billion pounds depicted here is a little less than the 133 billion reported elsewhere, but that may be because it can be difficult to get an accurate count (see #3)
  2. Last week, USDA & EPA announced plans to cut food waste 50% by 2030, as reported by the Washington Times.
  3. For a deeper look at the food waste numbers and the challenge of tackling the problem, check out this article from Wall Street Journal.
  4. Perhaps the U.S. needs to takes some cues from Denmark, which is leading the way in reducing food waste, as reported by NPR’s The Salt.
  5. And for a few ways to get you started in curbing food waste in your own kitchen, check out these¬†10 Tips to use food you might consider tossing, also from NPR’s The Salt.

What can you do to reduce food waste?

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Ratatouille

Ratatouille may roll off the tongue, but it’s not that easy to spell – I hardly ever get it right on the first try. Fortunately, this recipe is much easier to make than spell.

Eggplant is the star of this delicious combination of vegetables sauteed to perfection in a tasty tomato-based sauce. Ratatouille can be a great side dish or center piece for lunch or dinner.

My version of ratatouille is ‘low fuss.’ I use one skillet & cook it on the stove top – no need to heat up the oven & just one pan to clean! The veggies are added one at a time, so while one is cooking you can slice/dice the next one.

Also, the measurements for this recipe DO NOT have to be exact. Add more or less of anything to suit your taste.

 

Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup sliced & quartered eggplant (peel if desired)
  • 1 cup sliced & quartered zucchini (and/or yellow summer squash)
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or tomato juice

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on low for a minute or two
  2. Add diced onion and saute over medium heat until they start to turn translucent. Add garlic, basil & oregano.
  3. Add eggplant and saute until it starts to soften, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add zucchini and saute until it starts to soften, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add diced tomato and tomato sauce/juice. Stir and cook until eggplant starts to turn translucent and sauce thickens.
  6. Serve hot.

Makes about 1 cup.

Fun fact: Did you know that the vegetable we call ‘eggplant,’ the British call ‘aubergine’? I learned that recently while talking with an acquaintance from across the pond.

Have you come across any unique or unusual names for food?

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