Farm Life

Press Pause!

I want to first thank everyone who has journeyed with me on my Wiggleton Creek Farms adventures!  They are certainly not finished, but I do feel it’s time to press pause.

Last year, I gave up my food business in January, feeling that it was what I was supposed to do.  Yet I really did not fully understand what the year would have in store.  I truly enjoyed feeding people and the joy of putting together recipes and new foods for families was true excitement for me!  However, Jenna was starting to become more interested in food and her YouTube Channel and I felt called to work with her on achieving her goals with that.  I was so proud of her for thinking big and dreaming bigger but in all honesty I thought this would be a great hobby to develop life skills, confidence and some cooking ability so she would be able to feed herself when she left home.  How I underestimated her and the plans God had for her. Now, I do not have the grand finale of this story but I know that it was God that gave her the talents, desire and confidence to pursue her dreams. While I’m not sure about the end game, or results of the game, I know that he has given her a platform to glorify him and I pray that we do not miss the opportunity.

I digress…I haven’t been as active on the farm blog because through Jenna’s food experiences, I have renewed my passion for food. And while I know that all food starts on the farm, I think this space limits what I have to share with others.  So I have started The Coles Life to be the chronicles of the farm, food experiences and life in general.  I hope you will continue to follow our journey as we carve our path through The Coles Life.  Join us on Facebook, Instagram and soon YouTube.  Thank y’all and much love!

It’s still a work in progress but I would love to know what questions you have about food or farming, examples of food obstacles you would like solutions to, or kitchen appliances you have questions about?  I might not have the answers instantly but I would love to find them for you!

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Proud Mom Moment:  She Won a Heifer

Last year I shared the story of my daughter buying her first feeder calf and how involved she wanted to be in the cattle business.  The child has always loved to eat beef but didn’t really take an interest in business side of the cattle industry until last year.  As she waited for her heifers to calve, she was hoping for black baldy heifer calves (black calves with a white face, usually a angusxhereford cross).  All her calves arrived healthy but they were all black and all bull calves!  She decided she wanted to grow her herd and keep all the heifers her cows had but every year just boys!

When she heard about the Youth Beef Heifer Initiative, she thought winning this contest might help her get one step closer to building her herd.  To enter it required a 2-3 minute video on what winning a Heifer would mean to you.  So we loaded the video equipment and went to the pasture!  At the end of December we got the call that she had won her age division!  Here’s the video entry: I WON A HEIFERimg_0073

She was recognized at the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association Convention in Lexington!  She was presented up to $2000 to purchase a Heifer from a KCA member.  She already knows what she wants, we just now have to find her!  She wants an angus heifer bred to a Hereford bull or a nice baldy heifer bred to an angus or Hereford bull.  The hunt begins!  I  do not know who is more excited, Jenna or her dad!  Thank you to KCA and Farm Credit for sponsoring this great opportunity for junior cattlemen!

 

Jenna & Nikki Whitaker, KCA Membership Coordinator at KCA Banquet

 

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Lessons on responsibility, risk and business skills

My husband has been looking forward to this moment every since the kids were born.  The moment that the kids would start their own business adventure and to top it off in agriculture!  We started building their herds early by giving them a heifer and letting them decide what to do with their calf.  Each child has 2 cows, one bred heifer and some cash to put toward their future (college, house, car, business, etc) and a start in the cattle business.  The kids decided to buy pee wee calves this summer to feed and sell this fall.  I must admit when my husband first brought the idea to me, all the possibilities of what could go wrong ran through my head.  What if the calf died and they lost all their money, what if they get hurt one day while feeding, are they old enough to handle the daily responsibility?????   But my husband assured me that they were ready and this would be a good learning experience.  I was still hesitant but agreed and my husband wasted no time calling our order buyer and putting in the first order of two pee wee calves (pee wee’s are not newborn but ~200 lb calves).

They got the barn ready and within a week the first calf was bought.  Jace wanted Jenna to get the first calf so he could watch and learn before he got his.   A trip to the bank and stockyard and “Bobby Joe” arrived at his new home.  As soon as they got him unloaded and fed, the lesson in money and record keeping began.  (My husband is a farm loan officer by day so crunching numbers is his superpower!)  About 10 days later, Jace’s calf “Super Boy” arrived at the barn.

In the next few weeks, it became apparent that my husband was right and this was a good decision.  The kids took great ownership in the calves and their care.  Each trip to the barn started with a fun game of tag with dad.  In the barn, lessons on herd health, nutrition and anatomy were given. The pride and accomplishment in the kids’ faces are priceless to me and something that I will cherish about their childhood.   The farm offers a place for exploration, adventures and life lessons.  And for that I am truly thankful!

Money in hand

Money in hand

 

Bobby Joe

Super Boy

Farm Records

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Goodbye Strawberry Season

I am always so excited to get my first batch of strawberries each spring.🍓  It’s usually the official start of fruit season and they happen to be my favorite fruit!  Last fall we planted strawberries in the high tunnel  in hopes that I would get them even earlier than usual.  I had been saving all kinds of strawberry recipes and could hardly wait to make them.  However, my kids can put away some strawberries, eating them as fast as they would get ripe.  I finally gathered up several gallons and knew this was my moment.  The kids and I made strawberry lemonade, strawberry pies  (one full fat and one low cal, low carb), strawberry jam, strawberry pie filling, strawberry cupcakes, strawberry yogurt popsicles, and strawberry muffins. Sounds like overkill huh?  None of it went to waste, we shared with teachers, co-workers and relatives!


My favorite was the strawberry cupcakes.  I have been looking for a strawberry cupcake that is similar to my favorite “Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake” from Gigi’s cupcakes.  This one did not have the mile high icing but had a nice flavor and a melt in your mouth quality that I adore!  I’ll share the recipe below.

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Strawberry Cupcakes

Cupcake

1 (15.25 oz) package white cake mix

1/2 (3.4 oz) package of instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup strawberry yogurt

3/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup water

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp strawberry extract

1 cup diced fresh strawberries (10 medium berries, cut with a knife not food processor)


Strawberry buttercream icing

1\2 cup shortening 

1\2 cup butter, room temperature 

pinch of salt

1 tbsp water

1 tbsp strawberry preserves, melted

1 tsp strawberry extract 

1\2 cup Finely chopped strawberries

4 1\2 cups of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Beat the cake and pudding mixes, yogurt, applesauce, water, eggs and extract. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined. Fold in the diced strawberries.

Using an ice cream scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin cups

Bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool.

Prepare icing.  Beat shortening and butter until creamy.  Add salt, water, strawberry extract and chopped strawberries and mix again.  Slowly add powdered sugar.  Heat strawberry preserves in microwave for 30 seconds.  Add to frosting.  Beat one minute.  Frost the cupcakes and store in refrigerator. Enjoy!

Although I’m sad to see the strawberries go, I have preserved enough to get our family through the winter (I hope). However, my focus can now turn to cherries that are turning a beautiful shade of red in the trees. 🍒 I thank the good Lord that as quickly as one season ends, another begins.

I have already started collecting more strawberry recipes for next season😉!

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Cauliflower Transformation!

Raising cauliflower before the high tunnel was…. well…challenging!  One of my favorite things thus far about growing in the tunnel is getting to eat the crops earlier, the quality of the greens, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower and I get to grow it twice a year!!!  The only down side is that it all comes in at one time (I haven’t mastered staggered planting yet).  So I usually save up recipes all year and when the crops hits, I wear my family out with whatever is in season and freeze the rest!  We love eating cauliflower as a snack with some ranch dressing, in salads, but our favorite is buffalo cauliflower!  While the idea of cauliflower crust pizza has intrigued me, I dreaded using one of my precious heads in something that my family might not enjoy.  But as I stared at the 6 heads of cauliflower, I knew it was time!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Crust
2 1/2 cups grated cauliflower
1 egg
1 1/4 cup italian cheese
2 Tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Toppings
1/4 cup marinara or pizza sauce
Pepperoni’s to cover
sliced olives
mushrooms
diced onions
1 cup italian cheese
sprinkle with dried italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line pizza pan with parchment paper.
Grate the cauliflower using a hand grater until you get 2.5 cups. Microwave the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl for 7 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Mix in cheeses, egg and salt and pepper.
Put mixture on pizza pan and press out in an 8-10 inch circle. Bake for 10-12 minutess.
Take crust out of the oven and top with your favorite toppings. Bake another 10 minutes.
Let pizza cool before slicing.

Results:  The kids spilt on the tastiness of the pizza.  I just wonder if they did not watch me grate the cauliflower, would their thoughts be different.  My daugher liked it but prefered homemade pizza crust and my son said it was gross.  My husband and I enjoyed it.  My husband said it was a great use of cauliflower! (He ate a whole 8 inch pizza).  So now if any of my gluten sensitive friends come over, I have another option for supper!

 

 

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A New Project: You Tube

My daughter has always been interested in almost everything that I am!  She loves animals, food, cooking, blogging, public speaking and agriculture!  She has recently taken an interest in You Tube and kids cooking channels.  While we were snowed in, she decided that she would like to have her own Kids You Tube Cooking Channel so Jenna’s Kitchen was created!

I have been wanting to add You Tube to my social media arsenal with work and with the farm but just never took the time to learn all the ins and outs about shooting, editing and formatting.  Jenna’s Kitchen has given me a push to study the world of video and man is there much to learn!  But we have had fun and am excited to share some of her videos on Wiggleton Creek!

Make sure to subscribe to Jenna’s Kitchen at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXJqOdEHnbx3c1fZOncOsdQ.  Videos up now are Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Easy Guacamole!  But Meatloaf and Party Food will be coming up soon!

Working, studying recipes, watching videos and drinking coffee!

Working, studying recipes, watching videos and drinking coffee!

 

 

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❤️❤️ Cast Iron❤️❤️

My grandmother and mother always cooked cornbread in their cast iron skillets.  For years that is all I fixed in mine as well but in the last few years I have a newfound love for everything cast iron.  Now every time I can, I find a reason to cook in cast iron.  This fall on our way to Stone mountain, we made a pit stop in South Pittsburgh TN and visited the Lodge Factory Outlet!  Cast iron heaven!  I picked up many useful accessories, cleaners and pan or three😉. For more cast iron tips, watch my video below!

https://youtu.be/qy0GiKD2Veg

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2015 Goal Setting!

In my job, I teach farmers about the importance of goal setting and how critical it can be for their farm operation. My husband and I have always set goals for the farm and our financials. But for the first time we set personal goals and family goals and included the kids in the goal setting process.

As I expected, my organized, list loving daughter loved the activity and asked if she could set more than 5 personal goals😀. She like her mother feels great accomplishment when getting her to do list completed! My son was a little more hesitant, did not want to share his aloud, but did enjoy the one on one interaction that he and I shared during the goal setting process. Just like any other life skill, practice makes proficient and hopefully permanent and I pray that goal setting will become second nature to my kids. At 9 and 6 they have more realistic goals than I during my first goal setting exercise in college which included owning half of the farmland in my home county and meeting George Strait! Definitely did not comply with SMART goal setting: S-specific, M-measurable, A-attainable, R-realistic, T-timed!

Hope everyone has a Happy New Year and we look forward to sharing ours with you!

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Squash Lasagna

Okay after my last post a friend sent me a recipe for a squash lasagna so I had to try it.  I had my reservations as it was stacked full with vegetables and herbs, but no meat.  For me, a meal just isn’t quite a meal with at least a little meat.  So I added 1.5 lbs of ground beef and some fresh oregano to my homemade sauce.  I didn’t have cottage cheese so I used sour cream instead and added another 1-1.5 cups of cheese ( I love cheese)!  I couldn’t get all mine in a 9×13 dish so I had to make another small pan with my leftover ingredients.  I’m going to try to freeze it and see how that goes!

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So here’s the original recipe from Paula Deen and the Food Network

Ingredients
2 cups thinly sliced zucchini
2 cups thinly sliced yellow squash
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 cup thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup sliced fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cups small cottage cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
8 oven-ready, “no cook,” lasagna noodles
12 slices provolone cheese, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions
Combine zucchini, squash, carrot, mushrooms, onion and peppers with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Drain well, and reserve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, cottage cheese, and eggs. Stir together.

Spread 1/3 of the sauce evenly over bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Place 4 uncooked lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/2 of cream cheese mixture over noodles. Cover cheese mixture with 1/2 the vegetable mixture, more sauce, and top evenly with 6 slices provolone cheese and 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers with 4 noodles, rest of the cream cheese mixture, vegetables, sauce, and remaining cheeses. Place in oven for 35 minutes or until lasagna is hot and bubbling

Let lasagna stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/garden-full-of-goodness-lasagna-recipe.html?oc=linkback

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12 Ways to Cook Summer Squash

If you have ever raised summer squash, you understand the abundance of this delicious vegetable, can sometimes be overwhelming! Here at Wiggleton Creek, we are experiencing squash and zucchini overload. We have one or the other for supper every night! It is challenging to prepare new and exciting dishes with squash but over the years we have compiled several good options. So here is my top 12 ways to prepare squash and zucchini! And if you need some for your recipe, I know where you can get squash and zucchini!

Top 12 Squash and Zucchini Ideas
1. Grilled Squash, Zucchini and Onions
2. Squash Casserole
3. Zucchini Bread
4. Batter Dipped Fried Squash and Zucchini
5. Baked Zucchini Crisps or Fries
6. Skillet Fried Squash
7. Sausage Stuffed Squash and Zucchini
8. Squash Pickles
9. Zucchini Relish
10. Zucchini Appetizer Squares
11. Chocolate Zucchini Cake
12. Zucchini Creole

What is your favorite way to prepare summer squash or zucchini?

Cubed squash pickles

Cubed squash pickles

Squash sandwich stackers

Squash sandwich stackers

Sausage Stuffed Squash

Sausage Stuffed Squash

Zucchini Squares

Zucchini Squares

Cheddar Zucchini Bread

Cheddar Zucchini Bread

 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread and Zucchini Blueberry Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread and Zucchini Blueberry Bread

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