Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

  (Hinckley, Illinois)
Locally Grown - Quality Farm Produce at Affordable Prices
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Winter Comfort Food

If you are like many gardeners, you probably have a few butternut squash tucked away in your root cellar or other winter storage area. Here at the Bountiful Blessing Farm, we have an ample supply of Butternut squash set aside for ourselves this winter. This is one of my wife's favorite recipes.

Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 6 servings
6 Tbsp chopped onion
1/4 c butter
6 cups peeled and cubed butternut
squash
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
8 ounces cream cheese, in pieces

1. Cook onions in butter in pot until tender. Add squash, broth, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer,
partially covered, 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

2. Puree squash. Return to saucepan. Add cream cheese, and heat, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted and soup is very hot. Add more broth or water if needed to achieve desired consistency. Do not allow to boil.

 
 

Potluck Recipes from Our Cookbook

This time of year is pot luck season. Many churches and organizations in our area hold potlucks. I thought I would post a couple of recipes that would be great at potlucks.  By the way, these recipes are from the Bountiful Blessings Cookbook, soon to be available on our website.

 

 

Crock Pot Beans

1 can pork’n beans

1 can green beans, rinsed

1 can wax beans, rinsed

1 can butter beans, rinsed

1 can red beans, rinsed

Brown ½ lb. bacon & dice

 

Add 1 med. onion to bacon & cook until tender

Add bacon, onion & grease to the beans in crock pot

 

Add:

1 c. ketchup

1 c. brown sugar

1 T. vinegar

 

Cook on low in crock pot for 3 hours

 

.

Cauliflower and Brown Rice Casserole

1lb. sliced mushrooms

1 large chopped onion

2 TBSP butter

Juice from 1 lemon

1 large head cauliflower (washed and broken into small pieces)

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. pepper

3 cups cooked brown rice (cooked according to package directions)

2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 tsp. salt

 

In a saucepan over medium heat--add the butter and melt. Add the mushrooms, chopped onions, and crushed garlic--sauté until tender. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top of the mushroom mixture. Add basil and pepper--stir. In a separate saucepan add the cauliflower pieces--cover with water and add 1 tsp. salt--bring to a boil over medium heat, then boil for 5 minutes. Drain the cauliflower. Add the cauliflower to the mushroom mixture--stir. Add cooked brown rice to the mushroom mixture—stir. Grease a casserole dish. Pour entire mixture into the casserole dish. Cover the casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle cheese on top of the casserole--bake uncovered for 5 more minutes or until cheese melts.

 

 

Green Beans and Meatballs

12 frozen meatballs

2 tsp. butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

1 chopped garlic clove

2 cups fresh cut green beans

1 cup sour cream

1/3 cup milk

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

1 - 10.75oz. can cream of chicken soup

 

Prepare meatballs as directed on package. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic--stir and cook until tender. Add green beans, sour cream, milk, Worcestershire sauce and cream of chicken soup--stir and cook until green beans are tender. Add meatballs--stir and cook until hot. Serve over rice or noodles.

 
 

A Synopsis of the Produce Business

The success of any business depends largely on the clearness the entrepreneur conceives as to the aims and purposes which he is to attain. Many persons grow crops because their family grew them, because they know how to grow them, or because the land and locality are adapted to them. All three apply to me. This is okay; but it is better if the grower can also picture to himself the destination of the crops which he is to raise. That is, he should grow a crop for a distinct purpose. He should find his niche. At Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce, our niche is producing heirloom vegetables, sweet corn and locally grown food available for the local community.

Good farming, like any other business, is primarily a matter of ideals and principles. Vegetable gardening for an income is not an easy business. In fact, nothing is easy if it is worth the having. In the farm produce business, competition is great; the margin of profit is small; there are risks incident to season, diseases, insects, and marketing. Moreover, many of the products are quickly perishable. Most vegetables are used as staple necessities, not as luxuries; and the prices are therefore not high. Nearly every person who has a bit of ground in our rural area around Hinckley, grows a few vegetables. So when our tomatoes are in season, so are theirs. In most cases, earliness of crop is a prime requisite; and to secure the crop very early requires the closest attention to all the details of growing. One must find a dedicated customer; and this customer rarely takes pains to wait for the produce of one grower or to search for it in the market, for the vegetable supply is usually great: consequently, the small grower may have to work diligently to sell his vegetables.

In many cases, the vegetable farmer must keep long hours and must work hard, (Trust me, I work from no later than 7 in the morning till sometimes 9 at night). He must not expect much reward the first two or three years. He must learn his soil, market and climate. If he is a good grower and a good business man, he will succeed. If he is only a grower, he will probably not be very successful. Its like a good mechanic who opens a shop but knows nothing about managing a business; it many times results in failure.

There are many growers who make great profits from certain acreages of land, but they are usually old hands at the business, and they do not make equal profits every year on every acre. They know the market thoroughly. In certain cases, when competition is not severe, decent rewards may come to the novice; but these are exceptions. A niche crop well grown, or produced much ahead of the normal season or much behind it, may turn a handsome profit. High Tunnel and greenhouse products often bring fancy prices; but the risks are also great. Some of the best locations for small produce operations are in the neighborhoods of small cities, where competition is likely to be less severe than in the larger cities. Another great venue is a location or event where the grower may deal directly with the consumer. The grower who has a big farm, and enough capital to run it effectively, can set the market, and can grow sufficient product to bring a fair reward even at close margins. The person who likes the business, and who goes into it with a full appreciation of all the difficulties and discouragements, will almost always succeed. To this person, it is a most attractive business, for the returns are quick; and it is an inexpressible delight to bring forth a beautiful product at the exact time when it is desired by the consumer. Good vegetable production is an indescribable satisfaction.

 
 

The Eyes Have It

Has anyone ever said to you, "Get your eyes examined!"? Usually they say it when something is very plain to see and you miss it. Well, I had this happen to me this past week. My mom told me I need my eyes examined. Not because, I missed something, but she noticed how I was struggling when I was reading. So today I went to get an eye exam. I am not really fond of the glaucoma test; when they puff a little air into your eye. Nonetheless, it is all part of the exam. The doctor told me my eyes were in good health other than some cataracts beginning to develop - another sign of getting older.  The appointment took most of the morning, so I was unable to post anything. Once I had lunch and got home, I was able to build the first of two cold frames. They are 48 inches square. This will give us extra room for hardening off our plants before they go into the field. I placed them on the cement near one of our buildings, facing south. I think it will work well. Tomorrow is a big day for seeding, so I am going to get some of the flats filled so I am ready to go. Hope you have a great afternoon and evening. More tomorrow!
 
 

A Real Treat

Another day is here and it is getting closer and closer to the busy season. Today I will be working in the shop on several pieces of equipment and I will be doing some more seeding this morning. I am not sure if I mentioned it before, but I am having some trouble with my back. I fell on the ice last week and I am in a little pain. I did not sleep very well last night and it is difficult to move around this morning. Usually, once I get going, it does not feel so bad. I am hoping that is the case today. There is so much to get done, and a bad back is not going to help things any. 

I mentioned the other day that we will be growing about 28 varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year. Some people have asked me why heirlooms. Heirloom tomatoes are not as productive as hybrid plants, but the variety, color and taste are unmatched. Heirloom tomatoes come in colors such as salmon pink, yellow, purple, red, orange and even green. Some are striped and others grow in unusual shapes. A few of the more popular Heirloom varieties rated for flavor include Brandywine, Black Krim and Hillbilly. Heirloom tomatoes also have a tendency to produce tomatoes continuously throughout the season. Heirloom tomato growing is not any different than growing hybrids. I have already been getting emails and phone calls asking me whether we will have heirlooms again this year. It all about taste! Many people have never tasted “real” tomatoes — if you’ve only eaten supermarket or other commercially produced tomatoes, you’re in for a delicious surprise. Stop out this summer for a real treat!

 

 
 

Heirloom Vegetables - A Little Bit of Our Heritage

What draws many of my customers to heirlooms is flavor. They want a tomato that tastes like a real tomato, not a plastic one. They long for corn that tastes like it did when they were a kid. They search for a sweet, juicy muskmelon, and wonder why cantaloupes are crisp and dry. After trying varieties that look good on the pages of seed catalogs but just don't taste like much, they turn to heirlooms.

What they find may well be something of a mixed bag. The best of the heirlooms really are wonderful. They have it all. They taste wonderful and look beautiful. No doubt about it, these varieties are terrific. There are, however, varieties that take a more experienced hand to grow well. Some are local or regional varieties that may or may not be suited to conditions in your back yard. Others are susceptible to problems unknown to earlier gardeners. Today, certain plant problems are much more common than ever before, and new, resistant cultivars may be the only ones suited to areas where certain diseases and pests are entrenched. Most of this is because since 1932, the American farmer has depleted the soil of it's major nutrients. Everything introduced to the soil is chemically enhanced or man-made. This is not good. Micro-nutrients are no longer available in the final product. Only through building up the soil naturally, will we bring those micro-nutrients back into our diet. These micro-nutrients feed the living cells in our bodies and we need them! Building the soil and heirloom varieties are a great start to a healthy renewal.

Nonetheless, heirloom vegetables can be quirky. Seeds may germinate slower than their modern counterparts, or they may straggle in erratically. Some may pop up after you've given up on them. As they grow, some heirlooms have traits that are downright odd. Other old varieties will do weird things. Unfortunately, information about such traits is difficult to find. About all growers can do is wait to see what happens, relying on their best instincts and experience.

With all of that considered, I really enjoy growing heirlooms because I actually have something that my ancestors grew. This it what makes it so exciting for me. Now, after many years, I actually have my hands in the soil my grandfathers worked. I have a piece of my own heritage. This is what makes my job so much fun and so rewarding!

 
 

Heirloom Peppers and a Long Day

Today was another productive day. Although, I wish I could have attended worship this morning. Nonetheless, I was able to complete the manure detail. It is all spread and ready for the ground to be worked down this spring. I worked on the seed room and seedling rack again today. It is almost done. I spent an hour or so on my seed planning chart and this afternoon my wife and I picked up a few things at the lumber yard to complete the seedling rack. We then went to the funeral visitation for my great uncle and tomorrow is his funeral. I am very honored to play taps on my trumpet at the funeral with my son. Later on this afternoon and evening, I washed the tractor and cleaned the manure spreader so it can be lubricated and put away until the next time I need to use it. Now it is time for supper and a little relaxation before heading off to bed. It's been a long day. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been receiving some of seeds in the mail and from UPS. It won't long and everything will be here. Some of the peppers we will be offering this year are list here:

  • Beaver Dam    
  • Datil
  • Bull Nose Large
  • Fish
  • Hinkelhatz Hot
  • Jimmy Nardello's
  • New Mexico Native Chile
  • Sheepnose Pimento
  • Wenks Yellow
  • Key Largo Cubanelle
  • Yellow Crest Longhorn
  • Cayenne – Long Thin
  • Jalapeno – Mucho Nacho
  • Habanero
  • Ghost Pepper
Last year we had a lot of requests for ghost peppers. I am not sure I understand the fascination of eating something so hot, but I thought we would try them this year. The Key Largo Cubanelle was real popular last year and of course we will have an assortment of red, yellow and green bell peppers. My dad is planning on have signs made so people know the background of all our heirloom varieties. I think it is so interesting to read the history of some of these seeds. I hope our customers will enjoy it as well. So now its time to eat! Just thinking about all these yummy vegetables is making me real hungry!
 
 

An Exciting Season Just Around the Corner

Well another day without being able to spread manure. Maybe tomorrow if it remains frozen in the field. I certainly do not want to make a big mess out of the ground by driving over it and packing it all down because it is too muddy. I am going to try it this in the morning and see what happens. I stopped by Rick's tonight and let him know I would be there around seven. Everything is green light go! This whole manure thing has been plaguing me for a week. Hopefully, today we can put it in the past!

Tomorrow afternoon I am going work on the seed room and seed rack. I will start sowing seeds next week. The bulk of my seed order will be here on Tuesday. I have to pick it up at the warehouse. I will also be picking up the seed potatoes and onion sets. It is a little scary getting 200 pounds of seed potatoes and over 130 pounds of onion sets. That works out to about 20000 onions! Of course some of these will be for bunching, but many will be bulb onions for cooking, etc. In Illinois, we have to use long-day varieties. Short-day varieties do not do well here.

Here are the tomato varieties we will be planting this year. We will have a nice assortment of heirloom varieties, and some hybrids.

  • Hillbilly
  • Roma
  • German Johnson
  • Black Krim
  • Aunt Molly’s Husk Tomato (Ground cherry)
  • Aunt Ruby’s German
  • Burbank Tomato
  • Chalk’s Early Jewel
  • Cherokee Purple
  • Djena Lee’s Golden Girl
  • German Pink
  • Livingston’s Globe
  • Livingston’s Golden Queen
  • Orange Oxheart
  • Mortgage Lifter – Radiator Charlie's
  • Red Fig
  • Sheboygan
  • Valencia
  • Chocolate Stripes
  • Earl of Edgecombe
  • Cherokee Chocolate
  • Black Sea Man
  • Copia
  • Brandywine
  • Green Zebra
  • White Queen
  • Primo Red
  • Red Deuce
  • Mountain Fresh Plus
  • Florida 91
  • Sweet Hearts
  • Sugar Plum

 

I am getting so anxious to get started. This is what I really enjoy doing; planting and growing these wonderful vegetables. It won't be long now!

 
 
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