Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

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

Posts tagged [winter]

Winter Warm-Up

All of these wet and cold days have us considering a few of the best winter cocktails to indulge in when nature throws a snowball or cold rain storm into the daily routine. While there are plenty of ways to beat the frigid temperatures this time of year, adding a bit of Irish Crème, or Rum Chata to your hot cocoa or coffee is a sure-fire way to get a nice warm feeling all the way down to your toes without the aide of a fireplace. If want a nice warm treat without the alcohol, spice up your cocoa with nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt and chili powder! If sweet drinks with cream aren't your favorite, there is always the promise of adding a touch of whiskey or brandy to some warm apple cider. This creates a soothing relief for those pesky winter sore throats, while also spreading warmth throughout your body. Just trying to help. (By the way, drink responsibly and in moderation)


Winter Time Rest

Winter time for farmers is a healing time. It is a time to reflect on the past year and a time to regenerate and prepare for the upcoming season. The 12 to 15 hour days during the busy season take its toll on a farmer’s body, mind and soul. In the midst of an overwhelmingly chaotic summer and fall, work and the tasks at hand will literally carry a farmer away like a fleeting wind. This time of year is a time when the winds of chaos calm and the farmer can refocus, regenerate, and recuperate. Even though it is a time of healing and rest, we still have things to do. We still have plans to make and goals to accomplish; it’s just a little more laid back this time of the year.

Winter Reading List for Foodies

One of the things that I enjoy very much is reading. Whether it is a documentary, a mystery novel or a cookbook, I love to read it. Usually you will find a few different books or magazines on my night stand or on the coffee table by my chair, but lately there has been a subject matter other than the normal, ... cooking with vegetables, magazines, and articles have made their way into my reading routine. With Spring coming just around the corner I put together for you that might perk your interest. Here are a few for those of you who are interested in vegetables, cooking, and eating healthy.

- Melissa’s Everyday Cooking With Organic Produce: A Guide to Easy-to-Make Dishes With Fresh Organic Fruits and Vegetables, by Cathy Thomas

- Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers by Sur La Table and Janet Fletcher

- Fast, Fresh and Green: More Than 90 Delicious Recipes for Veggie Lovers, by Susie Middleton

- Farmers Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht

- The Big Summer Cookbook: 300 Fresh, Flavorful Recipes for Those Lazy, Hazy Days by Jeff Cox

- The Farmer's Market Cookbook: Seasonal Dishes Made from Nature's Freshest Ingredients by Richard Ruben

- The Farmer's Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Your CSA and Farmers' Market Foods

These are just a few of the many ideas out there on how to cook with vegetables. Kim and I will be placing some of our favorite recipes on cards for you to pick up at the stand or in our CSA boxes. We hope this will help you enjoy our fresh veggies even more!

Getting Ready for Spring - Leek and Potato Soup

This past week at the Bountiful Blessings Farm has been filled with preparation for Spring. We finished the construction of our new high tunnel. All we have left to do is hang the doors and backfill. It is exciting to see the progress as we anticipate seeding and growing for this year’s produce season. The seeds have all been ordered; the soil has been prepared; the seed room erected; flats ready; many seeds have arrived; most everything is ready to go! The days are getting longer and the work is multiplying. Once again, the folks at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce are ready to grow a wonderful crop and to serve our local friends and neighbors with fresh veggies! In the meantime, here is a wonderful recipe for Leek and Potato Soup:


Leek and Potato Soup

4 Tbsp. – unsalted butter

1lb - leeks, trimmed and finely sliced

1 ½ lb - potatoes, roughly chopped

1 ½ pt - vegetable stock

4 - Sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 ½ cups – Whole milk

2 Tbsp. - chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbsp. – Heavy whipping cream

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and sweat gently for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, stock, rosemary and milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 20–25 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Discard the rosemary, then pour into a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Return to a clean pan, and stir in the parsley and cream. Season to taste. Reheat gently and serve.


Serves 4


Another Stew Recipe - Great Comfort Food for a Winter NIght

 As I mentioned yesterday, we love soups, stews and chowders in the winter. Here is another one of our favorite recipes. This is one my grandpa enjoyed, so we named it after him. Today has been one of those days on the farm. We wanted to get our new high tunnel covered but the wind was too strong. I guess it will have to wait until next week.

Burton’s Beef Stew:

2 lbs lean stew beef, cut into bite size chunks

1 ½ cups - flour

3 tablespoons cooking oil

2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon pepper

1 large chopped onion (1 cup)

3 to 4 medium potatoes cut in 1 inch squares

3 large carrots quartered lengthwise and cut in 1 inch lengths

1 14-oz can tomatoes, bite size

1 14-oz can stew tomatoes


Roll beef in flour. Heat oil in pot on medium heat then brown beef a few pieces at a time, setting aside each piece when browned when finished return all to the pot. Pour in boiling water and watch out for splatter. Add Worcestershire, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 2 to 2 ½ hours or until the meat is tender. Add onion, potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes then cook another 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. May be served hot but taste best when refrigerated overnight and reheated.


Corn Chowder - We Love It!

This time of the year is one of our favorite times for making soups, stews and chowders. This is one really stands out as a favorite! Enjoy! I usually double the recipe as we love to savor it for several days.


Corn Chowder

2 tablespoons butter

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 sprigs fresh thyme - leaves only

¼ lbs Salt Pork (sliced) - bacon can be used

¼ cup all-purpose flour

6 cups canned vegetable stock

2 cups heavy cream

2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced

6 ears sweet corn - fresh frozen can used if needed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves


Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt pork and thyme and cook until the vegetables are good and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Dust the vegetables with flour and stir to coat everything well. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the cream and the potatoes; bring to a boil and boil hard for about 7 minutes, until the potatoes break down (this will help to thicken the soup and give it a good texture). Cut the corn kernels off the cob and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the corn is soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the parsley and give it another little drink of olive oil. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.




Winter Marinated Carrots

 We had some carrots in storage and used this recipe. Tasty!!!

Marinated Carrots

Makes 3 cups

1 lb carrots

2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard or other grainy mustard

1/4 c olive oil

1 or 2 green onions, chopped

1 Tbsp chopped parsley

1 clove garlic, crushed

Salt and black pepper


1. Scrub and peel carrots. Cut into uniform matchsticks or slices.

2. Blanch carrots in boiling water 3-4 minutes or until barely tender. Drain.

3. In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, onions, parsley and garlic. Shake vigorously.

4. Pour over warm carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.


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
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.


Cold in Illinois

Another cold and blustery day here in Illinois. However, it is supposed to warm up. Yesterday was very productive. Due to a snow day, my nephew, Andy came out and helped me most of the day. The day started with my daughter going into the ditch with her car and daddy attempting to rescue her. By the time I was able to get there, someone else pulled her out. That was so nice of them! When I got back to the farm, I started seeding tomatoes, onions and cauliflower. The season has officially begun! Andy worked on a few projects I had lined up for him and he did such a great job! I am blessed to have such a super family! There is still a lot more preparation work to be completed, but things are moving right along.

Today is the Grundy county auction. I'm not sure yet if I am going or not. My back is bothering me and I am not sure I can stand around in the cold for fear it would just agitate my back even more. My wife went to town for her normal Saturday morning coffee at her brother's house, so I will probably work in the seed room and get somewhat more organized. It was so wonderful to walk into the seed room this morning and smell the damp soil and feel the warmth when it is only 17 degrees outside. It won't be too long and seeds will start popping through the top layer of soil. How exciting is that? Another miracle! Bountiful Blessings is growing once again! Thank you God!


Soup du jour!

Another running gear is painted. My buddy, Rick Wilkening and I got the running gear ready to go. So today we got it painted. It didn't take too long, but of course we had to wait for the paint to dry before we could put the wheels back on. While we were waiting, I got the tires changed and ready to go back on. So planning ahead, I think I am going to make soup for tomorrow. Thought I might share the recipe:

Lentil Soup

1 onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
cup green lentils
¼ cup red lentils
½ cup yellow split peas
½ cup green split peas
3 medium tomatoes (fresh or canned, peeled)
3 medium carrots
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
A few grindings black pepper
4½ cups water (+ more as needed)
1 can tomato sauce (11 oz size)
3 Tbsp tomato paste

1. Add olive oil to a large saucepan.
2. Add the chopped onions and saute, stirring, 3 minutes.
3. Add the remaining ingredients & simmer 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.
4. Taste & season as needed.
5. If soup needs thinning, add more water & bring to a boil.



What Happened to Winter???

I have been wondering what happened to winter? It has been so warm here in Northern Illinois the last two weeks, I am not sure I ever remember it being this warm. It makes me a little nervous about what the later part of March will look like. I have heard when winter comes in like a lamb, many times it goes out like a lion. I hope not! I would like to be in the field by the last week of March or earlier getting the ground ready for those early plantings. Well, I guess it is in the Lord's hands. I trust that all will go well. I have about two more days of intense planning to finish and then I will be able to order the balance of my seed. My intent is to have the orders in on Monday. It is amazing how much seed is needed to plant 20 some acres of vegetables and sweet corn. I do a lot of research and look over the sales and demands from last year. I also look at trends and look over the requests we get for different varieties. Then I try to project what we will need for the season. We are expanding our heirloom coverage to meet the demand.

Last night a group of interested people met to discuss the Hinckley Farmer's Market for 2012. I am excited that there is so much enthusiasm. The market will open on June 23rd and run every Saturday through September from 9:00am to noon. If you are interested in participating as a vender, please follow the links on the Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce website or use the search engine on the home page of the Local Harvest website. Contact numbers and information about the market is listed. We are looking for farmers, crafters and the like from the local area to join us.

Progress is being made around the farm as we prepare for the spring. Our high tunnel house is just about ready and we are working on the hot bed and cold frame. I am anticipating lettuce, greens, beets and bunch onions early in June or possibly even in May. Our tomatoes should start coming on sometime in July. This will be much earlier than last year. There will be lots of veggies ready to supply our CSA subscribers. I cannot wait to see those first vegetables and enjoy them myself as well! What an exciting year this is going to be; another year of God's Bountiful Blessings!


German Chocolate Cake

This morning my wife andI were thinking fo something to eat after church. The first thing Kim mentioned was that we have not enjoyed German Chocolate cake in a long time. So, guess what we are making? Yep, our favorite German Chocolate cake. I thought I would share our recipe on the blog. Hope you enjoy it!


German Chocolate Cake


1 package bakers sweet chocolate

½ cup of boiling water

1 cup of butter or margarine for cake and ½ cup for frosting

3 cups of sugar

4 egg yokes for cake and 3 for frosting

1 teaspoon vanilla for cake and 1 teaspoon for frosting

2 ½ cups of sifted flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of salt

1 cup of butter milk

4 eggs white beaten

1 1/3 baker’s angel coconut flakes

1 cup of chopped pecans

1 cup of evaporated milk



Melt chocolate is boiling water. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yokes 1 at a time beating well after each. Blend in vanilla and cooked chocolate. Shift flour with soda and salt. Add this to chocolate mixture with buttermilk beating well after each addition until smooth. Add beaten egg whites (fold into batter). Pour into (3) 9 inch pans lined with wax paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes then cool.

Frosting: Add the evaporated milk, sugar beaten egg yokes, butter and vanilla to sauce pan and cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Watch it, stir continually, if you don’t it will get lumpy. Add 1 1/3 baker’s angel coconut flakes and 2 cup of chopped pecans. Cool till thick enough to spread. Spread on top of cake. Yummy!


Winter in the Country

After weeks of preparation for the upcoming planting season, I decided to take a day and relax. The weather here at Bountiful Blessings Farm is cold around 25 degrees. Last night we got about an inch of white fluffy snow. This morning it was blowing across the road and drifting in the driveway, but nothing too serious.

My wife gave me the idea to get the old ice cream maker out and make another batch of ice dream. We have been making ice cream about every Saturday in January. I love ice cream, but generally only eat vanilla. My wife thinks I am nuts not to try other flavors. Nonetheless, for me, vanilla is still number one. Well I got the old machine out and mixed up the batch. The key to making great ice cream is not using chunks of ice that are large. They cause the ice cream to be gritty. However, using small ice cubes works very well. Always use rock salt with the ice. So, the machine was going and when it finished, we decided to make some mint chocolate chip this time. We added green food coloring and the chips after the process was finished. YUMMY! It was very good! I was impressed. Anyhow, for me, I still like the vanilla better! Well its off to eat some more!


Seed Orders

Getting Ready

Well it's that time of year at the farm where I look over last year's records and plan for the upcoming season. Actually, I have been planning for weeks, but I am finally mapping out the ground and preparing seed orders. I never realized there is so much work involved with a produce business! One cannot imagine the amount of planning that it takes to get everything in order. So, with my pile of catalogs, records and projections, I am making a master plan for this season's crop. I enjoy looking through the catalogs and seeing what is new, but it is just as exciting to see some of the heirloom varieties that look so inviting and interesting. I think of how it was back in the day and how much more work it took to grow a crop. Nonetheless, when a person bites into a Black Krim tomato or tries their first Moon and Stars watermelon, they get a sense of that old timey pleasure of eating something that folks enjoyed many, many years ago. I am also working on a hotbed and cold frame to extend the season; trying to provide locally grown vegetables earlier in the season. Many people are already asking me when they can get their first tomato! Well, it's still a bit early! Back to the seed order!

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