Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fresh Tomatoes = Salsa!!!!!

Well it took several hours last night, but all of those fresh tomatoes that my mom and I peeled Tuesday evening are now SALSA!!  After much peeling and chopping of onions and jalapenos and garlic, and much stirring, my kitchen counter is covered with 12 quarts and 13 pints of delicious homemade salsa.  That is over FOUR GALLON OF SALSA!!!  If you'd like my step-by-step recipe, please head here for all the details!

Now I know I said "all" the tomatoes are now salsa but that's not exactly true.  I still have one gallon of tomatoes in my refrigerator but it was late and we were tired, so I'll make another "batch" on Saturday.

If you've never had homemade salsa I encourage you to give it a try.  It is very easy and very forgiving so if you've never "canned" before, this is the place to begin.  You don't have to use a pressure cooker, just a boiling water bath which is a fancy word for a big pot full of water.  It truly is worth every bit of effort.  It is delicious, and eating our home canned salsa gives us a feeling of accomplishment that I really can't describe.  Maybe it's just us, but we LOVE our homemade salsa.   

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicken Casserole

I love casseroles. Maybe it's because, in my mind, casseroles equal comfort food.  Something about all those ingredients bubbling in the oven, with the flavors melding together.  Then again it might be the fact that most casseroles involve some kind of pasta, and I love pasta!  And cheese, gotta have cheese in a casserole.  Well my chicken casserole says comfort food to the max . . . and of course it has pasta and cheese.  Here's the recipe.

2 cups cooked chicken (I used thighs)
8 cups cooked egg noodles (PASTA!)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (CHEESE!)
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste

Now, I have to confess that I had planned to take pictures of every step of this recipe from start to finish.  Problem is, my camera batteries were dead and I searched our house and couldn't find two good AA batteries.  So, I wound up taking a couple pictures with my cell phone of the casserole right before I baked it.  Not that you NEED step-by-step pictures.  I mean, this is pretty basic stuff people.  However, I remember when I first got married and couldn't cook at all.  Believe me, I wish there had been food blogs back then!  I NEEDED STEP-BY-STEP PICTURES!!!!!

As we are a "dark meat" family, I boiled 6 chicken thighs for about 30-40 minutes in salted water.  Then I brought another pan of water to a boil, cooked my dried egg noodles until al dente, then drained them.  Since this casserole is going to be baked, you don't want to overcook the noodles. While the meat and noodles were cooking, I chopped my onion and celery.  (To be brutally honest, while the chicken was boiling and the pasta was boiling and I was chopping celery and onion, I was ALSO peeling about 50 pounds of tomatoes for salsa, but that is for another post!  Much thanks to my mom (LOVE YOU!) for coming out and helping me peel tomatoes.  I have 10 gallon of peeled tomatoes sitting in my refrigerator right now and I will be making and canning salsa tonight!)

After your chicken is cooked, peel the skin off, cut the meat into bite sized pieces, and place in a large bowl.  Seriously, when I say large bowl, I mean large bowl.  This recipe makes a lot of chicken casserole and it will be difficult to stir if you don't use a large bowl.  To the chicken add your cooked noodles, cream of chicken soup, celery, onion, one cup of the broth from boiling the chicken, sour cream, one cup of the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly and put in a large casserole dish.  A 9x13 works great, but, I used my new Le Creuset oval casserole dish!  This is my first piece of Le Creuset enameled stoneware and I will tell you that I am VERY impressed.  Spray the pan with cooking spray before adding the ingredients.  Spread one cup of cheese over the top of the casserole and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

This casserole is very basic, but delicious. You could even put the casserole together the night before, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you get home from work and then bake it.  I wish I had a picture of the baked casserole but the vultures were circling, I mean, my husband and kids were starving, so you'll just have to trust me when I say it was golden and bubbly and delicious!  Serve this with a salad and bread and you've got a meal fit for vultures, I mean a king!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunrises and the Son

My friends would be quick to tell you that I am not a morning person.  I love to stay up late.  I get more work done at night, and I never want to go to bed.  Getting up early in the mornings is not my favorite thing.  I, am a night owl.  However, for over two years, I HAVE been getting up early.  I walk 3 miles every morning with two friends of mine and we walk at 5:00 a.m.  Yes, you read that right, 5:00 IN THE MORNING!  So five days a week my alarm goes off while it's still dark.  I brush my teeth, throw my walkin' clothes on and drive into town to meet my friends at the track.  Hey,we're doing our part to stay healthy!  In the last two years I've watched the sun rise many, many times and frankly, I have mostly taken the sunrises for granted. 

This week one of my sisters is in Florida on vacation (hi sis, hope you are having a great time!) and when I got back to my house this morning I had this text message from her:

Wow!  Their hotel room overlooks the ocean and even this night owl had to admit that sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean is a beautiful sight to behold.  So, hoping to make her feel just a little bit guilty that she is on vacation and I'm not (just kidding), I took a quick picture with my phone of what sunrise looked like at my house and sent her this:

This is looking to the east about 6:00 this morning.  My sunrise looked out over a field and turkey barns.  Not exactly scenic, huh?  The sunrise looked so much better over the ocean!!!  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled my sister and brother-in-law are enjoying their vacation, but I must admit a big part of me was wishing I was there too!  But as the day has passed, I've been thinking. 

My first thought is that the sun she saw this morning from Florida is the same sun I saw in Miller County, Missouri.   And while the part of the earth she saw looked different than the part of the earth I saw, it's still the exact same earth.  Now this may sound like pretty basic stuff but have you ever really thought about that?  Every ray of sunlight that will hit the ground between sunrise and sunset today all come from that one big sun. 

As I drove into work this morning, heading east and facing the sun, I pondered the fact that there is only one sun, AND, there is only one Son.  When I pray, in Jesus name, I am praying thru the One and Only Son of God, the same Jesus you pray to.  The same little Baby born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, Who died on the cross in Jerusalem, was buried, raised from the dead three days later (HALLELUJAH!), and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father and He is the same Jesus who hears my every cry, my every plea.  He hasn't changed, and He never will.

So today I thank God that He created the heavens and the earth, and that He sent His Son, Jesus, that I might live.  And tomorrow morning, as I'm walking around that quarter mile track twelve times and watching the sun rise, I will remember that God made a sun, and He sent a Son for me, and for you.  Why?  Because He loved us.  That's what John 3:16 says, and I believe it.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to School

Today was "back to school day" at Down On The Farm.  Today was Alex's first day of high school.  She is a freshman.  She was excited, but a little nervous.  She is in a different building this year, so she's worried about finding all her classes, meeting her teachers, etc.  Cole, well, today is the first day of his senior year.  He probably wouldn't admit it, but I think he was a little anxious.  Oh, not in the same way Alex is.  He's been to this school for three years already, and he already knows the teachers.  He is anxious about this time in his life, this season. 

I have mixed feelings.  It makes me sad to think that my daughter is growing up.  I remember Cole's first day of high school, and thinking to myself "o.k., four more years."  Well, today, four more years became one more year.  And I know these next three years will go as fast for Alex as they have for Cole and once again I will find myself at the last first day of high school for one of my children.  If I dwell on it, it breaks my heart.

On the other hand, I am so very proud of both of them.  I know they will have a great year.  Alex is playing volleyball this year, varsity volleyball, as a freshman.  (Hey, it helps when you're 14 years old and 5'8)!  Cole is playing varsity basketball this year.  And they both run track.  There will be lots of neat things going on this year and it will be very exciting, very memorable. 

So today I pray for my kids, and for all the kids starting back to school.  And I pray for the moms, like me, who have just a little bit of mixed emotions.  May God bless us all!

Oh, and by the way, aren't my kids cute ? ? ?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I don't know about you, but I am loving these cooler temperatures!  I am not a hot weather person.  Now don't get me wrong.  I don't like it when it is 10 degrees and sleeting, but I'll take a 62 degree day over a 92 degree day EVERY DAY!

Isn't God good to give us seasons in the weather?  Some days are bright and sunny and hot.  Some days are sunny and crisp and cool (MY FAVORITE).  Some days are cloudy and rainy.  Some are cold and snowy.  But each day is a gift from God and I enjoy every kind of day and am thankful.

So why don't I look at the seasons of my life that way?  Sometimes life goes along pretty good.  No big tragedies, no big heartaches, just day-to-day living.  And during those times we are thankful to God for just giving us life.  But then, all of a sudden, here comes a season that isn't so much fun.  A season that is tough to take.  I've had them, we all have.  Sickness, death, stress, worry.  Those seasons aren't fun.  And they seem to go on and on and on. 

We need to praise God for all the seasons in our life, good and bad.  Because just like a rainy day makes us appreciate the sunshine, a season of trials and tribulations makes us appreciate God's goodness.  It increases our faith.  And yes, if we truly are learning, it encourages us.  Because it teaches us to trust in the Lord and know that no matter what He is in control and THAT my friends is ENCOURAGING!!!

So while we like to hurry through the bad seasons in our life, just like sometimes I want summer to hurry up and end so I can get to fall, I know that God has allowed that season in my life for a reason.  To teach me, and to encourage me.  Because He loves me.

Thank you Lord, for all kinds of seasons. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Cutest Giveaway!!!

Now seriously, aren't these the CUTEST plant markers you have ever seen?

Vintage spoons painted beautifully!!!  And my blogging friend Amy from WAAAAYYYY out in California at is having a giveaway.  Check out her blog for details on how you can win one of these gorgeous vintage spoons at her giveaway.  Plus, its a great blog to follow!!!!!  And, from there, you can check out the blog of the wonderful lady who paints these and sells these plant markers . . . Homespun Sprout!  Of course the intended purpose of these is to mark your plants in the garden, but how cute would these be in a small flower pot on your kitchen counter???  Her prices are very reasonable, and just think what a really CUTE gift these would make for a friend who needed a little something to make her smile, or to make yourself smile :0!  So head on over to Homestead Revival!!!!  Have a blessed day my blogging friends! 

If I am the winner, THIS is the one I'm gonna get, and if I'm NOT the winner, well, I think I might need to order it anyway!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prayers Needed

Today I became aware of a situation involving a friend of mine.  This friend has made some very wrong choices in her life over the past year.  She has made many mistakes.  In fact, I have had very little contact with her in the past year because I refused to tell her what she wanted to hear.  I have stood on the Word of God and given her Godly advice that she has not taken.  Today, this friend of mine is in desperate need of our prayers.  Please ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as to how to pray for this situation.  I don't feel led to share details with you, but believe me when I say it is very serious.  Her name is Jessica, and Jessica desperately needs your prayers today.

I am very happy to tell you that Michael, the young man with the head injury came home from the hospital yesterday! Praise God!  And while he has many challenges ahead we know that God is more than able to perfect the healing He began in Michael's body.  Thank you Lord! 

And Thomas, the six month old boy with the heart condition, needs your prayers as well.  He is holding his own, but not gaining weight as the doctors would like.  Please continue to pray for Him.  He needs complete healing.

Ladies, aren't you so thankful that NOTHING is too difficult for our God?  Nothing is impossible.  Sometimes I look at situations that are so beyond my comprehension that I don't see any way out.  Like the situation involving my friend.  But I thank God that what we see is inconsequential.  I praise Him that HE is in control today.  And I thank each one of you for your prayers.  God bless you.