Recipe: Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

Bones are a big deal in my household. They are never thrown away, ever! I use them in broths and soups.  They add so much flavor and texture it’d be such a waste not to use them. I feel very strongly about food waste. Somewhere, a farmer or rancher worked hard to raise that food on your plate, it’s an insult to everyone involved to flippantly waste it.

So good on a rainy day!

So good on a rainy day!

I had a lovely ham bone left over from a ham dinner I had this week. Ham bones are great because there are about 100 delicious soups you can make with them. After much agonizing I decided this bone would be a lovely split pea soup.  This is an easy and fairly cheap recipe to make, enjoy!

 

Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 meaty ham bone (Table Mountain Ranch pork is preferred)
  • 1 pound split peas
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • water
Yum......ham bone!

Yum……ham bone!

In a large pot, over medium heat, add bone, broth and peas. If the broth doesn’t cover the bone – add water until the bones is covered by liquid.

I love how this soup changes from brothy to thick!

I love how this soup changes from brothy to thick!

Bring to a boil. Meanwhile add onions to a frying pan and saute until translucent. Add smashed garlic and stir to mix. Add onions, potato, and carrots to your pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally for two hours or until the soup is thick and the peas have no form left. Mix in thyme. Remove bone (you might have to pick some meat off it), any unsavory meat pieces and bay leaves before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you have leftovers you migghhhtt need to add a whisper more water when reheating because this soup does have a tendency to thicken.

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Kisses!

Pig kisses are the best.

Pig kisses are the best.

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Wordless Wednesday: Sleepy Head

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14 Tips for Dating a FarmHER or RancHER

I don’t watch much TV. I especially don’t watch reality TV. My reality is enough for me! However, it has come to my attention that a popular reality TV dating show is featuring a farmer. I know this because I have seen multiple blog posts about what it is to date or marry a farmer. This is great, most of us need all the dating advice we can get (I know, I’m single)! But it’s been just a whisper one-sided. Where are the blog posts about what it is like to date or marry a woman farmer or rancher? Since I am a woman rancher and I usually date non-farmers or ranchers, this is a topic I am especially familiar with, so I give you my list of advice.

1. Don’t be intimidated by us. Yes, we have an unique skill set, work ethic and a can-do attitude that can be daunting but there is nothing sexy about a man who is scared or threatened by a woman who is self-sufficient.

2. Working in agriculture is often a dirty, bloody, dusty, muddy, smelly job. Sometimes we like to be pretty and knock the poo off, take us out occasionally so we can wear our town boots and smell nice. Of course not during planting, harvest, calving or shipping season though.

3. We can castrate with our teeth. Enough said.

4. Our prefered topics of conversation will make you uncomfortable or grossed out for a while. Don’t worry, you’ll get used it and eventually like it. Example dinner topic at my house: “did you see that abscess on that cow finally popped?!? What was the scrotal circumference on the new bull?’

5. Don’t “little lady” us on our ranch. By that I mean don’t treat us any differently than you a man doing our job. Not only is it incredibly insulting, it can get someone hurt. We know our job and how to safely do it. You do not.

6. We cuss like well-educated sailors. It’s a result of being “little ladied”. For example, if it comes between dropping an “F” bomb to get your attention, or watching you get mucked-out by a mad mama cow because you were trying to do my job, I’ll let loose a string of expletives that would make a trucker blush.

We  love our animals.

We love our animals.

7. The farm and animals will always come first. Often, our ranch is the work of generations of our family’s blood, sweat and tears – we know this is a legacy that we cannot lose. Respect that, even offer to lend a hand (even if you just bring us dinner to the tractor or field). Bonus points if it’s during our busy season.

8. Sometimes we won’t be able to take that romantic getaway or attend that wedding with you or even go on that date, our schedules are not like our non-farming counterparts. The animals don’t care if you have plans and the harvest can’t wait. Give us lots of notice for events and forgive us if we cancel on you – our whole season’s work might be in jeopardy.

9. A clean house may not always be our top priority, but we can cook better than your Mom, probably your Grandma too. And, extra bonus? Our deep freezers often contain more beef, pork, lamb and wild game than you ever imagined!

10. We can hunt and fish. And own excellent places to do that. We also clean and gut our own game, yours too, if you compliment us enough.

So handy!

So handy!

11. We are damn handy to have around. Most of us possess a plethora of skills honed over our lifetime of manual labor on the ranch. Need some welding done? Maybe some plumbing? Have some heavy equipment you need operated?  Maybe your pet needs some vaccinations? Let us know, we’ll take care of it.

12. We are confident and fearless. We rarely take shit from anyone. If you make us mad, you will know about it. We work with animals and equipment that are much larger than you and not as reasonable, everyday, all day.

13. We can breed, plant, assist with birth, raise, harvest and slaughter our own food. We are connected to agriculture in almost a spiritual way. If you spend any amount of time with us, you will learn more about agriculture than you ever thought possible and start to love it as much as us.

14. If you love us, you will love our life. It just comes with the territory. Farming and ranching is not always easy, pretty, fun or comfortable, but it is one of the most rewarding ways of life ever. If you are lucky enough to date a farmher or rancher, told on tight, we are worth it.

Don’t believe me? Here is some more advice!

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Recipe: Meyer Vanilla Lemonade

One of the many benefits of living in California is the citrus!!!! Because of this I have a collections of dwarf citrus trees in my front yard. I have several Meyer lemon trees because they are my favorite. Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and mandarin or orange. They are sweeter than your average lemon and have a thinner skin. One of my favorite things to do with these lemons is make lemonade.

Lemonade in my AgHag chalice.

Lemonade in my AgHag chalice.

Meyer-Vanilla Lemonade

6 to 7 Meyer lemons (about one cup of juice, although I prefer one cup running over)
3/4 cup vanilla sugar*
5 cups water, divided
Ice

This smells like sunshine.

This smells like sunshine.

Bring one cup of water and sugar to a boil to make a simple syrup. Remove from heat and cool. Squeeze lemons, making sure to remove the seeds.
Add cooled simple syrup, lemon juice, and water into a pitcher and mix well. Serve over ice and with a lemon slice.

*Vanilla sugar is just sugar that I keep in a jar with a few gutted vanilla beans. It’s lovely for pastries, drinks and baked goods. It has a slight vanilla flavor that really compliments most things. You could add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the lemonade if you are using plain sugar. But I highly recommend getting a jar of vanilla sugar going for your pantry.

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Throwback Thursday: Little Brown’s

I thought this would be an appropriate time to post a picture of some my Dad’s family. This is a rare picture that has lots of information on the back. The top says “Little Brown’s Dec. 1956″ then a list of names and birth dates. I know by the background is was taken in the Family house on Stampfli Lane. 

December 1956

Little Brown’s

From left to right:

Sandra D.
Carl E.
James E. (Jim)
Gary L.
Linda I.
Fletcher L. (Larry)

It’s also noted on the picture that “ALL have BLUE eyes”. It’s funny because the Brown family blue eyes are totally a thing. I have them, my Dad obviously has them, my Grandfather had them as well, but past that point I don’t know. All the pictures past my Grandfather are in black and white.
I think it is worth noting my Dad is the last surviving Brown brother.

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Wordless Wednesday: I Got the Fence Fixin’ Blues

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I’m Your Huckleberry: My Adventures with Social Media and my Congressman

‘You gotta quit this sh*t Megan, it’s getting ridiculous’ – (my Dad)

To be fair I think Dad was referring to the fact that I have had two different forms of news out to The Ranch in less than two weeks. The first was The Sac Bee, and the second was my local news station, KHSL-TV.

Screen shot from the story! Go here to check it out http://www.actionnewsnow.com/news/oroville-cattle-rancher-uses-twitter-to-make-political-voice-heard/

Screen shot from the story! Go here to check it out.

But it’s not quite that simple. Over the past few years I’ve been using social media for more than cows, plows and sows. I’ve used it to engage my local politicians, namely my Congressman, Doug LaMalfa. This all culminated with our President’s State of the Union Address last January.

You see, I was “live tweeting” it on twitter. If you are not familiar with twitter or live tweeting, that means I was, at 140 characters or less, giving my thoughts and opinions on the President’s speech. Congressman LaMalfa was doing the same thing. It happened to catch the eye of Brian Johnson, which led to an interview out here on the Ranch.

One of my favorite topics to ask my Congressman about is climate change. Even if you don't believe it is happening, I think as an elected official, farmer and Dad, he should at least humor those of us that are concerned about it.

One of my favorite topics to ask my Congressman about is climate change. Even if you don’t believe it is happening, I think as an elected official, farmer and Dad, he should at least humor those of us that are concerned about it.

Now, the Congressman and I have been tweeting at each other for a few years now. Ok, to be fair, I have done MOST of the tweeting. I firmly believe that our elected officials should interact with their constituency. I do understand how busy our elected official must be, especially our Congress, but that is the beauty of social media – you can address those issues for many people rather quickly. It does make me sad that my Congressman does not really take advantage of that opportunity.

Congressman LaMalfa's email blasts always encourage us to engage him. However, as I have found out and you can see for yourself on his pages, he doesn't engage.

Congressman LaMalfa’s email blasts always encourage us to engage him. However, as I have found out and you can see for yourself on his pages, he doesn’t engage.

Brian Johnson came out the morning after SOTU for the interview. We had a great visit, and it was fun to have him out to the Ranch. He filed a wonderful report! The feedback I got on my social media feeds was all super positive. It was a wonderful experience for me!

Brian got to meet Silly pig. As you can see, Silly really like him.

Brian got to meet Silly pig. As you can see, Silly really like him.

 However, I’m not sure how my Congressman felt about it. I have a feeling I might have upset him when I mentioned that sometimes he responded to my tweets and it is getting harder to ignore me. Since the interview he hasn’t tweeted or facebooked me back at all, despite multiple attempts.

He invites the President to his 'house', I invite my Congressman to mine.

He invites the President to his ‘house’, I invite my Congressman to mine.

 I have to admit I do find it disheartening. I think when the next generation of ag leaders are actively seeking to engage with current leaders, only good things can come of those interactions. It hurts to approach my elected official in a positive and polite manner only to be rebuffed, again and again. I know we might not have the same political beliefs but having open and respectful dialogue would help foster understanding on both sides and be an excellent example for many.

It puzzled me when the Congressman made the comment about name calling. That is not my style at all.

It puzzled me when the Congressman made the comment about name calling. That is not my style at all.

Stay tuned! I have no intention of giving up my quest to communicate with my Congressman. I believe that our Government is for the People, by the People, and it is our responsibility to maintain that. Many of us have slipped into complacency and general sense of disconnect and we no longer engage in our political system. It’s time to change that and if I can inspire just a handful of people to do that, then my job is done. #aghagforcongress

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Wordless Wednesday: February 10, 2015

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Wordless Wednesday: January 29, 2015

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