German Knephla Soup with made-from-scratch broth

Let me tell you, I’ve always been amazed at people that can make meals from scratch. Somehow, the thought of just throwing stuff together and hoping that it turns out has always terrified me…but that’s not so much the case any longer.

You see, I have four boys – and aside from one on a very special diet – they will eat anything. And lots of anything. Lots and LOTS of anything.

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He's the one in the football gear.

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He’s the one in the football gear.

Yesterday I started what was to be supper last night, but Boss Man surprised me by having put something in the oven for supper already. So I saved it for today (which actually made it healthier).

This post is actually two recipes in one, so be sure you read all the way to the end, you don’t want to miss it!

Soup base

  • 1 soup bone (in this case, I used a whole half-smoked turkey, you can use a beef bone, ham bone, chicken, etc – leave the trim meat on it…whatever type of base you want to make)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • celery salt, approx. 1 tsp. (you can also just use 3-4 stalks of celery)
  • couple shakes of pepper (I apparently have inherited my Grandmother’s gift of measurement)
  • 3 bay leaves

Put all together into a stock pot or kettle with water. I filled my kettle about 2/3 full of water. It depends on how strong you want your broth, how much you’re going to need for the final recipe, etc. Turn the temp up to medium and bring it to a boil. Keep it boiling for 30-45 minutes. The longer it cooks, the more flavor you’ll draw out. As the meat starts to fall off, you’ll know when it’s about done.

Getting ready to make my broth.

Getting ready to make my broth.

When the broth is to your flavor desire, take out the bone and discard. I always leave the meat in for my soup. (It usually doesn’t have much flavor left, but adds to the texture.)

Notice how most of the meat has fallen off? I picked a little more off as I was pulling out the bones.

Notice how most of the meat has fallen off? I picked a little more off as I was pulling out the bones.

Warning – chicken will cook faster than a beef or ham bone. You’ll want to be sure to get all the bones out! (Lesson learned the hard way.)

If you’re making soup that day, just add your other ingredients and enjoy! If your soup-making day is a little ways off, place the broth in the fridge and let it cool. If you let it cool first, all the fat will harden at the top, making it easy to skim off.

If you’re soup seems to be lacking a little something, you can easily play with it, by adding a little extra chicken bouillon, beef bouillon, etc.

Now, on to the good part:

Knephla Soup

Knephla soup is simply a dough-based soup. Super easy to make, especially with the broth above.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt (to your taste)
  • package frozen veggies (again, to your taste)
  • 3 chicken breasts, browned and chopped

To make knephla dough, simply add the flour, egg and water and mix until a dough ball forms. You know the dough is done, when it doesn’t stick to the side of your mixer. If the dough is dry (flaky in the bowl), add a touch of water…if it’s wet (sticky mess), add a touch of flour. When adding to the dough, do so in small amounts. It doesn’t take much to get it to just the right consistency.

To the broth above, add in the vegetables (you could also use fresh carrots, celery, potatoes, whatever you’d like…I just happen to have a bag of frozen handy) and the chicken. (I cheated this time and used some chopped ham that we had leftover. The smoked turkey tastes a lot like ham, so it was an easy add in. With the salty ham, I skipped salt in the broth, so that it wasn’t too salty in the end.)

Bring the broth with all your goodies in it to a boil.

To make the actual knephla, tear off a chunk of dough and roll it into a strip. Think about half the width of a paper towel roll. Take your kitchen scissors (or your kids’ scissors…washed) and cut small pieces off the strip, directly into the broth. They may sink right away (unless you have a ton of stuff in your kettle, like veggies, meat, etc.), but they’ll float when the dough has cooked through (about 2-3 minutes). Keep cutting and rolling and cutting and rolling, until all the dough is in your pot.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

German Knephla Soup - No matter how you spell it, it all ends up the same...GONE!

German Knephla Soup – No matter how you spell it, it all ends up the same…GONE!

 

What makes a constitutional amendment?

As I’ve made perfectly clear in the past, I am in favor of Measure 3, the North Dakota Constitutional amendment that would protect farming and ranching and modern practices employed by farmers and ranchers.

I want to address one of the concerns that is being brought up by the only vocal agricultural group in opposition to this measure…the North Dakota Farmer’s Union.

First of all, as a member of Farmer’s Union (I’m a member of Farm Bureau as well), let me tell you that I’m extremely disappointed and concerned regarding the stance they have on this measure. It’s becoming more of a school-ground bullying match than fact-sharing, and it’s not what being in agriculture is all about.

Enough about that, let’s get to the issue. Opponents of the measure keep declaring that the constitutional amendment is too vague. Practices aren’t specified and there are no restrictions for negligence.

Why did I highlight constitutional amendment? Because that’s what this is…a change to our state constitution, that would protect the heritage that makes North Dakota the great state that it is, that provides food, fiber and fuel for the world.

The amendment needs to be broad enough to stand the test of time, allowing society to advance and our state constitution to stay current, even when we can’t imagine what the next century may bring.

Let’s take a look at another constitutional amendment:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

 

Wait a minute…how could that amendment have been passed? It doesn’t state that you can’t use weapons negligently. It doesn’t state that you are limited to muskets and cannons only. So, surely, it must have been voted down and didn’t stand the test of time, right?

How about another one:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

Geez, that one didn’t pass either, did it? I mean, it doesn’t specifically state that I can’t call someone a few choice words in a newspaper ad that runs across the country. Oh, wait…but I can’t, can I? Not without the other person having legal recourse.

No, constitutional amendments are NOT about specifying exactly what it is you can or cannot do, it’s about upholding the wishes of the people of the state, for generations to come. It allows flexibility for growth and changes that are made by society, yet it protects the basic rights that we should be entitled to…and that includes our agricultural heritage.

With these rights come expectations, regulations and limitations, it does not, nor will it ever, trample on the rights and freedoms of others. It allows for the legal protection of our way of life and direction for those that are making the laws that will govern our future societies.

Please, do not tell me that Measure 3 is too vague in its wording, and needs to have specifics put in place.

Although, all I can do is ask, because there’s already an amendment that allows you that right.

Yes on North Dakota Measure 3

Did you know that America’s farmers and ranchers produce 16 percent of the total world food production on just 10 percent of the world’s land?

Agriculture and related industries provide jobs for more than 21 million Americans. That’s 15 percent of the total U.S. workforce.

In 1940, each U.S. farmer annually fed approximately 19 people in the U.S. and abroad. In 1960, each farmer feed about 46 people. In 1980, 115. In 2000, 139. Today, each U.S. farmer feeds approximately 154 people here and abroad. And they are doing it with fewer inputs, and on fewer acres.

Farming and agriculture is the backbone of our country, but more importantly, it’s the number one industry in North Dakota. Long after the oil boom has come and gone, farming will still be growing our economy and providing for our state and our country.

 

Waiting his turn…his dad is in the tractor, his grandpa is in the combine. Is his future in jeopardy?

 

Measure 3 is a constitutional amendment that will ensure that out-of-state interests and activist groups will not be able to pass ballot initiatives that would jeopardize our heritage of agriculture. This measure would protect the way of life that has made North Dakota a great state and a great place to raise a family.

But there are misconceptions about what this measure is about, and we’d like to clear those up. This measure is NOT about farming systems, it doesn’t pit organic versus conventional or large versus small. This measure would ensure that if you wanted to use GPS and auto steer in your tractor, that would be allowed. You would be allowed to raise livestock of your choosing without worrying that some out-of-state feel-good group is going to tell you that your buildings or fences are abusive to the animal. You would also be allowed to make your own individual seed and chemincal choices on your farm, including heirlooms, biotechnology, organic or conventional. A law could not be passed determining what is right for all farms in North Dakota, those decisions would be left to each farm to make.

The measure is NOT about removing local control. It would not limit local zoning ordinances, nor would it remove the power from local and state governments for regulations.

Measure 3 IS about allowing farmer’s markets and other niche consumer activities to continue to grow and prosper, it’s about giving people choices and protecting our past, present and future. The constitutional amendment is intentionally broad enough to stand the test of time, yet focused enough to protect what North Dakota holds dear.

For those that would question whether regulations would still be allowed, we give you an example of another constitutional right. We have the right to bear arms, but with that right also comes limitations, responsibilities and regulations. The same is true for agriculture.

We just want the right to farm, without risk of having someone else from out of state taking that right away.

WW – Applefest

Last weekend was Applefest in our nearby town of Ellendale. The festivities for the day kicked off with a parade in the morning, followed by a Salute to Veterans and the crowning of this year’s Little Miss and Little Mr. Ellendale.

Check out the pics:

Nothing beats a great band in a parade!

Our military were honored throughout the day.

The 2011-12 Little Miss and Mr. Ellendale!

Our cute little neighbor girl, riding on the Little Miss and Mr. float!

She’ll kill me for this!

A few of the new cheerleaders, and our school mascot.

What parade is complete without a segway?

Our church’s float…love this, so much.

You never know what you might see…even on a dental float. 😉

Even our crop consultant got in on the act!

He may not be Little Mr. Ellendale this year, but he’s definitely the “apple” of MY eye this Applefest! 🙂 Love you, EJ!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protecting ALL animals – Vote NO on Measure 5

North Dakota is an agricultural state. No matter what happens in the west with the oil boom, agriculture will still be here for generations to come…if we protect our heritage.

There is a measure that will show up on the November ballot that can put all of that at risk, and it’s up to us, the citizens of our great state, to stand up and let others know that we fully support and wish to protect our legacy.

What am I talking about? Measure 5 is a poorly worded, narrow-focused measure that has been crafted by an out-of-state animal-rights group that has a history of coming in with big guns, lots of money and slick ads, changing state laws and then pushing anti-farming, anti-hunting and pro-vegan agendas. All while making you feel warm and fuzzy that you’re helping little kitties and doggies.

Do you know how much of the Humane Society of the United States’ budget goes to truly help hands-on pet shelters? Less than 1 percent of the multi-millions that are in their budget. The rest is spent on pensions, lobbying and suing others to make them follow their guidelines.

We cannot let a group such as this in the door.

Let’s take a closer look at the measure, not just the people behind it.

To start with, the measure only addresses horses, cats and dogs. Why would that be? Well, it seems pretty plain to me that they’re aiming at easy targets for an emotional argument. It’s a great marketing ploy. If you were to set my dog on fire, you better believe that I want you to see jail time. In fact, jail is probably the safest place for you, because if I have an opportunity to inflict harm on you, well, I may face a little jail time myself.

Hurt one of these little guys maliciously, and you better hope you’re in jail, where I can’t get a hold of you. Yet, she’s not included in the measure.

But the same is true for my cows. And they wouldn’t be protected under the measure.

Another problem I have with the measure is the scope of “crimes” that it addresses. Here it is directly from the measure: “Any individual who maliciously and intentionally burns, poisons, crushes, suffocates, impales, drowns, blinds, skins, beats to death, drags to death, exsanguinates, disembowels, or dismembers any living dog, cat, or horse is guilty of a class C felony.”

I agree that all of those things are cruel, malicious and worthy of jail time (or worse), yet those things rarely happen in our state. In fact, when you search for crimes like these in reports, you have a hard time finding any at all.

Yet, the most common types of cruelty are not addressed. Things such as starvation and animal hoarding, which cause much more distress and harm to the animals, aren’t even mentioned. Why? Perhaps because a law such as this would seem to be a no-brainer, but once we let HSUS in the door, we’re open to litigation, interpretation by the courts and forced to defend those things that should be seen as protected rights.

I’m not asking people to just vote “No” and call it a day. There is a group of people that have worked hard to come up with an alternative that could be passed legislatively, making it easier to adjust as concerns come up and easier to amend when times change.

Let’s send the message that we don’t need out-of-state interests coming in to our state and telling us what to do and how to treat our animals. The scare tactics they use to push these measures is almost laughable, if it weren’t happening right here.

Defeating this measure is not going to be easy. When their advertising revolves around cute cats and puppies and ignores the issues surrounding the measure, it’s pretty plain to see what we’re up against.

We love our cats…and our dogs…and our cows. But Measure 5 is not the right answer, for any of them! Vote NO!

I love my dogs, I love our cats…but I also love our cows. Voting “No” is not a vote against our pets, it’s a vote for common sense and a vote for the future of agriculture.

Do you have questions? Would like more information on the history of HSUS and their involvement in other states? Stay tuned. I’ll answer anything you care to ask (or find the answers if I don‘t know), and I’ll be showing you the track record this group has in other states.

But I’ll warn you, it’s not pretty.

A Needed Rain

It’s Friday, it’s July 6 and we finally have some moisture on the ground. An inch to be exact. And we are so very, very thankful for it.

Our crops were starting to suffer, but this is a good start. It’ll buy us time and hopefully we’ll have more moisture soon.

This is the part of farming that I don’t enjoy. This is the part of farming that keeps men and women up at nights and makes them wonder if it’s worth it. Imagine building a $250,000 house and watching someone pour gasoline throughout, then play with a match around it. Yes, you have house insurance, but it doesn’t take into account the blood, sweat and tears that it took to get it to that point. Imagine.

Yet, we do it every year, time after time, knowing that Mother Nature can turn her back on you at any given moment. Why? Good question. Some say if we don’t like it, we can just get a job in town somewhere. But once you’re a farmer, it’s in your blood and it’s hard to stay away. Feeling the dirt beneath your feet, watching the sun rise and set each day, being able to breathe clean, fresh air from your office…well, that’s not easy to find.

So we head back out, watching the skies, paying attention to nature’s queues, waiting for the moisture that we need, the sun that we need, the right mixture of heat/wind/etc. If that’s not faith at it’s finest, I don’t know what is.

Today we celebrate a small victory. And I celebrate not having to water our garden…and I give thanks.

With as dry as our yard is, these puddles won’t last long!

These cukes are enjoying the rain, and a reprieve from being watered!

The wind combined with the rain made the sweet corn in the garden lay down, but it should stand back up with the sun now shining!

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are

I basically took the month of June off on my blog. It wasn’t intentional, but it ended up being that I simply didn’t have time. We had swimming lessons, baseball practices and games, I play softball, parades, celebrations, a birthday party or two, fair preparations to make and life to live. It was wonderful.

But now it’s the day after the Fourth of July, and life is a little more subdued and relaxed. We can start truly enjoying our summer…and I intend to make every minute count.

I promise to blog more often (more for myself than anything), and I promise to continue to reach out and do what I can to share this great way of life that we are living.

It what I can do, without leaving my farm, and using the skills that I have.

It wasn’t until the 457th person told me (during this break of mine) that they enjoy my writing, they love to share what I share and realize how important farming and rural life is to the backbone of America. What more can I ask for?

And it’s something so simple, that I know you can do it, too. All it takes is a minute of time, an ounce of creativity and courage…a fair amount of courage.

Thank you for sticking with me…and as a reward, here’s a few photos of what we’ve been up to:

We watched storm clouds roll through, but never received much for rain.

We watched 70+ tractors roll past our farm on a Tractor Trek to celebrate a local town’s 125th celebration.

Boss Man joined the tractors!

We played some baseball.

We watched some amazing sunsets.

And we danced like no one was watching.

I may have become a little discouraged last month, questioning if I am doing the right thing, or if I have the right intentions. But those doubts are gone, my spirit is renewed and I have new goals in sight. And I can do it all from the comforts of my home.

Yes, summer, I am finally ready for you.

WW – Some Sweet Tasters

First week of summer break is almost gone…we’ve been busy! I’ll catch up more later, but take a look at my boys enjoying a taste-test of sweet corn shipped to us from down south. I’d like to thank Monsanto for the chance to have an early bite of this delicacy…and can’t wait for our own to be ready!

The long-awaited cooler! Smelled so good!

Boiled up and ready to go!

This little boy was enjoying his first on-the-cob experience with sweet corn fully!

EJ gave the corn two thumbs up! (And was looking for more!)

Even Big Bro was excited about the sweet corn!

Our corn isn’t knee-high yet, but we’re up out of the ground…and that’s a great start!

The taste of sweet corn and the seed we planted was provided to our farm through Monsanto, but the thoughts, ideas and photos are my own.

Thankful Thursday – It could have been worse

This wasn’t the post I intended to write today. These weren’t the pictures I hoped to share. But Mother Nature has a funny way of deciding what does and does not happen.

Last night, shortly before I was planning to go to bed, the TV warned of a storm that was heading towards our area. They stated that it had heavy rain, some hail and strong winds. I joked on Facebook that it better go around, because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a storm.

She showed me.

The first storm hit about 10 p.m., and although at first seemed to not be that bad, it quickly changed its tune. We had a lot of hail, wind took down sections of fence and spun our calf shelter, killing one calf and injuring another.

Hail out our door last night, storm #1.

I thought that was it, and went to bed, knowing there wasn’t anything we could do during the night.

And then at 4 this morning, another storm came through…bringing more hail, more wind, but thankfully, no more destruction.

In total, we received 1.15″ of rain, and a solid coating of hail. The pictures speak more than I can:

Drift of hail left yet this morning.

More hail…

Our trailer was “hailed.” 😉

This calf shelter is supposed to protect calves, not hurt them. But the storm last night rotated this shelter to the north 90 degrees, killing one calf in the process.