In the kitchen

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There’s always a lot of talk about food in the Ozarks Farm & Neighbor office.

We all like good food and share our successes and failures in the kitchen, on the grill or in the smoker.

I wouldn’t say I’m a great cook, but I’m decent. There are certain things I do pretty well with; then there are others well beyond my culinary skills. I have grown to accept that, and so has Bill, but it has been through trial and error.

When the pandemic first hit, I got into the bread-making craze. Unlike some, I did not do sourdough, but I did try my hand at a couple of “Artesian” breads with some success. My dinner rolls came out like hockey pucks more than once, but I kept trying until I found the recipe that works best for me. There are still some failures, but not as many as there once were. I recently tried to “fancy up” a plain white cake. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either.

Several years ago, Bill insisted on this recipe for stuffed mushrooms. It had a list of ingredients about a mile long. I tried to explain to him I had never attempted to cook anything like it, and frankly, it didn’t look very appetizing. He said it wasn’t hard, and I told him he was more than welcome to give it a shot. Finally, I relented and made whatever it was. I followed the recipe word for word, step by step, line by line and measured everything as directed. As I assembled the dish, it looked like blobs. I put it in the oven, and before long, it stunk up the whole house. I was not impressed. Bill had a look of disappointment on his face when he saw the results; it looked nothing like the recipe he printed out.

“I’m sure it will taste OK,” he said.

Well, it tasted like dirt with seasoning on it that made it taste more like dirt. Bill had to admit it was not good. The mushroom whatever went over the back fence that night, and we dined on frozen pizza. He learned that evening when I say I can’t cook something, I can’t cook it.

He has also learned when I say I can cook it, it’s pretty good.

When we were first married, I made a big pot of chicken and dumplings, one of my favorites in the fall and winter. He refused to eat them. Why? Because someone made some when he was a kid and he didn’t like it. Fine, more for me. He did eventually try my chicken and dumplings, and now it is one of his most-requested meals.

Bill thinks he’s the king of the grill and smoker, but I am actually a much better pitmaster. I understand the importance of marinades, rubs and that the low and slow method is the best way to cook; he’s all about the flames. We hosted a pretty large gathering at the house this summer, and we had our small smoker and four grills going. I had to depend on him to man the grills while cooking other things to get ready for the shindig. Let’s just say there were several, “Jules! Come check these!” as I was running around. Thankfully, one of his nephews stepped in to help him out, and everyone went home with a full belly. No matter which one of us does the cooking, we want to make sure everyone joining us for a meal enjoys it .

In this issue of OFN, we are once again sharing recipes from our readers, and they all sound delicious. It’s no wonder Amanda and I were hungry all the time while doing this issue. We hope you enjoy these recipes and pick a few to share with your family this holiday season. 

Ozarks Farm & Neighbor wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a big thank you to all of the farmers and ranchers in the Ozarks for your work to provide the food for the holiday meals we share with family and friends.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]

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