Farmers and ranchers make the holidays

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Ready or not, the holiday season is here. Thanksgiving is over, and now it’s onto Christmas. 

Like many families, our holiday festivities include food, lots and lots of food. 

My family has some great cooks and bakers, so it’s hard not to overindulge this time of year. It typically starts with a Thanksgiving lunch at my in-laws, followed by a Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s, and continues until sometime in January. 

I might have to make another turkey before Christmas because Bill and I will be having tryptophan withdrawals by then; I love a good oven-roasted or smoked turkey. The best part of cooking a turkey are the leftovers. A sandwich made with leftover turkey is hard to beat. Once the bird was just about picked clean, my mom would sometimes make turkey and dumplings or turkey potpie; they were the best. The occasional fried potatoes cakes were great too. I made some of the other night from some leftover mashed potatoes. It had been years since I had them, and they were just as good as I remembered. 

I have to brag on Bill and his developing culinary skills. I tell him I will cook whatever he wants if he tells me what he wants or lays something out from the freezer. Let’s just say there have been a lot of cereal nights at my house. 

Bill can cook, and he’s become a pro with the Instant Pot. Hamburger soup, chili, ham and beans, and meatloaf are his go-to meals. I appreciate it when he has supper started or done when I get home; a benefit of his retirement. 

With a list in hand one day, he asked me if we had several different spices; I was afraid to ask. He decided he was going to make lasagna all on his own. I told him it sounded great. 

At the store, he looked over his list to get just the right amount of everything and insisted on getting the type of lasagna noodles you have to boil first. I was afraid this would be a disaster, but he was set on making it.

When I returned home from work the next night, there was a huge lasagna and a loaf of garlic bread in the oven. It smelled amazing, and there were no dirty dishes. 

The lasagna was wonderful, and the best part was I didn’t have to make it or clean up more than the plates we used for supper. Bill nit-picked it some, but overall he was happy with his first-ever homemade lasagna. He said since he’d made it once, he was sure he could do it again. I’m good with that. 

To help some of our readers with their menu choices, we have again compiled some great recipes to share. I’ve made a few of the recipes featured in this edition that are pretty good; theres others I’ll be trying as well. You can’t work on this section of Ozarks Farm & Neighbor and not develop some cravings. We’re also featuring stories about excellent cooks in the Ozarks. 

The holiday season wouldn’t be the grazing season if it weren’t for those tending animals and growing crops. From the turkey to the ham, the green bean casserole to the cranberry sauce, the custard pie to the mashed potatoes, or whatever else fills your plate, it was made possible by farmers and ranchers.

Most of you will rise and shine on Christmas morning and start the day as you do any other day, doing chores before breakfast. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your dedication to the industry and for working countless hours to provide food for our tables not only this holiday season but every day. Our world would be a very different place without you.

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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