Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Cheesy Cream of Broccoli

This cream of broccoli soup is actually a modification from my favorite cheesy onion soup. I'm finding that with a good cream of "something" soup base, you can change up the ingredients and create a bunch of different flavors.

This would be really good with asparagus, or you could swap the Velveeta for Parmesan and add blended tomatoes and basil for a creamy tomato.

I'll share if I make different versions and how they turn out.

Cheesy Cream-of-Broccoli Soup

White Sauce

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
12 oz can evaporated milk

In a small saucepan melt butter, add flour. Cook on medium heat until you smell the flour...nutty smell.
Add milk slowly whisking each time. Set aside.


3 tbsp butter
2 sweet onions diced half inch pieces
1 tbsp chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 generous crown of Broccoli diced in small florets.
Lawry's seasoning salt
2 chicken or boullion cubes
1 quart chicken bone broth
8 oz Velveeta cheese cubed
white sauce above

In Dutch oven melt 3 tbsp butter. Add onions. Cook until translucent.
Add garlic, celery and carrots. Sautee’ on medium low until the carrots begin to soften.
Season with Lawry’s or your favorite seasoning salt. Add bone broth and boullion.
Heat to simmer. Add broccoli and heat until bright green and just tender.
Add Velveeta cubes, stir until melted. Then add white sauce slowly. Stir after each addition.
Let simmer on low 20 minutes stirring often.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Morel Mushroom Hunting Season Farm Shirts

Check out our new Farm Shirt design just in time for Morel season! I'm working on adding new designs to our Bonfire store. To check out this shirt and others click the link!  
Iron Oak Farm Shirts!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

How to Speak Chicken Book Review

 How to Speak Chicken
I’ve never felt emotionally closer to my flock than after reading Melissa’s book;

I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Caughey at the 2015 Mother Earth News Fair in Wisconsin. At the fair, we naturally found ourselves discussing our flocks. I can say that Melissa truly loves her chickens. She speaks about them as though they are old friends. If anyone knows how to speak chicken, it’s Melissa!

Most books about chickens are about necessities. They cover the basics of raising healthy birds. This is the first book I’ve come across that delves into the true personalities of chickens.

Melissa speaks to the fact that chickens are not simple egg laying machines, but rather are capable of a wide range of emotions, communication skills and complicated thought processes. Chickens not only have complicated relationships with each other, but are capable of connecting to humans with a deep and compassionate bond.

One of my favorite sections of this book begins on page 34; Chicken Language Explained. It serves as a field guide to the language of chickens. So many of these chicken phrases are familiar to me, and I couldn’t help but laugh as I read aloud the bawking noises with the sound of my own chickens in my head.

I also love the section on page 60, the Positions within the Flock. Melissa uses the word “Sentinel” to describe the position of a hen that takes the lead in a rooster-less flock. I’ve been searching for this term since I started raising chickens. I love that Melissa breaks down the flock pecking order and names each position.  

I also love how she describes the relationship with roosters. I happen to love roosters and with the hen being so coveted , I find that there is a lack of recognition for the beautiful other-half of the chicken world. A flock with a rooster really is different than an all female flock.

The section on brain function is fascinating! Melissa shows how chickens are not only able to be trained, but are capable of math, problem solving, decision making and even physics!

Melissa shows that there is more to keeping chickens than simply feeding and egg collecting. It’s beautifully written, and full of gorgeous images, personal testimonies and most of all, chicken love. 

To purchase a copy click here: How to Speak Chicken by Melissa Caughey
Be sure to check out Melissa's other book: A Kid's Guide to Keeping Chickens by Meilssa Caughey
And her website: Tilly's Nest

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

I wanted to share my first go around with homemade lacto-fermented sauerkraut. There are dozens of well written posts for this simple recipe, so I won't bother to say much more about it other than you need a head of shredded cabbage, and 2 Tbsp non-iodized salt.

What I do want to share is how easy it is to make.

For a long time I was terrified of fermenting foods because it just sounded like a prime recipe for botulism, or some other kind of food borne illness.

But after doing a lot of research I learned that it's kind of hard to mess up. With a bit of common sense and a good cleanliness ethic, lacto-fermentation is not only safe, but extremely healthy.

The process was really easy. I pounded the salt and cabbage for 5 minutes, let it rest for 10, and pounded another 5. 

Then I packed it into my wide mouth quart jar using the wooden pounder. I pushed down any cabbage shred stragglers and placed the weight on top. Then I strained the cabbage liquid and poured it over the weight.

Then I placed on my fermentation lid and marked the jar with the date.

I did purchase a few tools to make things easier. These glass weights help the vegetables to stay under the fermentation liquids. They also have a grip in the center for easy removal from the jar. I also purchased these low-profile fermentation lids which allow gasses to escape.

Welland Acacia Wood Pounder
Fermilid Fermentation Lids for Wide-mouth Jars
4-Pack Fermentation Glass Weights with Easy Grip Handle for Wide Mouth Jars

There are many ways to ferment with items you probably already have in your home. But being that I'm new to fermenting, I wanted to make sure I had the right tools.

I'm going to taste it in 3 days and see where we're at. I'll let you all know how it goes on our Facebook Page. If you have any tips I'd love to hear them!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sausage Cornbread Stuffed Peppers

I used to make this dish all the time, then forgot about it until this afternoon when I was trying to find something for dinner and found 4 beautiful bell peppers in the fridge. These peppers were meant to be a part of a pot of gazpacho, but we ended up eating the other ingredients in other meals. 

These peppers are not the usual stuffed pepper which I think includes some sort of rice and hamburger. Instead, these have sort of a tex-mex kind of flavor with sausage and (cheat here) a box of Stove-Top Cornbread Stuffing. If you have a batch of leftover cornbread, you could by all means break that up and use it.

But I like the Stove Top Stuffing!

My mom has always hated Stove-Top Stuffing so we never had it at our house. I remember as a kid going to my friends for dinner and loving the salty-herb side dish and wishing my mom would make it for us. It's all the salt right...that's why it tastes so good.

Anyway, this recipe is a fast, tasty dish that sort of throws-together and makes good use of too many bell peppers.

Sausage Cornbread Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 bell peppers
a 1 lb tube of your favorite ground sausage (I use Jimmy Dean Breakfast)
1 onion chopped
1 can sweet corn
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (drained)
1 box Cornbread Stove-Top Stuffing
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
 optional (red pepper flakes, cumin, chili powder, Cayenne pepper, your favorite hot sauce etc.) 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Slice bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove stems and seeds. Place in a greased baking dish hollow side up. 

Prepare stuffing according to the directions. Set aside.

In a skillet, brown the sausage. When the sausage is almost browned through add the onion and cook until translucent.

Mix in the can of corn and tomatoes and any additional seasonings. (a pinch of red pepper flakes, cumin, chili powder, Cayenne pepper, or your favorite hot sauce etc.)

Remove from heat and add the stuffing. Mix until well incorporated.

Spoon the hot filling into the pepper halves. I really stuff it in there. And it's ok if some spills over te sides. That's just bonus stuffing.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes for cheese to melt.   


Friday, January 19, 2018

Our T-shirts Are Back!

 No Bees, No Food T-shirt

If you've been following the Iron Oak Farm page for a while, you may remember that at one time we offered screen printed T-Shirts. We ended up abandoning the idea because it was too difficult for us to keep all the varieties of colors and sizes in stock. (There were too many variables). But I've recently teamed up with BONFIRE and our T-shirt designs are now available again! There is a better selection of styles, colors and sizes than we could provide alone. With BONFIRE I have to sell 5 shirts by February 8th for the printing to take place. If I don't reach the goal, your money will be refunded.

This Design is available in the:

Classic T-shirt
Slouch Women's Tank Top
Women's Fitted T-shirt
Long Sleeve T-shirt
Child's Classic T-shirt

And in a range of colors and sizes that you can select.

We're starting with our most requested design, the No Bees, No Food. I hope you enjoy!

Click the Link to purchase! No Bees, No Food T-shirt

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Temperature Blanket

October and November Temperatures from 2016

I first heard about the idea of a temperature blanket some where in the middle of last year. I vowed to begin one of these amazing blankets come the first of the 2018 year.

A temperature blanket is a knitting/crochet project where you assign a temperature range to a rainbow of colored yarns and each day you knit/crochet a row or 2 depending on the day's temperature.

There are so many variations that can be applied to this project, you can do a different stitch depending on if it's sunny or windy or raining that day. But in the end, you have something of a record of the temperatures for that year.

In the end, I decided instead of doing the coming year that I would knit the temperatures for my daughter Evelyn's first year in our hometown. She was born on October 5th, 2016 so that day's temperature is the first row in my blanket.

Temperature Range

I decided that each color would represent a 10 degree range going from sub zero to over 100 degrees. We live in Michigan, where all of these temperatures are a possibility. If you live in a climate that doesn't have a lot of variety in temperature you can do every 5 degrees, or even every degree.

Finding Yarn

It can be difficult to find a brand of yarn that carries such an assortment of colors. Choosing the colors was by far the hardest part of this project. I decided on the Lion Brand Heartland Yarn Collection. (yarn size 4) It's a beautiful soft yarn that is heathered, giving it a rustic homespun feel. I chose earthy- jewel tones, and as it knits up, it reminds me of the rock layers in the grand canyon.

 My yarn colors:

100+       Isle Royale #189
90-99      Redwood #113
80-89      Yosemite #135
70-79      Yellowstone #158
60-69      Everglades #173 (available online only)
50-59      Joshua Tree #174
40-49      Kings Canyon #180
30-39      Cuyahoga Valley #171
20-29      Olympic #109
10-19      Glacier Bay #305
0-9          Mount Rainier #150
sub 0       Katmai #151 (available online only)

Once I found all my yarn colors, I rolled the yarn in to balls pulling from both ends of the skein so I had a double ply (knitting 2 strands at once). I made little tags with the name of the yarn and the temperature that the color represented.


I wanted the pattern for my blanket to be as simplistic as possible. My goal was to really let the color variation stand out. In the end, I decided to use 10.5 circular needles and to double the yarn ply.

I've cast on 200 stitches and the blanket will be 365 rows long. This should be a good size blanket somewhere around 70" by 100".

I knitted the garter stitch for 5 rows, and am knitting the garter stitch for 5 stitches to start the row, then stockinette, and ending with 5 stitches of garter. This will keep the blanket from curling.

I'm also knitting in the previous color tail into the first 5 stitches. This will save me from having to tie in all the yarn tails at the end.

I'm at the 3 month mark here and the blanket it 20" long. (October, November and December 2016)

Finding your Temperatures

October 2016
You need to decide if you are going to take the high, low, or average for the day. I am knitting the high temperature. I feel like this will give me the most variation in colors.

I am doing the temperatures from October 5th, 2016 to October 4th, 2017.

October 2016
You can find a history of weather temperatures from Weather Underground. Just type in the year and city you want to see.

October 2016 through January 2017 4 months!

Check out our Facebook Page as I post updates as the blanket comes along.