Story by Angie Sutton
Harvest time in Kansas means different things to people of all walks. To some it’s a frustrating delay on the highway as farmers move large equipment. To many it’s the realization that an amazing thing happens in the soil of the field we travel by each day. To the farm families who care for the land, plant the seed, pray for moisture, nurture the plants and then harvest the bounty, this is the culmination of all that work.
Harvest time is highly anticipated and planned for in the middle states of our country. Equipment is prepared, manpower is secured and a strategy is put in place. For farm wives, this is go-time for keeping the manpower fueled up with nutritious meals. Often these gals are also driving the truck to the Co-op and running after repair parts, among many other duties.
Smith County farm wife and mom Lori Haresnape keeps a list of menu possibilities and accompanying grocery lists on her computer. She tends to do a rotation of meat and potatoes, a Mexican dish, meat and potatoes, an Italian dish and then meat and potatoes. Her husband, Theron, gives her a heads-up when he thinks harvest time is close, but has been known to text Lori on a Monday afternoon that they started cutting. Lori has a “first day of harvest” stand-by menu of cavatini ready to roll for this reason.
Transporting food and timing of delivery are the biggest challenges for successful harvest meals. Lori made life a bit easier by purchasing rectangle and oval-shaped covered relish dishes. She chose dishes with flat lids which stack nicely in her tote bags. The relish trays are a good option because they have deep divided sections so she can keep the food looking good during the often hurried transport from field to field. Lori likes the rectangle-shaped trays because she can tuck silverware, a hand wipe and a napkin in as well.
Kim Baldwin’s philosophy is necessity beats extravagance during harvest. This McPherson County farm wife and mom says her crew wants good food, not fancy food. She takes fresh fruit like bananas, apples, grapes and peaches to the field with her meals. Her menu plan includes salads, casseroles and desserts. Kim says many days her husband, Adam, and his crew prefer a cool sandwich over a hot dish.
Both Lori and Kim are passionate about telling the story of agriculture. Lori is a familiar face in area elementary schools with her ag education curriculum. Getting the kids involved with hands-on and interesting activities is how she teaches about the industry and where food comes from. Kim is a talented writer and photographer and shares her experiences on her blog at www.aliveandwellinkansas.com.
Lori and Kim put together a list of tips and tricks they use to prepare for and survive harvest meal time.
From bread and chips to drink mix, aluminum foil, and cake mix, stock up on items throughout the year and watch for sales.
Deep clean your vehicle prior to harvest knowing full well it will get even dirtier during harvest.
Carry a plastic storage tote that holds essentials like napkins, plastic utensils, cups, trash bags, paper towels and wet wipes and leave it in your vehicle.
Create a harvest “survival” box or bag to throw in your car that includes any essential items one might need out in the field—from bottled water, crackers, and a good book to toilet paper.
Always have a cooler of soda pop and bottled water in your vehicle.
Invest is stackable coolers. This makes loading and transporting multiple coolers into the back of a vehicle easy. These coolers can also serve as the “Hot” or “Cold” food transporters. They can also serve as bins to haul trash and dishes out of the field.
Invest in the two gallon stackable beverage coolers for cold water, tea or drink mixes.
Stockpile ice before harvest begins. Keep it in your deep freezer until you need it.
Remember, toasted buns don’t get soggy.
Utilize your deep freezer by making meals or desserts ahead of time and then freezing.
Save the extra napkins, ketchup, salsa, mustard, and mayo packets that you get at fast food restaurants.
It’s ok to purchase school fundraiser cookie dough specifically for harvest.
Use a large canvas drop cloth to lay or sit on when eating meals in the field. Wheat stubble won’t poke through and any spilled drinks will roll right off. This is especially handy with little ones.
Kim’s last nugget of advice is above all you should have fun. This is an annual tradition that brings families and friends together with a common goal. Enjoy the harvest!
Busy Lady Hot Pockets
Source: Kim Baldwin
Cook Time 16 to 22 minutes
Canned pizza dough
Heat oven to 400 F. Roll out pizza dough from can. Cut into 4 squares. Fill lower half of each square with your mix of choice. Fold over and pinch all edges. Make 2 to 3 small slits on the top of the dough. Dab dough with olive oil using a paper towel. Sprinkle some garlic salt on the top of the dough. Bake for 16 to 22 minutes. Remove from oven, and wrap individually in aluminum foil for easy field delivery. Yields: 4 pockets.
Green Chile and Beef Enchilada Casserole
Source: Kim Baldwin
2 lbs. ground beef
Heat oven to 350 F. Layer the above ingredients into a 13- by 9-inch pan beginning with a light coating of the green chile enchilada sauce. Final layer should consist of cheese with remaining sauce. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Allow time (approx. 15 minutes) to cool.
Note: Easy to freeze and reheat. Slice, divide, and pack in a to-go box to deliver to drivers or take the pan out to the field and divide and serve accordingly. Yields: 6 to 8 servings.
Suggested sides: Pinto beans, Spanish rice, salad, chips/salsa.
Source: Kim Baldwin
Individual size bags of Doritos or Fritos
Brown ground beef (season with garlic salt). Drain cans of beans and then heat. Open individual sized bags of Doritos or Fritos and crunch them up to your liking. Add taco meat, beans, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and top it off with salsa. Yields: 8 to 10 servings.
Oriental Ramen Salad
Source: Kim Baldwin
1 pkg. of oriental or chicken flavored ramen noodles
2 Tbsp. canola oil
Break noodles into small pieces and mix with the coleslaw mix, sunflower seeds, almonds and sliced green onions. Mix the dressing separately, add to noodle mix, toss and chill for a few hours. Toss again before serving. Yields: 6 to 8 servings.
Note: I think it’s better the longer it chills. Can add grilled chicken breasts to make a main dish.
Super Easy Cake Mix Cookies
Source: Kim Baldwin
1 box cake mix (Funfetti, strawberry, spice cake, and lemon are favorites for our crew)
Heat oven to 375 F. Combine cake mix, oil and eggs in large bowl. Stir with spoon until thoroughly moistened. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Allow to cool before removing from baking sheet.
Note: I stock up on the cake mix when our grocery store has their 10 for $10 sale.
The Marlboro Man Sandwich
Source: The Pioneer Woman and Lori Haresnape
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
1 whole large onion
Slice onions and cook in 1/4 stick butter until soft and light brown. Remove and set aside. Slice cube steak against the grain. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over high heat (in same skillet) until melted and beginning to brown. Add meat in single layer. Cook one side until brown, then flip and cook until brown, about a minute on both sides. Add 1/2 cup (at least) Worcestershire sauce, 5 to 6 shakes hot sauce, and 2 tablespoons butter. Add cooked onions. Stir to combine. Butter halved French rolls and brown in skillet. To assemble, lay bottom half of French roll on plate. Place meat mixture, followed by a spoonful of juice from the pan. Top with other half of roll, cut in half, and deliver to the field. Servings: 4.