At The Farm Gate"Good Food Brings Winter Comfort"
These days, my husband’s favorite supper of roast beef with mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade rolls prompts him to ask, “What’s the occasion?” My response: “We’re home.”
With both kids in middle school, a night at home free from extracurricular activities provides reason to celebrate some down time. Comfort foods flow from this availability, which triggers the desire to cook and bake with an enthusiasm that tackles even dish duty with high spirits. The aroma of home-baked goods and from-scratch meals fill our home, hugging hearts before taming empty stomachs. While I love to occasionally dine out and pay someone else to handle the food prep and clean-up, nothing quite matches having or making the time to enjoy the magic of a home-cooked meal around the family dinner table.
Food makes us feel good, and the farm women before me set flavor standards and meal-time priorities that I embrace and share with our kids. Our household teaches respect for mealtime as a family. We also deliver a hands-on education in how food grows, whether in our farm’s fields, our backyard garden, the hen house or Grandpa’s cattle pasture.
The kids see that the eggs they gather make it into the homemade rolls. We top those rolls with jelly, home-made from the backyard grapevine. From the freezer, we pull steaks and roast beef processed from last year’s steer that Grandpa raised. This 30-cubic-foot appliance also holds last summer’s sweet corn, homemade pesto from the back-porch basil plant and broilers the kids helped raise.
This winter, roast beef with mashed potatoes one night may make beef stew with dumplings the next. Our daughter loves from-scratch chicken pot pie with our whole farm-raised broilers. The meal takes hours to prepare but tastes so good that we want to lick the ramekin. Our son cheers for meatballs, formed from our freezer beef and flavored with garden onions stored in the basement. We declare Sunday nights “pizza night” and, when time allows, opt for homemade topped with pizza sauce the kids preserved with me last August.
At another level entirely, Grandma used to butcher a chicken on Sunday morning for fried chicken after church. I take much simpler routes, but still share in ways to celebrate good food. Sometimes, that means leftover chicken noodle soup for Sunday lunch.
About the author: Joanie Stiers’ family grows corn, soybeans and hay and raises beef cattle and backyard chickens in West-Central Illinois.