Savoring meals on wheels — country style
It’s an age-old challenge. How do you keep hard-working farmers fed during harvest without always falling back on boring sandwiches or some other standby? Sometimes planning interesting, healthy harvest meals is harder than preparing them.
Some people make the whole process look effortless, though, don’t they? After interviewing many of those folks and doing lots cooking myself, it’s clear that planning ahead is the key to memorable meals.
I love swapping tried-and-true recipes with other farm cooks. Just the other day a friend was telling me about her family’s version of a philly cheesesteak that uses toasted hoagie buns, sliced beef from the deli, a bottle of au jus and slices of Swiss cheese. My mind started thinking about sauting onions, peppers and perhaps mushrooms to make this steak sandwich just the way my family likes it.
Just thinking about it makes me want to plan a week’s worth of harvest meals. Bring on the loaded baked potato soup and molasses cookies!
My best advice for you, my fellow farm cooks? Devise some menus (designating certain meals for specific days), acquire the ingredients, and work ahead when you can. Above all, keep it simple, because fancy doesn’t work in the field. If you need some recipe inspiration, e-mail me, or check my blog at www.darcymaulsby.com. Click on the link on my homepage to go to the blog, and search for “harvest.”
I also like pointers from the voices of experience, in this case the Manitoba Canola Growers. They offer some great tips on making harvest meals simple, hearty and memorable:
– Become friends with your slow-cooker. Embrace stews, chili and casseroles. All-in-one-meals can incorporate each food group and are easy to transport.
-Have a good stock of clean vegetables and fruit in the fridge for quick preparation.
-Take advantage of rainy days to bake or make freezer-friendly meals.
-Expand your options. Why not make a quiche now and then? It can be served hot or cold with a side of raw veggies and a bun or biscuit. “Real farmers don’t eat quiche,” they say? Why argue when a simple name change will do? Who can resist “Bacon & Egg Pie?”
– Make a checklist, especially if you are traveling to a field several miles away. Make sure you account for food, drinks, utensils, napkins, etc.
– Have a storage caddy filled with cutlery, napkins, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, cups and plates. Camping dishes are ideal to use if you have them. You might also want to buy some Styrofoam clam shells like the kind restaurants use for carryout dinners and fill them up in the kitchen before heading to the field.
– Old towels make great insulators for keeping food warm. They absorb any spills and are easy to wash.
No time to stop:
– Small coolers that hold both food and drink make for a quick and easy hand-off and eliminate spills.
– Sandwiches (from pulled pork to bacon-lettuce-tomato), cocktail meatballs and wraps can work well for on-the-go eating.
Even if your field meals aren’t always the idyllic picture of everyone sitting around the makeshift table on the tailgate of a truck, with a beautiful array of food spread out as a light breeze blows, that’s okay. Real life happens, everyone won’t always be relaxed and happy, and the won’t always be perfect, but good food, flexibility and a sense of humor go a long way towards easing the stresses of harvest.
May your harvest meals be made and delivered with ease, and may you treasure the memories of these field meals for years to come.
By the way, if you have any field-meal recipes or tips you’d like to share with me, please send them to email@example.com, or 1735 340th St., Lake City, IA 51449. I’m always looking for casseroles, sandwiches, side dishes, desserts (bars, cakes, cookies, pies and more) and other goodies I can add to my recipe box and share with others. Thanks in advance, and stay safe this harvest.
Darcy Dougherty-Maulsby (a.k.a) Yetter-girl grew up on a Century Farm between Lake City and Yetter and is proud to call Calhoun County home.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her online at www.darcymaulsby.com.
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