Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Work Hard For Our Money

Many, many years ago when Hubs and I "bought out" his parents, I officially became a farm wife. At that time, the buyout didn't include what one traditionally thinks of purchasing. The leased farm land couldn't be transferred (other than adding our names to the lease agreement). The house was still my in-law's possession, and remains the family home today. The livestock exchange was also a little questionable, as that particular year, my husband had already purchased and owned most of lambs on the farm. What we accepted with that buyout was debt. A lot of it. There had been many ugly years, and with my in-laws advancing age, the banks weren't looking favorably upon them.

Someone had to step up if the business my husband had returned from college to help with was to have any hope of making it. My mother and father-in-law had sacrificed their lives to hard work, but times weren't always kind to them. I worried that their circumstance would be the future for Hubs and myself.

Thankfully, times have been good to us. Along side his parents, Hubs has worked brutally long hours. We have all saved and scrimped and did without at times, and it has paid off. That initial debt is long gone, and while new operating loans are acquired each year, we are able to make the payments, have made improvements, and live comfortably. Farming isn't glamorous, but we are some of the lucky ones for which working hard for your money does pay the bills.

And, what do I do throughout this process, other than worry we will be the next victim of a poor economy? I cook. I am not a farm wife that spends hours in the corrals with the livestock or days in the hay fields, although I could, if needed. What I do is cook. I make sure that the men (and women) that are breaking their backs 365 days a year, freezing their butts off in the winter, and melting into puddles of soup in the summer have nourishing food to fuel their work. That is my job, and how I work hard to support our business, our livelihood.

I don't think there is a farm wife alive that hasn't made some kind of hash-brown potato casserole. Cheese, frozen hash-browns, cream of something soup. There are as many recipes in church cookbooks, scribbled on the back of envelopes, and on spattered recipe cards as their are fence posts in this state. Everyone has their own method, but they all pretty much taste the same. Cheesy (in a good way). Warm. Comforting. Hearty. Just the kind of thing you want to eat when you work hard for your money.

(adapted from the Armour Centennial Cookbook)

1/2 cup butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 pint sour cream
1/2 - 1 cup green onions, chopped
9 cups frozen hashbrowns (I like to use a combination of half shredded {Mr. Del's} and half southern-style cubed {Ortega}.)
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup corn flakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add 1/2 cup of butter in a 9x13 baking dish and place in the oven to melt.
Meanwhile, combine canned soup, milk, sour cream, and chopped green onions in a medium bowl.
When the butter has melted in the baking dish, remove from oven and swirl pan to coat all sides.
Add half of the hash browns to the pan, top with half of the soup mixture, and then half of the shredded cheese.
Repeat layers in the baking dish with remaining ingredients.
Melt the final 2 tablespoons of butter and add the crushed corn flakes. Toss to coat.
Sprinkle the buttered corn flakes over the top of the final cheese layer.
Bake 45 minutes until potatoes are tender and cheese is melty. (Serves 12)

1 comment:

  1. In our non-farming family these are "party potatoes" and we use the southern style hash browns...One of my favorite recipes!


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