Ramblings from the Ridge

Boots in the barn, head in the kitchen

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It was cold last week, in case you were hibernating and didn’t know. 

I had a great routine of thawing out waterers every morning on the way to check on my cows. I even had to bust out my extra-thick, leather barn mittens one day because I could not feel my fingers after moving cows. 

I had long conversations with the cows daily, pleading with them not to calve until it warmed up a bit. The maternity pens all became temporary packs, as all liquids froze to the cement and were impossible to clean. I am thankful for the heater in my parlor, as it kicks on every so often to keep the temperature tolerable. When my fingers started to tingle with coldness, my mind would instantly start dreaming of what I could make in the house to warm up.

The mere thought of being in the kitchen and baking has the desired effect on me — I warm up a bit, finish my chores and rush to the house. By the time I get to the house in the afternoon, all my plans are made. I just need to check all the ingredients and cook for a bit before I have to brave the cold once again to head back to milk cows. I thought I would share the recipes that graced the farmhouse kitchen this past week. If it gets miserably cold again, you may need to use these to warm up your mind and your house.

As your boots are fighting to keep you upright amid the snow drifts, slush and impending ice, let your mind wander back to the kitchen and the delicious meals you can make to nourish the cold bodies when they wander in.

Cream cheese brownies

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

2 cups sugar, divided

3 tablespoons milk

1 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup instant hot cocoa mix

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and milk until fluffy, set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter, hot cocoa mix and remaining sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour. Pour half into a greased 9-by-13 pan. Spread with the cream cheese mixture. Top with the remaining batter. Cut through the batter with a knife to swirl the cream cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, and the center is set. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Crab quiche
1 unbaked pastry shell, 9 inches
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon butter
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup flaked imitation crabmeat, chopped

Line the un-pricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes; remove foil. Bake 5 minutes longer. Immediately sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the crust. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. In a skillet, saute red pepper and onions in butter until tender. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Stir in the crab, pepper mixture and the remaining cheese. Pour into the crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting. This was our wild menu item for last week’s breakfast, and it was a hit. It was bright, colorful and very much different from the ordinary egg bake.

Jacqui Davison and her family milk 800 cows and farm 1,200 acres in northeastern Vernon County, Wisconsin. Her children, Ira, Dane, Henry and Cora, help on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos, and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.

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