Ice Cream Month is here! Yum!
Last year Iinterviewed Dan's Grandpa Pete, the biggest ice cream lover I know, in honor of Ice Cream Month. He likes to eat ice cream with all sorts of things including this recipe, his Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal a la Mode.
Our family had the privilege of living with Grandpa Pete & Grandma Mary for a few months after our RV was frozen solid a few winters ago. If Grandpa Pete was the first one up in the morning we'd often get treated to this delicious oatmeal for breakfast! I don't think exact measurements were ever used so I just guessed, that way you can easily recreate it yourself!
Start by chopping up your apples into little pieces & tossing them in a big microwave safe bowl. I leave the apple peel on when I chop it up for some added fiber goodness!
Next toss your oatmeal into the same big bowl and add the milk. You do make your oatmeal with milk, right? If not, seriously consider starting now. Did you know that by making even a small instant packet of oatmeal with milk instead of water you're adding 4 grams of protein to your breakfast?
Stir the oatmeal, apples, & milk together and then microwave it for 2 minutes on high. Then check & stir every minute until it's the consistency that you prefer. Oatmeal is actually one of the few areas that #DairyManDan & I have differing opinions. #DairyManDan likes stick-to-your-spoon-and-roof-of-your-mouth thick oatmeal and I prefer a more creamy smooth "runny" oatmeal. Since I was cooking & it looks better for pictures, it took our oatmeal a total of 5 minutes to reach perfection.
Then stir in your cinnamon & raisins before scooping into individual bowls.
And of course, the most important part comes last. Top each of those bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which will, of course, start melting right away creating even more creamy goodness for breakfast! This is where you can use discretion & determine how sweet you want your (or your kids') oatmeal. All that's left is to enjoy!
Do you have any unique ways you enjoy ice cream? I'll be sure to let Grandpa Pete know!
And because everyone loves to SCREAM for Ice Cream Month here are some other dairy farmers sharing their favorite ice cream recipes, stories, and more! Check 'em out!
Have you been following along this month as #DairyManDan has been snapping pictures of his days?
Did you miss a few? Not to worry! Here they all are, telling a story of #DairyManDan's days on our family dairy farm!
Since typically I'm the one who snaps photos around the farm & posts them I wanted to get #DairyManDan's perspective on things and, as I expected, it's bit different than mine! Some of the photos I still took... especially if I happened to be around (plus that way you can see him in action!).
As you'll see, no day is quite the same although the jobs that have to get done are! My original intent was to have #DairyManDan snap a pic at the top of the hour everyday for the first half of the month & then on the half hour the second half of the month. That was unrealistic expectation!
His hands are usually busy with something, so the pictures ended up getting snapped when he'd take his phone out and would see that one of his many to-do's was to take a picture! The second part of the month they're not really even in a time order anymore!
To celebrate June Dairy Month I'd like to introduce you to some other amazing dairy farmers & what a day in their life looks like! One of the things I love about dairy farming is the multitude of practices or ways you can care for your cows! After reading about what Dan's days looks like check out what a day in the life of these farmers look like... it's so different & so similar all at the same time! The links are all below my introductions.
First up is Renee from Eat, Farm, Love! She farms in Pennsylvania where they milk 200 Jersey cows. 20 of those Jersey's get milked at one time, a bit different than 2 at a time at our farm! We have a few Jerseys & their eyes are so gorgeous!
Next is Alicia from Happily Married... To The Cows. She too lives in Pennsylvania too, which happens to means lots of beautiful things... I love her double story porch, old beautiful stone barn, and they have beautiful white fences, we just have some electric wire!
In the links below I'm up next so look around & check out our farm a little more!
Jumping to the west coast, we have Darleen at Guernsey Dairy Mama in Oregon. As you might have noticed she has Guernseys, all Guernsey, like Dan's Grandpa use to have. We only have a few left, but they are beautiful! I love her post about what's in a dairy farmers day since now that we have Rita the robot #DairyManDan's days look so different than they use to! And her days will soon be changing too as they're putting in robots.
Up to my home state of Minnesota we find Sadie at Dairy Good Life. Her 75 cows are milked in a stanchion barn, which means they each have their own spot and Sadie & her husband bring the milking machine to each cow to milk them. Check out their farm page & the great video about their farm!
And last but not least is Caci at The Farm Wife who heralds from South Carolina, which I'd say is the south, which means we're covering a good bit of the US! Their family has been farming for 10 generations... that's amazing! And she could be describing #DairyManDan, except he's actually averaged a little over 30,000 steps this month, with his high days at over 48,000 steps!
Explore A Day in the Life of Dairy Farmers Across the US!
What does your typically day look like?
Happy June Dairy Month! This month couldn't pass without another amazing dairy recipe! This one tops the list for so many reasons... it's packed with dairy (sour cream, cream cheese, milk, and Parmesan cheese!), it's perfect for making two at a time and freezing one for later (score!), and of course, it's delicious!
It's not a one-pot wonder but it is a two big pan wonder! In all these pictures I'm doubling the original recipe so I can freeze one for later. So let's started...
First things first... heat up that oven to 350 degrees and start boiling some water to cook those noodles however your package says (or just taste a noodle like I do!). Helpful hint: use a BIG pan... it'll be helpful later!
Next, chop up the onion to toss in the pan. See that handy-dandy chopper? It has saved me many tears, onion tears, that is. I LOVE my chopper! Then press some garlic into the onion pan.
At this point if Dairyman Dan walks by the window (because he's probably not in the house but in the barn or outside) he'd says something like, "Yum, that smells delicious!" To which I'd reply, "Of course it's onions & garlic, they always smell good!"
Now toss in your ground beef and mash it up. If you're like me, you'll be excited to use your Mix N Chop, which is perfect for browning ground beef... I can't believe I use to fight partial frozen ground beef with a spatula! When the beef is almost brown toss in the green peppers. Since mine were frozen I just eye-balled how much to put in.
No here's where I deviated a bit more from the original recipe. I had some tomato juice so instead of tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water I just used the tomato juice (which is essentially the same thing with some other added veggies - bonus!). Then sprinkle in the Italian Seasoning, stir it up, & let it simmer.
By the way, make sure to check those noodles if you forgot them... the kids, who help me "check" the noodles, usually don't let me forget!
Now onto the good part... Put your cream cheese & milk in a microwave safe bowl & cook them on medium in the microwave, stirring every 90 seconds or so. Because I doubled the recipe the whole way through it took my cream cheese about 5 minutes to melt. But every microwave is different so keep checking & stirring at the 90 second mark! Keep stirring it until you get a nice smooth sauce.
When I made this I had some of our farmer-owned dairy coop's cream cheese on hand... this stuff is amazing! I don't always have it on hand to use but we love when I do! It's so amazing that some of it travels all the way to Korea to make premium cheesecakes!
At this point you're going to want to make sure that your cream cheese mixture is in a big bowl or that the pan that your noodles were cooked in is big 'cause it's all going together!
If you have your noodles all drained, combine the noodles, the cream cheese, the sour cream, (just 1 cup) the Parmesan cheese and the corn starch because we're freezing it! Stir well and be in awe of all the creamy dairy goodness!
Next you'll have to decide if you're baking both right away or freezing one for later. I suggest freezing one. So that my freezer doesn't hold one of my baking pans captive until I bake the second casserole I line one of the pans with aluminum foil, freeze it, and then remove it when frozen to wrap up and store until it's time to bake it. I'm using 9x13 casserole/cake pans but any 2 quart baking dish should work fine.
Now you're ready to assemble. It's pretty easy - two pans, two layers in each pan. First put half of the cream cheese/noodle mixture in each pan and then top with half of the ground beef mixture in each pan. Finally step is to sprinkle the remaining Parmesan Cheese on top.
Pop one in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until it's bubbly. The other one, pop in the freezer until it's frozen solid (12-24 hours, I'm not exactly sure how long really... I usually forget until the next time I open the freezer!)
Then take it out, serve with salad or veggie on the side and of course a tall glass of milk! And at our house probably some $1 Italian Bread from Walmart, which reminds us of our time living overseas in the bread basket of the world!
Once the second one is frozen, take it out of the freezer, take it out of the pan and wrap the whole thing in more aluminum foil and write on the top:
"Sicilian Casserole: Thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Bake covered 25-35 minutes and then uncovered 5-10 minutes until bubbly. "
That way you don't have to remember, plus if you end up wanting to drop off a meal to a friend or neighbor, it's all ready to go!
With all this yummy cheese, this casserole will help you get your #Dairy3forMe! Three servings of dairy a day, including milk, cheese, & yogurt is so HEALTHY plus it's Dairy-licious!
Pledge to get your 3 servings a day! Let me know if you do!
The first time we saw a milking robot in action was almost 5 years ago. We'd just moved back to the US and Iowa State Extension was hosting robotic milking farm tours. So 4 generations of Bolins headed out to learn about the newest thing in dairy farming - robots milking cows. A few days later, our milk hauler asked Dan & his dad, Dave, how likely it was that they'd put in robots. Their replies? Dave said 1% chance and Dan said only a 10% chance! Obviously, things changed.
Over the next year our opinion shifted as we learned more about the different management styles & routines that it takes to own & operate a robotic dairy farm. Eventually the dial shifted from a slim chance to a whole new way of thinking about designing a new barn, routines of life, and equipment needed, all based on having our cows milked by a robot. Dan visited a variety of farms with his dad, his grandpa, and his father-in-law. He saw a variety of types and brands of milking robots and eventually decided on the Astrea 20.20 from AMS Galaxy USA but really that's a post for another day.
Through seminars, books, tours, and talking with farmers, consultants, and dealers, we learned that robotic milking is so much more than not having to milk the cows yourself anymore. Robotic milking doesn't mean less work it just means our work is more flexible. We have more time to manage, focus, & care for our cows, we need less outside family labor(which can be hard to find), and as we've definitely learned, it makes life a whole lot more interesting!
Flexible & interesting... that's how we often describe robotic milking. In the past our cows were milked twice a day starting at 5am and 5pm or as close as possible to that time but now our cows can go get milked whenever they choose 24/7, which also means there can be problems 24/7. And when Rita has a problem, who does she call? Dan - whether it's a pleasant 10:30am call or a wake you from your deepest dreams call at 3:30am! Then again, Dan's parent's have had middle of the night calls from neighbors when the cows have gotten out, too.
And since the cows don't need us to get milked because Rita's helping them, when something comes up we can just go deal with it. And on a dairy farm somethings always coming up... heifers getting out, a visitor or two stopping by, calves jumping out their huts from low flying planes, a delivery of supplies, a calf being born, or a whole lot of other options. With a robot, the cows keep going to get milked even without us there to help them.
Flexibility also means we don't have to hire someone or change the cows routine to go to an evening activity. Dan's been able to enjoy coming with us to the School Carnival and going with Miss Muffet to the Father-Daughter Dance in the evenings. We would've had to have hired someone to milk the cows in the past! When Dan wanted to be in earlier than normal for longer than normal on Easter morning for a Sunrise Service, Easter Baskets, an egg hunt, and heading to church, he & his dad just fed the cows twice the day before giving them a little extra to make it through those morning hours he might typically be feeding. It was the same amount of work (and maybe a even a touch more) but it was flexible, meaning he could join us for a "normal" Easter morning (or at least what Pintrest & Facebook would have you to believe is normal!).
And it's interesting work... no day's quite the same. Of course manure needs scraping everyday and the cows need to be fed everyday but in between who knows what's going to happen! It seems someone's always stopping by - the cow's nutritionist, the veterinarian, an genetic/semen salesperson, a maintenance or repair person, another sales person, friends or family to see the new barn, and more!
And with lots of automated machines around there's also a lot of maintenance, well either that or repairs... and we try to do maintenance and minimize our surprise repairs! When you're dealing with repairs on robots interesting is a good way to describe it! For example, just the other night Dan got a middle of the night call from Rita because three cows in a row hadn't gotten milked quite right. Rita knew there was a problem and had called Dan but she didn't know exactly WHAT was wrong so Dan had to figure out that out.
At first glance everything seemed fine... all the parts were in tact and nothing was broken or cracked. Finally he observed that one of the milking cups & hoses didn't have any vacuum or suction, which is what helps milk the cow. After looking under Rita's hood he deduced that a cow must have kicked off the milking cup, which then landed in a cow pie sucking up manure instead of milk for the brief moment it laid there before Rita pulled it back to it's holding spot. Well manure isn't quite the same consistency as milk so it just got stuck and the suction stopped working. After 3 cows not getting milked Rita called Dan. Dan got it cleaned and fixed, got the cows back to being milked, and got himself back to bed. If someone had been there in a traditional milking parlor they may have seen the first cow kick it off and been able to figure it out right away. In robotic milking when you're not there sometimes it takes a bit more detective work.
By the way, in case you're concerned, all of the milk on our farm (and every other dairy farm!) goes through a milk filter (which we change 3 times a day) just for situations like this, ensuring that our milk stays purely milk! Plus it gets pasteurized at our coop's plant too!
When Rita calls with a problem, we have to fix it NOW. We don't have until the next milking time to get it done because although Rita milks the cows around the clock for us, we or the cows can't have her taking a break while she's broke down. That means we're always on-call or need to have someone else who is on-call, just in case.
And Rita's not the only one who keeps thing interesting! One evening we found Freddie the Feed Pusher jumped up onto a temporary panel/gate that had gotten knocked over. How he managed that we'll never know, but moving him involves getting the skidloader to lift him up. So at 10:30pm that night we got the skidloader and lifted him up & off so the cows would be able to get a midnight snack without us.
In the end are we glad our dial shifted to robotic milking? Yes! We have almost every meal together as a family, as Dan just puts his work aside and comes in for family meals. When the kids & I are trying to get off to school or another activity he'll pop in to help us get ready to go & out the door. We have the option to have evenings free or mornings free or whenever (the work just shifts elsewhere)! At 5pm we don't have to drop everything and head to the barn (although we might have to at 2:37am!). And it adds a little, well actually a lot, of spice to life... we wouldn't want life to get boring :)
PS... Do you know what song Rita sings us via Dan's phone whenever she needs "Help!"? What song would you pick?
It just so happens that as dairy farmers we not only love our cows we also love all the delicious foods they give us! Really if you think about it it's pretty amazing what can be made from milk... cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, ice cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, cheese (I guess I already said that but there's SO many options I had to say it again!), butter, and of course, a cold glass of milk, and many, many others, not to mention all the variations on the above!
To switch it up a bit every so often I'm going to start sharing some of our household's favorite recipes that include yummy dairy products! Some will be long-standing family traditions, some new discoveries, and some menu mainstays, and all delicious!
** Warning: I'm not a food blogger.... So far I rarely remember to take a picture of the finished product let alone the whole process so you'll just have to imagine each step! I will give you some of my personal pointers & tips though!
First up is a new recipe to our family! My sister-in-law is a Pampered Chef consultant & over the years I've fallen in love their kitchen products! During a recent Facebook party this recipe popped up and I knew we had to try it! To make a long story short I came to own this amazingly beautiful LARGE round stone and my fridge just happened to be filled with cream cheese (this recipe's secret dairy ingredient!) and eggs, perfect for this brunch pizza!
I'm a pretty basic simple cook... not a lot of fancy ingredients around our house. But I do also like to start with real foods that aren't packaged or processed as much since they're both cheaper & better for you. So most recipes get a little tweaking!
For this I recipe I browned the sausage on the stove & then added some frozen peppers - I use frozen green peppers in all sorts of things! Next it took a few rounds in the microwave to smooth out the cream cheese & then we added farm fresh eggs from some friends, although we use store bought all the time too!
The trickiest part was cutting the biscuits horizontally - I used a big serrated bread knife. Honestly I rarely use pre-made refrigerated biscuits but it did make this recipe go faster & they are yummy! I used my super awesome Pampered Chef roller to squish the biscuits all together but I think a glass or your fingers would work just as well!
Then all that's left is sprinkling, pouring, a little more sprinkling. Now let's talk cheese for a moment. The original recipe called for provolone cheese but I'm not sure I've ever had provolone cheese in our house, so we used boring (and so delicious) ol' cheddar! Next it was stuck it in the oven and of course waited for it to come out! We'll be making it again for sure!
Growing up a city-girl, after marrying my dairy farmer husband and spending a few years abroad, we came home to expand the family dairy farm and want to share our journey & farm life with you!