The Ekalaka Eagle - Your Community Builder

Cooking in the West

 

August 6, 2021



All of my life I have heard stories about 1936. That was the summer that my Great Grandfather Roberts stopped eating, because he could not deal with the drought and Great Depression any longer. They had tried to winter their cows on slough grass hay from South Dakota which they had purchased for a king's ransom with all their savings, but the cows got thinner and thinner until most of them had to be shot. The grasshoppers were so bad they would eat the shovel handles left out at night. My father was 16 years old that summer his grandfather gave up on life, and he remembered that mostly they lived on bread and cow's milk. The drought years came back to back with seemingly no relief on the horizon. This summer has given us just a taste of what he and those who homesteaded the ranches we now own went through.

Technology and times have changed, but Mother Nature can still be cruel, and she is torching the livelihoods of many farmers and ranchers this year. This poignant essay I found as a blog is by Richelle Barrett, a mom, wife, writer, and photographer living near Havre, Montana. She and her husband Shane have two daughters, Macy and Ainsley, and they run a commercial cow-calf operation alongside her parents. She works for a marketing firm based out of Montana and also manages "The Prairie Crocus", which is her social media platform and website where she shares her passion for the ranching industry and advocates for women involved in agriculture. In her spare time, she loves riding horses, cooking for a crowd, and spending time with her family.

Thanks so much for sharing this blog with us, Richelle! It sheds light on what many producer families are going through this year.

She watched behind a thick veil of tears as another stepped into the trailer. Some of these cows were culls- they had bad feet, bad bags, lumps, bumps, and bruises. Some were old, and could no longer produce a calf worth selling. Some were young, still in their prime, who had the odds stacked against them and sadly came up dry.

This was the part no one talked about. It felt like a purge; having to make a list of cows to send down the road, because grass no longer exists and feed is too expensive to baby anyone along. The tears just kept coming, as each cow loaded into the cattle pot. Goodbye, she softly mumbled under her breath, to each of the girls that had given their best for her. Goodbye, to a herd her family had built from the ground up. Goodbye, to cattle she had worked so hard to do right by.

Drought had ravaged her family's ranch. It took the water, the grass, the cows, and replaced life with dirt and life-ending heat. What the heat hadn't killed, the grasshoppers finished off. While it wasn't a new situation according to the old timers and her parents, she wasn't prepared for the pain of having to let go.

The deep roar of the truck's engine came alive, and she turned back towards the corrals. What was left of their herd stood there, bawling, and her tears fell again. She couldn't bear to watch the truck leave, so she retreated to the barn, crying into her horse's neck, praying for something to change, and praying for the strength to go on.

(Please note-this isn't about anyone in particular, but I know there are many ranch families going through this exact situation. Please say a little prayer for the producers having to sell down or sell out. As much as ranching is a business, it is still a livelihood. God bless everyone going through hard times right now.)

Richelle also sent some great recipes, as cooking is also one of her passions. Thanks for sharing your blog and your recipes, Richelle!

Richelle's Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Casserole:

1 large spaghetti Squash, cut in half, seeds removed

2 pounds ground meat-beef, lamb, or sausage

Salt and pepper

1 jar spaghetti sauce

2 C. cottage cheese

1 egg

1 C. baby spinach, shredded

1 packet Italian dressing mix

2 C. mozzarella cheese

1 C. parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti squash (cook in air fryer at 375* for 30 minutes, or until tender, or cover each half with plastic wrap and cook in the microwave until tender). Once cool, scrape Squash "noodles" out of the shell and place in the bottom of an 8"x8" pan. Meanwhile, cook meat until brown. Drain off extra juice, add in salt and pepper, and mix in spaghetti sauce. In a separate bowl, mix cottage cheese, egg, spinach, and seasoning until combined. Spoon cheese mixture over noodles, then top with meat sauce. Cook in oven for 30 minutes at 375*, then cover with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Cook for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is melted and lasagna is hot all the way through.

Broccoli Salad (inspired by Terry Drieling, Faith Family and beef):

5-6 cups broccoli

1 C. mayonnaise

1/2 C. Miracle Whip

1 T. sugar

2 T. white vinegar

1/2 C. sunflower seeds

1 pound bacon, crumbled

Cut Broccoli and place in a large bowl. Mix mayo, Miracle Whip, sugar, vinegar, and sunflower seeds, and pour over broccoli. Cook bacon and crumble over top of salad. Can also add shredded cheddar cheese to salad.

Richelle's Breakfast Burritos:

1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 pound pork sausage, browned and drained

12 - 18 eggs

1/2 C. milk

1 t. salt

1 t. pepper

1/2 t. garlic powder

1/2 t. onion pepper

1 C. chopped onion

1/2 C. chopped yellow, green, orange, or red peppers

1 C. mushrooms, sliced

2-3 cups hashbrown potatoes

3 C. shredded cheese

12-18 tortillas

Cook meat and drain off extra juice or grease. Mix eggs and seasonings, cook over medium heat, and scramble as they cook. Let cool while cooking vegetables. In a saute pan with butter, saute onions, peppers, and mushrooms until tender. Add in potatoes and cook until hot. Depending on the size of tortillas, pile meat, eggs, vegetables, and cheese in the center of the tortilla (use about 1/2 C. filling total). Wrap tortilla around filling, and if not eating right away, wrap in tin foil. Can be frozen for up to a month. Serve hot with salsa.

 

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