By Rae Wagoner
Kentucky Soybean Board
When most people think of tailgating, images of ball games or other sporting events come to mind. For farm families, though, a truck-tailgate picnic in the field may be the only way Dad gets dinner during planting and harvest seasons. It may be the only family time spent together on any given day, a bright spot in an otherwise long and weary 24-hour period.
With the soybean crop thriving and record acres planted this year, some farmers will work from before daylight to long after dark, pausing only to shower and grab a few hours of sleep before returning to the combine this harvest season. They’ll be mighty glad to see the wife and kids arrive with “meals on wheels.” A precious half-hour with the little ones along with the evening meal is a welcome respite from row after row of the same view.
While sandwiches, chips and a candy bar are the norm for lunch and perfectly acceptable for supper, too, many farm wives prefer to deliver a hot dinner to their farmer – and possibly the rest of his crew – for the evening meal.
This is one time when the slow cooker or Crock Pot can be a lifesaver. Not only can the food be cooked with little to no effort (and without heating up the house), it stays piping hot all the way to its destination. Many slow cookers now come with a lock-down lid made just for travel, and others have insulated carriers that make things less messy on what can sometimes be a bumpy ride through the field.
Aside from the traditional chili, roast or soups that can be prepared in the slow cooker, there are great recipes on Pinterest for crock-pot sloppy joes, pulled pork and even turkey and dressing. Lasagna might not be the first thing Farmer would expect to be served in the middle of the soybean field, but it could be a welcome surprise all the same. Mini crock-pots or those with dividers are great for delivering side dishes such as vegetables, with the added benefit of only one thing to wash instead of a saucepan AND a bowl.
For those making frequent deliveries to the field, a basket filled with essentials such as sturdy disposable plates, cutlery, paper towels, wet wipes and even trash bags can stay in the vehicle during busy times and restocked as needed. Add an old quilt or blanket to use as a tablecloth and you’re set.
One valuable tip that many moms have learned is to have everything ready to go before adding the children, especially if they are small. Having the aforementioned basket of necessities stocked and ready will eliminate many of the extra trips we all seem to make back to the kitchen, but putting the little ones in last (preferably with a favorite toy or two) just makes good sense.
So whatever your plans for feeding Farmer this harvest season, plan ahead, be creative and know that he’ll be happy to see you arrive, no matter what’s on the menu.
Crock Pot Lasagna
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
1 Tbs. garlic, minced
1 jar (26 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved,
1 (16 oz) container small curd cottage cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzerella Cheese
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tsp. pepper
lasagna noodles (uncooked)
Brown and crumble ground beef in large skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Drain grease, return to skillet pour in spaghetti sauce, water and tomatoes. Heat through, stir well.
In a separate bowl, combine egg, beaten, cottage cheese, 1 1⁄2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tbls. Parmesan and parsley. (Put the remaining cheese back in the refrigerator, you’ll use it as a topping later.
Spray Crock-pot with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop approximately 1 cup of meat sauce into bottom of crock-pot. Top with one layer of UNCOOKED lasagna noodles (break into lengths to fit crock-pot. Top with layer of cheese mixture. Keep adding layers, ending with meat sauce(3 layers will fit in a 5-quart slow-cooker) put the lid on and cook on low 4-6 hours, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the noodles are soft
When it is finished cooking, add remaining cheeses. Cook for 15 more minutes to let cheeses melt.