Reflecting on a year in Nevada…

Happy 2017! I cannot believe how quickly 2016 came and went. So many people talked about what a terrible year it was. I thought it was a pretty great year. I thought I would take a moment to reflect on some of the 2016 adventures.

In December 2015 I announced in The Book of Life I had accepted a job with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and would be moving back home closer to my family.

We had some time in-between leaving Nebraska and when my new job started, so naturally we stayed with my parents. We were involved daily with the chores and animals on the ranch. And boy did it get cold, caring for baby lambs in freezing temperatures was certainly a priority.

The weather actually ended up delaying our moving truck, and needless to say we had to camp out in our apartment for about a week until our stuff arrived. It was kind of awkward to come home and night and not have anything (nothing) to sit on. But we survived and spent the next months unpacking…

We spent much of January and February settling into a new normal. The Hubs looked for work, and was actually able to get employment with the same security company he was with in Nebraska. We went to the ranch when weather permitted and enjoyed being able to help out my folks.

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Because who doesn’t need a sheep selfie?

After almost six years to the date, the Hubs became an American citizen. Whew what a process that was. If it wasn’t for a fantastic immigration lawyer (and money, and time) we could not have done it. Hindsight is always something, but we put together a list of 10 immigration tips in case you ever need to go through the process yourself (or know someone who is), as knowing some of these things upfront would have been helpful.

Tony
Becoming an American!

I became an aunt! My Mom and I made several trips to Wyoming to help my sister get ready for his birth, then to meet the little guy, then to spoil and cuddle him. He is seriously the most adorable kid ever… ok, I am probably biased, but he is pretty great, and cute. The whole family was able to spend Labor Day (for the folks’ 40th wedding anniversary) and Christmas together. We are eagerly anticipating the big cake smash birthday coming up.

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He was so little here…

In March, we headed south and took advantage of the Death Valley Super Bloom. Neither of us had ever been there, but enjoyed the few days we had. Not only was it an excellent place to visit, but one we certainly will return to. Next time we go, we decided we would camp in the park instead of driving to the motel in a nearby town. We would also watch all of the sunrises and sunsets, as the ones we saw were fantastic. And we probably wouldn’t try to see every.single.thing in the park in one visit.

Death AValley Super Bloom

If you know anything about me from social media, you know I like to cook (and eat). I experimented a lot with clay pot cooking, and tried cornish game hens, meatloaf, and chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.

In July my office hosted the first-ever youth summer day camp. We spent a week highlighting some of the projects youth can do in 4-H and explored the great outdoors. We had so much fun that we will continue this camp and talked about adding a winter one as well.

Living in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range gave us the chance to hike, swim, and explore areas near us. We didn’t make near enough time to enjoy as much scenic beauty and we wanted, but have been building our 2017 list of places to visit.

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Lake Tahoe

In the fall I had a ton of travel. I was fortunate enough to attend meetings and conferences where I could catch up with friends, as well as make new friends and learn new skills from events like BloggyCon and Top of the Class. I also was able to squeeze in a couple of fun trips too.

We bought a house! Apartment living was not for us. So we bit the bullet and bought our first home. Surprisingly, the process went much, much better in real life than I had imagined it would go. Yes, it seems we ended 2016 much the same way we started 2016, packing and moving. And let me just say that going through a move twice in one year is way too much. Two months later I am finally at the stage where I am hanging stuff on the walls and decorating.

2016 was a year of change and challenge, new beginnings, exploration, and family. I saw my family more in the past year than I had in the last six years. It was great being able to go 4-wheeling in the mountains, celebrate life events and holidays, and just hang out. On the work front, getting adjust to a completely new and different system has taken time, but we are once again full-staffed and everyone has learned their roles and responsibilities. I look forward to what 2017 will bring, and wish you all the best.


Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

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Best of 2016… Agriculture to art

My blogging took a backseat this year after moving from Nebraska to Nevada and getting settled in out west. Resettling took more time than I thought, but that is a post for next year 🙂

I look forward to getting back on track and bringing great stuff to you in 2017. Until then, I wanted to share some of the best posts of 2016, as well as some all-time favorites.

Top 5 posts written in 2016…

  1. Does freezing meat make it more tender?
  2. Meat: To wash or not wash?
  3. Robot butchers? Technology coming to your table
  4. Grain Silo Art
  5. Clay pot cooking: Cornish Game Hens

Reader all-time favorites…

  1. Is the beef industry sustainable: A look at grass-fed, hormones, growth promotants, and more
  2. No added hormones & no antibiotics – meat labeling terms (3)
  3. Chicken ears – the better to hear you with…
  4. Why is there a hole in that steer?… Fistulated Fun Fact Friday
  5. Organic vs. Natural Programs – meat labeling terms (2)
  6. Processed meats and cancer: Fearmongering or true concern?

And because I just like these…

  1. Growing up a rich rancher’s kid
  2. Poop patty… Is there fecal material in your hamburger?
  3. Caring for livestock in cold temperatures
  4. Dark cutting beef… Fun Fact Friday
  5. Butchers, are you talking to yours? 21 conversations you should be having (if you are not already)

I hope you have a happy and healthy New Year!


Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
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Meatloaf in a clay pot = amazing!

I am getting more brave with my clay pot cooking experiments. We started with the Cornish Game Hens, then did chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, and today I want to share with you the meatloaf meal. I love meatloaf, and thought it would be a lot of fun to try this cooking method.

Claypot Meatloaf
Meatloaf is in the pot and ready to go. To prepare your pot for cooking read my Cornish Game Hen post.
Clay Pot Meatloaf - cooked
TAA-DAA! The recipe says to cook it ~90 minutes, I think at ~80 minutes you could put your meat thermometer in and see if it was ready. Next time I would also double the amount of yummy goodness spread over the top (aka ketchup blend).
Clay Pot Meatloaf dinner
I served the meatloaf with squash and a green salad. The meatloaf was excellent!

So far, the meatloaf has been my favorite clay pot dinner. It was very moist and had a rich, meaty flavor with the hint of earthiness from the clay. This recipe was the hardest to clean up afterwards. Some of the meat was stuck pretty good to the bottom of the pot. Next time I would add just a bit more liquid, or as I mentioned, decrease the cooking time. I also found a meatloaf and potato recipe. This one suggests putting the potatoes around the loaf, but I think I would put a layer of potatoes on the bottom, then the meat on top. Stay tuned, we have some other clay pot creations coming.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

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Clay pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

I have had a lot fun experimenting with cooking in my clay pot. The first thing we made were the Cornish Game Hens, which were good, but they were not great. In my research of clay pot cooking I found a recipe for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic – yum! As a garlicholic I knew we had to try this.

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I covered my pot in a 5-gallon bucket worth of water (perfect size I might add), and let it soak while I peeled 40 cloves of garlic.
garlic - final
The garlic, yes I counted to make sure I had 40. Would hate to short change the recipe 🙂

Garlic hack: throw your garlic in the freezer with skin on, I just put it in a ziplock bag (left). When you are ready to use it, pull out what you need (top right), peel it (bottom right), and use as you would with fresh garlic. Fresh garlic can sprout or rot quickly, and it can make your house smell a little fragrant (bologna like). I have had garlic in my freezer up to year, and it is just perfect when I use it!

Claypot chicken - raw
I lightly coated the chicken in olive oil (the recipe calls for butter, but that is too messy for me, as I learned in the Cornish Hen cooking) and seasoned with my favorite poultry rub. I put a few cloves of garlic under it, inside of it, and sprinkled the rest over the top, and put just a touch of lemon juice over the top. Doesn’t it look beautiful?
Clay pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic-cooked
TAA-DAA!! The last few minutes I cooked it with the lid off so it would brown.

The original recipe called for 50 minutes with the lid on, but it took this one about 70 minutes with the lid on (size of the bird probably has something to do with it). Make sure to check the internal temperature with your meat thermometer to ensure it is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

This recipe was great! The meat was so tender and juicy and the garlic was amazing too. We will definitely be making this again.

Enjoy!

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

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Clay Pot Cooking: Cornish Game Hens

Over the Christmas break my Mom and I cleaned out her cabinets and found a gently used clay pot that she was willing to re-gift to me 🙂 Thanks Mom! I have never cooked anything in one of these babies… So the first thing I did was head to Google to read all about how I could master clay port cooking. I found several sites with some great information including The Essential Kitchen: Clay Pot Cooking, Cooking with Shirley and Cooking in Clay Pots, and the kitchn Two Unique and Unexpected Benefits of Cooking in Clay.

So after reading all about cooking in clay pots, it was time to give it a try. I wasn’t sure if a chicken would fit into my pot, so I decided to start with Cornish Game Hens. I also had a bunch of veggies in the fridge. But first things first, I had to soak the pot. My dang sink wasn’t big enough to accommodate both the top and bottom on the same side. So I had to soak them on separate sides, which to me was a waste of water. Normally I would water my plants with this water, but I gave all of my plants away when we moved (and I digress…). Next time I am going to try soaking them together in a 5-gallon bucket filled in the tub, stay tuned on how that works for me.

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Soaking the clay pot.

From my background reading it said to put the seasoned meat which had been rubbed with butter into the pot. I literally rubbed soft butter over the Hens, it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I hoped it would, and got pretty messy. There were seasoned clumps of butter all over the Hens. Next time I will melt the butter first, use a brush to apply it, and then season the meat. It was at this stage that I also added my veggies (garlic, onion, carrot, potato, and jalapeno) to the pot.

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Cornish Game Hens with veggies in a clay pot.

One of the sources I read said to add the juice of 1/2 lemon over the top, so I did that and put the lid on. In everything I read they made it clear that no additional juices or liquids should be added, as the steam and juices from the meat and veggies would be plenty. It is important to note that the pot should be put into a cold oven, once the oven is turned on, the oven and the pot can heat together. Putting the pot into a hot oven may cause it to crack. Also, when you take the lid off to brown the bird(s) in the final stage, the lid should be placed on a fabric potholder or towel, as setting it on a cool surface may crack it.

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The wet pot has all of the yummy goodness inside and is going into the oven. PS, I just love the agriculture scene on the lid.

I couldn’t find any guidelines for how long to cook Cornish Game Hens with veggies, so I just went with the amount of time that was suggested to cook a chicken. At about 50 minutes I checked on the Hens and saw that the juices coming from them were bloody, so I let it cook for an additional 10-15 minutes with the lid on. I think adding so many veggies to the pot increased the cook time, which was not a big deal, I will just keep that in mind next time.

When I removed the lid the second time, the juices ran clear and the internal temp was taken. As recommended, I let it cook an additional 10 minutes with the lid off to brown the top of the Hens. After I pulled it out of the oven I let it rest for about 10 minutes. I am not sure if that step was necessary, as everything keeps cooking since the pot is so hot. Be cautious when removing and replacing the lid, they are very hot and there is steam!

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TaaDaa!! The finished product.

The end product looked delicious. We were anxious to try it. The meat was so moist and tender, it was great. The veggies were tasty too, especially the garlic, which had great flavor. There was a slight flavor of clay with everything, it was a little strong to me, but The Hubs didn’t notice it as much. I think as the pot becomes more seasoned this flavor may dissipate. It added a very earthy flavor.

Clean up of the pot wasn’t bad. There was a lot of liquid in the bottom, so nothing stuck there. As you can see in the picture, there were a few veggies stuck to the side. I just let the pot soak in plain water for about 20 minutes and those scrubbed off. The information I read said not to use a detergent/soap to clean the pot as the pores will soak up the detergent and give your food an off flavor. A baking soda paste for the real stuck on stuff was suggested. It was also not recommended to put the pot in the dishwasher because of temperature fluctuations. I let the pot dry on the counter for several days before putting it away as I read it could get moldy if put away wet/damp. If that happens it was suggested to use a baking soda paste on those areas.

Next in clay pot cooking I am going to try a chicken with 40 cloves of garlic! Now that I know a chicken will fit, and I know that garlic is excellent in the pot, it seems like a logical next dish in my culinary experimentation. I want to also try meatloaf and a stew. I have also read that if you plan to bake sweets in a clay pot, a second one should be purchased, as cooking sweet foods in the savory seasoned pot may make bad/weird flavor combinations – remember the pores in the clay soak up the flavors.

Have you cooked in a clay pot? What is your favorite thing to make? What advice do you have for me? I would love to hear from you.

I have been experimenting, and have tried this clay pot dishes too:

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

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