Mom always says we need to “feed the horse that pulls the plow.” Field meals have been something I just grew up knowing how to do!
It was such an innate behavior, that my mom would always say, “just take out a pound of burger the night before”, because there will always be someone that will need to eat or a crew to feed. She was right (she usually is) that no matter what happened, someone would need to eat and we could make anything happen if we just started with some thawed ground beef.
I remember my grandpa telling me a story from when he was a young farmer working in the field with horse-drawn plows. He said that they had a dog. Grandma would put a meal together (probably a shmire (think a finger roll with jam or butter spread on top), some sort of salami, and an apple. She’d gather all of this in grandpa’s lunch bucket, place the handle in the dog’s mouth and say, “go find dad”. The dog would trail along until he found grandpa, releasing the bucket at his feet. What a dog! To this day, I still don’t know how they trained that dog to do that!
I’ve always felt so proud and privileged to be able to serve food to our hard-working people, especially when I know that I had a hand in growing and preparing that meal. We like to honor the folks that are spending long days away from their families to help us bring in a crop or hauling manure. Anyone who has spent their day operating a grain cart, driving a truck, or hauling manure will almost never pass up the opportunity for a good meal.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to cook up a good meal for 10-20 people, sometimes with very little lead time- no sweat. Now that’s not to say I don’t give my husband guff about the times he calls and says all of the trucks will be in the yard in 15 minutes! But I have become pretty good at stocking up on staples for field meals, at the start of the season and feel pretty prepared to make a meal for a large crew in a short amount of time.
When we moved to our current farm, I knew that I wanted to be as prepared as possible, so I put together a list of meals and stuck it to the inside of our pantry door for quick reference. I put them in pork, chicken, beef, fish categories so that I could be sure not to serve the same type of meat from day to day and be able to mix up my menu a bit.
Wintertime is when I like to do my experimenting in the kitchen. I love trying new recipes and experiment with my sourdough starter, but when things are busy, I know I have a list of “old- reliables” to go by. I do tend to mix things up with a few different ways to make the same old thing, but my Field Notes Recipe Book is host to some of our well-known, crowd-pleasing, and family-favorite recipes!
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I’ve always planted a large veggie garden and I don’t see that going away anytime soon. Our kids love helping in the garden and have a well-rounded idea about where their food comes from.
This ensures we have the freshest selection of fruits and veggies available for our field meals and saves time and money running to the grocery store. It does take a lot of work to keep up with growing and processing vegetables, but I think everyone appreciates this effort!
I do go through quite a lot of to-go containers and serve-ware. A few years ago, I made a big effort to purchase containers that could be composted. My goal was to be cost-effective and to be able to get to-go trays and serve-ware in bulk. We are lucky to have a local restaurant supply within 60 minutes where I stock up on our bulk needs. But when in a pinch, have also found a few really good resources through Amazon.
Luckily more eco-friendly items are coming down in price. The trays listed below come in packs of 50 and when calculated down are only .30 each.
If you are preparing anything with a soupy-er base, you will want to line your tray with a sheet of aluminum foil (also recyclable). I also like to use these foil sheets to keep things warm when it’s cooler weather outside.
When it comes to forks and utensils, I like to use these forks and spoons. I don’t have a lot of use for knives as the meals we make need to be able to be eaten on the run. Unfortunately this means I can’t generally serve a big juicy steak worthy of needing a knife.
We like to have a nice big cup to pour our cold milk into so these cups do the job. They are heavy-duty and completely compostable!
The best way to cart the children and the field meals around is in our Gorilla Cart! Carey and the kids got me our second, heavy-duty Gorilla Cart last year for my birthday and man is this thing a beast! It totes everything from baby calves to midnight snacks out to the guys on the haylage pile!
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