Where’s the Farmer’s Wife?
Wheat harvest is in full swing in our part of Kansas. It’s about two weeks earlier than usual. For some reason, harvesting the wheat is a much bigger deal than harvesting the fall crops. Extended family come home to help and farm wives spend hours in the kitchen making meals. Walk through any local grocery store and you’ll hear the women discussing harvest meals.
I grew up living a quarter of a mile from my grandparents who farmed. Grandma would make huge meals for the harvest crew. Homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes, loaves of hot, white bread, creamed peas (straight-from-the-garden) with pearl onions and homemade pies. Everything was from scratch. As soon as the men left, she’d clean up and start on the sweet treat for the 4:00 p.m. lunch. I have memories of taking fresh cinnamon rolls and cream puffs to the field for the men. Food was definitely a huge part of my harvest memories!
When I got engaged to a farmer, I had dreams of being the kind of farmer’s wife Grandma was. I’d plan and bake and haul it to the field. Nineteen years ago this month I became a farmer’s wife. I took several meals and desserts to the field. Then, my father-in-law gently told me they would eat lunch at home before coming to the field and would eat supper when they got in at night. I also didn’t need to do the sweets at 4:00 p.m..
I was a bit discouraged, but determined to be a part of this farm life, I learned to drive the grain truck. For many years I drove one of those older trucks you follow on the highway at 25 mph. Then, Mark decided to upgrade and he got a truck and trailer. A BIG, LONG truck and trailer. It only took me suggesting the CO-OP might need bigger doors for him to teach me how to drive the combine.
I enjoy driving the combine. It’s air-conditioned (need I say more?) and there is a huge sense of accomplishment when a field is finished and we move to another.
The problem? There’s no farmer’s wife who brings food to our fields. Almost daily I run into another farm wife who has taken lunch to the field. This is a huge job. They plan it, make it, deliver it to the field still hot, then go home to a messy kitchen. Many will take something else out at 4:00 p.m. for lunch. My family ends up eating too many meals from Wendy’s and the local hamburger joint. I don’t mind the meals from those places, but I do miss that 4 o’clock lunch! Where are the cream puffs? I’ve realized that I may not miss being the farmer’s wife who takes food to the field (it’s a lot of work), but I DO miss the farmer’s wife! At least once a harvest I ask my husband why he didn’t marry her!
Here is my Cream Puff recipe. Maybe you’ll make it this week and think of me. If you’re around where we’re cutting, feel free to bring a few to the field! My family will thank you.
Bring 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water to a rolling boil.
Turn off heat and stir in 1 cup flour, 1/4 teas. salt until ball forms.
Add 4 eggs, stirring each one in before adding next one.
Place by spoonful on greased pan (should make 9-12). Bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 325F and bake for 20 more minutes. Cool completely, cut a piece off top and fill with hot pudding.
1 c. sugar, 2 T. cornstarch, 1 egg, 2 cups milk. Microwave until it boils and becomes thick like pudding. Stir in 1 T. butter and 1 teas. vanilla. Pour or spoon into pastry shell.
It’s pretty easy and very worth it!
Now, I think I’ll go call my mom and suggest she reads this post!
P.S. As for my favorite genre? As long as it’s a great read, I don’t care if it’s historical or contemporary.
Some of you have harvest memories–we’d love to have you share them with us!