Prepare Like a Farmer and Apple Cider Beef Stew

Holy Cats! I caught the TV news and saw shots of empty grocery store shelves. No toilet paper, canned goods or frozen vegetables as far as the eye could see! My heart goes out to  anyone experiencing stress getting needed supplies.

How Farmers Prepare

On the farm, we look at preparedness a bit differently. The driving factor for farm supply preparation is not some virus, pandemic or zombie apocalypse, but instead driving distance and weather, as we live far from stores, fast food and strip malls. The closest shopping mall? 28 miles. Carry out fast food? 12 miles. Uber Eats? Don’t bother.

Farmers consider the weather for almost every decision. In Iowa the temperatures range from -20 in the winter to over 100 in the summer. There can be blizzards, tornadoes, raging winds and driving rainstorms. We look to the sky and plan our day accordingly.

On the farm, there are more important things to do than shopping, like growing a crop or keeping animals alive. We go to the grocery store around once a month, combining multiple stops that day, with a detailed list of what we need. If we happen to be in “town” on other business, and the list has enough items, we will make a stop. The list drives decisions.

Lists and Inventories

Every farm kid has heard the request, “Please go to the basement and get a can/jar of….” When an item is taken away, we make sure there is a proper replacement amount in supply. The shopping list is based on what is depleted in the basement. We make grocery runs count and plan for distance from stores and weather calamities more than any other event. Meat and vegetables from the garden are in a freezer in the basement. We buy toilet paper that is septic tank appropriate, as there is no such thing as city water or sewage systems.

Later this summer, I will show you how to garden with zero weeding and provide easy recipes for canning produce. It’s not that hard. If you have a garden, consider canning and freezing. It really doesn’t take that much time, and later, you’ll enjoy your produce in the dead of winter. On the farm, garden produce is handy and canning jars are reusable. It makes sense to can the excess or give it to others in need and not let it go to waste.

 

Organized Farm Supplies
Farm oils organized and ready for use.

Farm Repair Supplies

We apply the same technique to farm equipment repair supplies, with a small store of oils, filters and often needed parts in tidy rows on shelves in the machine shed. Making multiple trips to the parts store 25 miles away is frivolous and wasteful. Being prepared doesn’t mean the farm is disorganized or messy. Preparation requires organization , inventories and lists.

We have a generator to create electricity that was purchased when we were caring for livestock and a small propane heater for the house. These are things that farms need in case there’s some sort of catastrophic weather event. You could call us Preppers, but I would call ourselves Middle of Nowhere Realists.

Be Blessed, Share With Others & Wash Your Hands!

Apple Cider Stew

Apple Cider Stew
This hearty stew has the sweetness of apples.

After a day of hard work, who has time to cook? Apple Cider Stew is the answer! This recipe is based on an old recipe from the 1950’s, and involved a stovetop before the Crock-pot became popular in the 1970’s. Most of us don’t have time to stare at a stove, so Crock-pot it is!

  • Use Apple Cider NOT Apple Cider Vinegar. If you use cider vinegar, you will be disappointed with the taste.
  • Cooks back in the day used lard or beef tallow instead of olive oil to brown the onions and stew meat. It’s entirely up to you. Lard or tallow adds a “meat-ish” flavor.
  • Please use premium stew meat! Around here it goes for $5 a pound. Kinda pricey compared to cheaper cuts, but if you’re going through the time and effort to cut up the vegetables (and there is a pile), the premium stew meat is so worth the tiny bit extra per serving in the end.
  • This recipe will fill an 8-quart Crock-pot to the top, and tastes better the next day! Yay for planned-overs!
  • If you feel inclined, make this Oatmeal Bread or Irish Bread to finish out the meal.

Apple Cider Stew

Tools You’ll Need:

Knife to cut vegetables

Bowls to hold vegetables

Skillet or electric skillet

Wooden spoon

Crock-pot

Ingredients:

Brown:

3 large onions, chopped

3 T olive oil, lard or tallow

2 # Premium Stew Meat

Chop:

3 large potatoes, peeled

4 carrots, peeled

3 stalks celery

Mix:

1 C. apple cider

3 T flour

2 t salt

¼ t pepper

¼ t thyme

Brown onions in olive oil, lard or tallow. Put onions in Crock-pot.  Brown stew meat in pan. While things are browning, cut up potatoes, carrots and celery and put in Crock-pot. Put browned stew meat and all drippings into Crock-pot. Mix the apple cider mixture and pour over everything. Mix a few times and cook on low 8 hours.

Apple Cider Stew Recipe