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S'More Bars
Friday 30th of September 2011 07:50 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

S'More Cookie Bars give you the taste of the campfire without having to light a match. Of course, you will have to light your oven.

Jill and I both spotted this recipe on a Facebook update from Mandy, my cousin's daughter. It was the weekend of the move. After unpacking dozens of boxes, we were taking a break. Jill was on her computer and I was on mine. We had to laugh when we both pulled up the recipe at the same time.

"Mmmmm ... that looks good," we said, practically at the same time.

And we were right. I recently made them for a Nu Lambda potluck. Randy taste-tested them before they went out the door and told me they should stay home, since they weren't company worthy.

But I saw through the ruse. He just wanted them all for himself. Never fear: My Nu Lambda friends left some, and he gladly cleaned up the leftovers.


S'More Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 graham crackers)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 king-sized milk chocolate bars
7 oz. jar marshmallow creme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until well combined. Divide dough in half. Press half into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.

Unwrap chocolate bars and place over dough. Don't layer the bars; just break them to fit if you need to. Spread the marshmallow creme over the chocolate bars. With the remainder of the cookie dough, press the dough into "sheets" with the palm of your hand and lay it on top of the marshmallow fluff. Don't worry if the dough isn't covering everything because it will spread as it bakes.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. If the top browns too quickly, cover it with foil for part of the baking time. Cool completely before cutting into bars. If you don't allow them to cool, they will crumble when you try to cut them. Makes 16-20 bars.

For more photos, check out the recipe on Crepes of Wrath, the site where Mandy discovered these delicious bars!


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The Right Recipe
Thursday 29th of September 2011 07:00 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

The right recipe is an important tool for any baker.

Getting that right mix of ingredients is equally important when it comes to getting a wheat crop off to a good start. With our region in an exceptional drought, the wheat needs all the help it can get. We try to improve its chances by applying fertilizer as we drill the 2012 crop.

Meal delivery is my specialty. But during these wheat planting days, I add fertilizer delivery to my list of chores.

I take the pickup and trailer to the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op to get the next tank load of fertilizer. First stop is the scales, where the pickup and fertilizer trailer are weighed empty. (After it's full, I weigh on again.)

Then I pull into the fertilizer shed, where the co-op worker hooks a hose from the co-op's tank to the trailer.

Then he turns a series of levers to provide the "recipe" that Randy asked for.

The fertilizer is a mix of nitrogen, phosphate and sulfur. This year, we're not adding as much phosphate in the fertilizer mix because it's so expensive. This is the first year we're adding sulfur. According to K-State Research and Extension, sulfur can help increase yields. Per acre, we're applying 20 pounds of nitrogen, 5 pounds of phosphate and 4 pounds of sulfur.

The yellow tank on the drill holds the fertilizer. The starter fertilizer is laid down right beside the planted seed. As the seed germinates, its roots seek out the nitrogen, phosphate and sulfur, establishing a strong root system.

Randy refills the yellow fertilizer tank on the drill by hooking up the trailer that I brought back from Zenith. The "nurse" tank holds 1,000 gallons of fertilizer. Kind of like a big "measuring cup," the tank is marked. That way, Randy can look at the tank to see how much fertilizer he's applied to each landlord's field. The co-op can then bill everyone accordingly.

It means plenty of trips back and forth to Zenith during wheat drilling season. (And it means a hefty bill will soon appear in my mailbox. But we hope it pays off down the road. Time will tell.)

"On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again ..." (Yes, Willie Nelson's song is running around in my brain these days.)

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Dusting, Part II
Wednesday 28th of September 2011 07:59 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

There's been plenty of dust in the air as Central Kansas farmers begin to plant the 2012 wheat crop. Randy began planting here on September 19. He is planting in a little bit of soil moisture at the moment. However, with no rain on the seven-day forecast (or beyond), the moisture isn't going to last long. So, what's a wheat farmer to do?

In days gone by, wheat farmers would "dust in" their crop, barely scratching the surface and leaving the wheat kernel near the top of the soil. These days, K-State Agronomist Jim Shroyer recommends planting at the same depth as normal. Then there's not as much danger of freeze damage later.

Randy has upped the seeding rate, adding an additional 10 pounds of wheat per acre. If it were to rain, the higher seed population gives an increased chance of spreading out tillers to give ground cover, especially important in a dry year.

We had all the wheat treated with insecticide and fungicide. (That's why it's that festive pink color!) The application increases the costs of planting, but it protects the crop from insects and disease.

Some people haven't started drilling wheat yet. Others have. It's hard to figure out the right thing to do. The optimal time to plant in this part of the state is October 1-5. However, with the light rain shower September 16-17, Randy decided to use the moisture he had. Since wheat is our primary crop, we can't get the whole crop planted in the optimal "window" anyway.

This year, there's another complication. With the grass supply in pastures dwindling, he's planning to round up cows and calves from their summer pastures beginning October 3.

So, right or wrong, it's wheat planting time on the County Line. We'll see whether or not the gamble pays off. It's kind of like giving birth: You don't know what you're getting into for 9 months. Then you do.

(For more detailed information about planting wheat, click here for my blog post from last year.)

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Hard to Compete
Tuesday 27th of September 2011 07:07 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

It's kind of hard to compete with Johanna the Cow. She was one of the star attractions at the Ag Day for fourth graders at Ellsworth County last week.

I'm guessing the fourth graders didn't give much thought about how milk gets to their school lunch milk carton before they watched Johanna give up the goods.

How are two middle-aged Kansas wheat farmers to compete with this sleeping bundle of cute? There was a collective "Awww!" when a beef farmer revealed a day-old baby calf snuggled in a bed of hay. The baby was a twin. She may not have been accepted by the mama cow, but there were about 55 fourth graders who would have been glad to give her a good home.

But we did our best. Maybe getting to play in a bushel of wheat will help fourth graders think about the wheat that goes into their peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I hope a few of them took their little plastic bag of wheat home and planted it. If so, they should be getting a few green sprigs right about now.

It may not be a baby calf or a big-eyed cow. But maybe, just maybe, it sprouted an awareness that they didn't have before.

(And I'm already trying to figure out how to bring up the fascination quotient for a couple of wheat farmers.)


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Inquiring Minds Want to Know
Monday 26th of September 2011 07:36 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Report

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

This little girl with her hand in the air was just one of 55 reasons to leave work undone at home. So was the little guy who wanted to know how many kernels were in a bushel of wheat.*

We had just started drilling wheat, but Randy and I spent part of a day last week representing Kansas Wheat at an Ag Day event in Ellsworth County. Fourth graders from Wilson and Ellsworth came together to learn about everything from beef production to milking to ag by-products to careers in agriculture.

There's no getting around it: You think twice when they call in August and ask about a September calendar date. In all likelihood, it will be wheat drilling time. And it was. We got about 3/4 inch of rain September 16-17, so Randy decided to use what moisture there was and get started with wheat planting.

So why go and talk to a bunch of fourth graders, a few parents and their teachers? Maybe the answer was on the side of the Ellis County Farm Bureau trailer:

Whether people realize it or not, "There's just no way to have an ag-less day." Agriculture is the reason you can put food on the table. It's the reason there are sheets on your bed. It may even be the reason there's artificial turf on your favorite college football field.

But they won't know if we don't tell them. It doesn't get much more "rural" than Ellsworth or Wilson or any other little town in Kansas. But as the students came around to our wheat station, we asked how many of them lived on a farm.

The answer? Not many. There were a few who had grandparents farming, but very few of them actually live on a farm themselves. So it was important to bring a bit of the farm to them on a cloudy morning in September.

Food is something that comes from grocery stores or from the local restaurant or is served up by the lunch ladies at school.

But that morning, they saw the bushel of wheat.

They saw that bushel could be made into 42 loaves of white bread,67 pizza crusts or 192 giant cinnamon rolls.

It was pretty gratifying to later hear kids naming off the Kansas farm products that went into their pizza and milk lunch.

And that's why it's important to leave work undone at home. Someday, these will be the customers who are filling their grocery carts or pulling out their debit cards at the restaurant.

And, along the way, you just might learn something yourself. *By the way, there are in the neighborhood of 1 million kernels in a bushel of wheat. No, I didn't count them. I had to Google it.

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