How to cook fresh green beans

My absolute favorite thing about summer is fresh produce.

I grew up with a huge garden and if there was one thing my parents knew how to grow it was green beans.

In fact, my brother “Bud” and I started our first business when we were children picking/selling the surplus green beans to my dad’s coworkers.

So when Aaron and I started planning our garden, we never questioned if we’d grow green beans, just how many rows of them we’d plant!

We were so excited that despite drought and record setting heat we picked a big batch of green beans this week!

Fresh green beans can be intimidating if you’ve only prepared them from a store bought can but trust me, the extra work is definitely worth it.

There’s something nostalgic about Southern style green beans cooked “low and slow” that you just can’t help but love. Continue reading

My Sister the Pork Movie Star

On this blog, I often write about complex aspects of food and farming and interact with my predominately adult readers.

Renee with one of our piglets at a school assembly in March of 2011.

My sister Renee, on the other hand, has always preferred to teach children about our farm.

She’s brought our pigs to local schools and throughout high school provided the pigs for the local 3rd grade farm field trip.

Renee knows that its important that kids today learn the basics of where their food comes from.

I’m very proud of her for being a part of a the Kentucky Farms Feed Me virtual field trip series to help students across Kentucky learn just that!

The camera crew met up with Renee at one of her favorite places – a hog show!

A screenshot of Renee talking about caring for pigs at the North American International Livestock Expo.

In the video, you’ll hear her discuss what showing pigs is all about and some basics of caring for pigs.

The virtual field trip wraps up with a trip to Purnell’s “Old Folks” Sausage Company in Simpsonville, Ky. to see how it goes from pig to pork.

If you’re a teacher interested in using these videos and their coordinating lesson plans in your classroom, you can find more information on the Kentucky Farms Feed Me website. (Note: Not all of the content is up yet but according to the site it will all be ready to go by August 1, 2012).

From Pig to Pork from Kentucky Farms Feed Me on Vimeo.

 

Gardening with our nieces

Every summer, my nieces from Louisville come spend a few weeks in West Kentucky with their grandparents.

Its always a lot of fun for us because we get to share our day to day lives with them instead of just holiday festivities.

Aaron and I have always tried to make sure that even though they live in a city, they still learn where their food comes from.

In the past, we’ve brought them to the Kentucky State Fair or read books about farming.

This year, we’re taking a more hands-on approach: putting them to work in our garden!

Both Aaron and I grew up with families who had huge gardens so we knew we wanted our own this summer.

Since summer is also a busy time at the restaurant, Aaron knew the things that needed to be picked daily would likely fall on me so he put in a raised bed right outside our back door for the tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers.

Yesterday, we decided to let our nieces start helping out by weeding the raised bed.

Then Uncle Aaron showed them the “baby tomatoes” that are already starting to grow.

They were pretty excited about the little green tomatoes and said they’d help us keep an eye on them and see when they’ll start turning red.

Since they’ll be here for a few more weeks, we’re hoping some of the produce will be ready for them to help us pick!

(Though the youngest informed me that she wasn’t eating a cucumber unless I made it into a pickle!)

And don’t think Lorelei has gotten out of helping in the garden.

A few weeks ago I snapped one of her helping Daddy water the raised bed and yesterday she helped me “supervise” and photograph her cousins.

Hopefully in a few weeks we’ll give her the same job her Uncle Daniel did when he was a baby: help carry the tomatoes!

 

Join the “pizza party” and thank Domino’s for supporting family farmers!

When I was in college, my roommate got Aaron and I hooked on her family’s Friday night tradition: “pizza night.”

Like most broke college students, we chose which shop to order from based on one factor: which was the cheapest?

Today, I’m no longer living on a college budget so I’m using new criteria to chose where we’ll order pizza from.

Remember when I researched the artists who’d be played at my wedding? Or which non-profits I’d be leaving out of my holiday donations?

When it comes to choosing pizza, I do the same thing. Continue reading

Meet Baby Harned

Its been over a month since my last post and my what a month it has been!

On March 21, Aaron and I finally got to meet Baby Harned face to face.

Lorelei Anne was born at 1:43 a.m. weighing 9 lbs 5 oz and measuring 20 inches long.

Our first family photo.

After spending over 30 hours in the hospital waiting for her arrival, hearing her first cry was the most wonderful sound imaginable!

(In the following weeks we’ve heard a lot more where that came from. It isn’t quite as cute anymore!)

There have been several moments in my life that I would have described myself as “happy” but I can honestly say none of them compare to how happy I am now that Lorelei is officially part of our family.

To say we’re in love is a complete understatement. Continue reading

10 Things no one told me about being pregnant on the farm

For the past nine months, I’ve been dealing with the struggles of being pregnant on the farm.

Baby Harned at 38 weeks!

Everyone tells you about the morning sickness and the stretch marks but no one ever gives you advice on how being pregnant will affect every aspect of your farm life.

So as we patiently (or in my case, not so patiently) await Baby Harned’s arrival, I decided to do my part to help all the future farm moms out there who are in for nine very long months.

Here’s 10 things I wish someone would have told me about being pregnant on the farm.

Continue reading

Beef producers donate cattle, provide over 6,000 pounds of beef for local seniors in need

Generally, I don’t post the stories that I write for print publications on my blog.

One of the "food boxes" the Hand Up Ministry distributed to a local senior in need.

This blog is primarily focused on my personal opinions and experiences instead of the feature stories my clients commission me to write.

Today, I’m making an exception and I promise if you take the time to read this post and the article you’ll understand why.

In February, the Kentucky Cattleman’s Association’s Cow Country News asked me to cover a “farmer appreciation banquet” in nearby Crittenden County.

Going into the event, all I knew was that a group of cattlemen had donated cull cows to help some needy families in their community.

When I arrived at Life in Christ Church in Marion, I quickly realized that there was much more to this story.

To truly appreciate this amazing program, please read the full text version of the Cow Country News story by clicking here.

Chris McDonald, Pastor of Life in Christ Church, thanked farmers who donated livestock at the Hand Up Food Ministry's "Donor Appreciation Banquet"

The short version is this: Continue reading

Baby Harned’s Dr. Seuss baby shower

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of trying to get the nursery put together, the house baby-proofed and wrap up projects for my clients so I can go on “maternity leave” in a few weeks.

Emily, me and Lauren after the shower. (And for everyone who has been asking, I finally put a baby bump photo on the blog!)

Needless to say, its been a little crazy at the Harned house!

In the middle of all this craziness, Aaron’s cousins Lauren and Emily volunteered for the daunting task of throwing us a baby shower.

You’re probably wondering why this would be so challenging?

Let’s just say that I am not a “baby shower” type of person.

As I started browsing baby shower ideas on Pinterest, I immediately found myself envisioning an explosion of pink to rival the wedding in Steel Magnolias!

Luckily, Lauren and Emily were well aware of my aversion to the super girly and were determined to plan a shower that I wouldn’t just like but instead fall in love with.

They absolutely nailed it! Continue reading

Scholarship Tips for Agriculture Majors

My sister, Renee, is wrapping up her senior year of high school and preparing to head off to college next year.

Over the past two months, Renee has been applying for every scholarship she can get her hands on.

I’m so proud of her for taking the initiative and putting so much time into these applications. Every time she sends me an essay to proofread I’m more impressed with her work.

(So if you find yourself on a scholarship selection committee with an application from “Renee Laurent” consider this my completely biased endorsement of how awesome she is!)

Like many farm kids, Renee will be majoring in agriculture, specifically ag economics.

Through my work with FFA over the years, I’ve picked up many high school readers who might be spending their weeknights much like Renee, pouring over yet another scholarship application.

I decided to share some of my scholarship application tips for agriculture majors.

I am by no means a “scholarship coach” or an expert on the subject.

My advice comes from my personal experience as someone who paid for my college education completely with scholarships and never took out a student loan.

Hopefully, you’ll find these tips helpful and see them pay off…literally!

Continue reading

McDonald’s showcases family farmers in new ad campaign

As someone who spends a lot of time traveling for work, I find myself in the drive through lane at the “Golden Arches” on a fairly regular basis.

Though I’ve always been a chicken nugget fan, I found myself admiring McDonald’s from a different perspective this week.

The company recently released three new commercials highlighting some of the family farmers who produce their beef, lettuce and potatoes.

This was definitely not something I expected from the fast food giant.

Let’s face it, McDonald’s is a fast food restaurant that specializes in quick, affordable food that tastes good.

They aren’t in the “health food” business because though their customers want to feel healthy, they aren’t willing to pay Whole Foods prices for their double cheeseburgers.

So what motivation does McDonald’s have for these commercials?

Continue reading