About Me

Kentucky, United States
Fourth generation beef producer, wife, mother, 4-H & FFA supporter, agriculture advocate, Christian, WKU alum, love livestock shows, basketball, college football, Dallas Cowboys. All things agriculture.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Rebecca Ruth Candy - Ag Fact Friday

     It's been too long since my last post and I want to spotlight my home state with an Ag Fact Friday post. Rebecca Ruth Candy is well-known throughout the state for a variety of delicious candy, but especially bourbon balls. Rebecca Ruth Candy celebrates 100 years in business this year so I'm sharing this informative video from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and our Commissioner of Agriculture, Ryan Quarles, to offer a suggestion if you are looking for a Valentine Day gift or just a gift for someone special. 


  Be sure to visit Rebecca Ruth Candy on your next visit to Frankfort. The following link to their website gives the location of their retail shops as well as the factory. You can also find their great assortment of candy at many Kentucky Proud retailers and specialty shops.


#AgFactFriday #RebeccaRuthCandy #KyProud

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cooking Beef Brisket for Valentine's Day Meal

     Everyone likes to go out and eat for special events, birthdays, and holidays but since Valentine's Day is on Wednesday this year, it might be more convenient, and less crowded, to stay at home and enjoy a home-cooked meal. As beef producers we eat a lot of our own beef and one of the easiest meals to prepare is a delicious steak, baked potato and salad and it is one of my favorites. There is nothing wrong with relying on that gold standard and having a steak this Valentine's Day.

     I would like to suggest cooking beef brisket, it is really just as easy as steak but takes a little planning and preparation beginning Monday evening. This is my modified version of the Smoked Texas Beef Brisket recipe that I found in "The Healthy Beef Cookbook"  published by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, written by Chef Richard Chamberlain and Betsy Hornick.  This is not the common smoked brisket, which is a delicious favorite of mine, but brisket that you can either cook in a slow cooker, on stove top, or in the oven.
    Follow the link to learn more about the beef brisket cut from the Beef Checkoff program  "Beef. It's What's For Dinner."
Photo credit to Beef Checkoff website "Beef. It's What's For Dinner"

     If you want to serve this on Valentine's Day, you need to purchase a 2.5 to 3 pound boneless flat cut beef brisket, NOT corned beef brisket. These are usually sold in vacuum packages and can range from 2 to 8 pounds. A 2.5 to 3 pound brisket should fit into a large slow cooker or stock pot and make 6 to 8 servings.
     The original recipe calls for a list of ingredients for a dry rub. Since I did not have all of the ingredients in my pantry the first time I cooked this several years ago, I used McCormick's Grill Masters Steak Rub, which includes everything in the recipe.

     1    2.5 to 3 pound boneless flat cut beef brisket
     1    package McCormick's Grill Masters Steak Rub
     1    beer
           Plastic wrap
     Two nights before you plan to serve, take the brisket out of the original package and cover both sides with McCormick's Steak Rub. That is simple enough although it may be a messy process. Now wrap the brisket tightly in plastic wrap. It will normally take about 4 or 5 long strips of plastic wrap to cover the brisket entirely. Place the brisket back into the refrigerator for 24 hours.
     If you plan to cook the brisket in a slow cooker you can now remove  the plastic wrap from the brisket and brown the brisket in a skillet  in olive oil. I like to use an iron skillet.  I brown both sides very well, then place the brisket fat side up into the slow cooker and add 1 cup of beer. Turn the cooker on low and cook until the following afternoon, remove the brisket at dinner time, slice and serve! You can either place brisket in slow cooker the night before, near bedtime, or place in slow cooker early morning of the day you plan to serve.
     If you will be home on the day you plan to serve the brisket you can cook it in a stock pot on the stove top or in the oven. You will also need to brown as stated above, then place the brisket into a stock pot fat side up and add 1 cup of beer. You have the choice of cooking on the stove top at a very low heat for 4 hours, keeping the lid on the stock pot because you won't have to add liquid or stir, or you can place the stock pot in the oven at 250 degrees and cook for 4 hours. Remove, slice and serve.
     Brisket is excellent served as a sandwich or sliced and served as the entrĂ©e with your favorite sides.
Photo credit to Beef Checkoff. This looks like the brisket from this recipe, only with added BBQ sauce. 

For more information on braising and slow cooking different cuts of beef check out the following link https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/cooking/braising-pot-roasting-slow-cooking


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Don't Let Perception Be Reality. Get The Facts

     Gather around folks and pull up a chair, get comfortable and pay attention, because I would like to tell you a story about how easily people can jump to conclusion, think they know the situation, and allow their perception to become reality.
     There was this young man, he was just 17, living in a rural community and going to a small high school. He was in the beginning semester of his senior year. He was quiet, an above average student, and he had a small group of very close friends. He wasn't involved in any of the school clubs or a member of any of the school teams. He was at school every day, he always did his work and turned in his classwork on time and his grades were above average.
     There was a very small problem though, he arrived late to school almost every day of every week. He was always 20 to 30 minutes late and sometimes up to 45 minutes late. As you know most schools have rules that if you arrive late you are considered tardy, and 3 tardies are considered an absence. With those excessive number of tardy and absences adding up, this gets the attention of the administrators and soon the young man is served with a notice to appear before a meeting of the board of education.
     The young man stands before the members of the board of education and it is explained by the high school administrator that he continually arrives late to school. The administrator asks the young man to explain himself, and states that if his classmates can make it on time so can he.
     The young man spoke quietly but with determination. "Well, you see, I have things to do before I come to school, and I have trouble getting everything done and make it there on time."
     One of the members stated that wasn't much of an explanation because everyone has things to do before they get to school. He asked what could he possibly have to do every day that would make him late.
     "Well sir, I milk cows every day, morning and afternoon," replied the young man.
     Another of the board members spoke up, "Maybe your father needs to be taking care of the morning milking so you can make it to school on time."
     The young man replied, "My father passed away, and so did my mother. You see, I milk for a neighbor to make a living to take care of my grandparents."
     At this time you could have heard a pin drop. Silence.
     Finally, the administrator that brought the young man before the board for his absences asked, "You mean that you are late every morning because you are milking cows and you haven't told me this before?"
     "Yes sir. I get up at 3:00 am each morning, get the cows in, milk, clean up, then go to school and yes I am sometimes late."
     Everyone in the room was stunned. First, because the young man was doing the work and responsibility of an adult, and second, because he was standing there in trouble.
     The chairman of the board quickly made the statement, "Young man, I want to commend you for being such a responsible adult. It is obvious that there has been a failure of communication and research into your situation. It is true that you need to be at school on time, however it's obvious that you are getting your work done, you are never absent, only late. I believe the school can make this work and waive this rule as long as you continue to keep your grades up and work turned in on time.
     The young man thanked everyone, shook the hand of each member and left the room.
     The administrator was then asked several questions about the situation, including why he didn't know the student was milking cows and working to provide income for his family. The administrator stumbled with his answer but soon confessed that he had not asked enough questions or actually visited the young man's home to learn of his very unique situation.
     The administrators incorrect perception of a student just being lazy and getting to school late every day was reality for that administrator. He didn't think about there being another explanation so his incorrect perception became reality and led to the meeting with the board of education, without any research, questions, or a visit to the young man's home.
     There are a few lessons in the story for everyone to learn in all walks of life. First, don't be so quick to judge and make assumptions because you probably don't know the whole story. Second, ask questions, and reach out to that person for answers before "taking them before the board". Third, and maybe the best lesson, be like the young man and refuse to argue or acknowledge ignorance.
     You may be wondering if this is a true story, and the answer is yes, but it was a few decades ago. It is a story about a very responsible young man, and people assuming incorrectly and not taking the time to learn the facts.
     Be a fact person. Don't assume anything, and know that there are probably more kids in our communities living a similar life. Be the person to lift up our youth, not knock them down when they are soaring.
     For some reason this story came to mind today, and I'm not sure why, but the Marshall County High School shooting was this morning and I keep thinking about what everyone in that community has gone through today. I know this story has nothing remotely similar to that event but I believe my mind was led here because of the theme of not knowing the real story, not knowing what kids are going through, working daily, just trying to survive. My hope in writing this post is that it will help at least one person to realize they shouldn't condemn or assume any situation without knowing the full story. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Memories of Colonel Robert Spiller

      Col (Ret.) Robert Ernest Spiller

Col. (Ret.) Robert Ernest Spiller, 89, of Oakland, KY, died peacefully at home after a short illness on Saturday, January 13, 2018. Col. Spiller is survived by his wife Cora Jane Morningstar Spiller and four children: Jane of New Providence, NJ; Bob (Pam) of New Albany, IN; Nancy (Jerry) of Parkland, FL; and Helen (Paul) of Cape Town, South Africa; eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren and one on the way. He is preceded in death by his parents Ernest Clifford Spiller and Helen Lydia Whitaker Spiller. Col. Spiller was born in Philadelphia, PA on December 25, 1928. He came to Bowling Green to attend WKU, where he met his wife of 66 years, Bowling Green native Cora Jane Morningstar. Col. Spiller graduated from WKU in 1949 with a Bachelors and a Masters degree in history in 1950. He had an illustrious 30-year army career and fought in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He served throughout the United States, France and Germany for many years. His final assignment was Chief of Staff of the Berlin Brigade, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Col. Spiller returned to Bowling Green in 1980 where he obtained an agriculture degree from WKU. Upon graduation, he became the director of the WKU Agricultural Exposition Center. He was a member of Christ Episcopal Church, Bowling Green, and served as the organist at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Glasgow for 20 years. Together with Cora Jane, they donated their time, treasures, and talents to numerous organizations. He was an active member of the American Legion, VFW, Military Officers Association of America, Kentucky State President of The Retired Officers Association and for several years led the Veterans Day Parade. He was a volunteer to drive veterans from Bowling Green to Nashville for medical appointments, helped widows and family members weekly to obtain benefits from the military, and was the driving force to obtain the Bowling Green VA Nursing Home. He was a member of the Rotary Club where he was a Paul Harris Fellow, Boys and Girls Club (Chairing the campaign to build the current building), supported the Salvation Army and member of Fortnightly Club. He was a docent at the historic Riverview at Hobson Grove for over 22 years. Col. Spiller had many hobbies to include chair caning, china repairing, and rug hooking. Those who knew him knew he was always busy and always helping others. Col. Spiller and his wife received numerous humanitarian and philanthropic awards to include the prestigious Jefferson Award and, most recently, the South Central Kentuckian of the Year Award.
Visitation will be from 2-8 pm Thursday at the J.C. Kirby & Son LOVERS LANE Chapel; and from 11 am until 1 pm Friday at the Duncan Hines Chapel of the Christ Episcopal Church on State Street. Colonel Spiller will be laid to rest in Fairview Cemetery.
Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Bowling Green, or the Salvation Army of Bowling Green.

Photo and Obituary copied from J.C. Kirby and son funeral home.                

     I was saddened to hear of the passing of Colonel Spiller this weekend, that's how myself and anyone around me referred to him while he was director of the WKU L.D. Brown Agricultural Exposition Center. I was so blessed to have several mentors during my time at WKU and Colonel Spiller was definitely a mentor and leader.  I don't care to reveal my age by stating that I was an agriculture student in the mid-1980's. What a wonderful time we had with the caring staff and administration. Colonel Spiller was an active part of that staff and worked with the students each day at the expo center, teaching and guiding along the way.
     The expo center was and still is host to many agricultural events and activities. For large events such as the rodeo, the many student organizations worked the concessions stands for a percentage of the profits. It was not unusual to have members of Block & Bridle, the Dairy Club, the Horse Club, and AgEd Club all working together at these events and Colonel Spiller was always there, encouraging us and helping us each step of the way. He was a fixture at all events and it didn't matter how late they ran, he was there directing and making certain everything was taken care of correctly. I really don't recall him raising his voice about anything but I know he rarely had to tell anyone twice.
     As a member of the livestock judging team, it was always fun to be at the expo center in the afternoons and have the time to play with the Colonel's Bassett Hounds. It's been too many years now for me to remember their names but they were a fixture at the center and could be found lounging in his office every day. They were very well behaved dogs and definitely knew the Colonel was their master.
     One of my favorite Colonel Spiller stories involves one of the many meals prepared and served by our Block & Bridle Club for a large company. This was an extra special meal of steaks and all the trimmings, served in a room at the expo prepared with tablecloths, dinnerware, and centerpieces. As many of you know Block & Bridle has long prepared and served meals but most are of the paper plate variety.
     There were probably 10 or 12  of us students that had worked all day preparing the room and the meal and as usual we made certain to have enough food prepared to have our own dinner but the company had several more people in attendance than planned, so we were left without a meal. Thankfully we had enough for the people at the conference but we were going to have to eat later. Colonel Spiller was not happy about this and he told us to clean up, he was going to call Cora, his wife,  to meet us and we would go eat dinner.
     When we were ready to leave the expo, Colonel Spiller told us to meet him at Rafferty's restaurant, one of the best restaurants in town at the time. We all drove there and I don't know about everyone else but I was sure that I was paying for my own meal. When we were seated, Colonel Spiller told the server that it was all on one bill and he was paying. He told us that we had all worked hard and thought we were getting a steak dinner and we were going to have a steak dinner. That was a most memorable evening and I will always remember Colonel Spiller's kindness in making sure that we had dinner and making it an event.
     I know that this was not unusual for him, he was always helping, always leading, and he had everyone's respect along the way. He was a leader among leaders and I am so thankful for those wonderful years at WKU. He will truly be missed.