Roast Beef and Barley Build the Best Cold Weather Soup

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2015. Since most of us have been experiencing bitter cold temperatures lately, we thought a good, hot soup is just what we need. Enjoy!

After a frantic few weeks of holiday cooking, you’re probably ready to put together some meals that are nearly heat and eat. Beef Barley Soup can do that for you, putting roast beef leftovers to good use, and adding barley for more protein and staying power. We usually plan for a chuck or arm roast that will allow us to have a pound or so of meat left, and we usually freeze a fourth to a half batch of the beef and barley soup made from the leftover beef. Continue reading

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle this Month!

Find 300+ recipes for wheat, barley, corn, oats, rye, spelt, amaranth, millet, quinoa and others in this innovative cookbook. At and our store in Kidron.

Find 300+ recipes for wheat, barley, corn, oats, rye, spelt, amaranth, millet, quinoa and others in this innovative cookbook. At and our store in Kidron.

by Christine Kendle, MS, RDN, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension Tuscarawas County.

March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” fruitencourages us to take a good hard look at the food we bite into every day. When I asked my husband about what kind of healthy bites he was inspired to take in celebration of National Nutrition Month, he made mention of a healthy dose of Swiss Cake Rolls and soda. He was only joking, I think, and quickly followed up with, “Not exactly what you had in mind, huh?” While I did not appreciate his making light of what I viewed as a serious topic, his response did cause me think about how important it truly is to make informed decisions about healthy foods. As a dietitian, I find there is a lot of confusion when it comes to selecting foods for good health. What do healthy foods look like?

Glorious Grains

Let’s start by taking a look at grains. We are encouraged to make half of our grains whole grains. These are grains that have not been milled, so they typically appear brown in color. Refined grains have been milled, which means the bran and germ layers have been removed to create a lighter product with a finer texture and often extended shelf life. Unfortunately, selecting a loaf of “brown bread” does not ensure a whole grain product since coloring and molasses may have been added. To find a whole grain product, one must be a good label reader. Look for words like whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice.

Half a Plateful!
Next, add a variety of fruits and vegetables. My very wise mother always told me that nutrients come in colors. How right she was! A recent post by the American Cancer

The Salad Sac keeps lettuce, herbs and vegetables fresh for days! At and our store in Kidron.

The Salad Sac keeps lettuce, herbs and vegetables fresh for days! At and our store in Kidron.

Society states that eating many different colors of fruits and vegetables is important in order to get all of the different vitamins and minerals we need. For example, bananas are a great source of potassium while oranges are packed with Vitamin C and dark, leafy greens like spinach provide Vitamin A. Their research shows that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables helps to keep us healthy while reducing our risk of cancer. The USDA recommends that half our plate be made up of fruits and vegetables.


Protein – But Not Too Much
Finally, let’s take a look at lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Selections, like skinless chicken or turkey breast, lean pork, lean beef, and omega-3 rich fish, as well as beans, nuts, and seeds, are an important part of the diet. Frequently, the protein portion of our plate is much larger than it should be! MyPlate guidelines recommend 5-7 ounces of lean protein every day. Including dairy products like low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt help us to build strong bones and meet our calcium and Vitamin D requirements.

So what kind of bites are you taking? Are they teeming with fruits, veggies and whole grains? Do they include healthy, lean protein and low-fat dairy foods? Visit for your personalized plan. The site includes many useful resources, such as the Food-a-pedia and the Supertracker tool.

Written by Christine Kendle, MS, RDN, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension Tuscarawas County.
Reviewed by Beth Stefura, MS, RDN, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension Mahoning County.

American Cancer Society. Accessed March 2015.
US Department of Agriculture. Accessed March 2015.

Down East Gardener Welcomes Spring…Finally!

Black Cherry Tomatoes

Originally found in the Ukraine, these colorful heirlooms have been widespread since the 19th century. Get yours at!

I was beginning to lose hope but at long last my seeds have decided to welcome spring. I have flats and greenhouses and all many of crazy places around the farm, and they’re getting green, with little growing things.

Experimenting with Tomatoes
I was especially pleased to see my Black Cherry Tomatoes have sprouted. The germination rate is 90%, a good number for me. The real test will be, not just what emerges but what makes it through to productivity. I only planted 15 pots and I spread them among three different kinds of pots.

I seeded 5 in plastic seed flats, 5 in paper pots I made and the final 5 in soil blocks. I want to see if there is any difference in vigor between the three.

I have another idea I want to explore. I always cut off the suckers on my tomatoes although there is disagreement among experts as to whether or not it’s necessary.
Continue reading

American Gardens: Location, Location, Location!

BG's seeds and markers

Lehman’s has many varieties of heirloom tomatoes for your garden! Check out the row tags BG made for her American Garden heirloom seeds.

Our American Gardeners have checked in! This may be the second day of spring, but winter still hasn’t gotten the message in most of the country. Still, garden planning and a bit of gardening is going on.

Tim, Ohio: I don’t dare plant before 4-15 but I have my plan set. I’m inter-planting onion rows with carrot rows as pest deterrence this year. I’m also knocking together pea troughs and the last of the raised beds now. Going to a “growing potatoes” class on Saturday.

Kathy, Massachusetts: Ice today. It’s a slushy, mushy mess. And if it doesn’t stop snowing soon, I may cry! (Kathy’s area has seen as much as 20+ inches of snow this winter.)

BG, Indiana: I’m prepping things. I’m about 2 weeks behind with seeding out into the seedpods (flats), which will be addressed tonight.

I have made planting flags (row tags) for everything that is being started indoors.
The head lettuce was seeded outdoors directly into a bed that already had garlic planted and can be covered easily if the weather requires me to do so.

I’m thinking of weighing the harvest this year. I like to be organized! Must analyze plants! Must optimize garden capacity! Continue reading

Our American Gardeners Get Going!

Heirloom seeds in packets from

Choose from a variety of heirloom seeds at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Last week, Country Life announced our American Gardens Project, where we sent a selection of heirloom seeds to gardeners all over the country. Each gardener has received his or her seeds, and is, as we say at Lehman’s, “starting their seedlings” in the race to harvest. We’ll track each one, and see how the various seeds do in gardens across the country.

Our Arizona gardener, Glynis, lives in the high desert, and has some big challenges to overcome. She shares her thoughts with us below. Our other gardeners, who are scattered through the South, East and Midwest, will have updates here soon. Continue reading

Lehman’s Has The Heirloom Seeds You Want!

Heirloom seeds in packets from

Choose from a variety of heirloom seeds at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

As many of you may have noticed, we’ve started thinking spring here at Lehman’s Country Life! (Just because Ohio’s buried in snow and cold doesn’t mean we can’t dream…) Right now, many of our readers in the South and West are starting their gardens, and are ready to start seeds, and may even be considering getting cool-weather plants in the ground.

When you’re starting to plant, you can’t pick anything finer than heirloom seeds–unless those seeds are certified USDA organic. We’re pleased that you can choose from our extensive group of heirloom seeds here at Lehman’s, with many certified organic! This year, we’re pleased to add seven new varieties–they’re conveniently grouped at the end of the list.

Take a look at the list below, and then visit to order your favorites! Continue reading

Cool Weather & Companion Planting: Give It A Try!

Broccoli seedlings in soil cubes. Make seed starters with a Soil Cube Tool

I can hardly believe it’s time to start preparing for my Spring garden! I’ll be getting my warm weather seedlings started indoors in the next few weeks, and I’ll direct sow most cool weather crops outdoors when the snow has thawed and melted away. My main objective right now is to get a jump start on the season by starting a few cool weather crops and herbs indoors in soil cubes.

This winter has been extra crazy for most of the US, so it’s a little harder for me to know exactly when it’ll be safe to plant and what to expect this year.  Worst case scenario, I’ll plant my cool weather crops in the raised beds, and cover them with old windows to create a cold frame if I fear them freezing. Continue reading

Homemade “Fast Food”

Ball Blue Book

The Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving. Available at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio. (Want one now? Click on the photo. )

During the summer months, I do a lot of canning. We have been fortunate that the garden has done well for the last 2 years. We thank the horses for that!  They keep us in clean, organic fertilizer. With the abundance of produce, I have had the opportunity to experiment with canning partial or entire meals. We try not to buy processed foods. I try to make everything. Condiments, sauces and everything else.

Meal Bases

We canned a lot of stews (vegetarian) and soups last summer in anticipation of these cold nights when I would be just too exhausted to cook. I packed stew vegetables and broth in jars with seasonings and pressure canned them. Squash, beans, potatoes, carrots, corn, and peas all went into the jars. If desired, for a more complete meal, pasta or beans could be added when the jars were opened. We made pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, salsa and spreads along with the usual pickles, kraut, jams and jelly.

When canning vegetables for stew, I don’t typically use a recipe. Since it’s just vegetables and seasonings, it’s pretty easy. Using a pressure canner, just about anything can go in.

Essential Glass Pie Plate

Essential Glass Pie Plate, available at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

We don’t eat meat and although I know meat is often canned, I don’t know about canning it with vegetables. I think I would prefer to add it at the time of cooking.

When making soups for canning, I don’t use very much water. Making my soups really thick and then adding a jar of water when cooking means twice as much soup when it’s cooked. I sometimes use recipes just as a place to start. I like the Ball Blue Book of Preserving for that. It’s full of information on canning, freezing and drying food as well.


What about dessert?  If I could make pie filling and can it, then we would have fresh pie in the winter, without much fuss at all. Apple seemed like a good start. Most of the recipes call for cornstarch. Canning cornstarch just doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. So I made my pie filling without it. A note on the jar to add the starch when I make the pie keeps me from having a very runny pie.

Proper Preparation Pays Off

Now, it’s finally winter. There are the normal chores, but I am also writing again and taking some online classes. I’m really busy and often too tired to cook. Those soups and stews are coming in handy and so are the desserts. Yesterday, I made an apple pie. Using the usual crust-lined cast iron skillet, I heated the pie filling and added the cornstarch. I filled the crust and baked it for 40 minutes. It was easy and fresh!

Although we grow a good garden and have a lot of canned food, we still purchase some fresh vegetables during the winter. We always look for sales and purchase a little extra to go into the freezer. Usually it’s vegetables I didn’t grow, like eggplant or didn’t grow enough of, like bell peppers. I found red bell peppers on sale last week and made roasted red peppers, packed them in canning jars, added olive oil and a little garlic and froze them.

I cook a few times a week. Always making more than we can eat, we freeze the leftovers so that we don’t have to eat the same thing for days. Freezing meals really helps out around here. Frozen “fast food” allows us to have more variety in our diet and keep a good supply of winter “comfort food” like sweet potato soup and chili. Freezing Canning Jars

I’m sure most of you know this, but I only found out this year that some canning jars can be FROZEN! (Click this list to see if your jars measure up. Not all jars are freezer safe. –Editor)

I pack our leftovers into jars and into the freezer they go! This keeps those canning jars in use all winter long. The LIDS* can also be re-used for freezing. I know they can’t be reused for canning, but now we get more than one use out of them by freezing them!

Since we try to reuse or repurpose as much as possible, this was a huge discovery for me!  I don’t have a big freezer, but the jars seem to fit better than other containers and there is a lot more food in my freezer. In case you didn’t know, here are the Ball/Kerr jars that can be frozen-

  • 4, 8, or 12 oz. jelly jars.
  • Wide Mouth Pints or Pint and a half- (I think they are 24 0z).
  • Don’t freeze the regular mouth jars or the quarts.

Pre-Mix Baked Goods

Another really good way to keep those canning jars working in the winter is to store pre-measured dry ingredients for cake, bread, cookies or other baked goods. I mix the dry ingredients for a few items and store them in canning jars on the shelf. Then when it’s time to bake, mix in the wet ingredients, add the dry mix and bake. It’s as easy as getting it out of a box, but it’s all homemade goodness. Canning jar lids can be reused here, too.

Just about any food can be made into “fast food. ”  It can be canned or frozen or prepared and stored. It does take some extra work, but it sure pays off in good, healthy meals that can be prepared quickly and easily. It takes the pressure off when there’s no time to cook. That’s important to me. Besides, we live 35 miles from town and we work here, at the ranch. That’s 70 miles to go to pick up a pizza.

Nobody delivers.

*Lehman’s doesn’t recommend using standard lids and bands in the freezer. Plastic Storage Caps for Canning Jars are safe for use in the freezer or refrigerator.

My Kitchen Is Alive!

My countertop fermenation farm:

My countertop fermenation farm: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, the pizza dough and apple cider.

There’s something to be said for a quick and easy meal, that can make a hurried, hungry person happy in a matter of minutes.  A fried egg, for example, or a peanut butter sandwich, or a handful of cherry tomatoes fresh from the vine. 

But there’s something very different and just as beautiful to be said for foods that take a long time to create. Fermentation is a hobby of mine, I have to say—I get more excited about creating vast quantities of sauerkraut than consuming it, as delicious as it may be.

When, the other night, I looked at my counter and saw a total of 5 different cultured foods fermenting away (fyi: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, sourdough pizza dough, and apple cider), I decided I had to write about it. Continue reading

Pumpkins Are A Frugal Food

The best pumpkin bread recipe is on page 55. Cookbook available now at Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio, or

The best pumpkin bread recipe is on page 55. Cookbook available now at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or

Pumpkins say “autumn” louder than just about anything you can think of, with the possible exception of corn shocks (how many of you shock corn any more?). Something about a pumpkin excites the imagination of just about everyone. You’re surely into growing the biggest pumpkin, or you have plans for pumpkin bread, or you love to decorate your yard and home with them.

Almost everyone who doesn’t grow their own has to buy at least one – and often, several. They’re cheap enough to indulge in and many think they’re cheap enough to waste by throwing them out or letting them rot when the fun is over. Please don’t do that… you can buy just one or two and you’re stocked up with the makings of many good foods, with recipes ranging from snacks to soups, from bread to custard and more. Continue reading