my farm is nestled between two towns, one with a population hovering around 200 and the other at around 300… the smaller town has the store and school… the larger town has the bank, rink and doctor’s clinic… neither have a paved street but both have a post office and a bar…

if you come to this area, you will meet farmers, oil field workers, teachers, nurses, mechanics, truckers, electricians, hunters, hutterites… and the odd person running from the law trying to hide in the middle of no where…  I quickly realized after my first trip here to meet the farmer’s family that my choice of occupation (should the relationship pan out) was going to be limited… thus me becoming a stay-at-home mom…

it was rather difficult at first to be a stay-at-home mom… not the stay-at-home part so much but more the mom part… when your children are little you really do stay at home and lose your mind…  I like to look back on those years fondly as the ‘dark days’…  back when words like ‘I’m bored’ came out of my mouth…  or ‘play-date’…

then last year when my youngest went to grade one and it is the time that most stay-at-home mom’s get a job my farmer husband told me to take a year to figure out what I feel should be the next step in my life… I currently am in my second year figuring that out…

but one thing I know I have to do every day is cook… and this has made me think that when I cook I want it to be fulfilling and artistic and inspiring and interesting… if I have to devote this much time to something I might as well become as interested in it as possible and try to create things that not only feed a belly but feed my soul….

and this brings me to the topic of cream cheese…

 

I love cream cheese…  ever since I discovered in college ‘the Great Canadian Bagel’ store where you could buy bagels and cream cheese in mass quantities and then eat it at your leisure in your dorm room while watching ‘Pretty Woman’ for the 24th time wondering who the lucky guy to discover you was going to be…

last harvest I went on a major cream cheese kick…  I went to our store in the smaller town and picked up four blocks of cream cheese just for the meal I was doing that night… when you are giving the food to ten farmers that means they each are getting around 3.2 oz of cream cheese each…

I was purchasing the cream cheese and a few other baking supplies like eggs, baking powder and graham cracker crumbs and a man beside me in line started to chat…

he was purchasing beef jerky, two Red Bull’s, a pre-made sub and a family sized bag of chips…  again, I had the baking supplies and cream cheese…

 he said to me ‘hey…. (nodding his head towards me so I knew he was referring to me)…  you from around here?’ … I politely replied  ‘no… just on my way through and decided to grab four packages of cream cheese and some graham cracker crumbs to tide me over’…

I always wonder if I had shown a little interest where that relationship could have gone…  I picture it heading the direction of a scary version of ’50 Shades of Grey’…  not the wealthy, helicopter version but more the ‘this Red Room has rats in it and is in a dirt basement’ version…

which brings me back to cream cheese… put it in as many things as you can… icings, potatoes, soups, cream sauce… you won’t be upset with yourself… and buy it in large quantities and see if someone asks you if you are  ‘from around these parts?’…

whipped potatoes

  • Servings: one casserole
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Ingredients:
– 9 large red potatoes, washed and cut in chunks
– 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, cubed
– 1 cup sour cream
– 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– 2 tsp onion powder
– 1/4 cup butter, cubed
– 1 tsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
Directions:
– cut potatoes into chunks, leaving skin on, and place in cold, salted water in a pot and bring to a boil
– boil on medium/high heat for 20 minutes or until soft in the middle
– strain
– in a mixing bowl, place cream cheese, sour cream, salt, onion powder and butter
– put potatoes into the mixer and beat on medium speed until well combined
– spray a large corningware dish with Pam, put whipped potatoes into the dish and sprinkle top with seasoning salt
– cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour


the poor farmers had no idea this curly haired guy had his hands all over their biscuit dough

yellow squash three cheese biscuits

Ingredients:
– 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 5 tsp baking powder
– 4 tsp sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
– 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
– 1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded
– 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
– 1 1/2 cups yellow squash or zucchini
– 2 cup buttermilk
– melted butter, for brushing on biscuits
Directions:
– in a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda
– add butter and using a pastry blender mix until it resembles coarse oatmeal
– stir in cheeses
– add squash and buttermilk and with a spatula combine
– turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it come together
– roll out to 3/4″ thick and cut with a circle biscuit cutter
– place on a parchment lined baking sheet
– brush with melted butter
– bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes
– cool on a rack and serve

  

I believe these are considered ‘super-foods’… well for sure broccoli and I love beets so much I’m classifying them as a super-food…

parmesan roasted broccoli and beets

Ingredients:
– 5 large beets, washed, cubed and skin still on
– 4-5 heads broccoli, washed and cut up
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 3 tsp kosher salt
– 1 tsp ground black pepper
– 8 cloves garlic, minced
– zest of 2 lemons
– 4 tsp lemon juice
– 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Directions:
– place cubed beets in cold water in a pot and bring to a boil
– boil for 15 minutes and then strain and put in an ice water bath
– place broccoli and cooled beets in a large bowl
– add olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and mix
– pour onto a parchment lined large baking sheet
– roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes until broccoli florets are tender and browned
– mix zest of lemons, lemon juice and cheese and pour over the broccoli and beets and serve

mesquite beef kebabs from a local meat packing store… by local I mean I had to drive two hours to get there…  and then two hours home… local might mean something different to you.. 

my kids favourite salad and very simple for taking to the field is caesar salad… I do have a great recipe for caesar salad dressing but it was one of those days I thought the farmers could stand to have Costco caesar salad dressing instead…  from my local Costco…
  

which brings me to my favourite pie ever… and the one that brings back the most memories of my Grandma Reed…  coconut cream pie was one of her best and there is nothing like it with a cup of coffee…  or leftover at 1:30 am when you get home from the field and want pie… (I caught the farmer doing this last night)…

main trick to it is to make sure you get the cream thickened enough before putting into the pie crusts… otherwise it will never thicken and you get coconut cream pie soup…  which is also yummy but not quite as pretty…

grandma reed's coconut cream pie

Ingredients:
– use two baked 9″ pie shells
– 4 1/2 cups homo milk
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 5 egg yolks
– 1/3 cup cornstarch
– 1/3 cup homo milk
– 500 mL whipping cream
– 1 pkg Whip It (optional)
– 1 1/2 cups sweetened fancy flake coconut
Directions:
– in a double broiler, heat up milk, sugar and salt
– mix egg yolks, cornstarch and milk separately
– temper the egg yolk mixture with some of the warm milk/sugar and then add all of the egg mixture into the double broiler
– mix with a whisk until it resembles pudding – this will take quite awhile but it is very important to get it to the consistency of pudding
– pour into the shells and place in fridge (with plastic wrap over each pie) for 3 hours or longer
– for whipped cream, use a mixing bowl that has been in the freezer… the cream will whip faster
– place whipping cream and one package of Whip It (optional) in mixing bowl and mix at med/high speed until stiff peaks form
– spread over the cream pies and sprinkle coconut on top to serve