“life is unpredictable, 

It changes with the seasons,

Even your coldest winter,

Happens for the best of reasons, 

And though it feels eternal, 

Like all you’ll ever do is freeze,

I promise spring is coming,

And with it, brand new leaves.”

-e.h.

winter on the farm is dark and lonely…  but in a way that seems necessary… like nature is telling us that it’s impossible to be sunny and full of energy all the time… like we need time to rest, read, sleep, snuggle… and most importantly… cook…

on minus forty degree Celsius winter days when the buses are too cold to run… (but you willingly drive your kids to school because the thought of them being home with you all day is too much to contemplate) these are the days you need a pot of soup or chili in the crockpot waiting…

for when everyone arrives home and wants to fill a bowl with something that will warm you from the inside out and you can wrap up in a blanket…

my attempts to not cook with meat are thwarted by the farmer and his children’s complaints that they would like to eat meat…

so I brown up some of the ground elk that the farmer had shot and stocked the freezer with this fall…

add to the meat some of the best sloppy joe spices ever… cumin, dry mustard and chili powder…

onions, garlic, red peppers and jalapeño fill the house with a ‘warm your belly’ winter smell…

the part I get excited about is the beans! and I remind the family we could live off of these powerful little things…

their reaction is usually the recitation of the bean rhyme…

end product is supper and if you are lucky – leftovers for lunches the next day…

elk and bean sloppy joes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs ground elk meat, browned

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 cup vegetable (or chicken) broth

1 can (19 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (19 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can tomato sauce

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

hamburger buns, toasted

grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

– in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground meat and transfer to crock pot

– soften the onions, garlic, red pepper and jalapeno in the olive oil and then transfer to crock pot

– add spices, paste and broth to crockpot

– add remaining cans of beans and sauce and stir in well in the crockpot

– cook on Low for 6 hours (can be maintained on Warm for up to 6 hours as well)

– serve on toasted hamburger buns with shredded cheddar cheese

as a side to the sloppy joe goodness you just created, add crispy spiced sweet potato fries and happiness follows…

nothing worse than soggy sweet potato fries and I have discovered a way to prevent this!  crispy fries every time…

crispy spiced sweet potato fries

Ingredients:

  • 4 small to medium sweet potatoes, well scrubbed
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt
  • chopped flat leaf parsley (or dried parsley)

Directions:

  • heat oven to 425 degrees
  • peel and cut sweet potatoes into matchsticks
  • combine corn starch, oil, and spices in a bowl
  • toss fries in the bowl and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet
  • bake for 20 minutes

now, you can make a complicated garlic aioli to dip these little bites of heaven in… but no body has the time to do that and it’s healthier just to eat them quickly, right off the pan, while they are hot…

… side note … when I say ‘read’, this is a word I like to use to replace ‘watching tv’… 

winter is an excellent time to rest, ‘read’, sleep, snuggle…

and most importantly… cook…