I seldom talk to the farmer during harvest… so when asked the question ‘how is harvest going?’, I tend to have a dumb expression on my face… it’s not that I have no interest in the yields and breakdowns and which piece of land we are on… it is more the fact that I am scared to talk to the farmer…

I realized this while chatting with a friend last night…  I am afraid to let the farmer talk to me during harvest because I am the only person he is allowed to get angry with…  everyone else can get stuck in sloughs, break things off of things, spray or combine the wrong fields…  but they all get the ‘nice’ farmer…  I get the ‘real’ farmer…

so I play a bit of a ‘cat and mouse’ game with him during harvest time… if we don’t talk, he can’t take all of his frustrations out on me…  I’m still involved – getting parts, bringing out meals, moving vehicles – but I definitely try to not strike up any conversations asking how his day is going…

I know some of you reading this might think how unsupportive that is of me…  how selfish to not allow him to vent…  but that is where you are wrong…  do you think for one moment he asks me if I used Evaporated Milk in the dessert?  or how bookwork went that day?  or if the kids are alive and taken care of?

no way…  he checks out of everything in life except for what he has to think about…  farming… (oh and coaching hockey and football) and so I decide to copy him and do the same…  isn’t there some saying about ‘two ships passing in the night’…  I would say that is a pretty accurate statement of our harvest relationship…

it wasn’t always this way during harvest… there was a time where we couldn’t get enough of each others company during harvest…

Grandma Swan's Pumpkin Dessert

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 13 oz can evaporated milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • one yellow/golden cake mix
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup crushed pecans

Directions:

  • mix the pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and spices
  • pour into a greased 9×13 casserole dish
  • sprinkle a pouch of yellow cake mix over the top
  • drizzle 1 cup of melted butter over the cake mix
  • sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or more until brown on top
  • (this hardens if you put it in the fridge – so I suggest serving it warm or room temperature)

rewind 20 years… I had just met the farmer… he was not in charge of anything…  and I would make suppers and stay out combining or trucking with him until midnight even though that meant getting up early the next day to do up all the dishes…

I loved everything about harvest then…  the smells in the air, the banter on the radio…  I can remember seeing the Northern Lights and stars and thinking how amazing it all was…

and then I had kids…

the farmer’s Grandpa retired and his dad started to retire and suddenly we are exhausted…  I am trying to drive the kids all over the countryside for sports and the farmer is trying to keep combines, sprayers, grain carts and trucks all going the right directions…

and I find myself taking suppers out and hoping I can just set them all in a pile beside the field and drive away…

curried couscous cauliflower salad

Ingredients:
1 cup couscous (dry)
4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 head cauliflower)
curry powder
turmeric
ground cumin
salt
cayenne pepper
brown sugar
tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely diced carrots (about 3 carrots)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp lime juice and zest

Directions:
cook the couscous according to the package instructions, rinse in cold water and place in a large bowl
in a 450 degree oven, roast the cauliflower with the spices, sugar and oil on it until soft
let cool and add to the couscous
roast the carrots with the same spices, oil and sugar on it
for the dressing, mix the mayo, yogurt, cilantro and lime juice/zest
add the raisins and dressing to the couscous, cauliflower and carrot mixture
serve warm or chilled

part of me thinks that it is the more efficient you get on your farm, the less personal and enjoyable it is…  I don’t want to go back to having to set up a table and have everyone scoop their suppers out in the wind and cold…  but I know I want to figure out something that is a bit more personable and celebratory than handing a supper bag to someone and hoping it doesn’t get dumped upside down before they have a chance to eat it…

I love farming… I love cooking…  I just don’t love the frantic pace we have made everything function at in our world now… (that being said, I loved the speed this Instant Pot could cook my stew at!)… 

I guess you could say I feel conflicted… it’s easy to think that it was all roses and lollipops in the past… our memories tend to do that to us…  but I also know the amount that we pressure ourselves to get done in a day now is not manageable…

Insant Pot Beef Lentil Stew

Ingredients:
2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
pepper
2 (10 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp beef bouillon powder
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup dried lentils
2 cups chopped (chunky) carrots
2 cups halved mushrooms
flour slurry (1/4 cup flour + 1/4 cup water)

Directions:
Prep Day:
in a large ziplock bag, add the beef, pepper, crushed tomatoes, beef bouillon powder, onion, garlic, thyme and oregano
in another bag, add add lentils, carrots and mushrooms
place in fridge until use
Cook Day:
dump the contents of the thawed meat bag into the Instant Pot
add 4 cups water
seal the pot and set on manual for 30 minutes
after 30 minutes, quick release the pressure
add the contents of the veggie bag
set the pot on manual for 5 minutes
let the pot ‘natural pressure release’ for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure
remove the lid and mix in the flour slurry – stir ensuring no flour clumps
total cooking time will be around 1 1/2 hours

Grandma Swan's Green Bean Casserole

  • Servings: one casserole
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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cut green beans
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp soya sauce
  • dash pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups French’s french fried onions

Directions:

  • in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, mix soup, milk, soya sauce and pepper
  • add the beans and coat them
  • add 2/3 cup onions and mix well
  • bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling
  • stir
  • sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup onions on top and bake for another 5 minutes
  • (I doubled this recipe)

as I packed up the supper bags, sweating and thinking it is easier to run a marathon than cook and pack up a dozen suppers, I again thought to myself – there has to be a better way to do this…  I want efficiency, but I also want to be able to smile, laugh and see how everyone’s day is going… without feeling like I am slowing down the whole process by just showing up!

we shall see if I think of anything to make taking meals to the field more enjoyable! for now, the farmers can find their suppers in a pile beside a bin…