how’s harvest going?

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…

need any help?

the farmer got upset with his oldest son who is driving the grain cart for not helping combine drivers clean their headers out…  he was just telling him the other night how it is his job as a cart driver to get out and help them…

so yesterday, my sixteen year old, trying to be as helpful as possible, tore across the field to be of assistance to a combine driver who was stopped…

and we haven’t stopped laughing/crying ever since…

because this particular combine driver’s header was not plugged… that was not the reason for the combine sitting motionless… ‘nature had called’ and my son got there just in time to witness it…

I remember when I first married the farmer and asked him, a few years into farming, what happened if he needed to ‘use the facilities’…  if he would have to jump in his truck and go knock on a door of the closest farm house and hope they didn’t mind him destroying their bathroom…

I did not grow up even peeing outside…  in fact I was just running in a race last weekend and needed to pee the entire 2 hours but with no outhouse in sight I nearly wet myself finishing the race to get to a bathroom… so the idea of doing the other thing outside seemed barbaric and outlandish to me…

apparently sometimes it can’t be helped…

and, much to the farmer and myself’s enjoyment, our oldest son got to experience one of these times…  just trying to be helpful…  when no one needed him to help…

I had to quickly get that story out of the way before I discussed food… but it for sure is the highlight of harvest for the farmer and I… we are pretty sure nothing will top the amount of enjoyment and laughter we have had over this awkward moment…

continuing with the farmer’s Grandma Swan recipes, and seeings how when you make pie crusts it is in batches of four, I had enough crust for two more pies…

I generally have had to go to the farmers Grandma’s old yard to get some of her rhubarb but I actually planted my own rhubarb this year…  so the raspberries and rhubarb are from my own garden… my daughter and I were pretty pleased with ourselves…

I tend to overfill pies so I have learnt to place them on parchment lined baking sheets

Grandma Swan's Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup sour cream
4 cups rhubarb, cut into small chunks
1 cup frozen raspberries

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soft butter, cut into chunks

1 unbaked pastry shell

Directions:
in a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour and sour cream
add the rhubarb and raspberries and combine
pour into an unbaked pie shell
in another bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter until crumbly
sprinkle over the pie
bake at 425 for 15 minutes
lower heat to 350 and bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender

this was an odd day that the smoke from all the forest fires in BC was not actually blocking out the sun so my daughter and I enjoyed some deck time in the sun while husking corn… I always call it shucking corn… the farmer told me I was wrong… but I just did a little google search and found out we both are correct… take that…

the nice thing about the old recipes I find is they are simple… generally have a very short list of ingredients…

Grandma Swan's Scalloped Corn

  • Servings: one casserole
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Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. can cream style corn (I used fresh corn on the cob cut off)
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (I used Panko bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup diced cheddar cheese
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

  • combine all ingredients
  • pour into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish
  • bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes until top is lightly browned and center is set

this was one of those days that I didn’t get started on cooking until after lunch and it was a full on panic and scramble to get everything done… I could not have done it without my ten year old daughter being a huge help…

also the laughter that kept welling up inside me also assisted in getting me through the stressful afternoon of cooking and dishes…

thinking of my son taking the tractor over to the stalled combine only to find someone attempting to have some privacy… I’m giggling as I write this

Grandma Swan's Mandarin Orange Lettuce Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 can (bag now) mandarin oranges, drained
  • chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 sunflower seeds (optional)
  • green onions
  • 1/2 cup cashews, chopped

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard

Directions:

  • for the dressing, blend in a Vitamix or shake very well in a Mason Jar
  • there actually were no directions for this salad…  I guess you just make the salad!

this dish is a harvest classic and one of the farmer’s favourites…  I made it into casseroles and covered them to cook them… generally I would have just made the beef/soup mixture up and poured it over the egg noodles but I found this way was a bit easier for packing up…

Grandma Swan's Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb round steak or stew meat, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 pkg white button mushrooms, cut up into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pkg egg noodles

Directions:

  • for the meat, dredge in flour/salt/pepper mixture
  • place in heated butter in a frying pan with lid and brown
  • set to the side and cook onion and mushrooms
  • in a large bowl, combine the steak, onions, mushrooms, soup and sour cream
  • place in a 9×13 dish in an oven at 325 covered in foil to keep warm
  • boil egg noodles and serve over the egg noodles

 just remember, it is always good to help out… even if it ends up not being helpful… and your family laughs at you for the remainder of harvest

Grandma Swan Week

the best cook I have ever met has to be the farmer’s Grandma Swan… she created two cookbooks and handed them down to all of her children and grandchildren… I even have copies to give my children someday… so I decided this week to only use her recipes in my meals to the field and make it into a ‘tribute’ week to Grandma Swan…  I intend to do this every year out of respect for the way she cooked and what she taught me…

there are a few interesting recipes as ideas around what can be called a salad have changed and I didn’t realize that you could make pie came in flavours such as ‘Flapper’, ‘Mincemeat’, ‘Raisin’, ‘Apricot’ and ‘Sour Cream’

my hope was that these recipes would help the farmers remember the ‘good old days’ as they were out there…  even though I cannot re-create them the same way that Grandma Swan made them…

my daughter has been growing pumpkins this year and was so excited to use one for a pie…  and her favourite, roasted pumpkin seeds…

for the seeds she had to pick every seed from the ‘guts’ of the pumpkin

then she boils them for 10 minutes

finally roasted them with some salt in the oven and they were so delicious… it made me think if everyone had to work this hard to eat food, would we pay more attention to what we are eating?

the pumpkin got roasted and you can tell when it is done by piercing them

for the filling I scooped the pumpkin flesh into a strainer to drain any excess liquid off

I used the Vitamix to blend the pumpkin into a great texture to use for baking and pies… I froze what I wasn’t going to use and I will see if that works out or not!

both Grandma Swan and my Grandma Reed (who was an amazing pie maker at her own restaurant) used lard in their crusts…  so I have always used their recipes and lard…

the colour of fresh pumpkin pie is decidedly different than if you are using the canned pumpkin… it also has a fresher, lighter taste to it…

and the smell in the house is something I figured Grandma would be happy with…

this was another trick she taught me…  and I buy Whip It at our local store to put in whipping cream…  my daughter has a bit of a weakness for real whipping cream so she tends to volunteer to make it…  the key is to put the bowl and whisk in the freezer for awhile before you whisk up the cream…

I let the pies rest for about an hour after I cooked them and then put them in the fridge for a few hours before slicing them up…

Grandma Swan's Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry:

  • 1 lb lard
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • milk or water

Filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup hot milk
  • pastry for 10” pie shell

Directions:

  • for the pastry, cut up the lard and add to flour, salt, and baking powder
  • using a pastry blender, mix the lard in with the flour
  • beat the egg in a measuring cup and add 1 tbsp vinegar and water or milk until you get 1 cup
  • add to the lard/flour mixture and combine into a ball
  • cut into four and form four separate dough balls
  • wrap in saran wrap and place in the fridge to cool
  • for the pie filling, beat the eggs slightly
  • gradually beat in sugar, spices and salt
  • stir in pumpkin and hot milk
  • pour into pie plate lined with an unbaked pastry
  • bake in oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes
  • lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes until you can insert and knife in the center of the filling and it comes out clean

it was actually a little difficult to find a salad recipe that didn’t sound like a dessert…  apparently in 1987 it was totally fine to have salads named ‘Pistachio Salad Surpise’, ‘Molded Salad’, ‘Orange Sherbet Salad’, ‘Sunshine Jello’, ‘Creamy Pink Salad’, ‘Jello & Rice Salad’, ‘Strawberry Jello Delight’, ‘Jellied Shrimp Salad’ and then something novel sounding called ‘Vegetable Salad’

I settled on ‘Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad’… I used a product called Thieves to wash veggies and fruits that need it and it works really well…

the fun part was buying Miracle Whip and using it in a dressing… brought back many good memories… and makes a yummy dressing…

Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small chunks
  • 2-3 bunches broccoli florets, cut into small chunks
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Miracle Whip
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Directions:

  • in a large bowl, add the cauliflower, broccoli, onion and cheese
  • mix the Miracle Whip, vinegar and sugar
  • pour over the salad and combine
  • put in fridge for 1/2 hour to let the flavour set

one of the dished Grandma Swan was most famous for was THE BEST hash brown casserole ever… the men in this household filled the freezer with deer sausage this last winter so I used some of that to go with the hash brown casserole…

one of the best things about paying tribute to Grandma Swan is when I look through her cookbooks and cook the recipes from them I get to think about how it made her happy to cook for all the farmers in her life and how serious she took her role as the provider of great food in her household…  she was and is inspiring… love you Grandma… I hope my children use your cookbooks well someday…

hash brown casserole

  • Servings: one 9x13 casserole
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Ingredients:

  • 2 lb frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pint whipping cream, unwhipped
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 2 cups crushed corn flakes
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine

Directions:

  • mix together 1/4 cup margarine, salt, pepper, onion, whipping cream, soup and cheese
  • butter 9×13 inch pan and place hash browns in bottom
  • pour liquid mixture over hash browns
  • mix 1/4 cup margarine and corn flakes and put on top of potato mixture
  • bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

mom is worried

every harvest seems to bring with it a different challenge… this year it is having enough men to get the crop off… my oldest son is working full time for the first time this year… he is 16 and for sure big enough, but I am worried every day now… the farmer remarked to me that I never used to get up worried about packing lunches and making sure water bottles were filled until this year when my beloved son is now heading out every morning…  he might be correct… I told him 12-14 hour days are too much for 16 year olds… yet another thing we disagree on…

just last night he almost ran over my other son with the tractor… Ethan was taking Brandon some chapstick and Brandon was dumping a grain cart into a semi and just about ran Ethan over… after we realized everyone was ok, Ethan and I had a good giggle that it would have been a terrible way to go…  getting run over by your brother while taking him chapstick…  Ethan could think of better ways to exit…

but Brandon was happy to get some ‘real’ work this year…  he said to me, ‘I finally feel like a real person’…  I guess he was sick of moving vehicles and helping me out…  now his younger brother gets that role…

my two kids that help me out realize that it is not the most glamorous work out there… you slave away cooking all day only to get covered in lentil dust and feel like it is an ‘inconvenience’ for anyone to even stop to get their supper! I tell them this is why I take pictures and blog about it…  makes it fun for me even if the supper might not get ate for 4 hours after delivering it or dumped upside down…  at least I’m having fun doing it!

for this first salad I overcooked the quinoa a bit, which made it mushier than I had hoped, but with the addition of the fresh cucumbers my daughter got from the garden it ended up being ok…  I didn’t add the goat cheese or avocado to the farmers salads but did to my own!

southwest quinoa salad

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • 4 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (1 1/2 cups dry with 3 cups water and 1 tsp kosher salt)
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 medium or 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced (add right before serving)
  • kosher salt, as needed

For the Dressing:

  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (roughly 2 limes)
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion

Directions:

  • cook the quinoa up ahead and make sure it is not overdone and cooled
  • add remaining ingredients
  • for the dressing, combine everything with a Vitamix (I like extra dressing so I double the recipe – mostly because I generally add more to the salad than the recipe calls for)
  • store in the fridge until ready to serve
  • add avocado right before serving

I also made this salad this week….  good ol’ Cobb Salad…  the Instant Pot makes the hard boiled egg portion of the meal so quick and easy… perfect eggs every time!

3 minutes for a soft yolk and 4 minutes for a firmer yolk

bacon…  this is the easiest way that I have found to cook it up… 425 degree oven…

then you place it on paper towel to soak up all the grease and chop it up!

for the chicken portion of the salad, I cooked up one of the remaining chickens I have from a neighbouring farmer here…  in the last year and a half of being a vegetarian, the only meat that I long for is chicken skin… technically not meat right?  it’s skin… I don’t long for it raw… cooked chicken skin to be precise…

for both these salads I used my Vitamix for the dressing…. I love it because you don’t have to worry about getting a shockingly large piece of garlic in you salad and I find it makes the dressing nice and creamy…

blue cheese is supposed to go on this salad, and it went on mine, but I hesitate to send any sort of cheese other than feta or cheddar out to the farmers….

cobb salad

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • romaine lettuce, chopped
  • chicken, cooked and chopped
  • bacon, chopped
  • hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • avocados, sliced
  • blue cheese, crumbled
  • chives, chopped (or green onions)

For the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  • for the chicken, I roast a whole chicken and cut it into pieces
  • for the bacon, I place bacon on parchment paper or foil on a baking sheet and cook at 425 degrees until done – then place on paper towel
  • for the eggs, I use the Instant Pot – place eggs on a trivet in the Instant Pot and set to manual for 3-4 minutes… use the quick release and pour cold water over to stop the cooking
  • arrange the salad (I like to put the lettuce on the bottom, then the dressing, then the rest of the ingredients)
  • for the dressing, I place all the ingredients in the Vitamix and blend

it is hard to know portion wise how much food to send out – as we have a wide range of ages working out there and for some it might be enough food to survive for a week while for others, like my son, it apparently isn’t enough to get him to 10 pm in the evening… at least when I hear him eating cereal when he gets home I think that it wasn’t enough food…

I was going to post a new meat sauce recipe for lasagne but it was such a failure that I have to go back to the drawing board…  more to come on this…  needless to say I was mad…

side note: whenever I am forced (yes the farmer forces me) to cook with red meat or ground beef, the smell of it kind of makes me sick to my stomach and I think I would way rather pop a B12 pill any day than eat the meat…  just saying – it is an option!

here are the lasagnes after so much anger towards my meat sauce… Prego tomato sauce and fresh basil in ricotta saved the day!

dessert time… and this one was a hit for my 10 year old daughter… she helped me make them and loved the recipe…

I had never roasted bananas like this before for a recipe so it was fun to see how they would turn out…  everything about this recipe is light and fluffy and delicious…

I don’t often do this but with this recipe I sifted the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt to get the batter nice and soft…  then folding in the egg whites added more light texture to the cupcakes…

this is the part she loved… piping the frosting… eating the frosting…  laying down with a belly ache and a large glass of water after consuming too much frosting…

roasted banana cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 3-4 ripe bananas (I use 4)
  • 2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • for the roasted bananas, bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes… place the bananas whole on a parchment paper covered baking sheet… they will get black… peel and let cool
  • return oven to 350 degrees
  • for the dry ingredients, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl
  • in an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar
  • add the egg yolks one at a time
  • add the dry ingredients and sour cream in stages
  • place in a bowl and clean our electric mixer bowl
  • whisk the three egg whites until soft peaks form
  • fold into the batter
  • scoop into greased paper liners in muffin tins
  • bake for 30 minutes and let cool completely
  • for the frosting, beat all ingredients until smooth, scraping bowl down as needed
  • pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes

how do you lasagna?

I make lasagna about six times a year I would guess… I am 39 years old…  I only have been cooking since the farmer tricked me into it at the young age of 20… so by that math, I have made 114 lasagnas…

it most likely is closer to 100 as I know I have bought lasagnas at Costco when life got busy and I didn’t have a few hours to mess my kitchen up…

but let’s just say I have made a significant amount of lasagna thus far…  I love it… and I feel like this version that I have been doing lately has combined all of my favourite flavours into one delicious lasagna…

each to their own with lasagna… you might not prefer all these things in it… you might like the more traditional type…  but if you are looking for a creamy, feel good in your belly version… here you go!

I start by cutting sweet potatoes in half, seasoning with salt and pepper and wrapping in foil with some olive oil… placing them in a 400 degree oven for 45-60 minutes to get them all gooey…

then I move on to prepping the ricotta mixture…  in the past I have used cottage cheese but it doesn’t hold a candle to ricotta in my eyes!  I add to the ricotta some eggs, pepper and chopped spinach and then will add the sweet potato mash when it is done

for the meat sauce (you can make this vegetarian… I always make one little vegetarian lasagna for myself… I just keep aside some marinara sauce)  … I use some local ground beef, cook it up with onions and garlic and strain it… then add the spices

this is a new spice I have been using for the last year in my lasagnas that I am just loving…

when the sweet potatoes are done, I use a spoon to peel off the skin and potato masher… I add this hot to the spinach, ricotta, egg mixture and give a good stir… it wilts the spinach nicely

next… I believe I have shared this before but it is new to me – probably have only done it in the last year or two – but you do not have to pre-cook your noodles… you also do not have to buy the kind that say ‘no boil’…  it is all a scam!

if you have enough marinara sauce they cook up just fine in the oven… if you can’t tell, I am still excited about this because lasagna is hard enough with enough dishes let alone boiling the noodles and having half of them stick to the bottom of your pot or rip… really this was life changing for me…

I always double my lasagna when I make it…. even if it is not seeding or harvest… I feel like if I go to the effort to get this many things dirty I might as well have leftovers for lunches or the dreaded ‘fourth supper’ my boys seem to always want at 9:30 pm…

see?  you just go ahead and plop those dry noodles in the pan and then add marinara sauce and you are good to go!

one last thing about lasagna…  I spell it lasagne but my autocorrect kept changing it so I gave up trying…  but in my mind it is lasagne

Beef, Sweet Potato Lasagna

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
6 cups jarred marinara sauce
1 lb (9 pieces) lasagna noodles (no need to precook)
1 bag baby spinach, chopped
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potato (around 2 sweet potatoes)
1 container whole milk ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb mozza cheese, grated
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
preheat oven to 400 degrees
place a 9×13 dish on a foil lined baking sheet
for the sweet potato, cut the sweet potatoes in half and wrap in foil with some olive oil and salt and pepper
bake at 400 for 45-60 minutes
for the meat sauce, heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion and garlic
add the ground meat, cook and strain if necessary
add spices and marinara sauce to the meat
in a large bowl, add the ricotta, spinach, eggs, sweet potato and black pepper
to assemble the lasagna, put a layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan
add three noodles, no need to have pre-cooked them, and then add another layer of meat sauce over top of the noodles
then add the ricotta/spinach/sweet potato layer and sprinkle with mozza cheese
add more noodles, meat sauce, ricotta layer and mozza
for the third layer, add noodles and then mozza and parmesan (the ricotta/spinach/sweet potato is only in two of the bottom layers)
cover with foil
bake for 25-30 minutes
remove the foil and bake for 10-15 more minutes until it is bubbling and the cheese is golden
let sit for at least 15 minutes before you cut into it to allow everything to settle

I asked the farmer what his favourite dessert is… he told me ‘crisp’...  any type of fruit with a crisp topping… strawberries are on sale right now so this is what I went with…

I tossed the strawberries with some freshly grated ginger and powdered ginger…  topping it with a buttery, pecan, oat topping and there he has it… his ‘crisp’

Strawberry-Ginger Cobbler

Ingredients:
Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Filling:
4 lbs (around 8 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (more if you want, I did more)
1-2 tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp cornstarch

Directions:
preheat oven to 350 degrees
lightly butter a 9×13 baking dish
for the topping, in a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and butter
use your fingers to work the butter into the flour
add the oats and pecans and toss
for the filling, in the prepared baking dish, toss together the strawberries, fresh ginger, sugar, ground ginger, and cornstarch
toss well
add a handful of the topping to the strawberries and toss
place the rest of the topping on the top
bake until the fruit juices are bubbling and top top is golden brown, 40-45 minutes
let cool for 30 minutes prior to dishing out

for the salad, these guys just have to eat what I am wanting to make myself for a salad… I decided awhile back when I would get supper bags home to clean them out and saw salad after salad being left, untouched in the bags that I would no longer make salads with the farmer in mind but with myself in mind…  and perhaps they would end up enjoying it but at least I would have leftover salad to enjoy

so bring on the chickpeas and quinoa…

I was going to make this with kale but spinach is on sale right now so we go with spinach…   (the older I get the more frugal I get…  and the more I turn into my mother)

 

 

Quinoa, Spinach, Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:
Salad:
1 cup uncooked red quinoa (or regular)
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups spinach (finely chopped)
3 carrots, julienned and chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
Dressing:
– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
– 2 tsp dijon mustard
– 1 large clove garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp maple syrup
zest of 1 lemon
Topping:
toasted pumpkin seeds
hemp hearts

Directions:
for the quinoa, rinse and then bring to a boil with the water in a pot
reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 13-16 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy
remove from heat, uncover and fluff with fork
in a large bowl, add the chickpeas, spinach, carrots, green onions, parsley and tomatoes
add the quinoa to the salad
for the dressing, add the ingredients to a mason jar and shake well
pour over the salad
garnish with pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts and serve

 

and there you have it… one more meal to the field in the books!

…as Apple Pie

my grandma made pie making look easy… her and my grandpa ran a restaurant in Three Hills, Alberta that was called ‘The Coffee Break’… I was still in Elementary school when they had it so my memories of it are a bit foggy, but the pies I witnessed her make have always stayed in my mind…  that a cinnamon buns…

these two items are apparently go well with coffee…

my grandma used lard… Martha Stewart uses butter…  I’ve used both and find the lard easier to work with but the butter taste is better in my mind…

pie takes patience to make…  and it is messy… if you can get over these two elements it is quite relaxing and enjoyable to make…

a friend of mine has this magical solution that gets rid of the nastiness on apples so I don’t have to peel them!  I read somewhere (by that I mean Facebook) that most of the nutrients in fruit and veggies are in the skins…  this is why I zest everything I can and don’t peel if I don’t have to… but the chemicals my farmer husband sprays on things are also in the skin so it is nice to at least pretend to myself that I am removing the harmful bits off!

bacon has made a re-appearance in the house for seeding and the family is very excited to see it again… there are only a few things I miss being a vegetarian…  bacon is one… chicken skin is the other…

I added bacon and cheddar cheese to the pie crust to give it a savoury taste

look at how beautiful it looks in the crust…  and look at the mess I am making!

I remember when I used to watch Martha Stewart and her constant words about pie were ‘keep everything cold’…  the more you can accomplish this the better your pie crust will be…

apples with sugar and cinnamon… oh and lemon zest… cuz I love zest

apple pie with cheddar/bacon crust

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (more if necessary)

Filling:

  • 7-8 granny smith apples, washed, cored and sliced into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, with zest
  • 1/2 cup packing brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • vanilla ice cream

Directions:

  • for the bacon, preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • line a baking sheet with tin foil and place bacon on it
  • bake for 15-18 minutes
  • transfer bacon to paper towel to cool, finely chop the bacon
  • in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt
  • add the butter and cut into the flour
  • add cheese and chopped bacon
  • pour in the buttermilk and combine into a ball
  • divide the dough into 2 portions and knead into a disk
  • wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least an hour
  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • for the filling, in a large bowl combine the apples, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch
  • roll out the bottom pie crust until it is 1/8 inch thick and 12 inches in diameter
  • transfer to a pie dish and trim the edges almost even with the edges of the pie dish
  • roll out the top crust
  • place the apple mixture in the shell, dot with butter and top with top crust
  • trim the edges again and crimp the border with a fork
  • brush the top of the pie with the egg and sprinkle generously with sugar
  • put the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees
  • reduce the temperature to 350 and continue to bake for 35-40 minutes until the pie is bubbling
  • transfer to a rack to cool for around 4 hours
  • serve warm with vanilla ice cream

I used to be able to take the farmers vanilla ice cream to put on their pie when we would do the type of meal in the field where everyone gathers around my vehicle to eat it…  but alas they all had to eat their apple pie without ice cream… which is a sin…

I just never know, when I pack their suppers up in bags to take out, when they will get around to eating it so I can’t put a dollop of ice cream on a warm pie slice…

this winter I really got into spiralizing and my favourites are zucchini, sweet potato and butternut squash…  this sprialized butternut squash is the perfect addition to this salad…

butternut squash asian pear salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, spiralized and trimmed
  • cooking spray
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large asian pears, sliced thinly
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds or pecans
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp white sesame seeds
  • pepper

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • spread out the butternut squash noodles
  • coat lightly with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper
  • roast for 10-12 minutes
  • to make the salad, add the ingredients and top with the dressing
  • serve immediately as the pear will brown

lastly, because I had spent so much time making pies, it was a quick and easy burrito that I decided to go with for the main course…

the kids and I love eating at Mucho Burrito and this was my quick version of it…

I sauted some peppers, used ground beef (because that was what I had), white rice, shredded cheese and salsa…  I gave each guy two big burritos and the farmer, who can eat just about anything, could only get down one burrito and saved the other one for his lunch today…

happy seeding!!!   here’s hoping it is a time to try out some new fun recipes and perhaps get to make some pie!

stroganoff for the win

the kids love seeding and harvest time because they know they will be getting desserts…  and I love making desserts…

this is carrot cake in cupcake form… in my mind easier for the farmers to handle

the key to cupcakes is to use an ice cream scoop and it is quick and easy

this is when I wish you could smell pictures…  so good…

the classic cream cheese icing with a hint of orange

and topped with candied carrot slices

because farmers love fancy looking cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Frosting:

  • 1 (8 oz) pkg of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp whole milk (if needed to thin the frosting)

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners
  • in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
  • in a mixing bowl, beat the sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla
  • add the carrots
  • add the flour mixture
  • fold in the walnuts and cranberries
  • divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans
  • bake until a wooden pick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean, around 20-25 minutes
  • let cool completely
  • in a mixing bowl, beat the frosting and spread over the cooled cupcakes

for the salad I am a bit obsessed lately with roasted nuts with nutritional yeast on them… if you haven’t used nutritional yeast in your cooking yet, it is a delicious element to add to it… I have a friend that puts it on her popcorn!

the kids were not as into this nutty, garlicky, yeasty crunch as I was so perhaps it is an acquired taste…

using a microplane for the garlic is perfect for not overpowering this recipe

I used the bag of kale mixture from Costco for this salad and topped it with a delicious lemon juice vineagrete

Kale Walnut Salad

Ingredients:
Roasted Walnuts
2 cups raw walnuts
2 large cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane
6 tsp nutritional yeast
6 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Salad and Dressing
2 large bunches kale, stemmed (or one large Costco bag)
2 large cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and zest
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
dried cranberries
goat cheese

Directions:
to make the roasted walnuts, head oven to 300 degrees
chop the walnuts into small pieces
spread over a parchment lined baking sheet
toast in oven for 10 minutes
in a medium bowl, whisk garlic, nutritional yeast, olive oil and salt
add the walnuts and coat thoroughly
for the salad, finely chop the kale into thin strands
for the dressing, in a mason jar shake the garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice and zest, oil and maple syrup
add to the kale and toss
serve the kale with roasted walnuts, dried cranberries and goat cheese

the farmer tells me that you can never go wrong with stroganoff… so I winged it a bit and made an Instant Pot version of beef stroganoff

I saluted some onions, carrots and celery… then I added the frozen (yes frozen!) beef roast with some dijon mustard, tomato paste, mushrooms and homemade beef broth

because the beef was frozen I set the timer for 80 minutes…  if it wasn’t frozen I would have gone with 60 minutes…  I set the beef aside to slice and strained the mushroom mixture…

on saute mode, I melted some butter and added flour… then I added some cream milk and sour cream, placing the beef and mushroom mixture back into the pot… you can add more sour cream or broth or milk depending on how you like your sauce to look

serving it over egg noodles and you have a classic meal to the field dish!

Instant Pot Beef Roast Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb beef blade roast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup whole milk or cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or more to taste)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • egg noodles

Directions:

  • set the Instant Pot to saute and allow to preheat for 4-5 minutes
  • season the beef with salt and pepper
  • add the canola oil to the pot and then add the beef
  • sear for 3-5 minutes on each side and then set aside
  • add the onion, carrot, celery and italian seasoning and state for 4-5 minutes
  • stir in the mustard and tomatoe paste
  • create space for the beef in the middle and add
  • add the mushroom and beef stock
  • set the machine for 60 minutes
  • when done, remove beef and slice into bite portions
  • strain the mushrooms and veggies
  • on saute, add the butter and flour
  • whisk and then add the milk
  • add the sour cream (more or less depending on how much sauce you need)
  • add the mushrooms and beef back to it and season with salt and pepper
  • serve over egg noodles with green onions sprinkled on it

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

it’s Wednesday…  I’ve made a 1 1/2 hour (roundtrip) to Kindersley once, cleaned the house (sort of), made the muffins for the booth at the school and am making my second trip to Kindersley to pick up uniforms for my son’s Junior Basketball team…

I need to get these jerseys to him, then get something started for supper before I go watch his game and get my other two children sent off to the rinks they need to be at…

sound familiar to anyone out there?  if this type of day is ringing a bell, you need to go get yourself an Instant Pot… some people might give you crazy advice to slow down…  don’t listen to them when you have the tools to cook faster!!!

not only does it look great on your counter – it is a lifesaver for families that don’t know how to say ‘no’

I’m telling you, even the farmer could cook with this…  you push the sauté button and add onions and olive oil…

when they start to cook add your ground beef… brown it and strain if it is fatty…

no time for real garlic or fresh herbs today…

toss in some garlic and chilli powder

venture into your super tidy pantry…  because every mom has time to clean her pantry every other Tuesday…  and grab a can of green chiles and tomato sauce…

toss in some Cancun salt… if you recently did not get to leave your hectic life and go to Cancun, then any ordinary salt will do… but make a mental note to book yourself a well-deserved get-a-way…  

fancier moms might chop up real cilantro… but when you are putting it in a dish like this I think you are wasting your time…  dried cilantro is just fine and it’s not going rotten in your refrigerator because you forgot you had it…

use the package of free noodles your friend gifted you because her husband saw the ‘organic’ label on them and said ‘not up in here!!!!’

(one man’s trash is this lady’s treasure)

place the dry noodles right on the meat sauce and cover with water

place the lid on and set for high pressure for 5 minutes… (it roughly takes 10 minutes to get to pressure… then using the quick release it takes a few minutes to lose the pressure… so overall the cooking time is around 20 minutes)

leave your teenage son in charge of it (which I would never do with a boiling pot of water) and head out to get your daughter to her hockey practice and watch your other son’s basketball game…

feeling like freakin’ Martha Stewart while you drive

when you come home and realize that your teenager forgot about it completely, no need to panic… it is just fine…

add some frozen corn and tex-mex cheese to it, turn on the sauté to warm it up and serve with a smile, knowing that cleanup is only one pot!!!

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs thawed, ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (7 oz) green chiles
  • 500 gram bag of dried pasta
  • 3 cups water (to cover pasta)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup tex/mex cheese

Directions:

  • in Instant Pot, on saute setting, add oil and onions
  • when slightly cooked, add the beef and brown
  • if it is fatty beef, strain and return to pot
  • add spices, chiles and tomato sauce and mix
  • place dry noodles on top and cover with water
  • on high pressure setting, set timer for 5 minutes
  • use quick release when it is complete
  • add the corn and cheese in at the end

football party in the field

NFL is back!!!   the kids and I decided the farmers needed some football party grub in the field to kick things off…

so I dug out the Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook and made some football food for the field

my daughter and I prepped for the seven layer dip the night before

the next day we adding the avocado to the pico de gallo and finished up the dips… thought they were super cute but most likely a bit of a challenge to eat in the field!

but oh so cute

this cookbook is not a diet cookbook… but I have done her superbowl party food three times now and have enjoyed it!

on to making the Dr Pepper cupcakes… it bothered me to no end that the allspice did not match my other spices…  really, really bothered me…

cupcakes made up of Dr Pepper, dried cherries, dates and spices… mmmm…

not sure who actually could drink a full Dr Pepper…  but it’s what the recipe called for so now I have extra that are going to go in the supper bags to the field!

it took more time than I had slotted to make these… you are warned…

let these babies completely cool down before you ice

and then let your kids decorate them to let all the farmers know who to cheer for!

Dr Pepper cupcakes!

potato skins… another time consuming treat…  here is a shot of before and after of roasting the potatoes… generally you would use russet potatoes but I used the red skinned potatoes from my garden and they worked just fine…

I brushed them with canola oil and sprinkled them with seasoning salt

I would advice listening to an audiobook while spooning them out… brush them with butter and return to oven to crisp up

grated cheddar cheese and pre-cooked bacon go in and again into the oven to melt the cheese…  last ingredients are sour cream and green onion

potato skins might be my favourite snack food… although I do have a few…

lastly…  BBQ sliders

I was in a hurry so I might not have followed the recipe exactly… for the sliders I used bison and ground beef…  added salt, lemon pepper and Worcestershire sauce…

for the sauce I cooked onions, canned jalapeños and bbq sauce

best part – they are super easy! throw the sliders on the bbq, place on a dinner roll and cover in sauce…

and there you have it… kickoff to football season in the field!!!

GO PACKERS… GO STEELERS