citrus pulled pork buns with coleslaw and peach layer cake with brown butter buttercream

this farmer bought his first quarter section in 1997… I’ve been farming with him now since 1999… and he is still smiling when I go for a ride with him in the combine… maybe he’s laughing to himself thinking that I am still asking him the same questions as I did back in 1999…

I can remember meeting him and asking him all about the farm… then he brought me home to show me the farm and I told his Dad I had ridden a ‘cultivator’, trying to impress him… his Dad told me he hoped I hadn’t and then the farmer told me I meant a ‘combine’…

if I had known back in 1999 when I was bragging about riding a cultivator that in 2020 I would have two sons and a daughter working on the farm with us, I don’t think I could have imagined what that would even look like…

and now comes the part where we are sad and happy… because we only get one more week of the boys working on the farm before one of them heads to College and the other off to High School… this year it won’t just be mom missing this boys… the farmer is really going to miss them...

we had a bit of a rain last week so it took a day to get back out in the field, but this allowed me to prep the pulled pork which was nice… I have to tell you, this is my family’s favourite pulled pork recipe and you are not wasting your time making this…

this looks like basically an entire pig and it felt like it when I was cooking it!

citrus with pork for the win… I use a heavy pan to brown the pork on all sides before placing it in the Instant Pot… don’t skip this browning step as it is what give it all the flavour with the rub…

my Instant Pot can hold the entire Pork Shoulder Roast and using a pressure cooker really cuts back on the total time… if you don’t have one a slow cooker is fine as well, you just need to plan farther ahead…

making this a day ahead, I shredded the pork and added the liquid and onions and garlic and stored this overnight in the fridge… (for the liquid I did the same as I would do with gravy, I let it sit and then poured the juice liquid without the fat on the top going back in)

the trick to getting it crispy is to put the shredded pork onto a baking sheet with a little bit of the juice and place under a broiler for a few minutes… toss, add more juice and broil again… this gets it crispy and the liquid keeps it moist (there I go with that awful word again)

now you can serve this pork with tacos (or even over some nachos would be so good), but for the field I chose to put it on some homemade buns…

my boys did tell me that they could have eaten 8 of these, opposed to the three I gave them… I told them I didn’t want to wrap up 8 pork buns for each farmer out there…

citrus pulled pork

Ingredients:
For the Rub:
8 tsp kosher salt
4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
For the Pork:
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed)
1/2 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 heads garlic, thinly sliced
2.6 kg pork shoulder blade roast boneless (Costco)
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
4 bay leaves
To Serve:
fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
cheese for topping
buns

Directions:
make the rub by combining the rub ingredients
cut the pork into four chunks
rub each side of the pork chunks in the rub
in avocado oil (or oil of your choice), brown the sides of the pork
place the browned pork, broth, orange and lime juice, cider vinegar, garlic, onion and bay leaves in a pressure cooker
on manual, set timer for 45 minutes (if you are using a slow cooker, this will take on high 4-6 hours)
when done, shred the pork and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet
broil until pieces are crispy, around 3 minutes
remove from oven and pour 1 cup or so of the reserved cooking liquid all over the pork
use tongs to toss and return to the oven for around 3 minutes under the broiler
pour more reserved liquid over the pork and give one last toss
serve on fresh buns with cheese or whatever toppings you enjoy

the farmer likes coleslaw on his pork buns, but I thought it would make them too soggy, so we sent them some coleslaw with a label saying they could add this to their buns… my guess is the farmer is the only one who took the time to do so…

cake time… and with peaches on the brain we decided this peach layer cake was going to be perfect… I also had my helper with me for this so was willing to attempt a ‘bigger project’ dessert…

this cake is a four layer cake, cutting the two 8 inch round cakes in half… for a stacked cake like this, it is really important to have everything cool while icing it or the whole thing could slide like the Tower of Pisa…

Sienna and I thought this looked like a giant cookie… the cake itself is rich and tasty and the peach jam is sweet and adds a burst of flavour

the buttercream icing has a step involved with it that is browning some of the butter before whipping it up… this adds a very distinct nutty flavour to the icing which I enjoyed but Sienna didn’t really… still fun to try out to see if you like it… I really like the nutty flavour with the sweetness of the cake and jam…

peach layer cake with brown butter icing

Ingredients:
Cake:
1 cup canola oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 large eggs, room temp
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
3 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
Peach Jam:
6 cups fresh peaches, chopped
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp bourbon (or replace with apple juice)
1/3 cup raspberry jam
Brown Butter Buttercream:
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups)salted butter, room temp
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Instructions:
preheat oven to 350 and grease 2 (8 inch) round cake pans, line with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper, coat with flour
in a standing mixture beat canola oil, ricotta, eggs, sugar, vanilla and buttermilk
add the flour mixture
pour batter evenly into the two pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the cake
set on cooling rack in pan
once cooled a bit, turn out onto cooling rack, cover and let cakes completely cool
for the jam, cook the peaches, brown sugar, bourbon and raspberry jam until mixture is thick… let cool completely
for the buttercream, add 1 cup (2 sticks) butter to a saucepan and let brown until you can smell that it is toasty… remove from heat and add to mixing bowl until cool… when cool, whip up the toasted butter with the remained 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and the icing sugar and vanilla
cut the two cakes in half
ice a layer of the cake and add jam, then repeat with the next layer
ice the cake
chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before you cut into it
store in fridge overnight if you have time and cut the next day for good results

we were able to put the cake in the fridge overnight and that really helped with cutting it the next morning… then I just left it on the counter and it was room temperature by the time we took suppers out…

another fun part of ‘family farming’ this year has been hearing the boys reaction to the food I take out… mostly the reaction that they could have ate two suppers… for sure with this cake they could not have handled more than one slice…

I also enjoying riding with the farmer and hearing the boys voices on the radio… although teenagers these days really need to work on their phone voice I think… they all sound like they are in the throws of a terrible depression and upset that anyone made them speak…

one more week of laughing, farming stories, making lunches, mounds of dirty jeans and socks in the laundry… and I am going to enjoy every moment of it! the farmer did mention to me that mom’s are never happy… during Covid here I just wanted my kids to have their life back and now that they are getting it back I just want them home forever…

48 days of cooking in quarantine to get excited to cook for seeding

seeding 2020 is upon us… and never would I have thought that I would have been quarantined at home for 48 days before I had to take a meal to the field… nothing like cooking for your family for that long to get you in the mood to cook for farmers… 
the shelves at the grocery store are stripped bare of yeast and flour and as a farmer who has been gardening, making buns, doing all of these ‘primitive’ behaviours for over 20 years now, it is pretty humorous to me to see how people actually think that by having a tiny little garden in their yard and getting flour and yeast they could possibly survive…  get a grip people – you aren’t Hutterites… you will not survive… 

I am actually so excited for the change in pace for May here, because it gives me the excuse to tell any straggler kids around here that on the ‘off days’ of not taking out meals, it is cereal or ramen noodles for supper… 

we have gotten into a depressing little routine here on the farm… wake up, school work and run or workout, clean, cook, yard work and then stare at the TV (or play video games) until the sweet release of sleep comes and we can repeat the exact same thing the next day

the kids have been helping me with some spring jobs here that they never knew happened…  Sienna mentioned to me ‘when did you do this before?’ and I tell her ‘when you were at school’... 

for the first month or so, I would receive emails everyday with things that were being cancelled…  hockey for Sienna, hockey camps for Ethan, baseball, school, dental appointments, Easter, vacations, graduation for Brandon… 

you know what wasn’t cancelled?  home schooling, yard work, house work, dishes, laundry, the WIND, bills, spam emails, subscriptions to things I accidentally signed up for… and apparently the social pressure to clean and paint your entire house…  

spinach salad with strawberries

Ingredients:

Dressing:

  • 1 lb fresh spinach
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, (optional – toasted)

Dressing: 

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onions
  • 1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Directions:

  • chop the spinach and toss the spinach, strawberries and almonds into a bowl
  • in a mason jar (or whatever you use to make dressings), shake up the dressing ingredients
  • pour over and eat immediately

 

I certainly went through all the stages and then invented a few during my grief cycle…  denial and isolation (well, I bought hand sanitizer every week for a month going into this so I wasn’t in denial… definitely in isolation)anger (nailed that… still nailing that)… bargaining (tough to bargain when you are alone)depression (is this the feeling you get in the morning when you want to suffocate yourself with a pillow??)acceptance (I also like to call this despair… has a nicer ring to it)

the ones I added were – replacing every good habit that took me 40 years to develop with a bad habit…  worrying about not having anything to worry about… not shaving… talking to strangers like they are life long friends… googling Zoom backgrounds for 3 hours before I realize how long I’ve been staring at my phone for… starting group chats with anyone that will have me… then leaving the group chats because I can’t stand anyone on them… crying while running… thinking cake and peanut butter marshmallow bars are a breakfast food… 

pickled creamy onions

  • Servings: around 8 cups
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Ingredients:

  • 4 medium onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • miracle whip (or mayo)

Directions:

  • slice up onions and place in a big bowl
  • heat water, vinegar, sugar and salt
  • pour over sliced onions
  • cover and place in a fridge for 3-4 hours minimum or overnight
  • drain
  • add celery seed and miracle whip until onions look creamy

but ENOUGH WITH THAT…  here we go… SEEDING…  the hope every year that we will plant seeds into the ground and new life will come…  (oh yes – I have gotten very spiritual during this time as well… tough to miss church when it is virtual and you are can’t possibly say that you are busy)

I have never been more excited for seeding in my life... we are fortunate to have freezers full of beef (I cut this blade roast in half for this shredded beef recipe) and deer sausage and chickens…  the Farmer’s only way of ‘prepping’ for this was to come home every few days with giant burlap sacks of rice – so we are set in the rice department…  

seeding usually feels so rushed with sports going on – but this seeding I get to experience the sheer boredom that my ancestors got to go through during this time of year… I am excited to see what creativity and inspiration comes from this (more sleeping is my guess)

I feel grateful that I came to terms years ago with the fact that I would be cooking massive amounts of food for the foreseeable future and started to really love and enjoy it (it is one of those mind tricks you can do – where if you tell yourself enough times that you like something, you will start to like it – kinda like quarantine)

instant pot shredded caramelized beef

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs flank steak 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup Mexican beer, (or root beer or water)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • buns and toppings

Directions:

  • cut the steak into four pieces
  • pat steak pieces down with the chili powder, onion powder, paprika and salt
  • in the Instant Pot, put olive oil and then steak pieces
  • add the rest of the spices (if any leftover) and add garlic, juice and zest of lime and beer
  • cover and cook on high pressure/manual for 8 minutes (more if a larger steak/roast)
  • once done cooking, use the natural or quick release function and release the steam
  • preheat the broiler on high
  • remove the steak and shred – place onto a baking sheet
  • add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid
  • drizzle honey over it
  • broil for 2-5 minutes, until the steak caramelizes
  • toss with additional cooking liquid if desired
  • serve on a bun with toppings of your choice (this can also be used in a taco)

so here it goes… meals to the field

experimenting with new recipes, new ways to cook and enjoying one of the only fun things left for us to do… EATING

here is hoping that everyone has a safe and happy seeding – that it rains on our crops and we all start to see new life coming out of the wreckage the last two months has been

I will supply recipes for you to try – not all will be great but I hope there are a few that you enjoy along the way here…  and we will get through seeding and spring together

coconut lemon muffins with honey butter

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Print

Ingredients:
Muffins:

  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flaked or shredded 
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk, (stirred up with a fork)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Honey Butter:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp slated butter, melted
  • 1-2 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • spray lined muffin cups 
  • spread coconut on a baking sheet and place in oven for 5-10 minutes until toasted
  • in a bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt and zest
  • in a mixing bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, br sugar, coconut milk and oil
  • add in the flour mixture
  • place a scoop in each muffin tin
  • bake for 16-18 minutes or until set
  • cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes
  • drizzle with honey butter generously

 

daddy’s girl

“This tug-of-war often obscures what’s also happening between us. I am your mother, the first mile of your road. Me and all my obvious and hidden limitations. That means that in addition to possibly wrecking you, I have the chance to give to you what was given to me: a decent childhood, more good memories than bad, some values, a sense of tribe, a run at happiness. You can’t imagine how seriously I take that – even as I fail you. Mothering you is the first thing of consequence that I have ever done.
― Kelly Corrigan, Lift

a few sunny days here on the farm and combines are roaring everywhere…  these last few days have felt like harvest…  I come back from a morning run feeling itchy from the dust still clinging in the dewy morning air…

combine lights dance like fire flies out my window at night…

porcupines, skunks, deer, moose and geese are all on the move… cutting the grass I found three dead muskrats that my dogs proudly left for me…

and after two weeks of my boys being gone to boarding school I have whittled down my crying to generally once a day…  3:40 pm …  the moment all three of my children should be getting home and it’s just one small little girl with mounds of strawberry, blonde hair piled high on her head that I see wondering in off the bus…

in my last text to my dad, I asked him how he ever was happy again after I left home… I was curious to know how he was able to get up in the morning and make sense of the day without his little ‘ray of sunshine’ there to make him smile…  he still hasn’t responded (you know how busy retired life can be) but I’m sure his answer will be that he still struggles to this day to find joy when I’m not around…  (by the way, ‘ray of sunshine’ was a name I made up for myself…  he called me Catherine… my given name)

life goes on… and I am still trying to figure out how to mother my boys from a distance…  tending to teenage boys involved a lot of cleaning, folding laundry, picking up towels off the bathroom floor, flushing toilets, odour control of sporting equipment, odour control of them, grocery shopping, feeding them, dishes, feeding them… feeding them…  and now that has been ripped away from me

fortunately there are farmers to feed… it honestly would have been too painful to cut it down to just Sienna and I…  we need to ease into that…

it was with great enthusiasm that I cut kohlrabi and radishes to add to the pasta salad I was taking out…  until I had a Hutterite stop by to try to sell me a turkey and asked what I was making for supper – only to be told that no one likes pasta salad… and when he spotted a zucchini he informed me that those can ruin a cake pretty quickly…

kohlrabi pasta salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb medium pasta shells
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 small kohlrabi, peeled and chopped
  • 8 radishes, diced
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • few dashes of sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, (or 1/2 tsp dried dill)

Directions:

  • bring a large pot of salted water to boil
  • add pasta and cook according to package
  • drain and rinse under cold water
  • pat dry
  • in a large bowl, combine pasta with bell peppers, kohlrabi and radishes
  • in a medium bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients
  • pour over the salad and mix thoroughly
  • chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving

when I was in grade 3, my life goal was to be a ‘Weather-Woman’…  for a news crew…  I was thinking perhaps CHCA-TV out of Red Deer, Alberta…  so I wrote out pages upon pages of news updates (it was during the Calgary Olympics of ’88, so it was mainly weather and Olympic coverage) 

fortunately enough, my dad was ahead of the game with technology and we had a news crew style RCA video camera…  he got it out of the giant briefcase it was housed in and set it up on the tripod, focused in on me sitting behind the piano bench, ready to give the news highlights for the evening…

this is the thing about being a parent…  you actually love everything about your child… even the weird things… especially the weird things…

I never felt any pressure from my dad to do anything neat to catch his eye…  in fact, I was under the impression that he was just as proud of me for doing the news that evening as he was when he was videoing me running at track and field… or butchering a song at a piano recital…

this is what I have realized over the last two weeks of the boys absence from home… it is what I remember about my dad and still to this day feel around him… it never has been about what I’ve been able to do or accomplish or work for… he has always wanted to sit with me, listen to me, laugh at my jokes, play a game and talk to me…

not only did my dad want to be around me… he wanted to record it all on a giant video camera…

chili with ground beef and italian sausage

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup onion, chopped
8 oz smoked sausage
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4 oz) can mild green chile peppers
2-3 tbsp diced jalapeno peppers, seeds removed
2 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp montreal steak seasoning or seasoned salt
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
freshly cracked black pepper
extra salt to taste if necessary

Directions:
brown the meat and drain
in an Instant Pot, saute the onion in some olive oil and then add the pepper and garlic
add the remaining ingredients, including the browned meat, and set on slow cook mode for at least 2 hours but preferably longer!

well, dad finally responded to my text with “yes, it took awhile for us to get over the trauma of seeing you leave home, Catherine and this trauma was only exacerbated by the fact that Princess Diana and Mother Theresa both died at the same time you left.

 the use of the word ‘trauma’ in his text was presumably a bit tongue-and-cheek, although these things can be hard to pick up on in the modern age of texting…  I do believe that he was deeply saddened with the passing of Princess Diana and Mother Theresa however…

cheddar cornbread muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • line muffin tin with paper cups and spray them with cooking spray lightly
  • in a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk
  • add the egg, milk and butter and combine till well mixed
  • scoop into the muffin tin
  • bake for 17-20 minutes until golden brown
  • if desired, brush the tops with butter and serve

back to my news broadcast…  my dad made a highlight reel of the countless hours of footage he was able to compile of me and my brothers throughout our childhood… this made the cut and the weather forecast I delivered was “it is getting warmer out, but it is still very cold… it might snow or rain”  pretty much nailed the weather…

the highlight reel had me believing I was a far better basketball player than I actually was… the compliation also reveals that my dad really did video us doing just about anything…  he truly enjoyed us kids for who we were because the footage is far from extraordinary…

as I was sitting with the farmer as he was combining a partially hailed wheat crop, I noticed that the variety of wheat was Brandon (this being my oldest boy’s name sent me into a bit of a cry) … some say distance makes the heart grow fonder but I was truly fond of them when they were close to me… when they were home… distance just breaks the heart…

and as I try to figure out how to be a Mom to my boys who are away, I realize that I once again am turning to the advice of my parents…  as long as they aren’t too busy to respond to a text…

and this gives me hope…  so now on we go with harvest…  well it is now raining this morning…  as a ‘Weather-Woman’ once said, “it might snow or rain”

what do you want to be when you grow up?

is our only opportunity to be an athlete when we are young and in school/college?  or can we continue the quest of athletics as we age?   should athletes only be the best of the best or does anyone applying themselves and working at a sport get to call themselves an athlete?

I grew up loving sports…. it started in Elementary School with an excellent Intramurals program…  (this is what our school called noon hour sports… in grade 6 I got to be the captain of the Bears…  highlight of my Elementary experience… low-light was the 52 detentions I received in grade 6.. after school – did not interfere with my Intramural pursuits)

I went to a different school for Junior High and my love of basketball really took off…  this was back in the day when you could basically play every sport offered and no one was playing one sport all year round – unless you counted the pick-up basketball games we played year round… it was fun to have the season change and try out something new… and remind yourself why you loved basketball with your lack of talent in other areas… 

heading to yet another school for High School, I was still very driven with sports and basketball in particular…  it was exciting to keep this going and get to play in College…

and then I got married, started working and became an ‘adult’…  which I thought meant sports quit for me…  not for the farmer I should add… men seem to do a far better job of remaining an athlete than women do… 

having kids was really the icing on the cake – cementing my ideas that athletics for me were part of my childhood… never to be revisited again…

I remember the joy I felt when I could finally put my oldest boy in baseball, hockey, you name it…  I even cried at his first hockey practice…  this should have been a hint to me that I was missing being an athlete…

Instant Pot Whole Chicken

  • Servings: one chicken
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • one whole chicken (mine was 6 lbs)
  • trivet
  • butter, melted
  • kosher salt
  • cumin
  • lemon pepper
  • paprika
  • carrots
  • yellow onion
  • celery

Directions:

  • use a fresh or defrosted chicken – I defrost mine in the bag it is in, in cold water in the sink – this generally takes around 3-4 hours
  • pat dry with paper towel
  • place trivet in Instant Pot bowl
  • add 1 cup water
  • add chicken
  • pour butter over the chicken
  • add the carrots, onion and celery around the chicken
  • sprinkle with spices
  • place lid on and set manual high pressure for 40 minutes (basically, 6 minutes per pound)
  • allow for a natural pressure release (around 15-20 minutes) when done cooking
  • transfer the chicken to a cutting board
  • put a strainer over a bowl and pour the liquid and contents into it
  • use the liquid for recipes needing chicken stock and the meat for lunch meat!

{/recipe]

don’t get me wrong – watching my kids play sports is very fulfilling and exciting – but when I realized I was living through their experiences I knew I had to try to get back to being an athlete myself… I needed to let them have their athletic experiences for themselves and I needed to see what was out there for me…

it had been roughly 17 years since I had done anything other than ‘exercise’… there were many reasons why I let things get like this I believe…

I didn’t think I was athletic enough to warrant the amount of time and money it would take for me to be involved in my own adventures…  we were busy enough with the farmer’s hockey and then my children’s hockey and other sports…  I needed to be the one to keep everyone going…  maybe – if I was a ‘gifted’ athlete – I would have made the time…  but I was always middle of the pack and I thought middle of the pack people should just enjoy school sports and then settle into a life of cheering for those more talented… 

I was a yo-yo exerciser…  I would do some exercises for awhile and then quit…  with no accountability, competition, coaching or purpose, I found exercising very difficult to be consistent or even motivated with…

I was also worried about judgement from other people… I felt like it would be selfish and almost spoiled if I spent time working towards some sort of athletic goal in my late 30’s… I didn’t have a lot of influences in my life or examples of moms that were pursuing athletic goals…

chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled (if old) and finely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (low sodium – preferably homemade)
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:
– heat oil in a large pan

  • add carrots, onion and salt
  • cook on medium heat for a few minutes and add green peppers, beef and garlic
  • season with spices and turn heat off when meat is cooked
  • in your slow cooker, add the meat/veggie mixture and then add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes and beans
  • simmer on low for 6-8 hours, high for 4-6 hours
  • if you want more greens, add spinach or kale at the end

everyone has the money goal down…  we all are pursuing money… security…  but I just didn’t see women going on adventures or training for a sporting event… I saw moms dedicating their lives – nobly – to their families and it confirmed my beliefs that to be a good mom you sacrifice your life for your family…

moms are pros at scheduling… and we schedule all the kids activities and our husbands lives but forget to schedule in ourselves… or feel too guilty to do so…

and now, after two years of scheduling myself in, I can tell you I wish I had done it earlier…  I know everyone would have had a better time and I wouldn’t feel like I neglected myself for years…

in January of 2017, a friend of mine at the rink told me about a running coach she had and how much she was enjoying being coached…  it was like a lightbulb when on… I contacted this coach and started letting her train me…  it made me feel silly at first – I was too embarrassed to tell many people – but slowly I started to see the benefits in my own life… having a coach give me a ‘game plan’ for the week and then being able to schedule it in somehow gave me there permission to train and take the time for myself…

that fall, after hurting my knee, I thought I’d try some Hot Yoga/Pilates for rehab…  and I fell in love with it – even though, again, I was not very good at it…

it did feel very selfish to be spending the money and time twice a week to do this and then running four times a week…  my family has had to change they way we do things in order to accommodate for my schedule at times, which feels ridiculously self-involved

 but I started to ponder, what am I living this life for?  so I can be exhausted, depressed  and unfulfilled, complaining about how busy I am?  live comfortably, not facing my fears and anxieties?  never find out what potential my body had or where it could take me?

I had to tell myself that I am worthy… we all are worthy… it is what God put into creation and why we are created in the first place…

I am worthy of having a running coach… worthy of taking the time for long Sat/Sun runs and practicing yoga…  worthy of trips and adventures that fill me with anxiety and leave me feeling strong…  worthy of feeding my body healthy food and getting the sleep I need to have the energy for big training days…  worthy of pursuing all these things no matter what my talent level is(that was the biggest hiccup for me)

because sports, athletics, competition and adventure is not just for the super-athletes…  it is for everyone…  I have won a race and almost lost a race – and the fact of the matter was I trained for both those races and the training had made my life full of purpose and joy…  I remember being on different teams and coaches often saying ‘it’s the journey, not the destination’… and it only really made sense to me as I got older…

strawberry-spinach wheat berry salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 cup wheat berries, soaked overnight and rained (2 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 cups spinach
  • 2 cups sliced, washed strawberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts (or see recipe)

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaping tbsp Dijon mustard

Hazelnuts:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts

Directions:

  • for the wheat berries, bring 4 cups of water to a boil
  • add the wheat berries and salt and simmer, covered, until soft – around 50 minutes
  • transfer to a large salad bowl and allow to cool
  • just before serving, add the other ingredients – you won’t use all the dressing
  • for the dressing – shake well in a jar
  • for the hazelnuts – preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment
  • melt butter in a small saucepan
  • add cinnamon, cayenne and honey
  • take off the heat and add hazelnuts and coat
  • pour onto the baking sheet and spread out
  • sprinkle with salt
  • bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes
  • cool completely and break apart into chunks

it is the journey… it is the training and the dedication – no matter your skill level – to a craft, sport or cause that matters…  keep asking yourself – ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’  never stop asking yourself this and never stop going after the next thing that it is for you…

don’t feel like any dream is too big for you… set some outrageous goals and see how many you can check off and then enjoy the process… and realize that the secret to it all is that the process is what we are all seeking…  a reason to get up in the morning and attack the day…  a reason to be happily exhausted when you go to bed, sore in the morning and nervous at a start line…

there are too many people out there battling for their lives… whether it be cancer, depression, poverty, loss, addiction…  the list is endless and you have no excuse to not live the best life that you possibly can… you are not guaranteed anything but death…  and you owe it to yourself to explore why you are here and what you are capable of… and you owe it to the people that love you

because there is nothing more inspiring that watching someone attempt scary things, work extremely hard for a goal, conquer a fear…  no one wants you to hate your life…  so you must dedicate yourself to living it in a way that gives energy and life to those around you…

it is not just for the super-athletes…  in fact, the middle-back of the pack people generally have the most fun anyways!  (but I only watch the super-athletes on YouTube… so they should keep being super!)

black bean protein brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 (19 oz) can black beans (if you have 15 oz can, just use that), strained and rinsed
  • 2 scoops (34 g scoop) of Casein protein powder (or whatever protein powder you have kicking around) 
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter

Directions:

  • combine black beans, protein powder, oats, peanut butter, coconut oil, greek yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla in a vitamix or food processor and combine until no chunks
  • in a separate mixing bowl, combine cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • add eggs
  • using a spatula, add the thick bean mixture to the cocoa powder and eggs
  • mix until combined
  • fold in chocolate chips
  • in a sprayed or greased 9×9 baking pan, pour the brownie batter
  • melt 2 tbsp of peanut butter in the microwave and pour in a few dollops on the brownie batter
  • using a knife, cut through the peanut butter dollops to make a pretty pattern
  • bake for 15-20 minutes, until the middle is slightly firm but the sides are not overdone
  • let cool and cut into 16 brownies
  • these freeze well

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
  • Print

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…

May long on the farm 

May long…

for my neighbours in Saskatoon last night it means midnight fireworks on the golf course… for many farmer’s wives it means taking your boy to spring hockey tournaments…

for farmers it means seeding (the odd year we are done by May long but not lately… and the odd year there are combines out)

it also is the cut-off date for planting a garden… according to everyone’s grandmothers…  you better have it in by May long!  I actually try to get my garden in as early in May as possible so I actually can fully use it during harvest… and so no grandmas say ‘I told you so’…

my attempts to preserve food are not down to a science… so it needs to get used up in the fall…

asparagus is the first thing I harvest from my garden and is one of my favourites…

easy to have in your garden – you just burn the old, dried up remains of last years crop and watch these new little guys stick their heads up through the ashes…

this recipe you can make as large or small as you need it – or dependant on your asparagus harvest!

asparagus blueberry spring salad

  • Servings: you choose
  • Print

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • olive oil (I used dill flavoured)
  • arugula
  • blueberries
  • candied hazelnuts
  • feta cheese
  • balsamic vinaigrette

Candied Hazelnuts:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon

Directions:

  • saute the asparagus in olive oil for a few minutes and let cool (do not overcook)
  • assemble the rest of the salad items
  • for the candied hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • melt the butter and add the rest of the ingredients
  • toss with the hazelnuts and pour over a parchment lined baking sheet
  • bake for 15 minutes
  • let cool and break apart
  • for the vinaigrette, in a small mason jar shake the ingredients and pour over the salad

 

this was my mother’s day gift…  just received it from Amazon… an Instant Pot…  I mostly wanted it because now that I am a vegetarian, I don’t have a giant interest anymore in cooking with meat…  🙂

but the farmer is still very much a meat-a-tarian...  so the meat needs to get cooked…

this is the solution… you can throw frozen hunks of meat in this miracle pressure cooker and ‘wa-la’…  cooked hunk of meat is served!

I did not read any instructions and only had time to watch three YouTube videos so please do your own research when dealing with a pressure cooker…

all I know is that you throw frozen meat in with some water and it cooks it…

I drained the roast and threw in the sauce ingredients and put the lid on again to let it work it’s magic…

I’m sure I’m late to the game to realize this amazing kitchen tool that can saute, pressure cook and slow cook is a must have in your kitchen… better late than never – am I right?

by the way – look on Kijiji for a well used crockpot…  only asking what my farmer spent on my Instant Pot (plus shipping)

Instant Pot tear away beef

Ingredients:
– 4 lb roast

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup bbq sauce
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  • take frozen roast and place in Instant Pot with 1 cup of water
  • on manual setting, set timer for 40 minutes
  • when timer is done and you have released the steam, drain the roast and cut it up
  • add the roast and the rest of the ingredients back to the Instant Pot
  • on manual setting set timer for 25 minutes
  • when done, release the steam and serve!

I know I said my coconut lime rice was the best rice ever… I take it back…

green rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stemmed
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsely, stemmed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, one seeded (the other leave some seeds)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

Directions:

  • in a Vitamix, blend spinach, cilantro, parsley and jalapeños with 1 cup of the vegetable stock
  • in a saucepan on med/high heat, add olive oil and saute the onions and garlic
  • add the rice and pour in the vegetable stock
  • add the blended mixture from the Vitamix, cover and let simmer on low for 15 minutes
  • turn heat off and let sit for another 10 minutes
  • fluff the rice and serve

this is a ‘light’ version of a berry crisp and is packed with energy boosting ingredients…

and my theory is that farmers need a boost of energy around dinner time… due to the fact that my farmer finishes his lunch by 8 am some days…

berry crumble

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups strawberries, chopped
  • 3 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • serve with coconut milk ice cream (if you aren’t taking it to farmers!)

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • spray a 8×8 inch baking dish (or larger if you have more berries) with a cooking spray
  • in a large bowl, toss berries with lemon juice and tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • place in baking dish
  • in a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and pour over the berries
  • bake for 25-30 minutes
  • let cool to set
  • serve with coconut milk ice cream that your daughter made that evening in the Vitamix!

 

pesto potato salad, teddy bear chili and blueberry polenta scones

the farmer’s alarm clock goes off at 3:40 am… then 3:45… then again at 3:47…  he gets out of bed, gets dressed and brushes his teeth using the flashlight from his phone so he doesn’t wake me up…  I consider that I should tell him that I am totally awake due to his three alarm system…

but this is his routine so I let him continue on with the exact same thing every morning… he will go upstairs and make a coffee and pack his lunch with more often than not the leftovers of the meal to the field the night before…

he wanders back downstairs to kiss me goodbye and wish me a good day…

and then I generally get the best sleep of the whole night… for some reason, that 4 am-7am sleep feels like an extra nights sleep… generally filled with crazy dreams and waking up every half hour but getting to fall back asleep again…  nothing better…

I tried one time last spring to get up when he did and I accomplished so much by 8 am that I had no work left to do for the day…  not making that mistake again this seeding… I only have a certain amount of work to do in a day and I don’t need the 3 extra hours in the morning to complete it…

this morning I got the kids breakfast and lunches done and began meal prep…  potatoes boiled and crockpot chili made…

I call this ‘Teddy Bear chili’ because the beef I am using for it is from my friend’s daughter’s 4H cow named Teddy Bear… I feel like my kids need to know that they are eating Teddy Bear when they eat chili… circle of life etc…

teddy bear chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 oz) pinto or kidney beans
  • optional toppings: sour cream, grated cheese, avocado, sourdough bread

Directions:

  • heat oil in a pan and saute the carrots and onion for around 5 minutes
  • add salt and green peppers
  • place this mixture into your crock pot
  • add meat to pan, drain off fat and then add seasoning to meat
  • add the meat to the crockpot
  • add the remaining ingredients to the crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours (or keep on warm)

after the meal prep and then an hour of bookwork I paid my first visit out to the seeders…  this is a common sight this time of year… the seed trucks and fuel truck…

the farmer picked me up and I comment on things like ‘I think that seeder is very pretty’… I ask him every year the same questions I think…  I can’t remember…

these screens in his tractor are very interesting… it boggles my mind the technology that is involved in putting a crop in…

but more things than not boggle my mind so who knows… maybe it’s not that amazing…

today the wind here was gusting from 50-70 km an hour…  you couldn’t even tell in here but I barely made it back to my vehicle…

if I was the farmer I’d race Gerald – who is driving the other tractor – but he doesn’t seem to play that game…

power poles… this is why I’m the cook and not operating machinery! (well it’s on a short list of 8 reasons I’m the cook)

so I head home to run on my treadmill as opposed to the tornado outside and then finish up the meal… these blueberry polenta scones were about the easiest desserts I’ve ever made… simple and I enjoyed eating one with an afternoon coffee…

ok two… I ate two…

blueberry polenta scones

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • line baking sheet with parchment paper
  • mix the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl
  • add the milk, oil and vanilla and combine
  • fold in the berries
  • pour out on well floured counter
  • pat into a rectangle – it will be a sticky mixture
  • cut into 8 wedges
  • with a spatula, scoop and place on the baking sheet
  • brush the tops with almond milk and sprinkle with brown sugar
  • bake until golden on bottom – 12 to 15 minutes

I made the arugula pesto in my Vitamix because I do not own a food processor (perhaps this Mother’s Day I’ll strike it rich and get one!!! fingers crossed…)

my kids loved this potato salad and I have my fingers crossed that a few of the farmers enjoyed it… we’ll see when I get the dishes tomorrow!

it does look green and scary so I’m not holding my breath… we have one farmer who has told my husband he loves salads so I get very excited to think of him eating it!

pesto potato salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1” pieces
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup Arugula Cashew Pesto
  • ground black pepper

Pesto:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 cups tightly packed arugula
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  • boil potatoes in water with salt until they are just tender – but not mushy
  • drain and cool
  • to make pesto, place ingredients in a food processor (I had to use my Vitamix) and pulse until slightly chunky
  • add pesto to potatoes until you have as much on the potatoes as you like
  • store the rest of the pesto in the fridge
  • sprinkle salad with black pepper and serve

the farmer’s shift on the seeder ends around 3 pm and he begins the running around making sure things are going smoothly…  he generally has time to stop in and pick suppers up to deliver them…

and I head to my son’s hockey practice for the evening…  it seems to be either baseball or hockey but evenings are generally filled…

 living in an area where you see others working so hard this time of year is exciting and inspiring… and you know days are filled with ups and downs… I’ve come to see that farming is one good thing mixed with about four difficult things…

but if it’s in your blood it’s in your blood…

and when I take his picture every year in the tractor I feel like it’s similar to a 16 year old boy with their new truck…  boys like to play in the dirt… and this farmer is no exception…

elk and bean sloppy joes with crispy sweet potato fries

“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…

crockpot butter chicken, homemade naan bread, creamed garden corn, spinach strawberry salad and rhubarb sour cream pie 

yesterday the young-ins were home from school due to something called labour day… which strikes me as odd due to the fact we’ve had an entire summer off…  and now you are making me look after my own children for something called labour day???

so, I put them to work… in honour of the day…  and we picked two rows of corn from the garden… and got over 120 cobs I figure!  just crazy this year due to the insane rain we’ve had…

my middle son made up a song as he did it… something to do with he likes sausage more than corn…  drove me nuts… but I knew that was his game plan to get out of working so I tried to block him out and not let him win the battle…

he won the battle… Sienna and I finished the job…

after getting a few cobs of corn back in the suppers sent out to the farmers I decided that driving giant machinery whilst eating a cob of corn might be tricky so I’m doing the work for them now and cutting the kernels off the cob…

what I really should do to help them out is throw the entire meal into my Vitamix and wa-la…  dinner in a smoothie!

creamed garden corn

Ingredients:

  • @ 40 cobs corn, kernels cut off into a bowl to use
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 pint half/half cream
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions:

  • cut the kernels off the corn cobs
  • put kernels in a large roasting pan, add butter, cream, salt and sugar
  • bake covered at 350 degrees for 90 minutes, stirring once
  • allow to cool and store in ziplock bags in freezer for future use or serve immediately

the kids were very excited to eat this… and I have 12 bags in the freezer for our family for the winter now!

now that labour day is done and I can get my kids back to school, the dogs and I took a little run this morning…

I have to stick to the dirt roads as there is an abnormal amount of heavy machinery traffic on the grid roads… and this lovely dog Lacy tends to stand in the middle of road when a sprayer or combine or grain truck comes rolling by…

almost like she’s deaf… or blind… or stupid…

but dirt roads have better scenery anyways…

and the smell of wet leaves on the ground this morning mixed with the breeze blowing through the barley and durum made for a blissful run…

fall is my favourite time of year… maybe…

I was able to steal some rhubarb from the farmers cousin’s place… which used to be his grandparents rhubarb…  and I do this every harvest because rhubarb might be my favourite ingredient ever…

I know what you are thinking… just transplant it already…

I feel like that would take some of my excitement over getting the rhubarb away… and thus make me not enjoy it as much as I do now…

I was planning on making Grandma Swan’s rhubarb cream pie but upon discussion at the local grocery store with the owners of how to go about making a great rhubarb pie I changed my plans and went with a recipe that was told to me as I was paying for my baking supplies…

I might not have remembered well enough and overfilled my pies a touch, but made the adjustments for the recipe I’m posting with this…

so go ahead and try it out…  my kids ate it like they had never ate pie before…

thank you Pat and Craig from P&C Foods!

rhubarb sour cream pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 9” pie shell, chilled
  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup butter

Directions:

  • place rhubarb in the unbaked pie shell
  • whisk egg, sugar, sour cream and flour together
  • pour over the rhubarb
  • crumble the flour, brown sugar and butter together
  • spread over the pie
  • bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes
  • continue to bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes
  • allow at least an hour to cool before you serve

easiest salad to make ever… I don’t like it… but seems like there are those out there that do… and it’s better than just sending spinach…

spinach strawberry salad

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz bag of spinach
  • 4 lbs strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  • place spinach (if too much take some out) and strawberries and almonds in a very large bowl
  • shake the dressing ingredients until well combined
  • pour over salad and serve

I’ve put this recipe for naan bread on before and I still love it… it’s no Opa but if you can’t buy their pitas… make this…

homemade naan bread

Ingredients

– 2 tbsp sugar

– 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)

– 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

– 4 cups all purpose flour

– 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

– 1 tsp kosher salt

– 3 tsp baking powder

– 2 tsp baking soda

– 1 1/2 cups warm milk

– 2 cup greek yogurt, room temperature

– melted butter for brushing

– fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions

– dissolve the sugar in the water and add the yeast in a large measuring bowl… let sit for 10 minutes

– in a mixing bowl, add flour, salt,  baking soda and baking powder

– add the warm milk and yogurt to the yeast mixture

– pour the wet ingredients into the dry and begin mixing together gently

– use your hands to finish mixing it together

– it should be sticky but should be able to form a ball

– cover with a damp tea towel and let rise 1 hour in a warm place

– when ready to use divide it into 2 and divide those two sections into 8 each… keep these balls covered with a damp tea towel

– roll the ball into an oval shape, about 6 inches long and 1/4 inch thick

– brush the dough with butter and place in a frying pan on med/high heat and cover with a lid for 1 minute or until you see bubbles begin to form

– flip and cook for 1-2 minutes more until it looks toasted

– brush with a little bit more butter and sprinkle with kosher salt and cilantro

– place in a 9×13 tea towel lined dish and cover with a tea towel until you have completed cooking all of them

now the butter chicken… which is always a hit around this house…

my advice, if you are are planning on doing this entire meal, go to costco and buy their three pack of greek yogurt…  you’ll thank me…  over and over and over again…

crockpot butter chicken

Ingredients:

  • 7 chicken breasts, thawed and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups onions, minced
  • 1 (14 oz or 398 mL) can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup half/half cream
  • 1 (5.5 oz) can tomato paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 2 tsp garam marsala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  • in a large measuring bowl, mix together coconut milk, greek yogurt and cream
  • add tomato sauce and whisk
  • add garlic, ginger and spices and whisk
  • spray the inside of your crockpot with a cooking spray
  • add the onion to the bowl and then the chicken
  • pour the coconut milk mixture over
  • cook on low for 4-6 hours
  • try to stir at least once during the cooking to break up the chicken
  • season with salt and pepper as necessary
  • serve over white rice and with a piece of warm Naan bread