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
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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”

farmer runner

I will be happy if running and I can grow old together…

Instagram would have you believe that running is only for those who get to take pictures on the top of mountains or after getting a medal at a race…  Saskatchewan farmer runners know better…

in Saskatchewan there are only two marathons… one in the spring in Saskatoon and one in the fall in Regina… I have to drive 2 hours to get to one and 4 hours to get to the other…  so ‘Medal Monday’ is not a realistic thing for most of us farmers…  also, mountains tops…  not an option… dirt road selfies anyone?

the solitude of running here is something that I have made peace with… it has made running very personal and my ‘why’ behind running has to be for myself… no one else knows what I am doing or sees where I am going…

when I was younger and I discovered sports – most importantly basketball – the feeling of running up and down the court, sweating – with my face turning purple… that feeling was the closest I had to knowing myself…  it was the most comfortable I have ever been in my own skin…  (although a purple face might not look comfy – believe me I was right where I needed to be)

orange, black bean quinoa salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup corn (I use frozen)
  • 1 can black beans, strained and washed
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1-2 oranges, segmented
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • avocado (optional)

Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp lime juice (1-2 limes)
  • zest of one lime
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 4 tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:

  • begin with the quinoa by rinsing 1/2 cup dry quinoa in a strainer and then add to 1 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil… when it is boiling, turn heat down and put on lid… cook for 15 minutes until done
  • add the other salad ingredients to a bowl and add the quinoa when cooked
  • shake together the dressing ingredients and pour over
  • chill in the fridge before serving

then when I moved out to the farm and had my kids, I just took care of them and the farmer and forgot how good it feels to be depleted, sore and sweaty…  when I first started running again, the fatigue in my legs felt like a welcome old friend…

I love dogs… they love running with me and we can experience flying around together, the breeze in our face and the sun beating down on our backs…

and when we return to our yard and I watch them happily lay in the shade I think to myself that they get it… they get how great it is to travel somewhere on your own 2 or 4 feet

find someone that loves seeing you purple in the face, sweating and exhausted and you know you have found the right person…

I made the farmer come watch me play basketball when I was in college… I think I needed him to see me in my happiest state of being… no makeup, no hair done up nice, no nice clothes on to hide who I truly am…  (oh wait – that is how I looked in college)

running strips that all away from you… it strips you of your pretences and the image you are trying to create for yourself and you feel pretty naked and vulnerable… it exposes how determined and positive you are…  you cannot run well and at the same time tell yourself that you suck…  I’ve tried… you have to be kind to yourself…

if you ever are starting to doubt human character, you need to go watch the finish line of a marathon… (set your calendars if you are in Saskatchewan – there are only two of them)… better yet, the Beaver Flat 50 is this weekend – go watch the finish line of an Ultramarathon and you will believe in the human spirit again…  you will see tears, love, support, courage, compete, and community…

you can’t be cool and run… you can’t be pretty and run… you can’t hide anything and run…  you see someone for exactly who they are… and it is beautiful…

I’ve watched parents this time of year at cross-country meets sobbing as they see their little ones running around and it begs the question… why does running bring that out?  I think the answer is determination…  when little Junior’s lungs and legs are screaming, it is their brain that has to decide to keep pushing

one of my favourite movies growing up was Chariots of Fire…  my family watched it over and over again…

the line that always stuck in my head was when Eric Liddell says “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

beef and olive empanadas

Ingredients:

Pastry:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg of cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Filling:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup green olive, sliced
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • hot sauce to taste
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • water

Directions:

  • for the pastry – process butter, cream cheese and cream in the bowl of an electric mixer… add flour and salt and mix just until combined and dough holds together in a ball… turn the dough onto a well-floured surface… divide into three pieces… flatten into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but ideally overnight…  take out 15 minutes before rolling if chilled overnight
  • for the filling – heat oil in a pan and add onion and bell pepper and salute for 3-4 minutes… add the beef and strain when it is done cooking to remove the fat…  place back in pan and add the olives, raisins, syrup, salt, pepper, cumin and hot sauce…  cool completely in the refrigerator
  • dust a rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out… using a 4 inch circle cutter, cut the disks…  scoop around 2 tbsp of the filling into the center fo the dough circle…  wet the edge of the dough with a finger, turn over and crimp edges with a fork or folding over in a decorative pattern
  • place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with saran wrap and place in refrigerator… (or I froze mine)
  • when ready to bake, brush egg yolks/water mixture over them and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes (a bit longer if frozen but cook from frozen)
  • let rest and serve with lime wedges

now I’m not running at any paces that would make someone feel pleasure to watch… but I relate to this quote for how it feels inside of me…   we were made to run… your body knows that and when you run, you are rewarded

there is also pie…  you could reward yourself with pie

I will be happy if running and I can grow old together… 

I’m not crying… you’re crying

Cecil Day-Lewis wrote in the poem ‘Walking Away’ ~ “selfhood begins with a walking away and love is proved in the letting go”…  turns out – there are many resources online to help you navigate the murky waters of your children moving out of your home…  and I have been pouring over these resources this last week hoping that it would patch and heal something that feels completely broken in my heart…  my heart hurts…

our sons, Brandon (17) and Ethan (15) both moved into their dorm rooms last week in Caronport, SK to attend high school there, play for Prairie Hockey Academy and also play football there… easily this has been the hardest parenting decision for the farmer and I to make… also a terribly hard decision that each boy had to make… it is a decision that many kids have to make in high school and now I begin to understand the weight of it…  you are losing your child and no one can prepare you for it…

I headed with the boys to Moose Jaw and left Sienna at home for her first day back to school (which broke my heart that I wasn’t there for it)… it had rained so the farmer was able to coach his football practice and then drive down to help with the orientation and moving in process… as I sat through the grade 12 meeting (the farmer went to the grade 10 meeting) I started to feel like I was going to throw up…  I used to battle anxiety attacks (mainly due to storms), but really have not had one in over 10 years at least… I still know what one feels like and I was worried that I was about to black out and really embarrass my son on the first day…

we were able to get out of the meeting with nothing horrible happening and had to go through class selections, finances, ID pictures, sports sign ups, campus tour, hockey meeting, first football practice and dorm setup…  it felt like four days all piled into one after a decently relaxing summer…

the saving grace for me was that the boys were busy and I was able to set their rooms up all on my own with no arguing with them over where things were going to go…  the entire time I still felt like I couldn’t swallow due to a lump in my throat and again the feeling of dizziness and possibly throwing up was always there… (if you see pale faced moms on the first day of school, watch out for vomit)

I was telling myself that I had no time to truly prepare for this…  well, I suppose I have had 17 years but you never really are preparing for them to leave… and of course Facebook hits me every day now with updates of how fantastic harvest used to be with the boys at home…

losing two in one day is almost more than I could take…  the farmer was so wise, as we were leaving town and the sobbing had begun, he came out of the convenient store with an ice cream bar for me…  this is proven – one cannot sob and eat ice cream at the same time...  genius…

that day was more draining than any marathon or ultra marathon I have ever been in… but I didn’t realize that some of the hard days are yet to come…  the daily reality of living with your child no longer at home and worrying about their welfare is depleting and draining… I texted a friend today that has been through more stress than anyone I know “have you ever lost your hair and eyelashes?” …  she replied that she has had just about every side effect of stress except for that one…  so I am still searching for how to keep my hair and lashes on my head…

I have been a stay-at-home mom with these boys for all their years…  it was a decision the farmer and I made when Brandon was born and we decided that I could do all the work of bookkeeping, raising the kids and all the other things that come along with farming…  it hasn’t always been easy being a stay-at-home mom…  it has come with many struggles but now that they are gone and it is just the farmer and Sienna left with me, I feel fortunate to have been here with the boys for every step of their journey – literally 🙂

having a job outside of the house can provide structure and distraction, but by no means immunization from the loneliness and sadness a parent will feel when their child moves away…  I have seen this with the farmer…  he has enough distraction and work that you would think he wouldn’t notice that the boys are not home…  yet it has been just as hard on him as it has been on me… coaching a football team without them on it, farming without them, watching the NFL opening Sunday football games without them…  it is all such a change and everyday I feel like something is missing…

a good friend said it so well to me “our kids are so much a part of us and we spend so much time ‘parenting’ when they’re younger.  and then when they are older we get to relax a bit and really appreciate who they are as people and that place they hold in our hearts expands.  they each have their own piece of your heart because they are a part of you.  so when they leave, they take a part of your heart with them.  but I think they can feel that piece they took with them – where they are.”

now at this point of my sob story, I’m sure it is crossing your mind… ‘but did you not pay for this schooling?’  and  ‘are they not excited for this change and opportunity to do new things and meet new people?’ … yes, of course we all decided this was something we wanted and are very excited about…  and that does trump the sadness and loneliness of missing them…  but it doesn’t mean that it’s not there…

corn slaw with peanut butter lime dressing

Ingredients:

Peanut Butter Lime Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated or minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tbsp cold water (or more)

Corn Slaw:

  • 3 cups corn
  • 1 small head green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (or I use a spiralizer)
  • 2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and finely sliced
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup roasted and salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

  • I made the dressing in a Vitamix blender (because I tripled it) but you can either make it in a blender or just shake it together… it should be runny
  • combine all of the corn slaw ingredients except the peanuts
  • pour dressing over and add salt and pepper as needed
  • you can keep this is the fridge, when ready to serve add the peanuts on top

I’m not sure exactly how this parent-child separation thing is supposed to work… but ideally I get to be as sad and miserable as I want to be and they need to be loving life and happy and joyous and constant pillow fights… ok, now it’s sounding like a summer camp I went to…  I actually think they are still in school and it’s decently hard work they are doing…  along with two sports…  so maybe no energy for pillow fights…

the main point is me = sad, boys = happy…  is that too much to ask?  and then I realize I have my little side-kick here at home with me…

not only did Sienna lose her brothers but she inherited all of their jobs…  and add to that a mom who possibly has alopecia…

so she is slightly ruining my pity party… one of the big changes for her is she used to get away with everything because I was focused somewhat on the boys… and now all I have to focus on is her so I notice everything she does… or doesn’t do…  and I want to hover over her and do her hair and nails and have a girls evening where we can watch Netflix and eat ice cream… (to prevent crying)

korean beef sloppy joe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup hoisin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbps soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha
  • 4 buns

Directions:

  • in a large skillet, brown the beef and strain
  • add sesame oil to the skillet and garlic
  • add back the beef and the rest of the ingredients
  • serve over a bun (with a slice of havarti cheese, optional)

one of the parenting resources said “never pass the weight of your own grief on to your child”... now, I’m not sure how ‘expert’ this advice is… I personally think my children should suffer in grief with me… every time I fight with the farmer I like the children to be a part of our argument… when I’m mad at someone in town, I like my children to join me in my anger…  how are they going to be able to deal with ‘adult problems’ if they don’t start now dealing with my ‘adult problems’???

but, alas, I have decided to take this parenting advice and hide it from them how melancholy I am… until they see my eyelashes… then the cat’s out of the bag…

they cannot bear the responsibility for my sadness…  it’s not their fault that they spent 9 months in my belly, I spent night after night feeding them in the darkness of the house, when they were sick I laid there awake listening to see if they were breathing, I cried at their first hockey practice and most definitely cried on their first goal, I loved every moment of school lunches and hearing the stories when they got home, car rides (even when they slept), watching them play basketball and football in the yard…

ok – I digress… moral of the story is they can’t feel guilty for how sad their mom is

it has always been very important to the farmer and I to raise kids that were independent and didn’t need us around them to find joy…  we cultured this over the years by traveling and leaving them a lot 🙂 … so I know they are ready for it… and I know it will get better…

but I also know I love being their mom… equal to loving the farmer it has been my greatest joy to be their mother, to fold their laundry, to tell them when a joke is not funny, to cut their hair and tell them they stink and need a shower, to run with them and watch movies with them… to say no to them and tell them why… to watch them succeed and fail and get to be there afterwards…

I know I’m still their mom…  it just feels like they are far away and the way I mother them has to change…  but I am so proud of them and excited for them and hopeful that this will be a good thing… because as parents – that is all we hope for – for our children to find their purpose and joy and hope in life…

strawberry rhubarb crumb bars

Ingredients:

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Jam:

  • 1 lb (@ 4 cups) rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 lb (@ 4 cups) strawberries, hulled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

For the Bars:

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (or more) strawberry rhubarb jam
  • 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:

  • prehead oven to 350 degrees
  • line an 8” pan with a sheet of greased foil
  • for the jam: combine the ingredients in a medium pot over low heat… stir regularly for 10-15 minutes…  cool in a bowl
  • combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl
  • stir in the butter until the mixture is consistent
  • pack 2/3 of the mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan and press down
  • bake for 10 minutes
  • when finished, spread the jam on top and add the berries
  • mix the pecans with the remaining oat mixture and crumble on the top
  • bake for 25 minutes
  • allow to cool completely before cutting
  • keeps in fridge but does not freeze well

burritos for the win

 Quesada Burritos & Tacos … it is a little bit of fast food heaven … and if you haven’t ventured into one of these establishments you are missing out … I have tried at least ten burritos at different Quesada’s this summer and left each time feeling satisfied, full and with a tummy full of food that gives you energy instead of making you want to take a nap

ever since I was little and my mom made her homemade cornmeal taco shells I have known that tacos were the most perfect food item anyone could dream of… but this summer that paradigm began to shift with each burrito I consumed … what if, just what if, burritos are better than tacos???

I am still using up bacon that I purchased for this summer at the cabin (the farmer likes to do pitchfork bacon over the fire up at the lake) … and I find if you put bacon on a salad, farmers suddenly eat their salads … strange how that works

it is super easy to make vegetarian burritos…  but when delivering to farmers you must include your neighbours 4H steer in the burrito …  and it was fitting as we were combining said neighbours land …  city folk have no idea what farm to table really is 🙂

strain the beef, saute up the onions and garlic and then add everything back in … I had a bunch of limes left and put lime juice into this beef mixture and Sienna has told me that it really was yummy …

only issue is the time it takes to assemble 24 burritos …  I think after this I could get a job at Quesada …

starting with spreading some sticky refried beans, you add rice, then the beef mixture and top with tex mex cheese and sour cream …  then comes the rolling and folding up in tin foil …  I put these on cookie sheets and into the oven at 200 degrees to keep them slightly warm before packing them up for the field …

I ended up making a few extra to use up the toppings and think these will be great for the farmer’s lunches …  burritos really are the perfect food … perhaps tied with tacos

beef burrito

Ingredients:

For the Ground Beef:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (156 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water

Toppings:

  • 1 15 oz can refried beans
  • 2 cups prepared rice of your choice
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or tex-mex cheese
  • sour cream
  • beef mixture
  • 8 large (10 inch) flour tortillas

Directions:

  • cook your rice and set aside
  • in a large skillet over med-high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef
  • pour over a strainer in the sink to drain the grease
  • in the same skillet, saute the onion and garlic
  • add back the beef and add the seasoning, tomato paste, lime juice and enough water to bring it to the right texture for putting in a burrito
  • let stand for at least 15 minutes or longer before assembling burritos
  • lay tortillas out on a flat surface and spread the refried beans, then add the rice, beef, cheese and sour cream
  • fold each into a burrito and wrap with tin foil
  • if you like them hot, place in oven at 200 degrees until you are ready to pack up or serve

I like to think of all of these happy farmers with their burritos…

lastly – Sienna and I slaved away making pie all day, only to realize it was not going to be set by the time we needed to cut it up and quickly made my chickpea chocolate chip cookies as a replacement … the pie will have to wait till tomorrow (mental note – always make pies that have to firm up the day before)

chickpea chocolate chip cookies

  • Servings: 18 large cookies
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups Nutriblend ‘Tastes Like White’ flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 14 oz (398 mL) can chickpeas (I use Eden Organic ones)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Directions:

  • mix the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in a blender until well combined
  • mix in a separate bowl the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt
  • rinse the chickpeas, then place in a large ziplock bag and seal without the air in in
  • with a rolling pin, smash the chickpeas until they are a paste
  • add the dry ingredients to the blender and combine
  • add the chickpeas and combine
  • fold in chocolate chips and coconut
  • with a medium sized ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet
  • press down with a fork that has been dipped in water to prevent sticking
  • bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes
  • let cool on a rack
  • freeze individually wrapped in plastic wrap for lunches

tortellini broccoli chicken casserole and lemon zucchini cake

on Saturday I was told no suppers at 10 am…  then I proceeded to make up suppers anyways because I had all the ingredients bought and had to use them up…  at 3:45 pm I see a train of green combines whir past my place and sure enough they are combining…  I smile and think “Catherine, you are so smart… you are ready for this”...

then it rains at 6:00 pm… I can handle this a few times but really hoping we start to get some days where their meal actually reaches the field!

if you are ever in a pinch for a salad – I had bought this chickpea/pasta salad from Costco and my family always loves it…  I also get some grape tomatoes and cut them up to put in it to make it look and taste a bit more homemade…

I have been getting chickens and beef from a neighbour of ours for years now and my little friend Edie raises the best little chickens… well not so little as this one was 9 lbs… I have been a vegetarian for over two years now, but I still have to have meat for the farmers and my family… so sourcing out fairly treated animals is very important to me and little Edie treats these chickens very well…

this is the part of the meal that I don’t love… well that and the dead chicken…  for some reason I hate tortellini pasta…  but it is an absolute favourite of my children…  I used it for this dish as it holds up well to being in a casserole

now these I do love… mushrooms…  nothing better than mushrooms with butter and onions and garlic…  mmmmmm…. (mine were very runny so I had to drain these before putting them in the bowl with the rest of the casserole ingredients to mix together)

blanching the broccoli keeps it in good shape for going into a casserole dish…  this means you boil it for no longer than 2 minutes and then immediately get it nice and cold again to stop the cooking…

and now… for the ooeeee-goooeeeyyyy sauce I made up…  cream cheese goodness

finished product that headed to the freezer…  I am pretty sure this will freeze and cook up well but I will let you know if for some reason it doesn’t!!!

tortellini chicken broccoli casserole

  • Servings: one casserole
  • Print

Ingredients:
8 oz pkg uncooked pasta (I used tortellini, rotini is also a good choice)
1 lb of broccoli florets (around 2 heads of broccoli), cut into bit size pieces
2 tbsp butter
1 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
4 oz cream cheese (1/2 a block)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Directions:
for the chicken, I just cook up a whole chicken and use the leftovers for lunch meat
for the pasta, boil a large pot of water with salt and add the pasta until al dente – do not overcook… strain and place in a large bowl with a bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick together
for the broccoli, boil for a few minutes and then strain and cool in cold water – you cannot overcook the broccoli
in a saucepan, saute the onion, mushrooms and garlic in the butter (strain this if it is too runny)
add the broccoli and onion mixture to the pasta in the large bowl
in the saucepan, melt butter and add flour and whisk… then add the chicken stock slowly and then the cream cheese, mustard, salt and pepper
add one cup of the grated cheddar cheese to melt and pour over the pasta mixture in the large bowl and add the chicken and mix well
using a spatula, scrape out all the contents of the bowl into a greased 9×13 pan
sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top
bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes

garden zucchinis go well with chocolate – but also with lemons!!!

this is one of my favourite things…  mixing together sugar and lemon zest with my fingers… the smell of it is so great and I know the taste will be even better

I’m not exactly sure when we decided that putting zucchini into cakes somehow made the cake healthy… but I have it in my mind that here is a healthy form of a cake… even though I see the amount of sugar, butter and cream cheese going into it…

this makes more than enough icing to cover up the ‘healthy’ cake

I put this iced cake in the fridge overnight and it cut up nicely the next day…  and now my freezers are officially full…  fingers crossed the combines can be in the fields for a few suppers this week!

lemon zucchini cake with cream cheese icing

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini

For the Icing:

  • 8 ounce block cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9×13 pan
  • in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt
  • in a mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest (rub together with you fingers until fragrant)
  • add the oil and beat… add one egg at a time and then lemon juice and vanilla
  • add the dry ingredients and then the zucchini – do not overmix
  • pour into the greased 9×13 pan and bake for 30 minutes or until done
  • for the icing, in a stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter and scrape down
  • add the icing sugar and combine
  • add the lemon juice, lemon zest and salt
  • spread the icing over the cake when it is completely cooled
  • I like to put plastic wrap over this cake and put it in the fridge and cut it the next day

meal to field made simple

for tonight’s seeding meal to the field, Costco was a big time saver…  they have a new item in the freezer section that will make your black bean/corn salad making days a dream!

this Vitality Blend was perfect for making a salad in a flash…

I made up a simple dressing for this and the salad took around 15 minutes to make

Vitality Blend Black Bean/Corn Salad

Ingredients:
– 8 cups Vitality Blend frozen edamame beans, black beans, kidney beans and corn
– 3 red peppers, chopped
– 8-10 tbsp lime juice
– lime zest
– 6 tbsp canola oil
– 4 tbsp maple syrup
– salt and pepper

Directions:
– in a large bowl, combine all the ingredients
– ready to eat once the frozen beans and corn have thawed
– keeps well in the fridge

with the Instant Pot – cook skinless, chicken breasts for 10 minutes on manual with some bbq sauce, drain, shred and place back in the pot with some bbq sauce on slow cook for the perfect shredded chicken

I used Harvarti cheese for the Quesadillas… and sautéed peppers… super simple and very tasty…  on spring evening full of baseball, homework and weekends to get ready for, simple meals like this are wonderful

my first flip of the quesadilla I burnt my wrist… I packed little containers of sour cream with these and you could also add Pico de Gallo or Salsa if you had that kicking around

Instant Pot shredded chicken quesadillas

Ingredients:

– 2 lbs skinless chicken breasts

– bbq sauce

– 12 large flour tortillas

– cooking spray

– 2 1/2 cups grated cheese (Havarti)

– 3 bell peppers, sliced(whatever colour you have)

– 1/2 large red onion, sliced(optional)

Directions:

– in an Instant Pot, place raw chicken breasts with some bbq sauce

– on manual, cook for 10 minutes

– strain and shred

– place back in pot with more bbq sauce and some hot water

– place on slow cook mode to keep warm

– place the bell pepper slices and red onion (if you are using it) in a saucepan and saute until soft

– in a large saucepan, bring temperature up to med/high heat

– spray with cooking spray and add one flour tortilla

– spread the cheese, chicken and peppers

– place a shell on top

– when it is time to flip, lightly spray the tortilla shell with cooking spray

– flip and cook on the other side until brown

– transfer to a cutting board and continue on with the other quesadillas

– using a pizza cutter, cut the quesadilla into eight wedges

– serve with pico de Gallo or salsa and sour cream

and now for an easy dessert… kinda the theme of today… seeings how I am nursing an ankle I am getting x-rayed tomorrow…  carrot cake… sugary and satisfying…

carrot cake with streusel topping

Ingredients:

Carrot Cake:

– 2 cups shredded, peeled carrots

– 3/4 cup sugar

– 2 eggs, whisked

– 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

– 1 cup flour

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Streusel Topping:

– 4 tbsp butter, cubed

– 1/3 cup flour

– 1/3 cup brown sugar

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

– preheat oven to 350 degrees

– in a bowl, combine sugar, eggs and butter

– in another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt

– combine all together the egg mixture, flour mixture and shredded carrots

– in a 9” round greased baking pan, spread the thick carrot cake dough

– in a bowl, mix the streusel topping mixture until it resembles small pebbles of butter

– sprinkle the streusel topping on the cake and bake for 30 minutes

– cool and cut to eat

save it for Facebook

when you are sitting by yourself, watching your daughter’s hockey practice (#girlscanplaytoo) (I forever will find this hashtag humorous) … and a strange man plops himself down beside you and begins the conversation with “I don’t believe we’ve met”…  you know you need to buckle yourself up for a wild ride…

just when you think we have evolved as a species… conversations like this occur…  where someone has not figured out that the only place that people brag about their offspring anymore is on Facebook…

it used to be we had a few options – annual Christmas letters, prayer chains, family reunions – but now I hope most self-aware parents realize the only avenue for pumping little Timmy’s tires is Facebook…

this being said – it did occur to me that Little Timmy most likely is not on Facebook – this is a crucial flaw in what would seem to be the perfect outlet for comparing the accomplishments of our young ones…

“so, which one is yours out there?” I politely ask… this way I am avoiding him telling me his name which I was never going to remember

he points to a girl and then, for context, describes her “the tall, athletic one with the hard shot”  …  before I could point out and describe my daughter, he quickly adds “gets her height and ability from both sides of the family”  

this I was comforted by, as you hate to see the competition ensue when one side is so obviously better than the other side of the family… (no offense to the farmer’s side)

a few things I learned during the 28 minutes I was held hostage in the stands… he was a bit of an ‘athlete’ in his day, still runs but not as fast as his superstar daughter…  he coached his daughter her whole life until now because no one else can get the full potential out of her…  refs hate him… the daughter hasn’t seen a sport that she didn’t dominate at…

I was doing fine handling my end of the dialogue… adding my ‘oh really, oh wow, oh geez’ when it seemed timely…  but when he said these words “we are so active we got rid of cable a few years ago and don’t watch any TV”… I thought I was going to lose my mind…

really?  pardon?  you just bike and rollerblade all evening long? haven’t seen a professional sporting event in three years? you missed Harry and Meagan’s wedding? do I dare bring up Game of Thrones or the 23 seasons of The Bachelor I have consumed?

blueberry pancakes

Ingredients:
– 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tbsp sugar
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– 2 large eggs
– 1 cup milk
– 1 cup sour cream
– 1/4 cup butter, melted
– 1/2 tsp vanilla
– 2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen)
– zest of one lemon

Directions:
– sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda together in a bowl
– add the salt
– in another larger bowl, whisk eggs, milk, sour cream, butter and vanilla
– add the flour mixture and fold in
– add the blueberries and lemon zest
– in a saucepan, heat some butter
– pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the hot skillet (generally 3 pancakes per pan)
– cook until bubbles begin to form and pop, around 1 1/2 minutes and then flip and cook for another minute (serve with bacon that has pepper and maple syrup on it)

I could not contain myself anymore and had to say “if my life every got to the point where I had no time for the odd TV show – I would know something had gone terribly wrong”

parenting is a tough gig…  and I for one would not have wanted to do it without the help of ‘the Simpsons”…  #ittakesavillage … when the kids get home from school, ever since the age of Kindergarten, they have tuned into the Simpsons

the farmer and I have always felt that whatever we missed in teaching the children about life would be covered in the hundreds of Simpsons episodes they have viewed…

I was totally with him, the boasting, the ‘one-upping’… I was fine with it all… maybe this is how he chats when he gets nervous or maybe he doesn’t have access to Facebook... 

but when he said his family had no use for a TELEVISION…  he lost all credibility to me… 

instinctually I just can’t trust someone that hates TV…  what has TV ever done to you?  other than entertain you?

worst part is – we live in Saskatchewan!!!  and unless you are at your cabin – it is not overly interesting to be outside…  its not like you are in the mountains of BC…

two questions to ask someone when I meet them

1 – do you love TV?

2 – how do you feel about hugging?

only two things I need to know about someone

matcha raspberry sponge roll cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

– 1 cup sifted cake flour

– 2 tbsp matcha

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature

– 1 cup sugar, divided

– 1 tsp vanilla

– icing sugar for dusting

Raspberry Cream Filling:

– 1 cup raspberry jam

– 8 oz pkg cream cheese, room temperature

– 4 tbsp icing sugar

– 1 pkg raspberries, plus more for garnishing

Directions:

– preheat oven to 375 degrees

– lightly grease a half sheet pan (18”x13”) with baking spray, line with parchment paper, then lightly grease the paper with baking spray

– sift the cake flour, matcha and salt together

– in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites

– whisk on high speed until light and foamy

– sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk till medium peaks

– transfer to a clean mixing bowl

– wipe the stand mixer bowl down and add the egg yolks

– whisk until light yellow

– add 1/2 cup sugar

– fold together with egg whites – try not to lose the volume

– sprinkle over the flour mixture and fold together

– pour into the prepared baking sheet

– bake for 10-12 minutes

– dust a clean linen towel with icing sugar

– while warm, turn the cake out onto the linen towel

– remove parchment and roll up

– cool on a wire rack

– for the filling – whip the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth

– add the raspberries

– unroll the cake and spread with raspberry jam

– spread the cream cheese over

– roll up again without the linen towel

– wrap in plastic wrap and cool in the fridge

– dust the cake with icing sugar

– slice into pieces and serve with raspberries

meatloaf & potatoes

“modern love is the enterprise that everyone wants to be a part of, yet there’s a fifty percent divorce rate in round one and a sixty-five percent divorce rate in round two.” (Esther Perel)

I was sick of listening to my normal podcasts that deal with running and vulnerability…  so I ventured out of my comfort zone to listen to some discussing relationships… and I was not disappointed…  if you have not heard of Esther Perel – give her a quick YouTube  – and you will be intrigued to say the least…

“it’s our imagination that’s responsible for love, not the other person” (Esther Perel) … this is what I was listening to while peeling potatoes… full disclosure – I was imagining I was in prison and assigned to peel potatoes…  not even a normal prison – I was imagining I was in the prison that the Apple Dumpling Gang were in… I’m assuming she wants me to imagine something better than prison to keep love alive…

the farmer and I are approaching our 20th wedding anniversary this December… I can distinctly remember 21 years ago thinking to myself – ‘there is nooooooo way I can actually be in love with him and desire him for longer than a year – tops” 

I thought this even though I had great examples of long lasting love in my life, mainly in the form of my parents… I still had a nagging feeling they might be faking it because they knew they had to stay married…  I was under the impression everyone had their fun days while dating and then thought that wasn’t sustainable so they got married and signed the contract and became business partners and had children…

for instance – the farmer knew full well that he needed himself a wife and that is why he went to College – sure, he played hockey and took classes he has no memory of… but the main focus was ‘wife-hunting’…  business transaction… he needed help on the farm…  it was either College or an ad in the Western Producer…

“For erotically intelligent couples (her words not mine – but I plan on using this term in front of my children), love is a vessel that contains both security and adventure, and commitment offers one of the great luxuries in life: time. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning. They know that they have years in which to deepen their connection, to experiment, to regress, and even to fail. They see their relationship as something alive and ongoing, not a fate.  It’s a story that they are writing together, one with many chapters, and neither partner knows how it will end.  There’s always a place they haven’t gone yet, always something about the other still to be discovered.”  (Esther Perel)

quinoa cabbage salad

Ingredients:
Salad:
– 1 cup quinoa, cooked
– 2 cups grated carrots
– 2 cups spiralized purple cabbage
– 3 green onions, sliced
– 1 cup packed mint leaves, chopped
– 1 cup packed basil leaves, chopped (optional)
– 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
– 1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
Dressing:
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
– lime zest from one lime
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 2 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 tbsp fish sauce

Directions:
– cook quinoa (1 1/2 cups water with 1 cup quinoa, bring to boil, turn heat to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes)
– in a glass jar, mix and shake dressing ingredients
– in a large bowl, add all of the salad ingredients except for the peanuts
– add the dressing and toss
– sprinkle the peanuts on top to serve
– this salad stays fresh in the fridge for a few days

her ideas on the luxury of time and how imagination in a long relationship/marriage is the key really had me thinking… as I was peeling potatoes and slicing onions…

in the course of the 20 years so far with the farmer it has felt like we have had perhaps two or more marriages…  with the same person… we are so different now than when we started…

Instant Pot Whipped Potatoes

Ingredients:

– 5 lbs red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into even sizes

– 1-2 cups water

– 1/4 cup butter

– 4 oz cream cheese

– 1/2 cup half-and-half (or whole milk)

– 1 tsp kosher salt

– 1 tsp garlic powder

– freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

– put trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot

– lay cut, peeled potatoes in it

– add water

– set to Manual for 8 minutes

– when done, pour into a strainer in the sink

– in a standing mixer bowl, add the butter, cream cheese and milk

– add the strained, cooked potatoes

– sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

– mix until smooth

– pour into a greased baking dish

– bake in oven, covered, for 30 minutes at 350 degrees

and I can only imagine that we will be different people again in ten years, twenty years…  so perhaps that is where the magic is…  the comfort of the past 20 years but the knowledge and excitement that we don’t know who we will be in the future and getting to know each other as we grow (hopefully metaphorically) and change…

“Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery” (Esther Perel)

there is so much to learn about ourselves and the relationships we are in…  which brings me to how excited I get when learning something new and how I need to quickly phone the farmer and let him know what I’m learning…

meatloaf

Ingredients:
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 2 cups chopped white or spanish onion
– 2 cups small-diced celery
– 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
– 1 1/2 lbs ground pork
– 3-4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
– 1 tsp ground thyme
– 1 tbsp kosher salt
– ground black pepper
– 3 large eggs
– 2/3 cup whole milk
– 2 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
– bbq sauce for topping (good quality)

Directions:
– preheat oven to 350 degrees
– in a large saute pan, heat olive oil and cook onion and celery for 5 minutes until soft
– place the remainder of the ingredients in a large bowl and combine
– add the onion and celery and combine everything
– press into 2 loaf pans
– top with bbq sauce
– cook for 45 minutes or until the middle of the loaf is done

I’m not sure why he doesn’t realize that a phone call from me is optional to pick up on…  you would think he should know this by now…  I will phone him to let him know that my toenail hurts, or that I cut the lawn, or that I think the dragon that just died in Game of Thrones might not really be dead… totally optional conversations… yet he still picks the phone up even while completely busy filling a seeder…

so this afternoon when I excitedly phone him and begin the conversation with “hey – so I’m peeling potatoes and listening to a podcast on sex that says I need to use my imagination more”...  and he interrupts my thoughts with “you are on speakerphone”… 

I wonder why, after 20 years, he doesn’t understand that I don’t want to be on speakerphone…  phone conversations were made to be between two people… not two people and three guys in your truck…

I lie… it was just one person in his truck…  unfortunately this was not the first time I have done something inappropriate in front of this poor man…  around 12 years ago I sent the same man explicit sticky-note messages in his supper meal (the meal was of course intended for the farmer)… 

mistakes will be made in the attempts to keep a marriage alive and not turn into a business arrangement…  and failures and loss and hardships and grief and loss of trust and figuring yourself out as well…

but it was so good today to hear a reminder that love and mystery and desire all can happen in a marriage and that we don’t have to be perfect…  there is an ebb and flow to relationships… the relationship we have now looks far different than before…  (with the exception of making farm workers really uncomfortable)

now, to imagine something better than prison… (unless that is your ultimate fantasy)

orange cookie cake

Ingredients:

Cookie Crust:

– 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cut into small cubes

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1/2 cup granulated sugar

– 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Filling:

– 3/4 cup granulated sugar

– 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

– 4 large eggs

– zest and juice of 4 oranges (around 1 cup of juice)

– icing sugar for dusting

Directions:

– preheat oven to 350 degrees

– grease 9×13 pan

– stir together flour, sugar and salt

– add the butter and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter in

– when it resembles small crumbs, pour into prepared baking dish and press firmly down

– bake for 20 minutes

– for the filling, stir the ingredients in a bowl

– pour over the crust and bake again until filling is set, about 20 more minutes

– allow to cool for a minimum of 2 hours, then sift the icing sugar over the top

– cut into 16 pieces