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

2019 harvest begins

for farmers… August is not summer…  August is harvest or waiting for harvest (the latter option being worse on the farmer’s family) … so we are very thrilled to begin our harvest this year…  seeding went well and then no rain in the spring made us question whether harvest 2019 would be necessary…

harvest is always a time to be grateful that the crop made it through the season and now we can try to get it in before who knows what weather comes our way… this year in particular, with the poor rainfall and the uncertainty of selling our grain (or worse selling it and not being paid for it), there has been a bit more I would say than the normal stresses of farming…

when my older son talks to me about what to pursue in college and his future possibly in farming, I tell him not to ask us this year our opinion 🙂

the tricky part of cooking for farmers is knowing whether or not meals to the field will be needed…  I have been told many times that they won’t be combining in the morning, only to receive a text at 4:30 pm saying that they are going and need twelve suppers…  if it’s not too much trouble…

living in the middle of nothing also has it’s challenges as far as meal planning and grocery shopping… I need to plan my meal for the week and do one big haul of groceries… and then I need to use them, no matter if they are combining or not…

so I’ve developed the habit of no matter what, if it is my day to cook I just go through the motions like we are combining and cook everything up and either have leftovers for days or the freezer gets full…

this was a new take on a broccoli salad for me… I have a son that hates mayo and so I thought to do a tahini based dressing for the broccoli salad… cooking for twelve men also has it’s challenges when planning the menu because my guess is they don’t all love the same food… some are on diets, others don’t eat vegetables, some could put back two suppers and others live on next to nothing…  one common factor they all have is that by 6:30 pm when suppers arrive at the field they all tend to be hungry and this can make cold food, bad food or new food taste wayyyyyyy better…

there is some motivation for me to make salads that I am interested in or enjoy with the thought in mind that if I don’t get it out to the field, I might be eating quite a few of these salads in the next few days and they better be yummy!  the boys tasted it and said it was good, but they also are basically starving in August around here…  I have a rule they do their own breakfasts and lunches and I will provide supper…  so the boys just starve…  I told them I heard intermittent fasting is actually a very popular diet right now… you are welcome…

broccoli blueberry salad

Ingredients:
For the Salad:
1 bag Costco broccoli, cut up into finely chopped pieces
4 cups shredded carrots
1 cup (or more if you like them) dried apricots (or your preference for dried berries)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 cup toasted, sliced almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
3 cups fresh, firm blueberries (or use frozen and add on the top)
For the Dressing:
3/4 cup drippy tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice (around 2-3 lemons)
1/2 cup warm water (to thin it, maybe more)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
cut up the broccoli into very small pieces
place in a large mixing bowl
add the grated carrots, dried apricots, onion, cilantro and parsley
in a blender (Vitamix), add all the dressing ingredients and blend until combined and pourable
pour over the broccoli salad and mix
you can store this in the fridge overnight if needed
when you are ready to serve, add the almonds, pumpkin seeds and blueberries

it might take 2 hours to get to the closest Costco, but it only takes minutes to grab some produce from the garden…  (feels like even less when you make your kids do it for you)

they always like seeing who can find the largest beet…

so on the days that they really don’t know if they will be combining, this is always a great option because it costs me nothing and you can whip up a dinner with beets, carrots, potatoes and some meat in just a few hours or less…

in my opinion, straight from the garden, these veggies taste like candy they are so sweet – how could anyone not eat veggies!?!?

we’ve done this method of taking suppers out for quite a few years now and still loving it…

noted: if your chocolate zucchini cakes comes with sprinkles, there is a good chance that an eleven year old girl made it for you

chocolate zucchini cake with sprinkles

Ingredients:

For the chocolate zucchini cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (or you can sift with the flour)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup melted butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray
  • in a medium bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder and add the baking soda and salt… whisk together and set aside
  • in a mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, canola oil, butter and buttermilk and beat to combine
  • add eggs, one egg at a time and then add vanilla
  • add the dry ingredients in two batches and lightly combine – do not overmix
  • add the zucchini and chocolate chips
  • pour the cake batter into the 9×13
  • back for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  • let the cake cool completely
  • for the frosting, beat the butter until smooth and scrape down
  • sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder and add
  • slowly add the milk and vanilla and salt
  • beat until fluffy
  • frost the cooled chocolate zucchini cake and add sprinkles on the top!!!!
  • cut into squares and serve – freezes well

from my viewpoint upon delivering suppers, it did look like they might still be working some of the kinks out that come with the start of harvest… we thought it slightly resembled bumper cars…  six combines all running into each other…

wishing everyone a safe, yummy and speedy harvest… with many pies and goodies to keep you awake during the long days…

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

September Overload

when my ten year old daughter comes home from school and asks me if I think she needs “those kneepad things for my ankles”, I begin to wonder if she should have signed up to play volleyball after all…

ahhhh… school is back in session… and with it every mom is completely overwhelmed…  we were just getting used to summer…  for our household, baseball takes up most of July and we finally seem to get into a lovely rhythm in August of slower days and then all of a sudden I am supposed to be filling out twenty seven permission slips for my children…

approving of them being in photos, school fees, sports waivers, bus waivers, and insurance forms…  I actually am so in denial of it all right now I believe I only have signed 3 out of the 27 permission slips and now am dreading tomorrows task of completing this!

then there is the inevitable new Apps that you need to get…  so you can remind your children to do their homework and have them lie to you that they have already done it

I was recently listening to a Podcast on a lady named Debra Searle that rowed a boat 3,300 miles across the Atlantic Ocean…  she commented how after 111 days at sea she could not walk on land without assistance and the sounds of people, cars and horns all was too much for her at first…

this is how I feel every September when school starts again… like it’s all too loud and I want to run away from it all and hide!

german chocolate cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the Cupcakes:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tbsp fresh brewed coffee
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
For the Frosting:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
4 extra large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tins with paper liners (roughly 16 cupcakes)
in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes
scrape down the bowl
add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla
finally add the buttermilk, sour cream and coffee
in a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt
with mixer on low, add to the wet ingredients
scrape down and make sure the batter is well combined
using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into the lined muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes
cool completely before frosting
for the frosting, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat
whisk in the evaporated milk, brown sugar and egg yolks
bring to a simmer, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened
take off the heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extract
add the coconut, almonds, pecans and salt
all to cool for about an hour
frost the cupcakes

I can’t imagine how teachers feel if I feel like it is all too loud… I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks…

I feel like I finally get the kids all getting along with each other and more importantly with me!… then they get shipped off to school again and come home hungry, tired and cantankerous…

really cantankerous

it also is the time of too many sports all happening at once…  cross-country running, gymnastics, hockey, football and volleyball…

oh and harvest… harvest is still happening…

quinoa-stuffed peppers

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
ground pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped spinach
1 tsp basil or 4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded mozza cheese
4 large red peppers, cut in half, seeds removed
more cheese for on top

Directions:
cooked the quinoa in the vegetable broth – bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and cook around 15 minutes – let stand 5 minutes
preheat oven to 350 degrees
in a big bowl, mix quinoa with the rest of the ingredients
place the cut peppers in a baking dish
fill each pepper with roughly 1/2 cup of filling
sprinkle with cheese
cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes or until soft

this is when I like hum the Green Day lyrics… ‘wake me up, when September ends’

so I decided to add to this mayhem training for a 50 km trail race…  just so I could join the rest of the family in knowing their exhaustion…

I know this sounds like a lot of complaining… but I say all this so I have an excuse for all my poor behaviour at the beginning of school…  I forget a lot of stuff… my daughter still doesn’t have a lunch kit…  or a backpack…

buffalo chicken melts

Ingredients:
3 cups shredded chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 1/2 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
pinch of cayenne pepper
8 slices bread
8-16 thin sliced tomatoes
8 slices pepper Jack cheese

Directions:
- mix together in a large bowl the chicken, carrots, celery, onion, mayo, hot sauce and cayenne pepper
on a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out the bread (use margarine if you would like on the bread)
place tomatoes on if you are using them
using a 1/3 cup scoop, scoop out the chicken onto the bread and smooth out evenly
cover with cheese slice
broil and serve

I feel like everyone should give each other a break this time of year…  ease into it…  expect people to forget things…  not show up at the right time…  be missing pieces of the sporting equipment… bring their lunch in a plastic Walmart bag that I paid 5 cents for…

October will be better… I promise…

day in court

nothing I love to do more than fight the system… the farmer never lets me know of protests going on for fear that I will get involved…  recently, a neighbour’s yard is being threatened by a road going through it and I went to town council to put a protest in about it… I was in a Cabelas store in Phoenix and I went to the ‘customer care’ counter to put a complaint in about the giant fish tank filled with fish trying to commit suicide…

basically, if you want someone to join you in a cause… contact me… I will… it’s exciting…

so recently when a police officer decided to pull me over to give me a speeding ticket I did what every law abiding, tax paying citizen should do…  I told him I would see him in court…  he informed me most likely I would not as it is a Crown attorney I will see… but it felt good to loudly say that to him…

the farmer told me this was a giant waste of time and I should just pay the ticket… it was only $162…  but it was the principle…  they – the cops that is – think they have all the power and can just hand tickets out ‘willy-nilly’…  if they are having a bad day, mad at their kids or spouse, they can just drive around and hand out a bunch of speeding tickets and feel better about themselves…  NOT TODAY…

so I went to court…  it was in the town of Rosetown and apparently they were in a ‘temporary courthouse’… it was in the basement of this old building beside a daycare… yes a daycare…  it seemed odd to me to have court going on with small children in the same area… using the same bathrooms… surely if we were all such terrible criminals breaking the law they would not want us to be near small children…

Lemon Coconut Cake with Berries

  • Servings: one 8 inch cake
  • Print

Ingredients:

Lemon Coconut Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (mixed thoroughly before measuring)

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Berries:

  • mixed berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, plums)
  • toasted coconut flakes
  • freshly grated lemon zest

I arrived early and dressed in attire fitting for an old Matlock show… when I walked into the makeshift courtroom, I realized I had perhaps over-dressed for occasion…

what you need to know about me is that my life long dream was to be a lawyer…  the farmer ruined this dream for me… and this was my chance to pretend for a few hours that I was a big city lawyer, driving my Jaguar (yes that is the car I wanted… in green) and arriving at the courtroom to fight the system…

but to my surprise, the courtroom was filled with people in their pyjamas… everyone apparently smokes (found this out during the first ‘court is adjourned’) and it seemed to me to be a place that showering before you come is not essential…

one police officer ushered in a few men in shackles, who shockingly resembled the cast of ‘Con Air’… again, they used the same bathrooms as daycare children…

from what I could gather the main show of the day was going to be the battle between the young gentleman behind me who had to cough and snort every 17 seconds and the family seated on the far wall that kept mouthing terrible words at the cougher behind me… I was praying my speeding ticket would come up before their argument over some stolen tires and rims…

summer tortellini salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 20 oz cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 ear sweet corn, kernels removed (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium cucumber, chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded parmesan cheese and basil to garnish

Dressing:

  • basil vinaigrette or homemade greek salad dressing
    • 1 tsp dry mustard
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 2 tbsp parsley
    • 2 tbsp minced red onion
    • 1 tbsp minced red pepper
    • 1 tbsp minced garlic clove
    • 4 tsp lemon juice
    • 4 tsp red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 cup crisco oil

Directions:

  • cook the tortellini according to the package instructions
  • rinse with cold water and drain well
  • place the cooked tortellini in a big bowl
  • add the tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, cucumber, and green onions
  • drizzle with basil vinaigrette and stir until the ingredients are well coated
  • season with salt and pepper
  • finish the salad with parmesan cheese and fresh basil
  • salad will keep well in fridge for 3 days

the judge called court in session and requested that everyone there pertaining to a ticket would line up… when it got to my turn, my feet killing me from the heels I was saving to wear when I became a lawyer someday, the judge asked me ‘are you pleading guilty or not-guilty’…

seemed like an odd question to me… guilty would mean I pay the ticket… not-guilty means I am standing in my power suit ready to argue…

after establishing that I felt I wasn’t guilty, he continued on to tell me they could not see to my ticket today and I would be getting a letter in the mail letting me know when my court date would be…

at this I commented that I still wished to plead not-guilty but I would just like to pay my ticket so I didn’t have to come to court again…  he laughed, in tired way that let me know how awful it must be to be a judge in the basement of an old building in Rosetown beside a daycare…  and told me to expect a letter in the mail…

this was all pretty eye opening…  the farmer never told me ‘I told you so’… but I could see it in his eyes later that evening as I recounted the days activities… this is when I told him I payed for a single mom’s ticket because I was so overtaken with the story she told the judge…  instead of paying a $162, I am now paying $536 because it was not right what was being done to her…

and possibly still paying my ticket

I discovered that my life goal should never have been to be a real life lawyer…  what I truly wanted was to be a TV lawyer

drama school… not all that lawyer learning… is what I should have pursued…

perhaps it was best that I met a farmer in college that ruined all of my life goals… stuck me on a farm with kids and cooking and time to run…  perhaps I am right where I am supposed to be…

but I will never admit this to him… and I will keep fighting the system…

Instant Pot Stuffed Italian Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground turkey (not beef)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1, 200 g package cocktail size (mini) Bocconcini cheese balls

Sauce:

  • 769 mL can crushed tomatoes (not diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Meatballs:

  • mix all of the meatball ingredients together in a bowl (except for the cheese)
  • form meatballs around cheese ball
  • set meatballs aside
  • place on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet in freezer overnight or in fridge

Sauce:

  • add all of the sauce ingredients into the inner liner of the instant pot
  • stir to combine
  • place meatballs in the sauce (it is ok to stack them)
  • spoon sauce over the meatballs
  • if you are doing rice as well, pour the 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water into your oven proof bowl
  • place the trivet over the meatballs and bowl on top
  • put the Instant Pot lid on, set to sealing, and set on manual, high pressure for 10 minutes
  • do a quick release after the pressure cycle

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…