need any help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

apparently sometimes it can’t be helped…

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

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

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

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

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

Grandma Swan's Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie

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

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

1 unbaked pastry shell

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

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

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

Grandma Swan's Scalloped Corn

  • Servings: one casserole
  • Print

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

Grandma Swan's Mandarin Orange Lettuce Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

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

Dressing:

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

Directions:

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

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

Grandma Swan's Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

cougar sighting

recently I was able to go on a trip to Squamish, BC… my teenage boys referred to it as an ‘old ladies hiking trip’...  I of course was picturing it in my mind more like an expedition to Everest and I packed accordingly

I booked this trip way back in January when the farmer was on a wild boar hunting trip in Texas…  I was so upset that first of all, the companies that take farmers on trips seem to believe that it is just the male farmer that deserves a bonus…  the female farmer should get nothing…  secondly, I was of course upset that it was a hunting trip when from what I saw from pictures no one was starving and they didn’t even eat what they were killing…

in a fit of indignation and rage, I searched some hiking trips, found one in Canada (as I thought my first solo trip should not be too far away) and booked it… this would be my first trip by myself and I was nervous that I would miss the farmer too much to enjoy myself…  I realize this might sound pathetic but when you have spent 20 years with someone as your travel companion and best friend, you tend to only imagine situations with them in it…  I really couldn’t imagine enjoying myself without him…

I should also add that I am terrible in airplanes…  I like to picture myself in a giant aluminum can hurdling through the air only seconds away from everything breaking down and plummeting to my painful death… and I won’t medicate myself for fear that if there was a bad crash I would be too ‘out of it’ to do something to save myself…  not sure what exactly I would do, but I’ve watched all of the Mission Impossible movies so I do have a few tricks up my sleeve…

once I was finally on the ground and in Squamish it turned into one of the best things I have ever done…  I was nervous to meet my roommate – yes, they give you a roommate – but that all went well and once the hiking began it was all I had hoped it would be…

we apparently were in bear country but no one seemed overly concerned about this…  secretly I was wishing I had packed a gun in my backpack like the farmer took on his trip…  but I had been too judgemental of him so I was forced to walk defenceless along the pine needle paths…

this is when we came upon a sign warning us of another predator in the area… the cougar…  this terrified me more than a bear… well maybe the same… I basically was constantly afraid

one of the younger girls on the trip found it humorous that I was taking a picture of the cougar sign and decided to pipe up with…

“well now there are two of you out here”

I looked behind me to see what old lady in spandex she was referring to so I could laugh along with her about her funny Cougar joke…  then a sickening feeling came over me…  she might be referring to me… I might be the Cougar… 

surely I was mistaken…  it couldn’t be me…  after going through my twenties having babies and raising kids in my early thirties, I finally was starting to feel like I was doing things for myself again and feeling great about myself…  so I surely am not old enough to have a joke said about me of this nature???

I laughed it off and decided I would google it later to see if I qualify for cougar age…  I knew I wasn’t single and on the ‘hunt’ so I couldn’t be considered a cougar unless something terrible happens to the farmer…

that evening when I googled ‘how old is a cougar?’, the first thing that came up was 8 signs that a woman is a cougar…

1- 40 years of age (one year away)

2- very concerned with face and skin (nope)

3- physically active and in shape (try to be)

4- trendy, form-fitting clothing, usually a bit adventurous for her age (solid yes)

5- enough money to provide for herself (again, yes)

6- not a party animal (oh no I’m a cougar)

7- knows what she wants in a younger man and not afraid to approach them (gross, I have a teenager who stinks like cat urine… no thank you)

8- looking for real, long-term relationships with younger men (wrong – looking for an older gentleman who is rich and on his deathbed)

if there was one thing this list did for me, it was to make me even more depressed about turning 40 next year…  at least now I could tell this younger girl “hey, wait a second there missy, I’m still in my thirties”

next year I will have to retort with “I’m married and not on the prowl” 

I do have to admit, sometimes my clothing choices are a bit ‘adventurous’ for my age…  after summiting the mountain and feeling like I was freezing to death, I wrapped an emergency blanket around myself for the climb down… it was useful for tobogganing down the glacier snow and also for frightening bears and fellow cougars in the area…

my last piece of evidence that I am not a cougar and never will be is this picture…  would a cougar go cross-eyed screaming down a bike path???  certainly not…

lastly – if women over 40 are cougars, what are men over 40? perhaps I need to do another google search…

greener grass

I cheated…  I was in a rut, looking for something new, different and exciting… I was itching for change… after doing the same thing for so many years I told myself I needed to mix it up… find out what is out there…

it happened this last summer…  the ‘grass’ around me was looking pretty dead and the ‘grass’ on the other side was looking awfully green…

I don’t think this qualifies as a mid-life crisis due to the fact that I am 38 and the other fact that I hope I do something even crazier during my mid-life crisis…  but it definitely goes against my personality to cast aside the known and the faithful and try something new…

so I cheated on her…

I went to a new hairdresser… at first I justified it by telling myself that my hairdresser generally takes off the month of July to head to the lake so I could just go to someone else… just this once…

it was supposed to be a ‘one day stand’…  nothing about it felt right…  the tea that was offered or the way she washed my hair making me hold my own head up with my neck instead of propping me up… it all felt ‘off’

but then the unthinkable happened… she took a picture of me and posted it on Instagram… I was sure I was caught… I live in a small town… you just can’t hide from stuff like this…

I nervously went through the summer, hoping that my hair would not grow and my grey hairs would stay away and I would never have to get a cut or colour again in my whole life…

but alas, the grey hair began to inch it’s way back… and I saw a picture of a Victoria Secret model that got bangs and figured I would look just like her if I got bangs… and I was faced with the fact that I would need to see a hairdresser again…

so I was faced with a decision… go crawling back to my hairdresser that I have known and loved for years… or roll the dice on the new girl and avoid the awkward conversation I knew I would have with the one I cheated on…

so I did what I’m assuming most people that get themselves into these lucid affairs do… I justified going back to the new girl for a second time… the only issue was when I went in to get my bangs and colour done, it was not the girl I had the first time… it was another complete stranger…

the thoughts went through my mind on how I was going to explain not one deviation but now two to my past hairdresser… I pushed those thoughts back into the deep recesses of my brain and allowed the second affair to begin…

when I got home that evening, the looks on my children’s faces said it all… I wasn’t comfortable with this ‘double life’ I was leading and it was not working out for my hair…  it was the first time my kids have noticed my hair and one lesson I’ve learnt is that if they notice that means it is shocking…

after a trip to Mexico a large portion of my hair turned orange… this was the deciding factor and I knew what I had to do… I texted my original hairdresser… I kept it brief, asking to see her again, and was hoping that by the time that date rolled around I would have the words to smooth things over and patch things up with her…

the day came sooner than I had planned and I was still fumbling over what to say… I felt like I couldn’t pretend that nothing had happened in the last 9 months… last time she did my hair it was blonde and long… I was now walking in with orange bangs… it would be akin to trying to tell your husband that you’ve always had chlamydia…

I contemplated buying her jewelry… that seems to work for NBA players… but then I decided that might be a bit ostentatious… everyone in town would know exactly why she was sporting new diamond earrings… especially when they noticed my orange bangs looked different… they would put it together and realize we were back together…

I decided to tell her the truth… that I had made mistakes… I had a wondering eye and it came back to bite me…  in the front of my hair…

she was gracious… told me I wasn’t the first that has cheated and probably won’t be the last… but I most likely was the one who felt most guilty

time heals all… I know it will take time to earn her trust back but after my 9 month roller-coaster experience I am fine with that… it will most likely take a few more cuts and colours to repair what was lost (I’m speaking mostly of my hair)… but I am confident we can get back to where we were before… perhaps even a more beautiful version of what that was… (again, completely referring to my hair)

zucchini, carrot, apple gluten free muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, drained
  • 3/4 cup grated carrot
  • 3/4 cup grated apple (with skin on)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oat flour (ground up oats in Vitamix)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grate zucchini, carrots and apples and set aside
  • melt the butter and combine with honey, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla
  • in a Vitamix, grind up 1 cup of large flake oats into oat flour
  • combine oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder
  • pour the butter mixture in to the flour and stir
  • add the grated zucchini, carrot and apple and fold to combine
  • add the chocolate chips
  • line muffin tins with baking cups
  • using an ice cream scoop, place batter in the baking cups
  • bake for 25-30 minutes depending on how large of muffins you are baking
  • makes 16 muffins

to all the hairdressers out there – you have a tough gig – we all know it…  people bring in a Pintrest picture of a model that looks nothing like them and expects you to wave your magic wand and not only be a hairdresser but a plastic surgeon, dentist, stylist, life/fitness coach, financial planner and therapist…

you have to deal with the unrealistic expectations… and you get cheated on if you can’t reach those expectations…

stay strong – you are wonderful and just trying to make the rest of us look a tiny bit more tolerable…  fight the good fight…

side note: the farmer was just grateful that this round of cheating was on my hairdresser…  (and he’s pretty confident with these orange bangs that my chances of ‘real’ cheating are on the back-burner for awhile)

hanging up the apron

no one cares anymore…  these farmers?  nope… could care less about food… you know what they do care about?  me not getting in their way as they are driving out of a field…

I get it… I see the way they toss the supper bags around like they are heaving sandbags preparing for a flood and I think – I’d be over my meal-in-the-field’ fun too

harvest began August 17 and ‘ended’ on September 20… actual harvesting days ended up being 24… very good year time wise…

yet, even on a good year, they are all done with suppers…

they try to smile and say thank you… but I can see it in their eyes…  the love is gone and they have moved on…

no pausing for pictures or light-hearted joking while we stand around as I hand them their supper bags…  instead I get covered in dust trying to grab a few photos for my grandpa and the farmer’s grandma to enjoy…

so you know what I do?  I stop caring…  take that…

I compare it to how you serve wine at a party… you buy a few nice bottles and then a box… you give your guests one glass of the $17 wine you splurged on and then any refills are boxed wine… they don’t even notice…

earlier in harvest they received fruit salad with a lovely homemade dressing on it…  late in harvest, just fruit… no dressing… deal with it…

dessert you ask?  packaged brownie mix from Costco…  I didn’t even dust icing sugar on it like I normally would have…

it does have similarities to what my love life was like, before I met the farmer of course… all butterflies and excitement for the first few days… I’d be making mixed tapes or cd’s with my favourite songs, writing in my journal at length and orchestrate many attempts to ‘show up’ at the location my ‘prey’ would be at in order to be around them…

then I would start to notice how they laughed, or what they laughed at, or how they chewed their food, or their body odour, or their appearance in general…  and the ‘sparkle’ would be gone…

then it becomes a game of putting as little effort into the relationship as possible in order to get the other person to break up with you so you aren’t the bad person…

this is also known as marriage… only difference is we have this rule you can’t break up…

this is where I find myself at the end of every harvest… breakup zone

I see the farmer’s swinging their supper bags around like they are Little Red Riding Hood on their way to Grandma’s House and I think….  ‘oh I see you shaking my pie into pudding…  I’ll show you’

so I buy the cheapest food possible at Costco…  and spend a few minutes throwing it together… can’t hurt me if I was trying to break up with you as well!

turns out, it works!  after they had this meal the farmer has told me every night since that they don’t need supper!

now… if I had spent a lot of time on that last supper, how devastated would I have been to hear that news… I would have doubted my cooking ability and my self-worth would have been in the crapper…  but no, I guarded my heart and basically broke up with the farmer before he could break up with me…

so, to all the cooks out their slaving away for the farmers…  don’t you dare end on a high note…  no one will appreciate it…  their thoughts have moved on to football, hockey and hunting… they would eat anything at this stage of the game…

save your fancy cooking for Thanksgiving… you have relatives to impress…

farm boys ballin’

watching farm boys play basketball might be the best entertainment that is out there…  the only way I could describe it to the farmer was…

‘do you remember last Christmas when we went to that outdoor rink in Calgary and there were those 5 guys in their twenties there that had no idea how to skate or play shinny but they gave it 110% and I was scared someone was going to get hurt?   that’s what it was like’

(I know I’m going to get texts from my brothers – all offended – but just know I didn’t include you in the 5)

the funny thing is that my boys really thought they were going to look like true basketball players…  first of all, they attended a basketball camp this summer and they watch the Golden State Warriors highlights every morning…  they spend an incredible amount of time on Youtube viewing basketball highlights and bloopers…

so as they suited up to play their first official Jr Boys basketball game (wearing old Sr Boys volleyball jerseys circa 1980’s)… they were nervous but full of confidence that the time they had put into research of this sport would pay off…

also, they had genetics on their side as their mother was a bit of a ‘baller’ in her day…  (funny how memory is…  seems like my stories of my basketball days just keep getting better and better the older I get) 

it was so enjoyable to watch…  the other team seemed to be in the same boat as our team… going at an incredible speed yet not entirely sure of the rules…  

I have not enjoyed watching something that much in a long time…  I know it was funny and new and that is most likely why I enjoyed it so much… oh, and I wasn’t freezing my butt off in a rink…  and no parents really, truly cared how their kid did (and I’m not used to viewing sports that way)  

it reminded me of the beginning of a new relationship…  the excitement, flirtation and low expectations that you have…  hockey is like the marriage and basketball is like the affair…  oh, and what a glorious affair it was…  not as polished and mechanical as the marriage…  in this basketball affair they were unsure of the rules and had no history or baggage involved…  a lot of fumbling around and laughing… (too far perhaps with my analogy?)

I almost don’t want them to have another game this year as that was such a joy for me to watch, I’m worried I’ll ruin the next game by expecting my boys to improve or achieve….

we celebrated (well after both of them having to go to hockey practices that lasted till 10 pm) with a meal that took me back to my basketball days and childhood…

get your pen and paper out for this recipe…   it’s complicated…

I’m all about health and fitness… in moderation…  and I figure if Hamburger Helper helped my mother out on busy days, it can help me out as well…

You Will Need:  ground meat (I used Elk), milk and water…  

and please, don’t try to jazz it up with anything… your kids are tired, exhausted, and hungry… just spruce that ground meat up with a packaged noodles and some sort of dried cheese mixture and call it a night…

and as you eat it, you can watch videos of the glorious basketball game and get messages from grandparents about how awesome you did…

and in that moment realize that your grandparents will love you no matter what…  no matter what…

community over competition

if there is one thing I know how to do, it is to compete… I feel at home when I’m trying to win a board game, leg wrestle or run… I can turn basically any fun, social situation into a competition… I have turned friend vacations into ping-pong tournaments and bocci ball on the beach when all they wanted to do is relax…  I get annoyed when I’m driving if someone passes me because that means I wasn’t driving fast enough… when I travel I secretly pretend I’m on Amazing Race and for the last month of going to Pilates I was imagining that I was a Victoria Secret model training for the the big show in Paris…

I’ve found the best way to compete is to have children and then I don’t even have to do the work…. (except the work of critiquing them afterwards… which often can be a considerable amount of work)   if they succeed I remind them of the fantastic genetics that their father and I bestowed upon them and if they fail I let them know it was their lack of effort and preparation… 

if the farmer and I had a life motto so far I’m sure it would be similar to a Tina Turner song…

this has obviously led to a considerable amount of disappointment and heartbreak, but the end of goal of ‘simply the best’ has always spurred us forward, disregarding common sense or that small voice telling you that perhaps there is more to life than the attempt to be better than other people…

problem is, when I hit up social media on Sunday to post a picture of my son’s team winning a hockey tournament, it didn’t bring with it the usual goosebumps one gets when they feel like everyone will finally recognize how amazing their child is…  

when I put the appropriate emojis and hashtags and hit ‘done’, I wasn’t sure that everyone I knew was going to tell me how awesome I must be as a mom to have raised a child that could win at something or what a rock star my boy must be to have a medal around his neck…

 

at first I attributed my lacklustre approach to winning, competition and social media to the ‘farmer depression’ I have going on…

I tried to do a little pep-talk and tell myself ‘come on Catherine… you love winning… you love your child winning and you love rubbing it in everyone’s faces when they do! because then everyone will know that once again, you are great and your offspring are even better’

then I go to a game where the farmer is coaching and my other son is playing we get blown out 6-0…  and I get a taste of being the loser  (no Instagram picture was taken) and normally I would tell myself, ‘winning will make this feeling all better… all we have to do is win and I’ll forget about the losing’

during the long drive home, I realize what it is that I’m missing…  this could have been brought on by the song I listened to 5 times while the farmer and my son and daughter slept…  (it’s quiet uptown)

but I realized all I have ever really wanted is community…  and that I would take community over competition any day of the week… except Football Sundays… go Packers…

because winning is fine and dandy if you have loved ones to share it with… and honestly, so is losing if you have loved ones to share it with… 

it is the ‘shared life experience’ that I am after…  it is experiencing life with the farmer, my kids and our family and friends that makes me feel joy…  it is being there, side by side, with loved ones through life that is enough… it is enough

don’t get me wrong… not ever going to give up leg wrestling or my intense desire to beat everyone at a friendly Christmas board game… nor do I think I will be any more gracious in defeat…

but I now know that my motto is going to be ‘community over competition’…  and I will repeat this in my head the next time my mother-in-law beats me at pickle ball…

*** if you feel like crying, listen to this song 5 times about a couple losing their teenage son…  sung by Kelly Clarkson who is ‘simply the best’

It’s Quiet Uptown

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is suffering too terrible to name

You hold your child as tight as you can

Then push away the unimaginable

The moments when you’re in so deep

Feels easier to just swim down

And so they move uptown

And learn to live with the unimaginable

I spend hours in the garden

I walk alone to the store

And it’s quiet uptown

I never liked the quiet before

I take the children to church on Sunday

A sign of the cross at the door

And I pray

That never used to happen before

(If you see him in the street, walking by himself

Talking to himself, have pity)

You would like it uptown, it’s quiet uptown

(He is working through the unimaginable

His hair has gone grey, he passes every day

They say he walks the length of the city)

You knock me out, I fall apart

(Can you imagine?)

Look at where we are

Look at where we started

I know I don’t deserve you

But hear me out, that would be enough

If I could spare his life

If I could trade his life for mine

He’d be standing here right now

And you would smile, and that would be enough

I don’t pretend to know the challenges we’re facing

I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost

And you need time

But I’m not afraid, I know who I married

Just let me stay here by your side

And that would be enough

(If you see him in the street, walking by her side

Talking by her side, have pity)

Do you like it uptown? It’s quiet uptown

(He is trying to do the unimaginable

See them walking in the park, long after dark)

Taking in the sights of the city

Look around, look around, look around

(They are trying to do the unimaginable)

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There’s a grace too powerful to name

We push away what we can never understand

We push away the unimaginable

They are standing in the garden

Standing there side by side

She takes his hand

It’s quiet uptown

Forgiveness, can you imagine?

Forgiveness, can you imagine?

(If you see him in the street, walking by her side

Talking by her side, have pity)

Look around, look around

They are going through the unimaginable

beet cake – take 2

Mondays are supposed to be my alone days… they are supposed to be a day that I get the housework and laundry done in silence…  a day where I can ponder the events of the weekend and decide all the ways I should become a better person…

everyone should get to be alone on Mondays…

but in our area…  the school thinks they can cancel school on Mondays!  I know!  the audacity…  how dare you take my Monday from me!  I don’t care if you are learning how to be a better teacher… I need the pitter-patter of little feet to be in the hallways of the school, not my home…

thankfully…  Papa steps in and takes my son hunting (although this happens from 5:30 – 8:30 am.. and then he is back at home for the whole Monday)

and the other son has football practice in the morning…  and the daughter has her iPad and Netflix…

but this all comes to an end around 9 am and we are stuck with a whole awkward Monday together…

so I make a list of my jobs and realize that I have 3 workers that can do them for me!  they still accept a pop for payment for just about anything…

but even the list of jobs runs it’s course and it becomes boredom…  with me cooking in the background…

and notes like this are passed from an eight year old girl to her 12 year old brother…

she ‘borrowed’ these precious CFL pins from him 2 years ago…  thing is, they both actually deeply care about things like this… the older boy and I cannot understand it but my 12 year old was distraught for 2 years about the absence of these pins…

which mysteriously show up in her backpack…  and prove what he has been accusing her of for 2 years now… thievery…

this made it so I had to take her with me when delivering meals to the field tonight… I could not, with a clean conscience, leave her alone with him…  I was worried for her safety…

and when I speak of meals… they have not been overly glamorous lately… and I blame the farmers for taking too long to harvest the crop…

chicken ceasar salad is my kids favourite…  although I shudder to think about how gross it is when the farmers actually eat it…

this is about as easy as it gets…  store bought gnocchi with Prego pasta sauce, deer sausage and cheddar cheese… but oh so tasty…

(although a lot of dishes to scrub… oh the struggle of dishes)

but I took the time and was extremely excited to try this cake for the second time… first time was last harvest and I love to try recipes again and see how I can improve the recipe…

I remember seeing this when one of my favourite cookbook authors, Ina Gartner, said she would test a recipe over ten times before putting it in her cookbook…

so I can promise you this is a good cake… I’ve made it twice and loved it both times…

beets act like zucchini in the same way of making it moist…

and the salt and lemon juice in the frosting give enough tart and tang to make the cake not too sweet…

the beets making the frosting pink were a crowd pleaser for my 8 year old daughter…

frosting the cake is always the worst and best part of it…

and worst if you are rushing and trying to frost a warm cake…  it still tastes incredible but does not hold up the way a room temperature cake would hold the icing… instead it melts the icing…

and then the food gets packed up… and my daughter and I head out hoping that it can survive the journey it will take before it is consumed…

she might not have been too worried…  and she also is the one that insisted on having the umbrella in the trunk…  you just never know…

beet cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

– 2 medium beets, cleaned and unpeeled

– 2 tsp olive oil

– 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature

– 1 cup packed brown sugar

– 3/4 cup sugar

– 2 large eggs, room temperature

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 2 cups all purpose flour

– 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp kosher salt

– 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the Frosting: (I only used half this frosting recipe)

– 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

– 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

– 4 cups powdered sugar

– 2 tbsp finely grated cooked beets

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 2 tsp milk

– 1/2 tsp lemon juice

– 1/2 tsp regular salt

Directions:

– wash and cut beets into large chunks… place in tin foil with olive oil and bake on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 1 hour

– remove from oven and open up tin foil and let cool

– in a mixer, combine butter and sugar… add eggs one at a time and then vanilla

– combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt

– alternate flour mixture and buttermilk into the sugar mixture

– finally, add 3/4 cup grated beets

– put into two 9 inch cake pans that have been greased and parchment paper in the bottom of each

– bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until centre of cake is done

– let cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack and cool

– for the frosting, combine all ingredients and whip

– spread frosting in-between the two cake layers and all around it and on top

– put in fridge for an hour and then slice it and serve it

– to freeze, slice and put individual pieces in containers to freeze

 

July in Camrose

my google search this morning was ‘top things to do in Camrose, Alberta’…  the number one thing was ‘get in your car and drive away’…

then immediately I googled ‘top things to do in Dodsland, Saskatchewan’…  there was only one option for fun in Dodsland and it was the museum…  which in my 17 years of living in the area I have not ventured in…


when I googled ‘top things to do in Plenty, Saskatchewan’ (the other town I am near)… google did not recognize it…

apparently there is a theatre here in Camrose, two museums, an art gallery and an 18 hole mini golf…  all of these options, attractive and enticing as they are, did not peak my interest this morning…

let’s back up a step… why am I laying in a bed in a Canalta Hotel in Camrose you ask?  in the middle of lake season?

because I tend to like being near the farmer and follow him on all of his life adventures…  this one I maybe should have skipped…  and just let him tell me the story later…

he is in a coaching course…  for coaching hockey…  for 7 days, from 8 am – 9:30 pm, he has sessions, practices, coaching and evaluations and the most dreaded for him ‘team building’ element…

I came here late Tuesday night and spent the day today living it up in Camrose…

it all started with a morning trip to Jiffy Lube to get my oil changed…   $234 later I was all set to go…  when the farmer finally was able to check his texts and see what I spent on an oil change his comment was ‘well they saw you coming’…  which I interpreted to mean that I possibly did not get the best deal on my oil change…

next, I headed to the Starbucks for some free WiFi…  I had a few things I had to take care of…  now, being a farmer myself, I am not accustomed to hanging out in Starbucks for free WiFi…  quite the crew in there… every conversation was solving the worlds problems… and a few other ‘writers’ or ‘students’ with their laptops…

I found it difficult to concentrate and after two Venti Americano Mistos I was shaking so badly I could barely close my laptop and pack it up to get to my vehicle…  (which, by the way, purred like a kitten with the top end oil pumping through it)

after a lovely soak in the hot tub by myself, I had a shower and got ready… luckily my brother and his wife live close so I headed to Sherwood Park to go out for supper…  just a 45 minute drive but when you are this bored it was really lovely…

now, as I wait for the farmer to return as it’s nearing 10 pm, I eagerly await his return and our night out in Camrose… which most likely will entail laying in bed watching sports highlights…

it is moments like these that I think to myself…  ‘is this what it’s like to be married to a rockstar?… and if so, sign me up’

caught with your pants down

 

it all begins at a school playground… not a school my children attend but in another town…

my sons play baseball in a town that is 1 1/2 hours away…  which seems nuts to some but when you live in the middle of no where it seems perfectly normal to drive 3 hours for a 2 hour practice…

the upside of baseball practices in this town, other than hours in my vehicle with my beloved children and their friends, is that there is a fantastic school playground there…

my side-kick, Sienna, loves to come to practice just so we can walk down to the park and play at it…

it’s got this great igloo shaped, jungle gym with ropes and hammocks and all sorts of things to climb on…

when we arrived at the park no one was there, so my daughter convinced me to climb up into the maze of rope ladders and told me there was a great little hammock that I could sit in to read my book up there…  seemed like a great idea so up I went…

about 20 minutes into playing, she needed to go pee…  I actually have no idea what city people do, but us farm folk mark our territory… boys tend to barely make it off the sand to pee… girls tend to hide behind a building…

I spotted two little sheds that looked like they must store the lawnmowers and such in…  and I told her to rip over there and pee beside one of them…

(Elizabeth Taylor had nothing to do with my story but I thought she looked stunning in this picture so I had to include it)

Sienna just so happened to be wearing a jumpsuit that day…  meaning she was going to have to take the entire thing off in order to pee…

my ‘roots’ are not country, so I myself am not great at peeing outside… I believe I have attempted it around three times, coming up short twice…

so I have no idea the form or stance to teach my young daughter as she will obviously need to pee outside more than I did growing up…

it always begins with taking all your clothes off and placing them in a pile a safe distance away…  I have no idea what to do after that…

a crab like stance? attempting to pee like a boy? hands to your toes and firing backwards?

I seriously need someone to tell me how to do this successfully…

back to Sienna, huddled completely naked beside the shed at the school playground…

out of no where, this vehicle comes driving around her side of the shed…  I see a completely naked blonde girl running around the shed and quickly sneaking in between them in hopes of finding shelter…

this vehicle slowly drives around the shed and is now coming up to the playground…  at this time I’m less worried about my naked daughter and more worried about how I look…  all alone, grown adult woman hanging out by herself in the jungle gym of a playground…

the lady driving the vehicle gets out and I quickly yell at her, from my perch…

‘I have a daughter’

(whew, I think to myself… now she won’t think I’m a creep)

I couldn’t tell her where my daughter was…  naked in between the sheds…

luckily, this lady was in full panic mode looking for two little boys…  she thought they might have been at the park…

she yells up at me ‘have you seen two little boys?’

trying to sound perfectly normal and not like a strange adult sitting in a playground by themselves, I yell back ‘no, but if I do what would you like me to do?’

she gives me a weird look (probably thinking… don’t freak them out would be a start) and she yells back ‘just send them back to the rink’

‘sounds good’ I yell back as she gets in her vehicle and leaves…

I see my daughter come out of her hiding spot, put her jumpsuit back on and returns to the playground with a smile on her face…

she climbs up beside me and I say ‘well, that was embarrassing’ 

she giggled and said ‘ya’

moral of the story is, don’t judge someone completely based on first impressions… you don’t know why the strange lady is sitting up in the playground by herself and you don’t know why the little blonde girl is running around naked and hiding…

there’s always more to the story than you know