what do you want to be when you grow up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instant Pot Whole Chicken

  • Servings: one chicken
  • Print

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

{/recipe]

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

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

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

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

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

chili

Ingredients:

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

Directions:
– heat oil in a large pan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

strawberry-spinach wheat berry salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

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

Dressing:

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

Hazelnuts:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

black bean protein brownies

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

how’s harvest going?

I seldom talk to the farmer during harvest… so when asked the question ‘how is harvest going?’, I tend to have a dumb expression on my face… it’s not that I have no interest in the yields and breakdowns and which piece of land we are on… it is more the fact that I am scared to talk to the farmer…

I realized this while chatting with a friend last night…  I am afraid to let the farmer talk to me during harvest because I am the only person he is allowed to get angry with…  everyone else can get stuck in sloughs, break things off of things, spray or combine the wrong fields…  but they all get the ‘nice’ farmer…  I get the ‘real’ farmer…

so I play a bit of a ‘cat and mouse’ game with him during harvest time… if we don’t talk, he can’t take all of his frustrations out on me…  I’m still involved – getting parts, bringing out meals, moving vehicles – but I definitely try to not strike up any conversations asking how his day is going…

I know some of you reading this might think how unsupportive that is of me…  how selfish to not allow him to vent…  but that is where you are wrong…  do you think for one moment he asks me if I used Evaporated Milk in the dessert?  or how bookwork went that day?  or if the kids are alive and taken care of?

no way…  he checks out of everything in life except for what he has to think about…  farming… (oh and coaching hockey and football) and so I decide to copy him and do the same…  isn’t there some saying about ‘two ships passing in the night’…  I would say that is a pretty accurate statement of our harvest relationship…

it wasn’t always this way during harvest… there was a time where we couldn’t get enough of each others company during harvest…

Grandma Swan's Pumpkin Dessert

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 13 oz can evaporated milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • one yellow/golden cake mix
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup crushed pecans

Directions:

  • mix the pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and spices
  • pour into a greased 9×13 casserole dish
  • sprinkle a pouch of yellow cake mix over the top
  • drizzle 1 cup of melted butter over the cake mix
  • sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or more until brown on top
  • (this hardens if you put it in the fridge – so I suggest serving it warm or room temperature)

rewind 20 years… I had just met the farmer… he was not in charge of anything…  and I would make suppers and stay out combining or trucking with him until midnight even though that meant getting up early the next day to do up all the dishes…

I loved everything about harvest then…  the smells in the air, the banter on the radio…  I can remember seeing the Northern Lights and stars and thinking how amazing it all was…

and then I had kids…

the farmer’s Grandpa retired and his dad started to retire and suddenly we are exhausted…  I am trying to drive the kids all over the countryside for sports and the farmer is trying to keep combines, sprayers, grain carts and trucks all going the right directions…

and I find myself taking suppers out and hoping I can just set them all in a pile beside the field and drive away…

curried couscous cauliflower salad

Ingredients:
1 cup couscous (dry)
4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 head cauliflower)
curry powder
turmeric
ground cumin
salt
cayenne pepper
brown sugar
tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely diced carrots (about 3 carrots)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp lime juice and zest

Directions:
cook the couscous according to the package instructions, rinse in cold water and place in a large bowl
in a 450 degree oven, roast the cauliflower with the spices, sugar and oil on it until soft
let cool and add to the couscous
roast the carrots with the same spices, oil and sugar on it
for the dressing, mix the mayo, yogurt, cilantro and lime juice/zest
add the raisins and dressing to the couscous, cauliflower and carrot mixture
serve warm or chilled

part of me thinks that it is the more efficient you get on your farm, the less personal and enjoyable it is…  I don’t want to go back to having to set up a table and have everyone scoop their suppers out in the wind and cold…  but I know I want to figure out something that is a bit more personable and celebratory than handing a supper bag to someone and hoping it doesn’t get dumped upside down before they have a chance to eat it…

I love farming… I love cooking…  I just don’t love the frantic pace we have made everything function at in our world now… (that being said, I loved the speed this Instant Pot could cook my stew at!)… 

I guess you could say I feel conflicted… it’s easy to think that it was all roses and lollipops in the past… our memories tend to do that to us…  but I also know the amount that we pressure ourselves to get done in a day now is not manageable…

Insant Pot Beef Lentil Stew

Ingredients:
2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
pepper
2 (10 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp beef bouillon powder
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup dried lentils
2 cups chopped (chunky) carrots
2 cups halved mushrooms
flour slurry (1/4 cup flour + 1/4 cup water)

Directions:
Prep Day:
in a large ziplock bag, add the beef, pepper, crushed tomatoes, beef bouillon powder, onion, garlic, thyme and oregano
in another bag, add add lentils, carrots and mushrooms
place in fridge until use
Cook Day:
dump the contents of the thawed meat bag into the Instant Pot
add 4 cups water
seal the pot and set on manual for 30 minutes
after 30 minutes, quick release the pressure
add the contents of the veggie bag
set the pot on manual for 5 minutes
let the pot ‘natural pressure release’ for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure
remove the lid and mix in the flour slurry – stir ensuring no flour clumps
total cooking time will be around 1 1/2 hours

Grandma Swan's Green Bean Casserole

  • Servings: one casserole
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cut green beans
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp soya sauce
  • dash pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups French’s french fried onions

Directions:

  • in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, mix soup, milk, soya sauce and pepper
  • add the beans and coat them
  • add 2/3 cup onions and mix well
  • bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling
  • stir
  • sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup onions on top and bake for another 5 minutes
  • (I doubled this recipe)

as I packed up the supper bags, sweating and thinking it is easier to run a marathon than cook and pack up a dozen suppers, I again thought to myself – there has to be a better way to do this…  I want efficiency, but I also want to be able to smile, laugh and see how everyone’s day is going… without feeling like I am slowing down the whole process by just showing up!

we shall see if I think of anything to make taking meals to the field more enjoyable! for now, the farmers can find their suppers in a pile beside a bin…

butternut squash, chickpea and spinach coconut curry

 

one of the best things my parents did for me growing up was teaching me that there is one day out of every week that is different than the rest… Sundays in our home involved church, having Greatgrandma Price over for lunch (or a family from church) for Shake’n’Bake chicken, afternoon nap (we let the company leave before nap time), a family football game or sledding dependant on the season, family bike rides and then back to church for the evening service to wrap up the day…

out of all the mistakes they made parenting me (I’m assuming I’d be in the Olympics for something if they had done their job properly), they did Sabbath properly… they knew how to ‘unplug’ for a day every week…

fast forward to raising kids now…  and I’m struggling to find any sort of rhythm or sense of ‘work and rest’ in it all…

in a society where we can stay up all night watching Netflix it is difficult to train yourself to sleep… when we have ice in the rinks all year long it is difficult to take a break from hockey… when I can purchase Kiwi’s from Italy in December it is hard to connect to food properly…

this is why I love living on a farm… not that our farm would really be considered a ‘working farm’…  there are no cattle or animals other than dogs and cats… but I have always had a garden and our kids have definitely known how the weather and seasons affect life…

I remember when I met the farmer in college I had no clue people really did care about the weather…  getting to know his family and community I had never heard people discuss the weather more in my life…

meeting his grandmother and watching how she cooked throughout the seasons… how it changed based upon what she had growing in her garden or what she had in her root cellar…

it has me thinking that life needs seasons… for food, for activities, for friendships…  and life needs rhythm…  our weeks and months need to have a rhythm that is sustainable and life giving…

 

the days are dark right now, it is difficult to get out of bed and easy to want to curl up on the couch any chance you get…  it is time to cook warm vegetables and soups…

it is time to take care of yourself… to teach yourself that the harder you push the more need there is for times of rest as well…

my Christmas wish is to get back to rhythm… take care of those that you can this season… start by taking care of yourself… and then in your abundance you can give generously to others…

you only have one chance for today…  you can either be as busy and rushed as you want to be or you can choose to invest your time in the things you value and live life to it’s fullest… not in a lazy way but in a way that you push as hard as you can and then give yourself time to recharge so you are able to push again…

thanks mom and dad for trying to teach me this…  too bad you didn’t do enough to get me in the Olympics and I’m sure those regrets keep you awake at night… but you did teach me about Sabbath and rest… love you

butternut squash, chickpea and spinach coconut curry

Ingredients:

  • 4 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (Maldon)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tsp fresh grated ginger (1 tsp ground dry ginger)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cored and diced (around 3-4 cups)
  • 1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, strained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
  • 1 (5 oz) pkg baby spinach
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • basmati brown rice
  • chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • sweetened shredded or large flake coconut
  • lime wedges

Directions:

  • prep all the ingredients and have them ready to go
  • cook rice
  • in a large pot, heat up coconut oil and toss in onion
  • stir and season with salt
  • add garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, red pepper flakes, and curry powder
  • add the butternut squash, chickpeas, tomatoes with their juice and coconut milk
  • stir to combine, cover and simmer over med-high heat for 20-30 minutes
  • you can take a potato masher and mash 1/3 of the mixture to thicken the sauce up if you like at this point
  • stir in the spinach and cook until wilted
  • season with salt and black pepper
  • serve on rice and garnish with cilantro, coconut and squeeze lime wedges

I’m the farmer’s Cato

the farmer has the kids out hunting this morning and I am researching and dreaming up vegetarian meals for the week…

I feel like our relationship is a constant plot against one another

to me, fall time is a celebration of vegetables…

the farmer is ruled by a primal need to stock the freezer with meat for the winter…

my discovery this summer of spiralizing vegetables has forever changed my cooking…  there was a big craze quite a few years ago where you would roast or steam veggies, puree them and then secretly add them to your recipes…  Jessica Seinfeld led the way in this with her cookbooks that influenced a lot of mom’s attempts to feed their families more vegetables…

but I always thought it wasn’t the right way to do it as you are not really teaching your children to enjoy the texture and taste of the vegetables if they are hidden…

 ‘noodling’ your vegetables appeals to me more as my kids enjoy the texture and taste of the vegetables and are curious about what they are eating

one thing I do need to ‘hide’ in my cooking around here is quinoa… I’m not sure which word my family hates more… toss-up between quinoa and kale…

now, you can buy these stuffed peppers at Costco…  but if you have about an hour you can whip these up at home and give yourself a pat on the back

these are easy to make-ahead, go watch a football game and come home to pop them in the oven for 30 minutes…

I realize you might be hungry right when you get home from the football game and not want to wait around 30 minutes… but I know that my kids have supplemented their diet with burgers and pizza so I feel good about them coming home to stuffed peppers!

so the farmer keeps on hunting and I keep on gardening and we agree to disagree… I compare our relationship to the Pink Panther movies where Inspector Clouseau has his manservant surprise attack him all the time so he doesn’t lose his ‘edge’…

I like to think of the farmer as Clouseau and myself as Cato

by disagreeing constantly we keep each other sharp

Quinoa and Spiralized Sweet Potato Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 6 bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and spiralized
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • salt
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish or rimmed baking sheet
  • spray the peppers lightly with cooking spray and lay out in dish
  • in a large skillet, add olive oil
  • add sweet potato noodles and season with salt and pepper
  • cook for 5-7 minutes or until mostly wilted (not fully cooked)
  • add the quinoa, tomatoes, and seasonings
  • add black beans and corn
  • mix together and stuff the peppers with the mixture
  • sprinkle each pepper with cheese and bake for 30 minutes
  • remove from the oven and serve with cilantro and avocado

roasted beet & chickpea salad, Italian breadsticks, bacon wrapped chicken, zesty black beans and banana loaf

when your nine year old daughter asks you ‘what is a Kardashian?’…  and your response is ‘it’s a role model honey’…  you know you have this parenting thing down…

now that I feel like a master parent, on to becoming a master chef…

after continuous sugar desserts, I thought perhaps the farmers would enjoy and healthier option to end their meal with…

when I’m not spending time watching the Kardashian show to learn how to be a parent, I either watch cooking shows or running videos on YouTube…

the cooking shows/podcasts have led me to understand that spelt flour is better than all-purpose flour… and the more you can use superfood ingredients such as Costco’s Goldenberry or molasses… the better it is for you…

so this delicious loaf seems like you are doing your body a favour… and I’m not kidding this time… this is good for you!

worried that this loaf might be a bit too healthy looking, I opted to keep it for the kids lunches and made some banana loaf instead…

ginger-molasses bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour (all-purpose if you don’t have spelt)
  • 1” knob of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup greek yogurt, plain
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup goldenberries (or raisins)
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grease 9×5” loaf pan with cooking spray
  • in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda
  • in a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, molasses, butter, and orange zest
  • add to the dry ingredients and stir just enough to bring batter together
  • add golden berries and fold in
  • pour into the loaf pan and bake until a butter knife inserted into the centre comes out clean, 40-45 minutes
  • cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes
  • turn the loaf out and let cool completely on the rack

spelt banana walnut loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour (or all-purpose flour if you don’t have spelt)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed banana (4 ripe bananas)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped goldenberries (or golden raisins)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grease 9×5” loaf pan with cooking spray
  • in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt
  • in a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar
  • scrape down and add eggs
  • add bananas and vanilla
  • pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined
  • fold in walnuts, goldenberries and chocolate chips
  • pour into the loaf pan
  • bake for 50-60 minutes until a butter knife inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean
  • transfer to wire rack and cool for 15 minutes
  • turn loaf out and cool completely

to balance off the healthy dessert, I then made the trusted and true Italian breadsticks…

the kids had finally got home from school so I could put them to work packing up the loaf and breadsticks…  what I learnt from the Kardashians is that hard work pays off…

golden Italian breadsticks

  • Servings: 1 large baking sheet
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Ingredients:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp instant rise yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup Golden Italian Dressing
  • 1 bag or 320 g Italiano Grated Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmenson Cheese
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  • mix flour, sugar, salt and yeast till combined in a Bosch dough mixer or a mixer with a dough hook
  • add warm water and oil and mix for around 5-7 minutes until well combined
  • turn into a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel and let rise till it has doubled it’s size, around 45 minutes
  • line a 18×12 baking sheet with parchment paper
  • dump dough out onto baking sheet and press out with hands to the edges of the pan
  • spread with a spatula the golden Italian dressing over the dough
  • sprinkle the grated cheese
  • top with the seasonings
  • bake at 425 degrees for 16 minutes or until golden brown
  • let cool and slice into breadsticks
  • wrap in tin foil to put in supper bags

wrapping bacon around things always looks so great in pictures… and then you attempt it and you are mad at whoever made it look easy…

so instead of being mad at me, I’ll tell you it is frustrating and hard…

so after making up the wrapped version for the farmers, I made the lazy version for my kids…  just cut up the chicken and layered on the spinach, slightly cooked bacon and feta…

same ingredients but I probably saved at least half an hour of work…

if you are a fancy person and like wrapping bacon around things, these long wooden squerers are a must…

back to the healthy again, the side I went with for the bacon wrapped chicken was this zesty black bean mixture…  which I did selfishly because wanted to eat it…

if you have never used chipotle peppers before, they add a lot of heat to a dish…  one is enough…  and recently I discovered you can freeze the rest of the peppers (individually) and use them in the future… so you aren’t wasting the whole can for one pepper…

I had some homemade chicken stock that I added to this bean mixture and right at the end you add lime juice and zest…

zesty black beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo (canned), chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • zest of one lime

Directions:

  • heat oil in a large heavy-bottom pot over med/high heat
  • add onion, carrots, and salt and cook
  • add garlic and cook
  • add the beans, chile pepper, cumin, bay leaf and chicken stock
  • cover and reduce heat to very low simmer for 1 hour
  • prior to serving, add the lime juice and zest

if you are interested in protein and are training for the Crossfit Games… this main dish is for you…

last of all an easy salad…  apple cider vinaigrette drizzled over spinach with roasted beets, chickpeas and red onions…

I had roasted the beets, chickpeas and onions in the morning and had put in the fridge for the day so it was easy to assemble in the mad rush to pack suppers up…

if I put chickpeas in or on everything I think the farmer will finally get the hint to grow some chickpeas!!!

as this fall heat wave continues and harvest keeps rolling along, sunsets on the prairies are some of the best you’ll see anywhere…  I generally like to enjoy them with a glass of wine and this is why I’m usually in bed before my nine year old daughter…

I feel like the Kardashians would approve though

Nellie’s potato salad, black bean enchilada bake & carrot cake muffins

once or twice a year I make potato salad… salads in general can take a long time to make and potato salad is up there for wrecking most of your afternoon…

this summer though I discovered THE best way to cook potatoes from the garden… 12 minutes on manual in the Instant Pot with about a cup of water…

I like to imagine (seeings how I’m not a scientist) that this is the best way to preserve all the goodness of the potato and guarantee all the goodness is getting into your belly…

like a marriage made in heaven for potato salad lovers, the Instant Pot is also THE best way to hard boil eggs…  5 minutes on manual with 1/2 cup water or so and they are perfectly done and the shell peels off like Clark Kent changing into Superman…

(I’m attempting to get better at sayings… the farmer says I’m terrible… until he reads that)

another summer experiment with bacon that I have to share… THE best way to cook bacon… if you don’t have an open fire and a pitch fork…

cut the bacon into chunks, toss in a pot and cook!  I strain it once and then again at the end and place on paper towel…  perfect bacon…

the nice thing is you can use this strainer for the bacon and potatoes and then throw it in the dishwasher…

I realize I’m making a lot of bold claims as far as best ways to cook things… but get ready for another claim…

THE best potato salad dressing recipe… the farmer has always considered himself to be the best judge of two things… potato salad and chowder…

and he insists that the best recipe for potato salad dressing is Nellie’s…  (don’t tell him but I tweaked it…  and he has no idea)

the way I like to stack up the potato salad is in layers… with each ingredient and dressing and repeat… then into the fridge with it (preferably 6-8 hours or overnight… poor planning only allowed mine to be in a few hours before I had to dish it up)

THE best potato salad

  • Servings: you decide
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Ingredients:

Salad:

  • red potatoes, preferably fresh from the garden
  • hard boiled eggs
  • green onions
  • red onion
  • dill pickles
  • radishes
  • cooked bacon

Dressing:

  • 2 cups good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard (not dijon… just the good old yellow stuff)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 white vinegar
  • 1 tsp tarragon

Directions:

  • cook similar sized potatoes (or cut them to similar size) in Instant Pot on manual for 12 minutes with a cup of water
  • cut the potatoes into chewable chunks (carefully so you don’t mush them… mushy potatoes in a potato salad is wrong)
  • cook eggs in Instant Pot with 1/2 cup water on manual for 5 minutes
  • in layers, place ingredients and dressing
  • allow to cool in refrigerator 6-8 hours or overnight

I had leftover cream cheese frosting so the obvious solution was to make carrot cake… the farmer’s solution was to keep taking spoonfuls of icing during his sleepwalking/eating episodes in the night…

we are having a pretty dry spell this summer and my carrots are not getting any larger than this I believe…

exhausted from making potato salad I opted for making these into cupcakes instead of cake…  easier for me and easier for the farmers…

***notice I used orange muffin cups to match the carrots???  cooking for farmers is all in the details***

carrot cake muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups loosely packed, grated carrot
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • line muffin tins and spray with cooking oil spray
  • whisk oil, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla
  • in a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices
  • add carrots to the dry mixture
  • add to the egg/sugar mixture and fold
  • using a large ice cream scoop, scoop batter into muffin tins
  • bake for around 20-25 minutes or until firm in the middle
  • remove and allow to cool on wire rack completely
  • when cool, ice with cream cheese frosting

I sliced up some garlic bread from Costco to go with probably my favourite casserole I have ever made.. black bean enchilada bake…

yes… I promised the farmer meat but I bet he didn’t notice I forgot this meal…

scooping this up for 14 farmers tonight I was thankful my kids are gone right now with their grandparents to Kelowna…  no leftovers around here!

this time of year in harvest it gets a little scary to run on the gravel roads as semi’s and tractors and sprayers go ripping by, covering you in dust if they don’t hit you first…

so it’s a great time to get out in the coulee’s with the dogs… harvest sunsets are the best

check you for ticks 

I felt something crawling down the side of my forehead… I lifted my hand up and grabbed it…  took one look and placed it in the sink and crushed it with the backside of a spoon that was in there…

I had a silent scream inside me but was in the middle of making a soup for supper and was on a time crunch so I put it out of my mind and continued on…

the old me would have thrown things, screamed, possibly cried and for sure freaked out on the farmer for the fact that we lived somewhere that had ticks…

I almost don’t even recognize this new version of myself… this is what having dogs, kids and living on a farm does to someone… nothing seems to startle me anymore…

a little background information – it was supposed to rain that night so I decided it was time to get my garden in…  we have a new little puppy, Winter, who was very excited to plant it with me…

my other two dogs tend to go on adventures and upon realizing the amount of ticks they were coming back to the yard with I promptly got them some medication that kills the ticks when they bite the dogs…  I’m pretty sure it is really terrible stuff but when it’s the option of 30 ticks on your dog or possible liver damage,  I chose the miracle pill for them…

my little puppy has a vet appointment coming up so I was waiting to chat with the vet about what to do for her…

as I began seeding the front of the garden, Winter had wondered off into the back of the yard where the longer grass and trees are… I was so absorbed in planting my Kohl Rabi that it did not occur to me she was frolicking around in prime ‘tick’ grounds…

upon her return to the garden plot, she was in a playful mood…  I was seeding potatoes by then and she was attempting to steal my potatoes from me…  I thought this was cute and adorable and decided to play along with her…

so we wrestled for the potatoes, me pushing and tickling her and her getting her nose and face in every hole I dug to place a potatoe in…  during this play time, I made the decision to head butt her a few times… I even growled at her for fun…

rubbing my head all over her face and ears and neck…  

looking back on this decision now I perhaps deserved the tick on my forehead… I perhaps was even willing a tick to be on my forehead…

mistakes were made… I shockingly still have much to learn about this farm life…

when my children arrived home, I was just about done making the soup and going to head to burn my clothes and have a shower…

I called to my 15 year old boy something that perhaps ruined a few country songs for him… “quickly come check me for ticks”…  the pale look on his face told me that perhaps I should have not ruined our already fragile teenager/mom relationship and should have enlisted the 8 year old… but I couldn’t trust her to be thorough enough…  he gave a quick check though my hair and behind my ears and then went to his room to daydream about moving away someday…

this soup is so delicious it was worth it for me to stick it out making it…  it was in the farmer’s lunch the next day and he texted me that next to Clam Chowder, this is the second favourite soup he has ever had…

I had seaweed in my one basket with sushi making supplies (this has not happened in years but I don’t think this stuff goes bad… I could be wrong)… so it was exciting to use it in a soup – similar to how you use a bay leaf…  to season the broth…

the dill flavoured olive oil I purchased at a school fundraiser tastes unreal… I drizzled it on the cauliflower and roasted it… the kids almost ate all of it off the pan before I could put it on the soup…

imagine a distraught 15 year old slurping this seaweed died broth and spilling it onto his white baseball pants right before we had to leave to go to a game…

I didn’t have to imagine it…

curry lentil coconut soup with charred cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 can unsweetened full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup lentils (red or green)
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 3 inch strip kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 3 cups arugula or kale (stems removed)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped

Directions:

  • in a soup pot, on medium/high heat, add oil, carrots, onion and salt
  • saute for 5 minutes and add garlic
  • add broth, coconut milk, lentils, curry powder and seaweed strip
  • cover and let simmer until lentils are soft
  • remove seaweed strip and add arugula and lime juice
  • serve with charred cauliflower spears on top
  • for the cauliflower, heat oven to 450 degrees
  • chop cauliflower and place on parchment covered baking sheet
  • drizzle olive oil (I loved the dill flavoured olive oil) on
  • sprinkle with salt and cumin
  • mix and spread out to bake
  • bake for 25 minutes

for a simple dessert (I had put these in the farmer’s suppers), cocoa coconut macaroons are easy and quick…

and when your entire world has been shaken by a tiny little tick, you need some simple dishes you can send out to the farmers…

as calm as I was, I am now considering telling my vet I lost one of the pills for my dogs and need another one… and consuming it myself…

if only they made pills for mosquitoes we’d be invincible!

cocoa coconut macaroons

 Ingredients:

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  • in a bowl, combine ingredients
  • using a medium sized ice cream scoop, press coconut mixture firmly into the scoop and release onto a parchment lined baking sheet
  • bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes
  • macaroons should be slightly hard on the outside and soft inside
  • if you would like, melt some chocolate in the microwave and drizzle over the macaroons and sprinkle with salt

burritos to the field

May is a big month…

aside from the small thing called ‘seeding’ going on, there is spring hockey and baseball to get the kids to…  there is a yard to take care of and a garden to plant…  my birthday and Mother’s Day all in the same busy month for the poor farmer to deal with… (and let me tell you I don’t let him cut any corners… this year I got a card and an InstaPot out of him)

also, for the second year I am running a half-marathon at the end of May…

in February when a friend suggested I talk to her running coach I was still not sure if I was even going to ever run another half-marathon again…

the only thing that got me through the last one was a saying I repeated over and over again as I was running… ‘go as fast as you can because you will never do this again’… 

but alas, here I am on Mother’s Day running 10 miles on my treadmill… (it was raining outside and ironically I watched the movie ‘Mother’s Day’ on Netflix)

the difference this year is that these selfies I take get sent to my running coach, Irene…  not the farmer (who am I kidding… I send them to both… and occasionally some friends to brighten their day)

I anxiously await every Sunday for Irene to email me my workout schedule…  I liken it to when I was younger waiting for the Sears Wish Book to show up in the mail…

she sends me three running plans and two workout plans…

what she gets in return is daily updates on how my training is going, along with the selfies and some occasional pictures of the road and my dogs…

we maybe didn’t set the ground rules firmly right off the get go as to how much of my personal life she wants to know about…

I tend to error on the side of ‘every last detail’

a good amount of my training this year has been on my trusty old treadmill… which my dad bought for me when I got married…  so 18 years ago…

I assumed it was a hint that he had noticed I gained 20 lbs at college and perhaps needed a new hobby other than eating…

at first I thought I could never run for that long on a treadmill… and then I discovered the wonderful world of Netflix

you barely know you are working out when you have Grace and Frankie on… or House of Cards or the Crown… most recently I really started to get into documentaries… specifically food documentaries…

the issue I was having was when I would passionately tell the farmer about the latest cause I was concerned about, I realized that I do not retain very much from these sweaty viewings and that they all seem to get jumbled in my head and leave me with a overwhelming sense of the world is awful and we as humans are morons...

the farmer advised me to go back to my ‘lighter’ shows and maybe limit the ‘world is ending documentaries’ to one a week…

this wild rice salad I thought was delicious but was worried might look a little too healthy for the farmers so I threw some homemade croutons on top…  well, my 13 year old son did… that is him packing up the salads… I was probably busy watching Netflix…

wild rice salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 6 radishes, diced
  • 3 cups loosely packed, finely chopped kale (without the stems)
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or edamame)
  • ground black pepper

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

  • bring 4 cups salted water to boil
  • add rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes
  • allow the rice to cool
  • add remaining ingredients and dressing
  • for the dressing – in a small mason jar shake the ingredients for the dressing until well combined
  • let the salad marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to serving

next on the cooking list for the day was burritos…  I had the brilliant idea to use butternut squash instead of meat… you can feel free to omit that step!

upon some reflection while eating the burrito I decided next time to cut the butternut squash a bit smaller… then you don’t get a big chunk of squash as you bite your burrito…

burritos are possibly one of my favourite food items…  you get your bean/squash mixture well simmered, your coconut lime rice (best rice recipe ever) and assembly line ready and away you go!

after years of making chicken wraps in the booth at the rink I have toyed with different ways to wrap a burrito… this is currently my go to…

tin foil halfway up and plastic wrap doing the rest of the work…

butternut squash burritos

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cups peeled, chopped butternut squash
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Bragg’s
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 10 large flour tortillas
  • options: coconut lime rice, salsa, lettuce, avocado, cilantro

Directions:

  • in a skillet, cook onion in oil
  • add butternut squash, jalapeño, chili powder and smoked paprika
  • stir around for about a minute
  • add Bragg’s and beer and sprinkle in the garlic
  • cover and reduce heat
  • cook for around 20 minutes
  • fold in the beans, lime juice and syrup
  • simmer until liquid is absorbed and remove from the heat
  • assemble the burritos with the ingredients you prefer

coconut lime rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups brown rice (or rice of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

Directions:

  • heat oil
  • add rice and saute for around 2 minutes
  • add the lime zest and stir
  • add garlic, broth and salt
  • bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, cover and softly simmer for around 35 minutes
  • when rice is tender, remove from heat and fold in lime juice

last but not least the dessert…  this one is easy easy… and packed with things that can make me run faster!!!

springform pans are ingenious … and this cake really will only take you a few minutes to throw together…

I like to sample the first slice for quality control reasons…

almond flour cake

Ingredients:

  • unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 5 cups almond flour
  • 3/4 cup raw sliced almonds

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grease 9” springform pan with butter
  • in a mixing bowl, mix eggs, maple syrup, oil, almond extract, lemon zest and salt
  • add the almond flour and stir
  • pour the batter into the springform pan
  • sprinkle the almond slices over it
  • bake for 40-45 minutes
  • cool the cake on a wire rack
  • cut into 12 pieces

who will cook? 

who will cook?  not me…  is generally the answer most would gravitate to… it was my 38th birthday yesterday and I’m not exactly sure what age it hit me at that I would cook… and enjoy cooking…  but it didn’t begin that way…

when I first met the farmer at college, I was 19 and had no desire to cook…  I did not care about healthy food and I had absolutely no skills relating to the kitchen… (my skill set was pretty limited to tell the truth – hard to really say exactly what I was skilled at… unless watching tv is a skill)

add to that the fact that I am a feminist and part of the reason I did not want to cook was the stigma of the woman’s role is in the kitchen…  so I didn’t want to end up in there…

so when I fell in love with the farmer and moved to a town of 350 people and no fast food or restaurant options, I didn’t realize the cooking learning curve I would be on…

I was 20, newly married and no dishwasher, when his grandmother came to my house and handed me all of her ‘meal to the field’ dishes and told me she was happy to be done with them…

this is when I realized one of my roles in our farming adventure would be cooking half of the meals for the farmers in seeding and harvest…

I hated it…  I was not interested in food and found it all very overwhelming… (and it was significantly cutting into the time I could spend watching Young and the Restless and Passions)

I had two very good examples of cooks in my life – the farmer’s mother and her mother – who I thought were miracle workers in the kitchen…  they both had giant gardens, an ability to pull a meal together with zero dishes in sight and made the meal an exciting part of the day…

but I was still young and started having kids and felt like breakfast, lunch, dinner and meals to the field were a nuisance and a never ending, exhausting job I wish someone else would do for me…

(these lentils by the way are courtesy of our farm!)

what changed everything for me was Pioneer Woman…  Ree Drummond’s blog changed my life…

her bio is even similar to mine…  she grew up on the seventh hole of a golf course…  she fell in love with a farmer (rancher)

and what she did for me was taught me how to love farming…  love the art and soul of it… this whole new world of seeing life in the middle of no where as exciting, artistic, adventure filled and peaceful spoke to me…

not only did it show me I could cook – but I could fall in love with my life of cooking, cleaning, raising kids and farming…

my suggestion if you do not enjoy cooking – fake it till you make it…  find some beautiful blogs or cookbooks, convince yourself you enjoy the process of cooking and see what happens…

there are so many options for food in our modern society today that cooking has become optional… if we are going to cook, it has to be because we want to…

we have to believe that it is important, pleasurable and necessary for our overall health and happiness…

sure enough, without even really noticing the change, I began to love to cook…

I could see how happy it made others when I took the time to prepare a meal for them… and it filled me with joy when I could finally make Great-Grandma Swan’s lemon meringue pie…

I realized that it was a form of art – and was also my job…  most importantly, it was the easiest way to give my family and workers a chance at a good day…

a homemade meal is perhaps the best thing to put a little pep in your step and make you feel content…

it is the time that people gather to tell each other about their day… I learned that it is my way of giving what I can to nourish my family and make others happy…

I put out of my mind the dishes and drudgery and instead see it as my contribution to this world…   the ease of packaged foods is so alluring but does not feed the body or soul the way home cooking does…

some days – like on my birthday – I like to splurge and make it more complicated… other days, like when you have to be at three different baseball diamonds, it needs to be simple and nutritious…

but it always involves a bit of a grocery plan, a bit of a prep plan and if you learn to embrace this as a process that gets you to a great meal every night then it starts to seem worth it…

having kids and farming were my husbands idea…  cooking has been my idea… it does take time – I still can’t make sourdough bread…  but I know that dedicating a certain part of your life to cooking is not time wasted…  

I do wonder how many hours of my 38 years have been spent in the kitchen…  when I feel like I was the least likely person to end up there in the first place…  

here’s to many more years spent in the kitchen…

vegetable lentil salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4” thick coins
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2” thick slices
  • 2 small red peppers, cut into 1/2” squares
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 2-3 cups cooked red lentils

Dressing:

  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  • cut up all the salad ingredients
  • in a Vitamix, add all ingredients for dressing and blend
  • pour in the vegetable oil while blending – you should get around 1 cup of dressing
  • in a steamer, add the carrots and cauliflower first for 3 minutes
  • add the rest of the vegetables (not the spinach)
  • place spinach in a big bowl with lentils
  • add the steamed vegetables and pour on the dressing
  • serve immediately