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
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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…

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
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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

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

football party in the field

NFL is back!!!   the kids and I decided the farmers needed some football party grub in the field to kick things off…

so I dug out the Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook and made some football food for the field

my daughter and I prepped for the seven layer dip the night before

the next day we adding the avocado to the pico de gallo and finished up the dips… thought they were super cute but most likely a bit of a challenge to eat in the field!

but oh so cute

this cookbook is not a diet cookbook… but I have done her superbowl party food three times now and have enjoyed it!

on to making the Dr Pepper cupcakes… it bothered me to no end that the allspice did not match my other spices…  really, really bothered me…

cupcakes made up of Dr Pepper, dried cherries, dates and spices… mmmm…

not sure who actually could drink a full Dr Pepper…  but it’s what the recipe called for so now I have extra that are going to go in the supper bags to the field!

it took more time than I had slotted to make these… you are warned…

let these babies completely cool down before you ice

and then let your kids decorate them to let all the farmers know who to cheer for!

Dr Pepper cupcakes!

potato skins… another time consuming treat…  here is a shot of before and after of roasting the potatoes… generally you would use russet potatoes but I used the red skinned potatoes from my garden and they worked just fine…

I brushed them with canola oil and sprinkled them with seasoning salt

I would advice listening to an audiobook while spooning them out… brush them with butter and return to oven to crisp up

grated cheddar cheese and pre-cooked bacon go in and again into the oven to melt the cheese…  last ingredients are sour cream and green onion

potato skins might be my favourite snack food… although I do have a few…

lastly…  BBQ sliders

I was in a hurry so I might not have followed the recipe exactly… for the sliders I used bison and ground beef…  added salt, lemon pepper and Worcestershire sauce…

for the sauce I cooked onions, canned jalapeños and bbq sauce

best part – they are super easy! throw the sliders on the bbq, place on a dinner roll and cover in sauce…

and there you have it… kickoff to football season in the field!!!

GO PACKERS… GO STEELERS

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

pesto potato salad, teddy bear chili and blueberry polenta scones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

teddy bear chili

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ok two… I ate two…

blueberry polenta scones

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

pesto potato salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

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

Pesto:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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