taco quinoa salad, greek fried chicken with parsnip puree and new potatoe wedges and beet cake

oh my word, here we go… harvest 2020… some absolutely gorgeous hot weather (the farmer told me that it felt like the hottest day he has ever combined on… not fun to work in but great for drying out crops) has us able to get combining the peas

we truly feel like a ‘family farm’ for the first time this fall as we have all been stuck together for the last 5 months and are still stuck together but at least with some big jobs to do now! I shouldn’t be surprised why the farmer is able to function on at least 4 hours less sleep than me normally and can log big days when I realize now that he was doing this ever since he was 16… which is my youngest sons age who has been suddenly thrown into 16 hours days…

quinoa taco salad

Ingredients:
Salad:
1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
iceburg lettuce (1 head)
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 (14 oz) can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
2 bell peppers, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips (or as much as you like)
for topping: chopped avocado and sour cream
Dressing:
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp ketchup
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
the taco meat and and quinoa can be made ahead
season the taco meat with the cumin, garlic powder and chilli powder
for the salad, mix everything in a big bowl without the tortilla chips
for the dressing – I use a Nutribullet to whisk up the dressing… you can also shake it up
add the tortilla chips and dressing right before serving

you would think not eating out once in a restaurant in 5 months and cooking for my family for that long that I would be less than excited to start taking meals out to a bunch of farmers… you would be wrong… this is far more exciting than cooking for my family… (which I had kind of given up on doing anyways)

part of the excitement was the pleasure of the season right now… some good farmer friends of ours delivered chickens and also parsnips from their pasture and I was able to use these to cook up a meal… I then got to deliver it to the field we were combining which we rent from these farmers… days like this make me truly feel like a farmer living off the land or a hippie in Seattle living in CHAZ… perhaps farmers were ‘autonomous’ before it was cool to be?

really interesting some of the things they have planted in their pastures this year and the parsnips were excellent!

I feel like this chicken looks similar to how I felt this summer in my bathing suit… even the farmer didn’t pretend that I hadn’t put on a few pounds… in college I called it the ‘freshman 20’ (I think it was supposed to be 15)... now I’m calling it the ‘covid 20’... I find weight gain easier to deal with when you name it… kind of how all the Big Brother contestants have to ‘name’ their alliances…

in true autonomous farmer style – no part is wasted and these carcasses ended up in my freezer to later be boiled for broth… (life hack – use the word ‘autonomous’ as much as you want… if someone corrects you just tell them ‘you govern your own vocabulary’) I kept these other ‘do-dads’ I found as well… I’m not even going to guess what they are… I’m just hopeful the one thing is not a human thumb

I was very worried this was not going to be enough chicken for the crew and I’m sure two pieces each perhaps was not enough for some (just my sons maybe), but it cooked up nicely with the yummiest seasoning on it…

what I have left out so far in describing this first meal to the field is that my daughter is now 12 and she actually basically made this meal… I just stand and take photos now… it’s really nice and I pay her ‘her age’ by the hour… so basically she’ll want to live with me till she is 40 and get $40 per hour to do my work for me…

parsnip puree

Ingredients:
4 cups parsnips, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
in a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the parsnips and chicken broth
bring to a boil and reduce heat
simmer for 15 minutes or until parsnips are fork tender
transfer the parsnips and remaining cooking broth to a blender
add the coconut milk, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper
blend until smooth

she does remind me of my Grandma Reed… loves cooking and not extremely interested in dishes… so I find myself doing a lot of the ‘grunt labour’ in the kitchen… guess who had to wash the potatoes?

garden potatoes are huge by this time of year and slice perfectly for these yummy greek wedges… I don’t know why I do this – but I like to slice them into the wedges, throw the wedges in cold water and then pat dry on a tea towel before putting them on a pan… perhaps I have seen this somewhere before?

Sienna once again got the glamorous job of harvesting the fresh herbs to place on the potatoes and chicken… it is a small miracle everything stayed alive this year! silver lining of Covid? I perhaps will refrain from telling the farmer’s poor Grandma who has been locked in her room for 5 months how well my parsley is doing…

greek chicken thighs with potatoe wedges

Ingredients:
Potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, halved and sliced into 1/4 inch wedges
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Chicken:
2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (I just cut up a whole chicken)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Potatoes:
preheat oven to 400 degrees
place potato wedges in a 9×13 baking dish
add the rest of ingredients
mix and spread in an even layer, not touching
bake for around 1 hour and toss every 20 minutes
Chicken:
line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
arrange chicken thighs in a single layer, not touching
pat dry the tops and drizzle each thigh with olive oil to coat
mix together the seasoning
sprinkle over the thighs
bake until cooked through and skin is crispy and golden brown, 35-45 minutes (depending on size) at 400 degrees
let cool for 10 minutes

to continue with the root veggie theme of the dinner… we made beet cake… I’ve posted this and made it a few times for previous harvests and it is still one of my absolute favourite cakes… Sienna struggles to see why I must put beets or zucchini in cakes, but even she was a believer after eating a piece… so moist… (also, realizing I hate that word but cannot think of a different way to describe how moist it is)

I roasted up way to many beets but actually love having these for leftovers to cut up and put on a salad or something… (or eat whole like I also did and then pee and quickly google to see if red pee was a Covid symptom) it appears I am fine and that one pees red after consuming large amounts of beets… Dwight Shrute would have been disappointed in me…

cake is easily my favourite thing to make… and then eat…

frosting is easily Sienna’s favourite thing to make… and then eat…

we are no pros at the icing of cakes… but we know you wait till the cake is cool and then you proceed to eat half the frosting while you ice it… this recipe is great because it makes way to much frosting for the cake so eat away while you ice!

root veggies for the win… (oh – cream and sugar as well)

#staysafe… this I mean to all my farmer friends… lots of big machinery and big hours… stay safe out there! happy harvesting!

beet cake

Ingredients:
For the Cake:
– 2 medium beets, cleaned, unpeeled and cut in half
– 2 tsp olive oil
– 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature
– 1 cup packed brown sugar
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 2 large eggs, room temperature
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 cups all purpose flour
– 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp kosher salt
– 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
For the Frosting: (I only used half this frosting recipe)
– 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
– 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
– 4 cups powdered sugar
– 2 tbsp finely grated cooked beets
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 tsp milk
– 1/2 tsp lemon juice
– 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
– wash and cut beets into half… place in tin foil with olive oil, cover with more tin foil and bake on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 1 hour
– remove from oven and open up tin foil and let cool
– in a mixer, combine butter and sugar… add eggs one at a time and then vanilla
– combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt
– alternate flour mixture and buttermilk into the sugar mixture
– finally, add 3/4 to 1 cup grated beets
– put into two 9 inch cake pans that have been greased and parchment paper in the bottom of each
– bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until centre of cake is done
– let cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack and cool
– for the frosting, combine all ingredients and whip
– make sure the cake is room temperature and then spread frosting in-between the two cake layers and all around it and on top
– to freeze, slice and put individual pieces in containers to freeze

beet cake – take 2

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

everyone should get to be alone on Mondays…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

beet cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

– 2 medium beets, cleaned and unpeeled

– 2 tsp olive oil

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

– 1 cup packed brown sugar

– 3/4 cup sugar

– 2 large eggs, room temperature

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 2 cups all purpose flour

– 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp kosher salt

– 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

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

– 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

– 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

– 4 cups powdered sugar

– 2 tbsp finely grated cooked beets

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 2 tsp milk

– 1/2 tsp lemon juice

– 1/2 tsp regular salt

Directions:

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

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

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

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

– alternate flour mixture and buttermilk into the sugar mixture

– finally, add 3/4 cup grated beets

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

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

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

– for the frosting, combine all ingredients and whip

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

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

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