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

 

meal to the field #10

I’m in Calgary watching Food Network with two of my children in a hotel room… while the farmer is combining canola… and we aren’t in Austin… yes, Austin… if you have been anywhere near me lately you have heard me complain… and then I complained on Facebook today just to really make sure I didn’t miss anyone in my complaining of missing my vacation…

the farmer and I like to do a once a year trip that makes up for the fact we have zero date nights all year long… we have visited baseball and football stadiums, hockey arenas, beaches and concerts…  this was a festival we were going to attend… Austin City Limits… and it sure looked amazing…

food, music and being in a city… doesn’t get much better than that… farmer’s like to vacation to cities… the joy of riding someone else’s subway/metro is just so exhilarating…  instead I had to drive over 5 hours in my Suburban today wreaking of hockey equipment… with a seven year old asking every 13 minutes ‘how long until we get there?’….

now I know everyone reading this would love me to go on and on about how angry I am at the weather for ruining my lovely vacation with my husband… but alas I must talk about food… because we are still combining and the food is still getting made…

black bean salad… this is one of my all time favourites… and so great to make up and take in your lunch until everyone around you is like… ‘how much salad did you make?’… and you say… ‘enough for 2 weeks of lunches… get used to it’…

again… I am a stay-at-home farmer’s wife so I have no idea how lunch conversations go…

my cats and dogs never bug me about what I’m eating…

black bean salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cans (19 oz) black beans, strained and rinsed
  • 25 oz frozen corn
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, diced
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped fine
  • 2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Directions:

  • mix all ingredients together
  • let chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving
  • keeps very well in the fridge

my earliest memories of cooking… taco shells… growing up I swear we had tacos once a week if not more… and my mom was so great at letting me make a mess of the kitchen to make the taco shells…

in a time period where packaged food and Costco were just new… this was the one thing my mom drew the line on… we had homemade taco shells… and if you ever taste one… or make one… you will never go back…

mom's taco shells

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups water

Directions:

  • mix ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes
  • in a 12” saucepan on medium/high heat pour just under 1/2 cup of batter into the saucepan
  • turn the saucepan until the batter has covered the entire bottom of the pan and cook that side until it starts to lift
  • flip and cook the other side for another minute

and the meat that you put in them… well this is what I do… but really go ahead and fill them with whatever you so desire to…

the ground deer is from my son Brandon’s first deer he shot last year…  the bison is from my husband running one off a cliff and recovering the meat…  I made the kids winter boots out of the hide…

oh wait… that’s a lie… Bennett’s have bison and I get it from them… I’m not sure if they run them all off a cliff or not… I haven’t asked…

taco meat

  • Servings: 12-14 taco fillings
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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground deer
  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp Club House Taco Seasoning (more to taste)
  • 1/2 (398 mL) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup salsa

Directions:

  • fry up meat and onion and add taco seasoning
  • if meat is fatty you will have to strain off the fat before you season it
  • add tomato sauce and salsa


beet cake is my favourite cake…  happy no vacation to me…

  

“beet

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:
– 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 kosher 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

meal to the field #8

my farm is nestled between two towns, one with a population hovering around 200 and the other at around 300… the smaller town has the store and school… the larger town has the bank, rink and doctor’s clinic… neither have a paved street but both have a post office and a bar…

if you come to this area, you will meet farmers, oil field workers, teachers, nurses, mechanics, truckers, electricians, hunters, hutterites… and the odd person running from the law trying to hide in the middle of no where…  I quickly realized after my first trip here to meet the farmer’s family that my choice of occupation (should the relationship pan out) was going to be limited… thus me becoming a stay-at-home mom…

it was rather difficult at first to be a stay-at-home mom… not the stay-at-home part so much but more the mom part… when your children are little you really do stay at home and lose your mind…  I like to look back on those years fondly as the ‘dark days’…  back when words like ‘I’m bored’ came out of my mouth…  or ‘play-date’…

then last year when my youngest went to grade one and it is the time that most stay-at-home mom’s get a job my farmer husband told me to take a year to figure out what I feel should be the next step in my life… I currently am in my second year figuring that out…

but one thing I know I have to do every day is cook… and this has made me think that when I cook I want it to be fulfilling and artistic and inspiring and interesting… if I have to devote this much time to something I might as well become as interested in it as possible and try to create things that not only feed a belly but feed my soul….

and this brings me to the topic of cream cheese…

 

I love cream cheese…  ever since I discovered in college ‘the Great Canadian Bagel’ store where you could buy bagels and cream cheese in mass quantities and then eat it at your leisure in your dorm room while watching ‘Pretty Woman’ for the 24th time wondering who the lucky guy to discover you was going to be…

last harvest I went on a major cream cheese kick…  I went to our store in the smaller town and picked up four blocks of cream cheese just for the meal I was doing that night… when you are giving the food to ten farmers that means they each are getting around 3.2 oz of cream cheese each…

I was purchasing the cream cheese and a few other baking supplies like eggs, baking powder and graham cracker crumbs and a man beside me in line started to chat…

he was purchasing beef jerky, two Red Bull’s, a pre-made sub and a family sized bag of chips…  again, I had the baking supplies and cream cheese…

 he said to me ‘hey…. (nodding his head towards me so I knew he was referring to me)…  you from around here?’ … I politely replied  ‘no… just on my way through and decided to grab four packages of cream cheese and some graham cracker crumbs to tide me over’…

I always wonder if I had shown a little interest where that relationship could have gone…  I picture it heading the direction of a scary version of ’50 Shades of Grey’…  not the wealthy, helicopter version but more the ‘this Red Room has rats in it and is in a dirt basement’ version…

which brings me back to cream cheese… put it in as many things as you can… icings, potatoes, soups, cream sauce… you won’t be upset with yourself… and buy it in large quantities and see if someone asks you if you are  ‘from around these parts?’…

whipped potatoes

  • Servings: one casserole
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Ingredients:
– 9 large red potatoes, washed and cut in chunks
– 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, cubed
– 1 cup sour cream
– 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– 2 tsp onion powder
– 1/4 cup butter, cubed
– 1 tsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
Directions:
– cut potatoes into chunks, leaving skin on, and place in cold, salted water in a pot and bring to a boil
– boil on medium/high heat for 20 minutes or until soft in the middle
– strain
– in a mixing bowl, place cream cheese, sour cream, salt, onion powder and butter
– put potatoes into the mixer and beat on medium speed until well combined
– spray a large corningware dish with Pam, put whipped potatoes into the dish and sprinkle top with seasoning salt
– cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour


the poor farmers had no idea this curly haired guy had his hands all over their biscuit dough

yellow squash three cheese biscuits

Ingredients:
– 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 5 tsp baking powder
– 4 tsp sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
– 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
– 1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded
– 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
– 1 1/2 cups yellow squash or zucchini
– 2 cup buttermilk
– melted butter, for brushing on biscuits
Directions:
– in a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda
– add butter and using a pastry blender mix until it resembles coarse oatmeal
– stir in cheeses
– add squash and buttermilk and with a spatula combine
– turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it come together
– roll out to 3/4″ thick and cut with a circle biscuit cutter
– place on a parchment lined baking sheet
– brush with melted butter
– bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes
– cool on a rack and serve

  

I believe these are considered ‘super-foods’… well for sure broccoli and I love beets so much I’m classifying them as a super-food…

parmesan roasted broccoli and beets

Ingredients:
– 5 large beets, washed, cubed and skin still on
– 4-5 heads broccoli, washed and cut up
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 3 tsp kosher salt
– 1 tsp ground black pepper
– 8 cloves garlic, minced
– zest of 2 lemons
– 4 tsp lemon juice
– 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Directions:
– place cubed beets in cold water in a pot and bring to a boil
– boil for 15 minutes and then strain and put in an ice water bath
– place broccoli and cooled beets in a large bowl
– add olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and mix
– pour onto a parchment lined large baking sheet
– roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes until broccoli florets are tender and browned
– mix zest of lemons, lemon juice and cheese and pour over the broccoli and beets and serve

mesquite beef kebabs from a local meat packing store… by local I mean I had to drive two hours to get there…  and then two hours home… local might mean something different to you.. 

my kids favourite salad and very simple for taking to the field is caesar salad… I do have a great recipe for caesar salad dressing but it was one of those days I thought the farmers could stand to have Costco caesar salad dressing instead…  from my local Costco…
  

which brings me to my favourite pie ever… and the one that brings back the most memories of my Grandma Reed…  coconut cream pie was one of her best and there is nothing like it with a cup of coffee…  or leftover at 1:30 am when you get home from the field and want pie… (I caught the farmer doing this last night)…

main trick to it is to make sure you get the cream thickened enough before putting into the pie crusts… otherwise it will never thicken and you get coconut cream pie soup…  which is also yummy but not quite as pretty…

grandma reed's coconut cream pie

Ingredients:
– use two baked 9″ pie shells
– 4 1/2 cups homo milk
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 5 egg yolks
– 1/3 cup cornstarch
– 1/3 cup homo milk
– 500 mL whipping cream
– 1 pkg Whip It (optional)
– 1 1/2 cups sweetened fancy flake coconut
Directions:
– in a double broiler, heat up milk, sugar and salt
– mix egg yolks, cornstarch and milk separately
– temper the egg yolk mixture with some of the warm milk/sugar and then add all of the egg mixture into the double broiler
– mix with a whisk until it resembles pudding – this will take quite awhile but it is very important to get it to the consistency of pudding
– pour into the shells and place in fridge (with plastic wrap over each pie) for 3 hours or longer
– for whipped cream, use a mixing bowl that has been in the freezer… the cream will whip faster
– place whipping cream and one package of Whip It (optional) in mixing bowl and mix at med/high speed until stiff peaks form
– spread over the cream pies and sprinkle coconut on top to serve

beetniks 

getting your hair done is odd… looking at yourself in a mirror for the better part of four hours can almost be seen as a form of torture… so I just stare at my hairdresser instead… and as she tends to my mane, I grace her with my witty stories, stemming back to my childhood but all the way through college and giving birth to my children…  sometimes she has stepped out of the room but I didn’t notice with the blow dryer going and it’s humorous as I’m still weaving a story and the only one listening is her dog…

 by the end of our four hours together, she usually says something to the effect of “don’t you dare try to pay me… our time together is payment enough”…   and then she makes sure that I knew she was joking… she wants to get paid…

another thing about her is her humility… when I see her ‘out and about’ around town and I’ve styled my own hair that day, she’ll say things to me like ‘you don’t need to tell anyone who does your hair’… and I say to her ‘stop it Roselle Burton… you deserve all the credit you’ll get for this’…  she laughs and I laugh
last time I was there… we were discussing the garden and cooking and I asked her if I could feature one of her recipes on my blog…  my idea was to come to her house ‘off the clock’ and have her cook her favourite recipe for me and I’d eat it…  turns out she’s really busy… but she did tell me about beetniks…

fall time here and all us farm ladies bring in the garden the day before a big frost…  things like spaghetti squash, zucchini, corn, onions, garlic… all of that needs to get brought in… so I also grabbed beet leaves… and made up these beetniks as best as I could remember her telling me how to do…

beetniks

Ingredients:
– bread dough
    – 5 cups all purpose flour
    – 2 tsp sugar
    – 2 tsp salt
    – 2 tbsp instant rise yeast
    – 4 tbsp canola oil
    – 2 cups warm water
– 24 big beet leaves, wiped clean
– 1/4 cup butter
– 1/2 onion, finely chopped
– 4 cloves garlic
– 1 cup cream milk
– fresh dill, chopped
Directions:
– make the dough and let rise for 45 minutes
– grease two 9×13 pans
– wash the beat leaves and pat dry with paper towel
– pinch off a piece of the dough and roll into the shape of a fat thumb
– wrap the beet leaf around it and place in the greased pan
– continue until done and cover with a tea towel and let rise 1 hour
– bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
– for the sauce, melt butter in a saucepan
– add onions and garlic and cook till soft
– stir in cream and dill
– bring to a slight bubble and then remove from heat
– pour over top of the cooked beetniks and cook for 5 more minutes
– serve warm (they freeze well)

I might have ate about four of them fresh out of the oven…  then rued the day that I ate four of them fresh out of the oven…  the kids have been loving having them after school… they just heat it up and away they go into doughy, creamy heaven…