elk and bean sloppy joes with crispy sweet potato fries

“life is unpredictable, 

It changes with the seasons,

Even your coldest winter,

Happens for the best of reasons, 

And though it feels eternal, 

Like all you’ll ever do is freeze,

I promise spring is coming,

And with it, brand new leaves.”


winter on the farm is dark and lonely…  but in a way that seems necessary… like nature is telling us that it’s impossible to be sunny and full of energy all the time… like we need time to rest, read, sleep, snuggle… and most importantly… cook…

on minus forty degree Celsius winter days when the buses are too cold to run… (but you willingly drive your kids to school because the thought of them being home with you all day is too much to contemplate) these are the days you need a pot of soup or chili in the crockpot waiting…

for when everyone arrives home and wants to fill a bowl with something that will warm you from the inside out and you can wrap up in a blanket…

my attempts to not cook with meat are thwarted by the farmer and his children’s complaints that they would like to eat meat…

so I brown up some of the ground elk that the farmer had shot and stocked the freezer with this fall…

add to the meat some of the best sloppy joe spices ever… cumin, dry mustard and chili powder…

onions, garlic, red peppers and jalapeño fill the house with a ‘warm your belly’ winter smell…

the part I get excited about is the beans! and I remind the family we could live off of these powerful little things…

their reaction is usually the recitation of the bean rhyme…

end product is supper and if you are lucky – leftovers for lunches the next day…

elk and bean sloppy joes


1 1/2 lbs ground elk meat, browned

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 cup vegetable (or chicken) broth

1 can (19 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (19 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can tomato sauce

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

hamburger buns, toasted

grated sharp cheddar cheese


– in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground meat and transfer to crock pot

– soften the onions, garlic, red pepper and jalapeno in the olive oil and then transfer to crock pot

– add spices, paste and broth to crockpot

– add remaining cans of beans and sauce and stir in well in the crockpot

– cook on Low for 6 hours (can be maintained on Warm for up to 6 hours as well)

– serve on toasted hamburger buns with shredded cheddar cheese

as a side to the sloppy joe goodness you just created, add crispy spiced sweet potato fries and happiness follows…

nothing worse than soggy sweet potato fries and I have discovered a way to prevent this!  crispy fries every time…

crispy spiced sweet potato fries


  • 4 small to medium sweet potatoes, well scrubbed
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt
  • chopped flat leaf parsley (or dried parsley)


  • heat oven to 425 degrees
  • peel and cut sweet potatoes into matchsticks
  • combine corn starch, oil, and spices in a bowl
  • toss fries in the bowl and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet
  • bake for 20 minutes

now, you can make a complicated garlic aioli to dip these little bites of heaven in… but no body has the time to do that and it’s healthier just to eat them quickly, right off the pan, while they are hot…

… side note … when I say ‘read’, this is a word I like to use to replace ‘watching tv’… 

winter is an excellent time to rest, ‘read’, sleep, snuggle…

and most importantly… cook…

seeding meal #2 


lesson learned…  when you see something on Pintrest or Facebook that looks amazing but doesn’t come with a detailed recipe… keep looking… unless you enjoy wasting your time…

the salad was fine…  basically just added what I had in the fridge to make a carrot salad and the reviews from the 12 and 14 year old were good so I think it was a success…

carrot pistachio salad


  • 3 lbs carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped


  • grate the carrots and place in a large bowl
  • in a small mason jar, add dressing ingredients and shake until well mixed
  • add to the carrots
  • add cilantro and using tongs toss the salad
  • top with pistachios and serve cold

and the crockpot Mexican Chicken over rice is an excellent recipe to have kicking around if you have a busy day and want a nutritious supper…  I served it over Basmati Rice which is my favourite type of rice…

crockpot mexican chicken


  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.4 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (1/2 a bunch)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (or put slices of lime beside the dish)
  • optional toppings: chopped green onion, shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream
  • serve over rice


  • in a slow cooker, combine tomatoes, black beans, chicken broth, green chiles, onions and garlic
  • add chicken on the top and season
  • cook on high for 4-6 hours (or on high for 2 hours and then low for 6 hours)
  • when the chicken is cooked, add cilantro and lime juice
  • serve over rice with toppings or also great on tacos or in burritos

but…  if you want to waste about 5 hours of your day wasting your time… try doing this…

first of all, you view a video of someone making something in fast forward on Facebook… many of them are called ‘Tasty’ or ‘Little Things’…

then you look for the recipe only to not be able to find it…

so you pause the video and write down the recipe as it flashes up on the screen…

you go buy all the ingredients and proceed to cook it… only to figure out that it didn’t tell you how many cheesecake cupcakes it was supposed to make… or it left out details about cooking time or temperature… or exactly how to make a caramel sauce…

or you buy 4 packages of cream cheese only to find out that you didn’t need that big of a cheesecake recipe for the little muffin tins you are filling…

and 1/3 of it goes to waste…

when you finally get to the last step which only took 20 seconds on Facebook but has taken you 4 hours to get to…  you realize it might be a bit tricky to make a caramel sauce…

this is after you have burnt sugar onto two pots and ran out of pots and had watched two YouTube videos on making a caramel sauce…

you resort to melting a chocolate bar to pour over the top of the cheesecakes because your supper was running late…

they were delicious… so go for it if you so choose… just don’t expect it to go as quickly as the video you saw on Facebook!

salted pretzel cheesecake cups


  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (3/4 cup)
  • 4 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup pretzels, slightly crushed


  • mix the crushed pretzels, sugar and butter
  • press into 24 foil lined muffin trays, around 1 1/2 tbsp per muffin cup
  • bake at 350 for 5 minutes
  • beat cream cheese and sugar until combined
  • add flour and combine
  • add eggs, one at a time, until combined
  • add heavy cream, sour cream and vanilla
  • pour mixture into the muffin cups, filling them to the top
  • there will be left over cheese cake mixture – I greased a pan and poured the mixture into it and baked it separately
  • bake at 350 for 22 minutes
  • chill in fridge for 2 hours
  • to make the caramel sauce, put sugar and water into a pan
  • do not mix with a spoon or whisk, but give the pan a shake occasionally
  • boil until the mixture turns an amber colour
  • using a pastry brush and water, brush down the sides of the pot so the sugar does not crystallize on the sides
  • take off the heat and pour in heavy cream, while standing back as it will react
  • whisk this together and add the butter
  • pour the caramel sauce on the cooled cream cheese cupcakes
  • add some crushed pretzels and serve

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


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • 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
  • Print


  • 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


  • 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…



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
– 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 #7

thanksgiving 2004 I made potato salad and 5 people got food poisoning…  since then my oldest son cannot eat mayonnaise…  he literally eats everything else imaginable – just not mayonnaise…  it did not affect my farmer husband the same way…  this was not his first time contracting food poisoning from potato salad and I’m going to guess it won’t be his last…

he actually had to check into the hospital the last time potato salad took him down… of course he had bought it at a 7-Eleven and it was past the expiry date and it was grey… but his love affair with potato salad remains…  

Potato Salad


  • 5 pounds red potatoes, cubed into bite size pieces
  • 12 hard boiled eggs, cut up
  • 1 cup chopped dill pickles
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste


  • in a large pot, cover the cut up potatoes with cold water and add 2 tsp kosher salt
  • bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
  • simmer until tender, around 15-20 minutes
  • do the same process with eggs but when they come to a boil they let them boil for a few minutes and then they are done
  • drain the potatoes in a strainer and put into the bowl with the celery, green onions & dill pickles
  • make the dressing and add to the potatoes
  • gently mix in the eggs, paprika, salt and pepper
  • chill for a few hours or for up to 2 days in fridge

a friend of mine gave me these apples … and rhubarb … thus allowing me to not have to plant apple trees or rhubarb in my garden … thank you Erin … so I thought I’d put them in pie crust with sugar …

now don’t be shocked by the next picture…  it is my attempt to demonstrate how I crinkle the outside of the pie crust… but it turns out that my hands up close are wrinkly and hairy … my mom always told me I had hands that should play the piano …  she also told me that I could swim like a fish and run like a gazelle and sing like a bird … so it shouldn’t come as a shock that she thought I had hands for the piano …  watch an episode of ‘The Goldbergs’ and you will see who my mom is …  

that is an apple peeler and slicer passed on to me by my Grandpa Reed …  and it is a lovely invention

the farmer texted me tonight after eating this pie and I quote “that pie might be my favourite one of yours” …

Cream Cheese Apple Pie


  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts (see recipe for Coffee Break Pie Crust)
  • 2 pkg (250 g) Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 8 Gala apples, peeled and sliced thinly (makes 8 cups sliced)
  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup large flake rolled oats
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut up


  • line 2 9” pie plates with pie crusts
  • beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla and put into the 2 pie shells
  • cut up apples, put in a big bowl and add flour and cinnamon and toss until well coated
  • place apples on top of cream cheese filled pie shells
  • cut with a pastry blender the butter into the oats and brown sugar and place on top of pies
  • put in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes
  • serve at room temperature

and now … drum roll … I made something healthy … this is a classic around here for ‘Meatless Mondays’  … tonight a friend asked my curly haired son ‘what did your mom make for supper?’ and he said ‘something orange’ … he must really love it …


Black Bean Quinoa Enchilada Bake

  • Servings: one 9x13 casserole
  • Print


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 1 cup corn, frozen kernels
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups red enchilada sauce (salsa works if you do not have this)
  • 2 cups shredded Tex Mex cheese (1/2 cup for mixture and 1 1/2 cups for topping)


  • add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to boil over a medium heat
  • boil for 5 minutes then turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes
  • remove from heat, fluff and pour into large bowl
  • in a large skillet, heat olive oil and add onion, garlic, jalapeño and peppers
  • in the large bowl that has the quinoa in it add corn, black beans, pepper mixture, enchilada sauce and /1/2 cup of the Tex Mex cheese
  • put in a 9×13 greased baking dish and cover with the rest of the Tex Mex cheese
  • bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  • toppings: sliced green onions, avocado slices, sour cream (optional)
  • freezes well: take out in the morning and allow to thaw all day