who will cook? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

vegetable lentil salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

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

Dressing:

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

Directions:

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

crop checking 

“God gives us what we would have asked for if we knew everything He knows”

this is my Dad’s text to me last night, referring to something he had heard Timothy Keller say…  and in reference to the struggling crops we have…

I took some pictures about two weeks ago as little Missy and I went for a walk and did a little crop checking at the same time…

in Saskatchewan we grow a lot of red lentils… in fact I believe we are the largest producer of lentils in Canada…  I did not google this fact and perhaps made it up…

lentils like stress…  they like a little drought, lots of heat and stress on the plant creates an abundance of red lentils…

so over 25 inches of rain and most of that rain coming in late July/early August does not create the type of plant stress that is beneficial to lentils…

what Missy and I found was two different types of rotting lentils…  this first crop was one of the most beautiful looking lentil fields I have ever seen in June…  and now it has white mould at it’s roots and is rotting from the ground up…

this is a different type of disease caused by the wet conditions and it is called root rot…  it can stay in the soil after years like this and is difficult to get rid of apparently…

the other thing we found was billions of mosquitoes… apparently mould and rot and wet soil are exactly what they love…  so there’s that…

as we cursed the mosquitoes and mourned the crops, we turned to run home and found Elizabeth Taylor had followed us on our crop checking tour…

and Missy had to carry her back to our house… although I don’t think she minded…

so the farmer and I and the kids headed to the lake for the weekend to get away from the depressing sight of rotting crops and constant rain…

only to find that we were not happy at the lake…  we felt anxious and tense…  like being lazy on a boat wasn’t changing the fact that harvest is on hold and the rain keeps coming…

and then we find we are on edge and building a new trampoline together turns into an argument… a major argument…  and we know it’s because we wish he was in a sprayer or combine and I wish I was cooking and running for parts…

but God gives you what you would know you need if you knew all that He knows…  right Dad?   (my Dad is always right… just about… like 86% of the time)

so we get 2 inches of rain in a storm when I’m assuming the water level in the soil is already at it’s breaking point… (meaning – puddles are forming in odd places in the yard… over saturated)

and our newly renovated basement is flooded…

we do have flooring in it now that is water resistant and no baseboards yet and everything in tupperware containers in our storage…  but it is still water coming up through the ground and going into your basement…

and then a strange thing happens…  the two kids that were at home with us started helping with the clean up effort…

we turned on the Olympics downstairs and watched ping pong…  we made up a few songs about mopping up the water…

and then we put the kids to bed and the farmer and I pulled basically an all nighter with the shop vac and towel rotation…

and laughed…  and for some reason the crop stress went away… possibly because we had a new stress… one that we could fight and try to conquer…  we could do something about this… we could work and figure it out and fix it…

but we can’t do that with the crops…  we have zero control over the weather…  a farmer tries to anticipate and plan but then is forced to react…  and to have his heart broken when a bumper crop is rotting in a field…

and it’s not just about the profit loss…  I know this because I live it with a farmer…  it is about growing something and having it turn out…  of course to make money but also to know that you can do it… that you can farm and grow a good crop…

so as a farmer…  we deal with life somewhat like our rotting lentils…  we need stress… we needed the basement to flood so that we could have a different stress than our crops…

and saying this makes me think my Dad is always right…  we got what we needed…  not that I believe that is always the case…  but it was with our basement flooding…