48 days of cooking in quarantine to get excited to cook for seeding

seeding 2020 is upon us… and never would I have thought that I would have been quarantined at home for 48 days before I had to take a meal to the field… nothing like cooking for your family for that long to get you in the mood to cook for farmers… 
the shelves at the grocery store are stripped bare of yeast and flour and as a farmer who has been gardening, making buns, doing all of these ‘primitive’ behaviours for over 20 years now, it is pretty humorous to me to see how people actually think that by having a tiny little garden in their yard and getting flour and yeast they could possibly survive…  get a grip people – you aren’t Hutterites… you will not survive… 

I am actually so excited for the change in pace for May here, because it gives me the excuse to tell any straggler kids around here that on the ‘off days’ of not taking out meals, it is cereal or ramen noodles for supper… 

we have gotten into a depressing little routine here on the farm… wake up, school work and run or workout, clean, cook, yard work and then stare at the TV (or play video games) until the sweet release of sleep comes and we can repeat the exact same thing the next day

the kids have been helping me with some spring jobs here that they never knew happened…  Sienna mentioned to me ‘when did you do this before?’ and I tell her ‘when you were at school’... 

for the first month or so, I would receive emails everyday with things that were being cancelled…  hockey for Sienna, hockey camps for Ethan, baseball, school, dental appointments, Easter, vacations, graduation for Brandon… 

you know what wasn’t cancelled?  home schooling, yard work, house work, dishes, laundry, the WIND, bills, spam emails, subscriptions to things I accidentally signed up for… and apparently the social pressure to clean and paint your entire house…  

spinach salad with strawberries

Ingredients:

Dressing:

  • 1 lb fresh spinach
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, (optional – toasted)

Dressing: 

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onions
  • 1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Directions:

  • chop the spinach and toss the spinach, strawberries and almonds into a bowl
  • in a mason jar (or whatever you use to make dressings), shake up the dressing ingredients
  • pour over and eat immediately

 

I certainly went through all the stages and then invented a few during my grief cycle…  denial and isolation (well, I bought hand sanitizer every week for a month going into this so I wasn’t in denial… definitely in isolation)anger (nailed that… still nailing that)… bargaining (tough to bargain when you are alone)depression (is this the feeling you get in the morning when you want to suffocate yourself with a pillow??)acceptance (I also like to call this despair… has a nicer ring to it)

the ones I added were – replacing every good habit that took me 40 years to develop with a bad habit…  worrying about not having anything to worry about… not shaving… talking to strangers like they are life long friends… googling Zoom backgrounds for 3 hours before I realize how long I’ve been staring at my phone for… starting group chats with anyone that will have me… then leaving the group chats because I can’t stand anyone on them… crying while running… thinking cake and peanut butter marshmallow bars are a breakfast food… 

pickled creamy onions

  • Servings: around 8 cups
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • miracle whip (or mayo)

Directions:

  • slice up onions and place in a big bowl
  • heat water, vinegar, sugar and salt
  • pour over sliced onions
  • cover and place in a fridge for 3-4 hours minimum or overnight
  • drain
  • add celery seed and miracle whip until onions look creamy

but ENOUGH WITH THAT…  here we go… SEEDING…  the hope every year that we will plant seeds into the ground and new life will come…  (oh yes – I have gotten very spiritual during this time as well… tough to miss church when it is virtual and you are can’t possibly say that you are busy)

I have never been more excited for seeding in my life... we are fortunate to have freezers full of beef (I cut this blade roast in half for this shredded beef recipe) and deer sausage and chickens…  the Farmer’s only way of ‘prepping’ for this was to come home every few days with giant burlap sacks of rice – so we are set in the rice department…  

seeding usually feels so rushed with sports going on – but this seeding I get to experience the sheer boredom that my ancestors got to go through during this time of year… I am excited to see what creativity and inspiration comes from this (more sleeping is my guess)

I feel grateful that I came to terms years ago with the fact that I would be cooking massive amounts of food for the foreseeable future and started to really love and enjoy it (it is one of those mind tricks you can do – where if you tell yourself enough times that you like something, you will start to like it – kinda like quarantine)

instant pot shredded caramelized beef

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs flank steak 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup Mexican beer, (or root beer or water)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • buns and toppings

Directions:

  • cut the steak into four pieces
  • pat steak pieces down with the chili powder, onion powder, paprika and salt
  • in the Instant Pot, put olive oil and then steak pieces
  • add the rest of the spices (if any leftover) and add garlic, juice and zest of lime and beer
  • cover and cook on high pressure/manual for 8 minutes (more if a larger steak/roast)
  • once done cooking, use the natural or quick release function and release the steam
  • preheat the broiler on high
  • remove the steak and shred – place onto a baking sheet
  • add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid
  • drizzle honey over it
  • broil for 2-5 minutes, until the steak caramelizes
  • toss with additional cooking liquid if desired
  • serve on a bun with toppings of your choice (this can also be used in a taco)

so here it goes… meals to the field

experimenting with new recipes, new ways to cook and enjoying one of the only fun things left for us to do… EATING

here is hoping that everyone has a safe and happy seeding – that it rains on our crops and we all start to see new life coming out of the wreckage the last two months has been

I will supply recipes for you to try – not all will be great but I hope there are a few that you enjoy along the way here…  and we will get through seeding and spring together

coconut lemon muffins with honey butter

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Print

Ingredients:
Muffins:

  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flaked or shredded 
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk, (stirred up with a fork)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Honey Butter:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp slated butter, melted
  • 1-2 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • spray lined muffin cups 
  • spread coconut on a baking sheet and place in oven for 5-10 minutes until toasted
  • in a bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt and zest
  • in a mixing bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, br sugar, coconut milk and oil
  • add in the flour mixture
  • place a scoop in each muffin tin
  • bake for 16-18 minutes or until set
  • cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes
  • drizzle with honey butter generously

 

what do you want to be when you grow up?

is our only opportunity to be an athlete when we are young and in school/college?  or can we continue the quest of athletics as we age?   should athletes only be the best of the best or does anyone applying themselves and working at a sport get to call themselves an athlete?

I grew up loving sports…. it started in Elementary School with an excellent Intramurals program…  (this is what our school called noon hour sports… in grade 6 I got to be the captain of the Bears…  highlight of my Elementary experience… low-light was the 52 detentions I received in grade 6.. after school – did not interfere with my Intramural pursuits)

I went to a different school for Junior High and my love of basketball really took off…  this was back in the day when you could basically play every sport offered and no one was playing one sport all year round – unless you counted the pick-up basketball games we played year round… it was fun to have the season change and try out something new… and remind yourself why you loved basketball with your lack of talent in other areas… 

heading to yet another school for High School, I was still very driven with sports and basketball in particular…  it was exciting to keep this going and get to play in College…

and then I got married, started working and became an ‘adult’…  which I thought meant sports quit for me…  not for the farmer I should add… men seem to do a far better job of remaining an athlete than women do… 

having kids was really the icing on the cake – cementing my ideas that athletics for me were part of my childhood… never to be revisited again…

I remember the joy I felt when I could finally put my oldest boy in baseball, hockey, you name it…  I even cried at his first hockey practice…  this should have been a hint to me that I was missing being an athlete…

Instant Pot Whole Chicken

  • Servings: one chicken
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • one whole chicken (mine was 6 lbs)
  • trivet
  • butter, melted
  • kosher salt
  • cumin
  • lemon pepper
  • paprika
  • carrots
  • yellow onion
  • celery

Directions:

  • use a fresh or defrosted chicken – I defrost mine in the bag it is in, in cold water in the sink – this generally takes around 3-4 hours
  • pat dry with paper towel
  • place trivet in Instant Pot bowl
  • add 1 cup water
  • add chicken
  • pour butter over the chicken
  • add the carrots, onion and celery around the chicken
  • sprinkle with spices
  • place lid on and set manual high pressure for 40 minutes (basically, 6 minutes per pound)
  • allow for a natural pressure release (around 15-20 minutes) when done cooking
  • transfer the chicken to a cutting board
  • put a strainer over a bowl and pour the liquid and contents into it
  • use the liquid for recipes needing chicken stock and the meat for lunch meat!

{/recipe]

don’t get me wrong – watching my kids play sports is very fulfilling and exciting – but when I realized I was living through their experiences I knew I had to try to get back to being an athlete myself… I needed to let them have their athletic experiences for themselves and I needed to see what was out there for me…

it had been roughly 17 years since I had done anything other than ‘exercise’… there were many reasons why I let things get like this I believe…

I didn’t think I was athletic enough to warrant the amount of time and money it would take for me to be involved in my own adventures…  we were busy enough with the farmer’s hockey and then my children’s hockey and other sports…  I needed to be the one to keep everyone going…  maybe – if I was a ‘gifted’ athlete – I would have made the time…  but I was always middle of the pack and I thought middle of the pack people should just enjoy school sports and then settle into a life of cheering for those more talented… 

I was a yo-yo exerciser…  I would do some exercises for awhile and then quit…  with no accountability, competition, coaching or purpose, I found exercising very difficult to be consistent or even motivated with…

I was also worried about judgement from other people… I felt like it would be selfish and almost spoiled if I spent time working towards some sort of athletic goal in my late 30’s… I didn’t have a lot of influences in my life or examples of moms that were pursuing athletic goals…

chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled (if old) and finely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (low sodium – preferably homemade)
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:
– heat oil in a large pan

  • add carrots, onion and salt
  • cook on medium heat for a few minutes and add green peppers, beef and garlic
  • season with spices and turn heat off when meat is cooked
  • in your slow cooker, add the meat/veggie mixture and then add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes and beans
  • simmer on low for 6-8 hours, high for 4-6 hours
  • if you want more greens, add spinach or kale at the end

everyone has the money goal down…  we all are pursuing money… security…  but I just didn’t see women going on adventures or training for a sporting event… I saw moms dedicating their lives – nobly – to their families and it confirmed my beliefs that to be a good mom you sacrifice your life for your family…

moms are pros at scheduling… and we schedule all the kids activities and our husbands lives but forget to schedule in ourselves… or feel too guilty to do so…

and now, after two years of scheduling myself in, I can tell you I wish I had done it earlier…  I know everyone would have had a better time and I wouldn’t feel like I neglected myself for years…

in January of 2017, a friend of mine at the rink told me about a running coach she had and how much she was enjoying being coached…  it was like a lightbulb when on… I contacted this coach and started letting her train me…  it made me feel silly at first – I was too embarrassed to tell many people – but slowly I started to see the benefits in my own life… having a coach give me a ‘game plan’ for the week and then being able to schedule it in somehow gave me there permission to train and take the time for myself…

that fall, after hurting my knee, I thought I’d try some Hot Yoga/Pilates for rehab…  and I fell in love with it – even though, again, I was not very good at it…

it did feel very selfish to be spending the money and time twice a week to do this and then running four times a week…  my family has had to change they way we do things in order to accommodate for my schedule at times, which feels ridiculously self-involved

 but I started to ponder, what am I living this life for?  so I can be exhausted, depressed  and unfulfilled, complaining about how busy I am?  live comfortably, not facing my fears and anxieties?  never find out what potential my body had or where it could take me?

I had to tell myself that I am worthy… we all are worthy… it is what God put into creation and why we are created in the first place…

I am worthy of having a running coach… worthy of taking the time for long Sat/Sun runs and practicing yoga…  worthy of trips and adventures that fill me with anxiety and leave me feeling strong…  worthy of feeding my body healthy food and getting the sleep I need to have the energy for big training days…  worthy of pursuing all these things no matter what my talent level is(that was the biggest hiccup for me)

because sports, athletics, competition and adventure is not just for the super-athletes…  it is for everyone…  I have won a race and almost lost a race – and the fact of the matter was I trained for both those races and the training had made my life full of purpose and joy…  I remember being on different teams and coaches often saying ‘it’s the journey, not the destination’… and it only really made sense to me as I got older…

strawberry-spinach wheat berry salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 cup wheat berries, soaked overnight and rained (2 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 cups spinach
  • 2 cups sliced, washed strawberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts (or see recipe)

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaping tbsp Dijon mustard

Hazelnuts:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts

Directions:

  • for the wheat berries, bring 4 cups of water to a boil
  • add the wheat berries and salt and simmer, covered, until soft – around 50 minutes
  • transfer to a large salad bowl and allow to cool
  • just before serving, add the other ingredients – you won’t use all the dressing
  • for the dressing – shake well in a jar
  • for the hazelnuts – preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment
  • melt butter in a small saucepan
  • add cinnamon, cayenne and honey
  • take off the heat and add hazelnuts and coat
  • pour onto the baking sheet and spread out
  • sprinkle with salt
  • bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes
  • cool completely and break apart into chunks

it is the journey… it is the training and the dedication – no matter your skill level – to a craft, sport or cause that matters…  keep asking yourself – ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’  never stop asking yourself this and never stop going after the next thing that it is for you…

don’t feel like any dream is too big for you… set some outrageous goals and see how many you can check off and then enjoy the process… and realize that the secret to it all is that the process is what we are all seeking…  a reason to get up in the morning and attack the day…  a reason to be happily exhausted when you go to bed, sore in the morning and nervous at a start line…

there are too many people out there battling for their lives… whether it be cancer, depression, poverty, loss, addiction…  the list is endless and you have no excuse to not live the best life that you possibly can… you are not guaranteed anything but death…  and you owe it to yourself to explore why you are here and what you are capable of… and you owe it to the people that love you

because there is nothing more inspiring that watching someone attempt scary things, work extremely hard for a goal, conquer a fear…  no one wants you to hate your life…  so you must dedicate yourself to living it in a way that gives energy and life to those around you…

it is not just for the super-athletes…  in fact, the middle-back of the pack people generally have the most fun anyways!  (but I only watch the super-athletes on YouTube… so they should keep being super!)

black bean protein brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 (19 oz) can black beans (if you have 15 oz can, just use that), strained and rinsed
  • 2 scoops (34 g scoop) of Casein protein powder (or whatever protein powder you have kicking around) 
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter

Directions:

  • combine black beans, protein powder, oats, peanut butter, coconut oil, greek yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla in a vitamix or food processor and combine until no chunks
  • in a separate mixing bowl, combine cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • add eggs
  • using a spatula, add the thick bean mixture to the cocoa powder and eggs
  • mix until combined
  • fold in chocolate chips
  • in a sprayed or greased 9×9 baking pan, pour the brownie batter
  • melt 2 tbsp of peanut butter in the microwave and pour in a few dollops on the brownie batter
  • using a knife, cut through the peanut butter dollops to make a pretty pattern
  • bake for 15-20 minutes, until the middle is slightly firm but the sides are not overdone
  • let cool and cut into 16 brownies
  • these freeze well