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
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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
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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

 

I’m not crying… you’re crying

Cecil Day-Lewis wrote in the poem ‘Walking Away’ ~ “selfhood begins with a walking away and love is proved in the letting go”…  turns out – there are many resources online to help you navigate the murky waters of your children moving out of your home…  and I have been pouring over these resources this last week hoping that it would patch and heal something that feels completely broken in my heart…  my heart hurts…

our sons, Brandon (17) and Ethan (15) both moved into their dorm rooms last week in Caronport, SK to attend high school there, play for Prairie Hockey Academy and also play football there… easily this has been the hardest parenting decision for the farmer and I to make… also a terribly hard decision that each boy had to make… it is a decision that many kids have to make in high school and now I begin to understand the weight of it…  you are losing your child and no one can prepare you for it…

I headed with the boys to Moose Jaw and left Sienna at home for her first day back to school (which broke my heart that I wasn’t there for it)… it had rained so the farmer was able to coach his football practice and then drive down to help with the orientation and moving in process… as I sat through the grade 12 meeting (the farmer went to the grade 10 meeting) I started to feel like I was going to throw up…  I used to battle anxiety attacks (mainly due to storms), but really have not had one in over 10 years at least… I still know what one feels like and I was worried that I was about to black out and really embarrass my son on the first day…

we were able to get out of the meeting with nothing horrible happening and had to go through class selections, finances, ID pictures, sports sign ups, campus tour, hockey meeting, first football practice and dorm setup…  it felt like four days all piled into one after a decently relaxing summer…

the saving grace for me was that the boys were busy and I was able to set their rooms up all on my own with no arguing with them over where things were going to go…  the entire time I still felt like I couldn’t swallow due to a lump in my throat and again the feeling of dizziness and possibly throwing up was always there… (if you see pale faced moms on the first day of school, watch out for vomit)

I was telling myself that I had no time to truly prepare for this…  well, I suppose I have had 17 years but you never really are preparing for them to leave… and of course Facebook hits me every day now with updates of how fantastic harvest used to be with the boys at home…

losing two in one day is almost more than I could take…  the farmer was so wise, as we were leaving town and the sobbing had begun, he came out of the convenient store with an ice cream bar for me…  this is proven – one cannot sob and eat ice cream at the same time...  genius…

that day was more draining than any marathon or ultra marathon I have ever been in… but I didn’t realize that some of the hard days are yet to come…  the daily reality of living with your child no longer at home and worrying about their welfare is depleting and draining… I texted a friend today that has been through more stress than anyone I know “have you ever lost your hair and eyelashes?” …  she replied that she has had just about every side effect of stress except for that one…  so I am still searching for how to keep my hair and lashes on my head…

I have been a stay-at-home mom with these boys for all their years…  it was a decision the farmer and I made when Brandon was born and we decided that I could do all the work of bookkeeping, raising the kids and all the other things that come along with farming…  it hasn’t always been easy being a stay-at-home mom…  it has come with many struggles but now that they are gone and it is just the farmer and Sienna left with me, I feel fortunate to have been here with the boys for every step of their journey – literally 🙂

having a job outside of the house can provide structure and distraction, but by no means immunization from the loneliness and sadness a parent will feel when their child moves away…  I have seen this with the farmer…  he has enough distraction and work that you would think he wouldn’t notice that the boys are not home…  yet it has been just as hard on him as it has been on me… coaching a football team without them on it, farming without them, watching the NFL opening Sunday football games without them…  it is all such a change and everyday I feel like something is missing…

a good friend said it so well to me “our kids are so much a part of us and we spend so much time ‘parenting’ when they’re younger.  and then when they are older we get to relax a bit and really appreciate who they are as people and that place they hold in our hearts expands.  they each have their own piece of your heart because they are a part of you.  so when they leave, they take a part of your heart with them.  but I think they can feel that piece they took with them – where they are.”

now at this point of my sob story, I’m sure it is crossing your mind… ‘but did you not pay for this schooling?’  and  ‘are they not excited for this change and opportunity to do new things and meet new people?’ … yes, of course we all decided this was something we wanted and are very excited about…  and that does trump the sadness and loneliness of missing them…  but it doesn’t mean that it’s not there…

corn slaw with peanut butter lime dressing

Ingredients:

Peanut Butter Lime Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated or minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tbsp cold water (or more)

Corn Slaw:

  • 3 cups corn
  • 1 small head green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (or I use a spiralizer)
  • 2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and finely sliced
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup roasted and salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

  • I made the dressing in a Vitamix blender (because I tripled it) but you can either make it in a blender or just shake it together… it should be runny
  • combine all of the corn slaw ingredients except the peanuts
  • pour dressing over and add salt and pepper as needed
  • you can keep this is the fridge, when ready to serve add the peanuts on top

I’m not sure exactly how this parent-child separation thing is supposed to work… but ideally I get to be as sad and miserable as I want to be and they need to be loving life and happy and joyous and constant pillow fights… ok, now it’s sounding like a summer camp I went to…  I actually think they are still in school and it’s decently hard work they are doing…  along with two sports…  so maybe no energy for pillow fights…

the main point is me = sad, boys = happy…  is that too much to ask?  and then I realize I have my little side-kick here at home with me…

not only did Sienna lose her brothers but she inherited all of their jobs…  and add to that a mom who possibly has alopecia…

so she is slightly ruining my pity party… one of the big changes for her is she used to get away with everything because I was focused somewhat on the boys… and now all I have to focus on is her so I notice everything she does… or doesn’t do…  and I want to hover over her and do her hair and nails and have a girls evening where we can watch Netflix and eat ice cream… (to prevent crying)

korean beef sloppy joe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup hoisin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbps soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha
  • 4 buns

Directions:

  • in a large skillet, brown the beef and strain
  • add sesame oil to the skillet and garlic
  • add back the beef and the rest of the ingredients
  • serve over a bun (with a slice of havarti cheese, optional)

one of the parenting resources said “never pass the weight of your own grief on to your child”... now, I’m not sure how ‘expert’ this advice is… I personally think my children should suffer in grief with me… every time I fight with the farmer I like the children to be a part of our argument… when I’m mad at someone in town, I like my children to join me in my anger…  how are they going to be able to deal with ‘adult problems’ if they don’t start now dealing with my ‘adult problems’???

but, alas, I have decided to take this parenting advice and hide it from them how melancholy I am… until they see my eyelashes… then the cat’s out of the bag…

they cannot bear the responsibility for my sadness…  it’s not their fault that they spent 9 months in my belly, I spent night after night feeding them in the darkness of the house, when they were sick I laid there awake listening to see if they were breathing, I cried at their first hockey practice and most definitely cried on their first goal, I loved every moment of school lunches and hearing the stories when they got home, car rides (even when they slept), watching them play basketball and football in the yard…

ok – I digress… moral of the story is they can’t feel guilty for how sad their mom is

it has always been very important to the farmer and I to raise kids that were independent and didn’t need us around them to find joy…  we cultured this over the years by traveling and leaving them a lot 🙂 … so I know they are ready for it… and I know it will get better…

but I also know I love being their mom… equal to loving the farmer it has been my greatest joy to be their mother, to fold their laundry, to tell them when a joke is not funny, to cut their hair and tell them they stink and need a shower, to run with them and watch movies with them… to say no to them and tell them why… to watch them succeed and fail and get to be there afterwards…

I know I’m still their mom…  it just feels like they are far away and the way I mother them has to change…  but I am so proud of them and excited for them and hopeful that this will be a good thing… because as parents – that is all we hope for – for our children to find their purpose and joy and hope in life…

strawberry rhubarb crumb bars

Ingredients:

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Jam:

  • 1 lb (@ 4 cups) rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 lb (@ 4 cups) strawberries, hulled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

For the Bars:

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (or more) strawberry rhubarb jam
  • 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:

  • prehead oven to 350 degrees
  • line an 8” pan with a sheet of greased foil
  • for the jam: combine the ingredients in a medium pot over low heat… stir regularly for 10-15 minutes…  cool in a bowl
  • combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl
  • stir in the butter until the mixture is consistent
  • pack 2/3 of the mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan and press down
  • bake for 10 minutes
  • when finished, spread the jam on top and add the berries
  • mix the pecans with the remaining oat mixture and crumble on the top
  • bake for 25 minutes
  • allow to cool completely before cutting
  • keeps in fridge but does not freeze well

seeding meal #5

“oh we don’t know the roads that we’re heading down…  we don’t know if we’re lost, that we’ll find a way… we don’t know if we leave, will we make it home…  we don’t know, there’s hope, then we’ll be okay”

(the stumbellas)

the haze from the forest fires near Fort McMurray, Alberta finally lifted today… fires raging 600 km away but the haze blocks out the sun here and you can smell it…  and only imagine what the fire fighters are battling…

these pink flowers were still in bloom through the haze…  reminded me that life is constantly moving forward…  always forward…

as I was outside in this haze, cultivating my yard in the dust and wind, something flew into my eye…  I rubbed it, never wanting to quit a yard job…  and I ended up having to go to the doctor to get it checked…

he had a big name for the blister that covered my eyeball and told me I would be fine… and I could still drive and cook…  and sent me on my way to do both…

he also asked me if I knew I had a slightly lazy eye…  and this is why I don’t go to health care practitioners…  the last time I saw a chiropractor he pointed out that one of my legs was longer than the other…  my dentist thought my over-bite was worsening… the lady that lasers hair off of me suggested botox…  my hairstylist confirmed my grey hair increasing… my boys even made me change my clothes the other day because they thought I was ‘trying to hard’ with the outfit choice I had made… and they are not even qualified to have an opinion on the matter…

I need to spend less time getting critiqued and more time with the farmer who views me through rose coloured glasses (he looks so funny when he puts them on)

I turned 37 this week and was blessed with a giant blemish for my birthday…  it made me think of the first zit I ever had… it was in grade 5…  and it had a life of its own…

it grew on my face for a few weeks until I finally did what any girl in grade 5 who loved Cindy Crawford would do…  I went to my mom’s makeup bag and got a black eyeliner and  turned it into a beauty mark…

I still love Cindy Crawford and considered doing this little ‘beauty trick’ again but wondered if ladies in their late thirties would fall for it…

can you tell which eye is lazy?  or which eye had the blister?  remnants of the blemish on my chin? botox potential?

I hope not because I put a SnapChat filter on this picture to send to the farmer to show him the blister on my eye…  (which had gone down by the time I got home and took this picture so he never really believed me as to the size it was to start with)

so this turned into another quick meal I had to get together and in times like this you need pre-made Costco salads kicking around…

if I learnt anything from the farmer’s mother it is that you can add items to a pre-made salad (her choice was coleslaw) and turn it into a very homemade tasting salad…

enhanced costco mediterranean pasta salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made Costco Mediterranean Pasta Salad
  • 1 can chickpeas, strained and rinsed
  • 1 english cucumber, diced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in four
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup Feta cheese, cut into chunks

Directions:

  • in a large bowl, add the salad, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and cheese
  • pour dressing over and toss
  • chill for 2 hours and serve

 

my hair dresser told me about lemon pepper last year… about her love affair with it… and it was life changing…  I perhaps use the term ‘life changing’ too flippantly but I really enjoy the lemon pepper seasoning…

I don’t cook pork very often, but when I do, I use lemon pepper in my dredge…

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pork chops with peppers and gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 10 bone-in pork chops
  • olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 green bell peppers. sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper. sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper sliced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups tru-Roots Ancient Grain Blend
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  • whisk together flour, lemon pepper, salt, cumin and cayenne pepper
  • pat the pork chops dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper generously
  • dredge the pork chops in the flour mixture
  • on medium-high heat, pour some olive oil in a pan and brown the pork chops two at a time
  • when they are browned on both sides, place in a 9×13 casserole dish in a 350 degree oven
  • continue this method until all the pork chops are cooked
  • clean the pan and pour more olive oil into it
  • saute the onions and peppers until soft
  • place these in a 250 oven if you have two or place it along with the pork chops and turn the heat down
  • in the same pan, add butter and melt
  • add flour and whisk until it turns colour
  • add salt. pepper and chicken broth
  • whisk and add in cream
  • transfer to a dish that you can pour it out of
  • assemble the supper by starting with the Quinoa tru-Roots blend
  • add the peppers and pork chop
  • top with the gravy and serve

sugar cookie cream bars with strawberries

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 (100 g) Lindt Swiss White Chocolate bar, melted
  • 2 cups strawberries, cut in half

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • spray a 7×11 pan with cooking spray
  • in a mixer, combine butter, sugar and vanilla
  • add flour and press into the bottom of the pan
  • bake for 30 minutes, until brown around the edges
  • allow to cool completely
  • beat cream cheese and melted white chocolate until well combined
  • spread over the cooled cookie crust
  • cut into squares and serve with strawberries

so as I age, I realize my body will slowly decline (it must be really hard for those that were excited with their bodies in their 20’s… I almost pity them)… but my mind and my soul are never more alive…

I have never felt so loved and cherished like I do now… at 37…

and in the haze these last few days and in the constant fight with the land to stop producing weeds and begin producing food, I know you can’t look back…  you have to live out each day and then the next and then the next… and not be afraid of it…

“oh we don’t know the roads that we’re heading down…  we don’t know if we’re lost, that we’ll find a way… we don’t know if we leave, will we make it home…  we don’t know, there’s hope, then we’ll be okay”

(the stumbellas)