Create

Fall Foliage…

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Here’s some rainy day fun to do with your littles this fall.  It’s an easy craft that lets them explore texture and color (and make a bit of a mess too!).  I find that E and I are constantly talking about the scenery whenever we’re in the truck together and as the seasons change we are both captivated by the beauty of nature and all the colours in our valley.  Next time you’re out and about stop and take in the fall display (I know that far too soon it’s going to be covered in white!) and then gather up some on-hand supplies to make your own snapshot art of the season!

All you need is some paint, paper, markers and then whatever interesting forms of texture you can come up with.  We used q-tips bundled up with an elastic, corks, and bunched up tin-foil.  Let your little draw a tree trunk with marker and then dip your “paintbrushes” in an array of fall coloured paint to create the leaves! So easy and so fun to see the colours mix and the textures blend.  E has his artwork tagged to go to his Noma  & Bubba and Grandma & Grandpa Stew (and I’m hoping one for me too!!).  I can see this being a fun project to complete in every season!  I’ve always had an adoration for the simplicity of a lone tree and love my little’s spin on it!

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Nosh

Squash Ravioli and Summer’s End

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The colder weather is making me dig out my cozy sweaters and dream of steaming bowls of pasta, fresh sauce and yummy cheeses.  This recipe takes advantage of the fall squash that are abundant this time of year.  It’s easy to make and freezes great.  Think about serving it for your next harvest dinner party to celebrate the crops and the end of a season.

You can use your favourite pasta dough recipe or search my blog for my healthier whole wheat pasta recipe (search ‘pasta’ or ‘Friday feasting’) or this one here:

  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Water to bring it all together
  • Put everything (except the water) in a food processor and blitz it up while gradually adding enough water to form a ball.  Cover the dough in wrap and chill in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

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For the filling I used buttercup squash because that’s what’s most plentiful in my garden but butternut squash would work just as well.  To roast the squash cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and place cut side down on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  I tucked a clove of garlic underneath each half as well.  Roast until the squash is soft and comes away from the skin easily.  Scoop out all the flesh and reserve for later or cool to use immediately.

Filling:

  • 2 cups roasted squash
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove roasted garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp (or to taste) grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • Mix all the ingredients well to combine.

Roll out your prepared pasta dough (by hand like me or with a pasta roller).  Drop filling by teaspoonfuls onto the base dough, leaving ample space to seal the borders.  Lightly brush the edges around the filling with water.  Place the top sheet of pasta over and press out air bubbles while you seal the edges.  Using a knife or roller (or even cookie cutters) cut around each mound of filling.  Place on lightly floured parchment paper to freeze or cook immediately in a large pot of salted boiling water.  Let ravioli float to the top of the boiling water and cook for another minute or so before removing gently with a slotted spoon and placing into serving platter or bowl. Do not overcrowd your pot, boil in batches as needed.

Browned Butter Sage Sauce

  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup butter
  • fresh sage leaves (6-8)
  • salt and pepper
  • In a saute pan melt the butter at a gentle medium heat.  Let the milk solids separate and cook to a golden brown.  While the butter is browning, crisp up the sage leaves in the pan as well.  Let them cook until they darken and start to curl.  Let drain on a paper towel and reserve to gently crumble over the dressed pasta.  Drizzle the browned butter over the hot pasta season with salt and pepper and enjoy!  (Optional: add some grated parmesan over top as well!)

 

I shared my bounty with my parents and brother and my mom made giant meatballs with fresh garden tomato sauce and a caprese panzanella salad.  It was so yummy…and the company wasn’t bad either!  Just another reason to make fall your favourite season!

Nosh

Top Notch Tomatoes

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I refuse to believe that summer is over.  I know that the leaves turning, the cooler nights, the back-to-school buzz and the last long weekend over screams otherwise but I refuse to believe it!  I can just frolic in oblivion right? Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy!  If you’re like me and continue to try and wring every last drop out of this season I have a super quick and delicious appetizer or meal accompaniment that is hanging onto summer just as hard as I am!

The tomatoes are bountiful right now and I’m happily picking buckets of this amazing fruit every morning using them in batches of salsa, sauce, slow-roasting them for soups and delicious bases and eating them fresh at every turn.  My mom gave E and two of his friends a tomato plant in the spring to take care of for the summer months and see who’s bares the biggest fruit.  He has taken great care in his plant, watering and watching it grow.  The other day he picked his first ripe tomato and then two more in the following days…He’s patiently waiting for more to turn.  I love that he’s interested in growing and tending to his own food.  Farmer through and through!

This recipe works with whatever kinds of tomatoes you have…grape, cherry, roma, heirloom, it makes no difference.  Just chop the larger ones up into quartered sections and feel free to leave the little ones right on the vine. (I love how this looks!). Toss them all into a baking dish, along with a bulb or two of garlic, sliced in half, a couple sprigs of thyme, a wheel or square of feta, a liberal drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 400* until the tomatoes are bubbling and browning and the feta is getting a golden crust.  Serve hot and bubbly with toasty baguette and a chilled bottle of proseco or a lemon-minted soda spritz and friends.  I swear it will prolong that summer feeling!

Recipe Recap:

  • Assorted tomatoes (large cut into smaller quarter sections)
  • 1-2 bulbs garlic (sliced in half)
  • fresh thyme
  • feta (wheel or square)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Bake in a 400* oven until golden, bubbly and garlic is softened.
Nosh

Feeding the Farm…easy meal ideas.

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Harvest means beating the clock and beating the weather to bring in the crops.  It means early mornings to get the other chores done, grease everything up to get out in the fields again and it means late nights.  It means long hot, sticky hours in the equipment.  It means dirt and dust, stubble and flies.  It means rough roads and turkey trails.  It means parts runs, loads to the elevator and anticipation to see the yields.  It means missing daddies (and mommies).  It means everything in terms of what we’ve worked hard for all year long.  The farm life is busy and full of hard work..sweat and tears and even blood.  It is being at the mercy of Mother Nature.  It is a gamble and it is faith.  It’s teaching the next generation.  It is our life and most of the time I wouldn’t change it for anything in this world!

I feed our farm crew during harvest and I often imagine how much a good meal can brighten up the monotony of each day so I take a lot of pride in what I do.  I try and create something each night that our cherished farmers can easily eat on the go but that is hearty and substantial and in some small way shows how much they are appreciated.  Here are some easy make-ahead ideas that can help all you other field meal workers out there…never underestimate the value of your position to the farm.  Food is an immediate ticket to the soul! (And if you’re not busy on the farm, these ideas are also great for back-to-school or quick staples to have in your freezer for busy weeknights!)

 

Savory Rolls:

All you need is your favourite bread dough recipe…Roll it out like you would for cinnamon rolls and then top with one of these creative savoury fillings:

  • Pizza: tomato sauce, diced pepperoni, ham, cooked sausage, or bacon (or all of the above), grated mozzarella, diced peppers or mushrooms.
  • Honey Mustard Ham: honey mustard (I mix up yellow mustard with honey and a bit of brown sugar), diced ham, grated cheddar.
  • Alfredo Chicken: Alfredo sauce, diced or shredded cooked chicken, cooked and drained spinach, grated mozzarella and grated parmesan.

Spread the sauce then the chopped meat and vegetables and finish with the grated cheese, roll and slice like you would cinnamon rolls, let rise and then bake.  Delicious served hot or cold!

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Meat Pockets or Hand Pies:

Roll out the dough (recipe as follows) and cut into circles, or squares, top with filling then cover with another circle or fold over half the square (to make a rectangle), crimp the edges with a fork and freeze on parchment lined cookie sheets (then toss into plastic air-tight containers or bags to be cooked from frozen later) or bake(at 375* for 20 mins or so…ovens vary) until golden immediately.  These can be made in any shape or size!

Dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp lard or butter
  • 1 whole egg & 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup cold water (plus or minus to bring dough to proper consistency.)
  • Mix lard into dry ingredients until course crumbs, add eggs then slowly add water to combine.  Can be make in the food processor as well.  Add everything at once except the water, whiz up then slowly add the water until a ball is formed.  Chill half hour or so then roll out and fill. (I love this dough, it is so easy to work with!)

Filling ideas:

  • chicken pot pie
  • taco
  • pizza
  • chicken alfredo
  • broccoli and cheese

 

 

 

 

Nosh

A is for Apple

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If an apple a day keeps the doctor away woah am I set for a week or two!  Tis the season, the trees are heavy with fruit (except for my young trees, this year brought us no fruit…zero, nada, zilch)! Lucky for us my cousin offered up his orchard for all the picking we wanted and safe to say, we have our fill!

There’s something kind of bittersweet in filling these pails.  It’s the beginning of a new season and there’s starting to be a crispness in the air that tells us fall is on the way. Harvest is upon us, the evening air is thick with dust and the hum of distant combines…  Sweaters come out of hiding and spicy notes of cinnamon and clove hit our senses. As a farmwife my days are filled with hurried meal prep, driving to and fro to help move farm equipment, picking all things ready from the garden and my evenings are spent in solitude after the little goes to bed.  I often get my large soup pot out on these evenings and create my own gentle hum in the kitchen while I prepare my daily produce collection for the long winter months ahead.  On my to-do list this past week has been my apple haul!

I try to make apple sauce every year.  (There always seems to be somebody trying to get rid of apples even though my orchard is sparse!). I like to make one batch plain to use for more savoury items such as a side for pork roast or smoky BBQ sauce add-in and it’s great for substituting in many baking recipes for added health benefits.  The other batch I always try to make is one I spice up with ground clove, cinnamon and ginger and sweeten with honey.  This is a yummy snack all on it’s own or boiled down even further for a lucious apple butter to serve on scones or biscuits.  It’s also great stirred into our morning oatmeal then topped with raisins!  Apple sauce is kind of the unsung hero of the food world in my opinion.  It’s so forgiving and with my handy food mill once I cook down the halved fruits, mashing it into that yummy puree is so easy!  It’s not just for baby food!

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This year I also tried my hand at some crab apple jelly.  This is my first time taking the fruit all the way through this process on my own…Usually my mom generously shares her hard-work with me and gives me some juice she’s already prepared.  The color of my jelly is a lot lighter than I usually make (likely due to the apples I used) but I think it’s stunning regardless.  I can’t wait to dollop it on fresh bread!

Lastly, I saved some of my harvest for pure tradition.  My grandma always makes these perfect little apple turnovers this time of year.  She would always send out a tub to both our farm and my uncle’s farms for field meals and for us kids to scarf!  A few years ago I spent a day with my grandma and got her to teach me how to make this time-honoured tradition.  It was such a cherished day.  Now each year I try to make these treats and share them with my dad, brothers and my husband’s farm crew.  I always have a stock of this yummy apple filling in the freezer so each year I can continue with this tradition.

Here’s the recipe for the filling (which would be yummy in all sorts of things; apple pie pockets/handpies, a full traditional apple pie, stirred into muffin batter or even just eaten warm with a scoop of ice-cream)!

  • 8 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Cook until apples start to soften then add 3 Tbsp cornstarch (as a slurry)
  • Sprinkle 1/2 pkg vanilla instant pudding over and stir well.
  • Freeze in pint sized containers

I think we often under-estimate the power of this abundant fruit.  This time of year I always get a bit over-zealous with my fruit and vegetable preserving but I am never sorry when in the depths of winter I can pull a jar from the pantry or a tub from the freezer and taste a bit of summer splendour!  What ways do you use up this crisp and hearty gem? I’d love to hear from you!