Hearty Harvest Meals

These meal ideas are fabulous — no matter where your ‘kitchen table’ is at this busy time of year.  Originally published on the Canola Eat Well blog on August 24, 2015.

Harvest is now underway, but for many of us at a snails pace as high humidity and frequent rainfalls persist.  Last night in our area, it was unusually quiet after another 21 mm of rain fell — the chirping of crickets the only sound in the evening air. Here’s hoping for a good, long stretch of warm, dry days ahead so combining can resume. 


IMG_20160821_233418For many the end of summer brings a twinge of sadness. Not so for farmers. Usually it’s an exhilarating time filled with excitement, gratitude and relief. Another growing season is behind us and it’s finally time to reap the rewards.

The hum of combines is music to our ears. Country roads are bustling as trucks roll up and down hauling crop from fields to bins. Eyes are always to the sky as we hope for ideal harvest conditions. This is our final ‘dance’ with Mother Nature for the year and we hope it’s a smooth one.

The days can be long and hectic, so keeping the harvest crew fueled with healthy, nutritious meals is key. Thankfully, fresh local produce is abundant whether it be from your garden, the farmers’ market, a roadside stand or the grocery store.

Simple recipes packed with vegetables, which can be prepared ahead of time, are perfect for harvest. Convenience is key – whether taking meals to the field or looking for something which warms up easily if your crew prefers to keep working until weather conditions shut them down.

Apple-Galette-2_WEB

Apple Galette – Photo Courtesy of MB Canola Growers

Beef Braised and Vegetable Stew fits the bill perfectly, using onions, carrots and rutabagas. Stew gives you the versatility to change up the vegetables if you wish. Corn-on-the-cob is a quick, easy side and Cheddar Baking Powder Biscuits are ideal to mop up your plate. Pie is always appreciated for dessert but is something this cook has never mastered. This simple, no-fail, fuss-free Apple Galette is every bit as good!

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Spice It Up Paste for Chicken Legs – Photo Courtesy of MB Canola Growers

On those really hot days your may prefer more picnic-like fare. Pasta salads are always a hit and an easy way to add more veggies to a meal. Put your own twist on Angel Wings Pasta. It pairs perfectly with chicken pieces seasoned with Spice-It-Up Paste.  If you have an abundance of greens to use, Roasted Beet Salad is fabulous.

 

Jenns-Chewy-Granola-Bars

Jenn’s Chewy Granola Bars – Photo Courtesy of MB Canola Growers

‘Grab and go’ desserts are convenient and can do double duty for lunch boxes and snacks. Have a bumper crop of zucchini or a neighbour dropping it off on your doorstep?  Eggless Double-Chocolate Zucchini Cake or Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins make a perfect finish with fresh fruit. Jenn’s Chewy Granola Bars are another great option and handy to have on stock in the freezer.

No matter the meal-time choices, this time of year your efforts are always appreciated. Taking a break is good for mind and body, it enhances farm safety and gives you time to connect with your family and friends. Everyone is always happy to sit down to a hearty meal.

I sometimes think back to the days of wood stoves, no refrigeration and large threshing gangs that needed to be fed three times a day. I admire the hard-working women who labored from dawn to dusk to get the job done. It makes me grateful for modern conveniences, the ease in which a meal can be prepared and many choices we now have.

Wishing you well as you transition your ‘farm table’ from the kitchen to the field.  May you have a safe and bountiful harvest!

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Learn. Create. Eat. ~ Spicing it up with Chef Raghavan Iyer

When the Canola Eat Well team asks you to volunteer for an event, there is only one answer, “Absolutely!” You are guaranteed to learn along with the participants and will always leave feeling inspired.

2016-06-09 15.57.08On June 9th I had the opportunity to assist at an extraordinary workshop held at Kelburn Farm, just south of Winnipeg. The Manitoba Canola Growers hosted over 100 guests in conjunction with the Dieticians of Canada conference.

One of the my favourite highlights involved food, which for those of you who know me is no surprise! My taste buds were taken on a tour of India with a divine meal prepared by the award-winning Chef MJ Feeke and her incredible team. It was inspired from Chef Raghavan Iyer’s cookbook, “Indian Cooking Unfolded.”

2016-06-09 19.07.03Indian Slaw, Truck Stop Beans, Sweet Scented Pilaf, Cardamom Fennel with Firm White Fish along with Corn Bread & Mustard Greens were plated beautifully and served ‘family style’ at our tables. Every single bite was delectable.  No one passed on second helpings when the bowls of food made another round.

Indian cooking is not in my repertoire, nor did I think it ever would be. But as we ate our meal, Chef Raghavan and Registered Dietician, Patricia Chuey broke it down, banished a few myths and made me believe that I too, could bring this fabulous cuisine to my kitchen table.

Chef Raghavan & Patricia Cheuy, RD - dynamic duo with seamless, informative & hilarious banter.  Courtesy of Canola Eat Well

Chef Raghavan Iyer & Patricia Cheuy, RD – dynamic duo with seamless, informative and entertaining banter. Photo courtesy of Canola Eat Well

As I savoured the delicious meal, I also gathered a few key take-a-way points from Chef Raghavan’s conversation and demonstation with the practical, adorable and comedic Patricia Chuey.

2016-06-09 16.24.101.   “Curry is not a flavour, it is an entity”. In India, curry has nothing to do with spices, it is about sauce but spices form the backbone to the many sauces.

2.   Do not ask if food is ‘spicy’! Ask if it is ‘hot’ – heat is a component of spice.

P11600263.   Chef Raghavan loves canola oil because, “It takes a backseat to the diva of Indian food, which is spices.” It is perfect for cooking as it has no flavour and a high smoke point.

4.   Body language plays an important role in cooking.      Do you want saltiness without too much salt? Don’t get so close to your food! Sprinkle salt from higher above, you will use less and get the desired effect.

5.   Searing is important. When searing fish, give it time.

6.   Cooking spices changes the flavours. To cook them without burning, coat them in a little canola oil first.

Indian Slaw - Shel Zolkewich Photo

Indian Slaw – Shel Zolkewich Photo

7.  Always ask yourself, “Does your recipe ‘sing’?”

8.   Presentation, presentation, presentation! “If it looks like s#*t…” Remember we eat with our eyes too!

9.   If you haven’t tried cooking Indian food before, start with one of Chef Raghavan’s all-time favourites, Turmeric Hash Browns aka “Shredded Wonders.”

10.   Don’t be afraid to unfold the flavours. Experiment. Enjoy. Celebrate.

P1160027It is never too late to learn and learning in the kitchen never gets old! Now with my own copy of Chef Raghavan’s “Indian Cooking Unfolded” it’s time to get started and meld some new and fascinating flavours to spice things up at my farm table!

Southwest Fiesta Chicken Soup

On a cold, windy winter day, one of my favourite things to make is a hearty pot of soup.  It is so versatile. There are no hard and fast rules – anything goes.  Start with a good base, use what you have on hand ~ be creative! 

This morning I planned on making my classic chicken and rice soup, but half a cabbage in my fridge was awaiting transformation. This led to an unintentional shift in direction.

I began with my usual chicken soup base of onion, celery and carrot and added the lonely, left-over the cabbage. The mixture was too pale for my liking so I added a jar of salsa. There was a cup of green peppers from the garden still in the freezer, so in they went. Corn added a touch of yellow and considering  it is the International Year of Pulses, a can of black of beans seemed in order.  

Suddenly my chicken soup had a ‘southwest fiesta’ zip to it – not what I intended, but the results were delicious!  A colourful, fabulous warm-you-right-up, meal-in-a-bowl. Carbohydrates ✓  Protein ✓   Fibre ✓  Veggies ✓  Lunches for the week ahead  ✓                Flavourful ✓✓✓

Give it a try!  Measurements are not set in stone, but I like at least half my pot to filled with veggies.  Always aim for Half Your Plate!  Feel free to adjust amounts to your taste.  


Southwest Fiesta Chicken Soup

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Ingredients:

  •   2–4 cloves of garlic
  •  1 large onion
  •  ¼ – ½  head of cabbage
  •  4–6 carrots
  •  2–4 stalks of celery
  •  2 tbsp canola oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  •  2/3 cup wild rice
  •  900 ml chicken stock
  •  418 ml jar of salsa (mild, medium or hot)
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn
  •  1 green pepper, chopped
  •  4 + cups of water, to desired thickness
  •  540 ml can black beans
  •  2 – 4 cooked chicken breasts

Garnish options:

  • Crushed corn chips
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Sliced green onions

Directions:

  1. Finely chop garlic and set aside.*
  2. Dice onions, cabbage, carrots and celery.
  3. In Dutch Oven or stock pot, warm canola oil over medium heat.
  4. Throw in diced veggies, season with salt and pepper and sauté for                about  10 minutes or until softened.
  5. Toss in garlic, sauté additional 1–2 minutes.
  6. Add rice, chicken stock, salsa, corn, green pepper and water.
  7. Cover the pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30–45 minutes.
  8. Drain and rinse beans, dice chicken. Stir into soup . Warm thoroughly.
  9. Serve as is or garnish with corn chips, shredded cheese & green onion.

Note:

*Pro-tip  for garlic from Professional Home Economist Mairlyn Smith – “For its antioxidants to become more bioavailable, garlic needs to oxidize before it is added to a recipe. By letting it sit there “breathing” the oxidation can take place.”