Moving to North Dakota has opened my eyes to several new crops I had never been exposed to before… Canola was one of these crops. We don’t grow it in our area, but some in North Dakota do. Canola, however, is a mainstay crop for our friends to the North in Canada. Quite honestly, I may have to find a field of it growing just so I can take photos when it blooms. Much like flax, Canola is GORGEOUS when it is blooming. Teresa from Manitoba, Canada has been involved in agriculture her whole life. From growing up on the farm to now working in agriculture, Teresa has a passion for what she does as she shares on her blog Rural Route Ramblings. She shared a recipe with me using Canola oil for muffins. I must say, I was very intrigued by Carrot and Beet muffins. But they turned out fantastic! Love the flavor combination.
Crystal City, Manitoba, Canada
- When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
My parents began farming more than 40 years ago and continue to live on the same farmyard and farm much of the same land in southern Manitoba. My two older brothers now farm with them – it is truly a family farm (98% of Canadian farms are family owned and operated). I now work in the agriculture industry for a crop protection company based in Calgary, Alberta.
- Are there any differences between your farm now and your farm when you were a kid?
Whenever I return to the family farm, I’m reminded of how much it has changed over the years. And the word big comes to mind. Almost everything is bigger, or at least seems bigger – the land, the machinery, the grain bins and buildings. While farms are increasing in size, the number of farms and farmers continues to decline in Canada. This means each remaining farm now has to produce even more to help feed a growing world population. Today, a Canadian farmer feeds over 120 people, while a century ago the farmer could only feed about 10 people.
- What crops (or animals) do you grow and why?
Our area of the Canadian Prairies is truly canola country. We grow mainly canola and spring wheat, sometimes barley.
- What do you think was the most useful advance in farming such as machinery, genetics, chemicals, etc?
Agriculture has evolved, and will continue to evolve. There have been many useful advances in farming over the years. Innovations in plant science such as plant biotechnology help farmers grow safe, high yielding and high quality crops without converting more land into farmland. Pesticides have also helped increase productivity by between 20 and 50 per cent over the last 50 years. This increased productivity allows farmers to produce more crops on existing land. Essentially, growing more with less.
- What is your favorite thing to do with a food crop you grow?
Growing up, my mom and I spent many hours in the farm kitchen baking and cooking. Canola oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant. Canola oil is known for its health benefits. We use canola oil in many baking recipes such as Pineapple Carrot Muffins, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, and Beet and Carrot Muffins featured here. To this day, I still reach for the canola oil, not only because of the health benefits, but because I know I’m supporting our Canadian canola growers.
- Any memories you want to share about this feature ingredient?
Canola is often referred to as Western Canada’s Cinderella crop because of its humble beginnings and fast climb to multi-billion dollar status. Canola was developed by researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the University of Manitoba in the 1970s, using traditional plant breeding techniques. The oilseed is my favorite crop because of its bright yellow flowers. Growing up and to this day, the countryside around my family farm is a sea of yellow during the summer. Now that I live off the farm, I enjoy driving home in the heart of summer – July – and seeing the beautiful blooming yellow canola fields. Fun fact: The name canola is a contraction of Canada and ola, meaning oil.
I didn’t have any raw beets so I just used canned beets. Besides the fact it was messy, it worked just fine otherwise. My dough seemed to be a little thick, so I added 1/3 cup water to this mixture. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as given here!
- 3/4 cup oil
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup raw beets, grated
- 1 cup raw carrots, grated
- 1 cup raisins (optional)
- Beat the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and hot water until well combined. Add the rest of the ingredients. Fill the muffin cups and cake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes.
- This recipe can also be baked in a loaf pan or angel cake pan.
This post is part of my Thirty Days of Food series where I am writing about food and farming for the entire month of November, to find out more about it all or how to follow along, visit my Thirty Days of Food page or click the photo below to find more great recipes with farmer features!