Prairie Spruce Potatoes in our Garden, and in Bed?

About 20 years ago, when I was a new bride, my mother-in-law Eva saw me peeling store bought potatoes. She promised to bring me in some potatoes from the farm the next time she came to town. Having grown up on a farm with the obligatory giant farm garden, I was none too fond of store bought potatoes and was happy at the prospect of real potatoes.


As promised, Eva showed up a few days later with a 5 gallon pail of potatoes. I was wondering if they would be red potatoes (best for making perogies) or white potatoes (best for baked potatoes). It never crossed my mind, that there were any other kinds of potatoes. Apparently there are; she had brought me a pail of Bintje potatoes.

They look delightful, don’t they. What you don’t know is that the size you are seeing them right now is pretty close to real size. The big ones are about the size of you thumb. I kept a smile plastered on my face as I thought these were the potatoes we left in the garden in the fall because they were toooooooo small. Keep smiling… I am not peeling those things. Keep smiling… maybe I can bake them or something. Keep smiling…what am I going to do with 5 gallons of teeny tiny potatoes.

I soon discovered that the absolute best way to eat Bintje potatoes is at Eva’s house. She boils them with the peels on and Knud peels them while they are still super hot. The potatoes are then put in a bowl, covered with a potato doily (yes, they have one – don’t you?) and put into the bed under the feather quilt until the rest of supper is ready.

I have become a Bintje potato purist as I don’t bother with butter or gravy, I just eat them plain. Sometimes I even skip dessert and just have more potatoes. Well, on the off chance someone in the family reads this, I guess I should correct that. I eat dessert and then eat more potatoes.

If you ask Eva, I’m sure she would make them for you at our next community shared meal. If you ask Knud, he might even tell you the story of how those potatoes got to Canada. These types of stories are of course best told in community, and around a table filled with great food. Let us know if you’d like to be part of our next community meal.


Cohousing Recipes: Gluten-Free Brownies

In this third of four recipes, we get to the sweet stuff: dessert! As part of Joanne’s role as community meal prepper last week, she wanted to prepare items that reflected the diversity of food values and choices within the community. Being a self-described “meatatarian”, she is somewhat unaccustomed to preparing non-omnivore meals but she wanted to be respectful of her friends’ personal values and dietary requirements. The series is meant to showcase the respect and love we can show one another, simply by caring about what people can, and choose to eat in community.

Joanne says: I couldn’t ignore our friends with gluten allergies. I haven’t eaten very much gluten-free baking, but these brownies have a deep, rich chocolate taste. They are not only good gluten-free brownies; they are just plain old great brownies.

Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

Black bean brownies
Photo courtesy of Mårten Persson on Flickr


  • 1 cup  canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Starch/Flour (couldn’t find it so I used rice flour)
  •  6 oz gluten-free semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mixed nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil 8 inch pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler, stirring until smooth. Stir in sugar and then stir in eggs one at a time.
  3. Using a food processor, puree beans until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well (in the food processor) Add flour and mix until no longer grainy.
  4. Stir in 1/2 cup nuts into batter and transfer to pan. Sprinkle remaining nuts on top.
  5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean but brownies are still slightly fudgy in the center – about 45 minutes.
  6. Let cool before cutting.

Thirty-Five Pounds of Potatoes, Family and Friends

What can you make from 35 pounds of potatoes, 12 pounds of onions, 8 pounds of bacon and 7 cohousers? – Happiness, community and a lot of perogies!


Prairie-Spruce-Perogies-Assembly-Team-400x284Growing up on a farm outside Yorkton, it was hard not to become Ukrainian by association. When most of the neighbours were Ukrainian, and half the family married Ukrainians, it didn’t take too long to learn how to cook some amazing ethnic dishes.

I have fond memories of making perogies with my mother and grandmother and being amazed at how perfect grandma’s perogies were. They were all the same size and were perfect half moons. The ones I made usually looked like a blob or a skinny chicken. The very best times were getting together with all the neighbour ladies to make perogies for someone’s wedding. There would be 15 or 20 women in the kitchen rolling dough, pinching perogies, cooking perogies and onions. Much advice would be shared with the bride and many stories would be told about married life.

Perogie Murray
Murray cutting dough.

I am looking forward to moving into cohousing and finding my home community again. We had a trial run last Saturday when together with Eva and Knud, Murray and Lois, and Henning, Erik and I we neatly folded and pinched enough perogies to use up the 55 lbs of filling that we had made. Combined with much conversation and laughter we worked together as a well-oiled machine. We broke for lunch and sampled the fresh perogies we had just made, sautéed in cream with onions, and accompanied by Ukrainian garlic sausage. They were fabulous. After lunch we worked for a couple hours more to finish off the second half of the filling. We ended with a cup of tea and the good feeling of a job well done.

We have a process and it has over time morphed and been optimized for a given number of people. As we move into cohousing, this process will be expanded and changed to accommodate greater numbers, but we are sure that the camaraderie and the laughter will always be a part of our little perogies productions.


Prairie Spruce Halloween Treat – Crispy Witches Fingers

With Halloween only a few days away, I thought I’d share this yummy Halloween delicacy!

My friend Barb and I often get together before Halloween to make Crispy Witches’ Fingers. During our traditional visit, we take great delight in sharing stories of people’s extraordinary reactions when the Fingers have been served to family and friends.  Reactions have ranged from roars of laugher, to screams of horror! Give them a try, if you are brave enough!

Witches fingers
Image courtesy of Tatyana on Flickr

Prairie Spruce Commons – Crispy Witches Fingers

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1 tube Red decorator gel (aka blood for fingers)

In one bowl beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla.  In a second bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Roll the dough so it is similar in width and length of medium sized pointer fingers.  Place on greased baking sheets.  Pinch the dough slightly together ¼ and ¾ up the finger.  At the ½ way point of the finger, press lightly with a small three pronged fork, to form the middle knuckle.  At the top of the fingers, use one whole almond to press slight nail indentations into the dough. 

Bake cookies at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. 

Decorate the fingers after they have cooled.  Squeeze the red decorator gel about the size of a medium round garden pea at the end of the finger where you will be inserting the “nail”.  Before the decorator gel dries, lay one whole blanched almond onto the nail indentation and red gel, then gently press into the gel.  Allow time for the red gel to set, before moving the fingers or putting into a container to store.

Image Courtesy of Mary Crandell on Flickr

Enjoy & Happy Halloween!


Reminder: Sharing for the Future Concert

At Prairie Spruce, we’re passionate about creating meaningful, sustainable relationships in Regina. On Wednesday evening (tomorrow, Oct 22), we’ll be using two great connectors to make that happen: food & music! Everything is in place for our Creating Community Event and we hope you’ll join us for what promises to be a fun evening.

Many of you have already expressed interest in attending and it’s still not too late to let us know of your intentions to join us. You can either join the Facebook event page or send us an email. Whether you’re coming for the food, the music, or perhaps both, we hope you’ll leave the evening richer with the personal connections you’ve made over the course of the concert!

Would You Like Some Apple Pie With That?

Apple Pie Means Community to Prairie Spruce Cohousing
Photo courtesy of bcveen on Flickr

Nothing says community like home baked apple pie. That’s why we’re serving apple pie (and ice cream) at our next Community Building Event and Info Session on October 1 at the George Bothwell Library. We want to show all you folks out there what Prairie Spruce is all about. We’d also love to brainstorm ideas with you about how we can effectively get the word out about our awesome community.

Why are you going to want to be a part of Prairie Spruce?

  • The building will designed and built with some of the newest innovations in building technology including:
    • In-floor cooling and heating
    • Solar power ready
    • Grey water ready
    • Several rooftop gardens
  • The location is second to none, within walking distance of parks, restaurants, coffee shops, and down town.
  • The shared living space gives you the community feel of a friendly neighbourhood, while your individual condo gives you the privacy you want.
  • Lastly we think our people are the best part about Prairie Spruce. Community is something we all strongly believe in and think we should surround ourselves with people we know, like and trust.

If you do wish to come meet a bunch of likeminded individuals who care deeply about our community contact us here and let us know that you’ll be enjoying some apple pie with us on Wednesday. We always like making new friends!