A few days ago I was working in the kitchen, blanching heads and heads of broccoli. Rick came through the door and asked me to come outside. A dear customer ( that would be you, Alice!) had something for me, something she made. Alice reads the blog and loved the story of our raven friends that visit the sheep in late February or March. You can visit this post to read about the ravens and the sheep. Alice is a very accomplished and creative rug hooker. This is the delightful gift she brought to me…..oh my! A hand hooked rug depicting the story between sheep and ravens. I was stunned! Well, this rug sampler has become a prized piece of work in our home. It will sit on the table so that we can enjoy it over and over again. It will remind us of Alice’s generosity and talent, and her thoughts to capture our raven /sheep story in wool. How appropriate. Thank you, Alice….the little rug is precious and a delight, truly!
It is a bit true that a part of my everyday is spent indoors processing the vegetables that come in. Tomatoes are beginning to pour in along with the broccoli, green beans, and peas. Oh yes, no shortage of squash either. Zucchini, anyone? The show stopping meal this week was this tomato pie. It’s a favorite here in the house, one that Noah would order on a weekly basis. If your tomatoes are ripe and you want to make something really special, try this tomato cheddar pie. Ooh la la!
Checking the status of the vegetables we store for the winter is a weekly task. How are the onions holding up? Are the beets still staying firm? We go through the stored boxes of vegetables looking for any that may have gotten soft or are beginning to spoil. We check the potatoes, turnip, beets and garlic. We turn over each winter squash looking for brown or soft spots that may indicate its limited shelf life. By doing this weekly, we can often make use of a vegetable before it has really turned. This week I brought down some butternut squash that had a couple of tiny blemishes. Not rotten or soft, but having a potential of heading in that direction. So, let’s throw them into the mix of this week’s menu before they’re lost. Waste not want not, a good old saying. Squash soup is probably one of the easiest soups to make. No formal recipe needed, and it’s a good ‘ stick to your ribs’ kind of soup. And…… extra special served with some homemade biscuits.
Here’s how we make ours: ( although we are never opposed to changing things up and throwing in new ingredients).
First, I roast or bake the squash. This is the most timing saving way for me to have the flesh cooked without having to peel the squash. Cut the squash in half, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, maybe a little smear of butter and maple syrup, and place face ( flesh) down on a cookie sheep. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until very soft. This will depend on the size of the squash. Take out and let cool a bit so you can comfortably scoop the cooked flesh from the skin.
In a large pot saute some chopped onions and a clove of garlic with 3 or 4 TBLS. of butter. Cook until soft and translucent. Add your cooked squash along with some chicken stock. The amount of chicken stock is determined by how thick or thin you want your soup. You may be adding some cream or whole milk towards the end if you want a richer soup, so keep this in mind when adding liquid. From here, you can add the herbs or spices you think may pair well with squash. Thyme is nice. A bit of ground ginger goes well. We often add a pinch of cayenne pepper and a small bit of tamari. Smoked paprika would be yummy. On a cold night this makes a satisfying meal…….along with those biscuits I mentioned, of course. As we rummage through our squash supply, I’ll keep you posted on all the other ways we use them in recipes. Enjoy!
I spent part of this morning making a batch of granola bars. Noah almost always takes one ( or two) to work for a mid morning snack. Often here at the nursery, in the late afternoon, we need a little ‘pick me up’ to go along with our tea. Granola bars are often the perfect thing…..a little nibble to restore our energy. Store bought granola bars can be expensive and often they contain high fructose corn syrup and other not so lovely ingredients. So, we make them at home, and the best part….no cooking required! Our recipe ( which was once passed on to me from who knows where) goes like this: First we toast about 2 cups of organic rolled oats along with 1 cup of nuts, toasting is optional( 350 degrees, about 10 minutes). Most often we use sliced almonds. Then we mix together 1/4 cup of peanut butter, 1/4 cup of honey ( or maple syrup), 1 cup of very finely chopped dates ( done in food processor), and about 1/2 cup of some other seeds or nuts. We usually go for sunflower seeds. This all gets mixed with the toasted oats and almonds. We then press it into an 8 by 8 baking pan and let it sit a bit to harden. Some time spent in the refrigerator helps with this. A layer of parchment paper or saran wrap in the bottom of the pan helps to keep the granola bars from sticking too much. These are really tasty granola bars and super easy to make, and just one more thing we don’t have to buy at the grocery store. Yeah!