Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Slow Roasted Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Garlic and Oregano

Slow Roasted Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Garlic and Oregano

Yesterday I slow roasted five pounds of small, ripe, homegrown tomatoes given to me by a generous co-worker who owns a hobby farm. By slow roasting, I mean four or more hours at a low 200 – 250 degrees fahrenheit. Slow roasting minimizes moisture loss and concentrates flavor. I wanted to reduce the moisture content – not dry it out or burn it.  

Five pounds of small to medium tomatoes (variety)

Five pounds of small to medium tomatoes (variety)

Five pounds of tomatoes, halved and placed on parchment lined baking pans

Five pounds of tomatoes, halved and placed on parchment lined baking pans

 

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

  • 5 lbs. small to medium sized tomatoes, stems and blemishes removed, cut in halves
  • 1 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling over tomatoes
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, basil or thyme, rinsed and towel dried
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into four halves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2-3 flat baking pan (cookie sheet or roasting pan) with parchment paper. Place tomato halves cut side up. Be careful not to crowd the pan, allowing space between the tomato halves. Sprinkle the tomato halves with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and drizzle lightly and evenly with olive oil.

Place the pans on the oven racks and roast for two hours. Check every hour and the rotate pans. Raise temperature to 250 and roast for another 2 or more hours. The tomatoes will be done when the moisture is mostly reduced but still soft to the touch. The tomatoes will be much smaller and darker reddish brown but not burned or even scorched. Some of the smaller tomatoes might appear more “sundried” than the larger tomatoes. This is acceptable, depending on the outcome you desire.

In a clean quart-sized jar, insert a piece of garlic and the herb sprig. Spoon in about a fourth of the tomatoes. Then layer in another piece of garlic with another fourth of the tomatoes, and repeat this step two more times until there are no tomatoes or sliced garlic remaining. Add enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes then jostle (do not shake) the jar lightly to remove any air bubbles and then fasten the lid. There is no need to seal the jar in a hot water bath, but remember to keep the jar refrigerated and use clean utensils when handling the tomato pieces.

These tomatoes are delicious eaten on toast with fresh goat cheese, tossed into pasta, stacked into your favorite sandwich. This is concentrated tomato flavor, so a little goes a long way. Store covered in the fridge for a few weeks but I bet it won’t last that long.

The smell of tomatoes roasting makes me feel calm and happy.

The smell of tomatoes roasting makes me feel calm and happy.

 

Roasted tomatoes ready for the jar.

Roasted tomatoes ready for the jar.

Recipe for “This Pizza”

Oh yeah. This Pizza. Skagit River Ranch uncured bacon, Yukon gold potato, and a mix of Gruyere and Cougar Gold cheeses with caramelized onions, garlic sautéed broccoli – all placed over a heavy cream base. Incredibly warm, rich and filling this pizza is best served with a green salad and an ice cold beverage. I was sipping a negroni cocktail while making it.

This Pizza

This Pizza

Pizza dough is very easy to make – it’s just flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and water – but there are grab and go options for those who don’t want to bother with mixing dough at home. Mark Bittman has a reliable homemade dough recipe and local bakeries Grand Central Baking Co. and Essential Baking Co have reliably good pizza dough, as Whole Foods Market also sells pizza dough made with organic flour. Regardless of the origin of your dough, prepare your pizza dough hours before cooking to allow it to thaw and rise. There are gluten free options that would work really well, too. Check out this recipe at The Art of Gluten Free Baking.

Most of the fresh toppings I used were organic and sourced locally from farmers markets here in Seattle but can be found in most grocery stores that sell fresh foods. Gruyere cheese, cream and Yukon Gold potatoes can also be found at just about any grocery store these days. For those who live outside Washington state, you can order a tin of Cougar Gold Cheese and have it shipped. Skagit River Ranch bacon is available to locals only. While I believe that their bacon is far superior than anything I’ve ever tasted, you may substitute it with another uncured slab bacon or Canadian style uncured bacon. I strongly encourage sourcing your meat from local farms if possible. You’ll get a cleaner product and you’ll have the opportunity to learn how the animal was raised, slaughtered, etc. Farm direct meat is typically more expensive (because small farms are not subsidized by the government, you pay the real cost of production) but if you eat less meat in your overall diet, the quality of life will improve and the impact on your budget should balance out. I made This Pizza is a Friday night treat to celebrate the end of my summer vacation. Please don’t eat like this every day. It will kill you.

The recipe makes one 12 inch pizza and serves 4 adults (cut into 8 slices). I use a very worn 15 inch pizza stone to bake pizza but a regular cookie sheet can work just fine.

This Pizza

  • 1 prepared pizza dough (16 oz.)
  • 5 slices uncured Skagit River Ranch bacon
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, boiled and sliced into wedges and lightly oiled and salted
  • 1/2 yellow or purple onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 5 broccoli spears, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 lb. Cougar Gold cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 lb. Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream (I used Organic Valley)

Preheat your oven to 500 F.

In large frying pan or saute pan, fry the bacon on medium heat until cooked through but not too brown. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain and set aside. Add the onion slices to the pan with the reserved bacon grease and saute on medium heat until caramelized. Transfer onions to a small bowl and set aside. In the same pan, heat about a teaspoon of olive oil and then add the sliced broccoli spears, a pinch of salt, red pepper flakes and minced garlic. Saute on medium heat until the broccoli begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Grate the cheeses using a food processor or cheese grater. Mix with your hand to combine and set aside. Arrange all of the toppings in a central work area in your kitchen where you will assemble your pizza.  This is your mis en place of boiled sliced potato, sauteed broccoli, caramelized onion, cooked bacon strips, shredded cheese and cream.)

Assuming you have prepared your dough according to instructions, it’s time to roll it out. On a hard flat surface (a wooden pastry cutting board works great), roll out your dough with a rolling pin or flatten using your hands. Once the dough is flattened out to about 15 inches round (or rectangle if using a cookie sheet), fold the dough in half, and then fold in half again and then transfer it to your pizza stone or cookie sheet. Unfold the dough carefully, pinching together any holes that may have been created during transfer. Use your rolling pin or hands to flatten again and reshape.

Now the fun part!  Assemble This Pizza.

Pour the cream into the center of the raw crust and then smear it thoroughly using the back of the spoon to coat. This is your base. Next sprinkle the cheese mixture to thoroughly cover the crust. Then place the salted oiled potato wedges in a spiral or circle around the pizza. Then sprinkle the caramelized onions over the top of the potatoes. Place the bacon strips on the pizza in the shape of a tire spoke. Lastly sprinkle the sauteed broccoli and remaining bits of garlic and red pepper flakes left in the pan, over the top. Finish the pizza preparation by pulling in about one inch of dough around the whole pizza to create an edge. This edge makes the pizza easy to handle for eating out of hand, and also helps prevent cheese leakage while cooking. This Pizza is not a very wet pizza so this last step is not required.

Using pot holders on both hands, place the raw pizza in the center of the hot oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Turn down the heat to 350 F and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the edges are dark golden brown and the broccoli and bacon are singed but not too burnt.  Carefully remove from the oven and set aside on a bread board or the pizza stone foundation.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes to cool and set before slicing. Slice with a sharp pizza cutter and serve warm.

Let me know what you think!

 

 

 

 

Farmers Market Finds: Best of the Summer Season

Yesterday I visited the Ballard Farmers Market to collect fresh groceries after returning from a weeklong visit to Texas. Last week was also National Farmers Market Week (Aug. 3-9) and the Farmers Market Coalition created this clever infographic showing the ways farmers market contribute to a healthy, local food economy. In my view August is the most exciting month to witness the diversity of summer produce from Washington state. With my lengthy shopping list in hand, here is what I ended up buying:

Cassius and Roxy stand with this week's farmers market finds.

Cassius and Roxy stand with this week’s farmers market finds.

Growing Things Farm (Carnation, WA)

  • Scallions
  • Squash Blossoms
  • Green Beans

Alvarez Organic Farm (Mabton, WA)

  • Peppers (padron, poblano chile and sweet yellow)
  • Sweet Corn
  • Watermelon
  • Eggplant

Gaia’s Harmony Farm (Snohomish, WA)

  • Raspberries

Collins Family Orchard (Selah, WA)

  • Peaches

Skagit River Ranch (Sedro-Woolley, WA)

  • Uncured Bacon

Stokesberry Farm (Olympia, WA)

  • Chicken Eggs

Marcel at Collins Family Orchard said this year’s peach harvest is the best it’s been in a long time, so I bought 12 pounds with no plan in mind. These are truly spectacular peaches. Some will be enjoyed out of hand, some will go into a fruit tart or pie, and the rest will be sliced and frozen. I’m glad I have another week of vacation to put them up!

This morning I made squash blossom and onion frittata and bacon for breakfast. This is similar to the quiche recipe I posted in 2010. This week’s meals will primarily be vegetarian in order to enjoy this seasonal harvest at it’s best. I’m really looking forward to sitting outside with a big, cold slice of watermelon.

It’s pretty hot in Seattle this week, so my homegrown tomatoes are finally bearing fruit. They’re sweet like candy.

Homegrown tomatoes picked yesterday

Homegrown tomatoes picked yesterday

 

I’m thankful to live near such an abundant food growing region. My life’s work is to help preserve farming close to home so that future generations can enjoy it. Wherever you live, go out and search for good food like this at your local farmers market. Support your local farms and enjoy.

Farmers Market Finds: Early Season

100% of these dogs know this food will be delicious!

I decided against subscribing to a CSA this year primarily because my previous farmer halted delivery to Seattle, and the two of us won’t be eating at home enough to justify 20 weekly shares of fresh produce this summer. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to forfeit the opportunity to buy what I can, when I can, the most delicious and satisfying foods of the season, directly from local farms. Thankfully there are lots of “farm direct food” options in Seattle. The Wallingford Farmers Market, located just 12 blocks (walkable) from my house, is a small market but has some excellent vendors. I know several of Wallingford’s vendors because of my work at Northwest Agriculture Business Center, and the Puget Sound Food Hub– the latter being a business that provides marketing, aggregation and distribution for local farms to commercial and institutional buyers, including preschools in low-income neighborhoods in South Seattle. I know that purchasing local food supports local farms, increases our region’s food security, protects the environment, creates jobs and boosts the local economy. Plus, I can find greater varieties of vegetables, fruits, livestock breeds atypical in the commodity market and highly prized for flavor, not whether or not it holds up in cold storage.

Here are today’s treasures:

  • sweet pea blossoms
  • pasture raised chicken (leg and thigh)
  • pasture raised pork butt shoulder
  • pasture raised pork bratwurst sausage
  • pasture raised, chicken eggs
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • green garlic
  • garlic scapes
  • parsley
  • radishes
  • butter head lettuce
  • loose leaf spinach
  • broccolini
  • savoy cabbage

This summer I will be posting sporadically- not weekly. I will include photos of my dogs with each local food find. Sometimes, I will post recipes or information about a particular variety or breed that I think is worth mentioning. As usual, I will do my best not to preach or make anyone feel inept.  I have been working in food systems for almost 15 years, I know more about the issues related to local food economy, access, climate change than I will ever discuss on this blog.

I am bored with “foodies” and recoil at the “food police” that alienate others because of what they eat (being the “food police” is a lonely existence…just ask Gwyneth). Readers, I will not beat you over the head with “what you ought to do or else”…rather, I invite you all to smell, touch and taste your food. Care a little more about soil, water, climate, animals, farming…and did I mention taste? Purchase (as much as you can) your summer groceries from local farms, prepare simple meals or plates (a bowl of fresh cherries is excellent!) and then invite your family and friends to your table, share food together and enjoy. That’s it!

I wish it was easier to share with you a sun-ripened strawberry or tomato that has never experienced the chill of a refrigerator, the unrivaled flavor and composition of a pasture-raised farm egg, the rosy (not white!), nutty flesh of roasted pasture raised-heritage breed pork, a tender butter head lettuce salad that melts in the mouth – to me, these are life-affirming taste experiences that I want for everyone- not just for those who can afford to eat at fancy restaurants or shop at farmers markets. Between this blog and the work that I do professionally, I hope to contribute to a better tasting, healthier world for all eaters.

Enjoy the summer and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dressing: Four Family Recipes

Every year I look forward to cooking and eating Thanksgiving dinner. I have hosted Thanksgiving more times than I can remember. I have felt the anxiety as a first-time host and I remember the year I compulsively decided to cook a vegan counterpart to every meat course so that my vegetarian guests would feel included. I have attempted a few modern-day tricks (i.e. blended celeriac with the mashed potatoes), and have fretted over uneven oven temperatures in rental home kitchens. Above all I have learned to enjoy the process of procuring, cooking and sharing the Thanksgiving meal. I used to cook “at” my guests. It’s now much more enjoyable to allow my guests to contribute to the meal instead of sweating the small stuff.

Last year's "no-frills" Thanksgiving Buffet

Last year’s brown Thanksgiving buffet (yes there were greens off to the side)

Turkey continues to play a central role in the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Even vegetarians have their Tofurkey. There are many different ways one can cook or season a turkey, from hoisin-glazed turkey, deep fried turkey, spatchcocking- all perfectly sane attempts to “improve” upon the traditional roasted bird. Some Thanksgiving experiments are so good, they are adopted as tradition (i.e. brining the turkey). Some people can’t stand turkey and have replaced the centerpiece with pork roast or leg of lamb. Turkey haters seem to be more prevalent this year, at least on Facebook. There is such animosity towards turkey. Who knew!

Thanksgiving is a secular north American holiday, so that gives cooks the permission to surpass the constraints of tradition, no matter how pervasive. The meal is not bound up in religious ritual or taboo. Cooks can strictly adhere to tradition, to tinker with ingredients and seasonings or to break free from tradition all together. My family has pretty strong Thanksgiving meal preferences. My own tastes and cooking knowledge compliments them. My own style lies somewhere between traditional and contemporary, inspired by the good home cooks that came before me.

I’ve always been fascinated by the number of dressing (or stuffing) recipes that exist across the country and even within groups or families. Dressing can be stuffed in a turkey carcass, rolled inside a turkey-flavored tofu ball, or baked separately in a pan. Dressings are made with white bread, cornbread or a combination of different types of breads, even rice. Dressings include chestnuts, hard boiled eggs, herbs, oysters, mushrooms and sausage. There are probably as many recipes for Thanksgiving dressing as there is for Korean kimchi. Every cook has their own “authentic” way to prepare it.

I asked my mother Linda, my sister Shawna and my cousin Janice to share their Thanksgiving dressing recipes with me for this blog. The following recipes include cornbread (preferential to white cornbread). Each use aromatics such as onions, celery and the herb sage (Janice uses breakfast sausage which has a strong sage flavor). All bake the dressing separately from the turkey instead of stuffing it.  Stuffing the bird with dressing and then cooking it would interfere with the most important Thanksgiving food: turkey gravy! Turkey gravy is made by cooking a slurry of flour and broth or water added to the caramelized pan drippings- and gravy can’t be made like this if the turkey is stuffed.

Each recipe below is clearly inspired by a loving mother or grandmother. Part of why I asked family members to contribute dressing recipes is because “doing Thanksgiving dressing right” in my family is  a big deal. I find a comfort in reading the stories and “rules.” Our recipes show that family food traditions are inherently flexible. Good food traditions don’t disappear, they are revitalized every time each person cooks Thanksgiving, no matter how much we experiment with tradition.

I make the choice to buy my turkey from a local farm (this year I got a “secret turkey” from Skagit River Ranch) instead of the grocery store. J and I love mushrooms in dressing. I also use a combination of cubed white cornbread mixed with crusty como or sourdough bread that I cubed and froze last month. My mother sends me a box from Texas every year containing 2 packages of white cornbread mix before Thanksgiving because I cannot buy it in Seattle grocery stores.

My mom and sister both wrote out their recipes instruction-style…the list of ingredients is embedded in the instructions and precise measurements and methods are qualified. Ingredients and preparations matter- there is a reason for it. I can almost hear their voices while reading.

I hope you enjoy comparing and contrasting each recipe.  If you don’t already have your own favorite recipe for Thanksgiving dressing, please feel to borrow one of ours. Making dressing can be pretty easy. If you use one of our family recipes, please let me know if and how you altered the recipe to suit your own tastes. Served with homemade turkey gravy, I look forward to eating dressing every Thanksgiving.

Main ingredients for my Thanksgiving dressing

Main ingredients for my Thanksgiving dressing

Dressing for Poultry, by Linda Almes (my mother)

I make dressing the way I recall Mama making it.

Make cornbread. We used white meal, flour, buttermilk, baking powder, soda and salt. It wasn’t sweetened and had no eggs in it.  During the depression, recipes were trimmed down to the essentials & some of those recipes stuck. Always use a heated cast iron skillet so you get a nice crust.

Make biscuits- regular buttermilk ones. You’ll need about 2/3 cornbread to 1/3 biscuit.  Mama always saved and froze the leftovers from dinner but if you need to, you can make fresh but leave it out to dry out for a while. If you are short on biscuits you can use a little light bread.

In a big bowl break up the breads into chunks- about the size of a cherry tomato or smaller. Dice onions & celery -about equal amounts. For a big pan that would make 8 servings I’d add a cup or more of each.  Add that to the breads then add ½ Tbsp. of sage along with a bit of salt and pepper. (The amount of salt depends on the saltiness of your broth).  Mix together lightly as to not pulverize the mix. Heat chicken broth to the simmer. Add about ½ c. at a time slowly, mixing after each addition till the mix is thoroughly damp but not soggy. You should be able to make a ball of it if you tried.

Check & correct seasoning. we use a LOT of sage, probably a full Tbsp. (At this point we get little bowls and hand around to the kids who like it uncooked.) If they pronounce it good, put the rest into a baking dish, cover & bake at 350F till the onions and celery are cooked about 45 min.

Uncover for the last 15 min. to make a nice crusty top. Since it can be eaten raw there is no real worry except to heat through.

We’ve tried a lot of different add-ins over the years. Mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, pecans, boiled eggs etc. (yucko on the boiled eggs) I personally didn’t like any of them. We seldom stuffed the turkey as it was harder to get it cooked through with out drying the white meat too much. Happy Thanksgiving.

Dressing Recipe by Shawna Popp (my sister)

Make 24 Bisquick drop biscuits, recipe by direction on box. I find if I make 2-inch biscuits it has a better texture. Let them cool down. Make Martha White 24 white corn bread muffins, according to the box’s direction. I like to use butter to line muffin tins. The reason for muffins is it results in more crispy edges and it’s better for texture. Cool down. Crumble separately and be sure not to crumble too fine- no bigger than a dime pieces. Finely chop celery and onion- almost 1 cup each. Set aside. Get out rubbed dry sage, salt, pepper and 4 cups of Knorr chicken broth from cubes. Heat oven to 350. Prepare 9×13 casserole dish and coat with oil spray such as Pam.

In a very large mixing bowl you will 1st add crumbled cornbread, then add the biscuit crumbles. I think it is a 3 to 1 ratio. (3CB to 1B). Incorporate salt, pepper and sage to taste. Be careful not to add too much salt and remember that Knorr has loads of sodium and MSG. Add the celery and onion and incorporate throughout. Now the fun part: Start adding the broth. I look for a consistency of moist NOT mushy. Then taste and adjust seasoning. Once you are willing to eat the whole thing raw, it is ready for the oven. Add to pan then bake uncovered for, I think, 40 minutes. Check for that beautiful brown crispiness on top.

Understanding a lot of families have a lot of variations, you can always add to this recipe. This recipe is not completely accurate to my Grandma Patton’s, but it’s as close as I can get it. This recipe produces the taste and smells that make me thankful for my Grandma and the time and passion she put into everything she prepared.

Martha’s Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing,  by Janice Patton-Booth (my cousin)

Preheat oven 350

  • 2 bags cornbread stuffing mix (I prefer Pepperidge Farms)
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage roll (Jimmy Dean)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 3 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute chopped celery and onion in butter till translucent.

In a large bowl place stuffing mix, broth, raw sausage, sauté veggies, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Spray Pam into a 13X9 pan. Press stuffing mixture evenly into pan

Bake uncovered for 35-45 min. I even place under the broiler for the last few minutes to brown the top.

Lucy’s Thanksgiving Dressing

You can prepare bread cubes and freeze weeks in advance. You can then prepare the raw dressing up to 2 days before baking. No need to do prepare all the ingredients on the same day as you are juggling everything else.

  • 2  6 oz. packages of White Cornbread Mix (baked according the instructions), cut in half inch cubes
  • 1 loaf of crusty sourdough or Como loaf, cut in half inch cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (foraged mushrooms such as chanterelles or porcini are best)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and minced
  • 2 stalks celery, trimmed and minced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1-2 tbsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups (more or less) homemade or prepared organic chicken broth
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil and add the mushrooms. Cook on medium high heat for a few minutes until browned. Add the onions, celery and about ½ teaspoon of salt and cook until translucent. Then add the garlic and herbs and cook for about a minute. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, carefully combine the bread cubes and vegetable mixture and stir to incorporate. Add a half-cup of broth at a time and stir to make sure the all of the bread cubes absorb liquid. Depending on the bread you use, this may take up to 2 cups or more of broth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

Heat the oven to 375F. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil and then coat a 9×12 baking pan. Transfer bread mixture and spread evenly throughout the pan. Drizzle olive oil over the top (about 1 tsp) and store covered in the refrigerator until ready to cook. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until the crust becomes golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and cover until ready to serve. Remember to make gravy.

A REALLY Tasty Winter Squash Soup

Enjoy the season's bounty with this delicious winter squash soup

Enjoy the season’s bounty with this delicious winter squash soup

I have several winter squash remaining in storage from my last few CSA shares, and the fall weather is perfect for soup, so I decided to make a pot of delicious winter squash soup for dinner last night. I’ve made winter squash soup many times before but I wanted to keep the seasonings simple, and I wanted it to have a creamy texture without adding heavy cream or butter. I referenced several recipes and found a good “foundation” recipe by Alice Waters in her Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook.

Winter squash (From top counter clockwise): Butternut, Delicata, Buttercup (kabocha), Thelma Sanders (Acorn),  Gold Nugget,  Red Kuri (kabocha) and Spaghetti squash

Winter squash (From top counter clockwise): Butternut, Delicata, Buttercup (kabocha), Thelma Sanders (Acorn), Gold Nugget, Red Kuri (kabocha) and Spaghetti squash

The following recipe is my take on Winter Squash Soup and it turned out very tasty.  The choice to use a more starchy deep orange Buttercup with a lighter, milder tasting Thelma Sanders led to a perfectly balanced soup both in taste and texture.  This silky satisfying soup is perfect paired with hard cider and a side of toasted brioche with butter.  To make this soup vegan, simply replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Winter Squash Soup

  • 2 whole winter squash (I used the green Buttercup and the beige Thelma Sanders), halved, seeds removed and cut in wedges
  • Olive oil (2-3 tablespoons total)
  • 1 medium to large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 6-7 unsalted raw or roasted cashews (about a handful)
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Place squash cubes on a parchment paper lined roasting pan and drizzle about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over the squash. Roast squash cubes, flesh side down, until completely tender, about 40 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy stockpot, add the onions, and saute over medium heat until the onions are slightly browned and softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, cashews and nutmeg and stir to warm spices.

Scoop out the squash flesh with a large spoon to remove the flesh from the skins. Add the flesh to the pot and stir. Discard skins. Add chicken stock plus a cup of water and stir using a potato masher to break up lumps of roasted flesh. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 2-3 minutes, to avoid transferring boiling hot soup to the blender.

Using a soup ladle, carefully transfer the mixture (in two batches) to a blender and puree for 60 seconds. Return the soup puree to the pot and heat slowly on medium heat. Taste for seasoning. I added about one teaspoon of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper from a pepper mill. Serve hot with garnishes such as fresh, chopped parsley or micro greens. Add crunchy croutons if desired.

CSA Week 18: Final Box of Fall

Cassius and Roxy will miss posing for their weekly CSA portrait

Cassius and Roxy will miss posing for their weekly CSA portrait

Last week was the last share in Sol to Seed Farm‘s 2013 CSA Season. J and I paid two payments of $250 for 18 weekly shares of organic produce grown by one farm here in King County. That’s about $28 per week. We started collecting the boxes on June 26th from Grand Central Baking Co. and every week, the bakery has given us a free loaf of bread with our box. I really love this arrangement, and I hope this option is available next year.

Bryce at Grand Central Baking Co taking time away from the espresso machine to hand me my box

Bryce at Grand Central Baking Co taking time away from the espresso machine to hand me my box

It’s almost been one full week since I picked up the last CSA box. All of these items will keep very well in dry, cool storage without processing (freezing, canning, etc). Last week’s share was a fine example of fall produce, including:

Winter Squash
– Honeyboat Delicata
– Sugar Dumpling
– Thelma Sanders
Apples from trees that are estimated to be 85-90 years old!
Onions
Potatoes
Carrots
…and a free loaf of Rustic Multigrain Bread

Farmer Matt recently shared this note with subscribers: “This year was, in many respects, one of the most challenging of our 6 years in the business of growing food. In the world of farming there is no such thing as certainty and even with one of the most amazing summers – in terms of weather – there is just no way to predict what challenges will arise.” Whether you join a CSA, shop regularly at your local farmers market, visit farm stand regularly, or just choose authentically local produce, meat, dairy at your grocery stores, restaurants or online markets, remember that when you support a local farm like Sol to Seed, you are directly helping to preserve farmland close to home, responsible farming practices and wholesome traditions.

I don’t have a recipe this week but I will be posting on and off throughout the season. I hope you have enjoyed seeing photos of my silly dogs and perhaps you’ve learned a thing or two. Thank you!