A Fall Menu: Silky Squash Soup and other delicious stuff you’ll want to eat

All of my recipes come packaged in a downloadable
PDF that you can save to your computer.
Read on for the recipe packet from our fall menu!

Dear Pompkin,

I just like the way early Americans spelled pumpkin. Pompkin.

Pumpkins, squash, and all manner of root vegetables feature strongly in the fall. This is some of my favorite cuisine! Filling, rich and hearty, it qualifies for comfort food any day of the week. Buttery baked dishes, creamy soups and silky puddings dazzle me all through the long winter months! (Although to be honest, the winter in Virginia Beach is starting out a little weak – it was in the 70s last week, and this is October we’re looking at.)

And of course, I love everything about Thanksgiving. Candles, corn cobs, turkey and all that festive business sucks me in every time. I have so many deep and wonderful memories of family life associated with Thanksgiving – the turkey placemats my grandma made, the battered yellow tablecloth she used every year, the chaotic and sometimes argumentative and always loving gathering around that all-important Thursday.

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Fall is just full of delight for me. I taught Cooking with Fall Veggies at Norfolk Botanical Gardens this week, and the class was a slam-dunk. I brought leftovers to my husband on base, and he and the guys there devoured it and pronounced it good. I made the baked root vegetables dish for an Oil Tribe class the following evening, and everybody was asking for the recipe!

Solid, simple food is the best. It wins our hearts every time! Our menu featured rustic, seasonal dishes.

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The soup was a perfectly silken puree, topped with pepitas. For a vegan alternative, swap out the bone broth for a full-bodied vegetable broth made with dried shishito mushrooms for lots of meaty umami flavor, and trade the butter for expeller-pressed coconut oil or fruity olive oil.  Filled with butternut squash and pumpkin, this dish is nourishing to body and soul.

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The Maple-Glazed Baked Root Vegetables were a slam dunk. We chose to coarsely chop beets, carrots, celery root, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, parsnips and onions for our selection of roots and squash; any combination of these or other root vegetables is perfect.

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A family favorite, Spicy Sweet Potato Fries make a special treat any time. I love to dip fries, so we created a special dipping sauce of mayonnaise (any homemade or high-quality store-bought, or aioli), blended with a lacto-fermented homemade sriracha sauce.

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We also made a delicious Maple Cornbread, using coarse, colorful cornmeal from Indian corn. Colorful corn contains a little more nutrition than regular sweet corn – no surprises there!

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And because she rolls that way, Lady Camille was in the carrier on my back while we set the room up for class. Once class began, our friend Mary snuggled baby during the whole thing.

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Silky Squash Soup with Bone Broth

I created this dish while I was in Washington and wanted to serve a warm, filling meal to my family during the Seahawks game (we lost. It sucked. We needed comfort food). It’s simple, straightforward and truly not all that unique. There are millions of variations you could create from this basic dish, and the measurements I provide here are basic guidelines – you can do whatever you want, really.

4 cups bone broth or an alternative broth
2 cups pumpkin, raw and cubed, or cooked and pureed
2 cups butternut squash, raw and cubed, or cooked and pureed
3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
3 shallots or 1 medium onion
1 15-ounce can coconut cream
3 – 6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup butter or an alternative fat
Pepitas, dried pumpkin seeds, for garnishing
Salt and pepper

In a skillet, heat the butter. Add cubed pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots and onion; or add what is cubed, and reserve pureed mixtures. The goal is to cook the squashes down until they are soft. While mixture is cooking, crush garlic and set aside.
Once mixture is soft, use broth to help blend it until smooth; add garlic while blending, and then pour into a pot. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender for this step. If you are using pureed pumpkin or butternut squash, add it now, and any more broth, and begin to heat mixture. Whisk in coconut milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and serve hot; sprinkle with pepitas before eating.

If you use ghee, bacon fat, coconut oil, olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter, this dish qualifies as a Whole30 and Paleo soup.

Download the recipe PDF for silky squash soup, baked root vegetables, spicy sweet potato fries, fermented dipping sauce, maple cornbread and a printable menu

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I know you’ll feel just as indulgent and spoiled as I do when you get to enjoy these delicious foods … and let me know what your favorite tweaks are so I can try your versions, too!

Andrea

Download the recipe PDF for silky squash soup, baked root vegetables, spicy sweet potato fries, fermented dipping sauce, maple cornbread and a printable menu

Clean-Eating Paleo Baking Powder: no sodium aluminum sulfate required

Dear leavened,

I was happily stirring up a triple batch of banana bread a few days ago when I was dismayed to realize we were out of baking powder! Fortunately, I had the ingredients on hand to whisk together a batch of homemade baking powder. It’s an easy recipe to remember, and it took me just a few extra moments to stir up enough to fill my baking powder container.

Of course, the banana bread came out perfectly; and if you’ve already downloaded the recipe for yourself, you know how good it is!

I was baking cookies with a friend once when she revealed she had no baking powder. “Isn’t baking soda basically the same thing?” she asked, surprised that I wasn’t accepting the brightly colored box of Arm & Hammer.

In a sense, yes; baking soda and powder are both chemical leavening agents that build puffy, gassy bubbles in dough much faster than fast-acting yeast or sour starters do.  Hence, things like banana bread, Irish soda bread and baking powder biscuits usually fall under the category of ‘Quick Breads’.

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Terms and Conditions 

Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate, or alkali), is used in recipes with acidic ingredients it can interact with, like vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, non-Dutch processed cocoa, molasses, honey, and so on.  Baking soda is instant-acting and batters made with this leavener should always be baked immediately after mixing, with minimum stirring involved.

Baking Powder is a mixture of baking soda, an acid salt, and usually a starch to absorb moisture so that the soda doesn’t react with the dry ingredients until the wet components are added.  The acid salt can be cream of tartar. This acid salt takes the place of adding lemon juice, buttermilk or another acidic liquid to your batter; magically, the acid can be wetted by whatever liquids you add to your batter, and activate the baking soda! The cookies my friend and I were making in the story above would not have been sufficiently leavened without baking powder, because there was no acid in the cookie ingredients to activate the bubbling of the baking soda. The third ingredient, a starch, which is technically optional, can be organic cornstarch – or arrowroot powder, if you are minimizing grain ingredients in your diet. If you leave the starch out entirely, you will have to use your baking powder right away, or within a few days or weeks! This is one way Paleo baking powder is different from regular baking powder!

Double-Acting Baking Powder is what you would buy in the grocery store, as packaged single-acting baking powder is generally only sold for commercial baking.  As the name indicates, double-acting baking powder leavens twice (hence the double-acting).  When the batter is initially mixed, there is an immediate acidic reaction from the cream of tartar, with the wet ingredients of the batter and the baking soda, and carbon dioxide gas is produced.  The second reaction comes from a second acid that doesn’t activate until the temperatures are elevated (that is to say, the batter goes into the oven), and the gas cells expand and cause the batter to rise. The second acid is usually calcium acid phosphate or sodium aluminum sulfate, two ingredients that many health-conscious consumers are now choosing to avoid due to possible neurological issues associated with aluminum.

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Homemade Baking Powder is not double-acting – if you use homemade baking powder in a recipe I would recommend baking the batter right away and not delaying (so make sure you preheat the oven when you start mixing your ingredients!). Homemade baking powder is used in the same ratio as store-bought. If your recipe is for a batter that sits in the fridge overnight or which specifically calls for double-acting baking powder, know that the homemade one will probably not produce the desired effect; that second, heat-activating acid would need to be present.

How long do these last in my cupboard?  
Baking Soda can sit in the cupboard, sealed, for an indefinite length of time.  If you are worried that it is too old and you want to test the effectiveness before mixing it into your ingredients, mix 1/4 teaspoon of soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar.  It should bubble up immediately just like in science class.

Baking Powder should only sit in the cupboard for about six months; the components to homemade baking powder, however (soda, cream of tartar, arrowroot/cornstarch), can sit separately in the cupboard indefinitely so you can keep those handy and simply mix up small batches at a time. To test if baking powder is still active, mix 1 teaspoon powder with 1/2 cup hot water; it should bubble up with carbon dioxide immediately.

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How much baking powder do I use in a recipe? 
If you are creating your own recipe, a good rule of thumb is 1 to 2 teaspoons baking powder to 1 cup of flour.  Too much baking powder, and the gas bubbles will expand too quickly and cause the batter to collapse in baking.  Too little baking powder, and there won’t be enough gas bubbles and the batter will be dense and tough.

Download Baking Powder Recipe

[Paleo] Aluminum-Free Single-Acting Baking Powder for Storage

If you bought this at the grocery store, it would cost twice as much as regular baking powder. Crazy, huh? Use this baking powder teaspoon for teaspoon to replace store-bought baking powder. The ratio is one part baking soda, two parts cream of tartar and one part starch. 

Sodium bicarbonate: 1/4 cup baking soda
Acid Salt: 1/2 cup cream of tartar
Starch: 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or 1/4 cup organic cornstarch

Whisk ingredients together, pressing through a mesh sieve if baking soda has clumps. Store in an airtight container for less than six months.

Immediate-Use Starch-Free Baking Powder

The ratio for baking powder is two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda. This baking powder is meant to be used immediately – do not store it! Since there is no starch, you only need 3/4 teaspoon total to replace 1 teaspoon in a recipe calling for standard baking powder. 

To replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder in a recipe, without any additional starches:
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Remember, your baked goods must go in the oven immediately after you mix them, as the carbon dioxide bubbling will have begun the second liquids contacted the acid!

Download Baking Powder Recipe

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Happy Baking!

Mrs H

Mom’s Internationally-Acclaimed Banana Bread: more famous than any other

Dear hungries,

This morning I had a mountain of black bananas, which the husband has been eyeing hopefully while whispering banana bread under his breath, hoping it sinks into my subconscious. I pulled out my splattered and ragged banana bread recipe, passed down from my mom, given to her by a college friend’s mom and used until well-worn before any of us precious little angels were born.

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This banana bread is simple, and classic.

It has everything a purist loaf of banana bread needs – sweet, overripe bananas, no additional mix-ins. A moist and tender crumb, and a sweet, slightly sticky top that cracks and splits right down the middle, in tender perfection. Cut a slice and melt on some butter – the world stops turning as you drift into a heavenly banana dream. And naturally, when stirring up the batter you can add all the walnuts and chocolate chips you like – a little banana bread blasphemy is always wickedly fun.

This recipe has been emailed, copied, and written down so many times by so many people, my mom spends half her time on the computer sending it out. It’s about time it was posted online for all of you to enjoy!!

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Download the Best Banana Bread recipe here

Best Banana Bread

You can add chocolate chips, walnuts, dried fruit or even coconut flakes to mix up the flavors and textures!  I tend to go the purist route and not mix in anything – I always plan to do it next time! 

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine in bowl:
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Blend in:
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder

Add:
½ cup Canola oil

Mix well, pour into greased pan.  Bake 45-60 minutes. Serve hot, with butter!

Banana Muffins: spray paper liners in a muffin tin. Scoop in ¼ to 1/3 cup batter in each cup; makes 12.
Mini Loaf Pans: spray mini loaf pans before using; makes three.
Hawaiian French Toast: use slices of banana loaf instead of regular bread when preparing French toast.
Elvis Style Hawaiian French Toast: spread two slices of banana bread with peanut butter; spread one slice with jam, and make a sandwich. Dip into egg and milk for French toast, and cook as French toast.

Alternative Ingredients
Replace 1 cup sugar with ½ cup honey
Replace Canola oil with melted coconut oil

Download the Best Banana Bread recipe here

 Enjoy your banana bread, and please share with me your ideas for mix-ins!

Mrs H