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

Cooking from the Farm: My Top 10 Cookbooks

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That’s how I earn my blogging income, so thanks for clicking through!  

Dear gentle readers and those not so gentle as well,

We like to eat well, and we also like to save money. We like to eat local food, and we love fresh and seasonal food. Logically, then, much of what we eat every day comes from the farm. We also don’t like eating the same recipe twenty-hundred times in a season, so I am constantly scouting new cookbooks. I’ve whittled down a list of books that work very well for farmer’s market shoppers, CSA members, seasonal eaters, farmers and gardeners. I’ve stuck with this short list because every time I go to these books, I can find everything I need for a given recipe in one trip out to the farm, and the odds and ends (olive oil, balsamic vinegar), I tend to have in my pantry. These books stay in my kitchen for frequent, daily use while other interesting, but possibly less useful books, go elsewhere to be referenced occasionally.

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This list is not comprehensive, and in fact I am hoping you’ll send me your favorite titles as well; I am always looking to bolster my creative closet of books!  The following  books are in no particular order (other than smallest to biggest!).

My Favorite Cookbooks for Cooking from the Farm

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1. The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen

Clotilde Dusoulier is the totally adorable and well-loved blogger at chocolateandzucchini, and she is not a vegetarian. She is not gluten or dairy free, either, but as it happens, most of the recipes in this vegetarian book are also gluten and dairy free. I’m not vegetarian either, but I don’t eat loads and loads of meat because it’s expensive and it just isn’t sustainable (which you learn when you are growing your own food), to eat turkey and steak every week (more often than not we’re eating bones, feet and organs!).  Truth to be told, I was prepared to not like this book because so many “market” books don’t live up to their name, but truly every ingredient in her recipe will be found growing together, or harvested the same weekend. In fact, the book is divided into seasons, not categories, to make it even easier to plan your next trip to the farmer’s market. And the book is really cute, and precious, and pretty, and has lots of juicy pictures. I gave it a five star review when I reviewed it for the San Francisco Book Review.

2. Recipes from the Root Cellar: 270 Fresh Ways to Enjoy Winter Vegetables

And oh, how I love this book. It was recommended to me by copy editor and reviewer and vegetarian foodie Holly Scudero, who had an early galley copy that I loved to drool over. Mr H bought it for me when Borders Books went out of business – we pretty much cleared out the cookbook shelves, and this gem was one of the best things that happened that day. Andrea Chesman grows her own food, so her recipes have such a natural way of being seasonal that it feels a little ridiculous to even point it out. The first time I made sauerkraut was from this book; the long, lonely winter in California was filled with comforting, steaming bowls of Italian meatball soup, and pans of maple-roasted vegetables that I wrapped myself around like a mother cat with her kittens. This is one of the best books in my kitchen.

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3. Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

And speaking of sauerkraut, behold the fermentation king!  For those of us who truly eat seasonally from our gardens, fermentation is one of the many food preservation techniques we rely on to get nutrient-dense, home-grown produce all year long.  This book will take you from novice to advanced fermentation artist (especially if you follow it with The Art of Fermentation, a veritable treatise on the subject!).  Since he grows much of his own food, and since fermentation is an art developed solely for the purpose of preserving food in it’s season, it’s very easy to find everything you need for a given recipe growing at one time. Can’t find Chinese cabbage?  Maybe it doesn’t grow in your area (so you’ll have to ferment pineapple and coconuts instead!), or maybe it’s the wrong season for it (and you should try turnips and carrots while you wait!). I fell in love with this book when I borrowed it from a friend, and then I had to buy my own copy and now it’s splattered and marked in and the pages are wobbly at the bottom from when a gallon of kimchi leaked out onto it.

4. The Real Food Cookbook: Traditional Dishes for Modern Cooks

Nina Planck, who writes at ninaplanck.com, grew up with farmer parents, eating farmer food. She is accustomed to and familiar with the rhythms of the garden and the bounty and not-so-bounty of some foods.  Her book has a certain respect towards the way a farm grows – look, we can’t put ground beef in every recipe or we’ll run out of cows and have a freezer full of feet – and she strongly encourages readers to vary the recipes, saying she will never make it the same way twice herself and we should adapt to our areas. I love that philosophy since I never follow recipes but, as she suggests, use them as inspiration (even though I often start out with good intentions of following the recipe very strictly, it never happens!).  Her book makes me so happy, and so hungry, and so eager to run out and harvest a basketful of dinner!

5. Better Homes and Gardens Fresh: Recipes for Enjoying Ingredients at Their Peak (Better Homes & Gardens)

I guess I was a little surprised how much I liked this book, since it seemed so commercial when I first picked it up.  But it actually delivers some delicious surprise!  The meat section focuses on very American cuts of meat like flank steak and meat-centric dishes, but that is only a very small portion of the overall book (and that is not to say we don’t need the occasional recipe for a flank steak! It’s just pretty darn rare… bad pun?). The fritters, salads, pizzas and desserts – oh, the desserts – overcompensate the cook with plenty to work with. In fact, as I am flipping through it I am wondering if the roasted vegetables and chickpeas might make an appropriate dinner … or shoestring sweet potatoes and beets?

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6. Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

Let me just start by saying anything from Deborah Madison has my automatic seal of approval. She’s on this list twice, if that tells you anything! She has a dessert book, too, that would be on this list I am sure if I were so lucky as to own it and have some experience with the recipes (I browsed through it at at the library once, but I was visiting another city at the time so I couldn’t check it out!). Her book has an astonishing ability to have recipes that use literally every single item I dug up or trimmed off the plant that day. When I first joined a CSA, I felt like every box was custom-built for one of her recipes. I fell in love with her work and have been a groupie ever since. When you need vegetable-centric dishes from somebody who knows vegetables, and knows plants and really, really knows food – Madison delivers the goods.

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7. Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom,

with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes

This is one of the newest books in my collection. I saw it at TJ Maxx and it was in my cart before you could shake a pasture-raised organically-fed lamb’s tail. Rich, nourishing, hearty, and most fascinating of all, divided by plant families. I could read this book all day long, but the shimmering pictures on the page would send me to the kitchen before long!  Prepare to get an education on the plant kingdom, flavor profiles and recipe history when you crack open this tome of wonder. Like all her books, the recipes are full of seasonal items that grow at the same time, and, as far as I can tell, in the same place.

8. The Silver Spoon

You’d be surprised how much international cookbooks stick to seasonal cooking – not because it’s a ‘thing’ or a ‘movement’ but because they don’t all shop and eat out of the supermarket!  This Italian cookbook has an easy fluidity to the recipes – they just feel so natural, so easily fresh and seasonal. It’s a pleasure to cook out of it, and easy. When I have a bumper crop of cucumbers, I go to the cucumber section and pick a few unique recipes. It’s definitely better than eating cucumber salad three times a day!

9. Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round

(Not pictured above) Of course, I have to add a canning book. Marisa McClellan, with her gorgeous and tasty blog, has been a favorite of mine for years now, and she never fails to deliver!  She shops her local farmer’s markets or is gifted produce from friends, so her recipes also come seasonally quite naturally. With small batches for canning – you can do this while you make lunch, instead of setting aside the whole weekend for it – her recipes are attainable and enjoyable. I’ve loved every single recipe of hers I’ve ever made – they’ve all turned into family favorites, requested gifts, popular dishes at the house. When the gas repairman sampled the pickled beets, he said, “I’ve never eaten a beet in my life! I can’t stop eating these!” He took the whole jar home.

10. I need you to fill in this blank!

I need another market-worthy book!  Are there any good raw books out there, or international cookbooks? I love Mediterranean and Indian and Persian food – I’ve been curious to try The New Persian Kitchen, and of course anything by Ottolenghi but especially his new Jerusalem: A Cookbook. I love all-American, old fashioned or contemporary. What are your suggested titles? Thanks for reading along!!

Anxiously awaiting your reply,

Mrs H
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