The beautiful Butternut

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Winter squash, like Butternut, Delicata, Sunshine, Spaghetti, and Kabocha, have been finding their way into our CSA shares and farmers market trips lately.  I’ve had lots of Butternut, in particular.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve roasted at least three of them.

I do prefer Butternut roasted, no matter what I’m doing with it - it’s just easier to peel that way.  Peeling and chopping uncooked Butternut is hard work, and I like to take the easy way out whenever possible!  To roast a Winter squash, just preheat your oven to 400 degrees, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast (cut side down) for about 20 minutes or so.

Some of my Butternut was cubed and frozen.  Some of it was used immediately.  Like in this soup I made last week…


There’s nothing quite like soup to use up all your extra produce!  And temperatures were cool enough around here last week to actually make some soup.  The soup contains Butternut squash, onions, and swiss chard from my CSA share, tomatoes from my garden, and some homemade chicken stock I made last month from a local chicken.  I also used some non-local parmesan rinds to flavor the soup up a bit.  It was delicious!



Tonight for dinner, I made Butternut and mushroom bread pudding.  A lot of people are familiar with sweet bread puddings, but hardly anyone traffics in savory bread pudding.  It’s a lot like bread stuffing, and is a great way to use up whatever veggies you’ve got lying around the house.  In this case, there was a Butternut from last week’s CSA share, and some mushrooms from Mother Earth Mushrooms in West Grove.  In fact, everything I used for the bread pudding was local, except the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

3 cups Butternut squash, roasted and cubed
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1 tsp olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c. milk
1 c. aged parmesan, shredded
salt and pepper
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
9 c. day old bread, torn up into bite-sized pieces (I used Le Bus brioche)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms for about five minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Combine 1/4 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, milk, 1/2 c. cheese, eggs and whites; whisk lightly.  Stir in squash and onion mixture.  Add bread and stir gently to combine.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Spoon into a large baking dish coated with cooking spray or butter.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes.

This is some great comfort food and makes excellent leftovers!

Posted by Nicole on 09/23 at 06:52 PM

Apple-tomatillo chutney

After my week of canning with my dad, Nicole asked for my recipe for apple-tomatillo chutney.  Since I’m sure a few other people would be interested, here it is.  (Please note that it’s an approximation of what we did this year.  It varies from year to year, but I have yet to encounter a version I didn’t like.)

2 qt processed* tomatillos
5 med apples, chopped & cored
1/2 c cider vinegar
1 c sugar
1 t each of mustard seeds
          cumin seeds
          coriander seeds
          fenugreek seeds
2 onions, diced
2 t cinnamon
2 t granulated garlic
1 c currants

Start by toasting the seeds and then cooking the onions to translucence.  Add the tomatillos and then the apples and the rest of the ingredients.  Cook until the apples have fallen apart, then jar and seal in a standard water bath.  I think this batch made two pints and six or eight half-pints. 

*processed=chopped and cooked enough so they won’t go bad if you leave them in the fridge a few extra days

Posted by Naomi on 09/23 at 04:34 PM

Hendricks Farm Cow Pie

Hendricks Cowpie cheese

I can’t think of a more unappetizing name for cheese than Cow Pie.  It gives me visions of cow manure and stanky odors.  However ill-advised the name is, the cheese is outstanding.  Cow Pie from Hendricks Farm and Dairy is a mild, creamy cheese made from raw cow milk (grassfed cows!).  It has a bloomy rind that is incredibly delicious.  At room temperature, the cheese becomes gooey and wonderful, like the Camembert Hendricks Farm modeled the cheese on.

Hendricks Farm makes their Cow Pie cheese using the cow’s evening milk, which is fattier.  And the fat makes the difference here.  It’s a great, rich cheese that I highly recommend.  In fact, I think Cow Pie just became my all time favorite locally made cheese.

Cow Pie is available at the Fair Food Farmstand and Salumeria at Reading Terminal Market, their farm store in Telford, Cheese! in Phoenixville, Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop in Philly, Bakers on Broad in Souderton, and, I’m told, Whole Foods.  You can also find it at Majolica in Phoenixville.

Hendricks Farm is located in Telford, PA.  They’ll be hosting their second annual Oktoberfest at the farm on October 26.

Posted by Nicole on 09/23 at 09:04 AM

Keeping it simple

Saturday, September 22, 2007

After my last attempt at an all-local meal proved frustrating, I decided not to overthink things the next time around. And I didn’t. I’ve made a number of all-local meals the past few weeks, from an almost entirely local brisket dinner for Rosh Hashanah to a quick spaghetti squash garlic and cheese bake. Last night I was in the mood for potatoes and and I knew my husband was dying to eat the sausage that came in our meat delivery the day before.  I have a habit of pairing sausage with tomato sauce and pasta which I never serve with potatoes but I decided to throw caution to the wind and do something different. I’m a mad woman, I know.


The result was Italian fennel and garlic sausage (Meadow Run Farm) with sauteed onions and multi-colored bell peppers(Red Earth Farm), roasted red potatoes with garlic (Red Earth) and rosemary(my garden), and steamed broccoli (Lancaster County). I picked up the broccoli at the farmer’s market because it was the first local broccoli I’ve seen since spring. My poor son has been deprived of broccoli, which he loves, all summer long. The only non-local ingredients were the olive oil, salt and pepper. 

We all got what we wanted. My husband must have eaten more than half a pound of sausage, my son ate almost all of the broccoli, and I couldn’t get enough of the potatoes and continued snacking on the leftovers as I cleaned the kitchen after dinner.

The recipe for the potatoes came from a cookbook by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Though their recipes aren’t the most imaginative or exotic they are always reliable. I’ve found their potato recipes have been superb. In the past when I’ve roasted potatoes tossed with garlic the garlic burns and doesn’t always stick to the potato. This recipe calls for tossing the hot potatoes with a garlic paste rather than cooking the potatoes and garlic together.  The potatoes come out crisp and garlicky (though I have to admit I was feeling lazy and cut the potatoes badly so they didn’t cook as evenly as I would have liked.)

Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary
from The Best Vegetable Recipes

2 lbs red bliss or other low starch potatoes, scrubbed halved and cut into 3/4 inch wedges
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil in a medium bowl to coat; season generously with salt and pepper and toss again to blend.

Place the potatoes flesh-side down in a single layer on a shallow roasting pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for 20 minutes.  While the potatoes are roasting mince the 2 medium garlic cloves. Sprinkle them with 1/8 teaspoon of salt and mash with the flat side of a chef’s knife blade until a paste forms. Transfer the garlic paste to a large bowl and set aside. Remove the foil from the potatoes and roast until the side of the potato touching the pan is crusty brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven and with a metal spatula carefully turn the potatoes. (Press the spatula against the pan as it slides under the potatoes to protect the crusts.)  Return the pan to the oven and roast until the side now touching the pan is crusty golden brown, 7 minutes more. Sprinkle the potatoes with rosemary and cook another 3 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the pan with the metal spatula (again taking care not to rip the crusts) and transfer to the bowl with the garlic paste. Toss to distribute and serve warm.

Posted by Jackie on 09/22 at 08:29 PM

CSA Weekly Report: Red Earth Farm


Lots of greens in the box this week though some were the tops of other veggies. This week’s share contained

1 bok choy
1 bunch radishes
1 bunch red kale
3 largish turnips
quart of green beans
1 bunch leeks
1 head radicchio

I don’t have any interesting plans for most of the greens, but they’ll all get eaten. Half of the radishes made it into a tabouli salad I brought to a party. The radicchio is going onto a Gouda and Red Salad Pizza recipe I found at Epicurious. I don’t know what to do with turnips, though my America’s Test Kitchen cook book tells me they’re best roasted. I may just freeze them and save them for later.

Does anyone have any interesting bok choy recipes?

Can you do anything with radish greens or should I just let my son feed them to the pig around the corner?

Posted by Jackie on 09/22 at 08:13 PM

LeRaysville Cheese Factory Sommelier

Friday, September 21, 2007

LeRaysville Cheese Factory Sommelier

It’s rare that my husband will eat cheese that I bring into the house.  I’m an artisanal cheese kind of a girl - the stinkier the better.  My husband is a Cracker Barrel block o’ cheese kind of a guy.  And not that there’s anything wrong with Cracker Barrel - I just wouldn’t sit down and snack on it.  But I digress!  What I’m trying to say is that the stars must be aligned because he ate the Sommelier cheese from LeRaysville Cheese Factory.

LeRaysville is a very small Amish cheese factory located in LeRaysville.  When I say ‘very small’, I mean it - there are just three employees.  They source their milk from local farmers (who pledge not to use rBGH) and specialize in raw milk cheddar.  Coincidentally, they also specialize in supporting family farms.  When milk prices are low, they they set their minimum price 15% above what the factory cheese joints are paying.  I’m told they also run cheesemaking workshops, so if you’re ever out in Bradford County you might want to check that out.

The Sommelier is a Havarti cheese and won the 2002 American Cheese Society Blue Ribbon.  It’s a semi-soft cow milk cheese with added cream.  It’s an absolutely mild, lovely cheese that comes in a one pound round.  It’s quite economical, as well - an entire round is just $7.50.  I’ve been eating it with water crackers, figs, and a glass of Reisling, but I suspect it would make a superb baked macaroni and cheese.

My husband thinks the Sommelier has a provolone-ish flavor, and I can sort of see why.  I find it much more buttery in flavor than a provolone, more swiss cheese than provolone.  In any case, it’s delicious and available at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market.

Posted by Nicole on 09/21 at 04:19 PM

Pickled carrots

I feel a little silly about waxing poetic about a bunch of carrots, but the carrots I picked up yesterday at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market were absolutely gorgeous!  They were fat and bright orange and weirdly shaped and the greens were fresh and just lovely.  I’ll spare you the actual poetry, but they really were fabulous.  I had to have them!


And since putting food up for the Winter is the special focus of the September Eat Local Challenge, I could not resist making these little beauties (grown by Lancaster Farm Fresh) into pickles.

If you’re anything like me, anything other cucumber pickles is sort of scary.  For me, I should say ‘was scary’.  I’m not grossed out by other kinds of pickles anymore.  But I used to hear the word ‘pickled’ and think of my grandmother’s disgusting homemade bread and better pickles (sickeningly sweet) or the wretched pickled eggs my mother makes (just plain sickening).  And let’s not forget those nasty store-bought pickled beets!  Argh!  Just this Summer, though, I found out how good pickled vegetables can really be…and now I find I crave them.

The best thing about all this is that making pickled vegetables is a total snap, and some of the stuff I need can be found in my garden.  Dill and garlic, for instance.

1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into small lengths
1/4 cup minced dill
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Blanch the carrots for 2 minutes in boiling water, then immerse them in cold water until they have cooled.

Pack the carrots and dill into a canning jar or two. In a saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil. Pour the liquid over the carrots. Cap the jar, and let it cool to room temperature.

Refrigerate the jar for 2 days or longer before eating the carrots. Refrigerated, they will keep for at least 2 months.

Alternatively, you can give these a water bath to seal.

This jar was made last night, and I tried a pickled carrot this morning - wonderful!!

Posted by Nicole on 09/21 at 08:39 AM

Stir Fry, CSA Style

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I’ve been in a funk recently, and didn’t have much motivation to cook. As a result, I had lots of vegetables in the fridge, as the CSA shares keep coming in, funk or no. This evening, I decided to make a stir fry and use as many vegetables as I could. I don’t really have a recipe—it’s mostly improvised.

This stir fry has the following local vegetables: green beans, pimiento peppers, bok choy, napa cabbage, turnips, and garlic. It also has red pepper flakes, soy sauce, and shirataki, which are noodles made from a type of yam called konnyaku.

Served over rice, this turned out to be a good dinner. Perhaps it’ll be the spark to get me cooking again.

Posted by Yoko on 09/20 at 09:14 PM

The dastardly Daikon


No, I didn’t spend the day slaving away in my kitchen to make handmade pasta.  This is the ‘something new’ with Daikon radish I alluded to in my CSA report.  Yes, those noodles are really ribbons of radish!

Was the experiment a success?  It depends on who you ask.  I thought it was really good - an unusual taste combination, but light-tasting and yummy.  My husband was not as delighted.  That’s really not very shocking, though.  He’s a lovely person, but not very adventurous when it comes to eating and trying new things.  If it looks like pasta, it should taste like pasta.  The Daikon most certainly does not.  The homemade pasta sauce is very comforting and familiar, and the radish is crisp and slightly bitter.

I am not an evil genius who dreamt this up on my own - we have Iron Chef Morimoto to thank.  While searching for something interesting to do with my latest batch of locally-grown Daikon, I came across his recipe for Daikon Fettucine with Tomato-Basil Sauce.  I monkeyed around slightly with the recipe, and here is what I made:

1 pound diakon
About two cups of crushed tomatoes with juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper

  • Trim the daikon of its outer skin and then use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to cut fine strips of daikon into ribbon-like slices.  Soak the daikon in water for about 15 minutes and then drain and dry on a towel.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high.  Saute onion and garlic for about five minutes.  Stir in tomatoes and juice, and a bit of salt.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until sauce gets thickened.  Stir in basil, salt, and pepper.
  • Add daikon to skillet and gently combine with sauce.  Cook for about one minute until heated through.

What’s even better than learning something new to do with Daikon radish?  Being able to use all locally grown ingredients in the recipe, with the exception of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

Posted by Nicole on 09/20 at 06:25 PM

CSA Weekly Report: Lancaster Farm Fresh


It’s only a few days from officially being Autumn - does this week’s share from Lancaster Farm Fresh reflect that?  Sort of.  At least the tomatoes and corn have stopped coming in fast and furious, which is a sure sign that Summer is over!

This weeks share includes:

    1 bunch German parlait radishes grown by Meadow Valley Organics 1 bunch daikon radishes grown by Elm Tree Organics 1 head radicchio grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm 1 head leaf lettuce grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm 2 lb. bag beets grown by Farmdale Organics 3 eggplants grown by Riverview Organics 1/2 lb. young kale grown by Elm Tree Organics 1 butternut squash grown by Hillside Organics

I’m a little bummed out the eggplants are those teeny baby ones - I had visions in my head of making a meal out of them.  What do you do with a couple of very small eggplant?  I don’t know - this is why I stopped growing them in the garden.

I plan to roast and freeze the squash and beets, and blanch and freeze the kale.  I’ll be using the radicchio in a pasta bake, and I’m trying something new with the Daikon tonight for dinner (a full report on that later).  There’s not much you can do with regular radishes except nibble on them as snacks, is there?  I don’t know, I was thinking I might try pickling them or making radish relish.  The lettuce?  I hate to say it, but it will probably just end up as fodder for the compost pile - we still haven’t eaten last week’s lettuce and I already preserved insane amounts of lettuce in the Spring as cream of lettuce soup (minus the cream, frozen).  With just three or four weeks left in the CSA season, I seriously hope the shares don’t devolve into masses of lettuce - what a let down that would be!

Posted by Nicole on 09/20 at 02:48 PM

The sunshine of my life

I asked around about that sunshine winter squash I got in the CSA share a couple weeks ago, and the overwhelming recommendation was to roast it. Even in the recipes I was given, roasting the squash first was part of the directions. I decided to simply roast it this first go around, figuring it would give me the opportunity to get to know the flavor.


I cut it in half, then put in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour, in a shallow pan of water. Looking back, that seems like an obscenely high temperature. That’s because I didn’t read the directions completely. I had about five things going on in the kitchen, preserving some fruits and veggies (more on that later), and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention to the recipe. Turns out, the 400 degrees instruction was for a roasted soup. I ended up with a side of roasted sunshine squash mash (I only added a bit of water, no Earth Balance, butter, etc.) - which was actually really tasty.

AC came in the house after a long day at school and several hours skateboarding, famished, and immediately pointed to the bowl on the counter, asking what it was. I told him to taste it and, in spite of me it seems (after what I said), he grabbed a fork, took a bite and announced that it was, “really good.”

Another bite.

“This is better than really good, it’s excellent!”

Another bite.

“It tastes like sweet potatoes!”

Ah, the power of the sweet potato… I had to hold him back from devouring the entire bowl, and so I busied him with making a veggie burger for himself while I scooped some onto his plate as a side. While he was eating, I decided to savor-up the squash a bit for myself. I added salt, pepper and sauteed leeks.



To balance out the sweetness of this side dish, I made a quick spicy marinade. Using an immersion blender, I mixed tamari, garlic (turned into a paste using a microplane), Jason’s homemade hot sauce, liquid smoke and pureed tomatoes, and poured it onto slices of wild rice tempeh.

A couple hours later when I was ready to eat, I warmed up the sunshine squash in the microwave. In a frying pan, I steamed chopped leeks for few minutes, then added the tempeh (including marinade from the container) and cooked it at a high heat for bit. A little side salad of cherry tomatoes and lettuce splashed with Bragg aminos rounded out the plate.



Everything is local, minus the tamari, salt, pepper, liquid smoke, aminos and tempeh. The tempeh easily could have been local (Cricklewood Soyfoods makes fantastic tempeh in Mertztown), but with that whole fruit and veggie preservation thing I mentioned before, I’m on a mission to get the freezer cleaned out. I found some errant tempeh packages from my co-op in the depths.

As a winter squash, the sunshine has tons of vitamin A, is good for B6, potassium and fiber, and is alkaline - it’s totally a keeper in this house. Actually, it’s a keeper because it tastes like sweet potato smile I’m particularly excited about that point because it positively reinforced the ten-year-old monster when tasting new veggies. As much as I heart my kale, that’s more than it’s ever done for me!

Next up: Kabocha!  Same advice you think? Just roast it?

Posted by Mikaela on 09/20 at 09:20 AM

Shellbark Hollow Sharp Goat

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shellbark Farms sharp goat

I absolutely love Shellbark Hollow sharp goat cheese.  Goat cheese had a pretty good tang to it to begin with, and this aged, sharp goat is super sassy!  It’s big flavor. It has a dry, sort of crumbly texture.

The sharp goat was a great addition to the roasted beet and goat cheese stacks I made last Friday.  Goat cheese is a natural paired with beets anyway, but this cheese stood up so well to the beets and the lemony zest of sorrel.  I’m thinking this would make an excellent cheese to stuff into some nice locally grown chicken breasts, as well.

The Shellbark Hollow sharp goat is available at DiBruno Bros. and the Fair Food Farmstand.

Posted by Nicole on 09/19 at 02:36 PM

CSA Weekly Report:  Blooming Glen Farm

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


CSA crop share 2007 #17 - 0918 - 01

CSA crop share 2007 #17 - 0918 - 02

(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)

Aren’t sweet potatoes the best? I’m always on the lookout for high alkaline veggies that my son likes. Who am I kidding. I’m always on the lookout for any veggies that he’ll even tolerate.

He’s the king of broccoli, he loves steamed carrots and can knock back quite a bit of raw red peppers and cucumbers with some hummus. All of this is great, but when it comes to switching things up and trying something new or different, he uncharacteristically hesitates.

This is the same child who will, and often does, skateboard off flights of stairs.

Sweet potato was one of the surprises that came with our CSA subscription last year. It’s certainly not an uncommon vegetable, but, like leeks, it was one that I never really considered while shopping at the market. Hm, and I wonder why my son won’t give kale a chance? I suppose we’re all creatures of habit to a certain degree.

Lucky for both of us, Blooming Glen introduced our kitchen to the sweet potato. This root vegetable is high in fiber, vitamin B6 (especially nice for a vegetarian or vegan) and potassium, and is a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. And better than all that? It’s dang tasty and can be prepared quickly.

Certainly there is much more exotic produce a CSA will bring into your home, but it seems that simple and everyday once again reign supreme in the local diet smile


Posted by Mikaela on 09/18 at 10:01 PM

How far will you go?

Monday, September 17, 2007

I sometimes fantasize about being able to raise livestock and grow more of what I eat on our little property in the burbs.  Growing fruit and veggies is one thing - it’s not hard.  Raising chickens or goats are quite another.  I’m poo-phobic to start with, and while I’ve seen pigs slaughtered and deer shot I’m not sure that I could bring myself to gut animals regularly.  It takes an intestinal fortitude I’m just not sure I have.

After reading this hilarious article article in New York Magazine, I’m pretty sure that I’m content to leave it to the experts.  The article chronicles one man’s attempt to provide for himself out of his back yard…in Brooklyn.  I especially loved his meal descriptions: maimed rabbit euthanasia stew and home-garroted roast rooster.  Tales abound of “bunny boot-knocking” (or lack thereof) and trying to outsmart a hen.

Few, if any, serious locavores would see my experience as having much to do with what they advocate: eating regionally and seasonally in order to save the planet. But I now better understand what will be needed to back up the slogans. Eating local is expensive and time-consuming, which is why this consumerist movement will not easily trickle down into mass society. It requires a willful abstinence from convenience and plenty, a core promise of the modern world. Our bountiful era is predicated on the division of labor: We don’t sew our own clothes, we don’t build our own houses - and we certainly don’t farm - because we’re too busy doing whatever it is we do for everyone else.

But locavores also preach the importance of valuing all the time and energy and care that go into producing good food, and there I’m with them. So, too, in the end, is Lisa. As I joined her and the kids for supper one night, after finishing my own, Lisa remarked that after seeing how hard I’d worked to put a simple plate of chicken on the table, she’d never shop the same way again. It wasn’t just a matter of buying regionally, or seasonally, or organically - the important thing was to consume responsibly. “I’ll never be as wasteful,” she said. “We throw away more food than we eat.”

I highly recommend giving the article a read.  It very much forces those of us who eat locally as much as possible to confront our limitations and our true intentions. (Via Food Musings)

Posted by Nicole on 09/17 at 02:46 PM

Challenge update - week 2

Week 2 of the September Eat Local Challenge has come and gone - what have we got to show for it?

Jeanne made a lovely pasta salad with Severino pasta made at a family run company in NJ, homemade pesto, local apples, and home-dried tomatoes.  She also spent some time freezing carrots and summer squash.

Anj roasted a bevy of pimento peppers, which she froze.  And she plans roast some bell peppers and put them up in oil (and I hope she’ll share her technique with us - I’ve always wondered how to can things in oil!).  Anj and her partner, Sue, also had a great locally grown dinner of mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad with a mushroom egg omelet.

Sarah celebrated Rosh Hashanah with a Honey cake of local ingredients.  It’s dairy-free, too, and sounds amazing!

I made kimchi last week using Daikon and Swiss chard from the CSA share and garlic from my garden - a little experiment in fermentation!  And there were two locally grown meals to be had - a lunch of roasted beets and goat cheese, and a dinner of grilled lamb and mashed celery root, potato, and garlic.

Did we miss anyone else’s details for last week?  Add yours in the comments!

Posted by Nicole on 09/17 at 11:21 AM

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