I’m quite hungry as I write this, so tasty treats are on my mind. I’ll use this inspiration as the motivation to write about one of my favorite topics – food. Especially Summer food.
There’s just something magical about creating food that cools, refreshes, and hydrates you when you need it the most…like when it’s hot outside! (and boy is it – my car registered 101 degrees F yesterday!)
One of my fondest memories of Summer as a kid was going out to Daddy’s garden, picking tomatoes (and whatever else was ripe and ready!), doing some weeding, feeding any worms we found to the neighbor’s chickens, and then coming back in to cool off. Cooling off usually entailed lunch (a kid’s favorite time of day, to be sure)!
Tasty Treats #1: Tomato & Mayo Sandwich
Often my lunch of these Summer-time moments was a Tomato and Mayo sandwich. Nothing says Summer like this sandwich (and the Gainesville Times agrees with me!). If the South had a song, this sandwich would be a key lyrical point.
Simple. Delicious. Affordable.
Fresh tomatoes, sliced into thick circles, placed on bread smeared with a healthy portion of mayonnaise. Salt, pepper. Done. You’ll find other variations, additions, people “gourmet-ing it up”, but honestly, nothing is better than just simple.
What else can one say about this sandwich? Well, it transports me back to a simpler time, and for a moment the stresses of the modern world retreat. I smile. And when the sandwich is gone I dream of the next one.
Tasty Treats #2: Blueberry, Watermelon, Mint & Feta Salad
Now, I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of eating melons. BUT, in this salad, they’re actually quite good. It doesn’t hurt that I REALLY love blueberries, feta, mint, and balsamic vinaigrette. If you love all these things, this is a great cool-down refreshing salad to make.
Watermelon has hydrating qualities that can’t be overlooked on hot summer days. Made mostly of water and fiber with a little sugar, served cold it can literally bring down your body temperature in a matter of minutes. Watermelon is also one of the best hydration delivery systems ever – no salt-laden sugary chemical drinks needed!
It’s as easy as it looks folks, cube up some watermelon, add blueberries, crumbled feta, torn mint leaves, and toss lightly, then chill in the fridge for about an hour or so, take it out, drizzle balsamic vinaigrette, and serve. Yum!
Tasty Treats #3: Agua Fresca with Cucumber, Lime, and Mint
Are you sensing a Mint theme here? Yeah, me too. I just can’t help myself.
Mint is used in both Eastern and Western medicines to cool the body, so it’s no wonder it’s in a lot of foods for hot climates.
Cucumber is another food that is excellent at hydrating a parched body. It’s mostly water and fiber, so your body can quickly get the water to your tissues. When you see them over people’s eyes in a spa treatment, it’s because contact with cucumber juice instantly cools and hydrates puffy and/or dry eyes.
Lime (and any citrus, really) has some extra sugars and vitamins to add to your refreshing Summer drink to help you hydrate (and they’re tasty too).
The recipe is in the link under the picture. You won’t regret making it! For an additional bit if zing, use water from a Soda Stream machine to give it a little fizz.
Thanks for letting me ramble on about food. I’m going to go make a Tomato & Mayo sandwich and remember my childhood for a few minutes before I move on to my next task for the day!
As we prepare for Thanksgiving (just 2 weeks away from today!) I wanted to share some yummy treats from our family, and also some of the ones you shared with us from last Sunday’s (11/10) Sunday Survey Facebook post where I asked for your favorite Thanksgiving recipes!
I love this season – we get some cool mornings, I might get to wear a sweater once in awhile, maybe even boots…and I love food. I love to cook for entertaining and trying new things too, like the easy and delicious appetizer I made last night for a girls night get together (don’t worry, I shared it with you below!).
So, here’s some great recipes from our community, reprinted here from that Facebook post, and a couple of my own, too.
SAVORY HERB STUFFING
From our friend and AMAZING Earthbox aficionado Susan Roghair comes this great Stuffing recipe! It’s vegetarian, and looks delicious!
1 large loaf whole-grain bread 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup yellow onion, diced 1 cup red onion, diced 1 1/2 cups celery, diced 1/4 cup fresh sage, roughly chopped 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped 1/4 teaspoon black crushed pepper 1 1/2 cups of clear vegetable broth
The night before, cube your bread and set it in a large bowl to dry out. You want it to be the texture of day old bread, noticeably dry but not rock hard. You can also dehydrate it in a dehydrator if you prefer.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly rub oil on a 11 x 7 x 2 glass loaf dish.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and add the onions, celery, sage, thyme and rosemary. Cover and cook until tender about 14 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the parsley, black pepper, bread cubes, vegetable broth and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix well.
Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes or until top is crisp and golden.
REAL MASHED POTATOES
Long-time customer Norma Doyle said that her favorite recipe is mashed potatoes – the real ones.
The recipe is simple: Yukon Gold Potatoes (skin off or skin kept, whatever you like), cubed, boiled until soft, and mashed with a mix of half cream and half butter until you get the consistency you want.
I would add to that salt and pepper to taste. You could also add roasted garlic (look at my recipe next!) and have garlic mashed potatoes!
OVEN ROASTED GARLIC
This is one of my favorite flavors – roasted garlic – and this is my recipe for making it. It is so versatile – once the garlic is roasted, it becomes soft like butter. You can spread it on bread with butter to make garlic toast. You can spread it across the top of a perfectly grilled steak, or add it to your mashed potatoes! So good!
Whole Garlic Bulbs Olive Oil to Drizzle
Preheat your oven to 400F. On a cutting board, hold your garlic bulb on it’s side. With a very sharp chef’s knife (not serrated, a flat blade – trust me, less mess that way), cut off the top 1/4 to 1/3 of the bulb at the growing end tips (not the root end). Put those cuttings aside for a moment. Place your bulbs on an aluminum foil sheet clustered in the center, root end down, leaving enough foil to be able to wrap around them and make a pouch. You can also use a baking dish, just extend the baking time by about 5-10 minutes. Pull any pieces of garlic clove tips out of the garlic skins that you cut off earlier and place them in with the bulbs, discarding or composting the garlic “paper” husks.
Drizzle olive oil generously over the bulbs. Wrap up the aluminum foil to make a pouch, and close it (or tightly cover the baking dish with foil). Place foil on a cookie sheet and put in the oven (or just set the baking dish in the oven) for at least 45 minutes, I prefer 50 minutes (remember, add 5-10 minutes for a baking dish). The enclosed pouch with steam heat AND roast the garlic at the same time. When time is up, take out the cookie sheet/dish and allow to cool enough to touch the garlic (you can vent the aluminum foil to help the cooling process).
Next, in a bowl with a lid for storage (because it’s garlic I recommend glass!) take each bulb and squeeze each clove to remove the roasted garlic inside and put it into the bowl. The garlic should be a golden yellow and be very soft. Continue to squeeze out all of the garlic from the bulb husks. Finally from the aluminum foil pouch, empty as much of the leftover oil as you can into the bowl with the garlic. Store the bowl of garlic and oil in the refrigerator and use as needed. Discard or compost the now empty garlic bulb husks.
There are so many uses for this garlic – in other recipes like mashed potatoes, as a spread, as flavoring for your favorite saute dishes, to put in soups…really the possibilities are endless. It is my FAVORITE way to eat garlic. And during this time of year when catching colds is very prominent, garlic can help you stay well – so keep eating it!
CRANBERRY APPLE CRUMBLE
From our customer Carolyn Albertson, here’s a versatile dish that can be breakfast or dessert or a side dish with dinner! Yum!
Filling: 3 cups chopped mixed apples 2 cups fresh cranberries 1 cup sugar Topping: 1 stick butter, softened; plus extra butter to coat the baking dish 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup flour 3/4 tsp salt 1 1/2 cups quick oats 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Mix filling ingredients and place in buttered 1 1/2 qt casserole dish. Topping: Combine 1 stick softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 1/2 cup quick cook oats, 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Crumble on top of the apple/cranberry mixture. Bake at 350 for an hour or until bubbly.
Carolyn notes: “we love the topping so much, we tend to make a double batch so it is like granola on top.” Also an Editor’s note, you can remove the nuts for nut allergies and such.
BRIE & JAM PUFF PASTRY BITES
My awesome neighbor Kelley (from SimpliAIR A/C) and I made this one last night before we headed off for a get together with friends, and it was a hit! The original recipe called for just Fig Jam, which I used, but I also mixed it up and made some with other ingredients too, such as a piece of fresh apple instead of jam, some I made with Apricot Jam, and some I made with Lemon Curd. Oh holy moly they were SO GOOD! Don’t expect them to last. In fact, you might just plan for doubling this recipe.
1 Frozen Puff Pastry Sheet (17.3oz package) or 1 Crescent Roll Pastry Sheet Fig, Apricot, or whatever jam you like (feel free to mix it up!) 1 wheel of brie cheese Flour to coat surface of dough cutting board and top of dough to keep rolling pin from sticking
Preheat oven to 400F. On your cutting/dough rolling board, sprinkle some flour. Unroll your puff pastry or crescent roll pastry sheet and place on the board. Flour the top and your rolling pin and roll to a size of 10″ x 10″ square. Cut square into quarters, then cut each of those pieces into quarters again, making sixteen 2.5″ squares.
With a fork, poke holes into the pastry dough squares about 8 times per square, try to evenly space them (don’t get all exact about it, just poke holes all over the squares). Then, in a NONSTICK mini muffin pan, lay each square across an muffin cup, and gently press down the pastry dough into the cup, allowing the corners of the squares to lay up over the edges of the cups. If your pan tends to stick, probably a good idea to spray some nonstick oil onto the pan first, or use butter and flour to coat the cups.
Bake the cups for 8 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and take a spoon or the rounded handle end of silverware or steak knife and push down the center of your pastry cups to make room for the cheese and fruit topping. Then, once you’ve made some space, add a teaspoon of brie cheese and a teaspoon of whichever toppings you like (jam, fresh fruit, fruit curd, etc). and bake for another 6-8 minutes (in my oven it was about 7 minutes, it would have been OK at 6). You want the cheese to be bubbly and the points on the cups to be dark golden brown.
ALLOW THE CUPS TO COOL BEFORE REMOVING THEM FROM THE PAN. You don’t want the yummy stuff to run out of the pastry cups. Once the cheese and toppings have “hardened” back up, gently work the cups loose from the pan and place on your platter to serve (or your dish to transport to the party!). Enjoy!
Well, that’s the recipes I wanted to share with all of you, from some of our customers, and from myself too. I had a lot of fun with this one (because I’m a foodie), and they all sound amazing! I’m probably going to make all of them.
Oh! I almost forgot, there is also a previous article with some Fall-time recipes here if you’d like to check it out!
We’re going to talk about recipes with ingredients that are still probably ready to pick in your yard right now. But if your Spring veggie plants are already gone, I totally understand. I live in West Central Florida, where right now, when it’s not raining, we’ve been having Heat Index days topping 108, 109, 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This is instant sweating, flip-flop melting, HOT weather.
Because of the heat my Spring garden is pretty much on its last legs – the tomato “understory” (lower leaves) is dying out while the tips of the plants are still healthy looking and flowering/fruiting. When I do get some tomatoes they are usually split from the rain deluges before I get a chance to let them grow to full size or ripen. But, my hot pepper plants seem to be doing just fine.
When life gives you green tomatoes, of course being a Southern girl, there’s only one thing to do: you fry them. It’s one of my favs so I’ll share it with you! We’ll also do some yummy things with jalapenos which you might not have thought of doing. Finally, to help cool you off after all that heat, we’ll use some Mint that’s going crazy trying to find its way out of the container it’s planted in right now to make some Mint Lemonade.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Yes, Fried Green Tomatoes is the title of a wonderful and famous movie. But it’s also a great way to use up tomatoes that may not make it to ripening (usually because they have split at the top). The rest of the tomato is fine when they split, they’re just not pretty, and they tend to eventually dry up or get mold growing on them if they didn’t heal their split before picking.
Sometimes, though, you just want to take a regular healthy green tomato and make this dish. And that’s OK too. Let’s get to it!
Green tomatoes, sliced in 1/3-1/2 inch crosswise slices (depending on how big your tomatoes are) – see example photo
Eggs, whisked – number of eggs will vary depending on how many tomatoes you are preparing
Corn meal – finely ground – if you don’t have this, I’ve also had good luck with bread crumbs or crushed plain cornflakes (not the sugary kind).
Paprika – season to taste
Salt – season to taste
Pepper – season to taste
Slice your tomatoes as described above, and place on a plate. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and set aside.
Whisk one egg in a shallow bowl. Place an additional shallow bowl in an “assembly line” on the counter. You will place the corn meal & paprika in the second bowl, and mix these dry ingredients together well.
Take a heavy skillet, cast iron if you have it, and fill to 1/2″ full with vegetable oil. Set it over medium-high heat. Allow the oil to heat up to just before smoking point (the surface will usually shimmer slightly just before starting to burn). If you don’t know if it’s ready, take a pinch of corn meal and toss into the oil – it should readily sizzle and start to brown right away.
When the oil is warmed up, dip your tomatoes one at a time in egg, and then coat in the corn meal mixture, making sure the tomato is well coated. Place the coated tomatoes carefully into the oil, making sure they don’t touch, stack, or overlap (and be careful not to splash yourself!). Allow them to cook in the oil until they are nicely browned, about 2 minutes per side if the oil is hot enough.
As you move through the sliced green tomatoes, refill the egg and corn meal mixture in your shallow bowls as needed through this process.
Transfer the golden-brown tomato slices to a paper-towel lined platter. The aluminum “disposable” baking tins lined with paper towels are really handy for this too if you’re cooking a lot of them, as the tall sides keep your stacks of tomatoes and paper towels from falling over.
Repeat this process until you finish all of your tomato frying. Serve warm or room temperature (I even like them cold…).
Suggestions for serving:
Make a toasted Bacon, Lettuce, & Fried Green Tomato Sandwich (otherwise known to me as a BLFGT) with mayo, or for a little spice you can use the Roasted Jalapeno Sauce I make (recipe below).
Use a Fried Green Tomato as the base for a stackable snack, such as a layered FGT, goat cheese, and prosciutto appetizer!
Ever had a Grilled FGT & Cheese sandwich? Works as a panini too!
Start with a FGT, add a thin layer of marinara, some diced pepperoni or crumbled italian sausage, top with some shredded mozzarella. Toast them in a toaster oven for 2 minutes, and make a FGT pizza bite!
FGT Cheeseburger. You’re welcome.
The possibilities are endless!
Some people just can’t get enough heat in their food. If you want to make your own hot stuff and use up the jalapenos that are going bananas on your pepper plants right now, it’s actually pretty easy to roast them! Then you can put them on your burgers, your sandwiches, your hotdogs, or even make a spicy aioli/sauce with them.
I like to use a grill for this purpose, but you could do the oven. The instructions below are for the grill, but an oven at 400 degrees would give you a similar result I think.
Green and/or red jalapenos
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste (or a pre-mixed seasoning like a Steak or Chicken seasoning if that’s all you have – if you’ve got some Latin ingredients, Completa or Adobo with Pepper works well too).
Heavy duty Aluminum foil sheets, 2 of the same approximate size
Take your fresh-picked jalapenos and cut off the stem, then cut them in half longways (stem to point). Open them up into two halves. Remove the seeds (dry and save them for next growing season if you like!).
Take one sheet of aluminum foil and lay it out flat, then fold up the edges about 1″ around. Arrange your halved jalapenos on your aluminum sheet inside the folded edges, the insides of the jalapenos facing you (skin facing the aluminum). Drizzle (or brush, if you prefer, but I like extra oil) these jalapeno “boats” with olive oil and then sprinkle your salt, pepper, garlic or other spice mixtures over all of them. You don’t need a lot, but you don’t want to be skimpy either.
The second sheet of aluminum covers the jalapenos and the turned-up edges of the foil are crimped into the top piece of foil, making a foil pouch. No openings are necessary for venting, but you can leave a small one if you like (I find the steam buildup helps the roasting process).
On your hot grill, place your foil packet on direct medium heat for 15 minutes and then lower the heat to low or move to indirect heat for another 15 minutes. Check your work after you move it off of the direct heat to see where you’re at roasting-wise. When done, your Jalapenos should look “flat” and a bit “soft” with a nice brown roast mark on the skin, but not be burnt or completely destroyed. You should still be able to take a fork or pair of tongs and lift them up in one piece. Remove from heat when they get to this point.
And that’s really it! Depending on your grill type you might need to experiment with time on the heat for the cooking part.
This is a good dish to make alongside other things you’re grilling, like burgers, hot dogs, corn, or whatever you’re making for your summer BBQs.
Put one or two on a burger for a great spicy kick!
Dice a roasted pepper and mix into sweet relish for a kickin’ hot dog!
Take a few peppers and make a spicy condiment for great pepper flavor in a creamy sauce (the next section below).
Add roasted jalapenos to homemade hummus for an unexpected twist! Also great to add a few roasted red sweet bell peppers for added sweetness.
Roasted Jalapeno Aioli/Sauce
I struggle with what to call this mixture, but I love it because it can be adapted to different uses. It has spice, and then the cooling effect of the dairy, so you can taste the pepper flavor without burning your face off. It seems the hotter the weather gets, the hotter my jalapenos get!
4-6 Roasted Jalapeno Peppers, prepared as above
1 cup Sour Cream, brand and fat content of your choice
1/2 cup Mayonnaise, Hellmans or Dukes or the like, NOT Miracle Whip (I love MW but it has the wrong flavor for this)
Optional: 1 tsp Cumin, cilantro leaves, lime juice
Use 4-6 roasted jalapenos per 1 cup Sour Cream, depending on how spicy you want it. Add the jalapenos, the sour cream, the mayonnaise, and any optional ingredients, into a food processor. Puree these items together, ensuring they are blended well and not chunky.
Use liberally on burger buns, dollop onto tacos in place of sour cream, spread on a Bacon, Lettuce & Fried Green Tomato sandwich – or wherever you think a little spice would taste delicious!
I use the Cumin when I’m making a sauce for tacos, it adds some great flavor! You could also add cilantro leaves and/or lime juice for even more flavor. You have permission to play with your food!!!
You should be able to store this sauce in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and I haven’t found that it freezes well, but you could try.
So Fresh So Clean Mint Lemonade
When you think you’ve had all the hot and spicy you can stand, nothing cools you down like Mint Lemonade. I call Mint “the wonder herb” because not only is it an aggressive grower in the garden, but it helps with digestion, headaches, and it takes the sting out of spices. Mint oil also has a cooling sensation, so when added to drinks it’s like eating a really flavorful ice cube. And we all need something cooling when it gets this hot. Get ready to get refreshed!
P.S. Those familiar with Middle Eastern culture might see a resemblance to Limonana here! Yum!
6 fresh Lemons, 5 halved, one for garnish – you can use regular or Meyer lemons
Mint sprigs with leaves, about 1/2 cup of leaves with extra “pretty” sprigs set aside for garnish
2 cups granulated Sugar
6 cups water
A large pitcher
A muddler (or wood spoon)
A citrus reamer, if you have one, otherwise a fork and some elbow grease
First you need to make a simple syrup: Add 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar into a saucepan, heat over low to medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until all the sugar has dissolved. A clear syrup, or a golden yellow syrup is fine, but you don’t want a brown or tar-like syrup, so don’t let it burn! When it turns brown the sugar is caramelizing, and that has a different flavor profile. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
While that syrup is happening, cut your lemons in half crosswise. If you have a reamer tool or simple juicer contraption, you can juice your lemons and the seeds will be removed during that process and the juice collected. If not, you can use a bowl and a mesh strainer to squeeze your lemons into – the mesh will catch the seeds and the big chunks of pulp. Use a fork to squeeze out as much juice from the lemons as possible. When you’re done squeezing the 5 lemons, you should have about 8 ounces of lemon juice, and some nice rinds for zesting (lemon bars, anyone?), and/or for the compost pile. You could also fill the rinds with a peanut butter and birdseed and set it out for the birdies to munch on…but I digress.
In your pitcher, sprinkle the bottom with about 2 Tablespoons of sugar and add about 1 Tablespoon of water. Mix it around to get the sugar wet and clumpy.
Harvest some leaves from your mint sprigs, a nice handful (about a 1/3-1/2 cup), and place in the bottom of your pitcher. Take your muddler and press the mint into the sugar until it’s crushed. This part is kind of like making a mojito! You don’t have to completely destroy the leaves but know that as you press you are releasing the mint oils that have the cooling and refreshing taste you’re looking for.
Once that’s done, pour the lemon juice and 4 cups of water over your mint mash. Stir. Your lemon juice and sugar and mint leaves will make a green-ish liquid. While stirring, add 1 cup of the simple syrup. Taste. If you want it sweeter, slowly add more sweetness to taste. You will probably have some syrup left over, which you can store in an airtight container for future use (like in mojitos! I might be obsessed).
To serve, fill glasses with cube ice and pour your lemonade over the ice. If you don’t want ice, refrigerate your lemonade until cold, an hour or two, and then serve. Some folks might want to pour through a strainer to catch the crushed leaf pieces; if you don’t mind some leafy greens in your lemonade, feel free to just pour. Add a sprig of mint and a lemon wedge to the glass. Enjoy!
I suggest keeping the mixture refrigerated and you should probably consume each batch within about 24 hours, as the fresh mint will lose it’s “mintyness” over time and turn brown in the drink.
Your fall crops are probably well underway by now, and I wanted to talk about some delicious dishes that you can make from the things that you are growing right now. You probably can’t harvest yet, and that’s ok – this will just give you something to look forward to cooking!
One of my favorite treats is soup, especially in the fall and winter months. Simmering in the house for a few hours to combine all the flavors makes the whole house feel cozy and inviting. Smelling your delicious soup brewing all day is also sure to make you hungry! Let’s try a butternut squash soup with squash straight from your own garden – it’s a little bit of work to prep, but it’s SO worth it!
Butternut Squash Soup
This delicious creamy soup is wonderful for a lunch or dinner. Served with bread & salad you’ll have a filling meal! The main recipe is even vegetarian (I’ll put optional non-veg items in parentheses). You can use a pot on the stove or a slow cooker, whatever you prefer. Have an Instant Pot? You can use that too with some modifications. I included directions for all below so you can make this tasty soup whatever way works for you and your kitchen. A recommendation from my own kitchen: while I love my Instant Pot for lots of things, I really love the stovetop for this recipe.
4 cups vegetable stock (or 4 cups chicken or turkey stock – you can even make this yourself!)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large or 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 uncooked 3-4 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed in about ½” – 1” cubes
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig of fresh sage
1 sprig of rosemary, rubbed between your hands gently just before putting in the pot to release the oils
6 fresh basil leaves, minced fine
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp salt, with extra for seasoning at the end
¼ tsp fresh black pepper, with extra for seasoning at the end
⅛ tsp cayenne, with extra for seasoning at the end
⅛ tsp nutmeg
½ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (or ½ cup Half & Half or Heavy Cream), with extra for garnish if desired
FOR STOVETOP ONLY: 2 tsp grapeseed or avocado oil
Dash of smoked paprika on top for color
Small pinch of Roasted Salted or Unsalted Pepitas – these are roasted pumpkin seeds that are shelled. You can also roast the seeds from the butternut squash while your soup is cooking and use them as a garnish! (recipe below)
Substitute milk above for sour cream for a heavier soup with that characteristic sour cream taste. Use a ¼ cup, with a dollop saved for garnish at serving time
(Crispy bacon, crumbled, sprinkled on top)
Your favorite crusty fresh-baked or toasted bread for dunking
For Slow Cooker:
Put all ingredients into the pot or slow cooker EXCEPT the milk and garnishes. Set the slow cooker on low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, remove the lid, remove the sprigs of sage and rosemary, and add milk of your choice. Use an immersion blender to blend soup smooth into a bisque, or use a blender that is vented for the heat (blending in parts, it won’t all fit at once!) and then put it all back into the cooker and stir to ensure all the chunky bits are smooth as you stir.
On the Stovetop: Place pot that will be big enough for all ingredients on the stove and place the oil in the bottom, Heat on medium-high and spread the oil around a bit. When hot and shimmering (not smoking) add onion, cook for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the carrot, some of the butternut squash cubes and apple to the bottom of the pot, not so much that you can’t stir them around on the heat, and saute them as well for another 2 minutes – this process gives you a little more “roasted” flavor – caramelizes the natural sugars in the squash, carrots, and apples.
Add the rest of the squash, apple, all the stock, the vinegar, and top with the salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, the basil leaves, sage and rosemary sprigs, and stir gently. Bring pot to a boil with frequent stirring and then cut the heat to low.
Simmer on low for at least 3 hours, lid on, until the squash is soft. Monitor your liquid level on the stovetop and add a ¼ cup of broth if it gets too thick – you don’t want it to burn. When done cooking, remove the sprigs of sage and rosemary, add the milk of your choice, and use an immersion blender to blend into a bisque, or use a regular blender to blend in parts, making sure your blender is vented for the heat. Put all blended bisque back into the pot and stir for a “lump check”, mashing any remaining lumps.
Set to saute function and allow to heat to hot. Add oil once hot. Add onion, cook for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Set to manual and cook on high pressure for 14 minutes. Natural release for 15 minutes after that. Then release pressure and open the lid. Add milk of your choice and blend your soup with an immersion blender until smooth, or move soup to regular blender in parts, making sure the blender is vented for the heat, and place back in Instant Pot and stir to ensure no lumpy bits remain.
Roasting Butternut Squash seeds:
While your soup is cooking, you can take advantage of all the bits of your squash to make a tasty treat or garnish. Clean “guts” off of seeds and wash them, then pat them dry.
Coat with olive, avocado, or grapeseed oil lightly. Season lightly with salt, pepper if you like, paprika, garlic salt, or some combination of them all to your taste. Spread seasoned seeds on parchment paper-covered baking sheet and place sheet in preheated oven 275 degrees for 15 minutes or until seeds start popping. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet. Sprinkle on top of soup at serving time – if you have any left after you’ve snacked on them!
Ladle soup into bowl. Top with drizzle of milk of your choice, or a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle roasted seeds, pepitas, cayenne, paprika, bacon, or any of these that you like on top of your soup and serve with a crusty bread for dunking. Add a salad of greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers from your garden to really get a filling meal!
Herbed butter is another treat that I like to make fresh from the garden. You can put it on your crusty bread for the soup, or use it as a burst of garden-fresh flavor in a number of dishes! Great on veggies like green beans that you just picked, sauteed onions and peppers, and so much more. Here’s how to do it – it’s pretty easy!
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened at room temperature (don’t microwave it!)
¼ tsp minced garlic, or garlic greens (sprouted garlic bulb green tops) or ⅛ tsp dried garlic powder
1 Tbsp minced scallions, or chives, or onion greens (whichever you have)
Combine all ingredients and beat until mixed. Do not whip – the air will keep the butter from taking on all the flavor from the herbs and garlic/onions. I prefer to mix the butter by hand with a spatula but a mixer on low would do just fine too. Use immediately. To store, take wax paper or parchment paper, spoon the butter into a cylinder roll-shape, and roll it into that cylinder shape with the paper. Tape and put in fridge to harden, pull out when needed for bread, or for cooking, or basting (amazing on crab and lobster!).
I think this topping for steak is one of the most abused South American garnishes out there. It can be SO amazing…and it can quickly be ruined by doing too much to it.
I would ask that you don’t use a food processor. It might take a few more minutes, but it’s important to take the chance to connect with your food. Chop it manually so that you can add or subtract individual ingredients depending on your tastes. And taste along the way!!
½ Cup Olive Oil (good quality, you’ll thank yourself later)
2 Tblsp Red Wine Vinegar (please don’t substitute)
½ Cup Finely chopped parsley
3-4 cloves finely minced garlic – like a lot of garlic? Do four!
2 small red chili peppers, or 1 dried chili pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped (you can use 1-2 tsp dried chili flakes)
¾ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp (level) coarse salt
½ tsp pepper (or to taste)
Combine all ingredients well with a spoon, and allow to sit at least 10 minutes before using so the oil soaks in the flavors of the herbs and peppers; I prefer to leave an hour, stirring 3-4 times during that day. You can store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours! Great to baste on flank and skirt steaks, really any steak, and any other meats on the grill as well. Serve your meats with a scoop of it on top as well (or, a scoop of your herbed butter!).
I hope this gives you a few more ideas on how you can use what you grow in the kitchen, and gets you excited to take advantage of all the flavors growing in your garden right now. I love to cook and will be talking about food at least once a season – because hey, what’s the use in growing it if you don’t have any idea how to use it, right?
In the famous words (and voice) of Julia Child, “bon appetit!”
I'm an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me. The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, "If you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener." Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they're delicious!) Thanks for reading! Special thank you to Abby's Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell's Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.
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