Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: October 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sweet (and ever-so-slightly spicy) Honey Glazed Mixed Nuts (Vegetarian)

First off - Happy Halloween!

As I mentioned in a previous post, a co-worker and friend of mine, Kathy, is having a baby really soon, and we had a baby shower for her at work this week. For a gift, I got her a locally made "baby sling" to carry her "little Hulk" around town in. The "baby slings" are really neat - we've seen women around town with them and their babies are never crying. When Brett and I were discussing what to get her, we liked that with the baby sling, the baby was able to stay close to Mom in transit and that probably helps to ease a lot of their anxiety. I also know the woman who makes these and sells them at The Peace Nook. I was very happy being able to get Kathy something that was not only useful, but also locally made - you can't beat that! I hope she and "the Hulk" make lots of good use out of it. (In case you are wondering "the Hulk" is the tentative name her husband gave the baby :-)).

I also needed to make a food contribution to her party and since the cake and other little nibblies were covered, I decided I would bring in nuts. I then decided to go beyond that and glaze the nuts, because I would rather, of course, have made something a little more extravagant for the occasion, but a purchased cake was already in the works. So this was my compromise - why buy something from the store when I could (happily) make something homemade?

A little note: These nuts are vegetarian as they contain honey and I know a lot of vegans don't eat honey. I am not sure whether this would work with agave or not. I can tell you that, at the very least, it wouldn't taste the same as this. Also, since I was making these for other people, I toned down the cayenne. The small addition of the cayenne in this recipe gave the nuts a smoky and savory flavor to complement the sweet flavors. If I had been making these for myself, I would have upped the cayenne and made this into "spicy-sweet" nuts, but I'm a freak like that and that is just how I roll. :-)

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Sweet (and ever-so-slightly spicy) Honey Glazed Mixed Nuts (Vegetarian)

3 cups of mixed nuts (I used 1 cup of peanuts, 1/2 cup of hazelnuts, 1 cup of cashews, and a 1/2 cup of walnuts)
1/3 cup of honey *
1 tbsp raw organic sugar
1 tbsp safflower oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne (or MORE! I was taking these into a baby shower so I had to keep them mild and sweet)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine honey, sugar, oil, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne in a medium bowl.

Slowly stir in nuts and make sure to get the nuts evenly coated.

Place on a baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes - watching very carefully. You'll need to shake the pan a few times during the cooking process to keep the nuts from sticking.

Once removed from the oven, place in a single layer on parchment paper to dry for at least a few hours.

Store in a container for up to 3 days.

These were a pretty big hit at the party. And nobody was none-the-wiser that these nuts were homemade, not store bought. ;-)

'Til next time!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

B's "Cheesy" Delicata Squash and Potato Soup

We had another "soup night" over this past weekend and I must say, for a "theoretical" soup, this turned out oh so well. The idea for this soup was Brett's. He thought that delicata squash tastes ever-so-slightly "cheesy" and that it would make a great "cheesy" style soup. Boy was he right. I helped "fill in the details" of the recipe and did the actual preparation, but the overall idea was most definitely his.

Now, I've only made soup at home a couple of times, and am fairly new to the whole thing, but this was by far our favorite yet, and it was so creamy and tasty. It was like chili too - even better the next day.

This was also my first experience cooking with leeks. I've had leeks before, but have never purchased one to cook with. All I can say is that when it comes to soup, onions better watch themselves, they've got some competition from the leeks.

I think soup and local crusty bread are becoming a Saturday tradition. I am going to have to expand our soup repertoire so we don't get burnt out on any one kind. Soup varieties in the works: Pumpkin Soup, Minestrone, Some Bean Soup (hopefully I'll come up with a better name), and Leek and Potato Soup. And these are just the ideas I've had so far. I see many cold, blustery Saturday evenings made better by tasty homemade soup and local Uprise Bakery bread this winter.


The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

You know, soup is flippin' hard to get a good picture of. Especially light colored soups!

"Cheesy" Delicata Squash and Potato Soup
1 delicata squash, halved with seeds and stringy parts discarded *
2 large carola (or yukon gold) potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks *
1 leek, sliced (white parts only) *
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped *
1 tbsp safflower oil
1 cup plain hempmilk
1 cup water
4 tbsp nutritional yeast (nooch)
1-2 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp shoyu (or other soy sauce)
a couple of dashes of dried basil
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Spray delicata halves with safflower or other oil spray.

Place cut side up in a baking dish. Roast for 40-50 minutes or until really soft. Let cool.

Meanwhile, heat a medium pot of water on the stove top. Add the potatoes and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain water.

Heat safflower oil in a small skillet. Add the leeks and garlic and cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Scoop delicata flesh into a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until really smooth.

Return to the stove and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Serve with warm, crusty bread!

Oh my goodness, I never thought soup could be this good.

'Til next time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whole Grain Spelt Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have wanted to try pumpkin again for awhile, but I've been a little tentative. Both Brett and I hate pie - pumpkin pie especially. I do not like anything about pie crust - I just don't, and thankfully, Brett doesn't either. Pumpkin pie filling also isn't really my cup of tea - it is something about the texture of the filling. Anyways, with my love of all other winter squash, and the fact that I now love many things that I hated in my pre-vegetarian days, I wanted to give it another shot.

I can now say that, at least in certain applications, both my and Brett's feelings about pumpkin has changed. We really like it! I don't think I will ever like pie, but pumpkin and I could become quite good friends. I went out in search of recipes for pumpkin, and then crossed my fingers that I would be able to find an edible pumpkin at the farmer's market. A little interesting aside about that - there were, oh, 4 stands that were selling pumpkin at the market last weekend, and only one of them sold pumpkins that were actually edible. I understand that Jack-o-lantern's are popular around this time of year, but Brett and I noted that with the sheer amount of non-edible pumpkins grown in our area alone, there has to be a lot of waste.

I found this recipe on the Joy of Baking website. I veganized it and also made it whole grain. These muffins are not overly sweet and they go fantastically with a cup of tea. I took these into work and they were eaten up in no time. I forgot to tell people they were vegan - but that usually turns people off to trying things for some reason. But at least you guys and I will know. :-)

This recipe wasn't the only pumpkin recipe we tried out this weekend either. We also made pumpkin bread! I followed this recipe - simply substituting whole grain spelt flour for the all-purpose and using safflower oil instead of olive. I have to say, we LOVE pumpkin bread, we devoured that loaf of bread!

Does anyone have any ideas (beyond pumpkin soup) as to how to use pumpkin in main dishes?

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

How to make pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkin:

Heat oven to 350.

Split pumpkin in half and remove seeds and stringy parts.

Place cut halve side facing down in a baking dish. Add 2 cups of water.

Bake pumpkin for about 60-90 minutes or until really soft.

Let the pumpkin cool.

Scoop out flesh and transfer to a food processor.

Blend until smooth.

Whole Grain Spelt Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes about 12.
Adapted from a Joy of Baking recipe found here.

1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1/2 cup organic raw sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain hempmilk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree *
1/4 cup Earth Balance, melted
1 Ener-G, flax, or other egg substitute
1 cup organic, fair-trade chocolate chip (we used 65% cacao)

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Slowly add in the wet ingredients, blending well.

Fill a greased (I sprayed mine with safflower oil in a mister) muffin pan 2/3 of the way full with batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick or knife comes clean after inserting it into the middle of the muffin.

Yummy! I wish these weren't gone. Thankfully though, I still have 2 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree in our freezer. We are also hoping to pick up another "pie pumpkin" this weekend.

'Til next time!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Garden Update #30 - The Last Weekly One, The First Freeze

Welcome to the last weekly garden update! Starting next month there will be only a monthly update as things are slowing down considerably in the gardens and there isn't much to tell on a weekly basis. I will still continue to take weekly pictures though - that way you can really get an idea of how much things have grown during the month. Either Brett or I will do a brief post if something really interesting or exciting happens, of course, but this may be the new template, even through summer next year. We are trying to figure out a way to make this both more useful to us as a photo gardening journal, as well as to our readers. We also think having monthly posts might give both ourselves and our readers a better grasp of how much the plants have grown each month and the general level of activity required in the garden throughout different parts of the year.

This garden update also marks the first hard freeze in the Mid-Missouri area. It got below freezing Sunday night, last night, and is supposed to again tonight. We went down to the community garden and picked a TON of partially ripe or green tomatoes, as well as some hot banana peppers. Sunday marked the last "official" day of our 2008 community gardening season. It was a wonderful year and I cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt again in 2009.

What the freeze also meant was that it was time to make a realistic assessment of which container garden plants were worth bringing in during the freeze and which were worth trying to keep over the winter. This was really hard for me as I didn't (and don't) want to kill any of them, but it is unrealistic to bring in plants that either haven't produced much if anything at all (the chocolate bell pepper, the poblano, and super chile) or that had already been struggling with the temperature fluxuations (the jalapeno [really sad about that one], the petite bell pepper, the regular bell pepper, the New Mexican and Serexican Chiles, one of our banana peppers). This meant that in the end, all we brought in were the Hot Hungarian Wax pepper plant, the cayenne plant, and our second year serrano (soon to be third year). We were really hoping to bring the jalapeno in too, but it really took a beating with all the wind and wild temperatures we've had lately. The leaves have wilted, many have yellowed, and it was a tough decision that had to be made. I think if I truly want to be a successful gardener, I am going to have to stop getting attached to the plants. Otherwise our home is going to be filled with a bunch of pepper plants that no longer produce, that I am keeping alive as houseplants. Let's just say I don't really like this time of year as I love my gardens and am sad to see them go.

But it's not all depressing. We've got some exciting tomatillo news and I managed to get some kale, chard, and cilantro seeds started this weekend. We decided against trying mini bell pepper seeds again as we aren't sure if our pots are even big enough, we both have our doubts that they will fruit inside (without some major assistance), and we already have sweet peppers going (the cherry bombs), so we will save those seeds for next year.

Well, without further yapping, check out the last installment of the 2008 container garden update (::sniff::):

The cayenne pepper plant. We brought it inside before the frost that evening.

The ripe New Mexican Chile. We pulled it off the plant and left the plant outside. We will pull this and all the other dead plants out of the pots later this week when it is supposed to warm back up for a few days.

The Hot Hungarian Wax peppers. This lovely plant is now part of the beginnings of the "One Ball Squash Microclimate in J&B's Living Room".

Some pictures of the petite bell peppers. As you can see from the last picture, the plant has been struggling with the conditions already and probably wouldn't fare well in our apartment. I'm honestly not sure if could handle the shock of the transition with how tentative it looked. We picked all the petite bells off the plant and I washed and froze them for use this winter.

A couple of the serranos on the second-year serrano plant. I think it likes it inside. We brought it in before the first expected freeze and one of the peppers started to ripen really quickly. I think it is because our apartment is a lot warmer than it is outside (and so far we have not had to run the heater at all - thank you layers and blankets!).

The lone poblano pepper. There had been another decent sized poblano on here, but the wind blew it off, there were a couple more that had started but they just "petered" out and never really did anything. We picked this pepper and will be using it in a meal this week. I wish our poblano had been more productive than it was, but we'll try again with a bigger container next year.

And now on to the indoor winter garden!

As I noted earlier, I started a container of chard, kale, and cilantro this weekend. I will be "thinning out the cherry bomb plants numbers" this week so that they can grow larger and get to a transplantable size. Not this weekend, but next, I will be starting a second container of chard, kale, basil, and also our first round of salad greens.

Here is this week's picture of the pepper colony.

A couple of pictures of Gabby making it difficult for me to take pictures of one of the cayenne plants. :-) I think she was upset that I was paying attention to the plant and not her - silly kitties.

Photos of both cayenne plants. The second one is really starting to take off!

The two jalapeno plants. The droopy one amazes me, I thought it was a "goner" but it has continued to grow and sprout new leaves - it just stays droopy. Huh.

The cherry bomb starts. We had taken them outside to rid them of a few aphids they had (thanks to having to bring our outdoor plants in awhile back when they were spraying and power washing our decks - all the peppers have a few aphids, but nothing like the outdoor plants had at points in the season, thus far the aphid population has been easy to handle on the indoor plants).

The catnip - it looks a little gnarly, but it is still growing and most of the seedlings have multiple leaves on them now. I'd say that is a good sign.

The basil, still looking good. We think it may get a little hot in the hothouses for the basil when we have them sitting in the sun, so we've removed this basil-containing hothouse into the shade to see if that helps. If not, the basil will be coming out of the hothouse.

And now the most exciting part of this week's garden update - the tomatillo plant. Not only has it gotten a lot taller since last week, it has bloomed!

Tomatillos have gorgeous, yet odd looking flowers on them. They almost look like they are inside out, it is pretty neat. I've been trying to hand pollinate them with my finger, but I think I am going to dig out a paintbrush to make sure they actually get pollinated. (I could have just been spreading a lot of pollen throughout my apartment.)

This little bloom opened up yesterday! And as you can see from some of the pictures, there are more blooms on the way. This is so exciting! We got the seeds for the tomatillo from a tomatillo we got at the store. They have never been outside and not only did they grow, they are now blooming! Wahoo!

The One Ball Squash. I am a little worried about the One Ball's to be perfectly honest. We've already lost two and as you can see, one of them isn't looking so hot. But I also know that all of our squash plants went through a "struggling" period, so hopefully they will make it. They are still growing!

The start of our living room microclimate. We will be positioning greens, herbs, and catnip around the spaces between pepper plants.

Well I have quite a few food posts I'd like to work on, but alas, now isn't the time. Let's just say I have a really tasty soup, burrito, and a couple of baked goods recipes "in queue" that I need to post about. You should see them sometime soon. Hopefully I can get some of them posted this week!

I hope everyone is enjoying their week - freezing temperatures and all!

'Til next time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 10/19-10/25/08

It was a chilly trek to the farmer's market this morning! It looks like it is shaping up to be a beautiful fall day. Perfect for how I plan on spending it - starting kale, chard, and cilantro seeds, and doing a little bit of baking. Wahoo for the weekends and wahoo for the fall!

We didn't get too much booty from our container or community gardens this week, as I've mentioned before, this isn't due to a lack of peppers, but we are letting them ripen so that we can save their seeds. We'll be picking green tomatoes tomorrow as we are expecting three nights of freezing weather early this week. :-( We'll be bringing in our container pepper plants for the duration of the freeze threat. Anyone have a good recipe for fried green tomatoes? If so please link to it, send me an email, or leave the recipe in the comments section. It would be very, very highly appreciated. In fact, any other ideas for what to do with green tomatoes would be welcome, I think there are quite a few down there - maybe a dozen.

Anywho, I'm getting off topic. Check out our (small) load of booty from the container garden this week:

2 ripe "serexican" chiles and a hot banana pepper. These lovelies were turned into a delicious batch of 'Traditional' Refried Beans. Brett usually makes the refried beans and they turned out really well this week. Thanks Brett!

And this is (sniffle) our last CSA share of the year. It has been a wonderful season and we hope to have Danjo Farms as our CSA next year. We got excellent produce and wonderful discussion - we are happy to have been able to call Dan "our farmer". Our first year having a CSA subscription was a very good experience.

Starting from the bottom left: green onions, lots of greens (yay salads!), radishes, and something.

Does anyone have any idea what these are? One of the neat things about subscribing to a CSA is that you never know what you are going to get - as a result, Brett and I have worked with ingredients this season that we probably never would have otherwise, and learned we liked some new vegetables. But these, I mean, what are these?

Finally, onto this week's load of farmer's market booty. This large haul ran us $41.

I didn't really organize the produce very well to list off what is there, but I'll do my best. Starting from the left: a leek (for soup!), a loaf of ciabatta from the local Uprise Bakery (we love their ciabatta - I'm glad they aren't too far out of my way when I am walking to the bus station after work, we'll still be able to have their bread over winter!), a "pie pumpkin", 3 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, bell peppers, a dozen eggs, tomatoes, hot salsa, grass-fed beef (for Brett), onions, lots of carola potatoes, garlic, and jalapenos.


Now for the weekly update on the Eat Local Challenge: Well, as you can see from all the produce above, we aren't starving! We've actually done really well at this challenge and have really enjoyed it. It has forced us to be a little more creative with some of our meals, but I like a challenge - not to mention, we've gotten to try all sorts of new things. This will make eating locally that much easier in the future. Our trips to the "regular" grocery store have been incredibly small - today's trip included cookies for Brett, baking powder, organic fair-trade chocolate chips, and organic brown sugar.

Eating locally is a way of "voting with your dollars" in a very powerful way. Money spent in the community provides more to the community than money spent at a chain. The produce is fresher and relationships are cultivated. We can look at eating locally as a sacrifice, a necessary burden a lower-energy future may have to endure, or we can look at it as a challenge, a wonderful experience of place. Eating locally is a way of really taking in the place you live - eating with the seasons, eating the produce available in your region creates a culture of food, and a culture of place, something that has been very lacking in the past few decades. To everyone out there trying to rekindle or create a new culture of local food - a culture of the places in which we inhabit - keep it up, we are all doing a great, necessary, and powerful thing, and we can see the results every time we make a delicious local meal for our families or we check-in with a local farmer to see how their sweet potatoes are doing. Simple actions compound over time to be something far more important than they may seem to us individually.

'Til next time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Whole Grain Spelt Pizza with Jerk Sauce and Veggies

I have been wanting to do more experimenting with whole grain pizza doughs for awhile. We've tried whole wheat pizza doughs and either the taste has been off or the texture has been fairly unpleasant. Not wanting to consume a bunch of white flour laden pizzas, I felt like I was in a rut. Courtney suggested spelt flour awhile back, and I noticed some whole grain spelt flour in the bulk bins at the nearby Hy-Vee. We picked up a few pounds and successfully made our Cinnamon-Raisin Biscuits using it (they were actually better with the spelt flour), so we decided to try our hands at making spelt pizza dough.

The verdict? This is the best pizza dough we've had so far! We both agree that we really like spelt flour and plan on using it for the many baking adventures I have planned for the near future. The crust had a hearty, slightly nutty flavor and the crust was flaky and soft in the center. It was really, really good. The recipe (found below) is just the Using Up the White Flour Pizza Dough recipe with 2 parts spelt flour, 1 part organic all-purpose flour.

I've also been wanting to try out a "jerk" recipe for awhile now, but couldn't figure out what to do since a) "jerking" is a lot like BBQ, it is a seasoning mix yes - but more so a way of cooking things and b) meat is the most oft "jerked" item, and since I'm a vegetarian who doesn't like meat analogues or tofu, tempeh, or seitan, I didn't know what to do. Then somewhere along the way I decided it might make a good sauce for a pizza. So, that is what we did! The recipe is based off of the many jerk seasoning recipes online, combined with what was available, and our tastes. This jerk sauce is pretty spicy - it contains habaneros - so those who prefer mild food should beware.

You may also notice that there are sliced sweet potatoes in the picture, but that pineapple is called for in the recipe, and that there is no mention of the sweet potatoes. This is because I had originally conceptualized there being pineapples on this pizza - not sweet potatoes - but we are participating in the Eat Local Challenge this month, and I thought sweet potatoes and jerk sauce would complement each other well. I think that sweet potatoes and jerk sauce would be a good pairing - just not on this pizza. The texture of the sweet potatoes didn't turn out well, so we ended up taking them off.

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

J's Jerk Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups (I frozen the left over cup of sauce)

2 habanero peppers, seeded *
6 cloves of garlic, peeled *
2 small yellow onions, skins removed **
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp allspice
1 tbsp thyme
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp shoyu
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup safflower oil

Combine in a food processor and let blend in fridge for a few hours.

Whole Grain Spelt Pizza Crust
2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1 cup of organic all-purpose flour
1 small package of active dry yeast
2 tbsp organic raw sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of very hot water

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly add the oil and the water. It's easiest to use your hands to work the dough.

Spread out the crust on a pizza stone dusted with flour, using your fingers to pinch the dough at the edges to create a crust.

Whole Grain Spelt Pizza with Jerk Sauce and Veggies
1/2 cup of jerk sauce
1/2-1 cup of black beans, cooked ****
1 cup pineapple chunks (if using canned, drain)
1 pimento pepper, seeded and thinly sliced *
1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced ***
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced *
sliced black olives (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.

Spread jerk sauce on the crust and top evenly with the ingredients.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

A yummy spicy, sweet, tasty pizza!

'Til next time!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Roasted Butternut and Garlic Soup with Caramelized Onions

With the evenings beginning to get chilly, soups have started to sound good. Neither Brett or I have ever really been "soup people" but I think it is due to bad experiences with canned soups. I've had a few homemade soups and have enjoyed them, but never really anything from a can. With the soup craving taking hold and a stash of butternut squash from our community garden plot hanging out in our closet, things fell in to place for a soup, salad, and bread night.

I've seen many recipes for a flavorful, warm, slightly sweet butternut squash soup - which I will be trying out quite soon - but I wanted something more savory and creamy. So this is what I came up with! Both Brett and I really enjoyed this soup - so much so that it is jumping straight on to J and B's Favorite Recipes.

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

The soup looking, well, like soup with some extra caramelized onions on top.

The loaf of local ciabatta (from Uprise Bakery) sliced up. We dipped the bread in our soup and also had a salad using the lovely head of lettuce we got in our CSA last week (I forgot to get a picture of the salad). We topped the salads with Annie's Tuscany Italian dressing. We need to use it up, but once it is gone, I will be making my own dressings.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup with Caramelized Onions
1 large butternut squash, halved with seeds and stringy insides scooped out and discarded ***
1 bulb of garlic, 1/4 inch of the top cut off *
2 vidalia onions, thinly sliced *
1-2 tbsp safflower oil
3 cups of hot water
2 veggie bouillon cubes
dried basil (to taste)
sage (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 400.

Place butternut halves skin side down on a baking dish.

Roast in oven for 20 minutes.

Place the bulb of garlic on the baking dish and drizzle with a little bit of safflower oil. Roast for an additional 20 minutes or until squash is very soft.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of safflower oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Let pan heat up for about 2 minutes, then add the onions.

Sprinkle onions with sage, black pepper, and salt. Stir-fry until onions are golden brown. Add another tbsp of safflower oil if needed to keep onions from sticking. Keep onions warm on low heat.

Let butternut squash and garlic cool for about 15-20 minutes when they are finished in the oven.

In a large pot dissolve veggie bouillon cubes in hot water.

Add the butternut flesh, roasted garlic (just squeeze the end of each clove and they will slip right out of the skin), and all but about 2-3 tbsp of the onions to a food processor and puree until very smooth.

Add butternut mixture to the large pot and combine with water. Add basil, and more salt and pepper if desired.

Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Serve topped with more onions.

This was surprisingly filling and an all-around wonderful meal!

'Til next time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Garden Update #29

I was hoping to be able to boast about all the hard work we did in the gardens this weekend doing all the chores we've needed to do - but alas we didn't do any of the things we were hoping to. Why? Well, for one, we are both lazy. :-) For two, I decided I wanted to bake and make some yummy food. The baking involved my first attempt at making granola bars. The granola tastes fantastic, but the bars didn't stay together, so we've been eating it as granola. I will post the recipe when I get it perfected.

Anyways, what our laziness and my industriousness in other efforts means is that not much has changed in the gardens and thus this garden update is likely to be fairly short. So let's get to it, starting with the container garden.

A couple of pictures of the cayenne pepper plant. There are probably 10 or so peppers on the plant right now.

A couple of hot Hungarian wax peppers.

The ripening mega-Hungarian wax pepper!

Little jalapenos.

A ripening New Mexican chile.

A couple pictures of the petite bell peppers. There are a few ripe ones on here that will be picked as we need them.

Poblanos! One getting bigger, the other - just getting started.

A serexican chile, almost ripe!

A couple of pictures of the second year serrano. Lots of peppers on this plant!

Onto the indoor winter garden (or attempt at one would be more accurate):

The pepper colony (I apologize for the quality of these pictures, I am not good at taking photos inside).

The basil. It is getting a lot bigger and stronger looking. I'd say in a couple of weeks, it might be safe to bring it out of the hothouse - but for now, there it remains.

The tomatillos! So, this little tid-bit right here is a testament to our "novice gardener" status. We thought the plant to the right was some sort of "mystery plant" and that the one on the left - which resembles a tomato plant - was the tomatillo. I decided to search Google Images for "tomatillo plant" and I was surprised to find out that the plant on the right is, in fact, the tomatillo. So now that we have that established, what is the plant on the left? I got the seeds for this from the fruit itself. Is this a male/female thing? You learn something new every day! ;-)

Anyways, as you can see, they've grown quite a bit too!

Not only have the tomatillo plants gotten taller, but the true tomatillo has blooms on it! Wahoo!

Catnip - getting bigger.

The indoor cayenne plants.

The indoor jalapeno plants.

The One Ball squash. You may notice that last week there were 4 plants and now there are only two. Well, the other two weren't getting much sunlight, and this pot isn't quite large enough for 4 squash plants, so they - being the weakest ones - died. We removed them from the pot and now the remaining two (still looking healthy) can spread their roots out a little bit.

Anywho - that is the news from the garden this week.

'Til next time.