March 25, 2011

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I believe (I don't remember 100% because it's been a few years) that this soup was introduced to us by our friend Bridget Piculell (we miss Bridget, she's now in Mississippi getting her Ph.D. in Biology, we hope she comes home someday) way back during our college years. It's the nuttiest thing because this soup has a green apple in it and that just weirded me out back then. Now I know better: apples can go with everything.

This soup is super easy, especially if you roast the butternut in advance some night when you're already using the oven for something else. Sarah has been making a habit of roasting one or two big ones before cutting them up and freezing them. We really need a bigger freezer, ours is bursting and it's a pain to get things out of the back when we need them. If we had the space I'd get one of those chest freezers. Maybe we should really take up canning instead, we've been meaning to. So much to do.

Anyway, the soup:

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Olive Oil
1 large Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1 Green Apple, diced
1 tsp. Curry Powder (more or less depending on your taste, or use your own mix)
1 large roasted Butternut Squash, seeded and peeled
2-4 Cups Stock (or a mix of stock and water)
1/4 soft nuts like Pine Nuts (expensive!) or Cashews
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cilantro or Parsley for garnish

Caramelize the onion in olive oil over low heat until well browned and soft. Add the garlic and the apple and continue to cook until the apple begins to soften. Work in the curry powder, the squash, and the stock. Bring to a boil and cook until the apples are good and soft, maybe five minutes. Everything is pretty much cooked already so the soup doesn't have to go for long.

Add the nuts and puree with a stick blender. Salt and pepper to taste before serving. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.

March 13, 2011

Chickens (1)

I have had this sitting on the back burner for months and months.  And now, sitting at the computer, on the weekend, watching it rain, I am ready.

We have chickens.  That is to say that Sarah, myself, and our landlords Ken and Celise have chickens.   We got them almost a year ago, back in April 2010.

I believe I remember it being Sarah that first mentioned the desire to begin our journey  into chickendom but Celise was immediately on board.  Ken had reservations; thinking back on it I think he thought that we were just going through a phase, as if we were like children asking for a pony or a giant dog.  We would get the things and then about 6 months in would say something to the effect of, "Ok, we're bored, you take care of them now".  Heck, I've done things like that to my parents in the past, I wouldn't have put it past me if I were him.

Eventually though, successful arguments were made and the project was begun.

This was to be the site for the main run and the hen house.  It's just on the other side of the fence separating our small back yard from our landlords much larger back yard.  Originally Sarah and I were committed to putting the whole mess in our yard, but Celise was so excited about the prospect of having chickens that she and Ken agreed to put the bulk of the living space in their yard.  All of us came to the agreement that there would be a pathway for the chickens to get through the fence and into our yard, a portion of which we would block off for the chicken's use.  

The arrangement was to be that Ken and Celise would provide the living quarters (supplies and space, etc.) while Sarah and I would provide upkeep (feed, bedding, and cleaning).  We would both share in the spoils (eggs!).  This more or less has been the case.  We all ended up sharing in the cleaning however.  Chickens are prolific poopers and diggers and it's a lot of work trying to keep everything in ship shape on your own. 

While the hen house was coming together, Sarah and I went to find chickens.  It's not hard to find just any chicken, pet stores will usually have something.  But finding a particular breed of chicken can be a challenge.  Sarah wanted a New England Red and two Plymouth Barred Rocks.  This isn't what we got.  Instead we got a New England Red and two Black Sex Links (we think).  Still cute though...

March 10, 2011

Asian Style Noodles with Kale and Cashews

Sarah, wishing to stick with our new massaged kale discovery was rifling through our ream of loose recipes and pulled a variation of this dish out of the pile.  

I believe the recipe is from one of Molly Katzen's many cookbooks.  After preparing this dish we came to the realization that the dressing for this is fantastic on things like grain or bean salads or on top of other noodle dishes.  It's super tasty.

Also, I'm not a fan of nuts.  Raw walnuts in particular make me itchy and cut my tongue to pieces.  Cashews however, I like.  They're soft and just melt when you chew on them.  So we've been trying cashews on different things because Sarah really likes nuts and wants to eat them.

Kale with Cashews and Noodles

1 lb. Asian Style Noodles (Soba, Udon, Rice noodles, etc.)
1 bunch Kale, Massaged with salt
1/4 cup toasted Cashews
1 Tbs. Honey
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. diced Ginger
1 tsp. Miso Paste
1/2 tsp. toasted Sesame Seed Oil
1/4 tsp. Chile Oil or Red Pepper Flake, or to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sesame Seeds (if you like)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally.  While the pot is on the heat prepare dressing by whisking together the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, miso paste, sesame seed oil, and the hot oil or red pepper flakes if you decide to use them.  I've found that microwaving the honey briefly makes it much easier to bring the dressing together.  Set aside when finished.  Cook the noodles according to their directions while you prepare the kale.  Toast the cashews either on the stove in a dry pan until just beginning to brown, or in a toaster oven (much easier). Drain the noodles and mix in the kale, cashews, other optional additions like sesame seeds, and the dressing.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is great either hot or cold the next day for lunch. 

March 3, 2011

Pappa al Pomodoro

This weeks menu is all about being simple.  Because I've busted my foot and have a harder time getting around the house than I usually do Sarah has been looking for recipes that are easy to make and are not too time consuming. 

The broccoli and mushroom soup is super straight forward: just some onion, garlic, red pepper flake, sauteed mushrooms in olive oil and steamed broccoli in stock, liquefied with a stick blender and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Have this with some toasty buttered bread and you're golden.

In previous posts I've mentioned that we take part in a CSB through IRise Bakery. Of course as it's just Sarah and me it's difficult to get through a full loaf of bread in week and we're left with a good hunk of old bread come delivery day.  Pappa al Pomodoro is a soup based mostly on stale bread, tomatoes, and stock, and is delicious hot off the oven.  Sarah adapted this recipe from one found in the Il Forniao Baking Book.

Pappa al Pomodoro

12 Oz. Crusty Bread
Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic
Oregano & Basil, fresh or dried
2 15 Oz. cans Crushed Tomatoes
4 Cups Stock
Salt & Pepper
Pesto or more Olive Oil for Garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 Degrees.  Cut the bread into cubes and lay out on a baking sheet.  Toast in the oven at 5 minute intervals until crisp and toasty. 

Saute the garlic, oregano, and basil in the olive oil briefly before adding the tomatoes and stock.  Bring this to a boil then add the toasted bread.  Return to a boil, then reduce the heat so the soup simmers gently.  Allow the soup to cook until the bread is well softened and the soup has thickened.  If the soup gets too thick, add more water to maintain the proper consistency.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with pesto or olive oil before serving.