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September 23rd, 2010

Attack of the Squash

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This was sitting on our little harvest table at the office yesterday, so I promptly picked it up and put it on display. A pretty pumpkin, what could be better? Then Doug, our Senior Editor, informed me that this was a Kumi Kumi, a winter squash, it’s meant to be cooked and eaten. I first made sure he wasn’t teasing me, as my lack of plant knowledge is a running joke around here. When I deduced he was serious, I decided to take it on as a project and cook something totally new to me. Ginger, our Marketing Assistant, suggested cooking it with brown sugar and butter. And I was off…

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…until I had to cut it open. That thing was rock solid, and it took me three knives,  three laughing roommates (I believe one person said it looked like I was murdering the squash), and about thirty minutes to crack it open. It looks so innocent, sitting up there, but it did NOT want to open up. Once it finally gave in, defeated, I scooped out the seeds and strings. Then I put it in a pan with brown sugar and butter.

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It baked at 375° for about an hour, until I could stick my fork through it.

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Then I just kind of looked at it, proud that I had managed to cook it, but confused about what to do next. Just eat it right out of the plant? That didn’t seem right. Chop it up? No, I’d had enough chopping for one night, thank you very much. So I pulled out my Top Chef (watching) skills and decided to make squash puree. I scooped out the cooked squash, put it in the food processor with some milk, cinnamon and more brown sugar.

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It was quite delicious. Of course, adding butter and brown sugar to asparagus would probably make it taste good.

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September 14th, 2010

Apple Butter

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The Rodale Institute Organic Apple Festival was held this past Saturday, and I was there covering it for Organic Gardening. The festival was so much fun that my boyfriend got caught up in the spirit and ended up picking 15 pounds of apples. Now, I like apples as much as the next girl, but I knew that even his six roommates wouldn’t be able to devour all of those apples before they went bad. So I did what I do best, Googled, and decided to make apple butter. Below is the recipe that I came up with.

APPLE BUTTER

5 lbs apples

1 1/2 cups apple cider

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup sugar

lots of cinnamon, to taste

Slice and peel the apples and put in a large stockpot. Add the apple cider and lemon juice and cook covered over medium to medium-low heat for about an hour. Make sure to stir intermittently to avoid burning. When the apples have lost their shape, and look a little like applesauce, add the sugar and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low and letter simmer uncovered for upwards of 2 hours. The longer you let the apple butter cook, the more it will reduce and the thicker it will become. When it has reached desired thickness (my criteria was that it should be spreadable without being runny), blend in a food processor and put into jars.

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Note – I did not preserve my apple butter with a canning process, I just put it in mason jars. Also, the cinnamon and sugar amounts are really up to you. I put in a lot of cinnamon and sugar, but it would really be fine with very little. This recipe filled 3 mason jars.

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September 2nd, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

My two pumpkins were beautiful. They were bright orange, plump, and healthy. Until one day when I went to my community garden plot to find that they had disappeared! I called my friend and co-gardener to see if she had harvested them (a little too early, but I would have understood her eagerness), and she hadn’t touched them. I just stood there, dumbfounded, trying to figure out what kind of person steals pumpkins from a community garden? I have faith that it wasn’t one of my co-gardeners, they all have plenty of produce and are perfectly nice people. The problem is that my plot is the closest to the garden entrance, and there’s a walking/running path that goes right along that side. So alas, it must have been one of the runners. This is how I see it going down:

Healthy person running by the garden, “Ooh, what pretty pumpkins” looks around “well, there isn’t anyone here” tip toes into the garden “no one will notice if I just take a couple of pumpkins” snatches them up “it’s not like someone planted them four months ago and have been slaving away to water them and keep them healthy” leaves with her newfound pumpkins

So even though I won’t have pumpkins seeds, or be able to carve my very own jack-o-lantern, I hope that woman at least gets some joy out of my precious little pumpkins. Or chokes on the seeds. Either works for me.

I will at least have sunflower seeds to harvest

sunflowers

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