onions

Slow Cooker Winter Squash Soup with Curry and Coconut Milk

Posted by Lisa on October 15, 2012
autumn, onions, recipes, soup, winter squash / 2 Comments

Here’s a recipe we’ve been handing out at market and CSA pickups for a few weeks now. It is remarkably good.

I initially posted this recipe over at Southside Kitchen Collective last fall. SKC is a kind of side project of mine, a collaborative website (with some offline elements too!) intended to provide encouragement and resources for cooking from scratch and having fun in the kitchen with your family. I’m looking for more contributors, so be in touch if it looks like something you’d like to be a part of!

This soup is really very good.

And after the initial effort and swearing required to peel your winter squash, it’s really no trouble at all – maybe twenty minutes of your time while your baby naps or your toddler hides the dog’s food under the living room couch and in your rain boots. Ahem.

I’m going to confess: my crockpot, a wedding gift, gathered dust for a few years after we got married. I wanted to use it, really I did … but I just didn’t know quite how to integrate it into my cooking.  I was 30 when I got married.  By that point I felt pretty confident in the kitchen, and I just didn’t understand what it could do that I couldn’t do.  Well … I have a two-year old now, and I get it.  Also, I love it. LOVE it.

And it’s not just for soups and roasts! It’s my favorite way to cook a pot of beans, and did you know you can make jam in a slow cooker too?  Tales for another time.

For now let’s talk about the soup: it’s warm, it’s gorgeous, it’s a little spicy, and it’ll fill you right up. Really quite the thing for these chilly October nights.

Slow Cooker Winter Squash Soup with Curry and Coconut Milk
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

You can use almost any kind of winter squash here.  Butternut is a classic, and we’ve also made it with a deep orange kabocha (that’s the squash in the photo at the top of this post). We really like the little kick this soup gets from the Asian chili sauce, but you can certainly leave it out if you like.  Finally, our curry powder is fairly salty and we like the soup as is, but if you have a low- or no-salt curry powder, you’ll probably need to add more salt. Taste before serving and add additional salt as needed.

1 winter squash, about 2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1-4 cloves garlic (depending on your feelings about garlic!), minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar or whole cane sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (like Sriracha) (optional)

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, cover, and cook on low 4-5 hours or high 2-3 hours. When the squash is soft, use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it’s smooth and velvety.  You can also puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender – be careful!  Or you can use a potato masher; the soup won’t be quite as smooth but will still taste delicious.  Ladle the soup into big bowls, top with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream or a squeeze of lime juice, and serve with lots of bread!

Variations:
For a nice protein boost, add a cup of dry lentils at the beginning — very tasty!

This soup also comes together beautifully on the stovetop. It requires more tending but cooks up in about an hour. Saute the onion and garlic in some coconut oil or olive oil until soft, and then add the curry powder and continue to saute for about a minute, until nice and fragrant. Then add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until the squash is soft. Then use your immersion blender to proceed as above.

Click here to print, email, or text this recipe.

When the weather starts to turn, do you crave soup too? Leave your favorite recipe, or a link to a favorite recipe, in the comments!

Weekly recipe roundup

 

David’s Spaghetti Squash at Tea & Cookies (Remember that our Small Wonder spaghetti squash serve 1-2 people – we suggest using one squash and halving the rest of the ingredients, or using two and keeping the other ingredients as written.)

Brazilian Collard Greens at Gourmet

Leeks Vinaigrette at Orangette

Frog Bottom Gumbo at Frog Bottom Farm

Shaved Turnip Salad with Arugula and Prosciutto from Melissa Clark at The New York Times

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Our Weekly Recipe Roundup is a quick weekly list of recipes featuring produce we’re growing right now. We hope it helps! We’d love to know what’s happening in your kitchens this week too.

Squash (or zucchini) fritters!

Posted by Lisa on July 03, 2012
eggs, garlic, onions, recipes, squash, summer, zucchini / 2 Comments

As we ate these outside at the picnic table last night, in a spell of blessed cool after a quick little thunderstorm, I realized it was the fifth time we’d eaten them in under two weeks. I think that means they’re a winner. I think that means y’all need the recipe.

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There’s a very small amount of grating and chopping involved, but really these fritters could not be easier. You grate a summer squash or two – I’ve learned that yellow squash, zephyr, and pattypan work best for our family and for a certain particular two-year old right now, but zucchini fritters are particularly pretty. You squeeze the excess water out of the squash with a dishtowel or paper towels – this is the one picky step, but it only takes a minute, and having tried skipping this step, I think it’s worth doing. You chop an onion – mince it, if you’re living with the same two-year old. Then you mix it all up with some flour, some cornmeal, an egg, some cheese, some salt and pepper, and you shape them into patties, and then you pop them in the oven while you set the table.  Easy peasy!

A word on picky eaters: we have one. It’s been humbling. I thought because we have fields and countertops and a fridge and two freezers all full of delicious vegetables, that he’d take to them right away. And in his first six months of exploring solid foods, he did. But then he started having strong opinions, opinions like: white and brown foods like milk, yogurt, butter, bread, cheese, crackers, pasta, oatmeal, and eggs are really quite sufficient when it comes to one’s diet. And you know what? I want him to have opinions. I want him to be able to disagree with me. I want him to figure out what he loves and what he doesn’t love. I think he needs my guidance, but I also think he needs my patience and my trust … trust that he’ll survive toddlerhood just fine, trust that he is doing what most two-year olds since the dawn of two-year olds have done, trust that he is developing just as he should.

When I was pregnant I proclaimed I’d never “hide” vegetables in food, but I’m coming to realize it’s more complicated than that. In addition to all the independent toddler stuff going on, I think little people have a very acute sense of taste and texture. I think maybe we need to take it easy on them sometimes. And if that means choosing yellow squash over zucchini sometimes, or mincing the onions instead of chopping them – well, I can do that.

I’ll add that our son loves to help me make these. “Mama, I want to grate!” he says, and so he does, with some help. “Dad, I can break the egg,” he offers, and so he does, and pretty well at that! “Let me squoosh it up, Mama!” he demands, and so he does.

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And so we make fritters. Sometimes he eats them. Sometimes he just licks the ketchup off his plate. “Like a dog!” he says.

You should make them too.

Baked Squash (or Zucchini) Fritters with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce
adapted just a bit from The Yellow House

Kid-friendly! Quick! And easy too to make gluten-free – the flour in this recipe just serves as a binder, so replace it with your favorite gluten-free flour and you should be good to go. One friend replaces the flour with masa harina – that sounds really good to us! Also, while parmesan is particularly tasty in these, feel free to use another kind of cheese. We used mozzarella the first time we made these because that’s what was in the fridge, and they were still very good.

These are great with ketchup (our son’s favorite), a fried egg (my favorite), tzatziki, or the quick garlicky yogurt sauce below.

2 cups grated summer squash or zucchini, pressed between layers of a clean dishtowel or paper towels to absorb some of the water
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or other flour – see note above)
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, toss the squash and onion with the flour, cornmeal, and cheese. Add the beaten egg and some salt and pepper, and mix until everything comes together. Use your hands if you like; it’s fun! It should have the consistency of meatloaf.

Using your hands, gently form the mixture into small balls (about 3 tablespoons of mixture for each fritter). Place them on the baking sheet and use your hand to flatten them into small patties about a half-inch thick.

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Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. (If making the yogurt sauce below, make it now – this will give the flavors time to meld a bit.) Then broil for 2-3 minutes longer. The fritters should be a lovely golden color. Good warm or at room temperature. Serve with ketchup, fried eggs, tzatziki, or the garlicky yogurt sauce below.

Makes 6-8 fritters.

Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

3/4 cup yogurt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste, and add more salt if you think it needs it. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes if possible to allow the flavors to meld.

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A soup for right now

Posted by Lisa on September 30, 2011
autumn, garlic, kale, leeks, onions, potatoes, recipes / Comments Off on A soup for right now

No, it’s not time to stoke the woodstove and dig up the scarves and wool socks just yet. But there’s no denying autumn’s gentle arrival. The first of the leaves are turning, the days are growing shorter, and it seems all of us who live and work here have outlasted the gnats and mosquitoes (a close battle till the bitter blessed end). Most days recently are real stunners: we wake and leap right into slippers as we put the coffee pot on, but as soon as the sun is up we’re down to shirtsleeves. But as the sun sinks below the horizon, it’s chilly again, and fast.  And when that happens, all I can think is: SOUP.

What a pleasure, then, that fall vegetables taste so good this way.

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Hearty Potato Soup with Kale
adapted from Simply in Season

This hearty soup is just the thing for these early autumn nights.  Slurp it with a big hunk of crusty bread or alongside a fresh fall salad.  A mug of warmed cider is optional but highly recommended.  You can get most of what you need right out of your CSA share or off our market table, and you can find the rest at market too.  It’s a soup for right now.

As with most soups, you’ve got a lot of wiggle room here.  You could use spinach instead of kale – but we’re not growing spinach right now!  Use an onion or a leek.  Water, vegetable broth, and chicken broth all work great here.  Add more potatoes for a really thick soup.  Blend completely, before or after adding the kale, if you like a really smooth soup.  Add extra garlic if you want!  You get the idea.

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped, or 1 leek, roots and toughest greens removed, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large potatoes or 4-5 smaller potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs), diced
5 cups water, vegetable broth, or chicken broth
1/2-3/4 lb kale, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
black pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter or warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften, and then add the garlic and sauté for another minute.  Add the potatoes and enough water or broth to cover by an inch or so – probably about half the broth.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft.  When the potatoes are almost done, warm the remaining water or stock in a separate pot.

Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup until it thickens but some chunks of potato remain – or, ladle out about half the vegetables and set aside, pureé the rest of the vegetables and the cooking liquid in a blender or food processor, and then return everything to the pot. Add the kale and the remaining (and now warmed) water or stock and cook until the kale is soft.  Add salt and pepper.  Taste to see if you need to adjust any seasonings, and serve!

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(These were nearly) Weekend Links

Eggplant pick

Heather picks okra while some of the new chickens have a look.

Our fields and fridge are full of vegetables – and eggs! – and we’re feeling mighty inspired these days!  Just a taste of what we’ve been reading and cooking:

Did you know this coming Saturday, August 13, is the first annual National Can-It-Forward Day? The folks at Canning Across America, along with Jarden Home Brands (they’re the ones who make Ball jars and other canning products), are encouraging everyone to gather with family and friends at home canning parties to learn the basics of canning.  One of the coolest resources they’re offering is a day-long live stream of several how-to canning demos (mixed berry jam, kosher dills, tomatoes in their own juice, more!) happening at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.  See the live stream schedule and find the link here.

The August 2011 Bon Appétit had a fun article about an LA canning party. The recipes for dilly beans, pickled beets with star anise, tomato jam, and zucchini dill pickles are all on our list to try this summer!

And this recipe for onion jam has been tempting us for weeks.  Just onions, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and butter!  I could do that today!  We think it would be especially delicious on pizza, topped with just about anything else that’s in season right now.

(We should point out the turn-the-jar-upside-down method of sealing is no longer recommended; we’ll probably just make one jar for the fridge and another for the freezer, but here are two good resources for safe canning guidelines.)

We’ve made this heavenly tomato & cheddar pie twice in as many weeks. It does require a little planning: the biscuit dough for the crust needs to chill for an hour, and the tomatoes need to drain for 30 minutes.  But otherwise it comes together quite easily.  And the crust is quite forgiving.  The second time we made it we didn’t use quite enough flour, and the dough seemed a sticky and hopeless mess as we eased it into the pie pan.  But it baked up beautifully, and didn’t get soggy even after a day in the fridge.   And seriously: tomatoes, mayonnaise, cheese, biscuit crust? Do we need to say more?  Make it! Any of the tomatoes you’ve been getting in your shares or at market will work great.

We haven’t tried it yet, but CSA members Yajaira and Domenick independently told us we also had to make this heirloom tomato pie.

And while we’re on the subject of tomatoes: how delicious does Tyler Florence’s Roasted Tomato Soup look?  Thanks to CSA member Tracy for this one.

We’re longtime fans of Mark Bittman.  We pull his How to Cook Everything down from the kitchen bookshelf at least weekly, often more.  The How to Cook Everything app is pretty great too!  For close to fifteen years he wrote a cooking column for the New York Times called The Minimalist.  We’ll admit to feeling a twinge of disappointment this winter when he decided to write less about cooking and more about food politics.  Certainly the systems of food production and distribution in this country are damaged, and we appreciate compelling writing from folks who can help us think about how we might begin to fix things.  But there are many people writing eloquently about these issues; fewer writers have Bittman’s skill for making home cooking seem simple, fun, and approachable.  So we were really delighted by one recent op-ed: “Make Food Choices Simple: Cook.”  In it, he argues we should cook more and eat out less – because it’s cheaper, because we have more control where the food comes from, and because it tastes better.  He writes:

When I cook, though, everything seems to go right. I shop an average of every two weeks in a supermarket, and make a couple of trips a week to smaller stores. I’m aware that my choices are mostly imperfect, but I rarely conclude that I should make a burger and fries for dinner or provide a pound per person of prison-raised pork served with fruit from 10,000 miles away, followed by a cake full of sugar and artificial ingredients. Yet, for the most part, that describes restaurant food.

Also fantastic?  “101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less,” a Minimalist column from 2007.  Loaded with awesome ideas for no-fuss summer cooking.

Oh! We’ve posted our favorite ratatouille recipe before, but it bears reminding — early August is definitely ratatouille time in Central Virginia!

That does it for this week!  We’ll be back this weekend with more tasty links.  And we hope to post later this week about two delicious vegetables that we know can be intimidating: okra and eggplant.

We’ll wrap things up with some more recent images from the farm. (Click on any to see ’em big!)

Howdy

Curing onions

Bean blossom

Planting collards and kale

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Still no name

Harvesting okra

Nest boxes

Okra blossom

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Weekend Links is a (soon-to-be!) regular feature here on the farm blog: a weekly(ish) list of articles, recipes, and other resources that have been inspiring and amusing us of late. A tasty smorgasbord for brain and belly!

Midsummer

Posted by Lisa on July 27, 2011
beans, chickens, goats, onions, pigs, summer, the crew, the farm, tomatoes / Comments Off on Midsummer

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Just photos today. Back soon with some recipes and links!

Sometimes of a Monday morning

Posted by Lisa on June 27, 2011
cucumbers, onions, pigs, the farm / 2 Comments

Sometimes of a Monday morning, the sun is fierce and the list is long and the back is weary.  But we look around then, too, and we see this good good life, and we get back to work.

Cat on a chicken coop roof

Shallots fore, cucumbers aft

Onions

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Clearing brush

Greetings & salutations

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All these photos are from this morning.  I once swore I’d never have a smartphone, that it didn’t fit in with the ways we’re trying to slow down and pay attention — but boy am I happy to discover it’s just another tool.  It’s the way I use it that matters.  I love tucking it, with its tiny camera, into my pocket and setting off for a walk on the farm with the little guy.

For those who are curious: the pigs have been in a small yard their first week here, so we can finish the fencing around their whole two acres and so they can get a sense of where their home is before exploring all the nooks and crannies of their corner of the farm.  We were a bit worried they’d find the big space a little frightening.  But they’re settling in sweetly, and the fence is almost done, so we’re excited to give them full run of their acres, sometime tonight or tomorrow!

Our go-to braise

Our go-to braise

We’ll get right to it: this is a recipe every CSA member everywhere should have in their arsenal.  It’s easy, it works with just about any vegetable you find in your share these days (except the leafy stuff like lettuce and cooking greens), and it’s seriously delicious.

To braise means to cook in a small amount of liquid in a covered dish for a long time at a relatively low temperature. It’s a perfect cooking method for the tough roots, firm winter squashes, and strong-tasting cabbages you’re seeing in your CSA shares and on market tables everywhere right now. Braising tames even the most pungent vegetables into something earthy, tender, and sweet.

Here’s the basic idea: grab a couple casserole dishes.  Chop two or three or four kinds of vegetables very coarsely, arrange them in crowded single layers in the dishes, and douse with olive oil and/or broth and/or white wine and/or water.  Add salt, pepper, and red pepper.  Cover tightly with foil and cook in a 325°F oven for about two hours, turning the vegetables about midway through the cooking. And that’s it!  (If you have time, uncover the dishes, turn the oven up to 400°F, and cook everything for another 15 minutes to brown the vegetables lightly. But if you’re ready to eat, you can certainly just dig right in.) This dish is a classic example of the whole being far, far greater than the sum of its humble parts.

Tonight’s version includes arrowhead cabbage, Sunshine kabocha squash (from our friends at Waterpenny Farm in Rappahannock County, since our winter squash fared so poorly this year), and rutabagas.  It, along with some gingerbread and whipped cream, will warm our bellies as we say our sad goodbyes to Shannon, who’s leaving us this week after two years on the Frog Bottom crew.

It’s also delicious with carrots (coming soon in the shares!) and onions.  We often add garlic — keep the cloves whole and unpeeled, and everyone can squeeze their own garlic from the peels when they eat (it’s fun!).  It’s very, very good with a poached egg on top.  And chicken is a perfect addition — just tuck some legs or wings in among the vegetables.  Or try it with sweet potatoes, beets, turnips…

Read the step-by-step instructions over at Orangette.

Last week in pictures: in which we pick a lot of tomatoes

Sun sugar harvest

Sun sugars!

Arlo loves sun sugars too!

Lulu tidies up her pasture.

Snipping garlic (and just off camera is a baby who thinks this is a hoot)

Our onion quality control guy

Cucumber and beet seedlings in the greenhouse

Planting peppers

Here's Katie in a tangle of tomato vines, pearl millet (a "green manure"), and yellow nutsedge (a terrible weed)

Farm hands!

An early summer recipe roundup

Afternoon, y’all!  79° and breezy and a long lunchtime nap — we’ll take it!  We hope the eatin’ has been good where you’re at.  Here at the farm, we’ve been eating lots of salad, lots of homemade pizza, and lots of tomato sandwiches.  Those three things could keep us fed and happy for a very long time!  But sometimes we manage something new.

Down below the photos, we’ve listed a few recipes we’ve been loving lately.  Some CSA members have also been sharing recipes via email, the comments sections here on the blog, and over at our Facebook page.  We’ll try to highlight some of those soon as well.  And plans are still afoot for adding forums to this website, so you can share your recipes and cooking adventures directly; we’ll keep you posted!

Prepping some zucchini for the grill!

Chard, glorious chard!

Sun sugars on the vine

Here are some tasty ideas for working through these early summer CSA shares and farmers market finds.  Most of them would be fantastic fare for your Fourth of July BBQ!  Lots of these posts link to other great recipes too.

Ginger Scallion Sauce at Chocolate & Zucchini

Red, White & Blue Roast Potatoes and Firecracker Potato Salad (two recipes) at Babble

Fondant Fennel from Edward Schneider at Mark Bittman

Raw Beet Salad at Just Braise

Quick Sauté of Zucchini with Toasted Almonds at Smitten Kitchen

Chard, Onion, and Gruyère Panade at Orangette

101 Fast Recipes for Grilling at The Minimalist

Soon, it should be easier to search recipes we’ve posted or linked to here on the farm blog.  In the meantime, you might enjoy just browsing the posts with recipes.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!  What will you be eating?