A huge pumpkin from CSA had been decorating our kitchen cabinet since the beginning of the Fall season. Honestly, I wasn't too thrilled about getting pumpkin. Why? First, its big size made it hard to handle in my small kitchen. I mean, prior to pureeing it, I had to either bake or steam it. Since one pumpkin couldn't fit in one batch, some had to sit on my limited-space kitchen counter. Second, canned pumpkin was easy to get and very affordable, while making it from scratch required time and energy. I usually had to dedicate half of my day (and kitchen) to make pureed pumpkin.
Last year I accidentally let a pumpkin got rotten, and felt bad about it. How did I not if I knew that that pumpkin was grown by local people we know fairly well, who dedicated their live to grow the best produce while also make better environment. Therefore, for the sake of my personal satisfaction and our CSA commitment, I made my own pumpkin puree. I am glad I did, because the process apparently wasn't as elaborate as I thought.
Here the direction what I got from Megan, our CSA farmer:
Preheat your oven to 375F. Then, cut pumpkin in half. Remove seeds. Then, chop pumpkin halves into chunks about the size of your hand and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake about 1 hour, or until soft. When pumpkin has cooled, remove pulp/meat of pumpkin and blend in a food processor until smooth. Place in a colander lined with a bread cloth or cheesecloth for 30 minutes-1 hour until it has drained. Pumpkin is then ready to use in any recipe, or it can be frozen.
Having pumpkin puree, I knew what I could make for the church potluck on the first Sunday of this month. Pumpkin soup! I used a recipe from Food Network. The soup turned out to be bland for my taste, so I added roasted garlic and curry powder. I actually never tasted pumpkin soup before so I didn't know what to expect, but I loved how it turned out.
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
3 cups fresh pumpkin puree
5 fresh sage leaves
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream
3 cloves roasted garlic (roast when you roast pumpkin) Curry powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Melt butter and saute onion, carrot, apple, and sage until tender. Add in pumpkin puree and garlic, cook about 8 to 10 minutes. Puree in a food processor or use immersion blender. Return the puree to the stockpot, add the chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add the cream and simmer for 5 more minutes, lowering the heat if necessary so it does not boil. Season with curry powder, salt, and pepper.
These days have been the peak of this year's winter. We got mixture of ice pellets, rain, and snow when temperature was below freezing. The result was beautiful shiny branches and oh not so pretty ice covered cars and roads... and of course we got cold days!
On cold days, I always think of having hot soup. I wish I could go to warung soto or warung bakso. Having enough with the dreaming, I remembered having ginger-looking vegetables called Jerusalem artichokes from CSA. A member of my CSA made soup out of them for a potluck dinner and shared the recipe. I finally did something to those artichokes that I'd let to sit in my refrigerator storage bin for more than a month! My concerned with them was they were small and I didn't have patience to peel them. But hubby had a brilliant idea. Don't. Peel. Them. So I didn't.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
Peel and dice: 2 lbs Jerusalem artichoke
Sautee with: 1 Tbs butter
until onion is translucent
Add: 2 cups chicken stocks
Until the artichoke is tender. Puree the soup using a hand blender or food processor.
Add: 1/2 cup of milk or heavy cream
Salt and pepper
The soup tasted really good. In case you are wondering, although looks like a ginger, Jerusalem artichoke has consistency like potato but sweeter and nuttier. I can't wait to get them again hopefully sooner than next year. Next time I make this soup again, I will not brown the onion to get bright cream color.
There was a good Malaysian restaurant in town we loved to visit. The owner was a Malaysian and the food was great. Knowing that we were Indonesian, he talked to us in Malay and offered things that were not on the menu. Those were kind of food that would be too weird for most people here and wouldn't sell well. Unfortunately, the owner decided to merge his business with his brother's. The new restaurant is in a different location. Much bigger place, and offer more variety of food other than Malaysian. We tried his new restaurant once but it was so so. They might have different chef.
Since then, I often crave laksa. I've tried several different restaurants in town but haven't found any that suits my palate. My craving had made us walking 2 miles one way in the middle of the day with empty stomach when we were in Minneapolis just to get laksa from a great Malaysian restaurant. So one day, I made it my own.
The recipe? I didn't follow any recipe nor wrote down what I did because it was all spontaneity.
Ingredients: 1 lbs salmon, divide to 8 pieces
2 big potatoes
2 stalks lemon grass
7 red onion, chopped
5 garlic, chopped
1/2 can of coconut milk (fair, not the thick one)
Dried red pepper, finely chopped
It surely wasn't a Malaysian laksa nor any place's laksa, but it was good enough to satisfy my craving. Hm...now I am even wondering if I can call it laksa.
I am excited to hear from the weather forecaster that we'll have 60-ish degree weather this coming week. Woohoo!!! Can't wait to pack up our hiking gears for this year's Spring wildflower hike. Well... that's not until the end March or April, but I can see the end of this winter
Here's what I cooked on a cold day, chicken meatball soup. Making this was much faster and easier and faster than making beef meatball. It tasted great too. Another recipe from grandma, a comfort food from my childhood.
I am really really tired of this cold weather and cannot wait for Spring to come. When counting my blessings in this kinda winter, I count twice the fact that hubby didn't choose a university in Montana for grad school. He got accepted there and luckily he picked Tennessee, otherwise I would hibernate for half a year during cold season.
In this kind of weather, there are several Indonesian soup I wish I could get in my town. Surprisingly, in my tropical country, there are a lot of traditional food that are perfect for freezing weather. Indonesian eat hot soup and hot beverage all year round in a 80-90ish F weather!
One food that I had a craving for was bakso (beef meatball soup). Meatball soup is sold by street vendors back home. Some go around the neighborhood so we could call them and they would come to our house. Finding food is so easy back home as we could just wait for the dinner to come to our doorstep. Anyway, one cold evening, I gather my energy to make one. Since I knew it would create a lot of mess, I made in a large quantity then freeze some of the balls for later. Mine's missing a lot of things, such as vermicelli, fried dumpling, fried meatball, and fried tofu. Nonetheless my sweet hubby said it was really good. Of course in cold weather, any hot soup would taste good
Stir-fried turnip was my common breakfast meal up to my life in highschool (I temporarily moved out of my hometown for college, so I didn't have the same breakfast ritual). Woke up in the morning, I could hear clanging sounds of grandma's metal spatula and heavy iron skillet in distant. She was cooking, and she cooked more that one dish just for breakfast. Everyday. Among things that she cooked in the morning, there would be either stir-fried turnip or stir-fried spinach. So, I was pretty familiar with turnip. The very first time I did grocery shopping after In moved to the States, I was happy to find vegetable that reminded me of my home.
I thought I knew turnip very well. Apparently it was the upper part only that I was familiar with. I didn't know that the bulb part ever existed until we found the whole turnip plants in our CSA box. I usually separate the bulbs and the greens. I scissors-cut the leaves to 2-inch long, bag them, and refrigerate them as soon as hubby brought the box home. My common way to cook the bulb is by roasting them. That chilly evening, however, I wanted a bowl of warm soup. So I searched for and found a turnip soup recipe online that looked promising. I altered the recipe to make it lighter than it's supposed to.
I was kinda surprised with the taste. It is naturally sweet and... turnipy! I think it would be better to have it with crusty savory bread. I can understand if some people are not crazy about it. I don't think I am, but hubby is. Even when the soup was still half full, he asked me if I would make the same soup again someday.
Ingredients: 2.5 lbs turnip, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs butter
5 cloves of garlic
3 stalks of green onion/leek (white part only)
1.5 cups whole milk
2 cup chicken broth
3 stalk of thyme
Salt and pepper
Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and turnip. Cook and stir until beginning to brown. Add the green onion, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer, stir once or twice, until the turnip is tender. Puree the soup in the pan using an immersion blender or food processor. Put the puree back to the pan. Add milk. Bring to a boil. Serve warm.
Fall season is around the corner. I was shivering when hubby & I were walking to the gym this morning. Mid-50s degree Fahrenheit didn't seem too much, but it was a big jump from yesterday's 80s temperature. Fall is my favorite season and I am excited about its arrival although I will miss summer's tank tops, shorts, and flip-flops.
Fall season can also be observed from the CSA veggies hubby brought home this morning. Amongst those colorful summer vegetables, I saw two earth-colored butternut squashes. Butternut is my number one favorite squash! I can't wait to get more winter squashes, Brussels sprouts, and more beets.
I posted a picture of vegetable we got last week for those of you who are thinking about joining CSA. I know the amount of vegetables varies every week; and the veggies we get last week were more on the "full" side. But during our 3-year experience getting a full share from CSA, there was only a short period of time when the box was not full. Can you imagine having those organically & locally grown vegetables for only about $25?
When temperature drops, I also anticipate having soup for dinner like this soup that I made at the beginning of last spring. Gnocchi soup, my favorite soup. Ahh...there are a lot of thing I want to make using fall veggies I am about to receive from my favorite CSA farmer. Hopefully I can find a little time to cook in between high stacks of school works.
Our CSA offered winter share which lasted for about 2 months ended in the middle of January. It was the second year we had winter share. Last year, our CSA farmer was only experimenting this winter growing; but I must say that she did it very well. This year, we got much more winter vegetables than we did last year. Since I was visiting my family in Indonesia most of the winter share time, hubby only bought half share. There were some people preferred half share also, so hubby picked up the veggies every other week. I like this idea better than getting half box of veggies every week. Although it's only a half share, the amount of veggies was too much for a single person. Everytime I asked him over the phone what he ate, he said, "a loottt of this and that vegetables, especially carrots". I anticipated seeing his skin turning orange because of the plentiful carrots he ate.
Getting back from my vacation, I saw three winter squashes on our kitchen counter and one served as the centerpiece for our dining table. Yeah, he left some vegetables for me because he didn't know what to do with them. So, one cold day, I roasted the biggest one and had it for dinner. We didn't know what kind of winter squash that was, but it was kinda bland. I expected rich and sweet taste like the taste of butternut squash, but it wasn't. So the next day, I pureed it and made soup from it, and it was good. The best part was actually the roasted seeds. I will definitely make this soup again.
After having excessive hot days for weeks, we are now well showered with rain. The chance of rain and thunderstorm until the next two weeks is pretty good. I am not yet getting tired of hot days, but am enjoying the break from the heat as the rain lowers the temperature down. I love to open my office window just to smell and hear the calm and steady rain like what we've been having the whole day today. Day like this reminds me of rainy season in Indonesia. For a time like this, instant noodle would be a perfect choice for dinner. Unfortunately, I don't have any in my pantry. *sigh
Of course any soup will still be great for a rainy day. Since we've been getting a lot of tomatoes from our CSA, I decided to make roasted tomato soup using a recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook's website. The aroma and taste of roasted tomatoes were attracting hubby to grab some pieces when the roasting pan was just out of the oven. I was glad I found out and could stop him before he nibbled more because even with the tomatoes we had for the soup, we couldn't have enough of it.
When I visited hubby years ago, he took me to a small cafe close to his university. It was about a year before we got married, so he was still living in a tiny apartment about two miles from campus. I came at around this time of the year, so the trees were showing off their colorful leaves. The air temperature was over 20 degree centigrade lower than the average temperature in my country thus it was uncomfortable weather for me.
Hubby was still a student at that time, so he had to go to campus every day. Since my purpose of visiting him was to observe the area I was about to live on, I accompanied him everywhere. In the morning, we took a free shuttle, but in the evening, we often got out from campus after the bus' latest hour. The distance from the campus to his apartment was only less than 1.5 mile, wasn't a bad walking distance, but the cold weather made it seemed longer than it really was. Fortunately, our path to the apartment was along a business strip. Those restaurants, cafe, and bars were full of students during school year, made the street lively. One day, we stopped at one bakery-cafe, Panera Bread, where I ordered broccoli cheddar soup. I hadn't known what to expect when I ordered that menu, but I loved it when I first tried it. It was a great comfort food for a cold day.
Until now, I always recall my first time visiting my fiance and my first time experiencing cold weather everytime I have broccoli cheese soup.
I made this soup using this recipecdkitchen. Since we prefer soup that's not too thick, I substituted a cup of half and half for a cup 2 percent skim milk. I also reduced the cheese to 4oz. Please see this recipe for the bread bowl.