Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mom’s Applesauce

Large Bowl of Mom's Applesauce
Mom's Applesauce, Smooth Texture

Recipe by Mom

Dull November brings the blast, then the leaves are whirling fast.

Sara Coleridge, only daughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, wrote these words in 1834, part of her poem “The Months.” I remember reading this in my childhood almanac, and it inspired my lifelong interest in changing seasons throughout the annual cycle. Indeed, November has stripped our fruit trees and even weeping willows of their leaves. Cloudy, cool, and grey, today is what my sister Chris calls an Applesauce Day. November is usually full of these, as is February.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cider Braised Cabbage and Apples

Cider Braised Cabbage and Apples in Pot
Braised Kapusta & Apples in Cider

Adapted from Bon Appetit Recipe

In the beginning of the 2011 CSA season, I set a goal of exploring my Polish roots through cooking. Kapusta (cabbage) is a Polish staple food, and I know that my ancestors cooked kapusta and onions with caraway seeds. The triple apple addition in this recipe (apples, cider, and vinegar) compliments the cabbage by adding sweetness, texture, and a bit of tartness.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cranberry Sauce with Wine & Spice

Glass Bowl of Cranberry-Cabernet Sauce
Cranberry-Cabernet Sauce

Recipe by Robin

“This is the worst cranberry sauce I’ve ever eaten in my life!” exclaimed my (former) brother-in-law about the first cranberry sauce I ever made. “Dear, we MADE that!” said my sister, using “we” diplomatically even though it was my idea, my recipe, my cooking. He made it clear that he preferred the canned jelly pillar to anything involving whole cranberries and oranges. He'd thought my sauce was store-bought because I had served it out of a recycled brown Ovaltine jar. I never got too creative with cranberry sauce again…until now.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mom’s Apricot Yams with Spice

Slice of Apricot Yam Casserole
Apricot Yams

Recipe by Mom and Robin

Happy Thanksgiving, All! The first thing that I do every Thanksgiving, before I’m even out of bed, is to think of 10 things for which to give thanks. Top of the list is always my husband, friends, family, home, and having plenty to eat. It’s everyday things--like a bountiful harvest that puts food on the table--that Thanksgiving celebrates.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Healthy Polish Carrot Cake

Slice of Carrot Cake on Plate
Carrot Cake with Double Frosting Recipe

Recipe from Healing Foods by Miriam Polunin

I’ve wanted to try this recipe for ages. What’s not to like when “a large slice of this super-moist cake has a food value similar to that of a main course” according to Miriam Polunin, who created the recipe in 1990 when carbo-loading was in style. Actually, this is healthier than most cakes. One serving has 190 calories and most cakes have at least twice that. It is sweetened with honey, and only a small amount. Though not really high fiber, the whole wheat flour, raisins, poppy seeds, and carrots do contribute 2 fiber grams per serving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Week 33 Veggie List & Menu

Apple with Branch and Mini-Apple Attached
Whimsical Apple
This week marks the end of our CSA’s regular share season. Thank you, Live Earth Farm, for the tasty organic veggies, fun community events, and the easy system for donating our share to food banks when we’re out of town. We’ve signed up for a LEF winter share as well, and pick-ups will start December 1. Next week is Thanksgiving, and although I won’t post formal menus, I’ll continue posting recipes, particularly whatever I make for the Thanksgiving potluck. Hopefully I’ll get an inspiration for that soon. A third large green cabbage in as many weeks means you’ll likely see some sort of cabbage recipe/s as well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Roasted Beets with Apple Cider Glaze

Plate of Cider Glazed Roasted Beets
Apple Cider Glazed Beets

Recipe Adapted from Various Sources

I’ve tried roasting root vegetables many times and have always come to the same conclusion about turnips and rutabagas: DON’T! Unless they are very small, they are just too fibrous for the dry heat of the oven. Moist heat cooking suits them better. On the other hand, even large beets these days are tender enough for roasting, and this naturally sweet cider glaze plays up the beets’  sweetness.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Applesauce Cake

Slice of Applesauce Cake Plated
Slice of a Classic

Recipe Inspired by the Boston Cooking School Cookbook

Applesauce cake has been around for years. I remember my grandmother making it back in the 1950s, but it's been baked since the 19th century. I was nostalgic for this classic seasonal recipe, especially since I had a huge amount of homemade applesauce after the apple u-pick a couple weeks back. I began with a recipe from the 1942 edition of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook, but wanted to make it lighter and moister. I borrowed an idea from the 1975 Joy of Cooking, and added an egg. I also used more applesauce, baking soda, and raisins.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Strawberry Crisp

Two Strawberry Crisps
Strawberry Crisps

Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers & Joy

Happy 11/11/11 at 11:11! I’ve heard a few predictions about what will happen at this time, from 1111 celestial beings helping us humans make our dreams come true to the mouth of hell opening up on earth. I’m going with the former. In any case, something unusual could happen…like baking with fresh strawberries in November!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week 32 Veggie List & Menu

Three Small and One Large Butternut Squash
A Bounty of Butternuts
For days I’ve been making varieties of herbed tomato soup (see bottom of linked page).  With a dozen or two tomatoes left from this season, I’d like to do something special, perhaps a small batch of homemade catsup or just an all-tomato salad. On to the fall veggies: plenty of greens, more cabbage and beets, Brussels sprouts, leeks, onions, potatoes, and winter squash.

11/11/11 is coming this week, a palindromic date that occurs once every 100 years. In numerology, 11 can represent a channel to the subconscious, a doorway to the inner self. Some also say that 11:11 is the symbol of spirit guardians, a group of 1111 celestial beings who look after us earthlings. Perhaps I’ll have an amazing insight, or get zapped by a celestial do-gooder, at 11:11:11 on 11/11/11. Or, maybe I will just have some fun appreciating the number and our lucky space in time.

I’m going to have a second try at recreating my (long deceased) Gram’s applesauce cake this week—I overcooked last week’s batch and it was a little tough to cut (hungry musicians enjoyed it at the potluck anyway). I’d like to try more apple syrup, since we got apple juice in our CSA share, and perhaps roast some root veggies with it. Three small butternut squash are perfect candidates for microwaving. First of the season’s Brussels sprouts are harbingers of winter. But can you believe we got one last basket of strawberries (a bit pale, but strawberries nonetheless)? Live Earth Farm, you are awesome in the true sense of the word!

This week’s veggies:

Gala apples (lots)
Beet greens
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage (large green)
Collard greens
Green beans
Yellow Finn potatoes
Butternut squash
Apple Juice

Leftovers: leeks, rutabagas, beets, large cabbage, cranberry-orange relish, roast turkey thighs, carrots, tomatoes, 1 hot pepper, applesauce, cranberries, butternut squash, herbed tomato soup, oregano, basil

leftover roast turkey
steamed green beans
leftover herbed tomato soup with hot peppers

leftover roast turkey
steamed Brussels sprouts
make applesauce cake

veggie burgers
strawberry crisp?

Lunch: catered after Holt’s urn-filling ceremony
steamed beet greens

tacos or veggie burgers

roast turkey thighs
cider-glazed roasted root veggies
cranberry-orange relish

beet & cabbage borscht
leftover turkey and veggies


Monday, November 7, 2011

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry-Orange Relish Complete
Three Ingredients, Simple Preparation

Recipe Discovered by Carol

Quite a few years back I worked as a production jeweler for various small and even smaller businesses, meeting many talented and eccentric individuals in the process. One of my favorite such individuals is my friend Carol, for whom I worked on two different occasions throughout the years. An avid reader with an interest in just about everything, she would have been an excellent researcher if art hadn’t been her primary obsession. She also was quite creative in the kitchen, often cooking large quantities and bringing delicious leftovers to work to share.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cooking Fresh Pinto or Cranberry Beans

Fresh Cranberry (or Pinto?) Beans

Recipe by Robin

Back in September, I found some beautifully patterned beans at the Farmer’s Market in Watsonville, CA. I asked some Mexican-American shoppers about them and they told me that that these were fresh pinto beans. "Pinto" means "painted" in Spanish, referring to the spots on the beans. These painted beans could in fact be the larger cranberry bean, as my rudimentary Spanish skills prevented me from understanding the entire explanation. Both varieties are spotted, and can be cooked the same way, though pintos require a bit less time. Fresh pinto/cranberry beans aren’t widely available, and the season is short, so do try them if you’re lucky enough to find them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 31 Veggie List & Menu

Chrysanthemums and Lemons
It looks like cold weather is settling into Santa Cruz with mid-fall. Every year it seems so sudden. Nights get chilly and the furnace must be turned on. Tonight I even covered up the plants, as it’s rumored that we will have our first hard frost. The chrysanthemums, luckily, are quite tolerant of this and continue blooming in the garden.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cornish Hens with Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Cornish Hen and Cranberry-Orange Sauce on Platter
Hen with Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Recipe adapted from Meals for One or Two

It’s a perfect fall day here in northern California. The locust tree in my neighbor’s year is dropping golden leaves so poetically that I don’t mind them fluttering into my yard. It’s sunny, cool, and a bit breezy. Yellow and white chrysanthemums bloom in the garden. A pot of rustic applesauce bubbles on the stove. Thinking of my east coast friends, who are still cleaning up the aftermath of an unbelievably early snowstorm, I feel extremely lucky to have this beautiful day, not to mention power and lights. Best wishes to east coasters, may you be warm and lit again soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lemon-Ginger Green Beans

Plate of Lemon-Ginger Green Beans
Green Beans to Celebrate New Year

Recipe from Cooking By Moonlight

It’s the Celtic New Year and a beautiful fall day in the Santa Cruz mountains. A fresh breeze is combing the redwoods, blowing small branchlets of russet needles everywhere. It’s cool but sunny, invigorating weather for outdoor forays, and a perfect day to start a new year. For those of us who like playing with numbers, 11/1/11 is a particularly fine and symmetrical day to begin the year.