Potato-Kale Soup: Food From Here

This all local, organic, vegetarian soup was created in honor of Bo Muller-Moore, Team Kale and the Eat More Kale campaign.  It was sold out on The Farmstand Coop the first week, and so I (as Mama D’s Kitchen) ran it for a second one.  Many thanks to all who supported Bo with soup purchases.

This simple-to-make and warming-to-eat cool season soup is reminiscent of both the well-known Portuguese “caldo verde” (green soup) sans sausage and the cold-weather staple, creamy potato-leek soup.  It consists of a smooth, creamy and thoroughly satisfying base with a smattering of visual and nutritional excitement from the bright green kale.  The ingredients are easy to find at year-round farmers markets as well as most supermarkets.

Potato-Kale Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, thoroughly washed and white and light green portions chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celeriac (also called celery root), peeled and cubed
  • 3-4 potatoes (such as Yukon gold), peeled and cubed
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch fresh kale (or 1 frozen package, in a pinch)
  • 1/2-1 cup milk or cream (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • grated parmesan (optional)
Method:
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in large soup pot. Sauté onions and leeks until translucent and with the appearance of starting to melt (this will add to the soup’s creaminess).
  2. Add garlic, potatoes and celeriac. Toss to coat and add vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer until vegetables are soft.
  3. Heat remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet and give chopped kale a quick sauté.  Watch it carefully and take it off heat as soon as the kale reaches a beautiful bright green color.
  4. Once soup vegetables are soft, purée either in the pot with an immersion blender, or in batches in an upright blender or food processor, until smooth.  I find the immersion blender more convenient, but a traditional upright blender or food processor produces a smoother soup.
  5. Adjust consistency with stock, milk or cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in kale and serve topped with grated parmesan, if using.

To make it vegan: This soup can easily be made without dairy by sautéing in olive oil and eliminating the final addition of milk or cream.  The sautéed leeks, cooked potatoes and celeriac once puréed create a lusciously creamy soup. If you wanted to thin the soup, you can use more stock or an unsweetened dairy-free milk substitute.

To make it Paleo/Primal: Sauté the vegetables in coconut oil, and prepare the soup with your stock of choice. The puréed vegetables will make the soup creamy, so you do not need to add any milk or cream, however adding coconut milk would likely produce a very tasty tropical version of this soup.

To make it non-veg: Substitute chicken or turkey broth for the vegetable broth and sauté thinly sliced sausage with the kale before adding to the potato-leek soup base.

Eat More Kale

Once upon a time there was a humble artist named Bo who made t-shirts.  He called his one-at-a-time silk screening shop “Eat More Kale”.  He was loved by t-shirt wearers, small-scale farmers and kale eaters worldwide, but particularly in Vermont, where he lived.  [I have seeded and weeded in my "eat more kale" t-shirt, and Bo very kindly sent me more than fifty "eat more kale" stickers when I was working with students at a nearby high school to create a new kale chip recipe.]

One day he received a cease-and-desist letter from a large fast food company called Chick-Fil-A (full story here).  Apparently Chick-Fil-A thought fast food eaters would be confused by the Vermont t-shirt maker’s name and their own slogan “eat mor chikin”. No one had ever heard of anyone walking into a Chick-Fil-A asking for a kale burger or kale fries, as the restaurant did not offer any kale dishes (this, ironically was the one thing the two businesses had in common: neither actually sold kale). Still, they felt threatened by the small (though thanks to their bullying action, then quickly growing) appreciation of the vegetable promoting slogan and were pushing legal action to close the t-shirt man down.

 

The people of Vermont, including the governor, and many others worldwide wouldn’t stand for it, and came together in favor of Bo. Governor Shumlin launched “Team Kale” to support Bo’s fight and create a legal defense fund. “Get out of the way, Chick-Fil-A” he declared as he announced the effort to protect all small business.

This was at a time when persevering protesters kept the pressure on Wall Street in favor of Main Street, and Congress (having been gobbled up by Big Food) had just redefined pizza as a vegetable, and was seen as yet another example of big business hubris. In defense of “the little guy” and the right to healthy eating, the people poured their support in Bo’s direction.

They did things such as (and I hope you will too):

  • Sign Bo’s petition to support small business here:
  • Join Bo on Facebook
  • Follow @teamkale on twitter
  • Buy a “Team Kale” t-shirt and/or sticker to support Bo’s legal defense fund by clicking here.
  • And support both Bo’s efforts and your personal health with a homemade, local, organic and vegetarian Potato-Kale Soup from Mama D’s Kitchen, available the week of Dec 12 at The Farmstand Coop (order by midnight Wed for pick-up on Thursday).  All proceeds will go to “Team Kale”.
  • UPDATE: Since the soup special sold out quickly, Potato-Kale Soup will be sold for another week.  Order at The Farmstand Coop by midnight on Wed, Dec 21st for pick-up on the 22nd. And, thank you!
  • To support Bo in spirit and your health for real, feast on kale (and all glorious greens)!  Here’s the link for potato-kale soup.

Let’s give this story a fairy tale ending, and let Bo and kale live happily ever after.

Filling up on Pumpkin

“For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.”

Lyrics to popular song in the 1600s

Pumpkins. We buy them whole in October to perform surgery on, and then expect to see them again in November in a pie.  We’ve come to think of pumpkin pie as one of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Probably not. Together with squashes, they are native to New England, and were a common food source for Native Americans.  Early European settlers adopted pumpkin eating, but it was unlikely that they had the butter and wheat flour we use today for the crust until many years later.

According to historians from Plimouth Plantation, the earliest written pumpkin pie recipes are dated several generations after the First Thanksgiving, and then they treat pumpkin more like apples (which are not native and had, by then, been brought over from Europe), slicing it and sometimes frying the slices before layering them in a crust.

This recipe may more closely resemble an early pumpkin pie than what we are accustomed to today (which, if you tend to have it with canned pumpkin, I urge you to read the latest on BPA in cans, and use a real pumpkin instead).  The filling does contain butter and bread cubes, but these can easily be omitted for historical purity.  A simple filling made with spiced milk and eggs is likely that of the original pumpkin pie.

Today pumpkins are recognized as a particularly good source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, as well as vitamin C.  Since they are naturally sweet, they help satisfy our sweet tooth, preventing a sugar craving. Some research suggests that eating pumpkin works well to balance insulin and is therefore effective for pre-diabetes and diabetes.

Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits, including being a good source of protein, zinc, iron and vitamins, most notably vitamin E. Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.


Bread Pudding in a Pumpkin Shell

An Original Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 pie pumpkin or other nice-looking winter squash (roughly 4-5 pounds)
  • 2 cups milk (or coconut milk*)
  • 1/4 cup butter (or coconut oil*), melted.
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups stale bread, cubed
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup raisins and/or dried cranberries or sultanas
  • 1/2 walnuts and/or pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon each of ground alspice, ginger, cloves and/or cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple liquor (optional, however, the next time you’re in Vermont, you will not be disappointed if you treat yourself to a bottle of “Cabin Fever” Maple Liquor)
  • whole nutmeg, for grinding

Topping

  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds (although it makes a great deal of sense to use the seeds from your pumpkin, I have to admit that I like the taste of the greenish-colored “pepitas” better)
  • butter or oil, just enough to coat pan
  • 1 teaspoon maple sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350º degrees.
  2. Wash pumpkin. Cut off the top of the pumpkin and clean out the inside.  Brush the top and inside with a little melted butter.
  3. Replace cover on pumpkin and heat in oven for 20 minutes.
  4. While pumpkin is in oven, scald milk for the bread pudding filling. Remove from heat and add butter and maple syrup.  Pour mixture over stale bread cubes and let sit for 5-10 minutes.  Then add eggs, raisins, nuts, spices, vanilla and splash of liquor.
  5. Take pumpkin out of oven, remove the top and fill with the bread mixture and grate some fresh nutmeg over the top.  This time without the top, place pumpkin in a baking dish and bake for 1- 1 1/2 hours or until the pumpkin is soft (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin) and the pudding is cooked. Any leftover filling can be cooked in ramekins, which will not need the full cooking time.
  6. To make the topping: melt butter in a small skillet, add the pumpkin seeds.  Give them a shake and/or stir several times and watch them closely since they burn easily.  Once browned and starting to pop, remove from heat and sprinkle with cinnamon and maple (or regular) sugar.
  7. Remove pumpkin from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  8. Serve as boat-like slices with a wedge of pumpkin as the base, filled with bread pudding and how about a nice dollop of vanilla yogurt, creme fraiche, freshly whipped cream or ice cream on top. Sprinkle all over with cinnamon pumpkin seeds.

Thanks to Wilson Farm in Lexington, Massachusetts (my childhood farmstand) and our early American foremothers for the inspiration for this recipe.

* Note to Primal/Paleo eaters: This type of pie can be easily adapted to a hunter-gatherer diet.  Like the early New England settlers, omit the bread cubes and butter, and make the custard with coconut oil, coconut milk and plenty of eggs and spices. The links above connect to these products in BPA-free packaging.

Meatless Monday: Market Day Soup


In the mid 90s, as a graduate student in Ecological Urban and Regional Planning, I was asked to supervise a group of undergraduates in a research project on the viability of farmers markets.  I loved visiting LA’s outdoor food markets, which felt more like a fun outing than doing errands, so I was happy to accept.  I did not fully realize, until several years later, the extend to which the many benefits (environmental, economic, nutritional, community-building, etc.) of these markets would grab me and not let me go.

Today, direct farm-to-consumer sales are growing at a rate of 10% per year, twice that of the regular food sector. Farmers markets are consistently increasing in number with a 17% increase in just the past year.  More are staying open year round, and despite a down economy, they have supported a growth in the number of small and organic farms. Community supported agriculture (CSA) farmshare options are also expanding.  I subscribe to Stonyloam Farm for my summertime vegetables, herbs and flowers, Pete’s Greens for my fall and winter vegetables, and Family Cow Farmstand for a weekly gallon of raw organic milk.  Roughly a year ago another direct-sales option was dreamed up in our little town: the online Farmstand Coop. By cleverly combining the convenience of a 24/7 online meeting place with the small scale supply and demand on a very local level, a year round market for vegetables, baked goods, meats, eggs and more was created. I have been a customer for a year, and starting last week, I am now also a producer, selling homemade soups made from local and organic ingredients served in reusable glass jars. I feel a small step closer to the people I have come to so greatly admire: farmers.

My first Market Day Soup:

Potato-Leek with Kale Ribbons

  • 3 tablespoons butter (or olive oil or coconut oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 leeks, well washed and chopped
  • 4-5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), peeled and cubed
  • 6 cups of water or vegetable stock (or homemade)
  • 1/2 -1 cup milk or cream (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • kale, stems discarded, cut in thin strips
  • handful of parsley
Method:
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch Oven or other soup pot.  Sauté onions, garlic and leeks over low heat until translucent and starting to caramelize, but not yet turning brown. This should take about 20 minutes, and is worth the wait.
  2. Add potatoes and celeriac cubes, stir to coat. Add stock, bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow vegetables to cook, about 15 minutes.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, heat remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet and saute the kale strips just long enough that they become bright green and crispy.
  4. Using an immersion blender directly in your soup pot or in batches in a traditional blender, purée your soup to a velvety smooth consistency.  The soup will be nicely creamy without the addition of milk or cream, or you can add one or both of these to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve warm topped with kale ribbons and parsley for color and crunch.

Our Favorite “Stinking Rose”

Yes, GARLIC!  It can do a number on your breath, but compared to what it does for your health, that’s a small price to pay.

As winter approaches and we brace ourselves for cold and flu season, today is not a day too early to add this easy, and flavorful food to your meals.  Particularly when eaten raw, garlic has antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties.  According to Dr. Andrew Weil, garlic works well for the common cold, sore throat, ear infections, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and fungal, yeast and bacterial infections.  Garlic also gets credit for cancer prevention and treatment and for the removal of heavy metals.

When you feel something coming on, make yourself some nice garlic toast: a couple of slices of whole wheat bread, butter or olive oil and then crush a good sized clove of raw garlic on to it with a bit of salt to taste.

A simple all-purpose wellness measure is to add garlic at the end of the cooking time of recipes that call for it.  I used to start by sautéing onions and garlic, until I realized that the heat and cooking time greatly reduces the health benefits of garlic.  Now, I toss it in at the very end, keeping the garlic as raw as possible.

Salad dressings, sauces, spreads (such as pesto) and dips (such a hummus) present easy opportunities to consume additional raw garlic.  Using a garlic press or a sharp knife (chopping very fine), you can add garlic to just about any sauce or dressing.

If the fear of bad breath is keeping you from eating as much garlic as you would like, you can give this method a try.  Put a whole clove of garlic in a spoonful of applesauce and swallow whole.  As long as you don’t cut or chew raw garlic, you won’t have the smelly situation afterwards.

Garlic keeps well so you can stock up the next time you are at the market, but what is really fun and easy is to grow it yourself! Fall is the time to plant it, so don’t wait!  If you don’t already have a garden, you can start with a small patch of garlic this year.  This weekend, turn over a small piece of earth, and plant several cloves of garlic. They will settle in underground until spring, when they will greet warmer and longer days with fresh new shoots.  By early summer you will have interesting looking plants with a curlicue on the top. This is the garlic scape and should be cut off and used as you would garlic. Consider it your first harvest.  Later in the summer, the single cloves you planted in the fall, will have transformed into full bulbs of garlic.  Your second harvest.  A phenomenal rate of return!

Click here for Step-by-step directions for growing your own garlic.  If your ground is already frozen or you do not have garden space, you can grow garlic in containers.

As you watch fall take a few more degrees from the air and few more minutes of light from the day, enjoy one last round of spring-like planting.  You’ll be giving yourself the tasty and very healthy gift of fresh garlic next summer.  Enjoy!

Real Foods Reality

Still surrounded by the aftermath of trick-or-treating, I am trying not to spoil my children’s fun. But the large pile of Halloween candy feels like it is staring me down to see who will win. As much as I advocate for and try to stick to a real foods diet myself, there is room for exceptions.  I had a great teacher several years ago who reminded us that 51% of the time, is already “most of the time.”  So, there are times for a little processed food, but even to the Halloween candy extreme?  Fortunately, there is a growing middle ground, a quickly expanding selection of “health food” candy and treats.  Surveyed with a real foods lens, I would still dismiss them as candy, but on occasion, when looking for something special, a convenient treat, a more commonly accepted snack, a sweet bite in a pinch, there are some decent options.

One of several manufacturers, the Kashi company (owned by Kellogg’s) is making some of these products.  They recently sent me a bag of TLC Layered Peanutty Granola Bars as an example. I tried them with my family and with a group of parents I meet with monthly. For the most part, both children and adults liked them.  The bars are appropriately sized (not too big for children) and the packaging is minimal. Kashi has clearly put some effort into making as close to a real foods bar as possible while also giving it a candy bar appearance, an undeniably sweet chocolately taste, a decent shelf-life and convenient portability. I like the use of numerous grains, the added protein and fiber to lessen the blood sugar rush, and the lack of high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors. For a full list of ingredients and nutrition information, click here.

At the same time, I would prefer something fresher.  I felt the bars I tried were somewhat dried out, saved only by the thick layer of chocolate on top. I also found the bars too sweet.  As much as I appreciate the recent research on the health benefits of dark chocolate, what sometimes gets lost is that it really should be eaten un- or just barely sweetened to capture these benefits.

But my main concern is with the use of what I am going to assume are genetically modified ingredients. Soy and corn derivatives, when not from certified organic crops, are almost certainly made from genetically modified raw materials. In addition to the chemical pesticide and herbicide residues on these crops, the fact that they have been genetically altered brings with it a whole new wave of potential health problems which researchers are only just beginning to explore.  As an incidental exception, I will jump into the lab, as it were, and participate in the ongoing public experiment of feeding ourselves genetically modified foods, but as a general rule, I stay clear of the most common GM products, which include soy, corn and increasingly other grains as well.  Even though I found Kashi listed as a member of the Non-GMO project, I was not able to find any indication on this product that it is free of genetically modified ingredients.  I would prefer a “new and improved” version, when it contains organic, or at least non-GMO ingredients.

Meatless Monday: Halloween Hummus

The candy gorge that Halloween has become requires some serious antidotes.  Good nutrition complete with filling protein and healthy fats, accented with pureed pumpkin comes together nicely in this easy to make Halloween hummus.  It makes a good dip or sandwich filler for that quick pre-trick-or-treating dinner or hallowed eve parties.

Besides defining the flavor of the season, pumpkins (as well as the other yellow-orange winter squashes) are star sources of vitamins (predominantly A, but also C, B-complex and some E), minerals, fiber and antioxidants (the carotenes among others) and offer brilliant color all year round.

Pumpkin Hummus

    • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked (or canned*)
    • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin (or canned*)
    • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons water (possibly more to adjust for consistency)
    • juice from 1/2 lemon
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (click here for recent article on its powerful health effects)
    • 1/4 curry powder (optional)
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • possible garnishes: additional chickpeas, a splash of olive oil, parsley, cilantro, black olives, roasted pumpkin seeds, pine nuts
    • serving ideas: pita bread, crusty fresh bread, crackers, rice cakes, fresh vegetables such as carrot sticks, celery, cauliflower and broccoli florets, cucumber sticks, jicama, apple slices.

Method:

  1. Soak, drain and cook dried chickpeas until soft (or drain canned chickpeas*)
  2. Roast pumpkin or other winter squash (or open a can of pumpkin*)
  3. In a blender or food processor, puree pumpkin, add chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and spices until smooth.  Adjust consistency with olive oil and/or water.
  4. Spoon over to a plate, pressing down slightly. Garnish as you like with olive oil, olives, chickpeas, fresh green herbs, roasted pumpkin seeds, ground spices, etc.
*  Having canned foods (beans, stocks, stewed tomatoes, etc.) on hand can make putting a meal together very easy.  However, the research on the health risks associated with the BPA contained in the lining of most cans has me concerned, and so I try to avoid foods in cans or plastic.  When I do buy canned beans, I look for the Eden brand, a company that in 1999 committed to packaging all its organic beans in BPA-free cans.

It’s FOOD DAY!!

Dear fellow eaters, welcome to Food Day!  A day to celebrate real food, and bring much needed attention to the connections between the Standard American Diet (truly SAD) and our increasingly high rates of diet-related disease, the poor quality of school lunches, the poor health of many of our farm workers, and the economic and environmental impacts of our industrial food system, while at the same time supporting the growing opportunities for small family farms, farmers markets, sustainable agriculture, local food security and improved personal and public health by eating a real food diet.

“The typical American diet is promoting major health problems, causing serious environmental pollution, and unintentionally creating poor working conditions for those who harvest, process, and prepare our food,” said Michael F. Jacobson, Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) executive director. “It’s time to urge Americans to change their own diets for the better and to mobilize for desperately needed changes in food and farm policy.”

So, what will you be eating today?

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As fun-filled, exciting, as well as tasty the numerous Food Day events around the country are sure to be today, this is a message which requires daily practice. We eat everyday, so let’s make it real everyday.

Happy Food Day, Today and Every Day!

Homemade Butter, Whipped Cream & Buttermilk

It’s early fall and the grass is holding onto its fresh, green, lush sparkle. The cows are still grazing on pasture, absorbing the goodness of the sun and the soil, and turning it into rich, delicious and nutritious milk.  In order to take some of this summery goodness into the darker, snow-covered months ahead, this is a great time to make butter.

Unfortunately, the vast majority (as much as 95%) of supermarket milk, despite the cartons’ enticing scenes of bucolic farmland, comes from cows raised on factory farms (check out this map of those concentrations), many in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) who have never seen a pasture. Click here for a telling photographic comparison of the two.

Factory farm cows are fed a combination of hay (less nutritious than grass) and grains (which cows, being herbivores, are not meant to eat), and the ground they stand on is a blend of dirt and manure. I wouldn’t recommend eating anything (milk, dairy products or meat) from cows with this lifestyle. I like to think that by not supporting these operations, we can close them down.

Pastured cows live a cow-friendly and appropriate life and give you five times more CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid, which, in early studies, appears to be an effective cancer fighter) and an ideal balance of EFAs (essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6), more beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E than what is found in milk from factory-raised cows. This nutrient bonus comes, in part, from the fact that fresh pasture has more of these nutrients than grain or hay. These extra doses of vitamins are transferred to the cow’s milk.  Skim off the cream, turn it into butter and you can take this goodness with you into the darker, snow-covered days ahead.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, butter was been the basis of a healthy diet in many traditional communities. Click here if you’d like to read more about that.

If you’ve been tempted by margarine, consider how Joan Gussow, nutritionist and suburban homesteader, characterized this factory food: “I prefer butter to margarine, because I trust cows more than I trust chemists.”

What you will need to make your own butter:

  • Organic, heavy cream from grass-fed cows (best at around 65˚-70˚)
  • Salt, to taste and/or other herbs and seasonings for added flavor
  • Cold water
  • A butter churn (should you happen to have one) or a medium large jar with well-sealing lid (like a Ball jar)
  • A marble or two
  • A wooden spoon

Method:

1. Pour cream into jar.  You need some room to shake, so the cream should not fill the jar much beyond half way.

2. Add a marble or two (when make butter you are bursting open the fat globules in the cream, encouraging those globules to stick together and finally rinsing off the left-over liquid.  Adding a marble increases the physical beating on the fat).  Screw the top on tightly.

3. Shake, shake, shake and then, shake some more. At this stage, my children like to sing, “Shake it, shake it, shake it; Shake it all you can; Shake it like a milkshake, and pass it to a friend.”  If you are doing this with a group of children, have them sit in a circle and fill two or three jars with cream.  Pass the jars around so every one gets plenty of turns without getting tired.

4. Three-quarters of the way there, butter offers a special surprise.  Once you stop hearing the marble knocking around in the jar, you have a jar full of whipped cream. Feel free to stop shaking now.  Add a splash of maple syrup and your berries or pie will have a welcome companion.

5. However, if you can resist the temptation to stop at the whipped cream stage and you shake just a bit more, you’ll notice small chunks begin to form, followed by (after just a little more shaking) a yellow mass surrounded by a whitish liquid.  You’ll hear the marble again and you have butter and buttermilk.

6. Pour the buttermilk into a separate jar.  You can drink it as is, or save it for up to a few days for use in biscuits, pancakes, or salad dressing.

7. Wash the butter, by adding cold water to the butter jar and using a wooden spoon, smear the butter along the sides of the jar through the water.  Pour water off and repeat. You may need to do this 8-10 times before the water runs off clear (or fairly close). Washed butter tastes richer and keeps considerably longer.

8. Add salt to taste as well as any herbs, spices or seasonings you want to use to enhance your freshly made butter.  Today, I added maple syrup and cinnamon to one jar and, salt and chives to another.

9. Should you have a butter mold (to go with your churn), shape butter; otherwise leave it in the shaking jar or transfer into another container and refrigerate. Butter also freezes well.

If you’re not going to bake with your freshly made buttermilk in the next few days, you may want to try Homemade Creme Fraiche or Buttermilk Salad Dressing.  Of course, you can always just drink it straight. If you think you don’t like buttermilk (since you have only tried the store-bought version), make sure you give your homemade batch a taste. It’s an entirely different experience.

Butternut Squash Soup with a Touch of Thai

Eating local takes on a whole other level of satisfaction when you have the good fortune to eat what you’ve just harvested from your garden.  My butternut squash plants had a good summer and are now treating me to what is sure to be a tasty fall and winter.  Low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, butternut squash is a nutrient-dense vegetable commonly available in fall and winter. You can capture its particularly high concentration of vitamin A in soups, roasted, mashed or baked into sweet breads and desserts.

As committed as I am to eating food from here, I also love many flavors from afar. Though that may sound incompatible, it is often just an ingredient or two, or a specific herb, spice or seasoning, that gives an otherwise locally sourced dish an international flavor. Kaffir lime leaves, for example, decidedly not native to northern Vermont, but recently spotted at the local food coop, lend a distinctively delicious Thai flavor to this soup.

Butternut Squash Soup with a Touch of Thai

  • 1 average-sized butternut squash (or 2 small), peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled (for a smoother soup) or unpeeled (for greater nutrition), cubed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
  • 8 cups water or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 cup coconut milk, cream or milk
  • possible toppings: cilantro, thai basil, croutons, roasted pepitas or butternut squash seeds, shredded coconut, peanuts, sriracha hot sauce and/or a swirl of cream.

Method:

  1. Melt coconut oil in a soup pot and sauté onions until translucent, then add garlic.
  2. Stir in potato and squash cubes and stir to coat.
  3. Pour in water or stock, add kaffir lime leaves and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover until vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. With an immersion blender in the soup pot or in batches in a traditional blender, puree the soup to a velvety smooth consistency. Stir in milk.
  6. Serve in bowls and garnish with toppings of your choice.