Before We Continue……

IMG_2047Brrr…..It’s finally starting to get cold here in Virginia. As happens every year, the increasing cold weather has caused my body to crave food that will bulk me up for the winter. It’s a occurrence that proves my primal link to nature. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, as a result I’ve been cooking like a fiend and putting up delights for colder days. I froze the last of the season peaches and pears in homemade syrup. And I preserved a wonderful jam thanks to the recipe Marrow (Squash) & Ginger Jam by WordPress blogger Random Thoughts. Since I had some ingredients left over from making the jam, I made some Squash and Apple soup  as well. This time a year I spend lots of time making soup. As is well documented, soup is a soul nurturer and spirit lifter.

I’m not a domestic goddess by any means but I buy into the idea that taking time for the preparation of fresh, basic foods is important for good health. I used to have a Recipe Page on this blog but it got lost in my redesign. I’ve decided that I do want to share some of them, so here are two cold weather recipes from past posts.

Healing Super Broth

This is a recipe is based on one that I first discovered on the CarePages website (I made it for my husband while he was battling cancer.) but I’ve seen variations on other websites including drhyman.com and doctoroz.com. I use it as the base for most of the broth soups I make. You can also drink the broth alone. For every three quarts of water add:
1 large onion
2 chopped carrots
1 cup of winter squash cut into large cubes
1 cup of root vegetables (I use parsnips) for sweetness
2 cups of chopped greens (I use kale, collard greens or chard)
2 celery stalks,
including tops
½ cup of sea weed
½ cup of cabbage
4 ½-inch slices of fresh ginger
2 cloves of whole garlic (not chopped or crushed)
Salt, to taste
Add all the ingredients at once and bring to a low boil (remember that boiling reduces the vitamins) then simmer for approximately 60 minutes. It may take a little longer. Simply continue to simmer to taste. Cool, strain (throw out the cooked vegetables), and store in a large, tightly-sealed glass container in the fridge. Makes: 2 quarts

IMG_1160Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Pancetta

This is another winter soup recipe to warm the body and soul. I got this recipe from the Hannaford Supermarket flyer 6 or 7 years ago. They billed it as “naturally thick and creamy without the addition of cream or butter.” Let’s face it the pancetta is what gives it the flavor. Bacon (even turkey) will work too but honestly, not as well. The original recipe called for thyme but I use rosemary instead because I think it compliments the pancetta.
1 ½ tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ lb pancetta, sliced
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary or 2 tsp dried
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cord and cut into chunks
1 cup Vegetable broth
½ cup water
In a large pot, heat first amount of oil over moderate heat. Add the pancetta and cook about 4 minutes per side until golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel. 
Add remaining oil to the pot. Add the onions and cook 8 to 10 minutes over moderate heat until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the squash, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook; stirring for 5 minutes. Add the apples, vegetable broth (or chicken), and water, and bring to a boil over high heat. 
Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until squash and apples are tender. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth in a blender or food processor. 
Add the mixture back to the pot and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Crumble the pancetta and add half to the soup; taste for seasoning. 
Serve piping hot with the remaining pancetta sprinkled on top. Serves 6

Bon appetit and stay warm!!

 

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To Market, to Market……

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Is there any thing better than the fresh produce available at this time of year? I certainly don’t feel there is.

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Going to the farmers market: the colors, smells and interacting with other people. It’s a complete experience for me.

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Preparing the produce is a lesson in mindfulness: slowing down time, listening to the birds while I cut and chop.  I try to really taste the food and appreciate it.

Where I live in the mid Atlantic area of the United States, it seems as though the winter offers only limited agricultural products; apples, oranges and the roots of plants. They are wonderful in their own right, they’re just not my favorites. I gravitate toward the kinds of produce available during the warm seasons. I love the abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables like strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, tender lettuces and lots of fresh herbs. It’s one of the many, many advantages of summer. One of my favorite recipes that uses vegetables available now at  farmers markets is Pasta with Greens and Tomatoes. I’ve added to the Heaven’s menu page.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Soup’s On Heaven’s Menu

Gray day in Alexandria, VA
Gray day in Alexandria, VA

The holiday season is winding down and I don’t have any delicious food left. It’s cold and damp here and it’s a little depressing because it seems as if the holiday cheer is spent. So I’m going to spend this weekend in the kitchen and make some soup. Winter soups are a great way for me to add back some of the warmth it feels as though I’ve lost after holiday celebrations. I can cuddle up with a big mug of soup and relive the good times I was fortunate to have with my family and friends. One of my favorite winter soups is Butternut Squash & Apple With Pancetta. It’s a great recipe and I’m sharing it with you on my recipe page today. You’ll also find other winter soup recipes on Heaven’s Menu that brighter and warm a bleak day.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!