The CSA Project: Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

This ends round one of The CSA Project, which included recipes for Swiss chard and carrots, and not one, but two for butternut squash.

(This recipe was influenced by two recipes found online, one for the gnocchi, the other for the sauce.)

What you’re gonna need

  • 1 medium, or 2 small, butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • About 2 cups of flour (this will vary depending on the moisture of your squash)
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper

What you’re gonna do

  • Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and brush with olive oil
  • Roast in a 350 degree oven until soft
  • Scoop out the flesh and place 2 cups in a bowl
  • Add salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • Stir in flour until a dough is formed
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 10-12 times
  • Divide in half and roll in to a ¾ inch rope
  • Cut into 2 inch pieces and then take a fork and press the tines into the pieces
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and for about 4 minutes until the come to the surface

And for the sauce

  • Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add the sage leaves
  • Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon maple syrup, 1 tsp. of salt and ½ tsp. of pepper
  • Pour over gnocchi and enjoy!

The CSA Project: Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

As I’m sure you recall, our last haul from the CSA included carrots, Swiss chard, and butternut squash. Here’s our first use of the squash…

Don’t worry if you have a lot of butternut squash; it, and any hard winter squash, will keep for months in a cool dry place (not the refrigerator).

I adapted this recipe from What’s Cooking America.

What you’re gonna need

  • 2 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), sliced in half
  • 1 cup of chopped onions
  • 1 tart apple, sliced in half
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 5-6 cups of vegetable stock (chicken would work as well)
  • Olive oil for sautéing

What you’re gonna do

  • Brush the cut side of the squash and apple with olive oil and roast in a 375 degree oven until soft.( I think roasting them brings out more flavor).
  • Remove from oven. Allow to cool. Scoop out the flesh of the squash with a spoon.
  • Sauté the onion and garlic until brown
  • Add spices and cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the squash, apples and stock and cook together until everything is really soft.
  • Either transfer to a blender or food processor and puree,
  • Or use an immersion blender until you get the consistency you want.

You can serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and some warm bread for dipping.

One more butternut squash is in my kitchen. I have been wanting to try gnocchi.  Look for that next week.


The CSA Project: Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

This week’s haul from the CSA: carrots, Swiss chard, butternut squash. Here’s what we did with the carrots and Swiss chard. Stay tuned for the butternut squash.

Even though it topped an unseasonable 70 degrees Friday, the veggies from the CSA this week are saying soup.  Carrots and Swiss chard are two of the main ingredients in my lentil soup.

What you’re gonna need

  • One to one and half pounds of carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 large can of diced or crushed tomatoes (Or better yet, a quart you canned last summer. Just saying…)
  • 1 pound of lentils
  • A couple tablespoons of cumin or so to taste (Curry powder works nicely here too.)
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (chicken stock will work as well)
  • 1 bunch of chopped Swiss chard (don’t discard the stems), or spinach
  • Olive oil to coat the pan, a tablespoon or two

What you’re gonna do

  1. Sauté your chopped onions, carrots and the chopped stems from the chard with a couple pinches of salt in olive oil until the onions are soft.
  2. Add cumin and continue sautéing.  When you start to smell the cumin, add the lentils, broth and tomatoes.  (Add more or less liquid depending on how thick you want your soup to be.)
  3. Cook for an hour or two until the lentils and carrots are soft.
  4. Add the Swiss chard in the last 15-20 minutes.
  5. Serve with a warm roll or slice of bread for dipping.  Delicious!

This soup freezes nicely. If you end up with more than you and your family can handle at this week, bag it up and put it in the freezer. It will taste great on that first cold rainy day in late September or early October.


The CSA Project

Carrots, Swiss Chard, and Butternut Squash

Carrots, Swiss Chard, and Butternut Squash

The questions we hear so often, “I’d like to join a CSA, but what do I do with all that food? How to I keep it from going bad? And what do I make of the exotic things I’ve never encountered before, like garlic scapes, celeriac, or sun chokes?”

This year we are going to write about every pick up from Donna’s CSA share from Pennypack Farm. We’ll include recipes, strategies for preserving what you can’t make right away, and lots of resources for further exploration.

This week’s pick up: carrots, Swiss chard, and butternut squash. Look for Donna’s recipe for lentil soup in the next few days.


Red Beet Eggs

Red Beet Eggs

Red Beet Eggs

Waste not, Want not…

So what do you do with all that lovely beet juice after you have eaten your pickled beets?  In our house we make pickled eggs, or as Dan calls them, red beet eggs.

It’s a fairly easy process.  Hard boil your eggs.  The best way to do this is to put your eggs in cold water, (make sure you are not using really fresh eggs or you will not be able to peel them),  bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat off, cover and let them sit for about 25 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until they are cool to the touch.  Doing it this way will lessen the chance of having that ugly green ring around your yolk.

Put your beet juice in a pan with some onions and bring to a boil for a minute or two. You can add any other flavors you may like. Cloves, thyme, garlic and dill would be good. Of course it depends on the flavors that you put into your beets as well. We had cloves and peppercorns in ours so we didn’t add much besides the onion.  Put your eggs in a large jar and pour the cooled juice over top.

It’s best to let these sit for a week or two in the fridge before you eat them. The idea is to make sure they are red all the way through.


Brussels Sprouts Greens and Spaghetti Squash

Brussel Sprouts and Spaghetti Squash

Brussels Sprouts Greens and Spaghetti Squash

Yes, just like you, we were wondering what to do with our brussels sprouts greens (the big leafy stuff at the top of the stalk). Now we know, and we’re going to share it with you.

The greens have a flavor very similar to cabbage, only much milder, so use that as a guide when coming up with ideas. We had a spaghetti squash on hand, and decided to experiment. Now we have a new favorite dish. The greens were slightly crunchy in contrast to the buttery texture of the squash. The flavor was succulent, subtly bitter, delicious. And as you can see, they look real pretty beside each other.

What you’re gonna need

  • Greens from a stalk of brussels sprouts
  • Medium spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • couple cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you’re gonna do

Cut squash in half and scrape out the insides with a fork.  (They will kind of look like spaghetti noodles.) Saute in olive oil with garlic until warmed through.  Add Parmesan cheese.

Cut the greens into ribbons and blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until bright green. Remove and drain.  Add to saute pan with olive oil and garlic and saute for 5-7 minutes until warm.

Serve ‘em up together.

Brussels Sprouts Greens


Thanksgiving Recap

Jars of canned goods.

Pickled beets, applesauce, and pickled green tomatoes.

Thanksgiving has become our favorite holiday.  Since beginning our mission to eat locally, the holiday has become even more fun.   This is a great time of year to showcase local foods.  From the brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes from Pennypack Farm’s CSA to the heritage turkey from Griggstown, everything on the table was locally grown.  We wanted to keep it especially simple this year. In fact, the final meal wasn’t planned until I’d picked up our share from the CSA on Wednesday.

The brussels sprouts were simply roasted in the oven with some carrots and garlic and a roasted beet thrown in at the end. The sweet potatoes were drizzled with olive oil and put into the oven with some local apples.  Dan baked the bread for the stuffing, tended to the turkey, and of course provided the homebrew.

We went into the basement and brought out some pickled beets and green tomatoes along with some applesauce to round out the meal. (For the record, I did taste the beets and the tomatoes. My aversion to pickled foods seems to be fading.)  Our guests went home with leftovers and jars of jam from my stash in the cupboard.

The turkey soup is on the stove with some of the corn, carrots and green beans that were frozen this summer.  Turkey chili tomorrow for lunch.



Ingredients for Irish Stout

Ingredients for Irish Stout

All that stuff above is this: malt extract, roasted barley, hops, yeast. Not pictured: water.  (I’m guessing you already know what that looks like.)

That stuff, plus a big old kettle, a couple of five gallon plastic buckets, and a few other basic accessories is all you need to brew your own beer.

Why brew your own beer? Many reason, here are some.

  • It’s cheaper. On average, the cost of ingredients for one five gallon batch, which will yield about two cases, is what you would pay of a single case of the same style.
  • It’s better. ‘Cause you get to control where it’s kept (away from the light, away from the heat), and how long it’s stored — those all important conditions that affect the quality of your beer.
  • It’s funner. C’mon. You’re making your own beer. How cool is that?

If you like good beer and are into making your own food, you should be seriously considering this.

I can’t teach you how in a single blog post, but let me point you in the right direction. First, get a hold of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charles Papazian. There are other books, but this one’s the first, and in my humble opinion, still the best. Read it, and you’ll get religion.

Next, find a good homebrew store, one where you’ll not only find all of the supplies you need, but also dedicated moral support. If you live in Philly or environs, that’s Home Sweet Homebrew. Proprietors George and Nancy taught me everything I know about making beer, and I’ve been successfully and happily brewing my own beer for nearly seven years.

So what am I making with the ingredients picture above? Irish stout.  For Donna and me, it’s our go to beer. It tastes good, it‘s easy to make, it pairs with a lot of dishes. And at around 4% alcohol, it won’t put anybody on the floor too quickly.


Why We Do It

Red Beets and Goat Cheese

Red Beets and Goat Cheese

Ah, the simple pleasures! My dinner tonight, a plate of Donna’s homemade pickled beets paired with artisanal goat cheese from Yellow Springs Farm. The beets were candy sweet and contrasted superbly with the dry, salty cheese.

I had forgotten — or perhaps never new — just how wonderful real pickled beets are. Far better than anything from a can bought in a supermarket. As, by the way, was the goat cheese.


Festivals, Battles, and Brownies

Pennypack Farm is having a fall festival on Saturday, October 2.  Lots food and fun.  All proceeds are going toward a new tractor to help cultivate some new fields.

We are not able to attend — my son Alex will be fighting the British at the Battle of Germantown. He did, however, bake some awesome brownies for the bake sale.  If you want to try them here is the recipe.

Mr. Alex’s Brownies

What you’re gonna need

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1.5 cups of four
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 oz of unsweetened chocolate
  • 1tbs vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt

What you’re gonna do

  1. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler.
  2. In a separate bowl combine eggs and sugar and beat for 10 minutes until fluffy
  3. When chocolate is melted stir in flour and then combine with egg mixture.
  4. Pour into your favorite pan (Sometimes we add some melted peanut butter or extra chocolate chips.) and
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until done.

Enjoy!  And if you are able to attend the festival, be sure you pick some up.