Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Kitchen Toy

I'm the person in the family that likes to cook...not the only person...just the person who talks about it a lot. I tell extended friends and family about our trips to the CSA farm for U-pick in our Christmas letter. I relate the details of my latest meal to my parents when we chat and I tell co-workers (and occasionally bring proof to work to share) of my latest meal created from my CSA share or other exciting local food find. So it was no surprise that among the few gifts that we exchange for Christmas one of mine was food related. I was asked ahead of time if I would use a bread maker. My reply was that the real things that I would use are the mixing and kneading and that a stand mixer has attachments to do that plus it would allow me to purchase the pasta attachments to allow me to make my own pasta, another thing I have been telling everyone about. So come present time the last box was my very own Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer. Woohoo! I haven't had time to play with it yet, still entertaining guest, in fact taking one to the airport this early am. I am really looking forward to saving my joints and letting the mixer do some of the hard work for my next loaf of bread.

Dark Days Challenge Weeks 2-5

Though I haven't found the time this winter to blog about it, I have been very successful adding local meals to our week.
Most recently I hosted my parents and sister to a thanksgiving-like Christmas dinner and a great post-present breakfast. My turkey was a frozen local 20 pounder from Elaine at Fields of Athenry that has been hogging my freezer since it was butchered at Thanksgiving. I am so glad to have that space back. I roasted it simply on a rack, stuffed with local apples and onions and rubbed with home dried herbs from my self-watering planter boxes (all I can do in an apartment) and local butter. I tossed a few bits of carrots, celery, and local onion underneath the rack to bake down with the juices for gravy. Next was a Food Network inspired roasted garlic mashed potatoes with local potatoes and 2 garlic heads from the farmers market and a dash of organic but not local heavy cream. I served my home canned whole berry jellied cranberry sauce. I canned up several jars at thanksgiving with the closest cranberries I could find, Orcranics from Buzzards Bay MA. With company's tastes to consider I opted for a store bought dressing mix but the best local dish was a butternut squash soup made with the last few squash left from my CSA and local honey.
Butternut Squash Soup
*Quarter 2 butternuts lengthwise, lay on foil covered pan and brush with 2 tbsp. butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
*Roast at 400 degrees till tender ~45 min. but depends on size of butternuts.
*When cool enough to handle remove flesh into soup pot and heat till just bubbling with 3 c. broth, 1/4 c. local honey, 1 tsp ginger (fresh or powder) then blend using immersion blender
*Remove from heat, add 1/2 c. heavy cream and dash of nutmeg, blend to distribute cream and serve
For Christmas Day breakfast I pulled together pumpkin pancakes with my frozen CSA pumpkin puree, local whole wheat flour, and local milk, local thick sliced bacon and local eggs fried to order.