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Archive for the ‘winter squash’ Category

Fried Pumpkin Ravioli

Sometimes I think that nature gives us warm, sweet flavors that keep in storage from fall to winter to balance the chilly days until spring.  Winter squash and pumpkin have those comforting flavors, and I can’t resist enjoying them in not only pie but also in soup, bread, and even pasta.  Today let’s try pumpkin raviolis two ways:  regular and fried. For once, we’re going to short-cut the process by using wonton wrappers instead of homemade pasta dough, meaning you can have these little gems ready in a matter of minutes.  Serve them for appetizers, or make a whole bunch for a full meal.  The fried raviolis are great to pass at your Super Bowl gathering, or call them pumpkin pasties and serve them up for your next Harry Potter party.  No matter how you use them, they’ll be a tasty addition to your table.

Ingredients: makes about two dozen raviolis

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin or winter squash purée (home made or canned)
  • 1-2 cloves roasted garlic), smashed (For great roasted garlic, bake garlic cloves, covered, at about 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Store in olive oil.  If you’re feeling really lazy, substitute 1/2-1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic).
  • 1 ounce grated parmesan (about 1-inch cube before grating)
  • tablespoon or two of ricotta for extra creaminess
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste (I confess:  I used a seasoning mix called Beaverfork Blend that I get through my Locally Grown network.)
  • pinch of dried sage
  • package of wonton wrappers

Mix together all of the ingredients except the egg roll wrappers.  Place an egg roll wrapper on your prep surface.  Put about a tablespoon of pumpkin mix slightly off center in the wrapper.  Using your finger, wet two adjoining edges of the wrapper.  Fold over the dry side of the wrapper, encasing the pumpkin mixture. Use a fork to gently crimp the dry edges to the wet edges.  Set the wrapper aside and repeat steps with more wrappers until you have as many ravioli as you want.

For traditional boiled ravioli, slide raviolis one at a time into rapidly boiling water. You can cook a few at a time, as long as you’re careful not to crowd the pot.  They’ll cook really quickly (in about a minute and a half).  Use a perforated spatula to lift raviolis from water one at a time, drain well, and serve tossed with butter, garlic, and parmesan, or make a quick creamy garlic cheese sauce from minced garlic lightly cooked in butter then cooked with cream and finished with a little cheese.

For fried ravioli, follow the same procedure as above, but instead of cooking in boiling water, heat several inches of a neutral oil that can take high heat to about 350 degrees to 375 degrees in a deep fryer or heavy Dutch oven.  (If you don’t have a thermometer, you can determine when the oil is ready by pressing the tip of a wooden spoon handle or chop stick directly in the bottom of the pan.  When little bubbles emanate from the tip as it’s pressed in, you’re ready to fry.) Slide each ravioli in the hot oil and let it fry on each side until golden brown.  The time will be quick–no more than two minutes.  Drain each ravioli and set aside to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.  Garnish with fresh chopped herbs like basil or sage or just a dusting of good parmesan.

Would you like magically quick, sweet pumpkin pasties instead?

Ingredients: makes about two dozen pumpkin pasties

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin or winter squash purée (home made or canned)
  • tablespoon or two of ricotta for extra creaminess
  • pinch of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • package of wonton wrappers

Follow directions for raviolis, using the fried version.  Dust finished pasties with powdered sugar.

Copyright, text and illustrations, 2011 by Ozarkhomesteader.


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Every fall I am overwhelmed by a desire to surround myself by pumpkins and winter squashes, one of the most enduring symbols of autumn’s bounty.  Every year I make pumpkin soup.  Every year Mr. Homesteader eats the soup politely but, I must admit, not that enthusiastically.  Knowing his love of exotic flavors, I’ve tried lots of variations:  with cinnamon and sweetness, with ginger and curry, with southwestern flavors.  It was my most recent rendition of the perennial pumpkin soup, however, that won his heart and had him polishing off his soup in record time.  And it was the most basic I’ve ever made.  I present it to you here.  I know it’s basic, but he really thought it was good!

Pumpkin sizes vary so much and this recipe is so easy that I offer this recipe casually, with no precise measurements.  Begin by washing well and whacking in half one eating pumpkin or large winter squash.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh. Save those seeds, cleaned free of the flesh!  Roasted, they’ll make great healthy snacks with lots of good omega-3s. Bake the pumpkin halves in an 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes, depending on size.  If you can cover the pumpkin, put just a couple of tablespoons in the cavities where the seeds were located. If baking uncovered, fill each cavity about 2/3 full.  After you’ve baked the pumpkin for 10 minutes, add one  clove of garlic, unpeeled, to the pan and let it roast with the pumpkin for the remaining 20 minutes.

Scoop the roasted flesh from the skin, letting it cool a bit to make sure you can get every last bit.  Cut off the tough end of the roasted garlic and squeeze it into a cooking pot with the pumpkin flesh.  Add a splash of chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock and a splash or two of cream and/or milk.  Blend everything with a stick blender, in a food processor, or in a stand blender, adding more cream or milk to get a smooth consistency.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Add a pinch each or so of finely ground cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and rubbed sage.  Heat gently and serve.

Does your family eat pumpkin soup?  Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe to share that you think Mr. Homesteader would like?  He’s mighty adventurous!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts and tweets are fair use, as long as you provide a full URL.


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Regular readers know that I suffered catastrophic garden losses thanks to a house/cat/garden sitter who did a great job with two out of three.  I’m pleased to report, though, that courtesy of the pre-soaking (and sometimes pre-sprouting) technique, I’ve got butter peas, summer squash of several varieties, cucumbers (Armenian and a pickling cucumber), and okra all peeping out of the earth, facing the scorching temperatures bravely.  A bunch of different basils successfully sprouted too, as did some volunteer radishes.  I hope that winter squash will emerge soon to join all of the other garden babies.  I’m watering all of my seedlings daily, in hopes that our record-high temperatures will break soon.  It was too late for re-planting the dozens of peppers I lost, but everything else is pretty well on track.

My tomatoes were better prepared for abuse than everything else, having not only been planted extra-deep but also having thick mulch and soaker hoses.  They are doing really well, especially my Principe Borghese sun-drying tomatoes.  I have an Excalibur dehydrator on its way to the homestead now to process these little ruby gems into chewy, almost smoky intensely tomato-y dried treats for winter and spring.  I hope our apples continue to grow, as it looks like we’ll have plenty of those for drying as well as for savory jelly and apple butter.

And we’ve still got some peppers, some eggplants, leeks, carrots, cabbages . . . and grand plans for fall plantings of more cool-season vegetables.

What’s growing in your garden?  What are you planning for fall in the garden?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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As regular readers know, our Grand Canyon adventure resulted in a lot of dead garden at our house.  I could sit and weep among the remains of spring’s hopeful planting, or I can re-plant.  I prefer re-planting.  That means calculating days and figuring out what can germinate, grow, and be harvested before frost.

One of the biggest limitations for gardening is germination temperatures.  Certain seeds will not germinate in soils warmer than about 70 degrees, while other seeds can’t germinate below those temperatures but prefer temperatures at closer to 80 degrees F.  Very few vegetable seeds like to wake up in the sauna that is our Arkansas summers, but you can coax a few along with a little soaking and extra care.

Next, consider how much growing time you have before first frost or, more importantly, first regular frosts.  We’ve got, believe it or not, almost 90 days left.  That means I can select almost every summer squash out there, cucumbers, pole and bush beans, okra, some melons, and a few winter squashes.

Finally, what do you have the energy to put in in the heat?  Frankly, it’s pushing 100 degrees here and “feels” 103-107 degrees F thanks to the humidity.  I can work for a few hours but more could lead to heat stroke.

So far, my pre-soak method has gotten squash ands butter peas to emerge from the soil two days after I planted them.  I didn’t pre-sprout basil, but that too has come up with lots of water and loving care, along with some volunteer radishes.  My pole beans, however, have not cooperated, so my bean teepees may be cucumber teepees this year.

Believe it or not, I still plan to put out a little winter squash.  I hope to keep the vines in check so I can cover them with veggie tunnels as the temperatures drop.  I’ll also plant okra and cucumbers, using the seed-soaking and pre-germination method I mentioned earlier.  And my tomatoes look great!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader, including photographs.  All rights reserved.

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We’re still polishing off the wonderful pasture-raised turkey that I got from Falling Sky Farm for Thanksgiving.  You may remember that we ate a lot of turkey eat fresh then, but I also broke it down enough immediately to freeze some in various serving sizes.  Today I’m going to use about four ounces of the turkey along with wild rice and vegetables to make a hearty, healthy entree soup that’s perfect for these frugal economic times.  I’m serving it with acorn squash, roasted and stuffed with apples, cranberries, and walnuts, for an extra kick of healthy flavor to round out the meal.  This soup and acorn squash meets the old Southern standard of “meat and three” in an unusual form, and most of the ingredients came from our land or a nearby farm.  With just 4 ounces of turkey in the whole soup, you are getting most of your protein from the frugal, healthy combination of wild rice and beans, but no one will miss a pile of meat in this meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 thin pat butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • shaft (white) portion of a leek, cut in half lengthwise to clean out the grit and then sliced across the shaft (or 1/2 sweet yellow onion)–Save the tougher leaves for a recipe you’ll puree.
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/3 cup diced celery (basically a rib)
  • 1/3 cup wild rice
  • twig (about 5 inches long, leaves attached) or two of fresh rosemary (Don’t have fresh?  use 1  teaspoon of dried rosemary.)
  • four or  more  leaves of fresh sage  (Don’t have fresh?  Use 1 teaspoon of rubbed sage.)
  • optional:  1 or 2 hot peppers, sliced thinly
  • 4 ounces of cooked turkey (about a 1/3-1/2 cup)–Yes, you could use diced chicken, even fresh, as long as you add it in the soup when you start the rice and increase your herb quantity.
  • 1/2-1 cup pole beans (a.k.a. green beans), cut into bite-sized pieces–I used a mix of green and wax (yellow) beans
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by prepping your leeks. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, like a 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven.  Add the leeks, stir, and start to caramelize.  Dice the carrots.  Add those too.  Dice the celery.  Add it too. By now your leeks will be caramelized sufficiently.  Add the wild rice and a cup and a half of water and stir.Yes, that’s the wild rice–actually not rice but a grass seed.  It’s got a nutty flavor. Now lay the rosemary twig and sage on the top.  Do not stir in; we’re going to take them out later.  (Of course, stir them in if you used dried herbs.) Simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes.  Take out the herbs if you used fresh.  Add the turkey, beans, and optional chiles with 2-3 cups more water and about 1 teaspoon salt.  Be forewarned:  the rice is already cooked, but it is a very thirsty grain.  It will keep soaking up liquid, but we’ve made this soup flavorful enough that you can safely keep adding water.  Add salt and pepper to taste as needed.

makes 5-6 cups of soup

Serve this simple, comforting soup with a hearty vegetable side like our acorn squash halves stuffed with diced apples, cranberries, and walnuts seasoned with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Do you have questions about wild rice?  Do you have a favorite wild rice recipe you’d like to share?  Join the discussion in the comments section!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Tweets and short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Posting of short excerpts 
with a full link is welcome.

I’m pledged on this blog to post recipes that are mostly created using local, seasonal ingredients. One of our new favorites among winter soups is Zuppa, an Italian soup from Tuscany that uses lots of kale, leeks, and Italian sausage.  I served it last night to my father, who thought kale was just a funny garnish.  He loved this soup!  Zuppa is a great way to introduce non-kale eaters to kale.

Here’s what you’ll need for 3 good servings:

  • 1-2  leek bottoms, cleaned and sliced across the grain (save the tops for a recipe where you’ll puree the soup)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely pressed or chopped
  • 2 large waxy potatoes, like Yukon gold or red potatoes  (I used one of each!)
  • optional:  1 carrot, finely diced
  • 3 spicy Italian sausages, cooked and sliced in half lengthwise and then in thin slices across the grain (I used organic chicken sausages)
  • optional:  red pepper, if you use sweet Italian sausage instead of spicy
  • rosemary sprig (or a few teaspoons of dried rosemary)–I removed the fresh rosemary spring after it flavored the soup
  • optional:  fresh or dried marjoram and/or oregano
  • about a quart of chicken or turkey stock
  • 1-2 quarts fresh kale leaves (measured before tough stems are removed–see below)
  • milk or cream to taste to fill out servings
  • salt and pepper to taste

I prepared this soup in a 2-quart, 8-inch wide cast iron Dutch oven.  The cast iron lets you cook the leeks and garlic at a very low setting without burning them, and then it lets you simmer for a while.  The 2-quart size is ideal for a family of 2-3 people.

Begin by cleaning the leek.  Slice off the root.  Slice off all about about an inch of the green part (the top). (Remember, they’ll go great in a pureed soup!) Slice the leeks lengthwise to clean, leafing through the layers to look for dirt.  Now slice the leek in thin slices across the grain.  Saute the leek slices in olive oil.  Now prep the garlic and add it too, being careful not to burn it.  Dice the potatoes and add them to the mix, stirring regularly.  Now start adding your stock.  Let the potatoes cook in the stock for about 20 minutes until they are soft.  Now add your sliced sausage.  Let the soup simmer while you prepare the kale. (If you wanted to start this soup well in advance, you could prepare it up to this point even the day before.)

Wash the kale thoroughly and remove any tough stems.  Now chop it fine.  When you do, you should notice the sweet aroma, like fresh-cut spring grass.  (My dad agrees that it smells like fresh-cut spring grass!) Kale is an absolutely amazing food, one of the healthiest ever.  One cup boiled, for example, contains 1327% of the USDA recommended daily value of Vitamin K, 192% of the RDV of Vitamin A, and 88% of the RDV of Vitamin C, all for just 36 calories!  Read more about kale’s health benefits here.

About 10-20 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add the chopped kale.  Let the soup simmer for 10-20 minutes until it is soft but still bright green.  Add about a cup of milk or cream.  Stir well, heat through, and serve with good, crusty bread, roasted winter squash, and a nice salad of winter greens!

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If you are wishing you could extend your gardening season but think it’s all over when the first frost hits, you have a whole world of winter gardening awaiting your growing pleasure.  You just need to pick the right things to grow, to give them adequate protection, and to expect them to grow a bit more slowly because they’ll be getting less sun.

It may surprise you to know that one of the nation’s most famous four-seasons farms is in Maine.  Granted, Maine’s coastal waters keep it from being as cold as, say, Minnesota, but it still gets awfully darn cold.  The folks at Four Seasons Farm are real experts, but you can get a start on small-scale winter gardening here with me.  Let’s get first to the seed.

For winter gardening, you obviously need to pick vegetables that are ordinarily geared for colder weather.  Do not expect to grow anything that seed packets label “tender” without a lot of energy-intensive protection, which is not sustainable.  That means you will most likely not be successful growing peppers, squashes of any kind (winter squash isn’t called that because it grows through the winter but rather because it keeps through the winter), cucumbers, melons, or most beans.  You can, however, grow everything in the cabbage and broccoli family Red Russian Kale, most greens, many root crops, and certain herbs.  For example, basil and parsley prefer warm weather, but chervil and cilantro like it cooler.  If a seed guide recommends early spring or late summer planting, you may be able to get a winter harvest.  If anything requires pollination, expect to do it yourself with a tiny paintbrush, because the buzzies who usually do the job won’t be out and about.

Now let’s talk about protection.  Winter gardening requires you to cover crops through the coldest weather.  If you only have an occasional light frost, you can do the job with old sheets.  If you expect regular freezing weather, begin by adding mulch around tender plants and especially root crops.  Then cover with plastic or glass, being sure that the plants do not touch the covering; plants that touch the covering may freeze.  Building raised beds make covering much easier.

Here are plants in a raised bed in early February, having started their life in early January and survived several nights down to almost 0 degrees F.Seedlings in a Cold Frame I built the raised bed to fit an old window that my neighbor was replacing.  I placed the window directly on top of the wooden frame (made out of scrap wood).  On warmer days, you can slide the window back or use a small piece of wood to raise one end and let the cold frame vent hot air.

This pup-tent style grow house can be found in many forms on the internet and works well if you need something taller:  Grow Tent in the Snow Note that I did not remove ice and snow after a storm.  Those are going to be a consistent 32 degrees F, so if the air temperature is much colder, the snow actually serves as a blanket.  Just know that it reduces light, so you need to get it off eventually.

That brings me to my last warning on winter gardening.  You’ll find that crops grow much more slowly in the winter.  They also may germinate less well, so you may want to overseed.  (You can always eat the thinnings, as we did from the cold frame shown above.) Still, you’ll find that the plants will take off as soon as the sunlight starts coming back, giving you an early spring harvest that will be the envy of your gardening neighbors. April Bounty

 

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