Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Waste not - Want not...or what to do with seedy things!

I have a little tree in my front yard that produces the most wonderful seed pods...

Actually the pods must be rather tasty or something - because this was a volunteer...dropped here by a birdie or squirrel or some such creature.

Looking at the tree one day I had a light bulb moment...couldn't I make something out of those pods!?

They look quite pretty just sitting in a bowl...

and they look nice all strung together...but they needed a little something more...

Have you ever made this stuff?  You take some old crayons and make some shavings...put them onto a piece of wax paper and cover them with another piece of wax paper.  Now you are going to iron them...first put some paper towels over the whole shebang and while you're at it put them under it too  ( so that you don't mess up your iron or your ironing board..believe me - I know from experience you don't want this mess all over the place! ) and just iron gently until the crayons shavings melt between the two layers of wax paper.   Ta Da you have some gorgeous art work!

I used some of my fall cookie cutters to trace shapes onto the crayon art and then cut them out.  (Do you see that little pumpkin one?  My Honey - grandfather - made that one!)

I used some raffia....

punched some holes....

and tied everything together to make a garland.

It turned out sorta cute!

I imagine that there are lots of different seedy type things that would work for this...and kids get a big kick out of the crayon part of the project.

 A side note...I picked a few of these when they were green thinking they would turn brown, but they dried a beautiful green colour!  If you are wondering this is a silk tree - or Albizia jullibrissin

So, go and find some seeds and get your old crayons and make something.  Let me know what exciting seeds you used!

xoxo       Elizabeth

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Got Squash?

I promised a recipe for Butternut Squash Soup and here it is!  Actually the correct name for this recipe is...Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Wild Rice Soup.

Tatum and Lane prepared this soup for us on our last Monday cooking day.

The kitchen walls were very fallish and when Tatum and Stacy arrived we added our menu for the day.

So here is what you need to gather up for this recipe:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds butternut squash, cut in half, seeds and strings removed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 quarts or 12 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup wild rice (the one we used was a white and wild mix)
  • 3/4 pound kielbasa or other smoked sausage cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of half and half
  • 2 T minced fresh flat leaf parsley
We let our kitchen gnome help with the gathering...

The squash has to be prepared (this is a part of the process that makes you feel so good.....you are taking this funny squash thing and turning it into a delicious meal!)

So you cut the squash in half and Ta Da you find this gorgeous colour awaiting you...

you need to scoop out the little section of seeds - they come our very easily...

next you want to pour a little olive oil in the butternut and rub it into the pulpy part.

By the way - we saved the seeds to plant in the garden...I'll let you know how that turns out ( like if I even get the garden planted or not!?)

The squash gets cooked pulp side down in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until you can easily push a fork through the skin.

It will come out of the oven looking beautiful like this....and...
when it is cool enough to handle - scoop the pulp out with a spoon and put it into the blender.

Add 2 cups of your chicken broth and puree.  I am thinking...that this part could be done ahead and you could have this in the frig waiting for you...or you could  just get the squash part all done...

That is really the most time consuming part of this recipe - after this it's all downhill...

Well, except for chopping your onions - as you can see this can be difficult...

and here's the rest of the recipe:

Bring 4 cups of the stock and 1/2 cup of the chopped onions to a simmer in a medium  saucepan over medium high heat.  Stir in the wild rice.  Return to a simmer, cover, and cook til rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 45 minutes to an hour.  Set this aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 T of oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the sausage and cook just til browned, about 4 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 cups of onions, the corn, salt, and pepper.  Cook, stirring often, til the onions are softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the remaining 6 cups of stock and the squash puree and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the half and half and parsley. 

TA Da --------  Butternut Squash Soup!

 Be sure you get that broth measured just right....
and you should always have a casual approach to your cooking.  Just go ahead and lean back and stir away!

 Enlist a friend to help...
it's much more fun that way!

It is really a beautiful soup - and the flavor and texture is unbelievable...be sure and try it.

After watching the girlies make their soup - I decided to make it for a little dinner party that I had.

I made a centerpiece...

set the table...
 Just a note...I made my soup vegetarian style for this dinner - I left out the sausage and added about 4 good sized cloves of garlic minced, tasted great!

made some French loaves and my own pot of Butternut Squash soup!   Now, mind you...my girlies were gone this weekend ...and I have to say....it is much easier to put on a dinner party when they are here! 

But, I did it (Brian helped me so much by doing a whole lot of chores for me!) and we finished off the evening with fancy coffees and my easy shortbread that you can find here - at the end of the book club blog..

I love making coffee with my Italian coffee maker!  This larger one will make enough for 4 small lattes....
and this Bodum steamer is so easy to use and makes the best foam.
Nothing ends a meal like a home made latte!

I hope you make this wonderful soup - Thanksgiving weekend would be the perfect time....

xoxo    Elizabeth

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What a difference a day.... or 12 makes!

Well we have made our second trip to the Patch...and I have to say it was more Fall-ish out there.  And, the sunflowers were blooming!
Ok - some were still napping a bit....
But...it certainly did look different out there!


Now it's a riot of blooms!

And, the orchard...

Look at it now!

"Sigh..."  I wish I could live in an orchard....or maybe just near one...

The Big pumpkins were out this time...and look what they did with them!

A new pumpkin sculpture...

I was going to give you some wonderful info on this unusual squash, but I looked it up the name and these pics don't match...I will do further research!

and all of these wonderful squashes waiting to be made into soups, or stews, or roasted just nice.  I have the best Butternut Squash Soup recipe ( Well, it's Stacy's recipe actually...) that I am gonna share!

How gorgeous is this!?

What a lot of work goes into making this place as wonderful as it is....and I can't even seem to get my little home garden planted!

We enjoyed the patch with friends...that's the best way - anybody want to go?

And here is my beautiful friend, Annie, getting a smooch from her Sarah...you cannot believe the fun that was made of me for requesting this photo....well worth it - I love this pic!

So that's my little bit of Fall for ya....I am loving this cooler weather.

Now...go and buy a butternut and get ready for my Stacy's recipe!

xoxo     Elizabeth