Monday, October 26, 2009

Enjoying Some of Fall's Benefits

We're soaking in the colors and flavors of fall while we still have the chance. Last week's wind storm knocked many of the leaves off the trees, but still we catch the most glorious displays of vibrant color in the late afternoons as the sun filters through the maple trees in the neighborhood. They seem especially breathtaking after a rain. Driving north along Pioneer Highway and I-5 one recent late afternoon I could hardly keep my eyes on the road for taking in the foothills and snow covered Mt Baker, and whisps of fog hanging over harvested fields. It may not be the best time of day to travel if you are planning to feed your family in a timely fashion, but, oh, is it nice if inspiration is what you're after!

Our taste buds have been active these days too as we have enjoyed our small but delicious harvest. Our clay soil grudgingly gave us beans, peas, cucumbers, butternut squash, a bushel basket's worth of tomatoes and even a dozen or so strawberries! We were tricked into thinking we had a great corn harvest because of the amazingly tall stalks, but they only produced a few full-sized ears. We are about out of everything except swiss chard, which is just now at its peak. How nice to eat fresh produce from our own garden!

We enjoyed a pot of soup made with our own butternut squash the other night. You might like to try it. Here's the recipe:

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

2 T butter
1-1/2 c chopped onions
1 t minced garlic
1-1/2 T curry powder
1 T brown sugar
1 butternut squash (about 2-1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks (6 cups)
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and cut into eights
3 c chicken broth
3/4 to 1 c half and half
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt butter in stockpot over medium heat; add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder and brown sugar.

Add squash, apples and chicken broth to the onions. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree squash mixture until smooth. Transfer back to stockpot, stir in half and half to desired creaminess, and return to a simmer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

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