Original Recipe: Carrot-Squash Curry Soup

I know it’s not fall yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start making butternut squash EVERYTHING. This past week I’ve pulled up a ton of carrots and while I love eating them raw, I wanted to get a little more creative. Soooo I made this soup! Since I have a terrible tendency to throw things together without measuring, I’ve done my very best to estimate the quantities for you. You may want to adjust the spices and heat to your liking, as well. Enjoy!

The final product!

The final product!

Carrot-Squash Curry Soup
Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small apple, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can organic butternut squash puree (or 1 whole squash, cubed)
1 cup plain almond milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute onion 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, steam carrots and apples until soft. Add carrots/apples to onions along with the curry powder, coriander, ginger, and cayenne pepper. Stir well to coat. Add in butternut squash and almond milk. (Note: if you like your soup thinner, you can also add a cup of veggie broth or water at this point. Personally, I’m a thicker soup kind of gal.) Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender, break up carrot/apple chunks. (If you don’t have one, just pour the soup into a blender and puree until smooth, then return to the pot.) Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the peanut butter and add salt & pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Trading and bartering for food – a lost practice??

I’ve always found great merit in the trade-and-barter system of old. In my opinion, money only serves as a means to an end. You don’t need money, you just need it to buy things. Everything. It has no real value. I understand its pragmatic use in modern society, mind you, but I don’t necessarily feel it’s appropriate in all cases. One such case is when it comes to food. Not until I moved to the country did I really start to get a feel for this. Neighbors would bring us huge bags of squash, okra, lettuce, or whatever else they had in surplus. Once we began raising chickens, we started giving them fresh eggs. Since they don’t raise chickens, it was a welcome trade for them! I really got to liking this system and now try to perpetuate it as much as possible.

There is a kindly older lady that lives next door. While she remains fairly independent, it’s to be expected that she’ll have difficulty with certain tasks. My husband started cutting her grass for her, particularly on very hot days where her sweet little sun hat might not cut it. She just so happens to have two enormous blueberry bushes, from which she graciously allows me to pick whenever I want. She doesn’t spray her bushes, so I know I am getting 100% fresh, organic berries, which are hard to find (and/or expensive). While she expects nothing in return, I always make sure to give her something. Whether it’s eggs, or seasonal homegrown produce like figs, cucumbers, or melons, she is so appreciative of that gesture.

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So many blueberries!

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A small segment of the prolific bushes next door!

 

 

 

Recently, a woman I play soccer with offered to bring me some of her squash, cucumbers, and jalapenos. Who was I to refuse? I happily came home from my game last week with a bag full of fresh produce. This week, she’s supposed to give me tomatoes. This is perfect, because mine aren’t ready yet. In exchange, what is she getting? Some of those amazing blueberries! See — I’m paying it forward!

You can save money this way, too. Not only are you avoiding having to buy such things at the store, you are giving AND getting back! You could almost make a club out of it — each person grows certain things, and then you trade for what your friends have. It’s kind of like having your own personal co-op. Everyone wins! Not sure how to start? Spy on your neighbors and see what they’re growing (in a legal way, of course!). Then, offer to trade them for something you’ve grown……or even trade for a service! Maybe the older gentleman next door grows tomatoes and also seems to need help with gardening. I’d bet he would be more than happy to give you some of those ‘maters if you pull some weeds for him. You never know.

Swap with everyone you know, and help me bring back the trade-and-barter movement!

Semi-original recipe: Peach & Plum Cobbler

Why semi-original, you ask? Because I modified an existing recipe to make it vegan. I also used plums instead of the original blueberries, since I had some plums off of our tree out front! (This was exciting, as the tree hadn’t borne in years!) The peaches came from the local farmers’ market. Feel free to experiment with other fruits, depending on what’s in season and what you have available. I think this would be tasty with just about anything!  I made this for breakfast, but it would easily make a great dessert, too! 

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Peach & Plum Cobbler

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp coconut oil

3 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup almond or soy milk

1/2 cup organic sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced

1 cup plums, pitted and chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Place both oils in your baking dish (an iron skillet works great here, otherwise you can use a 9×11) and heat in the oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add milk, sugar, and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the melted oils to the batter and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the hot baking dish. Evenly spread the fruit over the top of the batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until batter is completely set. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

I don’t think I need to tell you that this won’t last long in your house.  Nutritionally, it’s quite decent….beats the heck out of an artery-clogging fruit pastry or doughnut! 

Per serving: 180 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 26 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g fiber. 

Strawberry season: so short, but so sweet!!

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A delightful concoction of strawberries, agave nectar, lime juice, and silver tequila. Que bueno!

 

Strawberry season in Virginia lasts all of about six weeks. In the past, I would always get my fix by going to pick a few batches at a local berry farm. This year was different, since the backyard crop I planted last spring has just EXPLODED over these past few weeks. I have been picking big bowls of berries on a daily basis. This is great, of course, but then the question arises: what to do with all of this? Fresh strawberries don’t last long, so I knew I had to get creative.

So far, I have dehydrated them, frozen them, and given some away. I’ve made strawberry cupcakes, jam, and smoothies. I’ve put them on salads and made margaritas (the best I’ve ever had, incidentally!). My husband made a fantastic strawberry shortcake the other night. We even fed some to our chickens to see how they liked them (quite well, actually).

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I even pureed some strawberries into the icing!

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Spinach, strawberry, and toasted pecan salad with vidalia onion dressing. 100% vegan and 100% awesome!

Never before have I had to find so many ways to prepare one single type of food! I’m glad I did, though, because it’s taught me how to enjoy my favorite fruit in so many different ways. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick more strawberries.

Spring time means fresh veggies!

Apple. The fruit and flowers.Here in Virginia, the weather is a fickle thing. After lots of back-and-forth between snow, rain, warm, and cold, it seems spring is here to stay. Hurray! That means time to start the vegetable garden! Growing your own food is much easier than you think, whether you’re limited to containers on a patio or have many acres. The vegetables you grow are tastier, healthier, and best of all, you enjoy the rewarding feeling that comes with knowing you have provided food for your family — no supermarket needed!

My husband made us some raised beds, which I HIGHLY recommend, especially if the soil quality isn’t great where you live. You can fill in the beds with compost, vermiculite, and other rich materials to give your seeds a great start. Plus, it cuts down on weeding. It’s a win-win!

Soon, my little "baby basils" will be ready for transplanting!

Soon, my little “baby basils” will be ready for transplanting!

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What are you growing this year?
So far, I have planted dill, chives, strawberries, potatoes, kale, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, turnips, onions and garlic.
This weekend I will be planting squash and cilantro. I will be posting pictures of the veggies' progress as well as harvesting when the time comes, so stay tuned!!