Giving Thanks, Pie

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Giving thanks. This year I have a wealth to give thanks for, so much so that ‘thanks’ seems a mild word. Thanks, blessings, gratitude, gratefulness – ball them all together, and the Pangaea like word that forms might begin to honor how I feel. I  visualize my blessing, a dictionaryesque tome, perched on a podium where it’s always open revealing a letter at random; R, R is for rain, radishes, Red Tailed Hawks, Robin O’Brien, romaine, roses, row cover…. From April to zucchini, the expanse of this year’s blessings, and all chapters of gratitude before, keep me in constant grace towards life. They make even the hard days of labor and loss be ones that hold great depths of thanks.

Somewhere in that tome is T for Thanksgiving and definitely P for PIE!
A pumpkin by any other name would taste as sweet, but the Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin indeed holds quite a charming and delectable name for which it is well deserving. For me, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin has become a staple. It will be one of those varieties that I grow year after year, not even curious of the other pie pumpkin varieties out there. This round netted squash has much in which to give thanks and at the Thanksgiving table represents a quintessential pillar of our feasting favorites: PIE! When Thanksgiving comes around there are many things I’m thankful for, a belly full of festive food, a table at capicity, joy bursting at the buttons and just when you think you’re too full, life’s just too good and you couldn’t possibly have more, there’s pie! Making your own pumpkin pie truly can’t be beat! F is for flaky crust, J is for Just one more piece and E if for ENJOY!

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Most Excellent Squash Pie –                                                                                                                              Recipe adapted from The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love , by Kristin Kimball

**Makes two pies** IMG_0327

Ingredients:

Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup cold butter

1/3 very cold water. I put the 1/3 cup cold water in a dish and add ice cubes to cool further.

Filling

2 1/2 pounds Winter Luxury Pumpkin or other winter squash cooked. I use a 6lb pumpkin for two pies.

1 1/2 heavy cream

3 eggs

3/4 sugar

1 tsp cinnamon, powdered ginger and cardamom (optional)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg and salt

1/8 tsp cloves

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                               2. Wash outside of pumpkin and cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place on baking sheet cut side down with a little bit of water. Bake for an hour or until very soft. The beauty of this pumpkin is that the skin very easily peals aways from the flesh!                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. While pumpkin is baking prepare crust. I always make mine in a food processor so it doesn’t get over worked. I add the flour and salt and buzz to combine. I then cut up the cold butter into little pieces and place in the processor with the flour. I just pulse it a few time and slowly pour in some cold water until the ingredients start to bind. I pour it out onto a cutting board and ball it up tight. Don’t over work the dough or make get is warm by handling it too much! If you feel like it’s getting warm you can put it in the fridge for a little bit. Divide into two equal ball and roll then each out and place in a buttered 9-inch pie plate. Chill for 30 minutes.                                                                                                            4. Placed cooked pumpkin in a bowl, add all filling ingredients and mix with a spoon. This filling always comes out beautifully smooth and creamy. You can use a blender if you like, but I have never had to. Jut a wooden spoon does the trick!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5. Fill pie crusts with fill and bake at 375 degrees until center is set, about 40 minutes.

V is for Voila!

Y is for YUM!!

H is for a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!!!

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GIVE THANKS!

GIVE THANKS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vaoie

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Beet Love

This Valentine’s Day I was a red and pink doily framed heart. It may be a ‘Hallmark’ holiday, but it’s all about love folks! I’ve always embraced it, ooy-gooie with X and O sap on top. I had the day off, thank goodness, could you imagine getting called in to be the substitute teacher for a class on Valentine’s Day? Uncontrollable candy highs, fruit punch died lips, a sea of Justin Bieber  valentine card crush confessions, a student nervously waiting for something special from someone special-ok, maybe it would have been a blast. See, I’m truly a sucker for the spirit of it all, however corporate.

It may surprise you, but I managed to celebrate in fine fashion just fine all by myself. With a sparkling kitchen to undo, I had a party of uncontrollable joy, died lips of chocolate cake batter,  happily baking something special for special someones, in a Bieber free zone.  On the menu, Cholcolate Beet Cake. The girls of Green Fire Farm came across this recipe in Farmer John’s Cookbook. It become a farm favorite for birthdays and potlucks. There is something magically earthy in this blend of rich chocolate and ruby red beet. Sexy, dreamy, aphrodisiacal also seem to be highly appropriate adjectives. Not for the faint of heart, a cake fit for a Saint.

Enjoy and share with LOVE –IMG_0436

Chocolate Beet Cake

Ingredients-

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 cups or mor pureed cooked beets (about three medium beets)

1 Tbsp vanilla extractIMG_0437

2 cups flour ( I like to use half white, half wheat)

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

powdered sugar for top

** If you’re feeling spicy, the farm girls and I have added hot chili flakes to this recipe with yummy success!!

Directions –

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat pan or 10 cup bunt, with oil and dust with flour.

2. Wash and top beets. Cut into pieces for faster cooking. I like to steam my beets so that color and flavor don’t leach out, you can also boil if you like. Cook beets until they are soft enough to puree in a blender or food processor.

3. Use double boiler to melt chocolate. I simply use a metal bowl over a pot. Fill pot with water and bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Put chocolate and 1/4 cup oil in top metal bowl. Heat until chocolate melts.

4. Combine eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat until fluffy. Slowly beat in remaining 3/4 cup oil, melted chocolate, pureed beets and vanilla.

5. Mix in a large bowl flour, baking soda and salt. Gently combine with chocolate beet mixture. Pour batter into pan and lick spoon!

6. Bake until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 45-30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes to cool. Dust with powered sugar and enjoy with the ones you love.

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What goes around comes around, and the love that I had cultivated boomeranged right on back. For Valentine’s dinner Jonathan took me to the infamous Madeline’s Cafe in Dunsmuir. We shared a beautiful bottle of 2010 Green Fire Farm Cabernet Sauvignon and an exquisite four course meal! It was one of those meals that leaves you completely aglow, a taste bud party, culminating in utter digestion relaxation. And in the aura of our happiness, the waiter informed us that an anonymous couple thought we were ‘so sweet’ and had picked up our tab. WHAT!? What an unbelievably dear act. Ah, the love circle still spins, watch out, maybe you’re next?

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