Butternut Squash Galette

We have been getting butternut squash in our CSA share every week, and I’ve found a delicious new way to use it: this great recipe from Epicurious!

Butternut Squash Galette

I substituted onions for the shallots, and used cheese I had on hand, keeping the proportions of the recipe. I didn’t use their crust recipe because I had some pie dough already prepared in the freezer. Garnish with a little julienned sage, and Voilà! Doesn’t it look delicious? It tasted AMAZING.

Recipe on Epicurious.com

4 Food Rules: the Only Ones I Need

Eating healthfully, mindfully, and sustainably isn’t easy, but I’ve found that a few easy-to-remember mantras can really help my motivation.

  1. Stop eating when you are 75% full.
  2. If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.
  3. If a food can go bad, it’s good for you. If it can’t go bad, then, well…you’ve got to use your judgement. Refer to rule #2 (we like to eat our own home-preserved foods–beers, salsas, jams, pickles and charcuterie–to supplement our diet in the winter, but we avoid shelf-stable commercial food).
  4. Moderation and balance in all things!

Credit where credit is due: I owe #1 and #2 to two fabulous food books: The Okinawa Program and Michael Pollan’s Food Rules.

Best, Most Authentic Sangría Recipe Ever!

I often make sangría for summer parties and this recipe is always a hit with guests. It’s based on a recipe my cousin Allison got from her host mother when she studied abroad in Spain. I added sugar because I like mine with a touch of sweetness…but the sugar is optional, really.

Ingredients

1 gallon jug of dry red wine, chilled
1/2 gallon juice, chilled (I use a juice medley like orange mango banana)
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup triple sec
1 cup brandy
2 cups lemon lime soda, chilled
4 oranges, sliced, divided
4 lemons, sliced, divided

Directions

Put the cinnamon sticks and sugar in a small saucepan. Add enough water to cover by a few inches. Bring the cinnamon sticks and water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for ten minutes or until the sugar dissolves.

Pour the wine, juice, triple sec and brandy into a large container (cylindrical drink coolers work well). Add the cinnamon stick/sugar mixture and half the fruit slices and stir. Place in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

Add the lemon lime soda right before you are ready to serve the sangría. Pour over ice and garnish with remaining fruit slices.

Tip: The sangría tastes best chilled, so I sometimes freeze the juice into ice cubes before I add it.

Variations

White Peach Sangría: Use dry white wine; substitute orange peach juice for the juice medley; peel and chop peaches instead of oranges and lemons for the garnish.

Sugar-free Sangría: Use diet lemon lime soda and substitute Splenda for the sugar (don’t boil the Splenda with the cinnamon sticks, just add it with the other ingredients to the container).

Homemade Yogurt

In keeping with my New Year’s resolution to reduce our reliance on packaged consumer foods, I’ve been doing yogurt at home. Yogurt is super easy to make–and very rewarding. The process is pretty straightforward: you put a quart of milk (whole works best) into a good heavy pan. Then slowly bring the milk up to 180F, stirring to prevent a skin from forming.

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When the milk is hot enough, turn off the burner and let it cool to 115F–again, stirring periodically to prevent a skin from forming. Then stir 1/2 cup of high-quality plain yogurt (I like Stonyfield Farm to start, but once you make yogurt at home you can use the previous batch to culture the next one, kind of like sourdough starter) into the milk and cover. The only challenging part is keeping the milk at 115F for 6-8 hours so that the yogurt cultures can do their work. My solution is to keep a few inches of water simmering in a big stock pot and place the other pot on top of it. I usually make yogurt before I go to bed and let it culture overnight.

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The finished product is great for recipes (tzatziki, anyone?) or for snacking, topped with honey and a few fresh berries.

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No More Ziplocs: snackTaxi for Green Food Transport

I bring my lunch to work every day, plus two snacks. It drives me nuts to grab a plastic bag from the box only to toss it hours later. Not very green, and a money-waster as well. And I won’t even go into the BPA-leaching properties of plastics (when an organization as slow-moving as the FDA expresses concern, you know you’ve got a problem on your hands).

snack taxi reusable bags

Enter snackTaxi. They can be forgiven for their trendy camel case name because their products are pretty cool–fabric bags that you can wash and re-use, made in a home-based workshop by local sewers.

SnackTaxi’s founders noticed that there was a steady stream of Ziplocs flowing from their home into the landfills and saw an opportunity. Their website says, “We are committed to keeping our business local, and will never outsource our labor.” I love when people, planet and profit come together in one entrepreneurial venture. Thanks to my awesome co-worker Chris who turned me on to them.

Clementines, Chocolate, and a Heck of a Good Story

My dad and I were getting on the lift at Mount Sunapee last week, when someone from the singles line asked if he could ride up with us. Of course we said, “Yes, please!” I love riding up with strangers and getting to hear their stories.

About halfway up, our liftmate pulled a small, red cardboard box from his pocket. Nestled inside the paper towel lining were about a dozen chocolate-covered clementine sections, clearly hand-dipped. While my dad and I munched away, he told us his story.

A retired pastry chef, he was now a full-time ski bum (it was only mid-February and he’d already logged 36 days of skiing on the season). He proudly told us that he was “a bit of a legend around the mountain”. Not surprising given his stats: 15 years of making about 100 chocolates per night, which he shares with lucky skiers (he told us he only offers his chocolates to nice people. Score!). He even let me snap his picture with my phone (click photo to enlarge):

clementines at Mount Sunapee

We were about offload at the top when I asked him his name. “They call me Clem….” he said, his voice trailing away until he was gone.

Corn Tortillas From Scratch!

In an attempt to cut down on the number of consumer-packaged food products I buy, I recently tried my hand at making corn tortillas from scratch. The results were amazing! See below (click on images to enlarge).