Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All of last week was insane. One night home, I believe. I'm teaching a class at night, so is Will, plus soccer one night.  This week has been close to the same already.  Will made eggs for the kids one night--his one dinner specialty.  One night Kira and I had tomato soup and grilled cheese.  Not much going on weekdays in this kitchen!

So over the weekend I felt I needed to get some good cooking going in the kitchen.  I love the Fall harvest foods from the CSA, and really wanted to showcase them.  Plus Will's brother George had come up to do some pike fishing, and he appreciates a good meal too!

I still had fresh spinach from the last CSA, plus a new bag, so I decided to make Creamed Spinach.  Back when we lived in CT, Will and I used to love to get it from Boston Market.  But really, those kinds of things taste good for the first few bites, then not so much.  A few years ago I had made a recipe for Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd try to remember it.  I also had a lot of leeks, so that had to go in whatever I was preparing.  I chopped them up for both the spinach, and decided to make a Pumpkin Black Bean Soup with leeks also.  And while I was at it, why not a pumpkin dessert?  Only downer was realizing that I only had enough fresh pumpkin for one, so the dessert was actually made with canned.

Anyway, what's better than fresh leeks?  I love to cook them in place of onion in anything I make.  Cooking Light had this to share: "Leeks were cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, mentioned in the Holy Bible, used by the Romans, and even spoken of by Shakespeare in Henry V. Introduced into Great Britain in the Middle Ages, leeks became the national vegetable' of Wales after Welsh warriors affixed the plant to their helmets to distinguish themselves from their enemy, and beat the Saxons in battle."

Cool, huh?

While I was cooking, Kira needed something to eat, so we made some homemade smoothies. She's been stuck on drinking Odwalla juices at $3+ a pop, so I decided we'd start making our own. We puree french vanilla Stonyfield farm yogurt, white grape juice, and frozen mixed berries. She's loves it. Healthy, organic, and some protein too.
Earlier in the day, we were driving back from Wells (where I go to get my hair done), and decided to stop in at this dairy farm we've driven by every time.  They have a sign out for cheese, so I was curious.  Plus, once we got to see their cows cross under the road through a tunnel and it was soooo cool!
The cows cross where the road bends!
When we went into the barn, a farm cat ran in behind us. I wish I had brought my camera in to take his picture, he was so funny!  It was self-serve, so when we opened the fridge, he jumped in! They had samples, and it was delicious. 

Expensive, but worth it.  It is a traditional Swiss Raclette cheese.  Kira turned it into a Halloween Raclette while we were cooking and snacking on it.

For the soup, sauteed a garlic clove and the leeks, added my favorite Pacific vegetable broth, then pureed roasted pumpkin until smooth.  Add in two cans of black beans, a can of coconut milk, some fresh parsley, salt & pepper, and you're good to go!  I didn't have limes, or I would have put some juice in too. I'm not sure you really know it's pumpkin in there, but it gives you a really different take on the traditional black bean.  And I'm telling you, it's the leeks that make all the difference!  Here's sort of the recipe here and a good vegan looking one here.

The other half of the garlic and leeks I had chopped went into the sautee pan for the creamed spinach.  I added some butter, then wilted the spinach.  Add a bit of Organic Valley half and half, and a bar of Organic Valley cream cheese, let it all melt, and threw in thawed artichoke quarters from the freezer.  Do you know they really taste different frozen as compared to out of the can?  Next time I'll chop them first, but it was a great combination!
While we were cooking, Kira actually said she would try it.  "When I help cook, I know exactly what's in it, so I'm more willing to try it."  Exactly the idea!   Would you believe she's the one who requested the pumpkin black bean soup?

And the finishing touch--the dessert.  If you've never had bread pudding, you're totally missing out.  My mom always made it at my father's request, so of course I invited him over to try it with the pumpkin. It was a big hit, especially with the caramel sauce and homemade whipped cream!

Tomorrow I'm heading out with the kids on a field trip to visit the Heifer International learning center in Massachusetts.   I'm really curious to check it out! I'll keep you posted.

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