Nooo …. not November already!!

beets

Where did this year go … and do I say that every year?

This year we have had a stroke of luck with the recent balmy weather.  It has certainly widened the possibilities when it comes to the available produce from our organic farm.  Normally we would be down to root crops – carrots, beets, potatoes and the eternal Black Spanish Radish.  Not that I would complain, mind you, given the tremendous quality and variety of each of those items.  Above, you can behold the symphony of colours on the beet salad we made last week!

With this latest warm spell though, the farm has been offering some amazing produce … tiny perfect baby kale and tat soi, plump Napa cabbages, brilliant parsley, broccoli and the astonishingly fractal Romanesco (or broccoflower to the uninitiated).

broccoflower3

It’s been nice to stretch out the “green” season this year.  Nice, that is, for the cooks – the farmers may have other opinions! I fear it won’t last though … so let’s turn our attention to an excellent fall/winter dessert…

Sweet Potato Pie

Roast whole sweet potatoes in the oven, turning once or twice until just soft – usually an hour to an hour and a half, depending on their size.  Let cool, then peel and measure.

Puree until smooth …

2 c roasted sweet potato (you could also use pumpkin or squash … but sweet potatoes are SO GOOD!)

1 c apple cider

1/2 c brown sugar

1 T lemon juice

1/2 t each of ground cinnamon, ginger and coriander, sea salt

1/4 t each of ground nutmeg and cloves

(I like to push this mixture through a wire strainer, just to make sure it is absolutely silky.  A soup ladle makes a good “pusher.)

Beat well and strain …

3 large eggs

Add the eggs to the sweet potato mix and stir until completely incorporated.

Bake in a fluted pie shell (yes … we buy ours), no top is needed.  This will usually take about 50 minutes on the bottom shelf… the pastry should be fully cooked, and the centre of the pie filling should be just barely solid, not shiny and beginning to puff up a bit.  Serve hot or cold … with or without decadent whipped cream.

Sometimes we bake this filling in a glass pie plate without a crust so our gluten-free friends (as well as our dairy-free friends) can enjoy it.  I think it’s just as nice that way.

Brace yourselves … winter is (probably) coming…

Take care of each other!  ❤

 

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Hello world, too!

Well, Kate is enjoying a couple of well-deserved days off – she is probably at the Hillside Festival right now, as are most right-thinking Guelph people – so I thought I would sneak in a post or two.  I’m susan, kitchen manager here at Loyola House.

Today I spent some time in our kitchen herb garden, something I haven’t done enough of recently.  I dead-headed our chive border, harvested some sage and tried to persuade the mint that it didn’t need to take over all the available space….  I was about to trim back the dill before it seeded itself in inappropriate places when I noticed at least 5 pre-butterflies (sounds more picturesque than caterpillars, n’est pas?).  Looking closer, I saw a sixth one writhing on the ground – which even to an indifferent entomologist such as myself didn’t seem like optimum behaviour.  It must have fallen off and was being attacked by a large red ant.  I bravely fought off the ant – which was fully 1/800th of my size and placed the caterpillar on the highest dill umbel I could find.  If it thrives, we’ll have a naming ceremony on Tuesday (when Kate gets back with her camera) and follow its progress.  I think it must be a black swallowtail.  Time will tell.

I was mainly after mint to make up a large batch of Tabbouleh for Saturday’s supper.  This group of retreatants includes several who are gluten-sensitive, so we make the salad with quinoa instead of couscous. It is tastier and more nutritious, although more expensive.  Tonight I took the extra time to rinse and toast the quinoa before cooking it, curious to see if I could detect a difference in flavour.  I do think it is worth the extra time but for heaven’s sake, no matter what the Joy of Cooking says, 2 cups of liquid to 1 cup of quinoa is TOO MUCH!  It came out gluey and the delicate structure of the grain was lost, alas.  I add really extravagant amounts of well-dried, chopped parsley and mint so that leavened the texture somewhat.  It was darn tasty though and all that chlorophyll is so good for you!  I will try it again next week and append the recipe when I get it just right.

What we did get right tonight was a wonderful batch of cookies for the gluten and dairy-free diets.  Try them, you will not believe the texture!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Mix until smooth….

2 cups smooth peanut butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar … ok, we use organic cane sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

(optional, 1 teaspoon ground ginger)

Shape into balls of about 1 heaping tablespoon each and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Flatten cookies with a fork – dip fork in coarse sugar in between so it doesn’t stick.

Bake at 350 F for 10 – 12 minutes or until puffed, golden and beginning to brown around the edges.  Cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes before attempting to move them.  Hide them well if you want any left tomorrow!