There are a lot of things I just make. There is no recipe, there’s nothing I look to, it’s just in my head. But today friends asked me to write down how I make my roasted squash soup.
So how did squash soup happen? Two weeks in a row I have gotten squash in my vegetable box. So squash soup popped into my head since it was a comparatively cool day (finally) to be in the kitchen. I decided small fresh sweet potatoes would be added to thicken it up and bone broth made in the InstantPot. Lots of fresh herbs from garden for the broth. When broth is ready and vegetables are cooled from roasting, into another pot it all goes to cook and purée with hand (immersion) blender.
So basically I lined a half sheet pan (18” x 13”) with foil, cut up all my hard sided squashes, baby sweet potatoes, and a couple of chili peppers from the garden, and sprinkled a little olive oil , some tikka masala powder, hawayij spice blend, and salt. I roast everything in a 425° oven for about 40 minutes. Then I turned the oven off and just left the vegetables in there with the door closed until everything cooled down.
Now for the broth part. I keep a Ziploc bag in my freezer where I put the gizzards and necks from whole chickens I buy to roast. I keep those in a bag in the freezer when I want to make broth. Sometimes I even save a chicken carcass after cooking (and freeze it) but that’s not what I used this time. This time I had a bag full of liver, gizzards and chicken necks. Literally like six sets. I used my small InstantPot which makes 3 quarts of broth.
How do I make the broth besides the chicken parts? One onion cut in 4, a couple of carrots cleaned and chunked, salt, rosemary/thyme/sage from the garden. I add water, leaving approximately 2 inches clearance from the top of the InstantPot liner pot. I hit the broth button and let it cook.
After both the vegetables are roasted and the broth is cooked I let everything cool down so I can proceed to the next step. The next step is easy: I take all the squash and scoop out everything from the skin of each piece and put it into a soup pot with the roasted baby sweet potatoes, the carrots used to make the broth, and 6 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. I give everything a mash with a hand potato masher, and add the strained broth and cook on low for a couple of hours. Then I use the immersion blender and purée everything together. At that point I put it on simmer and let it cook down a little more.
Oh and this soup does not require a dairy component. It’s good just the way it is!
These are among the things that I missed during COVID19 and I was so happy to be there on such a pretty day! We had company in from out of town and we wanted to show her the market.
The West Chester Growers Market is the original producer only market in Chester County. Outside Saturdays 9AM – 1PM . May through December with some other limited hours in the off season. Always on the corner of North Church and West Chestnut Streets in downtown West Chester, PA.
Well I hope my happy hater from the other day isn’t too distressed by Bolognese sauce. Hope she doesn’t find a red sauce too angry….but I digress. (I do that sometimes )
A true Bolognese sauce does take time to create. But it is one of the most delicious sauces you can put over pasta… ever. I shared Bolognese sauce before, but I am sharing this again because I change my recipe slightly sometimes.
I started my sauce first thing this morning. And that’s something that creates a memory smell for me for lack of a better description. When my father’s mother (Grandmom) used to babysit us when we were younger, and even when we were in high school she used to make her sauce first thing in the morning. (And no, this sauce is not her recipe it’s my recipe I never recall her making a true Bolognese.)
First you would smell the smell of a fresh pot of coffee (she would make it in one of those stovetop blue cornflower Corningware coffee pots). Then wafting up behind the fresh perked coffee aroma, was the smell of sautéing garlic and onion in her big sauce pot. She gave my mother that saucepot eventually, and I think my mother still uses it. It was hammered aluminum so it wasn’t like Farberware. To me those are the smells of home.
We are trying to empty out a chest freezer in the basement and I came across three 1 pound packages of ground meat. I usually use about three pounds of ground meat when I make a Bolognese.
Here are the ingredients:
THREE 1 pound packages of pork, veal, lamb, or beef. I’ll use whatever I happen to have handy.
TWO Onions. Chopped. 1 big sweet onion, 1 red onion.
SIX cloves garlic, minced. We like to keep the vampires away in my house.
DASH nutmeg or cinnamon- My late father always did it , so I do it.
Kosher salt to taste, ground pepper after you add the tomatoes.
TWO Bay leaves.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
ONE cup whole milk
ONE cup red wine or 2/3 cup red wine vinegar.
TWO cans crushed tomatoes – 28 ounce.
ONE 6 ounce can tomato paste
BIG bunch fresh basil and oregano from garden.
GOOD pasta and grated cheese.
I will start with I chopped up two onions and threw into my pan (I use one of my larger vintage Dansk touch ovens) with extra-virgin olive oil and some kosher salt.
After the onions started to get that translucent look, I added the three one pound packages of ground meat. Today I am cooking with ground pork and ground lamb which is one of my favorite combinations for a truly flavorful sauce. I added a little more salt and a couple of dashes of nutmeg.
After allowing that to cook for about 20 minutes I added 2/3 of a cup of red wine vinegar. I let that cook off and cook down for another 25 minutes approximately, and then I added one cup of whole milk. I then allowed the milk solids and everything to cook off slightly which was almost half an hour.
As I am doing the meat and the onion I do stir occasionally so nothing has the chance to stick to the bottom.
Next I add my tomato paste and stir it into the meat mixture.
Then I add the cans of crushed tomatoes one at a time. I stir thoroughly after each time. Now I add some fresh ground pepper and a big bunch of just roughly torn up basil and oregano from my garden.
My kitchen smells amazing. I don’t care if it’s July a good Bolognese sauce is perfect all year round. And I like making it in the summer because I can use all my fresh herbs.
Now the pot is on simmer and I will just let it go on simmer for a good couple of hours. Then I will turn it off. It will take a few hours for the sauce to completely cool down. At that point I will skim off any fat that rises to the top from the meat.
Then around dinner time I will slowly bring this sauce up to temperature again and serve with a good pasta, grated cheese, and a big green salad.
Good pasta does make a difference even with dry pasta. Today I am going Delco. Springfield Pasta and Mangia Famiglia grated cheese. (Mangia Famiglia is also one of my favorite sources for Italian sausage.)
A true Bolognese sauce is some thing that is truly amazing. and even in the summer it’s a great family meal option. And don’t be afraid to load up the fresh herbs. I forgot to mention I will finish this with some fresh flat leaf Italian parsley on top.
Thanksgiving in our house is going to be smaller and much simpler than years past. I didn’t get to all the little ceramic turkeys to put on the table this year so the table just has the simple candlesticks and some greens in a vase￼￼. I still think it’ll look pretty.
My order arrived today from Harman’s Cheese in New Hampshire￼￼. I love my imported cheese, but for Thanksgiving especially it’s American made cheeses. Tomorrow for nibbles before our little feast, I will put out Harman’s cheddar with crackers with a Balsamic Onion Jam. The rest of the cheese will take us through the holiday season and well into the winter.
The table is mostly vintage. Pewter napkin rings I got years ago. No one likes pewter much anymore so I literally picked these up super inexpensively.
The napkins came from The Smithfield Barn. They are of a newer vintage from Ralph Lauren.
The plates are Steubenville Adam Antique from the 1930s. I bought them for our first Thanksgiving in this house. They came from Frazer Antiques. I remember they were on sale. I have looked for years since at these plates here and there, and never been able to even come close to the deal I got that day.
The placemats are vintage Pimpernal. They belonged to one of my dearest friend’s mothers.
We are having a simple menu. Yams, green salad with a simple vinaigrette, stuffing done outside the bird, homemade cranberry sauce, and the turkey. The turkey is from Loag’s Corner Turkey Farm in Elverson and was delivered by Doorstep Dairy. Doorstep Dairy is our milk delivery service and more. We have been a customer for a few years. They are terrific!
If you are local, Loag’s turkeys can also be purchased through local butcher shops like Worrell’s Butcher Shop in Malvern Borough. We also are big fans of Worrell’s!
I didn’t mention dessert. That I am actually not baking. Someone gave us a cheesecake. Not our normal Thanksgiving dessert, but my husband loves cheesecake!
My last piece of the puzzle is a vintage turkey platter. Also from the Smithfield Barn a few years ago. American made, true vintage, and I love it.
Holidays are about traditions. Thanksgiving is about the classics: turkey, friends, family.
Here is a poem from Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.
Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
And conquers if we let it.
There’s not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.
Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.
We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.
I don’t know if I will write again between now and Thursday, so Happy Thanksgiving!
First of all a shout out to Great Jones cookware! I am a really happy customer and bought three of their pots/pans. The one above is called “Saucy“.￼￼ this is the pot I chose to make my cranberry sauce in this year. I will also note that I am not a compensated blogger, I am just telling you about certain things because I use them, buy them, like them.￼
Thanksgiving is going to be a little more simple for us because I am waiting on another knee surgery so I am limited in what I can do and should do. So today I made the cranberry sauce and Wednesday I will make the stuffing and the sweet potatoes and then all we will have to do is heat those up. (Yes,I am not doing the stuffing in the bird for the first time ever￼￼￼￼.)
Cranberry sauce is not hard to make. And basically it’s one bag of fresh cranberries, one cup of sugar, 2 cups of liquid. Today I used orange juice, and I forgot to add the orange zest although I had an orange waiting in the refrigerator￼. I also added cinnamon and ground mace to taste.￼
I brought the mixture to a gentle boil on low heat with a lid on the pot. If you don’t have a lid on your pot or a splatter screen your cranberry sauce will end up all over your stove! ￼￼ I will note that I did have a little lift to the edge of the pot so steam was able to escape. I have these little silicone things called lid rests which are made for this.￼
I did stir occasionally as the berries were cooking so nothing stuck to the pan￼.
When my mixture was brought to a boil I used my potato masher to mush the cranberries. I then added two little packets of Knox unflavored gelatin, and stirred and stirred until dissolved and incorporated into the sauce. I like my cranberry sauce to be a little bit jellied so that’s why I do this. However, I am not a fan of canned cranberry sauce.
I put my cranberry sauce into three jars, and when it cools I will tighten the lids and refrigerate. I do not do a canning water bath on these– I just cook and jar and refrigerate.￼
These three jars will take me through the holiday season. Thanks for stopping by!
I made this yesterday and everyone keeps asking for the recipe. There isn’t one per se but here’s how it evolved:
2 lbs of ground sausage sautéed in olive oil with 2 sweet onions, 6 mild/medium chili peppers, 2 long hot peppers, 5 cloves garlic minced, 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes from the garden halved, sea salt to taste.
Next I added a huge handful each of fresh basil and oregano from the garden and a 10 ounce package of fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms chopped up.
Cook on medium low and stir a lot until sausage is cooked through.
Add two cans (28 ounce) of canned tomatoes- what I had on hand was crushed, add 1 small can of tomato paste (6 ounce size), and a good dash of red wine or red wine or balsamic vinegar.
Reduce heat and allow to burble on the stove, stirring frequently for at least another hour. Adjust for salt and pepper if needed. I didn’t find it needed it.
This is the kind of sauce that if I had fresh eggplant, that would have been peeled and chopped up and added as well.
It’s not complicated and it’s easy to make your own homemade sauce. The chili peppers came out of the garden as well and the end result was a flavorful but NOT a spicy sauce. It just tastes fresh. It will be dinner later this week over spaghetti or some shape pasta. Serve with a salad and you are good to go.
Yesterday since it was rainy, I decided to make chili. I was thinking about this chili that someone who was the father of a girl I knew growing up made. It had corn in it. I remember having it on a rainy August night in Avalon when I was in about 6th grade. These people used to rent this house that looked like a red Victorian farmhouse. It had a big, dark kitchen with a rickety wooden table.
So yesterday I decided to make my own summer chili. The ingredients:
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground lean turkey
4 chili peppers all chopped up (my were Hatch red and green that I grew myself)
2 red bell peppers chopped up
2 jalapeño peppers chopped up
2 red onions chopped up
1 small bag frozen corn (plain, no “sauce”) or fresh kernels off of 4 ears of fresh corn.
1 lime zested and juice of same zested lime
A good handful of cilantro chopped
A handful of basil and oregano chopped
4 garlic clothes minced
2 large carrots grated,
1 28 ounce can of tomato purée
1 28 ounce can of strained crushed tomatoes,
3 15 ounce cans of white beans – Cannellini ,Navy, Great Northern. ( I used 1 can of each type)
1 15 ounce can red beans (Kidney or even Pinto)
And lots of chili powder and salt and pepper to taste.
First I sautéed the garlic and onion a few minutes in olive oil. Then I added the peppers (all of them) and cooked everything down a few minutes more. Then I added the carrots, ground pork, ground turkey and some salt. As the pork and turkey started to look cooked through I added the beans, and cooked that all together for a few minutes, then added the chili powder (I have no idea how much I added, I kept dumping). After that I added the tomatoes, the zested lime and juice of one lemon followed by the fresh herbs and the last ingredient: the small bag of frozen corn.
I then bought my pot to a simmer and it just simmered low and slow for probably a couple of hours. I stirred every half hour or so, and remarkably nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan.
I can tell you that my husband and son ate SO much of the chili that there was only two 1 quart bags for freezing and 1 quart container left over. I made this chili in my 8 quart Great Jones “Big Deal” pot, and it was 2/3 full as you can see from photo at bottom. As a related aside, I absolutely LOVE this pot and highly recommend the Great Jones company.
Looks inviting doesn’t it? That is because it is!!!
So what are you doing tomorrow Sunday, August 11 between 12 noon and 6 PM?
You should be going to Glenmoore PA. Just put 1941 Creek Road Glenmoore PA into your GPS or maps program and go! Trust me, it’s a beautiful drive into the country and you will be glad you did! I sure am!
Today I had my BEST score in a long time! Cool vintage dairy sign from the Vintage & Vine Preview POP-up at Glenmoore Deli (1941 Creek Rd Glenmoore PA)
This new venture being introduced to us by two of my pals Kristin Smith and Christie Keith is something you don’t want to miss!
Seriously? Go tomorrow! If you’re going to church you can go after church. It’s a nice weekend and here is the menu:
This burger was fresh and AMAZING!
Salad with fresh mozzarella and a balsamic glaze.
Old-fashioned fair lemon 💗
All of the food is locally sourced when possible (obviously we don’t have any citrus groves in Chester County) and is super fresh! Amazing produce and some was for sale in the store as well.
iThe eclectic mix of vintage, antique and more modern treasures was so much fun! Including to my surprise a fabulous jewelry line out of Washington DC created by a woman born and raise in Chester County! Yes, Diament Jewelry by Libby Diament.
Libby has a store in Washington, DC and started making her jewelry while living and working in NYC. Libby travels around the country hunting for vintage parts and jewelry that can be brought back to life. It’s sort of like finding treasure!
Diament Jewelry has been worn by celebrities including: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Elle Fanning, Cher Lloyd, Rachel Bilson, Giada de Laurentiis, and Meredith Vieira.
Bar earrings from Diament Jewelry
I had been looking for a pair of bar earrings for a couple of years. But I didn’t want ones that look like everyone else’s. So I was super psyched to discover the ladies had Diament Jewelry in their pop-up today. I also bought a pair of small studs that look like glittery slices of quartz or fools gold. As I get older I like wearing study earrings more than I have in a long time and there’s a nice variety for sale along with some adorable dangle earrings like a pair of wishbones! There are also in a locked case some of Diament’s lovely ethereal necklaces.
To check out more on Diament Jewelry visit their website or better yet read the article Forbes Magazine wrote about Libby Diament!
You will also find lovely local raw honey by Hound Dog Honey and soaps and lip balm by Vellum Soap Company and unless they sell out these to die for soft caramel candies by Dave’s Delectable Delites of Glenmoore.
But have I raved enough about the menu? So good. So fresh. Christie Keith is a genius in the kitchen! That is the best part about this menu everything is fresh nothing is frozen. It makes all the difference in the world in taste.
I love to cook as everyone knows, and Christie Keith is one of those people that I will have cook for me any day!
Take a drive in the country tomorrow. Have lunch, find a treasure!
So what’s a rabid gardener to do when one of her favorite growers announces it’s SUMMER SALE TIME?
Why buy more plants (of course!) and then roam around the garden for the perfect spot. Which in my garden right now, is easier said than done.
So what did I do? I reimagined and enlarged an existing small flower bed.
And then I indulged. Red peonies, red echinacea, red daylilies, and one Next Generation Pistachio Hydrangea.
On Friday, I dug out the bed. I enlarged it and marked all around how the shape was going to go and then I dug. And dug. It’s hot so it was a lot of work and I added a giant bag of sand and a big bag of compost and humus. I am also really glad that when I stopped at Home Depot I also picked up more bricks for edging.
….And then Friday over dinner my sweet husband asks me why I didn’t use the rototiller…..whhhhhhat!!!! Ok I forgot we own one. Oh well.
As an aside, I can’t believe anyone willingly plants forsythia. It looks good for maybe a week to 10 days and then you kill yourself keeping it in check. I have cut down, cut back, and physically removed a lot of forsythia bushes. My forsythia dates back to the early 1960s so it is ….entrenched. Kind of like the pachysandra which I also do battle with.
Oh and before I forget! I also staked up my blackberry bushes on Saturday. I had bought thornless blackberry bushes a couple of years ago along with a raspberry bush and gooseberry bushes to plant on a small hillside going to the edge of our woods on one side. It’s a terrific location, sometimes a little tricky to get to when everything grows in, and I wasn’t sure how to handle the exploding raspberry and blackberry bushes. The gooseberry bushes seem to grow more logically for lack of a better explanation.
So yesterday morning while I was drinking my coffee I was watching my favorite gardening show Gardeners World. It’s a BBC production and I get it via streaming services because cable doesn’t carry it in the US. As a matter of fact the US would do well to have a gardening show like this. It’s actually real gardening. It’s not creating an outdoor living room or a fire pit show.
Anyway… on yesterday’s episode that I watched they gave tips for dealing with blackberry bushes. And it was so simple. All you need to do is get some big garden stakes, put them in the middle of your blackberry bushes and tie up the wandering canes. So I did. And I applied the same theory to the raspberries and it looks so much better! In the fall I will take a look at the bushes again and decide if anybody is getting a little haircut before next spring, but the way they look now they’ll be fine in the spring!
Swamp Milkweed peeping up from behind hydrangeas.
This morning after my coffee I went outside and I deadheaded and I weeded a little, watered my pots and got down to the business of planting my plants in the newly enlarged planting bed.
First I laid the plants out and arranged them. You will notice that I do not buy giant sized plants from the nurseries. I find it much easier to establish plants that are smaller. Everything grows, you just have to have patience.
After laying the plants out and moving them around a bit I dug them in. Then I watered them and fed them with kelp/seaweed extract.
Then I went to wood chip mountain next to the shed and filled up my garden cart with perfectly aged wood chips. This batch of wood chips is about a-year-old now so it’s the perfect consistency and broken down and it’s hard wood chips from my own trees. (Yes my arborist does this and I use Treemendous Tree Care and they are awesome! Real arborists, expert and champion climbers.)
Now I wait for the plants to settle in. In the fall I will plant daffodil bulbs in between these plants I planted today. And when everything grows I will have color from spring to fall!
And yes… I do love my reds in this particular garden. But they have to be a blue red not an orange red.
I will also share with you my favorite kind of gardening gloves. Gauntlet gloves. I garden with roses and sometimes other prickly things so I like my arms to be protected from thorns as well as an inadvertent brushes with poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
I found this brand of gloves on Amazon a couple of years ago. I just bought my second pair. The first pair is still going strong but I would to have a pair and a spare pair.
As August arrives, I will just pretty much do garden maintenance until the fall. When fall arrives I will be adding the following plants to different areas of my garden:
Swamp Azalea (white)
Pink Truffles Baptista
Alexander’s Great Brunnera
Avante Garde Clematis
More daffodils and other bulbs
I know I know people think I’m crazy but this is fun for me. Some people like to buy designer handbags and shoes all the time, I like to garden. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate a beautiful purse or an elegant pair of shoes. But gardening is my thing.
I will not be putting any more plants in until fall because it’s just too hot. I can plant now, but the plants get so stressed out. If I hadn’t found a good sale on what I planted today I wouldn’t have planted.
And yes, it’s me who does the planting. I don’t point at a team of gardeners and say “put it there!”
I research my plants and I pay attention to what I see in my gardening magazines or on Gardeners World or the shows BBC 2 produces out of England’s flower and garden shows produced by the RHS like Chelsea, Chatsworth, Hampton Court, and Tatton Hall. The thrill of the plant hunt is half of the fun!
Tomorrow I am going to hear a garden lecture given by a British horticulturalist named Annie Guilfoyle at Terrain in Devon.
Well that’s all out of me for the garden today. And no I’ve told you what my planning ahead will consist of. And that’s the thing about gardening as I have said before – your garden evolves. You look at what you have planted and then you get more ideas.
Happy planning and planting and thanks for stopping by!
State Senator Andy Dinniman and Chester County Commissioners Michele Kichline and Terrence Farrell were there at the opening of today’s market to celebrate with everyone and present citations and proclamations.
But where oh where were the officials of West Chester Borough? Borough Council? I mean it is NO SECRET they have been discussing the lot on the corner of Chestnut and Church Streets again right? And what developer and hotel owner want in on whatever is discussed, hmmm? Oh the irony that they just discussed this again, what? This past week?
And no one from the Borough could come to the West Chester Growers Market in an official capacity to celebrate their 25th anniversary? The County and State felt they should be there, so why not the Borough?
Photo courtesy of County Commissioner Terrence Farrell’s Facebook Page. He and Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline presenting a County citation to Paul “Bud” Hauser, an inspiration behind and one of the four original growers who founded the West Chester Growers Market 25 years ago. I think this is fabulous that they did this!!
Oh and my opinions are my own, by the way. And sadly I think West Chester Borough needs to appreciate the organizations which bring people into the Borough weekly for 25 years, don’t you? The West Chester Growers Market brings people and farms and small food producers together. In a world filled with ugliness, this is something genuine and nice.
Today the market was bustling in spite of the crazy heat. And the vendors were nice enough to have lots and lots of water on hand for customers. And ice cream!! And balloons and face painting for kids!
I love the West Chester Growers Market and it is pretty much the only one I patronize at this point since East Goshen seems to have given up on their farmers market which I think is a huge mistake since they have one of the most awesome locations.
The photos I took today were my own. I am not compensated in any way for posting about the market. I post about the West Chester Growers Market because I love it and think it’s fabulous.
And if West Chester Borough Council gets their knickers in a twist because I do not feel in my opinion that they appreciate the market in all it’s fabulousness, tough noogies and am I wrong?
HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY WEST CHESTER GROWERS MARKET!!