Local Food Sound Food Blog

Cooking from the November garden

November is one of my favorite times of year to be in the kitchen. Usually I live in what I have come to think of as the foodie limbo. My husband Peter and I own Farmhouse Organics, a small farm in Poulsbo. The farm is of course demanding of our time. I haven't discovered how to balance my jobs as the family chef, farmer, and mother to our 5 and 8 yr old children. Mostly I find myself giving recipe ideas to our customers. I spend many of my outside  hours daydreaming about when I will have time to create my own new recipes and be able to spend time working in the kitchen. Even now, it is late in the growing season but there is still always a long list of outside projects that need to be completed before our next season begins.
One of the great perks of being a farmer it that I am extremely fortunate to be able to walk outside and literally harvest the fruits of our labors. We still have a variety of produce that is perfect for fueling my fall menu ideas. This week the official choices for our customers include the following: Carrots, beets, arugula, kale, chard, lettuce, cabbage, eggs, onions, shallots, potatoes, leeks, winter squash, and a variety of fresh herbs. We continue to enjoy the last of the broccoli, tomatoes, parsnips and a few sweet potatoes.

I absorb cookbooks like fiction novels. I read them, digest the ideas then use what I have learned as a field guide. It is a rare day that I follow an exact recipe-except for baking which is a precise science. I was reading "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" and I could not resist trying her version of potato leek soup.
This is adapted from her recipe with a few tweaks from me:
2 Tbs. butter
3 cups sliced leeks, no tough dark green parts
2 cups sliced, diced or chopped onions-I used a mixture of yellow, white, cipollini and a small shallot.
2 Tbs flour
6 cups water
4 cups peeled, diced potatoes-I used Yukon Gold
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the onions and leek in the butter over medium heat until soft. Add the flour and whisk it for a couple of minutes. Add 1 cup of water, give it all a good stir then add the potatoes, seasoning and the other 5 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil then cook on low until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. I like chunky rustic soup so I used my handheld potato masher to smash the soup until I liked the consistency. You could use a blender or an immersion blender if you like a smoother texture. Julia suggests a variety of garnishes. I put minced chives and scallions on ours. Next time I will try tarragon and fresh bay shrimp as a garnish-my own idea.
Roasted winter veggies are so easy to prepare and the possibilities are endless. I use a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until tender plus salt and pepper for all of the following:
Large chunks of cauliflower with whole cloves of garlic and some olive oil.
Peeled beets cut in large chunks, add thyme 1/3 cup fresh orange juice, a dash of olive oil and cover.
Serve as is or at room temp over arugula with blue cheese and honey toasted pecans.
Chopped carrots, parsnips, onions and beets roasted with any fresh chopped herb like thyme and olive oil.
Great as is or add to quinoa with chopped arugula, toasted walnuts, feta cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette for a tasty salad.

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