Category Archives: cranberries

Seedy Stuffed Squash

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As promised, a vegetarian (vegan if you want) version of stuffed squash. This is an entirely different dish than the kale and sausage version I posted a little while ago—a new option, rather than a substitute. Nutty, textured, and delightfully salty due to a good dash of miso.

The base for the filling is quinoa, nuts, and seeds. Mushrooms for depth, cranberries for punch, miso for umami, and a little cheese if you like for creaminess. Other vegetables would be welcome, like chopped up kale or spinach, but not needed. Extra filling would be excellent topped with an egg for another meal.

In the news: as you may know, climate change convention last week. Agriculture did not play a huge role, but there are a few hopes for carbon sequestering in the soil, and climate change-related disasters will have a huge economic impact on agriculture. In that, as with our own Congress, food systems do not yet receive the attention they are warranted. We may get there.

To keep up on those strange farm-related activities in Germany, did you hear about the herd of cattle adopting a wild boar?

In other news, please enjoy this (#starwars):

And now on to an actual recipe (of sorts. We’ve been over the no-recipe recipe deliberation).

Seedy stuffed winter squash
Quinoa
Delicata squash, or other varieties (delicata cooks quickest)
Mushrooms, any variety
Nuts and seeds: almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Anything else you feel like (chopped kale, 
Miso, 1/2 tablespoon or so
Butter or oil
A handful of cranberries (optional, adds an exciting tang)
Secret ingredient: seaweed flakes
Melty cheese, to top

Start the quinoa cooking: add twice as much water as quinoa, bring to a boil, then turn down and let it simmer until fluffy.

Roast the squash: wash, cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and cook for 20 or so minutes in a hot (350-400º) oven, until just soft. Remove from oven.

In the meantime, compile everything else: chop up mushrooms and sauté them briefly, pull out whatever nuts and seeds you like and toast them (on a baking sheet in the oven for 5-10 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn).

When the quinoa is cooked, take out however much you want to make into filling and put it in a large bowl. Thin the miso with a little water, mix with butter (or oil), and stir into quinoa. Add nuts, seeds, mushrooms, cranberries, and a few seaweed flakes (we have this mix). Taste and add more seasonings, as desired.

With cooked squash cut-side up, fill the cavity with the filling mix, piling it up nice and high. Top with cheese, as desired, and place under the broiler for a few minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.

Makes for good leftovers #desklunch the next day, too (especially paired with a creamy tahini-dressed salad).

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Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Salad

Brussels sprouts salad with cranberries

2015 Winter Salad #1! This is the kind of vegetable-based meal I delight in. Manages to feel healthy and hearty at the same time, and provides a good balance of different flavors and astringencies. One important note: DO NOT overcook your Brussels sprouts. This happens fairly easily; I tend to roast vegetables until quite done and caramelized, but that’s not how these work. You want them crisp but still with a good crunch, so watch them carefully in the oven.

Lots of oven time on these ingredients; save time and dishes by toasting pumpkin seeds and walnuts in large batches ahead of time. You’ll be glad you did for future food forays, or averting hanger after a long work day.

I have alluded to this before, but the time has come (the walrus said [Brussels sprouts are a kind of cabbage, so that’s not totally uncalled for. And Europe had kings at one point])! I am off to Germany on vacation next week. Therefore, do not expect a recipe (or non-recipe as is my tendency) from me in the next fortnight. Do continue to follow me on Instagram, I endeavor to post pictures of fairy tale food and other similar adventures.

Roasting pan of Brussels sprouts salad

If you come, they will build it: lessons in supply and demand from our food giants—consumer demand is changing how large corporations are handling their supply chains, labor practices, and additives. Moral of the story: keep asking for better food.

On another note, how about a suffragette cookbook? Cake against injustice (that’s my kind of subversion…)!

Or, vegetables for justice!

Vegetable-based meal rule number one: start with the vegetable (surprise!). Brussels sprouts are truly excellent roasted, as long as you don’t overdo it (remember last year’s Brussels sprouts with bacon? Nom.)

Rule #2: Add protein: nuts and seeds, in this case (otherwise: a small amount of meat (this can add flavor too); eggs; cheese; tofu; grains like quinoa).

Rule #3 (more of a guideline really, but arguably the most important): flavor! Salt is crucial. Here, cranberries and apple cider vinegar create a sharp contrast, and a little paprika on the pumpkin seeds round it out with a smoky note.

Cranberry Brussels sprouts fall salad
1lb or so Brussels sprouts
A few handfuls of cranberries
Salt and olive oil
A handful of pumpkin seeds (pre-toasted if you can)
A handful of walnuts
A dash of apple cider vinegar

Halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts (depending on size), and roast at at least 400ºF with a little salt and oil until barely tender and crispy, not more than 20 minutes. In the last 10 minutes (or right in the beginning if you want them softer), toss in a few handfuls of cranberries.

If pumpkin seeds are not toasted yet (I usually just do it whenever roasting a pumpkin/squash), spread out on a baking sheet with a little salt, oil, and paprika (smoked or otherwise, depending on preference), and toast in the oven for at least 10 minutes, scraping up and flipping halfway through, until golden and crackly.

Toast walnuts on a baking sheet until fragrant and crunchy, about 5 minutes. This can happen while the Brussels sprouts are in the oven.

When sprouts are ready, toss with a little apple cider vinegar, then mix in the rest of the ingredients, salt to taste, and serve.

Other vinegars, like balsamic, would also substitute if you want something a little richer.

Auf wiedersehen!

Cranberry Apple Sauce

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Pictures while cooking kept steaming up my camera 

Who says you can’t eat local in Maine all year round? I was worried about getting enough fruit in the winter, but so far I am doing quite well. This is because a) freezers b) apples store ridiculously well (side note: I kept apples in my fridge in college for months and months after going apple picking, and used them up very gradually (not having time to bake), but they were still good, albeit a little wrinkly, after having survived the winter and numerous attempts by my dear roommates to throw them away. Wrinkly ones do requires some peeling and attention, but otherwise they remain delicious) and c) local fruit just keeps coming! Cranberries and pears are the latest crops, both of which keep well as well, and pears have to ripen for a long time anyway.

Breakfasts are where I eat most of my fruit, along with yogurt (remind me to write down my yogurt tasting notes sometime. I eat yogurt almost every day and have tried a fair number of them, never get sick of it. Definitely get the whole milk creamy-top version) and sometimes oatmeal, toast, granola, or some other baked good. In the summer I had fresh fruit, melons or berries, and now I usually have either some form of applesauce or I thaw some berries (usually blueberries, but if I want a smoothie I use a mix of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries). Nom.

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Anyway the first time I saw cranberries at the co-op I knew I had to get them (and local cranberries, by the way and in case you hadn’t figured this out yet, are much more beautiful and delicious than the packaged grocery-store variety). I intended to make cranberry sauce but have not enjoyed adding a bunch of sugar to dishes lately, and most cranberry sauce recipes contain buckets of sugar. So instead of following a recipe, I threw a bunch of cranberries and apples together in a pot, added a little water (or cider, I don’t remember), and listened to them pop. Ended up with a delicious tart-and-sweet bright pink sauce that gets more vibrant as it sits. Vary the ratio of apples to cranberries per the occasion (Thanksgiving may be a more cranberry-heavy scene), and vary the cooking time depending on how soft and blended you like your apples.

Cranberry-Apple sauce
1/2 cup cranberries
4 apples, whatever variety you like to cook with, sweeter if you want a sweeter sauce
A few tablespoons of cider, tea, or water
Spices, if you want (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, etc)

Core and slice the apples, peeling only if you want a smooth sauce (I can’t be bothered most of the time, and I like having skins add to the texture anyway). Throw them with the cranberries, spices, and liquid into a pot (larger ones work a little better, but you can do a small one and just start with a smaller amount, adding more apples as you go. This will also create a varied texture, if you like that). Cover and cook on low heat for a good 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all the elements are getting cooked.

Eat at least a few spoonfuls right away (for taste-testing purposes if nothing else), and put the rest in the fridge for breakfasts. As I said, the color will intensify as it sits.

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Also happens to be a good thing to have around when you discover a meal that needs just a little extra vibrant tartness. Such as rutabagas and fried beans.