Pumpkin Patch, Squash Blossoms and Potato Strada

So once again we went to Peter’s Pumpkin Pacth at Springhill Farm Dairy in Petaluma.  It’s always fun, but much of the same.  Each time we bring someone new to share it and make it new.  We did it all…picking pumpkins, digging potatoes, running in the hay maze, milking cows, eating pumpkin ice cream and climbing hay mazes.  Here’s the photos from this year…

What was different was my son picking the blossoms.  He remembered a few years ago I stuffed them with goat cheese and fried them.  So we did it again this year.  Yum.  I also got creative with the potatoes (we dug 9 pounds).  Besides the usual roasted potatoes I made a strada which was delicious.  I didn’t really have a recipe.  Here’s what I did…

Using a mandoline I sliced about 6 of the larger potatoes.

Next I buttered a baking dish and added some of the potatoes.

I sprinkled cheddar cheese over the potatoes.  Then added spinach leaves.

Then layered more potatoes.

In a separate bowl I cracked 5 eggs and added about 1/2 cup milk, along with some fresh rosemary and thyme.

Once the potatoes, cheese and spinach had all been layered I poured over the egg mixture and topped with a bit more cheese.

This baked in the oven covered with foil for about 20 minutes in a 325 degree oven.  Then an additional 15 or so minutes to crisp the top and potatoes are baked thru.


Tis the Season….Cookies and Milk

Tis the season (any reason really) to break out the cookie cutters.  I know I’ve told you I have quite a collection.  It still amazes me that every year I can still find one or two seasonal cutters I’m missing.  Today I bought a reindeer and a holly leaf.

my collection

We’ve had two cookie playdates so far in December and there’s lots more time and dough left.  I like to always make double batches so we can make some and freeze some.  You never know when you need a baking activity or a warm cookie.  Last week I made sugar cookies as well as gingerbread cookies.  I have to say that doubling my gingerbread dough was a bit of a challenge, especially for the motor on my KitchenAid mixer.  It’s just to dense and heavy for so much dough.  But we made it work.

For some playdates I prebake the cookies and just set up for icing and decoration and for others I have dough only, so kids can practice their rolling and cutting skills.  For the latest I did both, which actually worked well.  Some could be decorating while others are rolling and cutting.  Either way it’s lots of fun.  Just remember your patience and allow extra time for clean up.  Here’s some of our lovely creations.  My daughter is the one who uses too much icing and makes everything a “winter wonderland” (her words).  Notice I don’t limit the cutters to only holiday.  Kids can choose from all of them.  So you’ll see football players, next to candy canes, next to butterflies, etc.  They all taste great.  Of course a few got a bit dark, as my holiday music and children’s voices were a bit loud and I missed the timer.

the cookie playdate
"winter wonderland" cookies

So what goes best with cookies?  Milk, of course!  Lately my daughter has not been wanting the usual cow’s milk.  Perhaps my vegan sister’s influence?  My son loves milk – of all kinds.  So we’ve been trying more alternatives for my daughter – rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.  She’s had them all in various flavors and combinations.  I always have non-fat organic cow’s milk and then another organic unsweetened variety such as soy and rice on hand depending on tastes and guests.  On occassion I buy the flavored (vanilla, chocolate) which work well in smoothies or for steamed milk.    (Secret – I like the vanilla in my oatmeal).  Anyways…we set up a little milk taste test for my kids to see if they could tell the difference.  They were quite good.  They picked out the cow’s, rice and almond, but were a bit stuck on the soy.  They also said it was their least favorite.  I was surprised, as they never complain about it.  We just learned of a new organic soy and almond version from Whole Foods, found in the refrigerated section.  They have a few flavors as well as unsweetened.  I’ve never found an organic almond milk, so I like this option.  Also I find it a much better texture than the shelf version I had been buying.  What’s at the bottom of those shelf stable cartons anyway?  Refrigerated just seems fresher.  For now my son will stick with his cow’s milk favorite (and almond and coconut for smoothies, as requested) and my daughter is enjoying the new organic unsweetened almond milk.  With or without cookies.  Who knows about next week. 

That gets me wondering…What kind of milk would Santa like?  Do you think he’s lactose intolerant?  Is he vegan?  I can’t wait to hear the discussion between my kids on which milk to leave out with Santa’s cookies.

the milk challenge