Halloween Hoopla

There was so much hoopla around Halloween this year, I didn’t even get a chance to write about it.  But we had lots of fun.  Here’s the quick recap along with some food ideas for fall entertaining or next year’s festivities.

 

First we did or annual trek to Peter’s Pumpkin Patch in Petaluma.  Had a ball as usual.  Hay maze, potato digging, pumpkin picking, pumpkin ice cream , calf petting, etc.

My husband outdid himself again with carving the pumpkins.  I swear each year my kids up the ante for what they’d like.  This year they looked online for inspiration.   My husband carves without a stencil.  This is free hand.

 

Halloween day was parades and parties at school.  I made pumpkin bread for my son’s class as well as the neighbors.  My mom comes for a visit every year during Halloween.  This year she experienced it all day and night (a total trooper).  That’s her in the first photo in the green clown outfit.

We made some really fun food for Halloween night with friends.  They made a yummy apple pumpkin soup and mummy tofu and hot dogs.  I made mummy potatoes (still had from digging) and witches fingers (aka breadsticks).  There were a few pieces of candy eaten while rainy night trick or treating, but the real treat comes when we turned our candy in to my son’s orthodontist and received $2 per pound.  My kids were thrilled with $4 each.  I later collected left-over candy at the school for Blue Star Moms to wrap up in care packages to soldiers overseas.  Treats for everyone!

 

 

 

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Julia Child’s Vichyssoise – Cold or Hot, Simply Delicious

Culinary icon Julia Child would have turned 100 years old on August 15th of this year. To honor her, her publisher Knopf has launched the JC100:  a national campaign involving restaurants, chefs, bookstores, and bloggers, all celebrating Julia and her legacy. The goal is to raise one million voices in tribute to Julia.  Celebrity chef Thomas Keller, former restaurant critic of The New York TimesRuth Reichl, and food writer Amanda Hesser, has selected their most beloved 100 Julia Child recipes to be shared for people to map, eat, share and enjoy.

 

I was happy to be asked to participate, however then I saw the recipes. Many of her recipes do not fit my lifestyle of carpooling kids to and from activities and getting home at 6:30 pm. However I was pleased to see this week’s recipe for vichyssoise as it has few ingredients (most of which I already had on hand) and simple to prepare.  It was also a hot day so I thought cold soup and a salad would be a refreshing dinner.  However the vichyssoise was enjoyed hot and warm tonight, because my family couldn’t wait for it to properly chill.  Good to know it works all all temps right?  I will look forward to enjoying it chilled for lunch tomorrow.  It did make quite a large pot – so good for left-overs.

 

Here’s all you need.  Leeks, potatoes, cream (what Julia recipe doesn’t have it?), chicken stock/broth, chives and salt.

Then simmer broth and veggies…

Then mill or blend (I used a handheld blender – which was super easy)…

Voila, Vichyssoise.  Yum…

Check out the Facebook Page for the JC100 to see recipes and comments so far.

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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.

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Adieu to Dad

My dad digging potatoes at last year's pumpkin patch

I haven’t been writing, as unfortuately my father  passed away recently.  He was a unique man who loved to play with his grandchildren, and talk politics and religion with the grown-ups.  He loved old cars, houseboats, yellow button down shirts, going swimming in the ocean, watching sports (only the end of the game, when it got exciting) and listening to Rush Limbaugh (yes, really).

The last few months of his life, he lived with my family.  It was fun, frustrating, happy and sad – sometimes all in the same day.  Once of the things that was most interesting was my dad’s food interests.  My dad was always a great eater and loved all types of food.  He was very appreciative when he came to visit and I’d make his old favorites and introduce him to a few new things.  However the last 6 months of his life he couldn’t taste or smell very well and relied on his sense of food memories for some meals.  By this I mean he enjoyed things more if he had already liked them as his mind could imagine the taste and help fill in for the taste buds.  One of his favorites was In-N-Out Burger.  Of course not something my family eats often (or ever), it was sometimes difficult for me to get him his request (burger with extra lettuce and tomato, fries and vanilla shake).  Standing in the long line and hearing the loud numbers being called out, I wanted to be anywhere but there.  But my dad truly enjoyed it when I brought it to him.  

Luckily there were a few other things he could enjoy eating including cherries from our trees, ripe nectarines from the farmer’s market, and my roasted potatoes.  Here’s the recipe to share with your family and maybe your dad too.  Mine liked these with ketchup.

Roasted Potatoes

I make lots of veggies in the oven this way.  It’s quick and easy and doesn’t even require measuring.  Just a pour and sprinkle to your family’s taste.  Be sure not to crowd the potatoes or they can’t brown.  The rosemary salt gives it a little kick and extra flavor.

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds small organic white new or fingerling potatoes (about 24), scrubbed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Cut potatoes in half and place in a ceramic baking dish. Pour olive oil over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle salt over potatoes and stir to mix. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until potatoes are brown on the outside and tender inside.

(If I need to speed up cooking, I precook the potatoes in the microwave for about 3 minutes before adding oil and salt.  Then put in the oven to finish and brown.  Cuts oven time in half).

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Organic Rosemary Castle Potatoes Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

I call these castle potatoes, because while traveling with my mom in England we had dinner in a castle that served these wonderful potatoes. I came home and was inspired to re-create the dinner and remind me of the trip.

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds small organic white new or fingerling potatoes (about 24), scrubbed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil. Cut potatoes in half and place in a plastic self-sealing bag. Pour olive oil over potatoes and move bag to coat potatoes. Transfer potatoes to prepared pan. Bruise rosemary with back of spoon or mortar and pestle to release oil. Sprinkle salt and rosemary over potatoes and stir to mix. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until potatoes are brown on the outside and tender inside.

Potato Facts: The United States produces about 35 billion pounds of potatoes annually. Americans consume about 126 pounds per person per year, on average — far more than any other vegetable. Unfortunately, 65 percent of the potatoes consumed are not sold fresh, but in convenient forms, such as french fries, which add sodium and fat to Americans’ diets as well.
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Diamond Organics
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