Recipes, Photography, Musings

Tag: seasonal eating (Page 2 of 6)

Fall Harvest Soup

I love it when food captures the color and feeling of a season.  This fall harvest soup does just that.  It is warm and nourishing, and its color is a beautiful combination of deep orange and gold, much like the leaves that are falling off of the trees.  With butternut squash, potatoes, and carrots being the main ingredients, it if full of necessary vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to help us stay strong as the weather turns cold and damp.  Curry, ginger, and nutmeg give this soup a subtle flavor, along with a generous amount of ground peppercorns.  Because it is pureed in the blender or food processor, the texture is smooth and creamy, and you can serve it either in bowls or little glasses.  The garnish possibilities are endless, including chopped walnuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, shredded cheese, or sour cream.

fall harvest soup on purple benchThough I have made some changes, the recipe for this soup is based on one I found in one of my favorite cookbooks, simply called “Autumn,” by Susan Branch.  My cousin gave me this cookbook a few years ago, and I have enjoyed many of the recipes in it, along with beautiful illustrations and quotes.  This cousin is actually more like a sister to me, since she and I both grew up with three brothers and no sisters.  We are so different, yet so alike in many ways.  Food has the power to connect people, and every time I use a recipe from that cookbook she gave me, I think of her.  We live far apart now (the Atlantic Ocean is between us), yet we are able to stay connected.  She recently called me to wish me a happy birthday, and along with catching up about our families and our career accomplishments and aspirations, she told me about her latest favorite way to make butternut squash (which I want to try soon). The love of food is something we have shared for a long time, a love rooted in our shared past and our shared ancestors, and our shared favorite recipes.

fall harvest soup on railing 1No matter how much modern life seems to isolate us, or how much our busy schedules threaten to overtake our souls, food can bring us back to earth and connect us to those we love.  A humble vegetable like squash can make us feel like we have crossed continents.  Allowing time for washing, peeling, and chopping vegetables gives us time to think, to reminisce, or to talk with whomever is in the kitchen.  Homemade soup cannot be rushed.  Somehow soup that is not rushed tastes the best to me.  This soup is delicious–in its taste, in its color, and with all the associations it brings.  Wishing you all the beauty of fall.fall harvest soup on front porch 2 chopped vegetablesNick sniffing the walnutsfall grasses

Fall Harvest Soup

  • Servings: 8-10
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  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes or 4-5 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • about 5 cups of butternut squash (one medium-sized squash or about 2 and 1/2 pounds), peeled and cubed, with seeds cut away
  • 6 cups of chicken broth or stock (I like the Better than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 teaspoon of curry
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped walnuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, shredded cheese, or sour cream for garnish


Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Over medium heat, saute the onion and carrot until soft, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the potatoes and squash.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 40 minutes.  Add the curry, nutmeg, and ginger.  Let the soup cool for a few minutes.  In a food processor or blender, puree the soup in batches.  Return the soup to the pot and add salt and pepper to your taste.  Adjust the other seasonings if you wish.  Serve in bowls with spoons, or in little glasses to sip.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

strawberry rhubarb crisp in bowlThe combination of strawberries and rhubarb is one of my all-time favorites.  The sweetness of the strawberries mellows the tartness of the rhubarb, yet there is still enough tartness in this crisp to make it bright and lively.  I love this recipe because it is so simple, so easy, and it allows the fresh flavors of the fruits to really shine.  There is just enough brown sugar to sweeten the fruit filling without overpowering it.

It is lovely here in northern Michigan, and I am thankful to have the chance to spend a few days here at my family’s place, where we can walk to the beach and the town, with a beautiful view of the water in almost every direction.  After an extremely busy spring, it is so nice to have some time to recharge and slow down, soaking in the absolute beauty of this area.  Just like at home, I like to use food that is in season, and right now strawberries and rhubarb are easy to come by up here at farmers markets and produce stands.  WiFi is not so easy to come by here (and that is not always a bad thing), and we don’t have many cookbooks here, so I walked to the library in town to look for a recipe for a fruit crisp.  As I was browsing through cookbooks, one recipe caught my eye because of its simplicity.  It comes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, “My Father’s Daughter.”  It is a basic fruit crisp recipe that can be used with any type of seasonal fruit, and I like this recipe so much, I am going to use it for upcoming crisps with raspberries, blueberries, and peaches, as they come into season.  I will share an adaptation of it below, using strawberries and rhubarb.  I did make a couple of changes–I used all-purpose flour instead of spelt flour since that is what we had in the cupboard, and I added 2 tablespoons more of the brown sugar, since rhubarb is not as naturally sweet as other fruits.  Still, this recipe uses less overall sugar than many of the ones I have tried, and I like it that way.  You can adjust the sweetness to your own tastes.

strawberries in colanderPerhaps it is because the strawberries and rhubarb are late spring/early summer fruits, or perhaps it is because I am writing this post very near Lake Michigan, which always makes me feel inspired, but in any case, making this crisp reminded me that summer is still young and full of possibilities. The days are long and full of bright sunlight. I have been breathing in the clean, northern air, and it smells like pine trees and fresh water.  It is only just recently that our schedule has slowed down enough that we can have more leisurely dinners.   We have had time to eat outside, watching the boats go down the channel into Lake Michigan.  Tomorrow we head for home, where it will still be summer, and we will still be able to eat dinner outside.  The lakes close to my home are much smaller than Lake Michigan, but they are still beautiful.  And as much as I don’t want to leave here, I love to be home.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and savor it as much as possible. strawberries and rhubarb, choppedstrawberrt rhubarb crisp before bakingstrawberry rhubarb crisp, bakedstrawberry rhubarb crisp 4sunset on the channelRound Lakesunset over Lake Michigan

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients for the fruit filling:

  • 2 cups of strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 2 cups of rhubarb, washed and diced
  • 1 tablespoon of flour (I used all-purpose flour, but you can use spelt flour or another type of flour)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (adjust the amount of sugar to your own tastes)

Ingredients for the crisp topping:

  • 1/4 cup flour (again, I used all-purpose flour, but you can use the type of flour you prefer)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (the old-fashioned kind, not instant or quick-cooking)
  • a pinch of salt (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the fruit and place it in a lightly greased 9 inch pie baking dish.  Stir in the tablespoon of flour and the brown sugar and mix until combined.

In a medium bowl, stir together the 1/4 cup flour, the oats, and the salt.  Cut the butter in with a fork or a pastry cutter and gently stir/mash until the mixture forms balls about the size of peas.  Spread the mixture evenly over the fruit in the pie pan.  Bake in your oven for about 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the fruit starts to bubble.  Serve warm.  It tastes great by itself or with vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!


This recipe is adapted from “My Father’s Daughter” by Gwyneth Paltrow

Asparagus Galette

asparagus 1 Fresh, tender asparagus roasted with a mixture of cheeses and a hint of garlic, surrounded by a warm, nourishing crust.  If that sounds good to you, then you should give this recipe a try, because that is what I think of when I make this asparagus galette.  I love the fact that you can put almost any vegetable or fruit in a galette.  It is such a great way to take seasonal produce and turn it into a light meal.  With asparagus season in full swing here, an asparagus galette was inevitably going to happen in this kitchen.  The recipe I am sharing below is based on a conglomeration of the countless galette recipes out there in the world.  Many savory galette recipes are interchangeable, once you have a basic amount of cheese and vegetables.  The fun is in the creative part–adjusting the types of cheeses, seasonings, and choosing the freshest vegetables available.

As far as the crust goes, I enjoy making my own, and will include one of my favorite crust recipes.  Feel free to use your own favorite pie crust recipe.  If you are super-short on time, a store-bought crust works fine too.  I personally love the feeling of taking very separate ingredients and mixing them together to form a dough that holds together, even when stretched and shaped.  It gives me great satisfaction, like I am creating something out of nothing, and as I have mentioned before, I feel like I am connecting with ancestors and previous generations of bakers when I get out my flour canister and rolling pin.  When I am baking, I feel like my kitchen becomes a sacred space, outside of time and place.

bike under aspenThat is kind of how I feel when I go biking as well, and with the weather so gorgeous the last few days, I have gotten out on my bike a few times.  The jump from baking to biking is just one letter, and both activities take me outside of normal space and time.  Anyone who knows me knows I tend to be a bit of a worrier, but with biking, as with baking, I feel like I can leave my usual self behind.  I can bike fast enough so that my worries cannot catch up to me, and I am one with the breeze and the trees. Luckily, there is a lovely country road near our house that is not at all busy, and I can ride down that road and encounter more birds than I do cars.

Asparagus season, the beginning of biking season, the beginning of June.  The leaves are full, the butterflies are out, and I have even seen some dragonflies.  The cherries and black raspberries are looking promising this year.  It is warm and fresh and bright outside.  My grandfather liked to quote poetry, and on days like these, perfect June days, he would often quote parts of a James Russell Lowell poem:  “And what is so rare as a day in June?/Then, if ever, come perfect days….Now is the high-tide of the year/And whatever of life hath ebbed away/comes flooding back with a ripply cheer.” Enjoy the lovely June day, and have a great weekend! aasparagus galette 2DSC_0912cheese and asparagusasparagus galette, cut 1asparagus galette, cut 2

Asparagus Galette

  • Servings: 2 hungry people, or 4 less hungry people
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For the crust

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup milk

For the filling

  • 1/2 to 3/4 pounds fresh asparagus
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Feta
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced


Preheat your over to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix up your pie crust dough.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour and the salt.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the canola oil and the milk, then pour gradually into the flour mixture.  Gently stir with a fork or pastry cutter until a dough forms.  Divide the dough in two equal-sized balls.  (If you do this ahead of time, it can be stored, covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Just let it warm to about room temperature before rolling it out).  Spread some wax paper on a work surface, and lightly flour the paper.  Flatten one of the balls of dough with your hand as much as you can.  Then use a rolling pin, rolling from the center of the dough, and roll out a circle of about 12 inches in diameter.  If your edges get ragged or torn, patch them together or trim them so they are somewhat uniform.  Spread a sheet of parchment paper on a heavy baking sheet.  Gently roll the dough onto your floured rolling pin, and gently unroll it onto the parchment papered baking sheet.  Patch any dough that tears.

Wash and pat dry the asparagus.  Set aside.  In a mixing bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, Feta, and mozzarella cheese.  Toss with one teaspoon of the olive oil.  In a different small bowl, combine the two tablespoons of olive oil and the minced garlic.  Transfer the cheese mixture to the crust on the baking sheet.  Spread it out evenly, leaving a 2 inch border around the edges.  Then lay the asparagus spears side-by-side on top of the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with the olive oil-garlic mixture.  Fold and pleat the edges of the dough up and over the outer edge of the filling, all the way around.  Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden-brown. Enjoy!

Note: I use the other ball of dough to make a second galette, the same as the first one, since people in my family have big appetites.  If you are making only one galette, store the other ball of dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or the freezer for up to 3 weeks (depending on how soon you will use it), and use it for another dish.

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