Thursday, February 19, 2015

Perfect Pumpkin Soup

As winter is waning, yet the season still upon us, the last of the winter squash, a Long Island Cheese pumpkin begged to be cooked before being turned into compost. So, on this very cold and icy day in the Appalachian Mountains, deceptively headed for Spring, I made a pot of this perfect soup developed over time and now a family tradition from the beautifully rich and tasty orange flesh of this very tasty variety.

4 cups pumpkin, peeled and diced (may substitute half with butternut squash)
1 medium red onion, chopped
1-2 large jalapeños, chopped
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bouillon cube
1 teaspoon dried rosemary crushed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
dash all spice
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (1 Tbs. fresh if you can get it)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt to taste
1 cup heavy cream

toasted pumpkin seeds, course ground

Combine all ingredients except last three. Simmer covered until pumpkin is mushy and soft (approx. 25 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool. Puree in a blender or food processor. Return to pan and stir in cream, nutmeg and salt. Heat on low. Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

Give thanks for your health for it is indeed your wealth and don't be afraid to spend a little extra money or time to buy organic, or make your food from scratch. Late Winter Blessings.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Traditional Cuban Black Bean Soup

Photo courtesy of Heather Homemade

16 oz. Frijoles Negros, dried black beans
Bay leaf
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic
I Spanish or yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine

Soak beans overnight in 4 cups water. Drain and rinse. Cook beans in 8 cups water with bay leaf and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low, cover and simmer for one hour or beans are tender.

In the meantime press garlic into a little bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt mashed together, set aside. Then make a soffritto by frying (sautéing) chopped onions, garlic mixture, chopped green pepper, cumin, oregano, black pepper, sautéing until onions are translucent.

Add to cooked beans and simmer 15 minutes uncovered or until soup thickens. Add sugar, vinegar and white wine toward the end. Remove from stove, let cool slightly, puree half of the soup in a blender and add back to the soup. Heat through and serve with fresh chopped onion and fresh lime over white rice. Be careful of the brand of white rice. Asian white rice has been tested high in lead. I like to use American long grain white rice cooked in chicken broth with butter, salt and pepper.

Disfrútate de la comida

This recipe was inspired by Nydia's Kitchen.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wild Blackberry Pie

Natalie won "Best Berry Picker!"
Berry Pie on the Fourth of July! The only thing better than summer time berry pickin' in the mountains is getting to eat the pie.

4 cups of berries
1/4 cup minute tapioca
1 cup organic sugar
1Tbsp. lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cardamon
1 Tbsp. organic unsalted butter
2 pie crusts

Mix fruit, tapioca, sugar, lemon juice and spices in large bowl and let stand for 15 minutes. Fill pie crust of your choice with fruit mixture. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust, seal and flute edge. Cut several slits in crust. Bake in preheated 400º oven 45-50 minutes or until juices form bubbles that burst slowly. Cool until set.

Natalie and Jamie fresh from the field

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nettle Stracciatella Soup

This recipe is a variation of the Stracciatella Italian egg drop soup, which is popular around Rome and southeastern Italy. Stracciatella is a term used for different types of Italian food including this soup. The addition of spinach and in this case nettles is an American variation. This was adapted from a recipe handed down to me through the Italian side of my children’s family. It is warm, fragrant and nourishing - especially with nettles!

2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups chopped fresh young nettles
1 sweet onion thinly sliced
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (plus additional for serving)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons lemon zest
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper or to taste

Heat broth with salt, pepper and marjoram in a saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion and simmer until tender, just a couple of minutes. Add chopped nettles, cheese and stir. Simmer covered for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together eggs, lemon zest, and nutmeg. Slowly add this to the soup while whisking and cook until egg is set, just a couple of minutes. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.

Harvesting young Wood Nettle in late Spring
Photos by Marion Z. Skydancer, ©2014
featuring Jamie MacLeod, Thea Summer Deer & Kaleo Wheeler

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Zucchini, Sausage & Goat Cheese Quiche

The word quiche may be French, but the dish is originally from Germany. Quiche means “cake” and is derived from the German word Kuchen. Since my husband and I both have German origins, I offer this up to the ancestors in celebration of mid-summer.

I made this with fresh veggies and herbs from the garden, always using organic ingredients and fertile farm fresh eggs.  The sausage was local, ground and hot spiced. You can substitute cooked, uncured, organic bacon for the sausage. It is also good poured and baked in a casserole dish if you wish to avoid the crust. I used a gluten free crust from the freezer section of my local health food store.

4 cups zucchini, grated
1 cup greens (spinach, turnip, and/or beet) chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 pound of ground hot spicy sausage
3 eggs
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced
½ tsp. dried oregano
2 cups sharp raw goat cheese, grated
1 garden ripe tomato, sliced
2 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped
sea salt and fair trade black pepper
1 gluten free or regular, deep-dish pastry crust

In a skillet, sauté onion and garlic in butter and olive oil under tender, add oregano, zucchini,  greens, and salt and pepper to taste sautéing until tender. Cook sausage in separate skillet breaking it up with a spatula until cooked through. In a large bowl whisk eggs with parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in cheese and zucchini mixture, sausage, and stir until well blended. Pour in pastry shell and layer top with half of the chopped basil, sliced tomato and remaining basil. Bake at 400º for 35 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gooseberry Jam

Natalie picking gooseberries
Thanks to my English friend, Rachel, and her garden I was able to make gooseberry jam with my granddaughter this summer. It was a new experience for both of us and I couldn’t have done it without her help. Picking, tailing and stemming enough gooseberries to make jam is no small undertaking. Then, I had difficulty deciding which online recipe to follow. It seems Canada and Britain has it all over the US for gooseberry recipes. I picked the easiest and it turned out perfectly.

We used the dark, ripe wine colored fruits that have a distinct taste somewhat like a cross between a grape and a raspberry. The jam cries out for wild game and pairs well with meat. Try it with pork, marinated and baked chicken thighs, goose, turkey, lamb or buffalo. And beyond that it is simply a delicious preserve to have on your shelf this winter. No pectin is needed as these berries are high in natural pectin.
abandoned nest in gooseberry bush
4 cups gooseberries (2 pounds) - Wash, tail and stem, discarding any that are soft or damaged.
4 cups raw organic sugar (2 pounds)
1 1/4 cups water

Thorny gooseberries
Place gooseberries and water in a large pan, bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until the gooseberries are tender, approximately ten minutes. Stir in sugar and simmer until dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook rapidly until setting point is reached, about 15 minutes. Mash with a masher during cooking. Ladle into sterilized jars and seal.

To test whether the jam has set: take the saucer from the freezer and drop a small spoonful of jam on to it. Allow it to cool for a minute then push your finger through the jam – if it wrinkles it’s ready; if not, boil for a few more minutes. Continue testing until the jam is ready. (Always remove the jam from the heat while you’re testing so that if it’s ready you won’t overcook it.)

Thea facilitates healing herbal retreats at ClearfieldCottage perched above Rachel’s garden. Meals are prepared from the garden and are local, seasonal and organic.
photos by Thea

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

White Peach and Wild Blackberry Cobbler

 Granddaughter's Aurora and Natalie

It's peach season in the Southern Appalachians!  Here is one of my family's all time favorites and a poem to make it even more personal.

1 ¾ cups flour (or any combination of gluten free flours)
¼ cup cornmeal
1 ¼ cups raw organic sugar
1-teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 ½ sticks unsalted organic butter
2 cups organic buttermilk
3 cups peeled, pitted and chunked fresh white peaches
1-cup fresh wild black raspberries or blackberries
Ground fair trade cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º

Melt butter in oblong baking dish in the oven and then remove. Whisk dry ingredients together and then mix with buttermilk to make batter. Pour batter over melted butter.  Spoon peaches evenly over batter and place berries in-between. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar. Bake 55 minutes.

by Thea Summer Deer ©2003

The Peach Tree is barren
having recently born her fruit
She stands with empty arms
against a sunset blush with peach
I thank her for her bounty so sweet
dropped at my feet

Images of peaches;
my newborn daughter’s vagina
covered with the most delicate of peach fuzz
so tender and juicy
these fruits of the earth
and my belly

my favorite camp counselor’s
name was Peachy
my mother’s peach cobbler recipe
adapted to my own
things passed down
from limb to ground
I receive
and give thanks
and pause for just a moment
to ponder empty arms
after a season of growing fruit

It was Miami, 1975
and the record store on Dixie
was named, “Peaches” with
rows and rows of LP’s in peach crates.
John Prine sang from somewhere overhead
“Blow up our TV’s. . .
feed ‘em all peaches,
and let ‘em find Jesus
all on their own,”
but who would remember
the 70’s that came after the 60’s
or the Navajo peach trees
before the Long Walk
or life in the country
before they took away our farms
and so it is
I ponder empty arms