Sunday, February 6, 2011


Air Temp:  21°       Hoophouse Soil Temp:  35° - not quite frozen
I suppose that you can’t be a serious gardener without being a serious eater!  And if you love to eat, you love to eat even more if it is fresh from your own garden.  What could be more satisfying, more fulfilling, than to cook with your very own produce.  How much more local can you get than from your own backyard?  But after one successful year with my raised beds, I bought seeds for vegetables that had previously been taboo.  I never, ever grew butternut squash before this last year.  In fact, I never grew any other squash than zucchini.  Maybe after growing that prolific vegetable, which turns into a baseball bat-sized monstrosity when left too long on the vine, I was actually afraid that all squash would be potential giants – almost like Woody Allen’s giant vegetables.  But last spring for some unknown reason, I found some butternut squash seeds at my local Agway and planted a few seeds along my fence.  It turned out to be a very good idea as those small seedlings grew into long vines with about 12 squash.  Since I trained them on the fence, they took up very little garden space and even inadvertently provided a little shade during our very hot July.  I even crocheted little hammocks for each squash which gently supported each as they grew.  This proved to be unnecessary as I found that butternut squash had very strong stems.  But my crafting friends thought it a funny, creative touch to my garden.   So at the end of the growing season, I had 12 butternut squashes in the basement storeroom waiting for winter soup.  I found this excellent recipe on the internet and recommend it highly with fresh baked bread and winter greens.  Enjoy! 

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple & Bacon

 8 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
2-1/2 lb. butternut squash (about 1 medium), peeled, seeded, and cut into
1/2-inch dice (to yield about 6 cups)
1 small Granny Smith or other tart-sweet apple, peeled, cored, and cut into
1/2-inch dice (to yield about 1 cup)
1-1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 cups homemade or low-salt chicken or vegetable broth

 In a 5-quart or larger stockpot set over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.

 Increase heat to medium high. Add the squash to the pot with the bacon fat and cook until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes (resist the urge to stir it too often or it won’t brown). Stir in the apple, sage, salt, and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes (you’ll see more browning occur on the bottom of the pot than on the vegetables). Add the broth, scraping up any browned bits in the pot with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the squash and apples are very soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool somewhat.

 Add about half the bacon to the soup and purée, using a stand or immersion blender (you’ll need to work in batches if using a stand blender). Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Reheat the soup and garnish each serving with the remaining bacon.

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