Sunday, November 29, 2009

If It's Winter, it Means Squash

I recently reported that I bought a new-to-me squash. That doesn't happen that often. And I couldn't remember the name so I had to write it down. It's called Aunt Thelma's Sweet Potato Pie squash. I still must do some research and find out more about it (it's in the photo and is the largest squash in the back with a butternut-type color, wedged between 2 delicatas). Nathan Boone of First Light Farm and now Oh Tommy Boy's potatoes sold me the squash and told me that there really is an Aunt Thelma.

I cooked the squash and here is my report. The squash was easy enough to cut and the color was a lot like a butternut. I couldn't tell much about its texture until it was thoroughly cooked. And when it was, it was soft and perfect for soup. It did not have the intense sweetness or dense texture of my favorite squash which is the delicata. I am sure that I prefer a number of other squash over Aunt Thelma's Sweet Potato Pie squash. And when I make Sweet Potato pie, I prefer having sweet potatoes in it. It's one of two dessert recipes in my cookbook, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment.

Since I also really like squash soup, this squash was just fine. I liked the size of it but I'm not likely to buy one again. Good thing that I have a few delicata squash put away for future use.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Veggie Queen Brings Color to Thanksgiving Table

I should have gotten a hint about my husband's eating habits when the first salad that he made me contained iceberg lettuce, a rock hard tomato, cucumber and green pepper. He probably thought that he'd done fine but not in my world. Over the years, I've helped my husband upgrade what's in the salad bowl (see What's Up Doc, a sidebar story in my cookbook, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment). Rick still avoids "the weeds" (all the bitter things that I really like) but will eat almost any dark green lettuce put in front of him, in copious quantities now, even asking for salad nightly.

While I've done wonders with Rick, of his own volition, of course, the same is not true for the family wherein he grew up. My mother-in-law, whom I love dearly, informed me that everything was OK for Thanksgiving because she got the rolls that everyone loves (store bought white, bake and serve dinner rolls), the boiling onions and the celery and radishes. I've come to learn that my husband's family is all about the "white stuff": white bread, mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey. I am, of course, all about the vegetables, especially since I am a vegetarian.

My incredibly sweet MIL told me that she bought me some (frozen, I am sure) fettuccine Alfredo to eat for Thanksgiving. She somehow cannot grasp the concept that I am vegan. She used to buy me frozen lasagna but I told her that I didn't like it. She also does not understand that while I am not specifically gluten-free, I eat few gluten-containing foods because I feel better eating this way.

Since I joined the family, I have been infiltrating Thanksgiving with color. I am not sure which is harder for them to take: the actual colorful vegetables or me and how I am "different". I've been trying for years to get my niece and nephew to eat my roasted root vegetables, which often contain pink and purple potatoes. They think that I am a bit odd. And while that may be true, I am not going to give up on offering them vegetables.

I made my usual Curried Squash and Pear Soup, roasted root vegetables and Fruited Wild Rice, all of which are in my cookbook, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment.

This year I also included a Match Meat vegan holiday roast that I made with the "chicken" flavor stuffed with cooked wild rice and "sausage" Match, made almost according to the recipe with some tweaking. Tasted good but not a preferred every day food for me.

I was able to get Brussels sprouts on the stalk so roasted a nice batch of those. Luckily my son also likes them, which drives Rick, my husband, crazy as he likes to say that he "hates" them.
I've turned more than one B.s. hater into a tolerater but...
I don't have high vegetable hopes for my husband's family but I am still going to bring the color to Thanksgiving. I just can't help myself.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rooting Around For Mushrooms and More

Last night I went to a SOMA meeting and listened to David Arora, author of Mushrooms Demystified (which is still a big mystery to me) and All that the Rain Promises and More..., and William Rubel, friends and myco-cohorts discuss the Aminita Muscaria mushroom and its edibility. Now, if this isn't the black hole of mycological geek-dom, I am not sure what is. No PowerPoint presentation or photos, one little aminita-like prop and lots of talk about history and then reality. Bottom line: they say that you can eat the poisonous aminita muscaria if it is boiled for 15 minutes in a large amount of water and then cooked another way. First, though, you have to find said mushroom.

A sad day for me, as today was the SOMA foray at the coast of Northern California. And my day just did not allow for me to make the trip. So, I went to a local park which was supposed to be a potential mushroom spot. I once found a Boletus Edulus (porcini) there and have been looking for another ever since. That was years ago. But sometimes the fun is in the hunt, not in the finding -- RIGHT! While that sounds nice, the truth is that the thrill is in finding the mushrooms, especially choice edibles. That will have to wait until later this week when I hope to get a coastal trip in and get moving in the woods with eyes on the ground.

On another note, today was a beautiful day at the farmer's market, with people gearing up for Thanksgiving. I bought a new-to-me squash, the name of which I have already forgotten, and some horseradish root, which I love as something to grate onto my baked potatoes. Twin Peaks Ranch had a new Algerian tangerine, which I declared is tastier than the Satsuma Mandarin. This was confirmed by Ted Richardson of Bella Ride Orchard (or farm), a guy who knows his fruit. I stopped by too late to get any apples or pears from Ted but he's the guy who grows the incredible Warren pears, also sold out for the year. Jim and Dave from Cazadero were there with chanterelle mushrooms (see photo for a holey one), chestnuts and quince.
Friday I spoke to the Valley of the Moon Rotary on The Veggie Queen's Health Care Solution and tomorrow I speak to the UU Forum in San Francisco about Surviving the Holidays as a vegetarian (so easy to do in my opinion but I have years of experience). Both talks involve vegetables, which ought to be clear by now. I have an agenda. I'm a mom so I say, "Eat your vegetables, please."
Just so you know, I've still got mushrooms on my mind, and they aren't vegetables but are well worth eating, if you can find them.