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Posts Tagged ‘Connecticut’

P&P and Greg & I are now on our fourth straight year of celebrating annual squash fests! These fests are a celebration of all things fall and is easily one of our favorite autumnal traditions. They started the year that we began dating our now-husbands — that first year involved transporting an assortment of colorful varieties from the farmers’ market in Morningside Heights across state borders to our long-distance boyfriends in Connecticut. The second year involved a novice attempt at spaghetti squash; the third year was a bit forgettable but we think it was in Willington; and now, the fourth year.

This fourth year of squash celebration has been truly spectacular. Now that I’m done with school and life has calmed down a bit, we’ve prioritized seeing P&P every fortnight or so, and every gathering has yielded a thrilling outdoor activity and some exciting inclusion of squash. Today we saluted the last of the apples at Lyman’s and finished the evening off with some roasted barley-stuffed pumpkins.

I imagine these pumpkins can be stuffed with just about anything and can be made savory or sweet. For a savory version, we used barley, which can easily be replaced with rice or wheat berries or millet or any other variety of grain. Instead of red swiss chard, one could substitute in cooked beans or zucchini or other cooked vegetables. For a sweet version, some coconut flakes and cubed apples could be a delicious alternative.

Roasted Barley-Stuffed Pumpkins

2 sugar pumpkins
1 c pearled barley, pre-cooked
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch of leafy greens
1 can diced tomatoes
8 oz cheddar, cubed
Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, crushed red pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice off the top 1 1/2 inches of the pumpkins and discard. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.

Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is slightly tender and translucent. Stir in the greens and salt and cook, stirring until the greens are slightly tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cooked barley, about 2 minutes. Add cheese. Put the pumpkins in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and fill evenly with the barley mixture.

Add 1 inch of boiling water to the baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake until the pumpkins are tender, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then serve.

Original recipe here.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Two Ways

Pumpkin seeds and olive oil

Cayenne pepper
Habanero salt
Oregano
Cracked black pepper

Cardamom, freshly ground
Holiday black tea leaves, crushed
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 F. Rinse pumpkin seeds and combine in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and desired seasonings. Mix well. Spread in one flat surface on a baking sheet. Roast for 10-12 minutes, stirring at least once. All seasonings are to taste.  Careful not to burn!

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Fall is upon us here in Connecticut, and we are entering into the most magical time of year in the Nutmeg State. This weekend, Greg and I took a long drive on our way to the annual Celtic Festival in Hartford, and the display of foliage was just spectacular.  The Celtic Festival featured a  “weight over bar” event in the Highland Games and samples of traditional Welsh cookies.  If the two namesake festivals are any indication, we learned that Celtic and Asian cultures differ tremendously.

We have a surfeit of overripe bananas on our counter these days, and smittenkitchen just posted a new “crackly” banana bread recipe a few days ago. Though I have my long-standing go-to banana bread recipe, the raw millet added in this version caught my fancy. Millet is one of the staple grains around the world, but in the U.S. is primarily used as birdseed. The protein content of millet is roughly equivalent to that of wheat four, and it has a nice fluffy texture that is similar to that of couscous.

I made a number of adjustments to the smittenkitchen version of this recipe. First, I eliminated all additional sugars. The recipe called for brown sugar and maple syrup, but bananas are really sweet enough on their own. Additionally, after seeing this horrifying infograph recently, I decided we don’t really need to contribute to our lifetime intake of processed sugar.

The other big adjustment is that in place of whole wheat flour, I used a homemade almond-oat flour.Wheat flour is delicious and inexpensive, but we’ve found that almond-oat flour just adds a nice touch of extra flavor and nutrients. 1 part almonds, 2 part oats — grind it up in a food processor or Magic Bullet or blender, until it is finely ground. A few small chunks of almonds may remain, and for most baking purposes, a bit of extra crunch is nice.

Our version also is a bit more heavily spiced than smittenkitchen’s. I can also envision this being delicious with some ground cardamom or dark chocolate chunks. Enjoy!

Crackly Banana Bread (original from Smitten Kitchen)

3 large ripe-to-over-ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup melted butter or oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1 1/2 cups almond-oat flour
1/4 cup uncooked millet

Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In the bottom of a large bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until virtually smooth but a few tiny lumps remain. Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar and syrup. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over mixture and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then millet.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool loaf in pan on rack.

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It’s the beginning of blueberry season here in Connecticut, and we spent the morning picking our own at Lyman’s Orchards. Lyman’s has made many an appearance on this blog, as it is one of the largest (>1,000 acres!) family farms in Connecticut. Lyman’s is one of the primary reasons we’re contemplating the possibility of staying in Connecticut past Greg’s graduation. The pizza here is great, Yale is okay, and having the best orchard in the world a mere half hour drive away certainly doesn’t hurt. (Actually, having our group of friends here is really the key reason we’d stay… but more on that two years from now.)

Blueberries are terrifically healthy, high in oxygen radical absorbance capacity (also known as ORACs) which can prevent brain aging and cancer! Blueberries are also a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. The only catch is that due to their thin skins, they can easily absorb pesticides (if used), so be sure to wash carefully with water and a splash of vinegar to kill most bacteria and any mold spores.

We’ve been snacking on blueberries straight from the container since we got them, and have also enjoyed them with a splash of vanilla soy milk, and blended into a post-workout smoothie with some frozen strawberries and orange juice. And since we’re technically on a diet with a strict baking restriction imposed on me, we made just a mini-portion of following recipe. Enjoy!

Blueberry Tartlets*

1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 T confectioners’ sugar
3 T butter
1 T ice water

1 c blueberries, washed
1/8 c sugar
1/2 T cornstarch
1/2 T lemon juice
1/2 T lemon zest

Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, and a pinch of salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With processor running, add cold water gradually until a dough forms.

Shape dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day. Cut 1 disk into 6 pieces; on a lightly floured work surface, flatten each piece into a 2-inch round. Press a round onto bottom and up sides of each cup of a 6-cup nonstick muffin tin. Freeze 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Add berries; toss to coat. Add lemon juice. Fill shells with berry mixture. Bake until crusts are brown and filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in tins. Run a rubber spatula around tarts; remove from tins. Let cool completely on rack.

*This recipe has been halved to make six cupcake-sized tartlets (of which we gave away two!)

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Over two months into the season now, it finally feels like summer. With school in New York two nights a week and countless weddings and wedding festivities through June and July, this past weekend was our first free weekend since May. And boy does it feel like summer! This weekend was full of my favorite summer activities — free outdoor movie on the New Haven Green, a full day at the beach, and an afternoon outing to the orchard.

As far as beach food goes, you’ll see in an above photo that some beach-goers prefer freshly caught fish. We, on the other hand, significantly less confident in our fishing prowess, packed ourselves a hefty portion of cut vegetables and hummus, some thyme-infused earl gray iced tea, a big bag of tortilla chips, and homemade peach tomato salsa. The salsa was born out of a gift of a peach from a lovely office-mate, and a quick trip to Edge of the Woods provided the remainder of the ingredients. (Another bonus feature of summer — bountiful produce!!

Peach-Tomato Salsa

1 very ripe peach
4 or 5 vine-ripened tomatoes
1/2 red onion
1 jalapeno pepper
small bunch cilantro
lemon juice, splash
olive oil, splash

Chop peach, onion, and tomatoes very small. (Helpful hint: a freshly sharpened chef’s knife or serrated knife does wonders on the tomatoes.) Chop cilantro and jalapeno.

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more chile, lime, or salt as needed. Let sit for at least another half hour so that the flavors meld.

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A few weekends ago, Greg and I took a little journey up to Lyman’s Orchards just a hop, skip, and jump away from my alma mater, Wesleyan University. Lyman’s becomes an oasis of plenty in the summer– trees and shrubs weighted down by the sheer volume of carefully cultivated fruit begging to be picked and consumed and taken home. When we went most recently in mid-April, none of the fruit was quite ready to be picked, and instead we were greeted with beautiful floral blossoms canopying the hundreds of acres of Lyman’s.

After tonight’s torrential storm, I suspect none of these flowers have survived, but if you are interested in visiting with us in a few weeks, Greg and I plan to participate in the annual Strawberry Fest held on June 11. (Last year’s Peach Fest was certainly a treat, with the both of us participating heartily — though not victoriously — in a peach pie eating contest.)

That’s it for tonight. We have a very exciting post featuring a very successful wedding cake to come, but no more until then!

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