Nov 30 2009

Butternut Squash Risotto with Chard and Leeks

I made this using kind of a mash-up of two recipes: this one and one from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s a nice way to use the last of the fall harvest. Somewhat labor intensive but it makes a lot of food (we have enough leftovers for several lunches).

Peel and seed one butternut squash, and dice up the flesh of the squash. In a large, deep skillet or dutch oven heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat; add the squash along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sauté until golden-brown and tender, about ten minutes.

While the squash is cooking, chop up two leeks (or onions) and two cloves of garlic. Wash and stem one bunch of chard.

Also, put four cups of chicken or vegetable broth and one cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Once it’s at a simmer, turn the heat down as low as you can to keep it warm while you continue cooking the vegetables.

When the squash is done, remove it to a bowl and set aside. Add one teaspoon olive oil to the skillet and swirl to coat. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the chard; cover the skillet and let steam for a couple of minutes, then uncover and stir until chard is fully wilted. Move the cooked chard to a strainer.

Melt three tablespoons of butter in the skillet and, when foaming subsides, add the leeks and garlic along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Sauté until leeks are softened, about five minutes. Add two cups of Arborio rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is translucent around the edges. This only takes a few minutes.

Pour in one and a half cups of white wine and stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid, about five minutes. When the wine is fully absorbed, add three cups of the hot broth and the reserved squash and stir it up. Let simmer, stirring every few minutes, until the rice has absorbed the broth and the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Then start adding the rest of the broth, one half cup at a time, stirring and simmering, adding more liquid every time the bottom of the pan gets sticky, until the rice is al dente. If you run out of broth and the rice isn’t tender yet, just start adding water.

While you’re letting the rice simmer, you can grate 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese: or better yet, have somebody else grate it for you.

When the rice is done or almost done, turn off the heat and stir in one more tablespoon of butter, the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (you get much better flavor if you buy whole nutmegs and grate them fresh), and two tablespoons minced fresh sage. Squeeze any extra liquid out of your chard, chop it roughly, and fold it into the risotto. Taste the rice and adjust the seasonings as you like (I added more salt).

Serve topped with pine nuts, if you want.

Nov 29 2009

New Haircuts!

Robin's new haircut

We took Robin to a hair salon today to get his first “real” haircut. He pretty much hated it, but the lady at Peppermint Cuts was super-quick and it was all over in about ten minutes. Now he has a tidy new ‘do that shows off his handsome face, instead of the bowl cut he was sporting before.

One surprising thing is how much his hair color seemed to change after the cut. All the sun-bleached ends got snipped off, with the result that Robin basically went from blond to sandy brown hair. It’ll take a little getting used to, but it looks good on him.

I got my hair cut also. Here’s a picture of us together; Robin’s bangs look uneven in this one, but they’re really not—his hair’s just rumpled.

me and Robin

Nov 28 2009

The Ticker Post

This little ticker will update daily to show how far along I am in this pregnancy, so anyone who’s particularly interested (hi Mom!) can bookmark this post and check back whenever they like.

We don’t really know very much at this stage (haven’t had an ultrasound yet), but we do already have the names picked out: if he’s a boy he’ll be Luke David Phillips, and we’ll call him Davy; if she’s a girl she’ll be Rosaura Gayle Phillips, and we’ll call her Rosaura — or Rose or Rosa or Rosie or Rosarita or Petal or Rose-storm or Stinky Flower or any one of five hundred things, probably.

Nov 28 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re back from Fayetteville for Thanksgiving, where Robin was delighted to play with his Pops, Mo, uncles, aunt, great-aunts, great-grandmother, cousin-once-removed…it was a wonderful gathering of extended family. Robin loved everybody and everybody loved him.

Here’s a few pictures Sam snapped. A nice shot of Robin with Masie:

Robin and Masie playing “airplane” — this game was hilarious. Robin would “board the airplane” by bellying up to Masie’s feet. If her feet weren’t in position, he’d lift them into the proper airplane-boarding posture and then plonk his tummy up against them. Hours of fun.

Robin preparing for a bit of spin-around with Uncle Jesse:

And Robin delighted to be the center of everyone’s attention:

The trip was great for me too, not only because it’s always nice to see my family, but also because with so many people to amuse Robin I really got to rest and relax. I’ve been pretty fatigued lately because (drumroll) I’m two months pregnant with another baby. So we have a lot to be thankful for this year!

Nov 20 2009

Persimmon-Apple Pie


This recipe was included in the veggie box last year, but I can’t find on the Farm Fresh to You site, so I’ll reprint it here.

First, either make a pie crust or thaw a frozen one. I used the frozen crust this time. Bake the pie crust in a 350 degree oven until it’s lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.

Peel 4 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons—and they do have to be Fuyu; the other types of persimmons are too astringent to work well—and slice them up. Peel and slice two tart apples (such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady) as well. Mix the fruit in a large bowl with 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and the juice of a lemon.

In another bowl, mix together 1 cup crushed gingersnap cookies, 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons flour. Mix in the melted butter and squeeze with your fingertips to form lumps.

When the pie crust is ready, fill it with the sliced fruit. Scatter the gingersnap mixture on top.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, or until pastry is browned and filling bubbles.

Nov 12 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

I finally got around to making pumpkin puree from the pumpkins we got in our box a few weeks ago. I made two batches of pumpkin muffins and froze the rest of the puree.

The recipe for the muffins is one I clipped from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch probably around ten years ago. You preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In one bowl beat together 6 tablespoons melted butter, two eggs, two tablespoons molasses, 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree, and 1/2 cup orange juice. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in 1/2 cup walnut pieces and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Spoon into a greased muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes.

This week veggies included spinach, collard greens, red leaf lettuce, a fennel bulb and fronds, a bunch of leeks, a bag of bok choy, a butternut squash, five satsuma mandarin oranges, four persimmons, and five pink lady apples. Tonight we’re working on leftovers from last week’s cabbage and white bean stew, but tomorrow I’ll do pork chops alongside creamed spinach with leeks. Saturday, we’ll have a green salad with sauteed fennel and grilled steak tips, and then Sunday black-eyed peas with bacon and collard greens, and apple-persimmon pie for dessert. Monday, butternut squash and sage risotto; Tuesday, leftovers. Robin and I will have the bok choy at some point for lunch.

Nov 4 2009

And Now

I’m watching Robin eat squash soup, all by himself, with a spoon. I tried to get him just to drink it from a cup, but he wants to use the spoon. It’s crazy messy, but I know that it’s good practice for him, and that it’s toddler nature to want to do things the way his parents do. He’s no fool: he can see perfectly well that we eat our soup with spoons, and he’s made it his job to figure out how to do that too.

I actually love watching his care and concentration as he navigates the soup to his mouth. And more than that: there’s something deeply, intensely rewarding in watching my son slurp up his vitamin-packed, all-organic, all-local, cooked-from-scratch squash soup. It’s like with every bite he takes my hindbrain purrs, good mom, good mom. Partly because food = love in my brain, but even more particularly because it’s squash soup, and I associate squash with my mom, so it’s like: Yes! I’m doing it right!

Weird the kind of deep buttons food can push for us, huh? Well, at least the mess is pretty localized, so it’ll be easy enough to mop up later.

Nov 4 2009

What’s for Dinner

So, we didn’t end up taking Robin out trick-or-treating: he was having too good a time visiting with his Nonna, Pappy, and anti-Sara. And the doggies. And the trains. He looooved a train video his Pappy had, and now he wants to talk about “choo-choos” all the time. Unfortunately his vocabulary is still highly limited, so the conversation is pretty much restricted to Robin shouting “choo choo!” over and over. He really likes it when you ask him what sound a train makes, because he’s got the answer down pat.

Anyway, we don’t have Halloween pictures, but since we did get him a costume we’ll probably dress him up and snap some shots anyway. Maybe later tonight.

Meanwhile, in our veggie box we got several huge glorious bunches of fresh leafy greens: chard, kale, broccoli rabe, arugula, and a bunch of beets with the greens still attached. We also got cabbage, lettuce, six kiwis, four fuyu persimmons, and five mandarin oranges—Robin will probably gobble these up as soon as he realizes we have them. He’s not as big a fan of kiwis, but I can usually pawn them off on him, since neither Sam nor I like them (too slimy! too many seeds!).

Tonight I’m making the squash soup that I didn’t get around to fixing last week. Tomorrow, we’ll have a salad using the lettuce, the arugula, and the beets (roasted), along with the persimmon-apple pie that I also didn’t make last week. Friday night we can have pasta with broccoli rabe, Italian sausage, and beet greens; Saturday night, I’ll make polenta with chard (one of my favorite recipes). Sunday night we’ll have a Tuscan cabbage and white bean stew, even though every time I make a recipe that describes itself as “Tuscan” I think of this bit from The Onion. Monday night, Indian-spiced lentils with kale over brown rice, and Tuesday, leftovers. And that’s what’s for dinner!