Those are all things that I like a great deal. Needless to say, I am a very happy girl about now.
This past weekend, Paul and I visited my parents in upstate New York. We had a very relaxing and fun time with them, and even got a day of sunshine to enjoy things outdoors!
We ventured out on Saturday to find some apples. Not many orchards are doing pick your own apples this year, due to the low yields. That was okay though, because my arms aren’t completely healed and I’d be stuck with the low hangers anyway. So we stopped at a local orchard and purchased about 20 lbs. of apples. You see, Paul and I make fantastic homemade unsweetened applesauce. Time to get canning!
My mother wanted to stop at a local bakery, but that ended up being closed for a family wedding. However, we found two wonderful things as we turned away from the abandoned bakery: so many cows, and a sign pointing us towards a winery.
The winery is called Johnston’s Winery. We followed painted signs pointing us to a private residence in the middle of nowhere (we were already in the middle of nowhere, this took us a bit more in). None of us had much hope, but a very nice gentleman showed us into his brewing room and showroom. He had a number of fruit and grape wines, and I have to say they were some of the best New York wines I’ve had. Now, I’ve never really been a fan of New York wines to begin with. Some of them aspire to be too much like Boone’s Farm. Anyway, we were really surprised, especially with his Chardonnay. It was delicious and fruity and nothing like Chardonnay wines usually are (I’ve come to decide they usually taste like fermented bath water). This guy knows his stuff. He even let us check out his brewing set up! It was a thing of dreams, really. We left with a mixed case, which I can’t wait to dig into. If you’re ever in the Galway/Charlton area of New York, you should check it out.
We stopped on the way back to say hello to the cows. I sure do love cows. Now sadly, we were separated by an electric fence that the cows would not get within ten feet of (can’t blame them), so we were just able to trade some moos back and forth. I have a whole slew of pictures of cows looking at me funny. But this one was my favorite. Her attention could not be taken from the grass. Chew chew chew.
Before we left for my parents’ house, I had some squash to cook. Every fall, I get so excited when all the variety of squashes come out and it’s just mountain of gourds and they all look beautiful and delicious. One squash I’ve never tried is the weird dinosaur looking one. Hubbard squash.
Since Hubbards are HUGE, we jumped on the chance to buy just a piece of one. The whole ones can be a bit intimidating
Squash usually does well in soup, so I did some digging around to find some ideas. I settled on a pinto bean and mixed squash soup. So thick and beany and squashy!
Pinto Bean and Mixed Squash Soup
adapted from Cooking Light; makes 6 large servings
- 3 cups dried pinto beans
- 4 cups water
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 cups chopped onion
- 4 cups winter squash, chopped 1/2″ (I used Hubbard and Butternut)
- 1 cup sliced carrot
- 1 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo, chopped
- 1 tsp. ground sage
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (low or no sodium optional)
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. dry roasted pumpkin seeds
1) Prepare beans: place beans in a pot and cover with water so that beans are below 2″ of water. Let sit for 8 hours. After beans have soaked, drain them, then place in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring beans and water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, cover the pot and let simmer for another 30 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, and cook the onion, carrots, squash and chipotle until the onions are softened and starting to brown.
3) Add the onion mixture to the beans, then add the thyme, sage, crushed tomatoes, and vodka. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and cook at a reduced heat for at least ten minutes, but as long as you’d like, making sure that the squash is tender. Stir occasionally.
4) Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with the pumpkin seeds
So, in this soup, the Hubbard squash tasted much like the butternut. The texture was a bit different, maybe a bit more grainy. I liked it, but because of its bumpy skin, it’s a bitch to peel and chop. I might just stick with the butternut in the future. But still, adventure!
Note on the vodka: my boyfriend is a chemist. He taught me all about esters and how tomatoes react with alcohol to release these wonderful things called esters that make things taste more flavorful and complex. You can do it with any alcohol, vodka is just a relatively otherwise flavorless booze that you can use with any flavors. I’d try this again with red wine!