Cake Buffet

Gratitude Buffet

Eating Seasonally and Locally with Community Supported Agriculture 

 Pumpkin 

The first box arrived in March, filled with asparagus, bok choy, chives, chickpeas, cilantro, mixed greens, rhubard, and spinach. Each week the bounty continued until only a couple of weeks ago, ending with the twenty-sixth delivery. Included in the last box were pumpkins, apples, radishes, bok choy, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, gourds, leeks, butternut squash, and acorn squash.

I miss Thursday afternoons. That was the day that we’d head down the dusty, dirt road to pick up our delivery. Even though the drive was only one mile from our home, my family anticipated the outing.

My family ate well over the course of several months and we are so thankful for Schreiber and Sons.

Two pumpkins remain, waiting to be consumed. For Thanksgiving our family savored a pie made from one of the several pumpkins we received over the last several weeks. Tomorrow we’ll dine on pumpkin soup. The pumpkin puree that’s left over will go into the freezer. We'll add the puree to muffins, pancakes, and more soup. 

Baking a Pumpkin 

Once you’ve used fresh pumpkin in a recipe, you may never open a can of pumpkin puree again.

To make pumpkin puree, cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and place halves cut side down in a large pan covered with a thin layer of water. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes until soft. When cooled, remove the pumpkin from the shell and puree in a blender or food processor. Excess puree may be stored in the freezer.

Use the seeds to make toasted pumpkin seeds. Rinse off the seeds, pat them dry, and spread a layer of seeds on an olive oil greased pan. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes.

Here’s a soup recipe that is simple to make and flavorful.

Pumpkins - Not Only Used for Jack-o’-lanterns – Soup 

1 diced onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

4 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin

½ cup cream

½ cup milk

In a large pot, sauté onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until translucent. Add broth and pureed pumpkin and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring periodically. Gently stir in cream and milk. Remove from heat. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds. For an extra kick, add chili pepper flakes. Yields 6 servings.

Birthday Buffet

Cupcake

 Sometimes creative juices start flowing out of financial necessity. Following farewells from lucrative paychecks, my husband and I both act differently on all levels of consumerism, including birthday parties.

In the past, we’ve rented out a party room in the back of a children’s museum and even traveled to a big city, complete with fine dining, to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. No longer are such options feasible, yet we still have fun. More fun! All accomplished with a little help.

My sister, who happens to be a graphic designer, offered to create fabulous invitations. She’s crazy about cools fonts and crisp lines. The end result looked like snazzy carnival tickets. My daughter and I hand delivered the invites to the friends in the neighborhood.

Over the weekend, our backyard was filled with kids’ smiling faces as they competed in races to see who could put the most socks on their feet the fastest or fill up measuring cups with water, teaspoon by teaspoon. Yes, it helps that my husband loves orchestrating activities for kids. He even emptied out his t-shirt drawer. The kids grabbed at t-shirts, collected over the course of a decade, to see who could put on the most in one minute. The record was 13!

I usually make my daughter’s birthday cake. I had a hard time handing over the task. My dear friend and neighbor asked if she could make the cupcakes. After all she wants to start a cupcake business and thought that birthday party would be the perfect place to showcase her scrumptious product. Since we were her very first “practice” clients, she didn’t charge us. The cupcakes, perched on ornate stands, were surrounded by kids ready to start singing and start eating. “Hold on!” I shouted. I forgot all about candles. I always have a stash of numbered candles that we use again and again. But when I looked in our stash, there was no number nine candle! We never needed a nine. When my husband turned 39, I used a “3” and turned a “6” upside down. As a result of quick math, I stuck candles in various cupcakes. The numbered candles added up to “9”.

I made a wish when my daughter blew out her candles. I wished that we never lose our love of the simple moments.

How do you live creatively?

Berry Buffet

Berries 

The state of Washington is known for apples. However, raspberries are also prolific. Just yesterday I picked a bowl full of berries and today I picked another bowl. As I picked, it seemed like the raspberries got ripe right before my eyes. Several people in my neighborhood grow raspberries. So we always have plenty to pick and plenty to share.

Yesterday I made scones with raspberries and chocolate chips mixed into the batter. Last night we tossed berries into our green salad. This morning we topped our oatmeal with raspberries. I even froze a few for someone else.

Raspberries are filled with vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, and fiber.  A treat that's healthy and tastes good!

Even though it’s the first day of autumn, we’ll enjoy a sweet harvest for a few more weeks.

Happy autumn,

Heather

The Love Buffet

On September 12, 1911 the world became even more beautiful when Martha was born. Martha’s 95 years of living included a devotion to her 11 children, 29 children, 32 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild, also welcoming her children’s and grandchildren’s spouses into her family.

My mother-in-law wrote her mother’s memoir, I Remember, told in Martha’s words, detailing people, places, and significant dates. Martha’s story is one of sacrifice, tragedy, joy, a love for God, and perseverance.

Martha herded cattle at the age of seven in North Dakota, and even though she needed to quit school when she was 11 years old to help her family’s farm and household chores, she was extremely intelligent. When she became a mother, she worked every day to provide for her family and at one point she planted a garden on railroad land. For several years, her family lived in a home with no indoor plumbing. Martha’s family dined on home-made noodles, bread, and peanut butter cookies. She shared her chickens’ fresh eggs. She was an artist of embroidery, creating exquisite blankets, table runners, and dish towels. Beauty was also found in all of the quilts she made. One of her hobbies was reading. There was never a birthday that she missed. Dozens of framed wedding, baby, school, and graduation photographs filled her shelves. Martha gave the best hugs. She smelled good and was absolutely beautiful.

There is so much more to her story… 

Quilt  

When she left us, she left us love! When I think of her, I feel loved. I can’t help but smile. Her children are such an extension of her, spreading goodness and certainly sharing their love with others. Just like she did!

We each have a Martha in our life. Find your Martha. Remember her. Tell her how much you love her. Learn from her.

Thank you, Grandma. I’m so blessed to be married to your incredible grandson and proud to be the mother of your sweet great-granddaughter.

Thank you, dear, Mom, for compiling Grandma’s memories into written words, making certain that her amazing life will be remembered.

Martha was also enjoyed reading Grit magazine.

A Spicy Buffet

 Aloo Gobhi 

A few years ago I planted one tiny mint plant, purchased from the grocery store up the road. The mint plant multiplied again and again and again. While some think sprawling mint is a bother, I consider mint a blessing. After all, the mint thrives in a spot that previously was a bark patch. Plus, the backyard smells, well, so minty.

When I found out that a neighbor purchases her mint at the store and farms I invited her to pick the mint in my backyard.

She picked and picked to her heart’s content. She’s welcome to come back - anytime.

On Sunday a few of the neighbors shared for special meal. We ate spicy chutney that my neighbor made from the mint she picked in my backyard and more…..

My other sweet neighbor taught my mom and me to make make aloo gobhi (potatoes cauliflower).

Now I’ll share with you how she taught us to make the south Indian recipe. I took notes as we cooked.

Note: The spices can often be purchased at health food stores. I often purchase my spices in bulk (for a fraction of the cost) in bulk. That way I can purchase a tablespoon of a spice, rather than an entire bottle.

Aloo Gohbi –  

1 head of cauliflower (chopped)

3 potatoes (cubed)

1 C onion (diced)

1 tomato (diced)

1 T olive oil

Spices:turmeric, whole cumin seeds, fengreek, garam masala, ground coriander, cumin powder, fresh cilantro, salt

Heat olive oil in a large pan on the stove (medium heat)

Stir in about ½ T of ground turmeric

Add onions and cook until translucent

Add about ½ C of water

Add potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes

Add cauliflower and three pinches of fengreek, a few sprinkles of ground cumin, a couple of pinches of garam masala, a few sprinkles of cumin, and a dash of salt

Add more water, as needed to prevent sticking

Cook together until soft

Add tomatoes and continue cooking for a few minutes

Garnish with fresh cilantro

What a meal! And the smells were heavenly.

We also feasted on spicy chicken, a green salad with ground coconut, grilled vegetables, chutneys, fruit kabobs, rice, lentil and oat (mini muffins), and flat bread.

Thank you, friends!

Someday, I learn to make the mint chutney!

Seriously Green

My friend has a bright green thumb!  While others often struggle to grow the perfect crop, she’s a natural at growing just about anything.  She told me that when she was a little girl, she dropped a seed onto the ground, used her foot to cover the seed with dirt, and eventually that little seed sprouted.

One evening when I dropped by her house with some apricots, picked right down the road, I didn’t expect to leave with enough vegetables to feed my entire family for days.

 Vegetables  

Between the produce I received from my CSA and my friend’s generosity, my family really did eat off the land…for about one week.

We savored baked potato french- fries; salads with sliced peaches, drizzled with olive oil; zucchini muffins, so moist; and crisp apples. The flavors were exceptional. And, I thought about my friend's kindness during every meal. Oh, the pears are just about ripe!

I almost forgot...she also gave us the sweetest grapes I've ever tasted, a couple of days ago. 

Isn’t it true that the best gifts are the unexpected gifts? 

Thank you, Nona!!!

Green Buffet

Breathe Deeply!

My dear friend and neighbor knocked at the door. There she stood, holding a garden hod (a cool container used to cart around a harvest) filled with fresh herbs from her garden.

 Garden Hod 

The aroma of Greek oregano, tarragon, chives, apple mint and chocolate mint filled my kitchen. Thank you, neighbor!

To keep the herbs fresh, I filled a container with a bit of water. Who knew that fresh herbs could make a lovely bouquet? Of course, my family used every bit of the herbs…we made herb tea and jazzed up our recipes with flavor. 

 Vegetable Bouquet 

I absolutely love how sharing a harvest allows friendships to flourish!

Aside from receiving and giving produce to neighbors, it’s the relationships that we all cherish. Over the years we’ve shared so much more than produce. If someone needs  a ride to a doctor’s appointment, we deliver. If something doesn’t seem quite right, we trust our instincts. And, we like to share cake!

How does your neighbor surprise you?

Happy summer,

Heather