Happy Winter Solstice
On Monday, December 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM EST we can take a collective breath as we begin to see the days grow longer. Longer days are here again. As we go from the point of days with shorter daylight to days with longer daylight, there is a cause of celebration.
To celebrate, Helen Yoest (that’s me!) of Gardening With Confidence™ and 3 fellow social media friends created a Winter Solstice meal just for you.
We treated this meal like a potluck dinner. Each of us offered up what ever we fancied, but agreed the recipes would be plant-based – not necessarily vegetarian; but a recipe that used a plant as it’s main ingredient. As such, we are calling this meal, a Plantluck Dinner for a Winter Solstice Celebration Meal.
The planners for your Plantluck Dinner for a Winter Solstice Celebration Meal:
Solstice Stuffed Acorn Squash
4 medium acorn squash, locally harvested if possible
2 cups Lundberg’s long grain brown rice
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup minced, dried sweet cranberries
1/3 cup minced, dried sweet apricots
1/3 cup whole, hulled pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut the top ¼ of the acorn squash, and remove all seeds. Place the squash and the tops face down in a roasting pan. Add ½ cup of water and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the squash is soft to the touch. Set aside.
Meanwhile, blend 2 cups of Lundberg’s long grain brown rice with 4 cups of water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 50 minutes. When the rice is tender, drain and pour it into a large bowl and allow it to cool. When cool, add the carrots, cranberries, apricots, pumpkin seeds, red onion and 2 tablespoons of parsley.
Whisk together balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, mint, pepper, remaining salt and remaining parsley. Toss with the rice and fruit medley. Fill each acorn squash and enjoy!
Recipe by Kath Gallant, Chef and Proprietor of the Blue Moon Café, Exeter, N.H.
About Kath & the Blue Moon Café:
For nearly 15 years, Kath Gallant has nurtured the New Hampshire community through the Blue Moon Café in Exeter. The award-winning café serves creative, abundant cuisine, and is committed to earth-wise education about food and wellness. When not in the kitchen, Kath tends a 2000 square-foot organic vegetable, herb and flower garden that supplies fresh fare to the café, and is presently at work with her sister-in-law, garden designer and writer Lynn Felici-Gallant, on the café’s first (and much-requested!) cookbook.
Today, Kath and Lynn are serving up Solstice Stuffed Acorn Squash. ”I love this dish, especially at the holidays. The natural shades of the rice accented with the vibrant jewel-toned cranberries and apricots served in a savory squash reflect the colors and the spirit of the season,” says Kath.
This dish will be on my Solstice celebration table. ”Rice and fruit-filled acorn squash is my favorite of Kath’s recipes from Blue Moon. It is at once healthful and beautiful, and the combination of flavors, fragrance and textures satisfies all of my senses,” says Lynn.
Seasonal Wisdom’s Kale with Feta and Bacon
Here’s a tasty way to eat more healthy winter greens. This recipe combines nutritious kale with bacon and goat cheese to create a delicious dish your entire family will enjoy.
Lucky for us, kale grows well in winter in many places, and it’s hard to beat this green’s high nutritional content. Kale is simply loaded with vitamins A and C, not to mention B vitamins, calcium and other minerals. At our house, we make this dish whenever nutritious comfort food is needed on a cold, winter night.
3 slices of bacon or vegetarian-style bacon (preferably organic, local or sustainably raised)
1 bunch of kale leaves, chopped
1/3 cup of chopped red peppers (I use frozen peppers from my garden)
1 medium sized onion
1-2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup of vegetable broth
1/4 cup of dry white wine
1-2 tablespoons of feta cheese
1 tsp of Dijon style mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme (1/2 tsp of dried thyme)
1 tsp fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp of dried rosemary)
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry bacon until crisp. Place cooked bacon on paper towels to drain. In remaining bacon fat, sauté garlic and onions in cooking pan at medium heat until onions are translucent. (If using vegetarian-style bacon, add olive oil while cooking bacon and also while cooking onions.) Then, add red peppers and cook a minute or so to soften.
Add herbs, mustard, broth, white wine, and salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.
Then add chopped kale and stir well. Cover pan and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. A few minutes before done, add feta and stir well. Serve warm.
This recipe makes a yummy side dish. But these greens also make a great quiche: simply add a cup of milk or almond milk; 3/4 cup of shredded cheese; and three eggs to the above recipe. Pour mixture into uncooked pie crust and bake at 375° F for 35-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when a toothpick stuck in the center of the quiche comes out clean. Let it sit a few minutes before serving.
About the Author: Teresa O’Connor (aka @SeasonalWisdom on Twitter) writes about gardening, local foods and seasonal folklore for online and print publications as well as on her blog www.seasonalwisdom.com.
Teresa co-authored “Grocery Gardening: Planting, Preparing and Preserving Fresh Foods,” (Cool Springs Press) – coming out in January 2010 – where she reported on nutritional research about produce, and provided tips for purchasing fresh foods locally.
GWC’s Sweet Potato Casserole
6 Sweet Potatoes
Bag of mini-marshmallows
Some butter – optional – I happen to put butter in everything
Some brown sugar – I used 1/4 cup
Proportions can change depending on your preference. Add more or less of any ingredient to suit your taste
Boil potatoes with skins on. Can be boiled a day in advance. When done (when a knife easily enters the potato) let cool.
After the sweet potatoes have cooled enough to handle, remove the skins. At this point, the skin will just slide off.
Pre-heat oven to 350° F
Place ingredients directly into an oven proof dish.
Chop or mash the sweet potatoes with a folk.
Sprinkle brown sugar over top
Sprinkle 3/4 mini-marshmallows over top
Dot with butter (if desired)
Mix all together
Cook at 350° F for about a half hour or until heated through.
Add the reminder of the mini-marshmallows on top for garnish.
Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™
Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her facebook friend’s page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence™ Face Book Fan Page.
Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum
Recipe for Apple Crumb Pie
Crust (if you don’t already have a favorite of your own):
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon margarine
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
Step 2: Add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until the flour mixture is moistened and dough almost cleans the side of bowl.
Step 3: Gather dough into a ball and place on lightly floured surface. Using floured rolling-pin, roll dough until it’s about 2 inches larger than inverted pie plate.
Step 5: Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
4 or 5 golden delicious apples (or your favorite baking apple)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Step 8: Mix sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apples.
Step 9: Mix all ingredients together until moist and crumbly. Place on top of the apples.
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter (margarine may also be substituted)
While I bake this pie for various occasions, it’s a family tradition to present this dessert—warm from the oven—to each child’s teacher during appreciation week in May. We draft a poem to go along with it, which typically begins something like this: “An apple for the teacher is a customary treat/So we baked you a pie to let you know you’re sweet …” Fun for all!
I hope you enjoyed our Plantluck Dinner – Winter Solstice Celebration Meal. A meal sure to please all of us looking who are forward to longer days!