Back in Action: Fall Soup - Pumpkin, Curry, Apples, and Almonds!

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Well! The wedding is over and this week has been a dragging-out of lazy afternoon, laundry, and slouching my way back into the daily routine.

I don’t want to say or write too much about the wedding until we have all of the photos. I want to put the best out first and I’m sure will be sharing many, many, many photos throughout the next few weeks (or months!).

But we’re slowly moving from crisp to cold, the mornings that were foggy two weeks ago now freeze as crystals on the too-shaggy grass that crunches to the barn. The nights are long, the dogs are tired. We went to bed at nine last night, our eyes not adjusted to so little daylight.

And so I want something hearty and warm. Fragrant, smooth, sweet and bitter. I want it all. I get greedy sometimes. So I adapted my old soup recipe for Table Magazine last year with some ingredients I had around the kitchen. Ate two bowls quickly for lunch, a third for dinner.

Shared below, I hope you’ll make it, too.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 apple, roughly chopped

  • 1/3 cup orange juice

  • 4 cups good quality chicken stock

  • 3 cups pumpkin puree

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic, diced

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoon yellow curry powder

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat oil and sauté onions and apples until both are softened and browned.

  2. Deglaze with juice and allow alcohol to cook out, about 1 minute.

  3. Add stock, pumpkin, salt, pepper, garlic, and almonds.

  4. Bring soup to a boil, cover and let it continue boiling for 30 minutes.

  5. When 30 minutes have elapsed, remove from heat.

  6. Using a blender or food processor, pulse soup to desired thickness.

  7. Return to Dutch oven and stir in cream and curry.

  8. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Giant Jammy Thumbprint Cookies

Giant Jammy Thumbprint Cookies

I’m laying in the bedroom, too excited to sleep but too tired to get up and let the chickens out. One small lamp illuminates the room, yellowing Elsa’s fur, ochre streaks on the dawn. It’s been a long month. Good, but long. So much to plan, so much to do. So much in the little details, where the Devil sometimes waits. A handful of days until the wedding. More on that later.

I’ve been trying my hand at rituals. I’ve been trying to remind myself to get off my ass and walk around the house, around the yard, around the pasture. I’ve been having a hard time with the concept of expansion. It’s much easier for someone like me, who grew up bookish and can’t handle perimeters of myself very well, to sit in one room all day. I’ve been trying my hand at rituals to make small allowances. To break into this part of myself.

So I cut back on coffee and find time to brew a cup of tea. Write some letters I’ve been holding off on. And since either don’t eat until 9 at night or snack throughout the day, I thought I’d ease back into baking with small desserts. Easy treats. Things to dunk and break and that leaves crumbs behind.

Enter these giant thumbprint cookies. Made with whatever jam I found in my fridge this week. I’ve made this recipe twice already.

Giant Thumbprint Cookies

Giant Jammy Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 TB lemon zest

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup your favorite jam

Directions:

  1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy

  2. Add egg, zest, and vanilla and mix together

  3. Sift together dry ingredients and gently stir into your butter mixture

  4. Turn out onto a floured work surface and pat into a disc. Wrap and chill for 1 hour

  5. Preheat oven to 400*F

  6. Roll dough into 2 TB balls, press with thumb or measuring spoon to create a well in center

  7. Par-bake for 5 minutes

  8. Meanwhile, heat jam in microwave for a few seconds to loosen it up a bit

  9. Take cookies out of oven after time has elapsed, fill each well with a bit of jam

  10. Bake for an additional 8 minutes or until slightly brown (I like mine to be a bit soft, but you can bake longer)

  11. Allow to cool and enjoy

Giant Jammy Thumbprint Cookies
Giant Jammy Thumbprint Cookies
Giant Jammy Thumbprint Cookies
Giant Jammy Thumbprint Cookies

It's been a while: Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Not on purpose, but life got in the way since July. A big project for my full-time job is now complete, the weather has cooled down, and I am ready to spend hours this Fall in front of the oven again.

What have you missed? Not much, I would say. The arc of our lives moves steadily towards the Big Day. Planning has officially commenced and I sit in bed and think of all the small bits of who we are will be imbued into the ceremony. I am excited.

I do not know where the days have went. I couldn’t tell you if i tried. It seems like the transitionary months of August and September are always a blur. I can’t remember if I went anywhere or did anything noteworthy. I can only think of October. My birthday. A spa day we enjoyed. Dinner after with my family. I can only think of jam making this weekend. I can only think of rain, my favorite season. I can only think of the dogs, with their muddy paws and beaming smiles. I can only think of the immediate needs of my life. Anything else will have to wait.

Which is a long-winded way of saying - I did not have time for the blog lately. But that’s changing again, thankfully.

And to celebrate my return to blogging again, here is a recipe I hope you enjoy: A Paris-Brest. Choux circles filled with cream, topped with almonds and served chilled. Delicious and messy, just like life right now.

Paris-Brest
Made extremely easy using a pudding packet. I was going to go a more traditional route, but this worked too perfectly for me and was equally delicious and rich in flavor. You can sub the mascarpone below for a buttercream, but expect it to be stiffer and sweeter.

Paris Brest

Directions for Pastry:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F

  2. On parchment paper, draw two identical 8 inch circles (I used a plate)

  3. In a medium saucepan, heat water, milk, butter, and salt on high until butter is melted and bubbles begin forming around the rim, stirring occasionally

  4. Turn off heat and stir in flour with a wooden spoon

  5. Let cool for 5 minutes until slightly cooled

  6. With a whisk or wooden spoon, beat in eggs, one at a time until dough is glossy and pale yellow

  7. Transfer to a piping bag, fitted with a 1/2 inch tip

  8. Pipe dough onto circles

  9. Tap on table

  10. Bake for 40 minutes or until puffed and golden

  11. Prick with a sharp knife and put back in the oven (turned off, door open)

  12. While cooling, finish preparation and decoration using the instructions below

  13. Cream and Preparation Instructions: When pastry shells are cooling, whip together 8 oz mascarpone with one vanilla pudding packet (yes, I know). Add 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.

    Top one disk with cream. Lay other shell on top. Sift confectioner’s sugar and sliced almonds on top. Enjoy for up to 2 days (refrigerated)

Ingredients for Pastry:

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1 stick butter, unsalted

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup AP cake flour

  • 4 eggs

Paris-Brest

Tea Time: Lemon Balm and Black Tea Cookies

A slow week that's blending into itself. The dogs are bored and so am I. Nolan stayed at his parents' this week and next he'll be in Austin. And so I pull out the couchbed and read library books. So I ate Chinese and junk food. So I didn't work out but cleaned the floors. So I made cookies and drank tea.

Lemon Balm and Black Tea Cookies

Lemon Balm and Black Tea Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened (I used Kerrygold!)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon balm, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon black tea

Directions:

1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy
2. Add egg and vanilla and mix together
3. Sift together dry ingredients and gently stir into your butter mixture
4. Turn out onto a floured work surface and pat into a disc. Wrap and chill for 1 hour
5. Preheat oven to 400*F
6. Roll out and cut dough into desired shapes (about 3/4 inch thickness worked best for me)
7. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, or until edges are just browned

Lemon Balm and Black Tea Cookies
Lemon Balm and Black Tea Cookies
Lemon Balm and Black Tea Cookies
Lemon Balm and Black Tea Cookies
Lemon Balm and Black Tea Cookies

This post was made in partnership with Tractor Supply, who provided me with a selection of herbs from Bonnie Plants. I am SO in love with my kitchen herb garden on our deck and I use it nearly daily. The plants come potted and I just transfer, add a little more soil, and water. It couldn't be easier and I am excited to have herbs (and peppers) to enjoy for the rest of summer. 

Zero-Waste Goat Cheese: Herbed Chevre for Us and Whey Oats for the Chickens

Brett+and+Chicken.jpg

For just a little over 15 months, I have been lucky enough to own chickens. Small chickens and full-grown hens. Large Rhode Island Reds and tiny Sebright bantams. I've spent hours on their coops, hundred on their food. In return, I get eggs, a hobby, and an anchor to this farm. It's legitimized me, in some ways, to know that I can care for things outside my own myopia. They need me, in some ways; but I know I need them more, in many ways.

They're headstrong, the whole lot of them. They want to be left alone until they need something. I've learned to whistle a tune when I feed them. They come running and I once again feel loved by them. One small Antwerp Bantam we have is curious. She lets me pick her up and she falls asleep in the crook of my sunburnt arm while I water her sisters. I like that she trusts me, it gives me hope that others can too.

I don't own them. I take care of them. I'm stewards to their needs, but I do not own them. They can lay or they can't; either way, they're welcome. Some have died by hawk and speeding cars and I mourn them when I think about it. But I'm a believer they deserve the freedom and the danger that comes with versus a dirty-covered chicken run to waste the days in.

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And I'm a believer in eating well. I'm a believer in a diet rich in greens and protein for them. I'm a believer that if I can give it to them versus throwing it away, I'll pick the former. I think we all deserve variety and so they get our scraps. And half of their diet is supplemented with a local restaurant's food waste, portioned out in large platters to devour in seconds.

You can see from my Instagram Stories that I make them bowls when I can - warmed up in the winter and often refrigerated in the summer. I'm a big believer in this practice. It's the variety that I think they crave, something we all do. In doing so, I can offer my hens - in a flock of 10 or 28 - a chance at food diversity, with the added benefits of nutrients that can help protect their immune systems, digestive system, and better eggs.

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When I make anything, I think of these things. I think of how my meals can feed the world around me, whether through composting, what the dogs can share with us, or if any of the waste and byproducts can benefit the chickens. More often than not, they can. So when I decided to try my hand at cheesemaking, this ran through my mind - how I can use the whey and for what purpose.

This led me to making the chickens their go-to: an oatmeal bowl, soaked in whey, topped with fruit, herbs from our kitchen garden, and some red pepper flakes (good for their immune system). For us, I used the same herbs and spice to roll the curds. And while I'll never be as good as Vermont Creamery, I think it's a good first try, if you have the time (and 28 chickens to help clean up the waste). 

Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese
(With no-waste options for your chickens!)

Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart goats milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 TB white vinegar 
  • Any herbs and spices you want! (see note below)

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, heat goat milk until bubbles begin to form around the edges
  2. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and vinegar
  3. Allow to stand for 15 minutes
  4. While waiting, dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth and put over a receptacle to collect the whey
  5. Slowly pour milk mixture over cloth. You may have to pour whey into larger jar like I did (save the whey for your chickens, see second note below!)
  6. Tie ends of cheesecloth into a knot and hang over a measuring cup or other vessel on a wooden spoon
  7. Allow to drip for 2 hours
  8. While that is dripping out any excess whey, pulse your herbs in a food processor (see author's note)
  9. Peel cheese from cloth and roll in your herbs
  10. Take some plastic wrap and put herbed cheese into the center. Candy roll wrap around the cheese and shape into a log
  11. Refrigerate until ready to use (best after a couple hours to mellow in the fridge)

Author's Note: I made this cheese to be rolled in fresh herbs. With my partnership with Tractor Supply, I have been fortunate enough to have an excess of healthy plants growing around me. My herbs are all on the deck, just feet away from my kitchen. For this batch, I used tarragon, basil, rosemary, lemon balm, and parsley. You can also use dried herbs, if you want. I also added some red pepper flakes for a kick, and salt and pepper to taste. 

 

Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats

Just a few ingredients make the cheese, but I added a special twist by rolling my curds in herbs I had pulsed in the food processor.

As you can see on the left, my kitchen herb garden is still growing strong!

In the background, you can peep some peppers that will be featured soon!

Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats

Using up the whey: Oatmeal Bowl for the Chickens

 

To make the Whey Oats for your poultry: Steep 4 cups instant oats in 2 cups of whey. Allow to soak until oats are softened. Decorate with melon and other scraps in your kitchen (I used 1 1/2 cup cantaloupe, 2 bananas, and the same herbs and red pepper that I myself flavored our cheese with).

To learn more about what chickens can eat, this is a handy little table.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats
Herbed Goat Cheese and Whey Oats

This post was made in partnership with Tractor Supply, who provided me with a selection of herbs from Bonnie Plants. I am SO in love with my kitchen herb garden on our deck and I use it nearly daily. The plants come potted and I just transfer, add a little more soil, and water. It couldn't be easier and I am excited to have herbs (and peppers) to enjoy for the rest of summer.