Photos by Ashlee Glen
I’m still on vacation but will be on the way home when this publishes. The first evening of our trip my good friend Ashlee served this chowder when we arrived at her house, travel-weary after all day on the road. Ashlee and I once were part of a community garden together and and still share a love of gardening, local food, and pumpkins which made her choice of this chowder especially fitting and special. She graciously made two batches, this version and a vegetarian one for my husband. It’s great either way! The potatoes add a nice texture that pumpkin soups are so often lacking. The recipe is originally from Vollmer Farm in NC; this is Ashlee’s version developed over years of making. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Chowder Recipe
2 cups freshly pureed pumpkin
1½ - 2 lbs sausage
1 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic pressed
5 large potatoes diced (more or less)
5 stalks celery diced (more or less)
1 T fresh rosemary
1 T fresh oregano
1 T fresh thyme
3 quarts chicken stock (add more water to taste) or chicken bouillon
2 Bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Half and half to taste
Cook sausage and pour out oil.
Continue sautéing sausage and add onion, garlic, potatoes and celery (with a little water) for about 5 minutes.
Add chicken stock, pumpkin purée, then add all herbs salt and pepper.
Cook until potatoes are soft. Sometimes I cook on low over a few hours so the potatoes are nice and soft. Add half and half to your liking, and EAT!
Photos by Alice O'Dea
It’s fall break time at the moment (give or a take a week depending on whose calendar you go by), so a lot of folks in the area have been coming and going. I’m subbing here this week while Heather is off on a trip (you can find me most Saturday mornings over at nooga.com). The recipe I have to share is something I whipped up because my husband has also been traveling, while I was at home working my way through a lot of delicious food from the market.
My share with Tant Hill Farm started up again recently after a summer break and I’ve been loving the return to their famous powerhouse greens. However, for most of the past week, it’s been just me trying to get through all the food from recent pickups, so there was a bit of a backlog (which is admittedly a nice problem to have!).
I’ve got a fantastic go-to main dish for whenever I find myself with an abundance of greens. It’s a very adaptable recipe, and my husband and I have played around with it quite a bit, based on what we have on hand whenever we make it. At this point in the year, most of the ingredients should be available at the Main St Farmers Market.
Three to four pounds of greens might seem like a lot, but they will cook down quite a bit. Use whatever greens are available, but stick to tougher ones like bok choy and kale, mustard and collard greens, or the or tops of kohlrabies, since they will need to hold up to quite a lot of cooking. When removing any thick stems from the greens, you can chop them up too, and add as many as you like to the onions.
The bacon is completely optional. If you prefer, use some sort of sliced or crumbled sausage (the original recipe calls for ½ pound of Andouille), a vegetarian or vegan substitute, or just leave it off entirely. If you do use meat, you can cook it and then use the same pot for the greens, making this a one-pot meal. Either way, start with a Dutch oven or other good-sized oven proof pot, as the greens will take up space while they’re cooking down.
As written, the recipe calls for buttermilk for the biscuits and either milk or cream for the greens, but I rarely have any of those around. My most common substitute is to use plain greek yogurt, watered down to roughly the thickness of milk or cream (roughly half yogurt, half water). For the cornbread liquid, I also might add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to give it the sourness it would have with buttermilk. Of course, plant-based milks are also a good option.
adapted from Collard cobbler with cornmeal biscuits by Sarah at The Yellow House
For the biscuits:
3/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat, but any kind will work)
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-2 teaspoons honey or agave
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the greens:
4 slices of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock
3-4 pounds greens, stripped and sliced into 1-inch ribbons (adding chopped stems to onions)
1/2 cup milk or cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot) dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and, if you want to spice things up a little extra, a shake of red pepper flakes or other spices, or a chopped pepper.
As you might imagine, this is a really filling, savory dish that is teeming with nutrients. It also makes great leftovers, but I always separate the biscuits and greens for storage in the refrigerator, so that the cornbread doesn’t get soggy. They can then be later reassembled for reheating in an oven or microwave.
Photo by Sequatchie Cove Farm
Cool weather has finally arrived in Chattanooga and I can get excited about pumpkin goodies. Now, this does not make sense, really, for seasonal eating in the South. Winter squashes that are planted in the spring become available as early as July. But I’m pretty well culturally conditioned to think of pumpkins going together with fall and I’ll just go with it.
You may have noticed an article about pumpkin that went viral recently. A food writer recently made the personal discovery that canned pumpkin is not actually pumpkin, it’s a blend of squashes. I found this amusing since pumpkins and squashes are both in the family Cucurbitaceae, as are cucumbers and melons. Going down to the genus Cucurbita you have what we call the squashes, pumpkins, and gourds. That’s where the distinctions get fuzzier and the names are often fairly cultural, even down to the local level in some cases.
Don’t misunderstand me, though, there are different species in Cucurbita, and an even wider variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. Even the leaves are distinctive, though a big field of a variety of squash is going to visually blend together at a distance into similar green leaves. Cucurbita pepo has been proposed to be the variety we think of in the United States as our bright orange pumpkin (and I assume has to do with the seeds’ name pepito) but it is a controversial topic and it’s a species that potentially includes any orange squash or gourd, crookneck squash, scalloped squash (such as pattypan), acorn squash, and most ornamental gourds. You can see why I am amused that someone would worry about squash versus pumpkin.
As a cook and market shopper I’d much rather be flexible in my squash and pumpkin thinking. I’m not worried about what a can of pumpkin says because I’m not using the can! Also, I can choose a squash that is a lovely shade of blue gray if I want, or ask around for the variety with the most orange, sweetest flesh - or both.
Once you have your squmpkin home and have finished using it as decoration, how do you cook it? There are possibly as many ways to cook it as there are varieties of pumpkin. Try one and see how you like it and move on to another way next time if it sounds more appealing. I prefer cutting mine into manageable pieces (really, this depends on the shape and size of the squash), scooping out the seeds and strings, and putting it cut side down on a baking pan. Roast for 1-2 hours at 375 degrees (again, depends on the size). You can flip it all over halfway through baking if you’d like some of the flesh to caramelize. Once it’s done and cool enough to handle, peel the skin and puree the flesh in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
Catie had a previous post on a different method that I have not braved yet. It certainly looks easy!
Once you have your puree it’s time to turn it into some yummy goodness. In my recipe for lemon poppyseed squash bars I mentioned that it was adapted from a winter squash bar recipe. As I often do I tweaked the recipe and increased the spices in variety and total. An excellent variation would be to replace the ground ginger with 1 tablespoon fresh grated (to taste). Fresh ground nutmeg is a nice touch, too, and really doesn’t take very long for the small amount called for. I changed the sugar to brown for a touch of molasses. I also use melted butter instead of oil for both the flavor and improved texture. Feel free to use your favorite oil - I recommend coconut or palm if you like those.
Note that this recipe was developed for homemade winter squash puree. If you substitute canned pumpkin or find that the squash you cooked is fairly dry you will need to add some liquid to keep the batter from being too stiff. I’ve used applesauce but even water would do. Substituting maple syrup for some or all of the brown sugar will work, too, and will add another yummy flavor to the mix. Also, if you are using market eggs (I hope you are!), be sure to weigh them. The recipe was also developed with large eggs, which weigh 2 to 2.25 oz each. It’s good to have the correct amount of eggs in this recipe.
These bars have a texture between a cake and a muffin, rather than a dense, gooey bar. I’ve seen bars with frosting but I think these are plenty sweet and moist enough as-is. Enjoy for breakfast or dessert, according to your personal sweet tooth.
Adapted from Winter Squash Bars from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert
1 cup flour (white, whole wheat or half and half)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
⅛ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
Beat together in a mixing bowl
1 cup winter squash puree
¾ cup sugar
⅜ cup (6 Tbs) butter, melted
Mix in dry ingredients to wet. Pour into greased 9” x 13” pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes and cut into bars when cool (or cool-ish!).
Go here for a printable recipe in two different quantities
Photo by Zachary Cross