Autumn Vegetable Stew

Here’s a tasty seasonal dish that’s easily adaptable to use whatever root vegetables you have on hand. I always like to include some beets because they give the stew a pretty red color, but any combination of root vegetables will work well.  It’s a perfect dish for the cold months of the year — tasty, warm, and filling.




1 large onion, chopped

1/2 tsp. each cumin, coriander, ginger

4 cups winter squash (any kind), peeled and cubed

4 cups chopped (and peeled, if desired) root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, celeriac, rutabaga

3/4 cup barley

3 cups water

salt to taste

Salute the onions with the spices. Add the squash and root vegetables, barley, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all the vegetables are cooked, about 30 minutes.



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Freezing the Harvest

In this part of the world, this is the time of year when fruits and vegetables are abundant. It’s hard to keep up with so much delicious eating! Fortunately, freezing produce for later enjoyment is really easy.

I like to use these plastic freezer boxes.


Because of their square shape, it’s really easy to pack a lot of them into my small chest freezer. Plastic freezer bags are also popular. However, if you prefer not to store your food in plastic, you can use glass mason jars instead.

Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and elderberries are really easy to freeze.


You just rinse, pack, and freeze. Or, you can spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them that way first, then pack them into your containers. That keeps the berries from sticking together. Then it’s easy to remove just the amount you want when you’re ready to eat them. They’re great on cereal, or you can use them for baking muffins, crisps, pies, or any other recipe that calls for berries.

Sweet peppers are also easy to freeze. Just rinse, chop, and pack. Then they can go right from the freezer to the pot when you’re making spaghetti sauce, soups, beans, or casseroles.

Most other vegetables require blanching – cooking briefly in boiling water – before freezing in order to preserve their freshness.  I am partial to a book called Putting Food By (by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, and Janet Greene), that explains the freezing process and gives blanching times for each vegetable. I am sure there are many other good books out there on the topic. Generally, it’s a simple process — chop, blanch, pack, freeze. I’ve had lots of success with green beans, corn kernels, peas, spinach, and kale, as well as berries and peppers.


I also freeze spaghetti sauce and applesauce every year. They go right from the pot to the freezer.

In the middle of a New England January, snow may be abundant and sunlight scarce, but I just open my freezer and enjoy the fruits of the summer harvest. My freezer helps me eat local all year round.





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Make a Midsummer Sandwich

  1. Gather ingredients


Wild day lilies, CSA cucumbers, locally-produced cheese, homemade bread

2. Assemble sandwich


3. Enjoy!


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A Floral Treat

Midsummer is bright with day lilies blooming along roadsides and in gardens.


So pretty to look at and so delicious to eat!

Just about all parts of the day lily are edible, but I’m partial to the delicately flavored buds.


I steam them for about 5 minutes and eat them with butter and salt.


Eating day lily buds has been described as similar to eating green beans or asparagus. Texture-wise, I’m in the asparagus camp, but flavor-wise they are nothing like asparagus, having a delicate flavor all their own. Try them, but be sure to leave some behind so you can enjoy the bright flowers when they bloom.



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Bok Choy – A Vegetable I Have to Learn to Love

Bok Choy has little to recommend it as far as I can see. Its stems are watery, its leaves wimpy, and it cooks down to an almost flavorless almost nothing.

And yet it keeps appearing in my CSA basket.


During CSA season, I plan meals around the contents of the weekly basket. I have no problem whipping up a dinner with asparagus as the main event, or radishes, or even a mixed greens salad. But bok choy just doesn’t seem to have the personality to hold its own as the main feature of a meal.

But it’s in the basket, so I have to use it. So here are some ways I’ve some up with.

  • Salads – The chopped raw stems add a crispy texture to a rice salad or tossed green salad, and the leaves can be added to salad greens
  • Stir fry – Maybe this is how this vegetable is most commonly used. I used it in a radish sauté last week. It added some bulk to the dish, but not much else.
  • Snacks – If you’re a little thirsty or just want to feel something crispy in your mouth, you can munch on some raw bok choy.
  • Beans – Add some to the pot when you’re cooking beans. I admit I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s on this week’s agenda.

If anyone else who’s had a happier experience with this vegetable has some other suggestions, please share.



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Ingredients for a Spring Salad


  • freshly-picked wild violet leaves
  • freshly-picked wild mustard flowers and buds
  • carrots (last fall’s harvest) and spinach from local farms
  • home-sprouted sprouts
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Nettle Quiche

Stinging nettles need no dressing up. A plate of them steamed and eaten with just a dollop of butter and a dash of salt is an exquisite dish indeed. But sometimes I like to get fancy. We brought home a bucket load of stinging nettles yesterday, so I decided to try my hand at making a nettle quiche.


I followed my basic quiche recipe. I started with a loosely-packed colander full of nettles, which I steamed for five minutes. It cooked down to a handful, just the right amount for a quiche. Meanwhile, I sautéed a minced garlic clove and a chopped medium onion. I added a dash of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg to the eggs and milk, then put everything together in the piecrust with a handful of cheese.

While the quiche was baking, we sipped on nettle tea — the water that the nettles had been steamed in. Really, that is my favorite part of cooking with nettles. The tea/cooking water is so packed with deliciousness.


The quiche was very delicious, too. I will definitely make it again. And I can! We picked so many nettles yesterday that we had plenty left over to freeze for future quiches.


Local analysis:

Local — nettles, eggs, milk, cheese, butter (in the crust)

Non-local — salt, nutmeg, olive oil, flour (in the crust)

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