Cooking is an alchemical, transformational process hinting of magic. To me, one of life’s healthiest joys is watching friends and family gather around a meal, tastefully prepared and lovingly served. In this post, I’ll offer you some of my experiences and recipes to pique your exploration of the autumn cooking and dining scene.
Whereas summer’s bounty is often enjoyed raw or with minimal processing, fall meals tend to be heartier, requiring more cooking and enlivening through the use of warming herbs and spices. Produce from the vegetable gardens and orchards, farm stands and wild woods encourage cooks to translate their unique aromas, textures and flavors into a language that suits the diners’ seasonally-shifting health needs and palates.
Not only does proper prepping and cooking enhance the color, texture and form of autumn’s bountiful produce but how food is presented to our bodies assists in the regeneration of its living tissues which goes on 24/7/365, rain or shine. Seasoned with the sensual enjoyment of tempting ingredients and healthy, intriguing recipes, it asssists in making eating a pleasure.
A typical garden in the Pacific Northwest and across much of the northern tier of states is usually finished producing in time for the pumpkin harvest at Halloween. Depending on the terrain and elevation, frost may already have touched or possibly even decimated the produce but often during the final clean up, there will be bits and pieces of salvage that challenge me to make an end-of-year harvest soup. A pale orange tomato, a handful of green beans, a few pathetic-looking parsley stalks, a forgotten onion, an all too-small garlic bulb, a few corn kernels off a runt cob, some cilantro seeds or the last bit of basil gets slipped into the soup pot along with other ingredients, herbs and spices. It’s a way of my saying thanks to the garden which has produced so much for us during the course of its life. Some years we’ve been blessed to find a handful of immature beans tucked away in the pods we’ve pulled and these hold special honor, a jack-in-the-bean-stalk magical moment.
Another tradition is a celebratory harvest “roast of vegetables,” including but not limited to, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, squash and garlic baked in butter and olive oil until nicely caramelized and seasoned with additional herbs and spices. This is my way of saying thank you for the bountiful harvest and gives us a taste of what we’ll be enjoying until foraged foods and spring veggies are locally available.
An Abundance of Avocados
During our recent four-year stay on the Big Island of Hawaii, we lived on the wet side, the jungle side in an area known as Puna. We enjoyed a variety of fresh fruits during the autumn months including an extra sweet banana known as the candy apple banana, guavas, mangoes, rambutans, papayas, starfruits, lilikoi or passion fruits and the plentiful avocado which could be bought for a reasonable price at the farm stands and markets. They could also be gleaned while out on our neighborhood walks but we had to be quick and pick them up before the wild pigs or the rats got to them first. Gleaning for avo’s after a wind storm was ideal except that sometimes there were just too many to eat!
As to be expected, when the avo’s were ripe, guacamole found its way into every potluck gathering and all the cooks had their own recipes. One variation I used often consisted of two or three smallish, mashed avo’s, to which I added a dollop of hot sauce, some grated ginger, finely diced red onion, a finely minced garlic clove, the juice of a lime or lemon, a pinch of salt, pepper and a sprinkling of Thai or Italian basil, either fresh or dried. I might also add a measure of mayonnaise if I were serving it immediately.
Another simple meal featuring the avocado was made by toasting a slice of whole grain sprouted bread or rice bread onto which I placed an egg done to my liking, sunny side up, adding mashed or sliced avo, drizzling it all with olive oil and for extra nutrition, some Bragg’s liquid amino acids and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. This could be eaten with knife and fork but often became a finger food and a finger/plate licking feast!
Roots and I Take Center Stage
But I digress into the past and a certain desire for warmer temperatures and colors now that we’re living in the Olympic Peninsula’s temperate, maritime climate at the feet of the majestic Olympic Mountains. Here the cool soils grow scrumptious fall root crops, brassicas, celery, leeks, spinach, foraged greens, pears and apples. The cooler climate creates a desire for more oils and longer cooking times and the use of more warming herbs and spices. And as food is our daily medicine, in the autumn we are careful with the amount of sweetening used, especially around the holidays, in order to keep immune systems healthy.
I’ve always been a slow cook, largely localvore, although I’m fond of exotic flavors and fragrances. I choose organic whenever possible and eat meat when my body tells me to “eat meat protein.” For my cooking oils, I use olive oil for basic salad dressings, meat dishes, tomato sauces and some toasted breads; butter for potatoes and added to meat and tomato dishes to impart a creamy taste and texture; and coconut oil for egg dishes and as a spread on scones and toast. For vinegars, I prefer wine vinegars or medicinal ones I’ve concocted myself for salad dressings; apple cider vinegars for meat dishes or heavier herbal vinegars such as nettle leaf; and balsamic vinegar for that unique flavored dish or dressing.
Our well-stocked pantry is supported by foraging, buying both locally and from Azure Standard so I have the items to be more creative on hand rather than having to secure them each time from the market. It’s a carry over from living in Alaska and Hawaii plus we feel some responsibility to our community when the need arises for support.
I enjoy the sensual textures, smells, sounds, tastes and sights of preparing, cooking and eating…in other words, my style involves active participation in being alert through the different cooking stages, watching how a dish melds together, listening for the sizzling and boiling sounds, sampling and noisily savoring the flavors.
I have yet to share how valuable music is to my cooking routine. I don’t particularly have a favorite style to cook by; most any kind will do if not too discordant a rhythm. Michael is the gatekeeper of the music and can usually pick a good vibe for me. I feel both relaxed and enlivened when music is playing while I prep and cook, sort of like having my kitchen full of friends sharing in my cooking passion. My kitchens are usually small where I can tap bottom drawers and doors shut with my foot or use my hips and knees to do the same. I like to get caught up in the twist and sway of the music and punctuate it with an occasional tap on the kettle with my wooden spoons. My metal mixing bowls become Tibetan singing bowls with beautiful tones. I never mind when they “ping” together and resonate till quiet. I like to think the musical routines translate into the food that comes out of the kitchen, too! My cooking is also my active meditation practice and I work diligently to allow thoughts of peace and harmony to permeate my time in the kitchen. Some days are easier than others!
So let’s look at a few warming recipes featuring autumn ingredients from near and far, blending cool clime and some tropical produce, shall we? After living in Hawaii where cooler temperatures, strong winds and heavy rains punctuate the fall months resulting in snow falling on Mauna Kea, I like to celebrate for the islands too.
I’m thinking scones with local blueberries and Hawaiian ginger for morning tea/coffee; later in the morning a wild foods frittata; followed by either potato leek soup or a corn chowder, Puna style. Then after a day of working outside, come in to warm up with a chaga fungus brew. Snacks are a rainbow selection of baked root chips. And if you fill up on chips, for a lighter fare, I offer a recipe for baked acorn squash with quinoa-cranberry stuffing which goes well with a simple salad.
In the fall and winter months, I like to cook one pot meals so for a heartier appetite, how about a beef or veggie stew, a meatless black bean chili with orange chunks or a hearty bean soup featuring smoked pork chops and pinto beans which also can be served with boneless chicken breast or made vegetarian just by leaving out the meat. I’ve also included something for the lighter appetite: a recipe for an all-in-one, spicy veggie slaw which would goes well with a simple carrot, ginger and coconut milk soup.
Now in the dessert realm, I’ve included recipes for a pumpkin coconut milk baked custard, and another tempting dessert: a layered, yogurt, cream cheese, blueberry, banana and custard pudding pie. The former is a crowd pleaser, the latter brings down the house!
Oh, and then to top it off, at the end of the meal while you sit around relaxing, a hot mulled rum apple cider.
Please join me on the next page and enjoy the culinary delights of autumn.
Many of the following recipes are originals or adaptations to family recipes and other favorites. I’m a recipe tweaker and rarely do a dish the same way twice. For me, following a recipe would be like herding cats, highly unrealistic. So I encourage you to do the same, according to your own tastes. Please realize I’ve done my best to perfect these recipes to allow for variation, but your ingredients, choice of flours, oven temperatures, personal tastes, elevation, hardness of water, cooking styles and even weather conditions may affect the outcomes…it’s all part of the sensual cooking journey!
“Do not be afraid of cooking, as your ingredients will know, and misbehave”–Fergus Henderson
- Blueberry and Hawaiian ginger scones
- Wild foods frittata
- Potato leek soup
- Corn chowder, Puna style
- Chaga fungus brew
- A rainbow of baked root chips
- Quinoa-cranberry stuffed acorn squash
- Beef and/or veggie stew
- Meatless black bean chili with orange
- Pinto bean and smoked pork chop soup
- Spicy veggie slaw
- Carrot soup with ginger and coconut milk
- Pumpkin coconut milk baked custard
- Creamy blueberry and banana-custard pudding pie
- Hot mulled rum apple cider
1. Blueberry and Hawaiian ginger scones
This recipe works for non-gluten scones as well but I’ll leave it up to you to use your own favorite mix of flours and gums. I’m using a combination of whole wheat and spelt flours for this recipe. You’ll also need sugar, salt, dried ginger, baking powder, baking soda, cold butter, eggs, rice milk or raw milk, vanilla extract, blueberries and lemon zest.
- 1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
- 1/2 C spelt flour
- 4-5 Tbs. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. dried or 1 Tbs. fresh ginger
- 1 1/2-2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
Incorporate 1/3 C cold butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or food processor until the butter is the size of small peas.
- 2 large eggs,
- 2/3 C milk (I use rice milk)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Add to the flour/butter mixture. Stir until mixture holds together. I like to use a large fork for mixing although a processor is quicker.
Stir in 1/2 C fresh or frozen blueberries. Raisins, nuts or currants may also be substituted for the blueberries. Turn out onto floured surface and roll or pat to 1 inch thickness. Cut into 8 wedges and place on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake 15-18 minutes until nicely golden. They are especially good served warm with coconut oil and jam or marmalade. Enjoy!
2. Wild Foods Frittata
Nettles on the Olympic Peninsula also come up in the fall time. Frost will do them in before long and then there’s a lull before I can gather fresh in the spring. I also like to keep a few packages in the freezer and several quarts of it dried for teas and to sprinkle into soups and sauces.
For this recipe, you’ll need a handful of chopped fresh or frozen nettles or spinach, some sliced red onions, diced or sliced mushrooms in season or frozen, grated carrots, julienned broccoli strips, chopped chickweed, parsley and dandelion greens, coconut oil or oil of your choice, two eggs per person, salsa and pesto or dried basil. You can freely substitute for any of the ingredients, except of course, the eggs. Fall time finely sliced chard works or add kalamata olives for its briny and smokey flavor, etc. The exact amount of ingredients is totally negotiable to your liking and available ingredients so I’ll just describe how I’d put one together.
Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the sliced red onions and after they have started caramelizing, add the diced or sliced mushrooms. After they are slightly browned (brings together the flavors of the onions and mushrooms) then add the grated carrots, stir well to incorporate the flavors, then add the broccoli and stir again. Now sprinkle the chopped greens on top and cover well to steam until the greens have wilted and are tender. In the meantime, stir the chickweed, parsley, and dried basil if you’re using that instead of pesto, into the eggs and thoroughly mix. Pour it over the wilted veggies, dot with dollops of pesto and salsa, turn down the heat slightly, cover and wait until the eggs are set to your liking. Or you can flip the frittata over (it comes apart in sections) if you want it cooked longer on both sides. Serve with additional pesto or salsa, cottage-fried potatoes and fermented carrots on the side.
3. Potato Leek Soup
- 1 1/4 C leeks, finely sliced
- 1/3 C red onion, finely sliced or diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely sliced or diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 medium carrot, finely sliced or diced
- 1 large baking potato, peeled and diced or two medium, yellow golds with skins, diced
- 3 T butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 to 1 tsp curry powder (I like muchi curry)
- 1 tsp. dried dill weed or 1 Tbs. fresh
- Pepper to taste
- Chicken stock (preferably homemade)
- Rice milk or raw milk
In a dutch oven or kettle, saute the leeks, onions, celery, and garlic together in butter until translucent. Add the carrots and potato, salt, basil and curry. Simply cover the veggies with stock and simmer until all the veggies are soft. Transfer the veggies to a blender. Add rice milk or raw milk to the veggies to make a slurry then pour it back into the base stock left in the kettle. Add more milk to make the amount or thickness you like. Warm to just below simmer and hold for a few minutes to meld the flavors. Add pepper to taste. Use bowls or cups to serve. Makes 3-4 servings.
4. Corn Chowder, Puna Style
I enjoy using coconut products especially the oil and milk and freely substitute them whenever I feel the urge. You can substitute nut milk, regular or raw milk for the coconut milk in this recipe, however.
- 2 C golden potatoes or baking potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 small cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/4 C white onion
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- Coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp dry dill weed
- 1 C fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1 (14 ounce) can of organic coconut milk
- 1 C rice milk
- A grating of fresh ginger for each bowl/cup
Saute the garlic, onion and celery until translucent. Add the potatoes and boil the potatoes with the salt, herbs and spices in enough water to cover until the potatoes are tender. Turn off the heat. Add the corn kernels and let them warm thoroughly. Now place the solids in a blender and add the can of coconut milk and cup of rice milk. Put it all back into the kettle and warm slowly, adding more rice milk to make it the thickness and amount you enjoy. I like to serve in cups, grate on some fresh ginger and sit on the lanai watching the whales swim by as I enjoy sipping down the chowder! Makes 3-4 servings with usually none left over…it is sooooo good!
5. Chaga Fungus Brew
Chaga is a medicinal, parasitic fungus that grows on birch trees and alder trees. It looks like a glob of charred wood, rough in texture and black in color. It has gained a reputation for enhancing the immune system and aiding in the regeneration of damaged tissues among a plethora of other abilities.
We like to use a powdered version, available on line or in a health food store. Normally we simmer it for at least 30 minutes to draw out many constituents, strain and serve hot, as is. Sometimes I add rice or almond milk and honey, cinnamon or garam masala spices. It goes well with a lemon or orange zest, too.
Another favorite way of drinking chaga which helps to fuel my day and gives me lasting energy is to add a tablespoon of mesquite powder, a tablespoon of carob powder and a tablespoon of molasses along with rice or almond milk. Adding dark chocolate powder is another option. It also works to add it to coffee for an extra perky beverage.
6. A Rainbow of Baked Root Chips
Since it’s the season of roots, why not some baked veggie chips using beets, carrots, jerusalem artichokes and parsnips? There really isn’t much difference in making all four types although I would not mix them together to bake however, unless you want to watch them diligently.
I usually take two pounds of roots, and slice thinly, say 1/16 inch. Mix with 2 tsp. oil such as olive or warmed coconut oil. Spread out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If you want flatter chips (they do crinkle) flatten with another cookie sheet on top and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350-375 degrees. Shift the sheets about in the oven so they get baked from all sides. Check to see when they start to lighten in color and begin crisping. Watch carefully that they don’t burn. You can use your sense of smell here! Bake until crispy. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and any of your favorite spices or flavors. You might try some with garlic powder, or cinnamon, or curry, etc. Give them a few minutes to cool and get even crispier and then enjoy.
7. Quinoa-Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash
You’ll need one large acorn squash, halved and seeded. Rub both the skin and interior with olive or melted coconut oil. Sprinkle the interior with salt and swish 1 tsp or more maple syrup around each cavity. Roast upside down on a cookie sheet or large roasting pan with the lid off for at least 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
In the meantime, simmer:
- 3/4 C quinoa in chicken broth or veggie broth to end up with about 2 cups total cooked grains.
In a skillet, saute until translucent:
- 1/4 C onion
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1 stalk of minced celery
- 1/4-1/3 C dried cranberries
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. dried sage or oregano
- 1/4 C minced parsley
- 1/2 tsp. curry powder
- Salt and pepper
Add this mixture to the quinoa and thoroughly mix. Stuff the squash and return to the oven for 20 more minutes until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Any left over stuffing can be baked in a small, covered oven dish alongside the squash. This recipe for stuffed squash makes 4-6 servings although we’ve been known to each eat a whole half with a foraged green salad alongside!
8. Beef and/or Veggie Stew
My stew recipes are very basic and can be made with or without the stew beef. You can substitute the beef for salmon and make a salmon chowder out of it, if you wish or chicken and make a chicken stew. In fact, you can enliven the basic recipe in a multitude of ways depending on the seasonings, meats or veggies you wish to highlight. An oven version with venison, bear or beaver meat stew featuring pineapple chunks, red onions and candied cranberries comes to mind.
I do like to have on hand a beef knuckle bone broth which is first browned and then put in a crock pot to simmer on low for at least 24 hours. When cooled, it becomes a thick gel full of flavor and nutrition.
- A package of stew meat, cut into smaller bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
- 3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 large red potatoes, cubed
- 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 – 1 C mushrooms, in season, diced
- 1 C crushed or stewed tomatoes
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- Olive oil or beef fat
- Beef broth, stock or water
Saute the beef, onions and garlic in oil or fat until meat is brown and onions tender. Add other fresh veggies, stir well, cover and cook until al dente. Add herbs and spices, crushed tomatoes and stir well again. Cover with broth or stock and simmer until everything is tender, which may be up to an hour or even longer depending on the toughness of your meat. Add more stock as the need arises. Serve with warm bread to dunk au jus. Serves 3-4.
9. Meatless Black Bean Chili with Orange
Black bean chili is a favorite at our house and this one uses canned beans so is relatively quick to make. A simple salad and slices of warm bread go perfectly with it.
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 -3 cloves garlic, squashed and diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced or shredded
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3-4 (15 ounce) cans black beans. Drain and rinse well.
- 1 small (4 ounce) can green chili’s or picante sauce
- 1/4-1/2 C medium salsa
- 1 C crushed or stewed tomatoes
- 1 Tbs. dried oregano or bee balm leaves
- 1 Tbs. dried basil
- 1/2-1 tsp. curry (I like muchi curry)
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbs. vinegar of your choice
- 1 whole juicy orange, skinned and cut into chunks
- 2-4 C broth or water depending on how thick you want your chili. I like using chicken broth or water when cooking this chili.
Heat oil in a large heavy kettle over medium heat; cook the onion and garlic until translucent. Stir in the rest of the fresh veggies; cook al dente. Add beans, chili’s, salsa, tomatoes, herbs, spices, vinegar, orange and part of the broth. Stir well, Reduce heat, cover and simmer until everything is to your liking and flavors meld well together. You may need to add additional liquid if the chili gets too thick.
10. Pinto Bean and Smoked Pork Chop Soup
A hearty blend of aromas and flavors highlight this soup and it can be made with pork chops, pork hocks, chicken breast or without meat. This recipe is an adaptation of a family favorite. Both my parents lived through the depression and boiled beans were an important part of their diets. Growing up, I also ate a lot of bean dishes until I became severely allergic to them. Fortunately, through the use of herbal therapies, I overcame the allergy and now can freely enjoy all legumes!!
- 2 Cups dried pinto beans, soaked overnight or 3-4 (14 ounce) cans, store-bought
- 1-2 Smoked pork chop(s) or hock(s), or boneless chicken breast
- 3 Tbs. butter
- 2 C diced sweet onions
- 4 Cloves garlic, smashed and diced
- 1 C diced celery
- 1 C diced carrots
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1 (14 ounce) can crushed or stewed tomatoes if not fresh
- 1 small can (4 ounce) diced green chili’s or the equivalent of your own garden bounty
- 1 quart or more chicken broth (preferably home made), veggie broth or water
- A 3-6 inch piece of kelp (optional)
Soak your beans overnight, if possible. I like to boil my soaked beans a couple of times in a separate kettle, rinsing thoroughly between water changes and end up with beans that are just about pre-cooked.This saves time and makes them more digestible. If using canned beans, I drain and rinse them before adding to the soup. You can also add a piece of kelp to help with digestibility issues.
In a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed kettle, brown the pork chop(s), hock(s) or boneless chicken breast in butter. When adequately browned, if using pork chops, remove and cut off bony parts. Put the bones in another pot and barely cover with water; simmer until the bones and sinews separate and you end up with a flavorful broth. That can be added to your soup and no one will choke on a small bone. Again this soup can be made meatless, too.
Surround the meat with the onion, celery, garlic and saute until translucent. I don’t like to disturb the meat much initially and try to let it brown even more to bring out a richer flavor. Add the carrots, herbs, spices, salt and pepper, stirring into the veggies. Now add the diced tomatoes and chili’s, cover with stock or water and simmer until the beans and meat are thoroughly done. You may need to add more stock or water. By this time, the pork or chicken has usually shifted from the bottom of the pot to the top and I remove it and pull it apart into bite-sized pieces. If the beans are done and you want a more creamy texture, take a potato masher and mash them a few times; then add the meat back to the soup, mixing thoroughly. Add more liquid if necessary to make it the consistency you want. Adjust the seasonings or add some salsa to sharpen its flavor. Serves a bunch!
PS. This is an extremely forgiving recipe and I’ve done it so many times, I have a routine with it. Don’t be concerned with the meat shifting around. Enjoy the process of cooking and get to know its smells, its noises and its flavors while you tweak it between stirrings.
11. Spicy Veggie Slaw
Here’s a crunchy, spicy slaw that will warm you from the inside.
Mix together well:
- 3 C cabbage (red, white or Napa or a combination), finely shredded
- 1 C carrot, finely sliced or grated
- 1/2 C red pepper, finely sliced (optional)
- 1/2 C finely sliced onion
In a blender, blend together:
- 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced fine
- 1 tsp. or more fresh ginger
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 or 2 limes, juiced
- 2-4 Tbs. tahini or almond butter
- 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 C olive oil
- 1/4 C water
- 1 tsp or more warm honey or other sweetener
- 1 Tbs. fresh dill weed if you have it, otherwise use 1 tsp. dried
- Sesame seeds or sunflower seeds (optional)
Thoroughly coat slaw with the dressing, toss in some seeds and serve. This dressing goes well with on other dishes, as well. Keep a jar in the refrigerator for that inspirational moment!
12. Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coconut Milk
Place in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan (I prefer cast iron) and over medium heat, melt the coconut oil or use your favorite oil and saute veggies until translucent.
- 1-2 Tbs. coconut oil
- 1 Medium onion, in chunks
- 2 Stalks celery in 1 inch chunks
- 2 Cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 Inch or more of ginger root (rhizome), sliced
After the onions are translucent, add:
- 2 Pounds of carrots, in chunks
- 1/2-1 tsp. Curry powder
- 1/2 tsp. Celtic salt or Real salt
Stir well and add enough water to barely cover the vegetables. A little less is fine because you’ll make it up with rice milk later on.
Cook until carrots are tender. Mash with potato masher (if you want) and transfer solids to blender. As you blend the carrot mixture, add enough rice milk to make get a smooth textured blend.
Pour out and add to blended carrots:
- 1 (14 ounce) can of organic coconut milk
Add enough additional rice milk to make it the consistency you prefer for spooning out of bowls or drinking from a mug. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding grated ginger or more salt, etc. Number of servings depends on how thick you want the finished soup.
13. Pumpkin Coconut Milk Baked Custard
In an effort to cut down on the amount of wheat products, I forgo the crust on this pumpkin custard but not the good old-fashioned flavor of pumpkin pie albeit with a tropical twist.
Ingredients for one custard:
- 1 3/4 C – 2 C solid pack pumpkin ( I make my own mashed pumpkin by removing the seeds, cutting it in quarters and steaming it till soft. Depending on the toughness of the skin, it may be left on or the pulp scooped off and mashed.)
- 3 eggs
- 1 C coconut milk or half and half
- 1/2 C loosely-packed brown sugar or 1/4 C maple syrup
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2-1 tsp dried ginger or use 1/2-1 T fresh, grated
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Place everything in the blender and blend until frothy. Scrape down the sides if necessary. You can also mix everything in a large bowl if you prefer.
Pour mixture into a greased two quart pyrex oven-proof bowl or use 4 small custard cups. I use coconut oil to grease the bowls.
Place the bowl in a 13-in. x 9-in. deep-sided baking pan; pour hot water around the bowl to a depth of at least 1 inch. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. The smaller custard cups will be done slightly sooner so check on their progress. The crusts will have risen and split, become nicely browned and smell divine. Serve warm or chilled; top with whipped cream. Yields 4 servings.
14. Creamy Blueberry and Banana-Custard Pudding Pie
This concoction can be layered in a baked pie crust or layered in a square baking dish. It quite flavorful and doesn’t need a lot of extra sweetening.
You may have your own recipe for a generous crust but if not, here’s one I favor:
- 1 1/2 C flour
- 5 Tbs. butter
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vinegar (I like wine vinegar)
- 3-4 Tbs. rice milk, ice water or milk
Cut butter into flour and salt with a pastry cutter until the butter is the size of peas. Mix the egg, vinegar and liquid in a separate container and add a tablespoon at a time to the flour/butter mixture, mixing with a large fork. When it holds together well, make into a ball and let rest in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Roll out on floured surface and place in pie pan. Flute or trim the edge. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake in 375 degree oven until nicely browned about 10-12 minutes. Cool thoroughly.
Make the yogurt-cream cheese filling by mixing:
- 1 C Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla flavored
- 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
- 1 Tbs. warmed honey
Set this aside.
Make a blueberry sauce and let it cool. Mix together in saucepan over medium heat:
- 2 C fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/2 C water, less if using frozen berries
- 1/4-1/2 C sugar or honey to desired sweetness
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Stir frequently so as not to scorch and bring to a low boil.
In a small bowl, mix: 2 Tbs. cornstarch with 2-3 Tbs. cold water and slowly add the corn starch mixture into the blueberries and stir gently. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and stir in:
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp. almond extract
- Zest of one lemon (1 Tbs.)
- 1 Tbs. butter
Set this aside.
Make Cream Custard:
In saucepan, mix thoroughly:
- 1/2-2/3 C organic cane sugar
- 4 Tbs. corn starch
- 1/4 tsp. salt
Mix together in a separate bowl:
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 C milk (I will use rice milk but raw milk makes it soooo splendid)
Add the liquids slowly to the dried ingredients. Stir well and continue stirring. Cook it over medium heat until it thickens and comes to a gloppy sounding boil. Remove from heat and gently stir in:
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs. butter
Set the custard aside to cool while you assemble the pie.
Have a ripe banana or two ready to slice.
In bottom of the cooled pie shell, place yogurt-cream cheese mixture. Top with cooled blueberry sauce. Slice the banana(s) and assemble evenly on top of the blueberry sauce. Spread the cooled, egg custard over the bananas. Place the pie in the refrigerator and cool for several hours. It will still be soft, when you slice and serve it, but oh, so tempting and delicious!
15. Hot Mulled Rum Apple Cider
Now if you’ve served the above pie or any other sweet foods before serving the mulled cider, it may taste tart so sip slowly at first to savor its own blend of flavors.
- 1/2 gallon apple cider or freshly-expressed juice
- Sugar (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. bitters
- 6 whole all spice, crushed
- 2 inch stick of cinnamon, crushed
- 12 whole cloves, crushed
- 1/2 C light rum
Mull about 2 hours over very low heat with the lid on. Add more rum to your liking and let it warm up. Enjoy!
Please enjoy the fall season, get some rest, stay well and we’ll see you next time as Alpine Lady journeys the natural realms and beyond. Safe journeys!