Fall is here

by Tanya

I’m starting to nest, more. Specifically, the urge too simmer and bake is getting hard to rein in. This evening, I made roasted garlic soup, root vegetable casserole, butternut squash in soy sauce & mirin with black sesame, whole wheat cous cous and a baby spinach salad with goat cheese. Two friends came over, people I haven’t seen in a long long while, and we chatted for several hours over a hearty meal. These are all variations on recipes found in thrift-store purchased cookbooks.

Roasted garlic soup

Easy as pie. Actually, easier THAN pie. I made it vegetarian. Simply used veggie broth (I cheated and used out of the box stuff, but you could make it from scratch). Roast a large head of garlic in the oven at about 400 degrees, for 40 minutes. I cut off the top of the garlic, drizzled it with a bit of olive oil and wrapped it in tin foil.

Squeeze out the garlic cloves and smoosh ’em into mush. Mix them and stir them and smoosh them into your simmering veggie broth. Cover and let simmer on a low flame for 30 minutes, so that the broth becomes fully infused with the garlic essence, which is full of magic. Serve with croutons and spices to taste. It’s a light broth soup, with a subtle flavor, but gets the appetite going.

Butternut squash

Again, I took a shortcut and purchased two packages of pre-sliced & peeled squash. Mixed several tablespoons of soy sauce with a generous dose of Mirin. Brought it to high heat in a deep skillet & stirred in the squash. Covered, reduced heat to medium and let the squash simmer for about 20 minutes, or until just soft and slightly browned. Tossed with roasted black sesame seeds. Tada!

Root veggie casserole (this serves 4)

This really is as easy as it gets. The hardest part is peeling and chopping all the veggies. I used one extra large carrot, 3 red yams, 2 leeks, and about 6 shallots. Peeled and chopped all the veggies but shallots, which I peeled and kept intact. The vegetables should be chopped into medium sized chunks.

In a deep skillet or large saucepan, heat up slightly less than 1/4 cup of butter. Simmer the veggies until slightly browned, adding fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste. Stir in 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, and simmer some more, letting the vegetables caramelize a little. In a separate sauce pan, bring to a boil 1 cup of vegetable stock, 1 bay leaf and 3-4 sprigs of thyme. Pour the vegetables into a casserole dish and add 1 drained can of chickpeas. Mix in the vegetable stock with the herbs. Cover and cook in 300 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove cover and increase heat to 400, letting the vegetables stew for about 15 more minutes.