Squash and Crab Bisque

I know it’s still hot in many parts of the country, but here in northeast Ohio autumn has arrived.  Temps have been in the low-to-mid 60s during the day (that’s the mid-to-upper teens for you Celsius folks), and it’s been downright chilly at night.  The leaves are beginning to turn, and the last two days have brought us drab, rainy days.

Yes, it is soup weather.

We made what we call a “squash run” last week – basically, we drove out the farm where we got Pete the Goat and picked up $20 worth of winter squashes.  Since they charge by the squash, not by weight – a helluva deal, really – that’s a lot of squash.  Two boxes worth, in fact.

Among this treasure trove were 3 baby blue hubbard squashes.  Blue hubbard squashes can grow to be quite large – upwards of 20 pounds – but our baby squashes run about 5 pounds each, which is still pretty big, compared to all the butternut, spaghetti, acorn, sweet dumpling and delicatas that are part of our current squash collection.  They have a thick, inedible, greyish-blue outer skin, a brilliant orange, fine-textured flesh and are marvelous for soups.

Combined with a mirepoix of vegetables, homemade chicken stock, coconut milk and crab meat, is makes a seafood bisque that even The Young One will eagerly devour.  Frankly, I know of no higher praise for any dish, much less a soup.

You don’t have to use a hubbard, of course – butternut would work well, as would a pumpkin, though you should keep in mind that pumpkins are not as fine-textured as hubbard or butternut squashes.  Once I’d cleaned and roasted the hubbard, I got about 4 or 5 cups of the flesh for the soup, so if you use a smaller squash you might want to roast 2, or adjust the remaining ingredients accordingly for a smaller batch of bisque.  And if you don’t eat shellfish, this would be equally good with some leftover chicken or turkey.

Fairly low in calories, the bisque is as an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A, as well as a pretty good source of magnesium.  Oh, and the servings are huge.

Squash and Crab Bisque
Squash and Crab Bisque
Squash and Crab Bisque

Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 small blue hubbard squash, about 4 or 5 pounds
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 pound crab meat, picked over
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Split the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and stringy material in the center. Pour enough water to cover the bottom into a shallow baking dish large enough to hold both halves of the squash. Place the squash, cut sides down, into the baking dish. Roast until the squash is tender and easily pierced with the tines of a fork, about 45 minutes.
  3. While the squash is roasting, melt the ghee in a large, enameled Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the onion and celery until the onion is tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and chicken stock; reduce the heat slightly. Cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Once the squash is roasted, allow it to cool slightly and scoop out the flesh into the Dutch oven with the chicken stock and vegetables. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth and return to the pot. Or leave the soup in the Dutch oven and, using a stick blender, puree until smooth.
  5. Stir the coconut milk and crab into the soup and return to a medium-low heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper; garnish with red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 363 calories, 15.9g total fat, 88.3mg cholesterol, 578.7mg sodium, 1403.5mg potassium, 36.1g carbohydrates, 1.3g fiber, 4.9g sugar, 24.6g protein

 

Ham Salad

Things are beginning to calm down around here as I become comfortable in my new web hosting home.  I’m still putting things away and rearranging the furniture, but all is well at the Sushi Bar and I’m happy to be getting back down to business.

The business today includes ham.

When we began sourcing whole hogs, we went through 3 a year.  I know that sounds like a lot – it IS a lot, but we were so enamored with being able to pull bacon and sausage and ham steaks out of the freezer, we were eating it for breakfast nearly every damn day.  These days, not so much; breakfast is usually just eggs, and we save the breakfast meats mostly for weekends or when we have breakfast for dinner.  So our piggy consumption has dropped to two hogs a year…which equates to 8 hams.

(Note:  yes, I know there are really only two hams on a hog; one from each side.  Our butchers cut off the ends of each and slice the centers into ham steaks.  Hence, we get four “hams” from each pig.)

Although we love pork, until we began sourcing whole hogs we didn’t eat a lot of ham; it was usually a “special occasion” type of thing.  It wasn’t until we found ourselves with all of these hams in the freezer that we started eating more of it…and I discovered that a smoked ham from a pastured hog was a somewhat different proposition than a ham purchased at the grocery store.

Commercially available hams are injected with a combination of salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, sodium erythorbate, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, water and flavorings. The ham is then cooked to a temperature of 150º F; the combination of the chemical cure and cooking make the hams you buy at the grocery store labeled “water added” and “fully cooked” – all you need to do is heat them up (or not, if you like cold ham; a lot of people do).

The hams from our hogs are processed very differently.  They are cured in a brine of salt and brown sugar (yeah, we’re not real crazy about that, but the sugar makes up a very small portion of the brine and it’s certainly better than all of the chemicals used to cure a commercial ham) and then smoked at a temperature considerably less than a commercial ham – this is known as “cold smoking.”  From what I’ve read, this process essentially cooks the ham, but personally I wouldn’t eat it cold until I’ve cooked it first – for one thing, a ham cured this way is a lot saltier than a commercial ham.  It is also drier than a commercial ham, since they are not injected, so a little more thought needs to go into the preparation.

When we first began cooking these lovely pieces of meat, I’d soak them in water to get rid of some of the salt, roast them slowly in the oven, then glaze them with a combination of the juices given off by the ham and maple syrup – incredibly delicious, but kind of labor intensive.  Recently, though, I’ve begun cooking them in the slow cooker – just place the ham in the crock with a bit of apple juice or cider, set the temperature to low and walk away for 8 or so hours.  The result is a meltingly tender, incredibly flavorful ham that just falls apart when you serve it.

You can’t really slice it, but who cares?  It is damn good.

Since the hams are usually pretty sizable – I often have to cut them into two or three pieces to get them to fit in the slow cooker – we usually have plenty of leftovers, even with the bottomless pit that is The Young One.  Sometimes we just heat it up, but because I am married to a ham salad junkie I’ve found myself making this more and more often.  Which is a good thing; until I met Beloved, I never ate ham salad.  Don’t ask me why, because that I can’t tell you – I guess I just never ate it growing up.  It must not be a “Southern thing.”  After we moved to Ohio, I’d buy it at the deli every so often, but rarely ate it myself because I simply didn’t care for it.

All I can say is I care for it now; when I make it for our lunch, Beloved and I often end up arguing over who gets the last bit – it’s that good.  It’s pretty versatile, too – this version has apples and raisins in it because that’s what I had on hand (it may still be really warm in some parts of the country, but here in Podunk autumn has arrived).  At any rate, I’ve made it before with things like pineapple and cilantro, so you can add just about anything you want to suit your tastes.  Made as written, though, it is just delicious.

Ham Salad
Ham Salad
Ham Salad

Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 cups finely chopped cooked ham
  • 1 cup [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/index.php/homemade-mayonnaise/” target=”_blank”]mayonnaise[/url]
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Stir together the ham, mayonnaise, celery, onion, apple and raisins in a large bowl until well combined. Taste; season as needed with salt and pepper.
  2. Serve as a salad, with lettuce and tomatoes, or wrapped in romaine leaves.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 406 calories, 31.6g total fat, 86.3mg cholesterol, 694.7mg sodium, 393.4mg potassium, 13.2g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 9.5g sugar, 19.4g protein

 

 

To Boldy Go Where No One with Taste Has Gone Before

Every once in awhile I like to write a post to remind folks – myself included – that my life doesn’t revolve around food.

Okay, yes, it does revolve around food, but that’s not the point.  The point is, I do have interests outside of the kitchen; this is why I often participate in Random Tuesday Thoughts and The Spin Cycle.  It breaks up the monotony.

The tasty, tasty monotony.

Anyhoo, most of my “other” interests are geeky interests, something you know if you’ve been reading here any length of time at all.  Yes, I’m a middle-aged grandmother, but I’m a middle-aged grandmother who plays video games.  Which makes it extremely easy for my sons to shop for me at the holidays.

I am also a huge Star Trek fan.  How huge?  Well, I recently bought this:

Kirk

Yeah, that would be a Precious Moments James T. Kirk.

Well, sort of.  He is made of resin, not porcelain (like most Precious Moments figurines).  He’s smaller than PM’s standard figurines, and while he’s hand-painted, it’s not the best job I’ve ever seen.  I admit to being more than a little disappointed when he came in the mail (without a box – just taped up in bubblewrap), and considered sending him back.  Beloved talked me into keeping him – he is a limited edition, after all – and wait and see what the rest of the series looks like.

Besides cheesy.

Little did I know, however, that once I’d purchased my little Taiwanese guy, I’d be put on the Bradford Exchange’s mailing list, where they offer me all sorts of hilarious interesting Star Trek memorabilia.

Like a lovely men’s ring…

and watch.

Okay, those aren’t so bad – I am, after all, the proud owner of a limited edition titanium Star Trek spork.  If the offers had ended there, though, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post.  Because this came next:

I’m sorry, but even I draw the line at Star Trek-themed stained-glass wall art.  (I’m still waiting for the black velvet painting.)

Then, an email for this came, and I about fell out of my newly-acquired Lazy Boy recliner laughing.

Why not just stick a fringed lampshade on top and be done with it?

The pièce de résistance, however, had to be this:

Oh. My. Gawd.  I nearly killed myself with hysterical laughter.

Then I looked closely at it.

Okay, we’ve got the Gorn.  We’ve got Tribbles.  We’ve got the big-headed alien guys from The Menagerie.  We’ve got Spock and Kirk dueling it out in the Pon-Far espisode – heck, we’ve even got the salt sucker alien and Spock’s mom.

Bradford Exchange, where is the Guardian of Forever?  HMMMMM???  How on earth can you release a cheesy collection of some of the best original Star Trek episodes and leave out the very best?

For shame.  For shame…

For more fan-related Spins, go visit Gretchen at Second Blooming.  She might even show you her photograph of Davy Jones.

 

Grain-Free Peach Cobbler

Happy Monday, everyone!  As you can see, I’m posting – that means the migration to the new webhost went smoothly this weekend.  Much more smoothly, in fact, than I could have hoped for.

There were a few glitches of course; if you came here looking for the printable version of one of the older recipes, you may get a “404 – Page Not Found” error.  I had to rename the folder containing those older .pdf files, and am having to go in and change the URL pointing to each by hand – this is probably going to take a couple of days; there are a LOT of recipes there.  On the good side, the recipe plugin I use is now working properly, and you can print the newer recipes by clicking on the “print” link contained in each once more.

Aside from a few other minor problems I’m still ironing out, the one major issue that must be addressed is I believe my RSS feed was screwed up in the migration, so if you read this blog via an RSS reader, you will probably have to resubscribe.  I do apologize for that.

Among the nice things that happened this weekend is my Delicata Squash with Apples and Chili Spices made Mark Sisson’s Weekend Link Love.  Welcome if you found your way here via Mark’s Daily Apple!  I have literally hundreds of paleo/primal-friendly recipes here (including the occasional dessert, as you can see); I hope you find them useful – to say nothing of delicious.

And speaking of nice things happening this weekend, some of you probably already know about this particular nice thing, since I spoke of it last week on my personal Facebook page.  Yes, this is the recipe for the peach cobbler I couldn’t stop eating; in fact, calling it “nice” is something of an understatement.  It was awesomely delicious as part of the Breakfast for Dinner we had last Thursday.

I used the last of the fresh peaches from the farmer’s market for the cobbler, but frozen sliced peaches will probably work just fine (do I even need to mention that canned peaches are not acceptable?).  I was also very happy with the biscuit dough topping, too, especially since I was just sort of winging it when I put it together – with tweaking, it will make a marvelous savory grain-free biscuit.

I did pull out the potato flour for this, but if you’d prefer to use coconut flour instead, I think it will be fine, although it will probably take even less coconut flour – I’d cut it down to 2 tablespoons, but whatever works best for you.

The nicest thing about the cobbler is it’s not cloyingly sweet, just fruity and warm and comforting.  It would be dynamite splashed with a little heavy cream, if you can tolerate the dairy.

Grain-Free Peach Cobbler
Grain-Free Peach Cobbler
Grain-Free Peach Cobbler

Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Filling
  • 5 cups sliced peaches
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice or coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • Topping
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice or coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 4 tablespoons potato flour
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the sliced peaches and evaporated cane juice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. Stir in the tapioca flour until well-blended and set aside again.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ghee, vanilla and evaporated cane juice. Stir in the almond flour, then the tapioca flour and baking soda until a smooth batter forms. Stir in the potato flour, one tablespoon at a time, until a soft dough is formed (you may not need all 4 tablespoons).
  4. Spread the macerated peaches into a 1 1/2 quart glass baking dish; using a spoon, drop the biscuit dough topping over the surface of the peaches. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the peach mixture has thickened and the biscuit topping is golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 238 calories, 7.4g total fat, 54.1mg cholesterol, 178.9mg sodium, 320mg potassium, 39.7g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 24g sugar, 3g protein

 

Migration

I have an interesting post about estrogen dominance in the works, but it won’t be up until next week.  Likewise the recipe for peach cobbler.

After many years, I’m switching web hosts for the blog.  I don’t want to; I’ve had a long and beneficial relationship with my current host, but I’ve simply outgrown them.  I had to ask for another increase in bandwidth last month, even after disabling hotlinking (which is why you can’t currently see my photos in your RSS reader), and he warned me that I’ve reached my limit.  There simply is no more.

For the record, if I exceed my allotted bandwidth, this blog will become inaccessible until the next month.  No fun for me, and no fun for the tens of thousands of visitors who end up here each month.

This is compounded by the fact that I’ve recently made several changes to help how the blog is indexed in search engines, which is only going to increase traffic and eat up more bandwidth.  So I’ve reluctantly decided to move to a host that allows me unlimited disk space and, more importantly, unlimited bandwidth at an incredibly fair price (if I prepay for a certain amount of time, which I have no problem with).

The only problem with this is now I have to migrate my blog – database, images and all – to the new web server, which I plan to do this weekend.  I’ve done this before, so I don’t expect any real problems, but I can’t add any new content to the blog while I’m doing the migration.

If you don’t see a post from me this coming Monday, you’ll know things didn’t go quite as smoothly as I anticipated.

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for me, and have a lovely weekend, y’all.