Cozify November 18 2014

GETTING COZY
I am not one to jump on the bandwagon of word trends, but I just can't resist the urge to "cozify"-- to make warm my old Victorian home studio in the damp and windy Pacific Northwest.  My favorite way to do this is by baking, and more specifically, by baking winter squash.  Though, truth be known, the idea of baking potatoes as both hand warmers and a warm snack as they did in Little House on the Prairie books is a close second, if only I had long sleigh rides to prepare for.  I digress...

Oh, winter squash, how I love thee.  I'm not sure what I love most:  their earthy, sweet flavor, their humble, yet substantial beauty, or the idea of storable bounty.  In any case, I have four favorite varieties, all grown at Midori Farm, where I am lucky to do weekly work trade. Here are my favorites, shown left to right below:
  • Black Forest Kabocha: My favorite, a Japanese kabocha.   Sweet, dry and flaky.  Even sweeter and drier than Stella Blue.
  • Hokkaido Stella Blue: Blue/grey, dry and flaky inside, sweet.  This variety is no longer commercially available, so Midori grew their own seed crop last year.
  • Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin: The best pumpkin for pie and soup. Ever.
  • Marina di Chioggia: warty, Italian heirloom variety.  Sweet and dry, it is beautiful in its own way.

 

COOKING WINTER SQUASH
Rumor has it that baking winter squash can be daunting, what with their size and heft.  But I've found this technique to be quite manageable:

1.  Cut the squash in half.  I like to cook one pie pumpkin and one of the drier varieties together.
2.  In a large pan, place the cut side down with an inch of water in the bottom.
3.  Bake at 350' degrees until they collapse and darken on top, indicating that they are soft inside.
4.  Remove seeds and strings, scrape the flesh into a bowl and mix with a hand mixer.
5.  What i don't use up immediately I freeze.

Speaking of recipes, here is my favorite fall-into-winter cookie recipe for Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies.

1.  Mix together wet ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 ounces pureed squash
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2.  Mix together dry ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour (can be a mix of any that you like.  For gluten free, I recommend Pamela's Baking & Pancake mix)
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

3.  Combine wet and dry, without over mixing.
4.  Drop cookies of preferred size onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

I hope you find healthy, meaningful ways to stay warm this season.

-Alison Kaplan, Founder of Kata Golda