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A little less than a happy high
Holy crap, I'm talking about food again.
We just finished assembling a joint chili project, one brought on by large amounts of stew beef, the remarkable appearance of ancho and chipotle peppers, and a quarter butter pumpkin leftover from making my favorite autumn vegetable soup. Yeah, you heard right. I put pumpkin in my chili, and it's not quite so unusual as you might believe. In fact, when I was being all clever and thinking that I'd like to play with the sweetness it would bring and the suspicion that it would help to thicken the lot without flour or some other foreign starch, a google search showed that the idea was actually pretty common.

I really love cooking with pumpkin. It's one of those incredibly underused food items that make appearance in restaurant fare, but have suffered a great deal in the home. I think it's a product of the same forces that ensure that we have tasteless tomatoes all year round. Essentially, we've sacrificed seasonality and locality for the sake of uniformity of diet and the presence of exotics. Granted, I do enjoy the fact that I have access to ancho peppers, but I appreciate that there's something that's lost, too.

The odd thing about pumpkins is that they are readily available and cheap. At this point, the most common use is in pie, but in most cases even those are made with canned pumpkin pie filling. Every autumn, grocery stores get huge stocks of a gourd that most people only vaguely recognize as food. It's use has become ritualized instead. The fate of those purchased lies in being cooked from the inside as jack-o-lanterns or left out with clumps of Indian corn in celebration of the harvest season. Once All Hallow's passes, they're discarded or left to rot.

It seems odd to me. Still, I get funny looks when I buy ham hocks, too.

So, something entirely different... The next iteration of the house bitters has been racked, which means we're still a little over a month away from that being ready. On tasting it, I'm wondering if it was such a good idea reversing the usual hops bill. When I use the Fuggles for flavor and aroma, it's been giving a spicy and buttery flavor to the beer, and I've rather come to enjoy that with this style. The EKG in its place came surprisingly citrusy, with some evergreen undertones. It's not quite as pungent as Cascade, but it's a very different beer than what I'm used to. I also decided that adding salts to harden the water is key. With the treatment, the hops can really shine without having to go through eleventy additions to give proper character.

Oh, the Feast rocked so hard that it spilled into Saturday night. Rather unexpectedly. ^_^
4 comments or Leave a comment
riverbank From: riverbank Date: October 31st, 2005 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
squash make the best soups in my opinion. got a good fall soup recipe?
komos From: komos Date: October 31st, 2005 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Happy Hallows to you as well

From Hughes-Gilbey...

1/2 cup dried navy beans
2 carrots, peeled and chopped roughly
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 zucchini, sliced
2 leeks, sliced
1/2 lb. green beans, chopped
1 cup pumpkin, peeled, seeded & diced
bouqet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf and other aromatics tied together)
3-4 black peppercorns
1/2 lb. ham in a single piece
1 ham hock
1 cup shredded gruyere

Soak the beans overnight. Drain and then place in a pot with the other vegetables, the bouquet garni, peppercorns, and salt and cover with 1 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil. Add the ham and ham hock; bring back to a boil and skim. Turn down the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Take out the ham and ham hock and chop the ham into bite-sized pieces. Return these to the soup and check seasoning. Serve hot, with some of the shredded cheese in each bowl.

(I also like grilling a bit of stale baguette that's been painted with some butter and sticking the resulting crouton at the bottom of the bowl before ladeling the soup over it. The soup's good for what ails ya.)
riverbank From: riverbank Date: November 1st, 2005 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy Hallows to you as well

thank you, it'll be yummy!
komos From: komos Date: November 1st, 2005 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy Hallows to you as well

I've another couple of servings before this one's done. I'm rather looking forward to the next. ^_^
4 comments or Leave a comment