Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Instant Pot Butternut Squash And Split Pea Soup

Butternut Squash Soup with extra protein and fiber.

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What to do with all my Butternut Squash
You may have seen last week's post where I shared our magic dirt formula that contributed to us getting 60 butternut squash from a single seed! The obvious next thing to think about is what am I going to do with all this butternut squash?

Part of my harvest.

Today's recipe is a very simple soup that I make in my Instant Pot. Most of the time, I make a very light and brothy butternut squash soup - the kind you sip from a mug. But for a heartier meal, I like to thicken the soup with split peas. The split peas not only make the soup thicker, but they add a significant amount of protein and fiber. While the soup is fat free and very low in calories (less than 200 calories per bowl), it provides a healthy 10 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber. 

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Butternut Squash and Split Pea Soup
Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free
[makes 6 servings]

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
Potato Masher

1 cup split peas
1 small butternut squash (~1 1/2 pounds)
1 small onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme plus some for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice

Pick through the split peas and remove any rocks or clumps of dirt. Rinse well and drain. Place in the Instant Pot.

Peel, cut, remove the seeds, and dice the butternut squash. Read my post on an easy way to cut a butternut squash. Place the diced squash, onion, garlic, broth, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and thyme in the Instant Pot.

Press the MANUAL button and set for 12 minutes under high pressure. Make sure the quick release switch in the closed position. When done, press the OFF button and let the pressure release naturally. When complete, open the cover and tilt so that the steam comes out the back and away from your face. 

Add the lemon juice and gently mash the soup with a potato masher to break up the large chunks of squash. But don't be too aggressive since you still want small chunks of squash in the soup.

Mash but leave chunks of squash.

Pour into individual bowls, top with some fresh thyme and serve. 

Per serving: 185 calories, 0 g total and saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 58 mg omega-3 and 157 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 10 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 11 g dietary fiber, and 398 mg sodium.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Doug's Magic Dirt Formula
How I Got 60 Butternut Squash From 1 Seed!

I got 60 butternut squash from ONE seed!

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My Husband, the Amazing Farmer
Our friends always laugh when they see the size and yield of the vegetables from our garden. It's simply unbelievable how much our garden produces from a single seed. This year the winning vegetable was our butternut squash. One seed yielded a plant that produced 60 butternut squash, each weighing between 2 and 4 pounds - about 200 pounds of squash in all. A few even weighed as much as 5 pounds! I used a year-old seed from a packet of Johnny's JWS 6823 PMR Organic Squash Seed.  Their website says the average yield for this seed is 4 to 5 squash per plant. I can't wait to write to them to tell them that we got 60!

I believe the secret is Doug's magic dirt formula. Since everyone always asks us, "what's in your soil", I thought I'd write this blog post. It's kind of tough to create a recipe for this since he "adds a little of this and a little of that" and deals in huge quantities, but I think this will come close.

Doug's Magic Dirt Formula

Wheel barrel 

1 cubic foot of native soil from your yard
1 cubic foot bag of organic compost
2 pounds earthworm castings
1 cup Biochar
1 1/2 tablespoons glacial rock dust
1 tablespoon mycorrhizae

#1 - Dig up a cubic foot of soil from your yard and place it in a wheel barrel.

#2 - Add a cubic foot of organic compost to the wheel barrel and mix well.
Compost is decayed organic material such as leaves, grass, etc. which greatly enriches your soil. You can buy it or create a compost pile from your vegetable scraps.

#3 - Add earthworm castings.
This is basically worm poop and is used as a fertilizer in organic farming.

#4 - Add Biochar.
Biochar is burnt, carbonized biomass which is used as an amendment for soil to help retain water and nutrients.
#5 - Add glacial rock dust.
Contains a wide variety of trace minerals that replenishes the soil. Glacial rock dust is a natural product produced from glacial action taking place over thousands of years.

#6 - Mix it all together in the wheel barrel and then add to the planting area. 

#7 -Sprinkle mycorrhizae in the hole where you place your seeds or cuttings.
Mycorrhizae are fungi that form a symbiotic relationship with your plants' roots. They allow your plants to increase their ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. The plant provides food in the form of carbohydrates to the fungi. A match made in heaven!

Well, that's it. Sounds like a bit of trouble but the results are worth it! You will not need to fertilize your plants - this will do it all. You can double, triple, quadruple or cut this recipe in half. 

Warning: this recipe may result is lots of cooking, canning, freezing, dehydrating, and searching for friends and neighbors to take your vegetables!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Cool As A Cucumber Salad
With Garbanzos And Cherry Tomatoes

Beat the heat with this cucumber salad.

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We've had record breaking heat this last week. Sebastopol topped its record with 111 degrees. So needless to say, we've been eating a lot of raw foods and foods that are cooling. Cucumbers are very hydrating and I just happen to have a cucumber plant that is presenting me with 2 enormous and perfect cucumbers a day! 

Here's a quick salad that we made for lunch yesterday. It also uses our garden cherry tomatoes. With protein-packed garbanzo beans and good fats from the avocado, this is a perfectly balanced vegan and gluten-free meal for two hungry people or a side dish for 4 to 6. 

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Cucumber Salad with Garbanzos and Cherry Tomatoes
Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free
[Serves 2 large meal-size salads or 4 to 6 sides]

1 long English cucumber or 2 smaller ones
2 dozen cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 avocado, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 serrano pepper, minced (optional)
2 tablespoons red onion (optional)
1 tablespoon EVOO or cold-pressed hemp oil
1 tablespoon lemon balsamic vinegar
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried dill or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped

Peel the cucumber and slice vertically. Then slice into half moons.

Place the cucumber in a medium bowl and add the tomatoes, avocado, garbanzo beans, pepper (if using), and red onion (if using). 

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a cup or small bowl and stir with a fork until well incorporated. 

Pour over the cucumber salad and toss gently. Serve immediately.
And remember to stay cool!