Roasted Winter Squash and Apples with Quinoa, Kale, Pecans and Tahini Maple Dressing

This gorgeous photo is from  Ashley McLaughlin, an architect turned "cookbook author, freelance food photographer, recipe developer, and portrait photographer."  McLaughlin uses acorn squash with her kale (which makes for an interesting shape), but the winter squash in the 9/30 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to be a 2-3 pound buttercup squash as pictured at the bottom of the page. Beside the squash, kale and garlic used in this recipe, other veggies slated for delivery are:  parsley, lettuce mix, and peppers.


To make tahini dressing:

Heat a clean, large dry cast iron  skillet over medium high heat and add 1 cup of whole sesame seeds.  Stir frequently until they begin to turn golden brown and pop.  Remove from skillet and process in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle with about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to make 3/4 cup.  For this recipe, you will need 4 TB.  You can store the rest in a lidded jar in the fridge.  Peel and smash one clove of garlic. Combine tahini and garlic in a jar with with 2 oz. lime juice (about two limes). Seal and shake and let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Add 1 TB of  real maple syrup and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Set aside.

To roast squash and apples:

Slice two crisp, tart  apples, leaving skin on, but removing core (Granny Smith and Cortlands are two of my favorites).

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds.  I roast it roast face up  in a counter top convection oven for 30 minutes at 475 degrees F, then slice it, peel it and cut it into chunks.  Alternately, you can cut it into 1/4 thick slices and roast it in a conventional oven at 400 degrees F for about 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  If you are cooking the squash in the oven, during the last seven minutes add the apples.  Otherwise you can roast separately in the convection oven for a couple of minutes once the squash is done until the apples start to soften and turn fragrant.

To cook kale and quinoa
Smash, peel and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Chiffonade the kale by removing center stem, rolling and slicing crosswise to make long strips. 

Cover 1 cup raw quinoa in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes and then rinse.  Add fresh water and bring back to a boil and let sit covered until water is absorbed, about a half hour.  Fluff with a fork.

Cook kale in lightly oiled cast iron skillet for about four minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute, then   add a bit of water to steam lightly.  Remove from stove to plate while kale is still bright green and combine with  cooked quinoa.

To serve:

Place quinoa and kale  on a large platter then arrange roasted squash and apples on top. Or you can serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle with 1/2  cup of pecans and drizzle with dressing. 

This buttercup squash photo is  from Canadian registered dietitian, freelance magazine nutrition writer and recipe developer Matt Kadey of the blog Muffin Tin Mania.  Be sure to check out his 11/10/10 recipe for buttercup squash and oat muffins. Other yummy recipes for winter squash and kale include Kaela Porter's roasted squash with red peppers and rosemary from her Local Kitchen blog and Liz Harris's wheat berry salad with roasted squash, kale and whiskey soaked cranberrries from her Floating Kitchen blog.  Plus, here are my winter squash recipes from last season:

09/10/13: Moroccan Squash and Eggplant Stew
10/07/13: Another Moroccan Stew: Beets, Buttercup Squash and Radishes
11/11/13: Pecan-Topped Winter Squash Pie (Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes Work, Too)

11/18/13: Parsnip, Carrot, Winter Squash and Apple Stew


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Hugh Martin's The Stick Soldiers

Cover of  The Stick Soldiers, BOA Editions, 2013, 103 pp., ISBN 9781938160066.

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)  This week a poetry book about the war in Iraq comes with my highest recommendation.

Hugh Martin signed on with the Army National Guard in June 2001 for a standard six-year hitch.  The twin towers of the World Trade Center came down in September.  By 2003, he was attending Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio.  In an essay for the New York Times ten years later, he writes,
The war began for me while I was sitting on a couch in a living room. Like many people, I watched it all commence on television. At a friend’s house on campus, I sat with a few college friends and drank Bud Ice from bottles. We weren’t drinking beer because of the war; we were drinking simply because, being in college, it was something we often did. White smoke from an explosion would burst up from the cityscape of Baghdad as the sound echoed through the dark. Yellow tracers from antiaircraft fire sprayed randomly into the sky. The ticker on the bottom of the screen euphemistically summarized what was happening (while adding some alliteration and a subtle rhyme): “Large explosion rocks Iraq’s capital.” 

By 2004, Martin was withdrawing from school, when his unit deployed to Iraq. These poems recount his time in basic training, his preparation for Iraq, his experience withdrawing from school, his time in country and his return home to Ohio. Hugh Martin went on to finish his degree on Muskingum in 2009,  obtained an MFA from Arizona State University in  2012 and that fall became a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.  This month, he started  as a lecturer in the English Department at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.


Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Photo from The Functional Foodie

The September 23 farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include: spaghetti squash, dill, bok choy, Rosa de Tropea onions, carrots and radishes.

Spaghetti squash is a winter squash with flesh that appears solid until it is cooked and falls into  strands like spaghetti.  Many folks cook it with an Italian-inspired tomato or primavera sauce, which is delicious, but I decided to go Asian and provide a recipe for the stir-fried noodle dish Pad Thai, since the consistency reminds me more of rice noodles than of wheat pasta.  The recipe in the photograph called for tofu and bean spouts, but I prefer tempeh to tofu  and substituted radishes and bok choy for the bean sprouts, since they are in the farm share this week.


Serves 4

For peanut sauce:  Process in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle:
1/4 c. roasted peanut (or substitute cashew and/or sunflower seeds, if you are allergic to peanuts)
2 tbsp white rice vinegar or lime juice
1 tbsp of miso
1 tbsp demerara or turbinado sugar and 1 clove of garlic.
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

For garnish, in separate bowls prepare:
1/3 cup of chopped roasted peanuts, cashews or sunflower seeds
1/3 cup of cilantro leaves torn loose from stem
1/3 cup of chopped green onions
1 lime cut into wedges

Cook the spaghetti squash.  To prep, cut in half, scoop out seeds and stringy pulp with a spoon.  I roast mine face up in a convection oven at 475 for 30 minutes, but you can also cook it in a baking dish  with 1/4 cup of water face down  about 12 minutes in a microwave or  about 35 minutes in a conventional oven at 350 degrees F or until  soft. Set squash to cool and then use a fork to separate the flesh into ribbons.

While the squash is cooking and cooling, prep the other veggies.  Thinly slice one of the Rosa de Tropea onions.  Cut carrots into matchsticks to make 1 cup.  Thinly slice radishes to make one cup.  Thinly slice bok choy to make one cup.  Mince 3 cloves of garlic a one-inch piece of fresh ginger root. Cut one block of tempeh into thin slices.

In a lightly oiled skillet, cook tempeh until lightly browned, about 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Re-oil skillet and add onions, garlic and ginger;  stir until onions are softened and translucent. Add carrots and radishes and stir for about 1 minute more. Add sauce and tempeh and stir gently, until thoroughly mixed.  Remove from heat and add bok choy and squash, tossing to combine. Pour into a deep platter or divide among individual bowls and garnish.  Serve at once.


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Dennis Lehane's The Drop

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

This week, I read Dennis Lehane's new novel, The Drop (William MorrowSeptember 2, 2014, 224 pp.)

Like many of Lehane's novels, including Mystic River, The Drop is set in working class Boston and is a crime novel which delves deeply into the psychology of its characters. Unlike his other novels, The Drop started as the first chapter of what Lehane calls a "failed novel," which he used as as the basis for his short story, "Animal Rescue"  published in the anthology Boston Noir.  After writing for HBO's The Wire, Lehane was asked to expand the short story into a film, The Drop--James Gandolfini's last release also coming out this month--and then asked if it might also be a novel.

The story is of  Bob, who tends bar for the Chechen mob and whose lonely life changes after he adopts an abused pitbull puppy, which he names Rocco after the patron saint for "bachelors, pilgrims and dogs."



Blacksburg Contra September 20: Toss the Possum with Caller Danielle Boudrea

Laura and Charlie Zizette are back in the New River Valley from Minnesota and tonight's Blacksburg contra dance at 8 pm at the YMCA at Virginia Tech welcomes them back with Laura on piano, son Rob on fiddle, playing as Toss the Possum, with Charlie, I'm guessing, on sound.  The caller will Vermont native Danielle Boudrea.  There's a lesson at 7:30.


Coconut Red Curry with Bok Choy, Sweet Potatoes and Kidney Beans


The Glade Road Growing farm share for September 16 is slated to include: lettuce mix, hakurai salad turnips, bok choy, cilantro, tomatoes, sweet peppers and yellow onions.

Serves 4

Quarter 1 pound of sweet potatoes and then cut in 1/2 slices
Chop 1/2 cup of cilantro
Halve 4 baby bok choy
Chop one yellow onion
Chop the green portion of of one green onion
Quarter 1 lime

In a bowl stir together one can of coconut milk and 1 cup water, 1 TB of Thai red curry paste

In a skillet, saute sweet potatoes until they brighten in color.  Add onions and cook until translucent.
Add bok choy and after about a minute, add 2 cups of cooked kidney beans and the coconut milk/curry mixture. Reduce to simmer and cook for about three minutes until all the vegetables are cooked through.

If you want, you can serve this over cooked brown basmati or conventional brown rice or as is, garnished with cilantro, green onions and a lime wedge.


52 Books in 52 Weeks: David Huddle's The Faulkes Chronicle

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

This week I finished David Huddle's new novel, The Faulkes Chronicle  (Tupelo Press, 290 pp, September 1, 2014, ISBN 978-1936797455). Review to come, but HIGHLY recommended. Huddle has a gentle, quirky sense of humor even when he's telling the story of a family losing their beloved mother to cancer. The story is vivid and compelling.


Sauteed Rapini with Potatoes

Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer for Julia della Croce's Italian Home Cooking (Kyle Books, 2010) via her blog.  My version adds onions and red pepper flakes.

The September 9 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to include: broccoli raab (AKA rapini, rabe, cima di rapa or broccoli di rapa, head lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, dill, and yellow onions.

Rapini is in the brassica family, but while broccoli is most closely related to cabbage and cauliflower, this green, leafy, pungent vegetable is more closely related to turnips and Chinese cabbage.  It can be steamed, sauteed, boiled in a soup, made into a pesto or used as a topping for pizza with olives.  It's good combined with white beans, chickpeas, chicken or sausage.

My favorite way to cook it is to steam it briefly to remove some of the bitterness and tenderize the stalks and then to saute it extra virgin olive oil with garlic, chopped onions, red pepper flakes with Yukon gold or red potatoes.

Serves 6

1. Slice 2-3  unpeeled Yukon gold or red potatoes in (1/2 #) into 1/2 inch thick slices.
2.  Peel the skin from the tough lower stalks of the rapini, using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, unless the stems are very slender--then leave unpeeled. Cut the stems crosswise into 1 1/2- to 3-inch lengths.
3.  Chop one small yellow onion.
4.  Smash and peel 3 cloves of garlic
5.  Steam the potatoes and then the rapini separately until they are tender, but not mushy,
6. In a skillet large enough to accommodate all the veggies, coat with extra virgin olive oil and heat until a drop of water added to the skillet beads and sizzles.  Saute onions until translucent with 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes.  Add garlic and cook until softened.  Transfer to a bowl.
7.  Raise the heat to medium-high, re-oil pan, if necessary and add potatoes and sauté until they are golden and crisp all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl or platter.
8.  Re-oil pan and add the rapini and the garlic cloves. Sauté until coated with the olive oil and heated through, about 3 minutes.  If the rapini seems a bit dry, you can add a a few spoons of water.  Add to the potatoes and toss and serve immediate.y.


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Christian Klose's Frack this!

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues.  (Reports are due every Sunday.)

I first interviewed geohazard expert Christian Klose, when some were alleging that fracking had caused Virginia's 2011 earthquake. Klose convincingly argues that far from being "Acts of God," “acts of God”; earthquakes often can be triggered by human actions, such as as mining, water storage, oil and gas drilling, and underground hazardous wastewater disposal. The book is understandable to a layperson and also delves into what we can do to assess and mitigate risks.

I'll be posting more details soon. Recommended, but the title is misleading and seems to capitalize on the recent concerns about a currently controversy over a new methods of method for gas drilling.


Rick Wilson: WV Rages Like It’s 1984

Rick Wilson published the following essay in today's Charleston, Gazette and gave me permission to re-publish it here. In Wilson compares politicians' attacks on the Obama Administration's coal policy to the "two minute hate" propaganda ritual in George Orwell's 1984.  I found this screenshot from the film 1984 (the 1984 release)  at mixed media artist and writer Savannah Schroll Guz's  post.  It turns out she lives in Wierton, WV when she's not in Pittsburgh, and she's working on a graphic novel about the Battle of Blair Mountain.

In addition to the illustration, I've added links to Wilson's post, so that you can further explore some of the ideas he's discussed.  Interestingly, he quotes a West Virginian politician from an article in the Washington Post.  When I went to look it up, the quote was from a story in the arc "Uneven Recovery" in the Post's new section "Story Line", introduced by its editor economics writer Jim Tankersley on July 21.  The section plans to examine complex public policy issues through stories which illuminate their human impact.  It turns out that that another coal story which arrived in my email came from that arc--a review of research on coal and the resource curse.

Wilson (along with Beth Spence) is staff for the American Friends Service Committee West Virginia Economic Justice Project (WVEJ) in Charleston, which "works statewide on issues affecting low income and working families." He also has a blog I've enjoyed for years, The Goat Rope (slang for when "good intentions go bad, messily."


These are difficult times for coal miners in Southern West Virginia and for those whose lives are linked to them. Layoffs and mine closings have become almost routine events in the face of competition as well as changes in regulation. This is a time when coal communities need and deserve serious leadership from the state’s elected officials.

What they've gotten instead is what I like to call a ruling class hissy fit, an art that state leaders have mastered over the last few years. It is basically an all-hands-on-deck command performance where everyone who’s anyone, including those who know better, proceeds to blame all the ills of the state on the president of the United States and his “war on coal.”

The assumption seems to be that everything was peachy here until 2009 and would be again with if the White House had a different occupant and/or the EPA went away.

And that narrative, despite the steady disappearance of coal jobs since the 1950s, seems to be working. The task is probably made just a little easier by the fact that the occupant of that office is a black man with a strange name. It doesn't take much to subtly invoke the demons that dwell below the surface of our “post-racial” society.

The scene, which has become fairly ritualized, reminds me of George Orwell’s novel 1984, in which a regular feature of life in an authoritarian society was the “two minutes hate.” During that time, images of enemies of the state were flashed on TV screens while everyone in the audience was obliged to scream their hatred of the despised villains.

In the words of Orwell’s narrator Winston Smith, “The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”

State Senate President Jeff Kessler summed it up pretty well in a Washington Post article: “As a state, we have dealt with [the coal downturn] more from a state of denial, that it’s all caused by Obama and EPA, and if we just scream a little harder it will go back to where it was ... And I’m just not sure that is going to happen.”

The thing is, while hissy fits and two minute hates might promote social bonding and make people feel a little bit better for a little while, they don’t really do much to address the situation at hand or the facts we’re eventually going to have to face.

One such fact is that while coal has been and is likely to continue to be a major part of our economy, the post-World War II days when it employed over 120,000 miners are long gone long and aren’t coming back. Another is that coal’s problems wouldn't go away even if Obama and the EPA did. Even if we grant that new regulations on emissions complicate coal’s future, they aren't the biggest factors.

Central Appalachian coal faces competition from cheaper Western and imported coal and cheaper and abundant natural gas. The free market, which many idolize, is doing more to impact coal than any politician or agency or environmental group.

There is currently a glut of coal on the world market, even as demand for the product is declining in places like China, which is expected to close 2,000 of its own mines by 2015. According to [Mark Pervan,] one of many business analysts cited in a recent Bloomberg story in the Daily Mail, markets are “awash with coal in a time of soft demand.” To add insult to injury, some of the coal U.S. energy suppliers are buying is being imported from places like Colombia. Because of competition for rail service, shipping coal from there can be cheaper than rolling it to domestic sources on trains.

Sorry, but I don’t think you can pin all that on the black guy. Or, as Gazette political columnist Phil Kabler recently noted [on August 11], “I think we can agree that decline in demand for coal in China has nothing to do with tough environmental regulations.”

And while some folks here believe that science can and should be denied on the basis of where their money comes from, climate change is going to get harder and harder to ignore. And it could make some of the problems we’re worried about now look pretty small.

At some point, we need to move beyond the hissy fit and two minute hate. One step forward would be having some serious conversations about West Virginia’s economic future. Fortunately, that is starting to happen through efforts like What’s Next, West Virginia?, which is supported by many groups [associated with the West Virginia Center for Civic Life] that are holding conversations all over the state about how we can strengthen our local economy.

We also need political leaders who will advocate for the kinds of policies and transitional assistance to help coal miners and communities get through this rough patch. As my friend Ted Boettner [co-founding Executive Director of the WV Center on Policy and Budget]  put it in a recent [Ken Ward, Jr.'s July 31] Gazette article, we need something like a “GI bill for displaced coal miners.” [Also mentioned  Taylor Kuykendall of the Register-Herald in 2010.]

Jason Bailey of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy argued recently that there is plenty of precedence for the federal government to provide such assistance for workers and communities undergoing major hardships and economic changes. The Appalachian Regional Commission itself was created in the early 1960s to promote development within the region. Other transitional programs include:

It’s one thing to posture, pose and pretend to care about coal miners and their families. It’s something else to push for the policies they need and deserve. So far, alas, that hasn’t been happening.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Chard, Fresh Tomato Sauce and Cheese

The photo is from Giada De Laurentiis's recipe, but I prefer pasta in a shape that will hold the sauce: rotini, orecchiette (ear shaped), farfalle (bow tie), conchiglie (seashell shaped), penne rigate (ridged tubes) all work nicely.  Some brands I've tried include Dellalo and DeBoles.  


The 9/2/14 farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include lettuce mix, tomatoes, sweet peppers,
parsley, chard, and garlic. Here's a simple pasta recipe with a fresh tomato sauce.


Serves 4

Wash chard.  Chop stems separately and reserve.  Coarsely chop leaves.

To prepare ingredients for sauce:

  • Finely grate zest of a lemon enough to make 1 lightly packed teaspoon. Cut lemon in half squeeze into a small lidded jar. You will need 1 teaspoon for this recipe.
  • Peel, smash and mince three cloves of fresh garlic.
  • Peel and thinly slice 2 small onions.
  • Chop parsley leaves to make 3 tablespoons.
  • Chop one 1/4 cup of kalamata olives.  You can substitute a drained jar of pickled capers, if you prefer.
  • Seed, devein and chop one fresh serrano pepper. If you don't have a hot pepper, you can add 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Halve five to six  tomatoes (about a pound) and press lightly to get rid of seeds and extra juice. Slice into large chunks.

Bring water to a boil in the a 2 quart pot with a set in steamer.  Add a bit of extra virgin olive oil to the water and the whole wheat pasta.  Bring back to a boil and turn down to medium. Set the steamer in the pot and c ook whole wheat pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking,  in the steamer, first cook the chopped stems and when soft, cook the leaves. Drain pasta into the steamer, set back in pot and cover.  Divide pasta and chard mixture among four bowls.  You can make this more filling by tossing each bowl's contents with 1/2 cup of drained, cooked white beans.  Set aside until the sauce is cooked.

In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the hot pepper or red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring often, until soft and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.   Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until they begin to release their juice, 4  minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Stir in olives.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the parsley and swirl the pan to blend them into the sauce. Taste and balance the seasoning with salt and lemon juice if needed.

 Pour sauce over mixture.  Sprinkle with freshly grated Asiago or Pecorino cheese and with pine nuts or walnuts, if desired.  Serve right away.


Blacksburg: Khumariyaan and Boston Boys 9/18

Graphic from the poster via Jim and Robyn Dubinsky of Monkey House Concerts.  


On 18 September, I'm looking forward to
  • a free workshop (but need to reserve general admission ticket here) from 4:00 to 5:30 pm at the Anne and Ellen Fife Theater at the Center for the Arts (Jim, along with Geography Prof the Plaid Avenger and ethno-musicologist Dr. Anne Elise Thomas will moderate the workshop;) and
  • a concert from 8:00 to 11:00 pm at 130 Jackson Street (a $5 benefit)

Co-sponsored for both events are:  Monkey House Concerts and  the Virginia Tech Center for the Arts. Other sponsors include  the Center for the Study of Rhetoric in Society, The Artful Lawyer, and WUVT radio/ Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech, Inc. (EMCVT). 

For more on Khumariyaan, see the fan page on fb and the write-up at  Center StageKhumariyaan is one of seven ensembles from Morocco, Pakistan and Vietnam that Center Stage is bringing to the US for month-long tours from June-December 2014.

Center Stage is a public-private cultural exchange program between the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and additional support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council.)

For more on the Boston Boys, see their webpage.