Archive for November, 2012

Lopez Island’s Many Magical Squash and Curry Soup

Anne and Beth have been living on a magical and special little island in the far Northwest. They send me lovely pictures from their boat, and clouds draped over further distant islands, rainbows over tall trees and their dogs. I look at their pictures and imagine life on a little island with whales and eagles living close by.

The other week after a phone call with Anne I received an e-mail that said “it was a cold and windy day…Hi Ra Just want to let you know there is a little collection of Lopez flavor on its way to you –love love Anne”. The very next day, amazed at how fast the post came, there was a heavy box with Anne’s familiar writing on it. I hefted the box up to my apartment like a child on Christmas morning. I opened up the dense box and inside was magic, all these little parts of their special island and life. There was pottery from a store they love on the island, there were apples, and shallots, and garlic, chutney, and hot sauce, and all of these amazing cornucopia of small squash from their CSA.

After unpacking the box of goodies and leaving a very excited and grateful message, I looked at the bounty and got to thinking how I could use as many of the ingredients in one dish, my own version of CHOPPED as it were, and I remembered two of my favorite soups. I thought for a bit and wondered what if I put two soups together into one, the Winter Squash Soup I wrote about here last year, and this Cauliflower Chickpea Curry from Moosewood that gets finished off with a mango chutney.

I roasted the squash, apples, shallot, and garlic with olive oil and swapped out the spices this time to be curry. Blended it all with vegetable broth, and then crowned it with sweet and tangy apple chutney. I hoped for something good and came away with something amazing! I dare say I may like it better than the original version of this soup. It tasted like what I would eat if I were sitting on a magic island with friends looking out over the ocean to distant islands as the clouds recede and a whale or eagle passed by. But better yet it made me feel like I was with my friends who are a continent away but always so close, so close in my heart.

Soupfulls of love to you,

Lopez Island’s Many Magical Squash and Curry Soup


1 large winter squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), such as butternut, buttercup or kabocha; peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered (or in the case of my box of goodies 5 shallots)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tart, firm apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Curry powder to taste
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss the squash, onions/shallot, garlic and apples with the oil to coat. Season well with the salt, pepper, and curry powder. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.












2. Put half of the vegetables and 2 cups of the broth in a food processor and purée until smooth. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and broth. Return puréed mixture to the pot. If the soup is too thick, add more broth. Correct the seasoning and heat to a simmer.

3. Serve soup with a Tablespoon of apple chutney if you have it for a crazy good taste bud experience.

Lead Photo By: Beth Shirk – thank you!


11 2012

Apple Of My Pie

Its been awhile since I have written something here, I have thought about writing something a lot, and somehow never did. I find it hard returning from my travels, I think I always have. I have this problem with inertia – I find it hard to get started on things but I find the stopping and staying still so much harder. Since coming home I have been trying to sit still with all of the questions and chaos that I usually try to drum out by moving; you know not asking those awful questions that have chased me my entire life – what next, what now, where to. I haven’t liked it but I keep trying. And when all of that sitting has made me hungry I do some cooking and baking, including pie.

When I think of pie I think of Zelda’s mother Ruth. I didn’t know Ruth very much, I do have a few memories of her but her influence and presence in my life seems to loom larger than most of the memories. We usually stayed at Zelda’s Aunt Rose’s house when we spent our summer weeks on the farm. I loved Aunt Rose’s house, the carpeted stairs that led up to the second floor which was entirely wood paneled, the bedrooms with flowery wallpaper, the old time water pump out back, and the kitchen that always smelled of meat balls, sausage, cookies, or her amazing brownies (there is a recipe I have to share). But a few times we stayed at Ruth’s house with the kitchen right off the big stone front porch, the wood stairs to the second floor, and what seemed like all this quiet.

My memories of Ruth stretch from vague images of white washed and silent halls in hospitals to this house and the few times we spent the night. But the memory that stands out the most to me of Ruth is of the pie we made and ate one summer. I remember it was a pie of some kind of berry perhaps blackberry or blueberry. We had made it together, the only time I remember Ruth cooking around me was this pie. While the pie baked in the oven we ate a dinner of tuna melts. Zelda and I had plans that night and since the pie wasn’t ready by the time we left Ruth promised  we could have some when we got back. We returned late and must have gone straight to bed, but all I remember was there was no pie that night. But the next morning we had breakfast and with it Ruth served me a huge piece of that summer berry pie. I remember it felt like magic, pie for breakfast! It felt exactly like an experience one doesn’t have very often in their life.

Ruth has always remained a mystery and a symbol for me of the generation of women that gave birth to the generation of women that gave birth to me. She has always filled my mind with stories but this memory is always a fond one of us around a table eating that pie for breakfast.

So here I am baking a pie for the holidays, an apple pie and thinking of summer days with Ruth; and of course of three generations of fabulous women and girls that have come from Ruth (many of whom I love baking pies next to!).

Apple Pie


3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ¾ inch thick. I like to use a variety of apples for both texture and taste diversity.

1 lemon, zested

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pie Crust, recipe follows

1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine apple slices in a bowl with the lemon zest and juice, ½ cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to extend about 1/2-inch over the rim.  Pie crust recipe below.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom piecrust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1-inch over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and cut 4 or 5 slits or a shape (I used a star cookie cutter for mine).

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm, or the next morning for a special breakfast memory.

Pie Crust:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter

2 ½  cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening

6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Martha Stewart Magazine says to make sure all of your ingredients are thoroughly chilled before you begin (this includes the flour). Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives cut the cold butter into the flour mixture by pressing down quickly, using as few strokes as possible.

Add 4 tablespoons of water. Gather dough and gently press into a ball. It should come together loosely if not, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough in half; place each on plastic wrap. Flatten into disks. Wrap tightly; refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

Remove disks from refrigerator. On lightly floured surface, press rolling pin gently all over dough to flatten it slightly. Working from the center to the edge in all directions, roll out dough into a round about 3 inches larger than your pie plate.

Wrap the dough around the rolling pin; lift and center it over the pie plate. Gently unroll the dough over the plate, leaving an even amount of overhang around the perimeter. Repeat with top crust.


11 2012