Butternut Squash Soup

This is a classic, easy-to-prepare soup that tastes delicious and warms you up on a cool, autumn day.

Ingredients:

1 medium to large butternut squash, cut in half and seeded

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons ginger

6 cups chicken broth, divided

1 teaspoon salt

A few sprigs of chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place cut side of butternut squash down on a baking dish with half-inch of water. Bake about one hour until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Let it cool, then scoop out the pulp and set aside.

Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and ginger, stir and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash along with 4 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil then simmer, stirring often for about 10 minutes. Puree with a handheld blender. Add the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and salt. Heat it through for about 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley.

Tip: Serve with warm, crusty bread and butter.

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Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is a delicious and festive way to enjoy the fall season. This recipe makes two tasty loaves–enough to share with someone special!

Ingredients:

2 2/3 cups sugar

2/3 cup butter

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

2/3 cup water

4 eggs

3 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup chopped nuts

2/3 cup raisins

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans, 9 x 5 x 3 inches.

Mix sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Add pumpkin, water and eggs. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder. Add nuts and raisins.

Pour into pans and bake 70 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack about 10 minutes, then gently loosen the loaves from the pan with a sharp knife or spatula. Remove from pans and let cool before slicing.

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Homemade Beef Stew

Beef stew is comfort food at its finest. The ordinary ingredients meld together into a satisfying, savory meal. The types of vegetables and herbs can be altered, resulting in endless variations of this classic recipe. The following recipe serves 4; if you’re expecting more people, the ingredients can be doubled, tripled, etc. so everyone can enjoy a bit of good ole, down-home cooking.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

¼ cup flour

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 onion, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced

1 cup celery, sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 cup red or white wine

4 cups beef broth

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried herbs (oregano, thyme, savory, etc.)

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced

A few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, as needed

Directions:

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Combine flour and pepper in a small bowl. Dredge the meat in the flour/pepper mixture. Sear a little meat at a time in the hot oil, turning the pieces until meat is browned on all sides; remove meat from pot. Add more oil as needed between each batch of meat.

In the same pot, sauté the onions, garlic, carrots and celery on medium-high heat. Remove vegetables from pot.

Deglaze the pot with red wine vinegar and wine, scraping bottom of pot with a spatula. Add beef broth, bay leaves and herbs. Add the meat and the vegetables to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour-and-a-half, stirring often, until the meat is fork-tender. Add the potatoes; cover and simmer about 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve. Tip: Serve with warm, crusty bread and butter.

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Apple Hand Pies

Apple hand pies—also known as apple turnovers—are individual serving sizes of traditional apple pie, an all-American favorite. This old family recipe is easy to follow and quite versatile, as any type of pie filling will work. Hand pies make a delicious dessert and are easy to serve to a crowd. And for those who like to eat pie for breakfast, including those who are trying to get out the door, they are a very convenient to-go item!

Number of servings: 4

Ingredients:

Crust:

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

Filling:

2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced

2 tablespoons butter

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon water

Topping:

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the crust, place the flour in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. Add sugar and baking powder. Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl and stir; add to the flour mixture.

For the filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in apples; sprinkle with salt, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon; add water. Cook and stir apple mixture until apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer apple filling to a plate and set aside to cool.

Form the dough into four balls; place one dough ball on a floured surface and roll into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Spoon about 1/3 cup of apple filling into center of circle. Fold over dough and press the edges together with a lightly-floured fork. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Place hand pies on an ungreased baking sheet (or line baking sheet with parchment paper).

For the topping, whisk egg with milk; brush top of each hand pie with egg mixture, sprinkle with about ¼ tablespoon sugar and cut three small vent holes on top of each pie crust.

Bake in the preheated oven until hand pies are golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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Grandma’s Rollie-Up Crepes

This old family recipe was submitted by William A. “Bill” Chapman of the Clarence Scott Ranch, a ranch in western Yolo County, California that was originally homesteaded by Bill’s great-grandfather George Washington Scott (1829-1912) in 1850. Bill’s paternal grandmother, Louise Carin Gross Chapman (1882-1948), enjoyed making her famous rollie-up crepes and usually doubled the recipe for her large family. Louise was born to German parents in the seaport city of Odessa, Ukraine, and her family immigrated to South Dakota in 1886 and then to Oregon in 1888. Louise became a nurse and eventually moved to St. Helena, California to work at the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital. That’s where she met George Mandred Chapman, a young widower from nearby Winters, California, who needed help taking care of his infant daughter. Louise became the resident nanny and soon she and George were married.  Five children were born from that union; Bill’s father, George Walker Chapman III, was the eldest of those children. Grandma Louise’s family recipe was passed down to Bill’s father, who carried on the tradition, cooking 12-inch crepes on his large griddle. Bill has many happy memories of returning from church and eating rollie-up crepes for breakfast with his family. These delicious crepes use basic ingredients and are easy to make–enjoy!

Grandma’s Rollie-Up Crepes

1 Cup Milk

1 Cup Flour

1 Cup Water

1 Egg

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)

Combine all ingredients. Cook on a light-weight, buttered griddle with a handle. Place a ladle of batter on the medium-heated griddle. Lift and rotate the griddle to allow the batter to spread into a thin crepe covering a majority of the griddle area. Cook until light brown–edges will brown–then flip (turn crepe over) with a broad spatula; cook the underside to a light brown (allow the moisture bubbles to cook off, i.e., steam). Remove from the griddle and place on a serving plate. When served, add butter, jelly, jam, honey, etc.

 

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Pan-Fried Fish

Our family friend Wesley went fishing in Bodega Bay, California and caught this ling cod in the Pacific Ocean. I fried it up in a cast-iron skillet, using a recipe that my mother always used whenever our family caught fish during our frequent camping-and-fishing trips. I grew up in a boating family and we enjoyed catching fish and cooking them in a cast-iron skillet on our propane camp stove. We had a red fiberglass boat named the Red Snapper. We would launch our boat and go fishing (and water-skiing!) in various lakes throughout Northern California. My dad taught my sister Ann and me how to clean the fish, and my mom (a native of Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, The Musky Capital of the World) showed us how to cook it. It’s a simple recipe that tastes delicious. This is down-home cooking–even when you’re away from home!

Ingredients:

Fish filets, 1 pound

Cornmeal, 1 2/3 cups

Flour, 1/3 cup

A dash of seasoning salt

2 Eggs, beaten (optional)

Water

Oil (I used rice bran oil for this batch of fish, but any vegetable oil will do)

Mix flour, cornmeal and seasoning salt together in one bowl. In another bowl, mix eggs with water. Heat oil in a skillet. Dip each fish filet in the egg/water mixture (or just plain water), then dredge both sides of the filet in the cornmeal/flour/seasoning salt mixture. Place in skillet and cook until golden brown on each side; the fish should be opaque (not translucent like when it’s raw) when you nudge it with a spatula. Remove each filet from pan; place on paper-towel-covered platter that will absorb excess oil.

Serve with tartar sauce (made by mixing together mayonnaise and pickle relish in a small bowl). Fried fish tastes great with sides of rice and steamed vegetables, crusty French bread and your favorite beverage.

Homemade Peach Pie

I just interviewed a peach grower for a magazine story that I’m writing, and he gave me a bunch of peaches, so I decided to make a pie. Robbie Bains of Yuba City will be featured in the upcoming issue of the California Canning Peach Association’s magazine. It’s really great to get fresh-from-the-farm produce! We grow about a dozen crops on our farm, but the only peach tree we have is a single freestone variety in the backyard, and the birds usually get most of our fruit. I interviewed this particular grower, along with his 10-year-old son, in their orchard near Gridley. It was nice to see a family farmer teaching his young son, who represents the next generation of American farmers. And my farm family was pleased to be the taste-testers of these delicious peaches!

Here’s my peach pie recipe:

Homemade Peach Pie

Crust:

1 ¼ cups lard (or shortening)

3 cups flour

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

5 tablespoons ice-cold water 

Filling:

6 cups fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

To make the crust, mix together the flour and lard with a pastry blender. Beat the egg, salt, vinegar and water together; add the liquid mixture to the flour and lard. Blend ingredients, divide in half and put one half of the dough into the refrigerator. Lay parchment paper on the counter and sprinkle flour on it. (I prefer using parchment paper, but you can skip this and simply roll out the dough on a counter surface generously sprinkled with flour.) To create the bottom crust, place one-half of the dough on top of the parchment paper; sprinkle it with flour, and flatten it with a rolling pin. Use a spatula to lift the crust off the parchment paper and place the crust into the pie plate. Cut ½-inch outside of pie plate.

To make the filling, place the sliced peaches in a colander for about 15 minutes and drain excess liquid. Then gently mix together the peaches, lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, flour and cinnamon; transfer to the pie crust. Dot with butter.

Take the other half of the dough out of the refrigerator and make the top crust; sprinkle flour on the parchment paper, then flatten out remaining dough with the rolling pin, and place it on top of the peach mixture. Flute edges. Cut vents in the top crust and sprinkle with sugar. Cover the pie edges with a pie crust shield (or use strips of aluminum foil) and bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Then remove pie crust shield, and continue baking for another 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature; a scoop of vanilla ice cream is highly recommended!