Monday, November 21, 2016

Urban and Suburban Gardening - A Little Bit of Fall Harvest

This year for the first time I had a fall harvest of raspberries, a small harvest, but a harvest none the less. I have often wondered about encouraging my raspberry canes to produce in the fall. And it seems there were two contributing factors this year. One I had control over, the other not.

First, I didn't cut back canes as early as I usually do despite the pressure to do so.
My raspberries are between my garage and the alley. A perfect spot for them as it provides natural barriers to the weed like growth tendencies of the canes. The location, however, tends to include the neighbors in my suburban gardening efforts.

The neighbors seem to fall into two groups. The first set includes the concerned and skeptic, they express concern over the possibility of the raspberry canes causing damage to vehicles, specifically scratches on car paint. Even though I want to be a good neighbor, this year I left the cane trimming for later and with the unseasonably warm weather extending into the fall as an added factor, the canes produced again in October. Another group of neighbors doesn't complain. They just harvest freely. This years overly abundant harvest produced enough to share, the heat curtailed any over zealous foragers and they weren't expecting berries in the fall! The small fall raspberry harvest was few but it was all mine!

What ever view the neighbors take, the raspberries love their location.They thrive there and produce in abundance. And maybe I shouldn't admit this but, they really are not labor intensive at all! This year, when on one occasion I made the mistake of picking during the heat of the day, the work was long, tedious and a little sweaty. That task at that time of day forced me to consider those who do agricultural work and pick for a paycheck. They are out picking for hours a day to provide what we can easily find and buy at a grocery store. Remembering them makes me thankful for every bite!

Raspberry care tip for fall: harvest the leaves, cut back the canes (especially by the neighbors garage!), throw on some compost, spruce and pine needles, viola!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Orange Food is Good Food - Squash Soup Recipe

The colors of the autumn season have been gorgeous in Chicagoland this year. As the leaves finally fall from the trees, I am disappointed to see the beauty of it all freeze away. This yummy butternut squash soup recipe is a bit of consolation. It's tasty, healthy and saves some of the lovely fall color for the table.

Fall and winter are great seasons for bowls of hot soup to keep the chill in check. Along with a hearty piece of whole grain bread, fresh baked or not, with a vegetable or cheese spread, soup can contribute to a complete meal and make for cozy time together. Squash soup is an ideal way to prepare those beta-carotene rich squash so abundant in the fall harvest.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 small - medium butternut squash
1 16 oz.can chicken broth
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash lemon pepper or white pepper
1 tablespoon honey
chopped fresh chives for garnish

Halve the squash, remove seeds and bake at 350 in baking pan in shallow water cut side down, turn cut side up after about 20 minutes.
Bake another 15-20 minutes for a total 30-40 minutes total or until tender.
Spoon squash from peel into food processor or blender and puree. (When in a hurry, I have skipped this step, but the resulting texture isn't as nice.)
Combine baked pureed squash and broth in a large saucepan bring to a boil and simmer.
Over medium heat stir in sour cream, butter, cayenne and honey. Add salt and white pepper.
Cook soup until thoroughly heated.
Garnish with chives. And if you like a small extra dollop of sour cream.