CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

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Usually at least in our home, we have been used to making pies from Butternut Squash, however I did not want anything sweet but was in the mood for a savory soup, while waiting for this latest winter storm, as cold night and a savory bowl of soup.

First I do not like store bought chicken broth, so I needed to make some chicken broth, out comes the pressure cooker to speed the process, I put 4 frozen chicken thighs in the pan with a bay leaf, thyme crushed red pepper, black pepper, salt, celery flakes, smoked paprika and a sprinkle of garlic granules and one small Fuji apple(cored ad quartered. along with a quart of water and a teaspoon of chicken base. put the lid on and processed it for 1 hours at 15 lbs. pressure.  I let the pressure drop naturally about 15 minutes.

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Then removed the thighs and had 2 cups of broth, to this broth I added 2 cups of water. and put in a bowl  Now it was time to cook the squash. I cut into large chunks and scooped out the seeds in the cavity. I cooked the squash on the pressure cooker rack at 15lbs pressure for 10 minutes, took the pan from the stove and put it in the sink and drew cold water over it to drop the pressure. Squash done in this manner makes peeling very easy, the skin will peel off in sheets.

Returned all to the pan along with the broth and 1/2 of an extra large yellow onion, simmered it for 15 minutes. then took the stick blender and pureed all of it. and added 1/3 cup half and half and blended again, now it was ready to serve.

NOTE: I found that a 3 1/2 lb butternut squash makes a hearty amount of soup, when I make this again and I will, I will freeze 2/3rds of it in containers before adding the cream or 1/2 and 1/2, and add the cream to what I unthaw each time.

Recipes  from the blog over the past 6 years.

Butternut Sour Cream Biscuits

Savory Bacon Browned Butternut Squash Soup

Zucchini Squash Pie

This recipe can easily be made with Winter Squash (Butternut) as well, use the same amounts of squash regardless of type used.

STRAWBERRY SHORT CAKE

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STRAWBERRY SHORT CAKE 030All I can say is when strawberries start appearing in the stores, you know Spring cannot be that far away, and boy are we ever ready for spring this year!

The other day when I was in Costco I just could not resist buying some, they do appear nicer than most stores have, and they were 99% ripe! I only had one bad berry.

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I have been hungry for strawberry shortcake for a long time now. Even though the cake is NOT a short cake, nor a sponge cake it is and Ice Water Cake, you can find it by clicking the name, which is the link. It was posted on May 25, 2011. I wanted to mention if you make the Custard Recipe I just posted, that used the 4 egg yolks, you could also use the 4 whites left over to make the Ice  Water Cake, as it takes 4 whites.

STRAWBERRY SHORT CAKE 108Really there is not much a recipe to the strawberry portion of the recipe, other than capping, rinsing, and slicing the berries. I put about 1/4 cup of sugar over the berries, gently tossed them in the bow, cover and let stand in the refrigerator for several hours to allow time for juice to draw.

I then whipped my cream, with a a couple tablespoons of sugar and drops of vanilla (you can easily omit the sugar in the whipped cream) if you are watching sugar.

You can easily  make this recipe with most any of the soft fruits that are in season, it is great with fresh peaches as well.

HOMEMADE TOASTED COCONUT CUSTARD

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Coconut Custard, etc. 048This is not egg custard with toasted coconut in it, which is very very good and a future post as well. See in todays world people have forgotten about homemade custards, as they have become accustom to pouring the contents from a box into a bowl or making cook and server custard or pudding. Homemade is basically the same as cook and serve, however there you do it from your cupboards or pantry and not a box.

TO TOAST COCONUT

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Heat oven to broiling, place about a cup of coconut on the ungreased baking sheet, spread coconut out evenly, place under the broiler,

Note: DO NOT WALK AWAY, KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE COCONUT, LEAVE THE OVEN DOOR AJAR, DO NOT TALK ON THE PHONE, DO NOT GO FOR A WALK, LEST YOU END UP WITH BLACKEND COCONUT! THIS WILL ONLY TAKE 2 MINUTES TO TOAST.

Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet.

THE CUSTARD

4 Cups Milk, (whole milk, low fat, skim, half and half) milk with some fat in will    be creamier, I sometimes will use 2 –3 cups 1/2 and 1/2 and rest water, this actually makes it more like whole milk

1/3 – 1/2 cup Sugar (I make with less sugar as milk has lactose a natural sugar) however you can add more sugar it is personal preference.

4 Egg Yolks (Beaten)

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch or  Clear Jel, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons cold water

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

I generally gently heat my milk (you can use whole milk, half and half, or skim) you will not get the nice creamy results with skim or fat free milk as the others. I heat the milk on medium heat while I am getting the other things together, DO NOT boil the milk. when it is getting foam on the top it is getting to be scalded.

I separate 1 egg per cup of milk used, egg white can be used in other things. I put the yolks in a bowl and beat with a fork or whisk. add the sugar and stir into the yolks. You will want to take some of the hot scalded milk and add to the egg mixture in the bowls and stir constantly until well blended (not doing so will allow the egg to cook) Not good!

Coconut Custard, etc. 050I also take about 1 tablespoon cornstarch or clear jel (a modified cornstarch) sold in bulk food stores. and mix it with some cold water about a tablespoon or two. and then stir that into the egg sugar mixture, then pour all into the scalded milk stirring constantly in several minutes will start to thicken, allow to cook for a minute or two, Stir in most of the toasted coconut, two tablespoons butter and about a teaspoon of vanilla, stir until smooth, and pour into serving glasses, individual bowls or a larger serving bowl and allow to cool,

You can at this point cover the top gently with waxed paper or plastic wrap laying it on the surface of the custard this keeps custard from forming a skin on the top

When ready to serve sprinkle toasted coconut on the top and serve.

Notes:

These custards can also be poured into baked pie crusts for custard pies. 

This recipe before the coconut is added is the base recipe, from this you can have plain vanilla, add some coco or chocolate, use brown sugar in place of white sugar for butterscotch custard.

Homemade custards are great served with cakes, or with fresh fruit on top or plain in a bowl by themselves.

A WALK IN THE PARK- BRIDGEWATER, VIRGINIA

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Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them

WildWood Park Bridgewater, VA 240This morning was just to beautiful a day to pass up, I had to go out and take some pictures, while not experimenting too much today in manual, all the pictures were taken in Auto Focus. However it was well worth it, just getting out and taking a leisurely walk in Wildwood Park, Bridgewater, Virginia , beside the river listening to the water flowing over the dam and watching the duck swimming and quacking was something I had not done in years now.

WildWood Park Bridgewater, VA 234The one nice thing I believe about photography is that it is the incentive to go out and take pictures that get you up and moving about. It has probably 5 years since I actually walked in the park, and today I did it even thought I froze my fingers off in the process as it has been below freezing today, but the sun was warm, I would have to say it is one of the most relaxing parks in Rockingham County.

WildWood Park Bridgewater, VA 169There are some essential items for photography that I must get, one being a polarizer, UV filter and Neutral density filter. The thing that will come next and will be here by next weekend is the tripod, with pistol grip ball head. This will help me to be more stable with close up work as well as landscape photography.

WildWood Park Bridgewater, VA 147As I said above the pictures would have been a lot better with a polarizer especially since most were of water and sky. I was astonished that I actually was in the park for about 2 hours this afternoon!

 

The Swinging Bridge at Wildwood

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Glistening Sunlight against the ice (from the Swinging Bridge)

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Views from the River Bank

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