Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ask The Cooks

We wanted to answer several of the questions that have come in over the last several days. Here are our answers:

Do you have a local source for maple syrup, or do you buy it from the store?
The bottle in my fridge right now came from the farm where I used to go for my raw milk (Kokomo). When that runs out I'll probably do some price shopping and see which store has the best price (until I find another local source that is affordable). In the past I've gotten syrup from Trader Joe's and Meijer. -Heather

I often get mine from Trader Joe's - it's very good. I think the kind I buy is tapped in Canada. I also really like the local that I have bought at the dairy farm.  -Alaina

What is a good price for pumpkins?
I paid $2 this fall for a good sized pie pumpkin at our local orchard (Anderson Orchard), which I thought was fair, but not a steal deal. Last year a friend got them for me for $1, but she was at a farmer's market out in the country. I see that Marsh has squash on sale for 69 cents this week. That's probably going to be the best supermarket price we see this fall and I think I'll stock up. If I found squash for 50 cents a pound, that would be terrific. Normally I see the price hovering around $1/pound. You're going to get the best prices deep in the country from a farmer's market or roadside stand. -Heather

Can I bake with those big pumpkins or do I have to use the tiny, high-priced pie pumpkins?
I seem to think that I've baked those big pumpkins in the past. My guess is they are going to be more fibrous than the smaller pumpkins. You could still use them to make pumpkin puree and just strain out the large fibers. Probably for savory cooking where you slice the pumpkin or cube it, the smaller pumpkins are going to have better texture and flavor. -Heather

Do you have more pumpkin/squash recipes?
Stay tuned! The first week of November is devoted entirely to pumpkin and squash! We have some wonderful recipes (both savory and sweet) and several great cookbooks to recommend.

What type of roast should I buy? And how do I keep it from getting dry?
My top 3 choices for roast would probably be:
Bottom Round
Rump or Rolled Rump

I do think the slow cooker makes a more consistently tender roast. One of the best ways to ensure a more tender roast is to add something acidic - wine, apple cider, vinegar, or tomatoes. They will help tenderize any cut of meat as it cooks. If you are baking it in the oven (which works fine as well!),  cover it and make sure there is liquid in the pan. -Alaina

How do you get your kids to eat different foods?
Here are a few of the rules at our house:
- You cannot complain about food without trying it.
- You try a bite of everything (usually they have to eat the number of bites they are old).
- There is only one meal prepared so generally everyone eats the same food (there are a few exceptions to this rule).

We also try very hard not to limit our children by telling them they won't like something or assuming that that they won't eat a dish. While they definitely don't like everything, I've been amazed at all the things they do enjoy! Lest you think we are heartless, I do try to choose kid-friendly side dishes like applesauce when we are having a meal that is perhaps a bit more sophisticated. -Alaina

Have either of you made fruit leather?
I have not and I don't think Heather has either. My mother-in-law has made it in her dehydrator, I believe. -Alaina


I (Alaina) also wanted to give you another very simple way to use butternut squash since that was the market fresh vegetable of the week. My mom suggested it, I made it, and the kids and I had it for lunch one day this week. One of my sons had three helpings - I call that a success.

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chunked
1 med.-lg. onion, wedged
1-2 Tb. Olive Oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Toss squash and onion with oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until squash and onions are tender (the onions will be much sweeter than they are raw!).

Makes a great and easy side dish.


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