Farmers' Market Share: Winter Squash Muffins

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ALISSA NELSON
  • Alissa Nelson
Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows in this food blogger's kitchen. I was seriously tempted to just link to the New York Times recipe for Ratatouille Pot Pie and call it a day. (It was really excellent, by the way.) Then I made a meal that resulted in the exclamation, "What the fuck, persimmons?" Then I had to send my laptop for repairs. Believe it or not, I still haven't seen Julie and Julia, so I have no idea how this lives up. But she just had to cook, not think stuff up, so please call my wahmbulance, stat.

I also wanted to make note of October, which in the food blogging world is Vegan Mofo, the vegan month of food. I'm not vegan, but I do enjoy being able to eat cookie batter without fear of infectious disease. Also, I like having recipe suggestions to send over to my vegan dad, at least in part because I enjoy hearing my mom discussing what she found on Fat Free Vegan [link: http://www.fatfreevegan.com/ or Post Punk Kitchen. And I like being all-inclusive, which means that everybody can enjoy the food I cook. Unless they're jerks.

All that aside, my husband turned on the heat for the first time last week, so I decided that I should just start baking up a storm and save us the smell of turning on the heat for the first time in six months. Then Farm Aid happened, and I forgot to bake bread over the weekend.

But, guys, Farm Aid happened! It was fun! I spent most of my day dawdling around Homegrown Village, where Burning Kumquat was rocking an intense drum circle and racing worms (which I found mildly disturbing). I helped paint a door for Earthdance Farms' Pesto Festo! I made snide comments about Jason Mraz's music! And I envied the lucky person who won the free Fair Shares subscription, because they are in for a treat.

You see, I can afford to be lazy in visiting farmers' markets some weeks thanks to my weekly trip to Fair Shares. While I get lots of veggies every week (like acorn squash), I also get to try other random local goods that I otherwise might not experience (like sorghum). It's a pretty great deal, and it's really cut down on my aimless wanderings in Jay's International looking for weird crap to try. Of course, sometimes you try and fail to make a persimmon salsa that you feel confident in passing along to others, but that's life.

ALISSA NELSON
  • Alissa Nelson
Winter Squash Muffins

You can definitely do almost all of the prep in advance. Squash can be roasted and cider can be mulled the day before, and the flax can sit covered in the fridge for up to three days. I really wanted to try this with spelt flour for my gluten-free homies, but I could not for the life of me find any this week. I'm guessing that it's available at most dedicated health food establishments, though.
1 acorn squash (or just sub out with a can of pumpkin, just not pumpkin pie filling)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
8 peppercorns
2 cups apple cider
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
3 tbsp water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup neutral oil (like grapeseed or canola)
1/3 cup sorghum (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup raisins
1 apple, peeled and cut into a medium dice
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cut your squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Spray with a bit of oil or drizzle with just enough oil to coat. Roast, cut side down, for about 45 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork. Let cool, then scoop into a food processor and puree until smooth.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cinnamon sticks, coriander and peppercorns. Heat for about 2-3 minutes, until the coriander starts to smell like orange peels. Add the cider and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain out the spices and set aside.

3. Combine the flaxseeds and water in a small saucepan and cook until the flax gets the consistency of egg, just about 5 minutes. Let cool completely before using.

4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flaxseed mixture, squash, cider, oil and sorghum. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the raisins and apple. Scoop into prepared muffin tins and bake (at 350 again) for 20-23 minutes. Makes about 16 muffins.

Alissa Nelson is a graduate student and compulsive buyer of cookbooks. She enjoys scouring seed catalogs and thrift stores alike. Every Wednesday she seeks the bounty of local farmers' markets for Gut Check -- and then cooks it.

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