Well, this blog started exactly two years ago, with the food notes book in mind and under the same title. Since the book itself is not getting enough dedication on my part, although it’s been completely written, I’ve decided to publish it in bits here on the blog. Feel free to share (but kindly provide my source details), because I think this approach to food is worthy of more awareness and development. I certainly would have loved to know all these things 30+ years ago.
Since you’re not holding it and flipping to the page you want, it’ll roll out in a different order than it was written, pretty much following the seasons we’re in — what’s available and so forth. Attempting a compromise between context and brevity, today we’ll start with the next to last page and then one recipe.
A brief backstory
I’ve always been an artist, and more an eat-to-live person than live-to-eat. However, all my wage-earning work from ages 15 to 23 was in the food business, including two years as assistant manager of The Village Cheese Shop in Southampton, NY. That experience ultimately charted the course for the farm endeavor I entered into with my husband many years later, Nettle Meadow in upstate NY, and its several award-winning cheeses. The cheese, Kunik, was inspired by the idyllic time I lived year-round in the Hamptons as a newly-minted adult, decades ago when it was still pretty empty nine months a year.
Long after the cheese shop era, I had a mysterious major health collapse. That was 1982, before the wide recognition of Lyme disease, whose catalog of untreated symptoms precisely describe what I had experienced. At the point when the doctors had given up on tests and wanted to do “exploratory surgery”, I ran the other way. Seven years of debilitating pain and lots of learning about how diet can help rebuild health led to my commitment to organic and homegrown food. I cultivated a large garden when not wearing one of the numerous hats needed to start and grow the farm business, maintain a vibrant career as a painter, and really be there for our daughter.
Over time I developed many techniques for putting food on the table that I felt whole-heartedly good about. Often that process involved setting food to cook slowly on the wood stove in order to run off to other tasks, and returning sometimes much later than planned, to find a nice surprise–and plenty of uninspired near-disasters as well.
But I’m energized by experimenting and learning from mistakes. Fortunately for the rest of the household, I wasn’t the only one cooking. Also, being part of the Hudson Valley’s nascent foodie culture through the 90s and early 2000s elevated and refined my personal cooking skills and expectations. I still eat to live, but when I stop to eat, gustatory delight is as essential as quality and simplicity.
LUSCIOUS AND ALMOST EFFORTLESS WINTER SQUASH SOUP
prep time: active 10 min, passive 20 min. MAKES APPROXIMATELY 4 CUPS
This soup is a great way to prepare winter squash that is starting to lose its sweetness, whether it’s been frozen first or not. If using frozen, it’s the same volumes as listed for fresh.
4 cups of 1-2” chunks of any variety winter squash, half-covered in water (peeled first if the rind is very hard, but I like to use butternut because the peel dissolves nicely and doesn’t muddy the bright orange color)
1 T minced fresh ginger root
Just enough fresh or crumbled chiles to give a mild heat.
When squash is very soft, remove from heat and add
3 T untoasted sesame oil
2 tsp. Tamari
Purée (immersion blender is fine) and add water if needed to make about 4 cups of soup. It’s impossible to give an exact measure on the water because some of it will boil away in the cooking. Do NOT add salt, unless you first make sure the soup is less than perfect without it. It should be a delicate harmony of sweet and savory as is.
Laurie Goodhart and her husband co-founded and operated two certified organic artisanal goat fromageries, Nettle Meadow in Warrensburg, NY from 1990 to 2005 and Domaine De Courval in Waterville, Quebec from 2006 to 2017. She created and trademarked the multiple award-winning cheese, Kunik.
Goodhart lives in upstate New York and continues her work as a professional artist and avid gardener. Since 2007 she has devoted her studio time to an extensive suite of paintings and mixed media work titled, The Remnants And Residents Of A Lost Sanctuary Of Aphrodite. She describes the work as, “resonant totems for liminal times”.
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