Seasonal Kitchen-Harvest 2008

'We have ploughed, we have sowed,
We have reaped, we have mowed,
We have brought home every load,
Hip! Hip! Harvest Home!
Hip! Hip! Harvest Home!'

Colors: Orange, Brown, Gold, Dark Red & Yellow, any dark autumn color, I especially love deep violet at this time of year.

Decorations:(for home and altar/shrine): Acorns, Pomegranates, Pine Cones, fallen leaves, seed pods, dried flower heads, Corn Stalks, Gourds, Cornucopia, early pumpkins, bunches of Indian corn and Autumn flowers.

Harvest Menu: Apples, Breads-whole grain, fruit or nut, Apple Cider, Ale, Wine, Corn, Cornbread, Beans, Smoked Meats, Grapes, Nuts, Root Vegetables & Squash-this is aka the Witch's Thanksgiving so anything served at Civic Thanksgiving works here too.

September brings cool, crisp nights following hot, sunny days. By month’s end the daylight loses its’ battle to darkness as the days are now growing increasingly shorter than the nights.

The Autumn Equinox brings us our second harvest celebration also known as Harvest Home, Mabon and Alban Elfed. This harvest features the bulk of Mother Nature’s bounty, everything has reached its peak and put forth an abundance of, a giving of the plant’s energy and life force to give back to the Earth. This celebration is also known to some as the “Witches Thanksgiving” which can open one’s menu options considerably, taking ideas from civic Thanksgiving menus.

Late Summer vegetables and fruits are overflowing at farm stands and farmers markets. Orchards have early apples, late peaches and more. Nuts are abundant now as well as late season herbs all lending flavor and texture to our feasts. Borrowing from Lunasda, the grain festival and first harvest, we bring grains to our Harvest meals, whole grains for breads that fill our freezers and laden our harvest tables.

The options are endless at this turn of the wheel, celebrating such abundance that the Earth has provided to us. Give thanks and honor this feast day by purchasing organic and local foods. Challenge friends and family to prepare a dish or meal using foods grown or made only within your region (or even a step further and within a 100 mile radius). Thank the Great Mother.

Happy Harvest.

Autumn Sunset Punch

1/2 gal Apple Cider
24oz Apricot Nectar
1c Raspberry syrup
1c Lemon juice

Blend and serve with plenty of ice

This recipe came to be during a month long fast while I was obsessed with the foods I was unable to eat but still had to prepare for my daughter.

Mama Moon's Harvest Ragout over brown rice

1lb ground turkey (can be omitted)
1/4c. olive oil
3 carrots, sliced thin and in half
1 small summer squash, chopped
1 courgette (small zucchini), chopped
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1c. mushrooms, sliced (I like dried porcine best, set in water to plump up before measuring)

1/2 c. white wine (used a pinot grigio since it was all I had)
a few glugs of Worcestershire

4c. crushed tomatoes
2 tsp fresh thyme (1/2tsp dried)
1 tsp fresh winter savory
2 TB fresh parsley
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2TB dijon mustard
2c. brown rice, cooked in chicken, veg or garlic stock (can also use bulgur wheat or couscous)

Brown ground turkey add olive oil and carrots. allow to cook on med heat stirring occasionally for 10 min.

Add squashes, onion, garlic, mushrooms and wine. Allow to cook for 5 min then add tomatoes, mustard and the herbs & spices.

Cover and simmer on low for 30 min (or longer I let mine cook slow for an hour).
Serve over the brown rice.

My grandmother loved her casseroles, this one is based on her original recipe, just tinkered with for added flavor.

Gram’s Garden Harvest Casserole

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

and sautéed in

1 Tb butter

2-3 summer squash (or zucchini), sliced
1c. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1c. prepared stuffing (from scratch or a bag/box)
1c grated carrot
1/2c. grated cheddar cheese (or use a combo. Gruyere is quite tasty in this dish as a horseradish flavored cheddar works well too)
1TB fresh chopped thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tsp sea salt


1c. chicken, cooked and cubed
1lb kielbasa or sausage, sliced in 1/4in slices

Mix together sour cream, soup and stuffing. Layer casserole dish with vegetables, top with stuffing mixture and shredded cheese, cover with foil. Bake at 400* for 35-40 min.

This is my favorite recipe, for years I would make this recipe once a week, keeping us in bread for the week. Freeze the extra as it goes stale quickly.

Whole Wheat Flax Bread

5 cups warm water
13 -16 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flax meal
1/2 cup honey
3 pkg. of yeast
1 tablespoon sea salt

Proof yeast by putting a tablespoon of honey in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water, stir to dissolve the honey, then add the yeast and set it aside until frothy and bubbly

Mix remaining 4 1/2 cups of water with 7 cups of the wheat and flax flour. Mix for 3 minutes.

Add the yeast mixture, salt, honey and mix well.

Add 2 more cups of flour and mix well.

Add 3 cups of flour gradually while kneading or mixing with a bread mixer.

If using a mixer, let it mix on slow speed for 10 minutes.

Then add about 1-3 cups of flour slowly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer bowl.

Knead and add flour until it has an elastic feel and is not overly sticky.

If kneading by hand this will take at least 10 min. The dough will go from fighting your hand to submitting a bit to your touch, soft and bounces back when touched.

Let dough rise until it has about doubled in bulk.
Punch it down, then let it rest 10 minutes.
Let rise again, the loaves should double in size. Bake at 350* for 35min

This is an adapted recipe of unknown origin, but a family favorite, cold autumn nights are quickly warmed with this golden soup.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced carrot
1 hot pepper, de-seeded and diced
1 cinnamon stick
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
About 4 cups Chicken Stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon curry powder
1-1/2 cups Roasted Winter Squash
1/2 cup half-and-half (optional)
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and cinnamon stick and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Add the chicken stock and the coriander, if using, and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth.

Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Add the half-and-half, if using. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

If desired, garnish with a spoonful of mascarpone and/or a scattering of pumpkin seeds.

(Makes about 4-1/2 cups, serves 4)

Harvest Home Pudding

1 1/2lbs autumn fruit-apples, blackberries, pears or plums, peeled and in 1/2 in thick slices
1/4c honey
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 cups milk
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
¼ tsp allspice
4 cups stale bread, crusts removed and cubed

Stew fruits over low/med heat in a bit of honey and 1 cinnamon stick until soft but still slightly firm. Remove cinnamon stick and add nutmeg. Stir to combine.

Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish. Combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, honey and allspice in a large mixing bowl. Beat together well.

To baking dish add the bread cubes, top with stewed fruit mixture and to that cover with egg/milk mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until the pudding is set and lightly browned on top.

Remove from the oven. Let it cool slightly. Serve slightly warm, topped with cream if desired

Lastly, a favorite recipe of mine for the abundance of apples that invariably find their way home with us each month starting in September. Recipe source is unknown but as usual, tinkered with. Try a variety of apples for different flavors. I often use a combo of Gravensteins, Cortlands, Macouns and MacIntosh.

Gingered Apple Butter

4 pounds apples, washed well, unpeeled, cored and quartered
1 1/3 cups demerara sugar
1 cup fresh apple cider
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 ts Ground cinnamon
1 ts Ground cloves
1/8 ts Ground allspice

The night before, in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker, combine the apples, brown sugar, apple cider, and lemon zest and juice. Cover and slow-cook until the apples are very, very soft, 8 to 10 hours on low.

The next day, stir in the grated ginger and spices. Increase the heat to high uncover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced to about 3 cups, 8 to 10 hours.

Using a rubber spatula, rub the apple butter through a wire strainer set over a bowl to remove the apple peels.

Spoon the warm apple butter into hot sterilized jars. Screw on the two-piece lids and let stand at room temperature 8 hours, or overnight; refrigerate. (The canned apple butter will keep, refrigerated, for up to 6 months.)

By Stephanie Lowell-Libby ©Copyright 2008