It’s rare that I cook with pumpkin. Really rare. Like, once a year… maybe. For a while, we kept canned pumpkin puree around and I would use it to make a quick soup or these brownies, but for whatever reason, we stopped purchasing it. The one time I cooked with fresh pumpkin, it was kind of a process. I roasted the flesh and blended it with vanilla and spices and whipped up what would turn out to be some of the best pancakes I’ve ever consumed. Did I follow a recipe? No. Do I remember what I did? Nope. And I have yet to attempt recreating it.
So, that was the last time I cooked with pumpkin… that is until a few weeks ago when one came in a box from Blue Apron. For those unfamiliar with the company, Blue Apron is a service where people can have fresh ingredients and recipes delivered to their homes. Printed on the recipe cards are step-by-step instructions that include color photographs. I never promote a business without trying out the product first, so I asked to have a box sent to me. Let’s just say that I was impressed.
One of my fears was that everything would come pre-chopped and that all I’d have to do is throw it in a pan and I’d have a meal in 15 minutes. What does that teach anyone about cooking? I was thrilled to find that while ingredients came pre-portioned, there was quite a bit of work that was required. The recipe Blue Apron provided in the shipment, a pumpkin veggie potage, required that I roasted the pumpkin and seeds, toast the farro, chop the onions and garlic, and let it all stew in a pot for a period of time.
The potage is one of many vegetarian recipes Blue Apron has in their database and it’s the ideal meal for a cold fall day. The recipe, which can be found here, includes a “New World Spice Blend” which contains garlic, basil, onion, marjoram, thyme, fennel, turmeric, and cinnamon. The “veggie base” is Better Than Bouillon brand, but it was suggested that veggie broth would work as a substitute (my recommendation is to not use a low-sodium broth as this is main supply of salt in the dish).
Eric and I aren’t ones to bring back souvenirs from our travels. We eat our way through a city and return home with memories and a few extra (happy) pounds. If we do purchase something, it tends to be booze. From our honeymoon in France, we came back with a couple bottles of wine (oh, yeah, and a container of foie gras) and this is how it usually pans out when we go away. Like food, drinking local vino or beer or spirits tells you a bit about the culture and it’s nice to be able to relive that months (or even years) after a trip.
On our second day in Austin, we stopped at a liquor store to pick up some gin to have in the apartment we were staying at for the week. We scoured the shelves for something produced in the area, and that’s when we came across a bottle with a nifty label proudly proclaiming it as a “Texas-style gin.” Ok, we’ll give it a try. Another stop for tonic and citrus and we were on our way home to test it out.
The Treaty Oak Distilling Co. is owned and operated by Daniel Barnes (along with his knowledgable and very friendly staff). Walking in, we weren’t quite sure what we’d find, but the guys there beamed when they saw us and were excited to give some out-of-towners a tour of their operations. The day ended with them lining up bottles on a counter and one of them gestured and said “Ok… help yourselves.” If we must, we will! And we did.
The highlights are their gins… we had already become quite fond of their Waterloo gin, their take on a traditional London dry gin, which is infused with local juniper, lavender, zest from oranges, lemons and grapefruits, rosemary, anise, coriander, licorice root, ginger root and pecans. The real knockout, however, is their newly released Waterloo Antique barrel-aged gin. This is a whiskey lovers gin, not just because of its color, but the smooth, caramel notes that it embodies. We’ve been drinking it straight or swapping out for the whiskey in a Manhattan. I wanted to get a bit playful and thought it might be fun to include a little pomegranate juice into the mix. Sometimes my experiments are less than stellar. This, however, worked beautifully. Sweet, smooth, boozy. What’s not to like?
It’s taken us a few days to get back into our normal routine. Maki has finally forgiven us for leaving her for ten days. When we came home Saturday night, she backed away from us. I did everything I could to win her over… treats, hugs, rubs, kisses. Nope… skeptical. But now she seems into us again, happily nuzzling her adorable face into our arms. Gosh, I missed that pup.
A package awaited me when I came home too. This book. One that I’ve been anticipating since Ree mentioned it at The Big Traveling Potluck. And I’m so excited it’s finally here. It was one of the first pieces of mail I opened and I instantly came to the pages of the recipes I knew I’d be making first. Shrimp. Herbs. Rice. The foods I enjoyed so much while in Austin. I was now going to try them in my own kitchen. Eric isn’t much into cilantro, but he was a sport and not only tried it, but ate the whole thing. If you knew how much he despises it, you’d be impressed. So, that’s an endorsement right there.
Now, onto the giveaway!!! Three lucky readers will be receiving a SIGNED copy of Ree’s soon to be released book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays. That’s right! There will be THREE WINNERS! Of course, if you’re anxious to get your hands on a copy, you can purchase it here.
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this post (something more than “I want to win!!!” is preferred).
This giveaway will end on Friday, November 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST. I’ll pick 3 winners via random.org and those people will be contacted via e-mail. One entry per person and entrants must have a US mailing address (sorry international friends) and provide a valid email address. Best of luck!