Thursday, November 20, 2008

You Gotta Compost It...Make Less Of It...

Apple cores. Potato peels. Kale ribs. Garlic skin. Corn husks. For years I've been sweeping all sorts of organic, nutrient-rich goodness off my cutting board and into the trash can, wincing every step of the way. I'm finally at a place and time where I can do something about it, and I recently started my own compost bin.

There are so many great resources online aimed at teaching the ways of thrifty, edgy gardening and composting. Such as...? you ask...

You Grow Girl is where I got the template for by bin offers tips and encouragement for a compost endeavor. For example, according to this site, the average household kitchen produces 200lbs of kitchen waste a year. I know most of us aren't cooking for a spouse and 4 hungry kids, but even with our apartment lifestyles, there's plenty of room to grow from there.

This is just a start. The photo above features scraps from today's dinner - Citrus-Spiced Butternut Squash Soup - on its way to a better life.

I was inspired by my trip today to Christina's, the spice store in Inman Square. Truly, truly the adventurous gastronomer's paradise. Rows and rows of exotic and mundane spices, bulk grains and beans, dried chiles and mushrooms...feels like home.
Vietnamese (or Saigon) cinnamon is slightly hotter, spicier and just ballsier than what you'd normally put in cookies or oatmeal. And freshly-ground nutmeg is such a treat. Under its hard, acorn-like exterior you'll find a creamy, brown-speckled interior that looks to much like a chocolate truffle to not be immediately edible. The orange loves to cozy up to these spices. The potato - arguably the secret ingredient - adds a creaminess you thought was only reserved for dairy-based soups (a little starch goes a long way here)

Citrus-Spiced Butternut Squash Soup.

splash of olive oil and a plop of butter (soy margarine), in a pot for saute
1 butternut squash (2-3lbs), peeled and diced
1 or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 or 2 boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
1 orange - you'll need the zest and juice (or 1/4 c orange juice)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 nutmeg, grated
Good pinch of Vietnamese cinnamon (1/4-1/2 tsp)
pinch of sea salt
4-6 cups water

Grate the orange to zest, setting the zest aside. Save the fruit. Heat the oil and butter in a pan. When the butter is just melted, add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the squash, sweets and boiling potatoes. Stir in the orange zest. Squeeze juice the naked orange over the pot (or just add the o.j.). Stir to coat with the oil and juice. Add the water, 2 cups at a time - you want just a little more than what covers the potatoes. Turn up the heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Remove cover, reduce heat, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the squash and potatoes are tender (spear with a fork to test the doneness). Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the cinnamon and salt, grate the nutmeg over the pot and stir in the spices. Taste to adjust the seasonings to your taste. Serve in bowls with a little nutmeg grating as a garnish if you've got your fancy pants on. (I'll be eating my soup with the flax seed crackers from the other day!)


Emma said...

I really, REALLY wish I had space to have a compost pile. It drives me mad to throw away all these organic food stuffs that could be put to better use.

That spice store sounds amazing!

Kevin said...

FYI- Nutmeg in great amounts can kill a human. True story....don't fuck with the Nutmeg State.

J'Hab said...

True dat. But before it kills you, can't it get you well fucked up?

"Used in small dosages nutmeg can reduce flatulence, aid digestion, improve the appetite and treat diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Nutmeg’s flavour and fragrance come from oil of myristica, containing myristicin, a poisonous narcotic. Myristicin can cause hallucinations, vomiting, epileptic symptoms and large dosages can cause death. These effects will not be induced, however, even with generous culinary usage."

Kevin said...

I did three lines of Nutmeg last night