Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall is Finally Here! Pumpkin Patch, Simple Hearty Dinners and more

It feels funny for me to say that fall is finally here on a day that was forecast for a high of 81 degrees, but since the past week has been cooler and tomorrow is actually supposed to RAIN (OMG!), this California girl is calling it, officially!

So, in honor of that reality, we decided to take our first family trip to the pumpkin patch (we went last year with a friend, but this year we dragged Daddy along and made it a true family affair!)

Pumpkin Patch Trip - Perry Organic Farms, Fremont, CA
We absolutely adored Spina Farms last year down in Morgan Hill, but this year a friend who lives in San Ramon mentioned we should all get together and try the patch near Ardenwood Historic Farm in Newark (or Fremont, depending on who you ask!). The patch is officially of Perry Organic Farms, although right outside of Ardenwood.

It didn't quite have the level of activities we enjoyed at Spina Farms (they have a train and hay ride, a snack shack and a petting zoo on weekends, etc...), but we still had a lot of fun.

First, we had to conquer the hay pyramid:

Hmm, this looks pretty big...
"Hey, I can see all the pumpkin patch from here!" 9 month pregnant mommy looks on... 
Feels good to conquer something big when you're three. =)
Like the Iron Throne, but more family friendly.
Then we had to get down to the business of actually picking out pumpkins. My intention had been to get one or two, but the three year old insisted that not only do we get one for him, one for mommy and one for daddy, but also one for his yet-to-be-born little brother (who will probably miss Halloween this year, although it would be nice to meet him before then!), AAAAAND one for good measure.

Here he is, intently on the hunt for a "baby" pumpkin. Or two. 
The great thing I will say about this farm is that it was a manageable size for toddlers and their advanced pregnant mothers, AND we got all five of our modestly-sized pumpkins for just $10. Which happened to be the exact amount of cash I had on hand. SCORE! 

Quick and Delicious Fall Dinner - Sweet Potato and Pear Soup
Before I sign off, I'll leave you with a dinner we threw together the other day because we magically happened to have all the ingredients. And I'm obsessed with soup. =)
This is vegetarian (although I was very tempted to add bacon), simple, quick, seasonal, warm and delicious! Without further ado: 

1 oz butter
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 large orange sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4" dice
2 firm pears, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4" dice
3 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 cup half & half 
suggested garnish - mint leaves or bacon crumbles!

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until softened but not brown. (I let mine brown a bit...whoops!). Add the sweet potato and pear and cook, stirring for one to two minutes. Add the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato and pear are soft. 

Cool slightly, then place mixture in a blender or food processor and blend in batches until smooth. (This is the part of every pureed soup recipe where I thank my lucky stars I have the kind of husband who buys me an immersion blender for my birthday - SO much easier to stick a stick blender in a pot than it is to transfer hot soup anywhere else!)

Return to the pan, stir in the half & half (or cream, if you have!) and gently reheat without boiling. Season with salt and black pepper and garnish as you wish. We ate it with buttered toast to give us some more starchy calories! 

Serves 4. Or one pregnant adult, a normal adult and a picky toddler with a bit leftover. 

(This recipe was adapted from "Vegie Food", published by Murdoch Books, 2004. I bought it when I was in college in Australia so I adapted for an American audience and my own tweaks.)


No comments: