Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

If going authentic and natural is of importance to you during this festive season, Homestead Gardens has lots to offer. The photos below show just a bit of goodies which come from renewable resources. Here's Holiday Spirit to you!

 Earthy Ideas

  • Give Back
  • Make a good portion of holiday gifts-food, a tree ornament, hats, scarves-you name it! The inspiration is out there. One of the coolest items I've seen are patches of repurposed sweaters sewn into mittens.
  • Use as much living greenery as possible-the tree, wreaths, swags, herbs such as rosemary, bay leaf, sage sprigs, fresh produce-especially citrus, add a festive quality and scent the air as well.
  • Begin (or continue) a Holiday Bird Count. It’s great fun to keep a journal of the birds you and your family see in the neighborhood and compare at this time every year.
  • Decorate a Bird Tree Outside with all of the offerings from Homestead Gardens Backyard Birder department
  • Make a dish rich with  local produce and essence of the land like our cheese adorned soup below.
  • Have a Nature Event no matter what the climate-get out in the fresh air, take a walk to use up that calorie overload.
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle with the Earthy Holiday.



Earthy Mushroom Caramelized Onion Soup

Serves 6

The Manchego cheese is an earthy sheep milk option that everyone loves; it grates beautifully.

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted  butter
  • 4 large sweet yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt to taste and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 quarts beef stock
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 6 slices seedy whole grain bread
  • 2 cups shredded Manchego cheese

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions; cook  slowly, stirring occasionally until golden brown-about 30 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute another 10 minutes.

Add garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high, and stir in the white wine. Bring to a boil, and cook until wine has reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the soup, and stir in the brandy. Ladle soup into 6 heat proof bowls, top each with a slice of bread, and a mound of Manchego. Place the bowls on a baking sheet to broil easily.

Place under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bread and cheese are golden and bubbly. Serve immediately.


Don't forget our friends in the backyard!

Keep them full


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