"Sqelicious" Winter Squash at Eatwell Farm's Annual Pumpkin Party!

We made up a new word! When someone asks you if your squash is delicious, you say "YES, it's squelicious! Have you noticed all the colorful winter squash in the farmers market lately? I used to only be able to name a few: butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and sugar pie pumpkin. Now, I feel like a winter squash expert! OK, not really. But because I talk to many farmers I have learned so much about the different varieties of winter squash. Red Kuri might be my favorite right now for it's bright color and sweet taste.

Yesterday, we went to Eatwell Farm for their Annual Pumpkin Party with a couple of our Jr. Chef Helpers to see the winter squash varieties they're growing this season. In keeping with the squash theme, we made a harvest lentil soup with winter squash and grilled cheese sandwiches. 

It was a nice, breezy day so the hearty, warm soup and golden brown, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches felt so fitting and satisfying. Try making this at home!

Harvest Lentil Soup with Winter Squash

Serves 4 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 winter squash, peeled and diced (about 4-5 cups)
1 cup green or brown lentils, washed and picked over
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the squash on a baking sheet tray and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on top. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until flesh of the squash is tender. 

Allow the squash to cool after removing from the oven. Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom stock pot, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaf, and stock and bring to a boil. 

Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender.  Remove the bay leaf, add the roasted squash to the lentils and enjoy! I even like to add a sprinkle of fresh herbs on top or a bit of shaved parmesan cheese to make it extra special.

Eatwell also shared several kinds of roasted butternut squash that we helped judge for best taste. Our votes will help Nigel and Lorraine determine which butternut squash they'll plant! (I voted for #2!)

It was so wonderful meeting families and kids from all over the Bay Area and sharing with them our love of food and cooking. We hope to see everyone soon at future events and classes! Now time to roast up some yummy winter squash. 


Days Four and Five at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Two

Days four and five of camp are always so exciting!  After three days of working and playing together and learning from our guest chefs, our counselors and the farmers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market it is time to take Bay Leaf Kitchen on the road and go up to Eatwell Farm!

We arrived at Eatwell in time for lunch. The kids were so excited to see all the open space around us and were full of questions. After lunch we met up with Lorraine and Nigel who lead us on a tour of the farm. On the tour we harvested and tasted watermelons, strawberries, mulberries, tomatoes to name just a few!

After some fun water games, the kids divided into groups where they each got to work on a different cooking activity. One group took their "shopping list" out into the fields and foraged for the ingredients Chef Fran, from Bluestem Brasserie, would need for our dinner.  One group headed into the farm house to learn how to make dinner rolls with Lorraine and one group set up shop in the outdoor kitchen and got to make strawberry jam!  


As the day started to cool off it was time to come back together in one group to meet Chef Fran who, along with Erin Euser and the founders of Bluestem Brasserie, Stacy and Jed, took the time to come up to Eatwell to teach us all how to make a meal, using seasonal ingredients and recipes developed for their restaurant!  

The campers divided up into groups, again, to each tackle a different component of our dinner.  Thanks to the group who did the harvesting and to Chef Fran, we had the ingredients all ready for us to prep and assemble.  One group mixed the spices for the lamb meatballs, one group tackled a fresh peach, arugula and mozzarella salad, one made thinly shaved summer squash and squash blossoms with goat cheese and another group made prosciutto-wrapped melon.

The counselors cooked up the meatballs over an open fire pit and we all sat down to enjoy a, truly decadent, meal under the open sky in our outdoor kitchen.  Even the Eatwell folks came to joined us.  I definitely saw Cameron and the twins going back for seconds!


Once dinner clean up was done we gathered around the fire, roasted homemade marshmallows and ate s'mores while the campers made us laugh with their exceptionally creative skits!  There were dance routines, scripted mini-plays and even one group of campers who did extremely accurate counselor impressions!  Fun was had by all and, as the sun started to set over the fields, we all shuffled off to our tents to get some, well-deserved, shut eye.


The next morning we all ate a hearty breakfast and started to get camp cleaned up for the trek home.  It wouldn't be a day at Bay Leaf Kitchen Camp, however, without some kind of big meal! As it was our last day, Elianna organized a secret ingredients lunch challange and we got to see what the campers had learned over the last week as they put their heads together to create their own recipes for our lunch that day!

I think we were all blown out of the water when we saw what each group came up with.  It was a delicious lunch of quick-pickled carrots in tomato cups, mixed green salad full of fresh veggies and fruits, cold "tomasil" soup and a melon and strawberry drink that was made by hand-crushing ice with the fruit.  It was so refreshing!


After our al fresco lunch over, we said our goodbyes to the folks at Eatwell Farm, cleaned up our space and loaded up the bus to head back into the city.

We will miss the campers so much but we are so excited to look towards what's next at Bay Leaf Kitchen!  Stay tuned for Fall Programming announcements and more photos, stories and tidbits from life, here, at Bay Leaf Kitchen!



Day Five at Bay Leaf Kitchen Camp

We awoke on our final day of camp to the roosters crowing and the first light of dawn fading. The kids were up and ready for the day's lesson first thing in the morning so we ate our breakfast of Eatwell Farm's fresh eggs, roasted potatoes and French toast with berry compote made by the campers for a great early start!

After breakfast, we headed over (very quietly) to watch Lorraine and Nigel milk the cows and then each camper got a chance to have some quality time with their beautiful horse, Stella.  

The campers learned how milking machine functions and met Lorraine's beautiful horse, Stella.

The campers learned how milking machine functions and met Lorraine's beautiful horse, Stella.

After visiting with the cows and with Stella we divided back into our four teams (mint, parsley, basil, and lavender!) and started on lunch. Each group was responsible for one dish and got to decide from what ingredients they would forage to how they would season it. The campers and their counselors headed back out into the fields to harvest and then lunch prep got under way. Two groups decided to augment their vegetables and fruits with some beans so we ended up with a truly well-balanced lunch including two types of bean dip with crudités, a caprese salad with mint, basil and fresh tomatoes (Isaiah's favorite), an heirloom bean salad (beans from Tierra Vegetables) with assorted leafy greens and a fruit salad decorated with fresh flowers.

The fruit salad, the bean dip and Lily, holding the caprese. 

The fruit salad, the bean dip and Lily, holding the caprese. 

After lunch and cleanup we gave credits for the day (a chance for campers and counselors to thank eachother for specific things that made them feel good or were particularly helpful) and then we all got the opportunity to ask Lorraine more questions about Eatwell Farm. There were a lot of questions about the baby chicks and we learned about how important it is to pay attention to where our eggs come from. 

Upon departing, Lorraine and Nigel surprised us all by announcing that we would EACH get to go home with an Eatwell CSA box! We didn't think that Lorraine and Nigel could be any more generous than they'd already been with us; the fact that every camper and counselor got to go home with a box of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs was just the icing on the cake for us! We loaded up our tents and cooking supplies (CSA boxes in tow) and headed back to the city to tell all our friends and family of our wonderful adventures!

We can't wait to see what next session's camp has in store for us!   

Some shots from our last day at the farm!

Some shots from our last day at the farm!

Stay tuned for more fall programming announcements and look for us on twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@bayleafkitchen) for fun updates about what's cooking!  


Day Four at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp: Eatwell Farm

Yesterday we gathered our cooking supplies, packed our sleeping bags and headed out of the city for our overnight trip to Eatwell Farm!

On the trip up (about an hour away) the campers observed the trees and plants growing outside as we drove and tried to identify the different agriculture they saw. 

Beccan, Aiden, Luke, Izzy, Amanda, Mia and Carlos getting goofy on the bus ride. 

Beccan, Aiden, Luke, Izzy, Amanda, Mia and Carlos getting goofy on the bus ride. 

Once we arrived at Eatwell, we divided into our farm teams (mint, lavender, parsley and basil) and came up with cool group cheers: "Basil will rock the farm, we are full of fun and charm." After lunch, with our hats and sunscreen slathered faces, Lorraine and Nigel gave us a tour of the farm and let us roam around to pick mulberries, look at the ducks and get our fill of strawberries fresh off the vine! There is nothing like a warm, ripe strawberry. 

The campers found some of the freshest, juiciest strawberries I have ever seen. 

The campers found some of the freshest, juiciest strawberries I have ever seen. 

After our morning tour we had some free time. It was really hot so Lorraine set us up with a sprinkler and we all cooled down in the water (and made some good mud in the process). We played some games, worked on our journals and then got down to the serious business of planning dinner (what else?).

The campers brainstormed concepts for their group dish before setting out on the farm to forage for their ingredients! The bounty they came back with was truly astounding and they all used their cooking knowledge to figure out how the ingredients would work best together and how they much of everything they would need. 

Once ingredients were picked, we all gathered around for a fish fileting demonstration from our friend, Anna Larsen, founder of Siren SeaSA - a fresh fish CSA for the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of the kids jumped right in and showed some real talent and a lot of bravery with their filleting skills and their willingness to try something so new! 

The campers developed their own recipes to go with the halibut that Anna taught us how to filet! 

The campers developed their own recipes to go with the halibut that Anna taught us how to filet! 

After a long day of activity we finally sat down to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor! We feasted on fish, cooked in fresh tomato sauce, mixed green salads with herbs and homemade dressing, coleslaw. fruit purées and medleys and roasted potatoes. 

After dinner and clean-up we all gathered around the fire pit for s'mores (made with homemade graham crackers and marshmallows and chocolate donated by Dandelion Chcoloates) and skits, written and performed by the campers. They were very funny and entertaining! After many laughs, we all settled into our tents for our night under the stars.

All in all, I'd say it was a very fine day!  



Bay Leaf Kitchen On the Move!



Amy, Elianna and I took a little field trip yesterday up to Eatwell Farm to check out the site where we'll be taking our first batch of campers on their overnight under the stars! We had such a wonderful time talking to Lorraine and Nigel, who have been providing fresh-picked produce and pasture-raised chicken eggs to their CSA members and Farmers Market shoppers for over 20 years! 

We picked strawberries, walked amongst the lavender and saw how mulberries grow for the first time (you'd never guess!!) 

Here are some photos from our day up in Dixon. We can't wait to get up there and play in the dirt with our campers!  




Apricot and Lemon Verbena Recipe for Farm BoxSF

Recently we met the great people at Farm BoxSF and got a chance to participate in their weekly Farm Box. We were excited to get cooking with great produce from many different local farms such as Frog Hallow, and Heirloom Organics Gardens. The biggest challenge was figuring out how to capture the powerful lemon, and earthy flavors of the lemon verbena from Eatwell Farms. We decided it would pair best with the sweet and tartness of the apricots and combined them in a new crepe recipe below. 

*This recipe first appeared in the Farm BoxSF May 17th, 2014 newsletter. 

Sweet Crepes with Apricot and Lemon Verbena Sauce 

This is a kid-friendly recipe that the whole family can prepare together. It features a variety of skill levels, including use of a knife and the stove. Please work together to make sure everyone is safe and having fun. We suggest reviewing the recipe with your children prior to cooking, and smelling and tasting each ingredient (especially the lemon verbena) as you use it.

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6
By: Amy Nghe and Elianna Friedman


For Crepes:
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Plus additional butter for pan

For Sauce:
4 apricots, rough chopped, pits removed (or other stone fruit)
15 lemon verbena leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup almond butter (optional)

In a blender, combine flour, eggs, milk, water, salt, and butter and mix for 10-20 seconds until smooth. Pour mixture into a measuring cup, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Put chopped apricots, lemon verbena and the sugar in a small sauce pan over low heat. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Heat a small, non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 3 tablespoons of the crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl quickly to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds, then flip and cook for 10 seconds on the other side. Transfer to a plate or cutting board to cool. Continue until all batter is used. 

To plate, place crepe on plate and fill with some apricot filling. Add almond butter if desired. Enjoy as dessert or afternoon snack!