Share & Swap: Seasonal Veg Head + Recipe!

Oh boy, are we excited for this Share & Swap feature! It is my pleasure to introduce Jaime, the Seasonal Veg Head! I’ve been a big fan of Jaime’s blog, and I think that you all need to get to know her a little better, too. Her recipes are ALWAYS mouth-watering, and so so inspiring! Since joining the blogging world, her site has been one of my go-tos, and I am so glad to have e-met her!

Jaime has a lot to say about healthy living and CSA, so I’m going to let her take it away! Oh, and you’ll enjoy (read: get jealous over) her experience being an extra on the Gone Girl set, and meeting Ben Affleck (in her town!!)

Seriously though, I’m so jealous.

The Interview

Bianca: Tell us a little about your blog and how/why you started.
Jaime: I freakin’ love vegetables! I get so stoked about them that I call myself a Veg Head. Weird? Probably, but that’s ok. I created the Seasonal Veg Head to share recipes and celebrate cooking with seasonal, local produce. At first, the blog was just as a way to keep track of the food I make and to push myself to become a better cook. But as I became a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and helped start and run a farmers market, the blog became a place where I could shout the praises of buying local, seasonal ingredients and drop a little food knowledge here and there.

Cooking with what’s in season is definitely a learning process and pushes you to be more creative in the kitchen. This isn’t to say I don’t shop at a grocery store or eat candy bars every now and then, but I do primarily cook with what’s in season and try to shop locally as much as possible. This approach to cooking has led me to learn more about food preservation methods — canning, freezing, pickling, and fermenting — which is an exciting (and sometimes scary) culinary adventure. I’m still a newbie at this, but it’s been very inspiring and instills a sense of pride and ownership over our food system. It reconnects you to the earth and educates you about our food history. I have so much more to learn, and I love that!

B: Who or what inspires you?
J: Farmers! They know so much about what I’m obsessed with! I wish I could instantly soak up all their knowledge, but frankly, I have the opposite of a green thumb. If it grows in the ground I will kill it. So, that’s why I joined a CSA. I’ll let the pros grow it, and I’ll cook it!

Speaking of farmers’ knowledge, one of the co-owners of the CSA I’m a member of recently told me that you can roast butternut squash whole…no peeling or dangerous cutting required! You just stick the whole dang thing in the oven on a baking sheet and roast it at 400 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes. After it’s done, let it cool, then easily cut it in half, scrape out the seeds and spoon out the flesh. It’s so easy, talk about a game changer! And if you’re roasting one, why not several? And why not throw in a few bulbs of garlic? And then make soup out of it all! Did it, done, see below! :)

B: What is your favorite dish to make?
J: I’m a bit of a salad nut, I eat it for lunch several times a week, but I really love making soup or roasting vegetables. Roasting veggies brings out their flavor and natural sweetness, and simmering them in a soup with spices and herbs just warms up the soul like no other. There’s nothing better than a hot bowl of soup on a chilly day cuddled up on the couch with my dudes (son and husband) watching a really funny movie; that’s just perfection to me. This sunny Golden Beet Soup with Cumin and Lime is fantastic for a cold fall or winter day, it’s definitely one of my favorites!

B: Please tell us all about your meeting with Ben Affleck! *swoon* I loved loved loved your “Gone Girl” inspired dish.
J: Thank you! It was such a cool experience to be a part of a major movie like that! Gone Girl was filmed here (Cape Girardeau, Missouri) and my family, friends and I got be extras! Several of us are in the candlelight vigil scene. It was an overnight shoot and Ben Affleck had to say his lines over and over for hours. We definitely developed an appreciation and respect for all the actors and film staff for what they do and how hard they work! It’s quite grueling! My son is also in the beach search party scene; he was the only kid on set that day and stood right beside Ben almost the whole time. My husband is in a few scenes…one where he plays a journalist and has to yell at Ben through the car window as he leaves the police station!

On the last day of filming, which was at The Bar in our downtown area (and is actually being opened as The Bar from the film), my son and I went to watch them wrap. When they were done, Ben walked over to the crowd and hung out until every person got a picture… he was super nice! And super gorgeous!

Our town was of course going a little nuts when the movie came out, and to join in on the excitement I did a Gone Girl-themed food post: Beer Batter Fried Green Olives with Sriracha Mayo… totes vegan! :)
pic_with_benaffleck

B: Tell us a bit more about CSA and how you are involved.
J: CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The gist is that you buy a “share” of a farm and in turn receive a box of produce weekly or bi-weekly during their growing season. For example, I’m a bi-weekly member of Laughing Stalk Farmstead’s CSA, an organic farm here in Southeast Missouri. I pay a set fee in late winter and the farmers deliver a box of produce every two weeks to my doorstep, usually starting in June and going through early November. The benefits are to both the farmers and the members: it gives farmers an income up front to purchase supplies and to have something to live on during the season. For members, you get the freshest food possible, usually harvested that day, which translates into better flavor and longer storage life. You’re also nearly eliminating your food miles and boosting your local economy. There are shared risks, however: if there’s a drought or a crop doesn’t do well, you receive less in your box. Farming isn’t a guarantee, it’s a risky business. But this is something we all need to be more aware of, and share in those costs. On the flip side, if there’s a bumper crop, you may get more kale…score! For more information about CSAs or to find one in your area, check out LocalHarvest.
LaughingStalkFarmstead_field

The Recipe

Whole-roasted Butternut Squash Soup

(serves 4 – 6)

squash_soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 small to medium-sized butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs each)
  • 1 small bulb garlic, top ¼ of bulb cut off to expose cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 6 – 7 sage leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Place the squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the garlic bulb cut-side up on a square of tin foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil; wrap in the tin foil to seal then place on the baking sheet with the squash. Roast for 30 minutes then remove the wrapped garlic and set aside to cool. Turn the squash over and roast for another 15 – 25 minutes, until a knife easily inserts into the squash. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Cut the tops of the squash off, slice in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and discard. Spoon the squash out of the skins and place in a bowl; discard the skins. You should have about 4 – 5 cups of squash.

In a large pot sauté the onion in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin and add to the onion. Add the squash and mash the squash and garlic with the back of a wooden spoon. Pour in 3 cups of water and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Add the sage and stir to combine. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes then puree using a stick blender (or transfer in batches to a stand blender and return to the pot). Add salt and pepper to taste. For an extra creamy texture, add 1/2 cup of cashew cream from blending equal parts raw cashews and water. Enjoy!

5 Fast Facts About Jaime!
Delicious Dish: Vegan Coconut Curry Cauliflower Soup (I could it eat it for days!)
Choice Veggie: Kale, I even put it on popcorn!
Choice Fruit: Cherries. And I finally bought a cherry pitter and discovered that pitting cherries really isn’t that bad.
TV Binge: I love witty sitcoms… witcoms! I watch IT Crowd or Newsradio over and over and still laugh out loud every time.
Vacation Spot: I need to go to Italy, like now!

Ah, Jaime… you rock!! We appreciate the time you took to answer our questions and share your experiences – in and out of the kitchen! For the rest of you lovelies, connect with the Seasonal Veg Head here: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / Bloglovin’.

Do you freaking love her? We do <3 xx Bianca & Sara

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