Fall…..ing – Sheet pan Cauliflower Chili with Corn Bread Biscuits

Fall…..ing – Sheet pan Cauliflower Chili with Corn Bread Biscuits
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4-6
It’s fall, the leaves are turning and fall…ing. The gardens are slowly screaming “no more veggies or fruits for you this year”. A few are holding on and gracing with us just a few more raspberries, a handful of beans, an abundance of beets and leeks, and never forget the greens that keep on giving.

I pull out and clean up beds as the demise of the crop demands but I also start at the top terrace and work my way down trying to do everything possible on that terrace until one day I look along it and all is done for this season. That is where I find myself today…at the top terrace looking along it and at the beehives just above. Just a month ago the bee hives had 3 to 7 supers on top of them, increasing their height 2-3 times and the bee activity was awesome and the buzz of the bees almost deafening. I have learned to hear the state they are in….the steady happy buzz of everyone doing their job…..the frantic buzz of a hive guarding their entrance from robbers……the wildness of a swarms buzz. Without looking I can have a good idea of what is going on…just listening. Now the hives are down to just the hive bodies, heavy with honey, where these busy gals will over-winter. On top of each hive is a larger feeder bottle where we are trying to help them build up their winter nutrition storage. The buzz is low and gentle. I can tell by listening that their numbers are fall…ing as they preparing for winter. The quiet popping every few seconds of the electric bear fence is almost hypnotic. I often wonder about my bees being exposed to EMF’s from the fence but then realize that a few EMF’s is better than a bear.

The two upright growing trellises’s for pole beans are empty…except for a few stray stems still twisted around the wires and fall….ing. All the dead twisting thick stems from the rambles of the winter squash are gone and resting in the compost bin. Those squash and pumpkins are on my kitchen counter. The garlic is harvested and the bed is filled with new compost. The extra carrot bed is also cleaned out and a new crop of cilantro is coming in. I have weeded it to give the cilantro every last chance to grow large enough for one more batch of cilantro pesto in the freezer. The terrace is weeded…the pine straw still in good condition until next year when I’ll refurbish it. Two in-ground yellow jackets nest have been eliminated and the skunks have come at night to clean out the larvae and comb. I still need to fill the holes in.

Well, that is one terrace….maybe we can talk about the others later. For now, I’m gonna stand here for a few more…appreciate the clean-up, the completion, contemplate how much life it supports, and remember the greenness that was before fall…ing.

Then I’ll go pick some more leeks and a poblano pepper out of the garden that is almost finished and make this crazy good, crazy simple recipe. It sounds different but I promise it is delicious!
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 poblano chili pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 leeks, rough chopped (substitute scallions, onions, etc.)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ¾ c cornmeal, all-purpose
  • ½ c flour, all-purpose
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t brown sugar or honey
  • 4 T butter, cubed
  • ⅔ c buttermilk or whole milk with 1 t vinegar or any milk substitute you prefer
  • ⅔ c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, undrained
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 ¼ c corn kernels (opt.)
  • 1 ½ c veggie broth (or beef or chicken if you prefer)
  1. Preheat the Broiler. Toss the cauliflower, poblano and leeks with the olive oil, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until the veggies are browned around the edges…7-10 minutes.

  2. In a medium size bowl, make the biscuits. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, brown sugar and ¾ t salt. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Stir in the milk and ⅓ c cheese with a fork until combined. Set aside.

  3. Remove the baking sheet from the broiler and preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Add the beans and their liquid, tomato cause, corn, broth and ½ t salt and dash pepper to the roasted veggies and gently stir. Spoon the biscuit dough on top in 12 mounds, about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the biscuits with the remaining ⅓ c cheese.

  4. Bake until the chili starts bubbling and the biscuits are golden…about 30 minutes.

  5. Doesn’t get much easier….or yummier. You will be fall…ing in love with this recipe.



Mom’s Handwriting-Rice and Winter Squash Gratin

Mom's Handwriting - Rice and Winter Squash Gratin
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4-6
My Mom has textbook perfect cursive handwriting. Every letter is perfection….the exact same size except for the capitals and the capitals are all the same size. It’s even and smooth….not at all shaky. It’s perfect. I remember as a child practicing over and over on the special lined paper they gave us in elementary school to write on. I was determined to have perfect penmanship…just like Mom. And I got pretty close. Mine wasn’t bad but wasn’t as perfect as Mom’s.

Then, somewhere in my teens, I decided that my handwriting had to break away from the conformity they were promoting in my classes and I started changing my handwriting. First I changed the spelling of my name, did the precious little hearts over my i’s. Next I began incorporating a typewriter styled e or a, and one unexpected capital in a word. I would mix printing with cursive within a word. My handwriting was interesting, still very neat and definitely distinctive. Somewhere along the years, probably in my 40’s, my handwriting just went to hell. I didn’t feel like putting the effort into it. I scribbled in my journal and on notes. It got so bad that I could hardly read my own notes.

I recently got a short letter from my Mom. It was beautiful, not only for what it said, but also for the textbook perfect cursive handwriting. I still let that note sit on my desk, after almost a year, where I look at it every day. One day, a few months ago, I pulled out a piece of paper, lined of course, and began practicing again. Wow, I could still do it, although not nearly as beautiful and perfect as Mom’s.

I decided to write her a letter in my most perfect cursive handwriting. I managed to finish it, but my hand was really cramping afterwards. All that concentration to keep every letter under control and the same size, except for the capitals, and all connected in the individual words, and as perfect as possible, took it’s toll on the muscles and tendons in my hand.

But I did it. Once. The next note I wrote to myself was back to my difficult to read scribble. I will always be impressed that my Mom, in her mid 80’s can still maintain that beautiful art form.

This recipe that I’m adding today was equally impressive to me. I was looking for new ways to use winter squash since that is what my garden is producing right now. This is a hardy rice & winter squash gratin that could be a main dish or a side dish. If you substitute the milk and small amount of cheese with non-dairy versions it could also be a great vegan dish. And it was really quite easy and quick to put together. I made my béchamel with leeks instead of onion since that is also plentiful in the garden right now.
  • Rice and Winter Squash Gratin

  • Béchamel (recipe follows)
  • 1c brown or white rice, cooked
  • 1T butter or olive oil
  • 1T sage, chopped or 2 t dried
  • 3 cups grated winter squash ( I used my Cuisinart)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ t sea salt and dash black pepper
  • ¼ c parsley, chopped
  • ½ c Gruyere or sharp aged cheddar
  • Béchamel Sauce

  • ¼ c onion, minced (shallot, sweet onion or leeks)
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 ½ c milk
  • ½ t salt and dash pepper
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • Cook the onion in the butter in a small saucepan over low heat for about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk all at once then cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  1. Oven 400 degrees. Lightly butter a 6-8 c gratin dish. Make the sauce and cook the rice. Heat the butter in a wide skillet with the sage over medium/high heat. Add the squash and salt and sauté until the squash begins to brown in places, about 8 minutes. Toward the end, stir in the garlic, parsley and cheese and season to taste. Pour into the prepared gratin dish and bake until bubbly and beginning to brown on the top....about 25 minutes.



Cowboy Biscotti Cookies

My New Computer App – Cowboy Biscotti Cookies
Imagine that you have created an app for your phone or computer…and this app is like no other in existence. This app immerses you in a total experience. For example….you are walking across a noisy, roaring creek, balancing carefully on the flat surfaces of individual stones. Just as you cross to the other side of the creek the path flattens and widens to smoother stones that are easier to traverse.

Suddenly you are intoxicated by the scent of lilacs…..not a slight suggestion of the scent…but a full-on in-the-face blast. You slow your step as you make it along the path to the back door of your home to prolong the experience. There’s this one step where you hesitate and rock back to the previous position to take in that breath where the scent is the strongest. Inhale…deeply…walk slow as you move down the path and on into your home. As you enter your home you can still remember the actual scent although it is fading to the memory of the scent.

Did this just really happen to me or was it this app?

Hmmmm, well, here’s another great scent to get immersed in…..cookies baking in the oven. But these cookies are different….no butter or oil, no eggs, no processed sugar and no dairy products. They are so good and each batch can be different depending on your additions. You can twice bake them as traditional biscotti for a crispier cookie or just bake once and slice for a slightly more moist cookie. Sometimes I do add a little dairy dark chocolate melted and drizzled over the baked surface. Hubby loves them!

This recipe came from Rip Esselstyn’s cookbook. You may or may not know about Rips father Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. He is one of two doctors that have successfully reversed heart disease with diet alone. Although I’m sure he would never drizzle dairy chocolate over the tops.

My bad.
  • ⅔ c raw cashews or walnuts
  • 2 T water
  • ½ c maple syrup or honey
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ c whole wheat flour
  • ¼ c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ c of mix-ins: any combo of raisins, pecans, dried cranberries, pistachios, almonds, carob chips, coconut flakes….get creative here
  • Oven 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  1. In a food processor, blend the nuts and water until the mix is lumpy. Add the syrup or honey and vanilla and blend until uniformly mixed. Pulse in the flour, oats and baking soda with as few rotations of the blade as possible so the flour doesn’t toughen up. Add your mix-ins and blend once or twice more. I often transfer dough to a bowl to mix in the mix-ins but you don’t have to if you want to reduce clean up.
  2. Form the dough into a log on the parchment lined pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. If you choose to twice bake for crispier biscotti type cookies reduce the oven temp to 300 degrees.
  5. Slice the log with a serrated knife into about ½ inch slices. At this point you can consider them done or place slices on the baking sheet again and bake for an additional 10 minutes on both sides.