My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Miso Roasted Roots & Friends 1

Posted on February 05, 2011 by crankycheryl

At my last winter CSA share pick-up, I had gotten some of these hairy beauties:

A note suggested that they might be best roasted, and that their main winter-storage claim to fame may be that they aren’t at all sweet.  Since, like every aspiring Vermont winter localvore, I’m craving variety this time of year, in the bag they went, where they joined beets, rutabaga, turnips, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips.  And met up with more of the same at home.

There were a lot of them, and something had to be done.

You may know that I think that roasting is one of the very nicest things you can do to a vegetable.   It intensifies flavor and caramelizes sugars, and can be done to just about everything (not leafy vegetables, generally).   Plus it’s a good straight-forward way for a lazy cook like me to end up with some building blocks and variety for the meals of the coming week.

Facing off with the pile of roots and squashes, I decided to roast beets by themselves, butternut squash by itself, and then do a savory tray (potatoes, salsify, rutabaga) flavored with miso, and a sweet tray (carrots, parsnips, turnips) just plain with olive oil and salt.

My approach is a bit convoluted, but not at all fussy.    The goal is to let everything cook for as long as it needs, while being in the kitchen as little as possible.

Here’s how I did it.  Of course, use what you’ve got and make it how you want it.  Maybe you’re planning Italian food and would do garlic and some oregano instead of miso for a savory variety, or want to throw onions onto either tray, or toss them with some teriyaki sauce.  Go for it.

A Trio of Roast Roots, Plus Squash

1.  Preheat oven to 400.   Oil three rimmed baking sheets, and get out one baking dish with an oven-proof, snug-fitting lid.  Get out two large mixing bowls and set aside.

2.  Beets

  • Wash but don’t peel (isn’t this fabulous?) as many beets as can fit in your lidded baking dish in one layer.  Put on the lid and put them in the oven (it’s okay if it hasn’t preheated all the way).  They will need to cook the longest, one-two hours depending on size.

3.  Savory Miso-Roasted Roots

Prepare the salsify:

  • Put 2 T. lemon juice into a medium bowl and add water nearly to top
  • With the lemon-water right at hand, peel and slice 3-4 salsify roots crosswise into chunks about 1 1/2″ long and put immediately into the water bowl to prevent discoloration.

Put it all together by placing in one of the large mixing bowls:

  • 2-3 large potatoes, scrubbed, peel left on, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • the salsify, drained well
  • 2 T. miso paste
  • 2 T. olive oil

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then spread the whole thing out on one of the baking sheets and set aside.


4.  Sweet Mix


  • 3-4 carrots, scrubbed, peels left on, cut into 1 1/2″ – 2″ chunks crosswise
  • 3-4 parsnips, scrubbed, peels left on, cut into 1 1/2″ – 2′ chunks crosswise
  • 1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then spread the whole thing out on one of the baking sheets.

Put both baking sheets in the oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice if you think of it.  They’re done when a fork easily pierces a chunk.  The carrots and turnips are the slowest cookers here, so they’re good ones to test.

5.  Butternut Squash

Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and put them in a colander.  Put the squash cut-side-down on the remaining baking sheet.   If your oven is big enough, you can go ahead and put it in now, or else wait until you take out the mixed trays.  This also cooks for about 30 minutes, or until very soft.

6.  Don’t Forget the Beets

When everything on a tray is done, check on the beets by poking the largest one with a fork.   Cook for a while longer if it’s till very firm, and when it is tender, go ahead and turn off the oven.  Leave the beets in there until the oven cools down, then remove and peel them – the peels will slip off in your hands.

If you’re feeling ambitious you can also go ahead and rinse, dry, oil and salt those seeds and put them in the oven once you turn off the heat.  If you do it right when the heat goes off, there’ll be enough warmth to toast them but not enough to burn them.

7.  Using Your Delicious Vegetables

  • Eat them as they are.
  • Puree the butternut squash and turn it into this soup, or you could mix it with some cream and broth and add in some of the other vegetables and some meat or beans for a heartier version.
  • Add pureed butternut squash to baked goods, waffles or the life.
  • Save pureed squash for a fabulous souffle that I’ll be posting this week
  • Slice beets and put them on salads
  • Save beets for the beet-rhubarb recipe I’ll be posting this week

Blessed Silence Sunday: Becoming Butternut Squash Chips 2

Posted on January 10, 2010 by crankycheryl

World's Greatest Veggie Burgers 1

Posted on October 30, 2009 by crankycheryl

veggie burgers halloween 002I love to save money on food, and get especially cheap when I’m cooking the common meal at cohousing, where we’re supposed to limit the budget to $3.50 per person.  And with all we have going on this month, there was no way that CrankyGreg and I were up for a big complicated affair for 35 people.

But still, of course we wanted something good and reasonably homemade.  So I pulled out this Joanna Vaught recipe for homemade vegan veggie burgers.  This is the one where what matters is the ratio of one thing to another, and so you can substitute any vegetables, any grain, and whatever flavorings you like as long as you stick with these amounts. One note:  don’t skip the gluten, which is what gives these great texture and keeps them sticking together.

Awesome Veggie Burgers

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

stew beets sauerkraut veggie burgers 022Stir together very well until thoroughly combined:

  • ~ 1 1/2 cups baked butternut squash, pureed, and 1/2 c. rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cups protein: Le Puy lentils (cooked), 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 1/2 cups grain:  cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup oil and a splash of water (liquid)
  • 1 T. Bragg’s, 1 t. chopped garlic (liquid seasoning)
  • 1 t. dried lemon peel,  1/2 t. smoked paprika, 1/2 t. allspice, 1 t. gomasio or sesame seeds

Form into patties, then place on baking sheet (give a little space around each, but they won’t expand like baked goods so don’t worry too much).  Bake for 25 minutes, then carefully flip with a spatula and bake for 20 more, until nicely browned.  Serve in whatever burger-y way you like.  They were great with baked sweet potato fries and a ginger-beet coleslaw for dinner.  But today the last ones were pretty good eaten cold by themselves in the car in between meetings.

Monkey Menu Monday: Tiny Russian Pancakes 0

Posted on September 21, 2009 by crankycheryl

0921091302aSo here we are on Day 3 of the EatLocal 100 mile challenge.  And it’s Monday, the day I cajole the boys into picking a meal from the international cookbook I keep foisting on them.

Last night we flipped through and landed on the Russia page, which contained the tiny pancakes called Sirniki (SEER-nih-ki, according to the helpful pronunciation key).

So that plus a fruit shake (Adam’s blueberries, Strafford Creamery Smooth Maple Ice Cream, and milk) became tonight’s dinner.  I added some pureed baked butternut squash to the pancakes, which is what I nearly always do to unsuspecting pancakes and baked goods here in the CrankyHouse.

Reading the recipe over made me think that these must have been a traditional dairy farm meal, since they call for a veritable sampler of dairy ingredients.  (If any vegan friends stop by, please do let me know if you see a way to veganize this one.  I couldn’t figure it out.)  The results are very cheesy, light, and savory.  I also like that they have no added leavening, instead relying on the beaten egg whites for their lightness.  The boys just ate them – all of them, 17 each –  plain, though we could have had them with the traditional sour cream, and the one I actually got to try would have been heavenly with some homemade jam.

Butternut Squash Sirniki
Makes about 25 – 35 tiny pancakes

  • 1/2 c. soft cream cheese (I bought some local stuff – pricey but good)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin or butternut squash puree
  • 4 T. butter

For serving (optional):

  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. apricot or other preserves
  1. Mash the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth.
  2. Beat the yolks into the cream cheese, and add in the sugar, salt and squash puree.  Beat until very smooth.
  3. Stir in the cottage cheese, then add the flour.
  4. Beat egg whites until they’re white and stiff and hold a peak.
  5. Gently fold egg whites into the batter.
  6. Heat 2 T. butter in large frying pan just until lightly bubbling.
  7. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons into the frying pan, and cook until the bottoms are set and the top looks nearly dry, about 2 minutes.  Flip over and cook for another 2 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and keep warm while you cook the rest.
  9. Serve plain, with sour cream, jam, both, or whatever other kooky thing you come up with.

Three Things To Do With … Butternut Squash 2

Posted on September 10, 2009 by crankycheryl

0910091720 The winter squashes are suddenly bright against their crinkly grey dying leaves.  The apples have appeared, bright green Ginger Golds and stout little Paula Reds snug in their white bags at the farmstand.  The tomatoes are collapsing, and the lettuce that hasn’t already bolted is looking decidedly monstrous.

This is definitely the pivot of the harvest season, and time for butternut squash recipes.  I feel bad for these big old workhorses and how they seem to be either neglected or as maligned and sighed over as zucchini.

But they’re so wonderfully healthy and versatile, and have an incredibly long life in the pantry.  A friend of mine pulled one of these out in June from last year’s harvest, and she reports that it was perfect.

You can find – and love! – a use for them  in any meal of the day.  They’re a standby ingredient in breads and muffins and waffles, in oven-roasted vegetable mixes, and can easily replace carrots in carrot cake.

Here are a few of my very favorite ways to enjoy them.  (And don’t forget to rinse, salt, and toast the seeds!)

1.  The startlingly delicious Sesame Almond Vegetable Saute I came across in our local paper a few years ago. I look forward to cool weather vegetables all year so I can make this.

2.  Squash/Pumpkin waffles.  They’re just so awfully good that I can’t help reposting them.  (And the maple-bacon ones aren’t too bad either.)

3.  Ginger-Squash Cake from Bon Appetit a couple years back.  I made this for my birthday that year and really adored it.  I can take or leave white chocolate, but I did like it on this.

And more squash?  Without trying hard, you can stumble across recipes using it in flan and in risotto and in cookies and all sorts of stuff that will make you and your diners happy all through the winter.  Really!

A Surprising Hit 0

Posted on March 26, 2009 by crankycheryl

cardamom-bread-001cardamom-bread-005When it comes to what monkeyboys will and won’t eat, well, I just never know.  The larger one announced a couple weeks back that he no longer likes macaroni and cheese.  Macaroni and cheese!  From a box!

Though I explained that no one in our house is allowed to stop liking anything, he has persisted.  Now there’s no more spaghetti.  Or ketchup.  But cheddar is back on the list, and he did try a sweet potato … though he spit it out.

All of which is why I was surprised to have both the tykes like this one.  You can taste the squash, the cardamom is slightly unusual, and the pine nuts are perceptible.  But it’s a good snack cake: moist, flavorful, not too sweet, and pretty healthy.

Butternut Squash & Cardamom Cake with Pine Nuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Whisk together thoroughly:

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour – pastry if you can get it, white whole wheat if not
  • 1 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 c. ground flaxseed
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. baking powder

Combine in another bowl:

  • 2/3 milk or soymilk
  • 1 t. vanilla

In a large bowl, beat until creamy:

  • 6 T. unsalted butter


  • 6 T. olive oil

Beat in gradually:

  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup

Beat in one at a time:

  • 4 eggs

Add the flour in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Fold in:

  • 1 c. pine nuts
  • 2 c. shredded butternut squash

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let cool in the pan on a rack, then slice and serve.

Soup on a Snowy Night 0

Posted on March 02, 2009 by crankycheryl
This picture swiped from Recipezaar, and credited to Chef1.

This picture swiped from Recipezaar, and credited to Chef1.

My turn again cooking for our cohousing community, and a friend had sent this recipe from the New England Soup Factory a couple months back, thinking it would be good for our group.  I’ve had it on deck ever since, excited to have a delicious-sounding, vegetarian/vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free recipe that sounded full of flavor and interesting.  So tonight we made:

I liked the soup very much, but did wish the broth was thicker.  (Don’t know why – I have nothing against broth-y or tomato-y soups in general.)  Next time I make it, I’ll probably double the coconut milk (or upgrade to coconut cream instead), and also double the vegetables, and then puree half of it just before serving.

In any case, this is a great recipe to have in the repetoire for anyone who’s looking for something new to cook for folks with diverse food preferences.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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