Blue skies with big fluffy clouds.
Pretty little strings of lights.
Really any kind of mood lighting on a cool soon-to-be-fall night.
Food that turns into more than food; food that turns into art, education, and conversation on the plate.
Elegant mismatched china.
The apron my grandma brought me home from France.
We had a dinner on a the farm a few weeks ago and it was heaven. Each year as the season begins to wind down, we try and take time to share an amazing meal (or five) with all the great people who support our farm. I use these dinners on the farm as a time to honor the season by cooking the best food I can create out of what we have available in the fields. The focus is on vegetables. It’s a rare day if meat finds it’s way into more than one course. I take time and go slow and add artistic flourishes I typically wouldn’t. I focus not only on flavors but beauty and elegance and real presentation. I decorate the table and bring out all my favorite pretty things.
The preparations begin weeks before with recipe testing and scribbled lists of things I need my Carrot to harvest. I freeze veggies that might not make it all the way to the dinner. I make sauces ahead of time and store them in the fridge. Then I spend two miraculous days in my kitchen prepping the meal, listening to podcasts (or who am I kidding? Lately only Gilmore Girls) and adding all the final touches that will make the night magic. When it all comes together in just the right way, I’m floating on air for weeks.
It doesn’t always come together perfectly. We had a brunch in late August which was delicious, but undeniably too far from fall. The mosquitos and flies were in full force. It was still hot and humid. And though filled with spicy bloody Marys (or Marias) made from our heirloom tomatoes and yellow doll watermelon mimosas and incredible breakfast food, it just didn’t have the same vibe as my favorite meals of the season.
I’ve realized fall is what makes a good outdoor meal great. You can start a meal at 6 p.m. and still get away with obnoxious amounts of mood lighting because sunsets come early. You can walk through the fields during that beautiful time of day when the sun is low and the moon is high. The light in the field right before dusk is perfect. The cool nights create a cozier feel and beverages are more free flowing. The ambiance of a fall meal on the farm is completely unmatched.
I’m so excited to share that at the end of the month we’ll be having one last meal on the farm: a totally vegetarian five-course meal as a fundraiser for the Underdog Pet Rescue of Wisconsin. If you know us at all, you’ll know that dogs have a very special place on our farm. After all, our farm’s namesake was our first pup.
The meal will be filled with all the things that make fall great: squash, carrots, beets, kale, leeks, apples, parsnips. If it’s cool we are going to dine in the greenhouse. If it’s not we’ll spend time on the back deck. There will be farm tours and puppies to play with. Seats are filling up fast but we would love to have you. If you are interested, head to Brown Paper Tickets to secure your spot! I hope to see you there!
SPAGHETTI SQUASH FRITTERS WITH LEEK & JALAPENO
This recipe is from my September dinner on the farm. I had a gluten-free friend attending and was determined to make a fritter that everyone could enjoy regardless of dietary restriction. These fritters, made with a blend of cornmeal and oat flour, are everything you want in a fritter. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, packed with flavor and just spicy enough thanks to the jalapenos. Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite fall vegetables and I love finding new fun ways to use it. Enjoy these gluten-free vegetarian fritters with a side of spicy aioli or garlic herb yogurt sauce.
Makes 10-12 fritters
Takes 1 hour, 15 minutes (much of it inactive)
1 small spaghetti squash
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and slice
2 jalapenos, seeds left in, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup oat flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for griddle
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Put the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and add a tablespoon or two of water. Roast for 35-40 minutes until tender.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool before shredding with a fork in a large bowl. (Never made spaghetti squash before? Check out this awesome tutorial!)
- Take about two cups of the shredded spaghetti squash and wrap it in cheesecloth Squeeze for 5-6 minutes until the majority of the liquid is out of it. You should have 1/2 cup of squeezed, dried spaghetti squash. Add to a medium bowl along with the leeks, jalapenos and garlic. Use a fork to create uniform mixture and separate the spaghetti squash as best you can.
- Add cornmeal, oat flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper to squash mixture. Again use a fork to try and evenly incorporate squash into other ingredients.
- Add eggs and butter and stir to combine. Mixture will be wet but batter-like.
- Preheat griddle pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Grease pan with butter and add heaping tablespoons of batter to the pan (4-5 per batch). Reduce temperature to medium and cook until nicely browned (2-3 minutes). Flip fritters and press down gently with a spatula to flatten. Cook until browned on the second side. Remove to a paper towel to drain excess grease. Repeat with remaining batter. Keep first batch of fritters in 200 degree oven if you want to keep them all warm.
- Serve warm with some sort of super delicious sauce!