An all-American hoedown party to bid farewell to summer took place last weekend, at a magical place in the rolling foothills of the Shenandoah Valley, dubbed “Camelot.” (For the international readers, the term refers to, admiringly in the U.S., the shining moments of JFK presidency.) The Fitzgeralds, our hosts, happen to own a farm next door to a family, the Kennedys (another common last name), hence the name “Camelot.” True story! According to some scholars: “Camelot, located no where in particular, can be anywhere.”
The four-foot long roasted pig, the straw bales, the bandanas, horseback riding and live country music set the tone of this spectacular weekend gathering. We thoroughly enjoyed it, soaking in as much as we can the golden sunshine and the invigorating mountain air of October in Virginia. If all that was not enough, the guests were welcome to a barrel full of butternut squash harvested on the farm to take home.
I took more than my share. If I were the last person to depart, I’d have emptied the entire barrel. To show some measure of restraint, I took a basket full. My head was running through a long list of squash-centric recipe ideas. I learned that butternut squash would keep well when stored in a cool place for months. Just what I needed to hear!
The following day, I saw the print of Alice Waters, standing under a Mulberry tree in the Edible School Yard, displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Alice Waters’ commitment to local organic food and her farm-to-table movement is legendary. The idea of getting food from farm to table resonates with me, loudly and unequivocally.
The basket of butternut squash from the Fitzgeralds’ farm will be simmered in soups, tossed into salads, roasted with other root vegetables and baked into quiches and breads, in the manner that Alice Waters would approve. All will be transformed in various fashion into good eats on our seasonal table and beyond. Kudos to mother earth and our hosts who grew them!
I followed primarily Ellie Krieger’s recipe of curried butternut squash soup with a few changes to deepen the flavor. I put in some tomato paste, as I sweated the aromatics and the squash, as well as a piece of ginger and a few kaffir lime leaves, as the stock was added to the soup. Topped it off and served with a dollop of sour cream.
The squash soup, seeing it up close, has this screamingly orange tone. The butternut orange that speaks and echos the warm palette of fall foliage. The soup is the ultimate comfort food: soothing and inviting. We can’t help but feel blessed with the beauty and bounty of the season, and “Camelot”, as we say farewell to summer!