Sunday, October 09, 2011

A Butternut Squash Pie and an Autumn Fete at Restoration Farm

There is a touch of change in the wind. While not quite sweater weather, this subtle shift flirts with us in the form of cooler breezes, shorter days, and hints of autumn in the vegetable distribution at Restoration Farm.

On the long table beneath the distribution tent, there is a crate of butternut squash that stands out among the greens, peppers and dwindling heirloom tomatoes of summer. I wait for this moment each growing season. I love the smooth, buff colored skin, and the silky orange flesh of butternut squash. It is sturdier fare for colder weather and there are rich soups and thick stews soon to be enjoyed.

While I typically reserve squash for savory dishes, I decide to get a little adventurous and turn the first butternut squash of the season into a dessert for the Autumn Pot Luck at Restoration Farm. I take a reliable pumpkin pie recipe and swap out the pumpkin for fresh butternut squash puree.

I add a wreath of pastry autumn leaves to the piecrust to signal the start of a new season, and use roasted cinnamon and ginger spices in place of the traditional pantry variety.

I like the fact that my offering for the Pot Luck actually comes from the fields.

At Restoration Farm there are all types of volunteers, and the annual Pot Luck dinners in the field are when everyone pitches in. Members carry platters, tote bags and covered dishes to the field by the historic Red Barn.

The food is arranged on a long sequence of tables and the whole community lines up to fill their plates. There are salads, savory pastries and a Spanish Tortilla from my blogging friend Natalia whom I meet face-to-face for the first time.

A jazz trio adds a little rhythm to the festivities. There is color everywhere. Blue sky, a colorful selection of food and color in the sound of the music.

I grab a seat with Head Grower Caroline Fanning’s grandparents, George and Arline Garbarini. As always, George has brought his Iowa City Coffee Cake and it is particularly tasty this evening.

Caroline’s dad Adrian is always very complimentary of my culinary contributions. He really likes the butternut squash pie and reminds me to get a slice.

The custard is the color of caramel, and it is light and fluffy with a hint of rich, warm spices. It’s a good thing I manage to get a taste, because within minutes, the pie has vanished. There aren’t a lot of leftovers at these dinners.

During the meal, the sky quickly turns a dark and threatening gray and raindrops invade our celebration. But farmers take rain in stride, because rain makes things grow. George is nonchalant. “When we’re working in the fields and it rains, we just keep working,” he says casually. But, the rain soon grows steady and many of us are forced to retreat to the Red Barn for shelter.

As soon as the shower passes, people are out again in the field, chatting, eating and dancing to the jazz music. Even some passing rain does nothing to dampen spirits or dilute the colors of autumn that now infuse Restoration Farm.

©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a great idea to substitute the squash for the pumpkin. I've done something similar before using sweet potatoes in place of pumpkin and it worked great too. Love how you decorated the edges of the crust. Very artsy.

George's comment about the rain brought a smile to my face. Your celebration spoke of autumn and friendship on the farm. Life is good.
It's also great fun to meet other bloggers face-to-face. I've done so several times and it really cements the relationship.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this recipe! I was lucky enough to get the very last teaspoonful (seriously! there was a TEASPOONFUL left!) and it was gloriously creamy and time I may skip the main courses and go straight for the pie!

Andrea Meyers said...

What a beautiful pie and a lovely event! Love the idea to use butternut squash. We have loads of them from the garden this year, so we might be having squash pie instead of pumpkin or sweet potato at Thanksgiving.

Sprigs of Rosemary said...

I've only recently begun to experiment a little more with squash and love this pie. (Especially your decorative crust!) I'm definitely saving this for my holiday cooking. And what a wonderful fall fete at the farm!

~~louise~~ said...

Restoration Farm sure has had a "restorative" affect on you T.W. Your hesitation has diminished and you have dug your heels in full force! It simply delights me:)

Your Butternut Squash Pie looks positively festive and there is no doubt in my mind that it was as dreamy as it looks. (nice touch with the leaves:)

Thank you so much for sharing...

veron said...

that potluck looks so much fun! I never thought of a butternut squash pie....hmmn...sounds delish!

Velva said...

Look at those farm views! Rain or shine.

I love it when people gather to enjoy a meal together.

btw, the maple leafs cut-outs on your squash pie is beautiful. Very nice.

Happy Autumn to you.


Deana Sidney said...

I love those little pastry leaves.... I have cutters like that somewhere... where did they get to??? Is it wrong to have pastry envy? I think it just makes a pie look wonderful and pumpkin/squash pie is the herald of fall, isn't it? The weather this weekend feels like the last gasp of summer...soon everyday will be squash pie day!!

Barbara said...

T.W., your leaf design on the pie crust is lovely! Good work! I'm terrible with crusts. And it looks delicious. I love butternut squash too and have made soup with it, but never a pie.
I remember my mother baking a huge hubbard squash. Sometimes it was dry and delicious and she'd mash it (my mouth is watering just thinking about it) other times it was wet and I didn't like it nearly as well. I wish there was a way to tell before you bought one. We'd have to cook that wet one down a long time, but it never was as good as a dry one.
The Restoration Farm dinner looks like such fun. Your pie was a hit! I remember that coffee cake coffeecakes made with sour cream.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Gorgeous pie! No wonder it went quickly. I love the sense of community about Restoration Farm, and if I were the farmers, I couldn't imagine anything more wonderful than the feeling of being supported both financially and emotionally by the community.

Anonymous said...

A stunning pie & a lovely & inspiring post, my friend!

Your butternut caramel pie looks like a real winner,...I agree!

Lovely pics & a nice way to meet people!

Georgous pictures of the farm & the nature around it too! :)

Gloria Baker said...

This pie look georgeous and perfect I love this type of pies!! Nice pictures, gloria

Shaheen said...

I always make savour dishes with my butternut squash, you've inspired me to go and make a sweet version - hopefully it will feaure on my blog in not too long.

tasteofbeirut said...

I would have loved a slice of that pie, as I much prefer the taste of butternut to the taste of canned pumpkin! I have been wanting to make something like a sweet bread with butternut too! This farm looks like a wonderful escape into a world of wholesome goodness and bucolic simple living

PS cut-outs are impressive very neatly done!