July/August 207

 

 

Best Cook:

Recipes from the Garden

Kin Shilling's recipes for summer squashes

 

By

Edie Clark

 

On any given day, the aromas of baking sweets and simmering soup seep out her kitchen door, past the henhouse, and up into the rare air of Hancock, New Hampshire. Passersby know what's happening: Kin is cooking. Again.

 

Kin Schilling is known to her friends as smart, generous, artistic, and innovative -- but most of all, as a great cook. The California native came to the Monadnock region of New Hampshire 25 years ago.

Her children were growing up fast by then. "I had always been a stay-at-home mom and I felt like it was time for me to do something," she says as she nudges freshly baked muffins out of their cups. As if she had been saving it up all those years, she began this new life as an entrepreneur. "I have no fear," she says. "I do everything on a shoestring. I've always said, 'If you have an idea, do it!'"

 

She started with women's clothing, but moved soon to her first love: food. A bookstore cafe, a lunch wagon out of the back of her Volkswagen, an ice-cream parlor that, as a novel aside, also sold French antiques. In between these ventures, she just plain cooked for people -- for her friends, for an arts colony, for the local school.

 

And then she started to cook for handicapped children at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield. There, she not only cooked but gardened with the kids -- a prelude to the kitchen activities and food preparation they would all do together after the harvest. Kin calls it the Cornucopia Project. "We need to teach our children about gardening -- it's essential," she says.

 

She did once spend a couple of weeks working at a local restaurant. She backed away as if from a hot iron. "I'm not a professional cook. I never have been. I'm an intuitive cook. I think about what I want to make, and out of that comes something good."

 

That's where the zucchini muffins came from -- something she dreamed up that became a favorite during the two years she ran that bookstore cafe. And they've been part of her repertoire ever since. That's how she does it. No fear.

 

 

 

Zucchini Muffins

 

Yield: 12 large muffins or 2 loaves

 

This recipe works well as zucchini bread, too.

 

2-1/2 cups plus

3 Tablespoons flour

1 cup unsweetened coconut

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking powder

teaspoon baking soda

teaspoon kosher or sea salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 1-1/2 medium zucchini)

cup grated carrots (about 1 carrot)

About a dozen whole or 1/4 cup chopped pecans

 

Heat oven to 375.

 

In a large bowl, gently combine flour, coconut, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl or standing mixer, cream together sugar, oil, and butter until light and fluffy.

 

Add eggs and vanilla extract, and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined -- do not overmix. Fold in zucchini and carrots. Fill two large, well-greased muffin tins (or two loaf pans) three-quarters full and top with pecans. Bake 25 minutes (35 to 40 minutes for bread); cool on wire racks.

 

 


Summer Squash Soup

 

Yield: 6 servings

 

Perfect for a midsummer luncheon on the porch. Serve with a mesclun salad with lemon and olive oil dressing and a hearty baguette.

 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 pounds summer squash, sliced

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 cups water or homemade vegetable or chicken stock, divided

3/4 cup light cream

Kosher or sea salt

Garnish: whole cilantro leaves and orange nasturtium blossoms

 

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter and cook onion and squash until softened and translucent -- about 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients plus fresh ginger. Add to onion-squash mixture. Add 1 cup water or stock and cook about 5 minutes. Add remaining liquid and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

 

Remove from heat and puree until smooth. Stir in cream and season to taste with salt. If soup is too thick for your taste, thin with additional cream or stock. Ladle into six soup bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves and flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007

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