A weekend on the Maine coast can do wonderful things for the soul. At the suggestion of a friend, I signed up for the Blog Better Boston event at Stonewall Kitchen. It was a fabulous event. Breakout sessions focused on photography, recipe writing and restaurant reviews all held in the magical place that is the Stonewall Kitchen headquarters in York, ME.
We started off exploring Portland. It was just the kind of unseasonably warm and damp day that begged for a Guinness or more importantly a local Black Fly stout at Gritty McGruff’s and local seafood at Portland Lobster Co. Good food, good music, good company, it was a blast.
Bright and early on Sunday we headed over to Stonewall for the event. We were warmly greeted by the ladies of Blog Better Boston and Wayfair. And were treated to a tour of the factory and where they make that famous Blueberry Jam.
Through the office and creative space, we were privy to the inner workings of the company.
One of my favorite parts of the day was led by Michael Cabelin, the head product photographer at Stonewall. His shots were sharp and his advice was pragmatic.
Ohhh and the props, milk glass, pie plates, chargers galore.
Lunch: Oh. My. Word. Whoever said Disney was the happiest place on earth had never been to the Stonewall Cooking School. The session was led by Patty Roche. She has a wonderful sense of humor, warm, light and self-depricating. Just the type that you’d love to have over your house for a glass of wine and a cooking lesson.
Lunch was sublime, each plate better than the next. We started with a roasted acorn squash and ginger soup, followed by chicken stuffed with homemade ricotta and sage, wrapped in prosciutto with a side of creamy polenta and roasted pumpkin. And last but surely not least, fig and pear cobbler served with homemade vanilla ice cream. I did my part to help the dish washers by nearly licking every plate clean.
Acorn Squash Soup with Ginger
Yield: Serves 6Ingredients: 3 acorn squash (about ¾ pounds total) halved lengthwise, seeded 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, like canola 2 cups thinly sliced onions 1 tablespoon golden brown sugar 2 teaspoons of fresh, minced ginger (Ginger root skin should be smooth. If wrinkly, past it’s prime) 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped ½ stick of cinnamon 5 cups low sodium chicken broth like Kitchen Basics or Pacific Garnish: Chopped fresh parsley Dollop of crème fraiche Crystalized ginger
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Oil a baking sheet. Place squash cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake until squash is very soft, about 50 minutes. Using a paring knife, remove the peel from the squash and discard. Cut squash into 2 inch pieces. Heat oil in heavy, large pot over medium low heat. Brown onion until tender. Then add garlic to till soft. Next mix in ginger, brown sugar and cinnamon stick.
- Add squash and 5 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick
- Use an immersion blender to puree squash and chicken broth.
- Serve with a garish of crème fraiche, parsley, and crystalized ginger
As the day came to a close, I was incredibly impressed with the level of detail each Stonewall employee brought to their job. It was a true passion and a commitment to keep the company familial as it grows. And I was grateful to be surrounded by other people who value food, where it comes from and how it’s used. I encourage you to check out their blogs:
And one of the coolest parts… the swag bag! Thank you Wayfair, My Way Home, for the amazing immersion blender with lots of fun new attachments. This will be perfect for soup season.