From all of us at Dr. Cowan’s Garden, we wish you a happy and healthy new year. We are grateful that you welcomed us into your lives this past year, either by using our products or simply by reading our newsletter.
This coming year, we intend to take our young business to a new level. We are planning more products (including more wild-harvested ones), working to eliminate shortages and growing a network of small, organic farmers. We are building out our own kitchen, connecting with foragers and streamlining and improving our techniques.
Now, however, I want to turn back a little and reflect on one of our first “flagship” products to coincide with our $5-off sale on Winter Squash Powder.
During our early family discussions about the viability of this business, the powders that I really believed would be a commercial success were Winter Squash and Pumpkin powders. I knew our other powders and salts added flavor and nutrition to food, but the only real demand I had heard from patients was for a really good substitute for grain flours.
Anyone who has been interested in the GAPS, paleo or auto-immune diets or who has just wanted to reduce grain consumption has tried many alternative flours, from coconut to almond to, yes, squash. I knew if I could come up with a way to make squash powders flavorful, fresh and actually smelling like squash, they would be a hit. (I tried a few other squash powders on the market, and, to put it bluntly, they quickly ended up in our compost bin – no flavor, no taste, no vibrant color).
I began to experiment and quickly discovered that if I cooked the squash or pumpkin first, the powder was more flavorful. Most – if not all – other companies skip this part because it’s difficult. It’s far easier to slice squash raw, dehydrate it, and grind it into powder than it is to either bake (pumpkins) or steam (winter squash) it, as we do. It also helps that we use flavorful, heirloom pumpkins and Waltham butternut squash, one of the most nutritious and flavorful squash cultivars.
The keys are the amount of cooking time, the immediate dehydration and the final, crucial step: immediately transferring the powder to Miron jars. If any of these steps is omitted, the powder likely will sit for a year in the back of your cupboard until the yearly clean-out arrives.
The moment I knew we had the processing strategy down was about a year ago when our friend Sally Fallon Morell came to visit, and I served homemade pumpkin pie using the exact recipe in her book, Nourishing Traditions (see photo above). The only change I made was to switch the canned pumpkin puree for ½ cup (and 2 cups of water) of our Pumpkin Powder. When she spontaneously said it was the best and smoothest pumpkin pie she had eaten, I knew we were on to something. Click here for the recipe.
In addition to making pies, we use our Winter Squash and Pumpkin powders as additions to oatmeal, pancakes, meat sauces and soups (see below for two really easy recipes and one longer recipe for a hearty bolognese). Squash and pumpkins are a foundational American food, used by native peoples for millennia. A healthy source of carbohydrates and fiber, rich in carotenoids and other phytonutrients, every human diet should include a member of the Curcubitacea family. The cooking possibilities are endless with these powders, so do let us know what you come up with.
With blessings for the new year,
Tom Cowan, M.D.
For many of us, our relationship to food is a never ending journey. Sometimes to move forward one finds themselves looking back. For bread and specifically the grains used to make it I find that the best results are indeed found in reflection. It is sometimes true that modern ingenuity has value for us, but that is usually only when paired with ancient wisdom. For grains, that wisdom is in the ancient varieties that have been grown for thousands of years.
During this time of relative uncertainty, we have decided to renew our commitment to gardening. Dr. Cowan’s Garden was originally a place, located in Napa Valley on a plot of land generously donated by a friend. It embodied our ideals and was a sanctuary for growth and learning.
The garden was our muse for new product offerings and for improving existing ones. The garden kept our ambitions grounded to certain fundamentals, as the practice of gardening can be challenging.