Saturday, November 13

Try new foods this Thanksgiving!!

We often wait years, here in New England, for the second warm-up of weather. The known Indian Summer in October is famous but what is this second warm up called? After much searching in books (yes, I still use paper books) and the internet...apparently, no one knows. We are having cool nights and quick warm-ups during the day... And the warmth is glorious. This warmth is giving us slackers (I am one of them) some extra time to spend in the garden, getting ready for winter, cleaning our yards and simply enjoying the brightness of the sun before the intimidating gloom of deep fall and the onset of winter. Wishful thinking allows New Englanders (including myself) to hope that winter will be mild but the gardeners within us hope for a normal winter with normal precipitation so that the growing season will be as fruitful next year as it was this year.

Our family ventured into a new area this year by growing a new-to-us type of squash, Buttercup. Butternut is the old standby for the Thanksgiving table. It's a brightly colored orange and a sunny addition of color to any table that holds all the browns of gravy, turkey and stuffing. As wonderful as it is, it's a bit plain without added seasoning.

Buttercup on the other hand? It's so brightly colored it literally glows and it truly doesn't need seasoning before putting on the table. 40 years of eating Thanksgiving dinner could have been improved by simply changing the type of squash...To top it all off, we could have easily grown it grows anywhere. With nine seeds we grew enough to supply us with a winter of feeling good three times each week.

79 pounds a week out of the veggie garden will keep us healthy way beyond winter. Most of the vegetables were potatoes and squash but those root veggies have a plethora of much needed vitamins, specifically designed for the winter gloom onset in our bodies. Vitamin A, being at the top of the list, works in conjunction with Vitamin D and helps us feel better all'round.

To get your Vitamin A more easily, bake your squash before separating it from the scoops away from the skin with a simple spoon. Cutting the squash in half is the hard part but if you have a cleaver and a clean area on your back deck, one good swing with the cleaver can make it truly easy to split. The simplest way to process the tons of squash we had this summer is to chop all in half right out of the garden and freeze just as they are. When you're ready to 'up' your intake of Vitamin A, thaw the halved sections, turn flesh-side down in a 9 X 13 pan in an inch of water and bake for 20 minutes to an hour...The bigger, the longer...the longer, the easier it is to scoop out.

Thanksgiving usually falls into the tried and true's of traditions and old standbys. If we were truly trying to replicate the first harvest we would be eating venison and lobster and celebrating our harvest in August and early September when the produce of the garden is plentiful. Trying new foods by growing them is only one way to tempt your palate. Buy small varieties and make Thanksgiving a ritual of helping others expand their tastes and traditions by including at least one new dish each year. Give that old green-bean-salad some competition.


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