We thank thee, then, O Father,
For all things bright and good,
The seed –time and the harvest,
Our life, our health, our food. –
19th Century Hymn
In the home food world, November and December are the two biggest months of the year. November, of course is the family day of fine food where we celebrate and thank God for the bountiful harvest and the closeness of family. Most families have traditions that they follow on Thanksgiving Day—as we do—but there is the rest of the month in which we must prepare family meals—day in and day out.
The plentiful foods of this month are abundant; vegetables include: cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, tomatoes, turnips and winter squashes. Fruits: Apples, avocados, cranberries, grapefruit, and grapes. With this amazing list of fruits and vegetables I am going to follow the health guidelines that dictate eating 5-7 servings of them and dig out recipes that favor them.
Let’s start with winter squashes and pumpkins, which are closely related, both belonging to the gourd family. They come in every shape and color from dark green to bright orange and grayish white and every shade in between. Their homely warts and bumps only add to their beauty and foreshadow an array of delicious dishes packed with vitamins A and C as well as lot so fiber and tons of flavor! It’s a feast in every sense.
They are so versatile they can be used in savory dishes, pies and custards, and both yeast breads and quick breads. Pumpkin and squash soups are poplar and delicious. Perhaps my favorite, however, is the simplest:
1 large buttercups squash
¼ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
2/3 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Nutmeg or cardamom to taste.
Cut squash in half; remove seeds and stringy portion. Prick skin with a fork in several places. Place both halves on microwave-proof plate and microwave on high for approximately 10-12 minutes or until tender. When cool enough to handle, remove flesh from skin and put into food processor while still warm. Add butter, brown sugar and salt. Process until smooth. Place in casserole and dot with more butter. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cardamom if you wish. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 350 deg.
Here’s a great breakfast (or anytime) recipe.
Pumpkin Nut Waffles
2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
3 eggs, separated
1 ¾ cups milk
¾ cup canola oil
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
¾ cup chopped toasted pecans
Sift together dry ingredients. Beat egg yolks. Combine with milk, oil and pumpkin. Add to dry ingredients. Beat egg whites stiff. Fold into batter. Pour onto hot waffle iron. Sprinkle with a few chopped nuts and bake. Makes about 8 waffles.
Here’s a great slow-cooker soup recipe from the November issue of Family Circle magazine:
Gingery Butternut Squash Soup (makes 6 serv.)
1 small (3 lb) butternut squash, seeded, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp grated ginger
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. black pepper
Place squash cubes and garlic in slow cooker with ¼ cup water. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours. Meanwhile, heat oil over med-high heat in skillet. Cook onion for 5 minutes, stir in ginger and cook 1 minute. Remove squash from slow cooker and discard garlic and liquid. Puree half of squash in food processor with half of onion mixture and 2 cups of the broth until smooth; pour into slow cooker and repeat with remaining squash, onion mixture, 1 cup broth and ¾ cup water. Stir in salt and pepper, then cover and cook an additional 30 minutes. Top with cheese toast if desired.