Squish, squash…let’s eat squash

Squash come in different shapes and colors. There are different ways to prepare squash. Squash is the name given to members of the genus Curcurbita in the cucurbit family (Curcurbitacae). This name is derived from the Massachusett Indian word askutaswuash, which means “eating raw.”

Although we are familiar with various popular names for squash, such as winter squash, summer squash, vegetable marrow, and zucchini, they are all under the same botanical family of Curcurbitacae. Vegetable marrow is a British term used to describe the marrow/zucchini group of cultivars.

Another term used to describe squash is spaghetti squash (Curcurbita pepo). This squash is also known as the noodle squash. It is ochre in color, about 9 inches long, and weighs about 1.5 pounds. People call it spaghetti squash because it contains stringy fibres inside. Thus, these fibres look like spaghetti noodles. Their taste is bland.

Squash are excellent choices to eat during the winter months when fresh vegetables are more expensive, or in remote locations non-existant. We often think of squash when making a Thanksgiving dinner because that is often squash harvest time. Acorn squash are a delicious treat when cut in half and baked using a brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter as a topping. Hmmmm……. melts in your mouth!

 

 

February 3, 2016 Next Culinary Bookclub

I’m looking forward to meeting members of our monthly culinary book club during our Wednesday, February 3, 2016 meeting. It will be held in the Locust Street entrance monthly book club room. Please join me to learn about different root vegtetables. We will discover what parsnip and rutabaga look like, as well as how turnips can be eaten. We meet from noon to 1 p.m. every first Wednesday of each month.

Eating Out

If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy eating out and not having to cook. The excitement of trying a new restaurant, a delicious meal that you don’t have to cook can be tempting. However, when eating out beware of what you drink and eat.

Some helpful tips to enjoy your time out, and not gain ten pounds when you get home, include:

  • Avoid soft drinks – too much sugar.
  • Don’t double dip in your starches – skip the bun or bread that is served, stick to one serving of potatoes, rice, or pasta, not all three.
  • Drink water to fill you up – you will find you are not so hungry.
  • Avoid using butter – your dinner probably has extra butter in the sauce.
  • If you eat meat, try to select a lean portion, cut off the fat – keep to a six ounce portion.
  • Avoid fried foods – go for broiled or boiled.
  • Skip the alcohol.

Hopefully, by eating in moderation, you will enjoy the benefits of not having to cook. It is exciting to try new foods. Of course, one can do a bit of exercise to balance out the delicious foods. Everyone is different, so beware of extra calories when you eat out.

 

January 6th Next Culinary BookClub Meeting

On the first Wednesday of each month, the culinary book club meets from noon to 1 p.m. in the Locust Street Atrium book club room. We always welcome new members.

For our next meeting, on Wednesday, January 6, 2016, I will be discussing the benefits of eating nuts. We will learn what nuts have to offer in the way of reducing cholesterol. As well, examples of various nuts will be available to learn about them.

If you have any questions, please email me at sfraser@slpl.org, or phone (314) 539-0390.

Looking forward to meeting you!

Flavoured Butters

flavouredbutter

Flavored butters are to die for when you trying to impress your dinner guests. Did you ever get served chive butter with your soft dinner roll? Of course, elegant restaurants enjoy impressing their guests with various herb flavored butters. Dill flavored butter is a delicious complement to a fresh salmon entrée.  As your butter melts, the fine flavor of dill slides gently over your salmon. Scooped into a ball, fresh herbed butter adds to your plate.

If you are like me, you will love to enjoy flavored butters throughout the year, even in the depth of a freezing winter snowstorm!  To ensure you have enough flavored butters to last the winter months, start your freezer supply as soon as you begin to harvest. Here I mean that you start making your fresh chive butter, make a roll of flavored butter then store it in plastic wrap, and pop it into the freezer to be used a few months later.

chivesblooming

It is very common to take fresh herbs and make flavored butters.  However, it just as easy to use powdered spices. Have you ever tried a chili butter? How about sumac butter? Each flavoring can be related to the ethnic food that you are serving your butter with.

Appetizers

During the holiday season I am reminded of creating dozens and dozens of unique appetizers for dinner parties that we had at home when I was a teenager. I would help create, at least I thought, unique appetizers the day of our party. In those days, we did not think vegetarian or vegan, but it seems we did invent various appetizers that appealed to all.

As I recall, one of the first appetizers that I helped make were honey dew melon balls wrapped in prosciutto, stuck together with a fancy toothpick. You know, those colorful toothpicks that had red or green cellophane. You could make these in advance and store them in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap so they would not dry out.

Open-faced sandwiches were another favorite. For those liver loving people, we would buy a cocktail size loaf of rye bread, spread soft unsalted butter on one side of the bread, then spread Braunschweiger on top of the butter. Usually we prepared egg whites first, before spreading unsalted butter and Braunschweiger on the bread. To do that, we boiled eggs, let them cool, then separated the egg white from the egg yolk. We go one of those egg slices that you use to slice up the egg white. Once you have the egg whites in little thin slices, sprinkle a bit on top of your Braunschweiger. Again, once made, make sure you cover with a plastic wrap so it does not dry out before your guests arrive.

These are just a few homemade appetizers that I remember were gobbled up during holiday parties when my parents were entertaining. Of course, we created a ton more appetizers that I will mention in another blog posting.