One of my family's favorite winter squashes is the spaghetti squash.
Enjoyed green or ripened, the flavor is fantastic, it's filling, low in calories and loaded with vitamins!
Best of all, local chemical-free or homegrown spaghetti squash can be inexpensive as well. In season, I am able to find these for .50 each. In the super-market they go for $1.89 per pound! How about you? Where can you find them in your area?
Young and immature
For storage, stick with the mature spaghetti squash. These squash are a deep lemony yellow or buttery tan color. Their rind is tough and thick.
Immature squash tend to be a tepid green and yellowish hue. While the flavor is still great, these squash won't keep. So when you get them home, use them up in a week or two. If you find a great deal on immature squash, you can preserve these in the freezer by par-cooking (partially cooking) the squash, pulling it off the rind, then freezing it. I'll be doing both this year: storage and freezing.
There are a gazillion Spaghetti Squash recipes out on the internet, but in our house we like it roasted then smothered in raw butter, realsalt and freshly ground black pepper. It's simple and can be done while you're getting the rest of your dinner ready. Don't forget to clean the seeds and roast them like pumpkin seeds - they're tasty!
Recipe: Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Take it out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes, then use two forks to pull the strands apart and into a bowl. We like our squash tender, others like it al dente, buy a few and experiment!
Preserving Summer - in jars and bags
6am - Just rolled out of bed, before coffee
What to do with 15 heads of chemical-free, locally grown cauliflower. That's the question early this Saturday morning. I did some poking around my various cookbooks: The Ball Blue Book of Preserving, Freezing & Canning Cookbook by Farm Journal (1963 edition), Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook 1936 edition), Centre County Amish Cooking, and finally, I went back to my favorite canning/preserving produce book of all time... Say it with me now: The Practical Produce Cookbook.
Coffee & Telephone, canning companions, not shown
I decided to split my bounty up into two batches - one to blanch and freeze, and another to can in a sweet pickle recipe. To my pickles, I added a large zucchini I had hanging around, and some organic carrots that I wanted to use up.
Ready for a super easy recipe? You don't need anything fancy for this. Just some jars and lids. You may bathe the jars in your stock pot if you'd like.
Sweet Pickled Cauliflower
3 quart cauliflower florets (1-2 inch pieces)
1 quart white vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup diced sweet red peppers (or green zucchini)
2 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp celery seed
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)
Wash cauliflower florets and boil in salt water (4 tsp canning salt per gallon of water) for 3 minutes. Drain and pack into hot pint jars. Distribute onion and diced pepper among jars.
Combine vinegar, sugar, onion, pepper and spices in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
Fill jars with pickling solution, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe rim of jars, place lids, then screw on bands. Finger tighten. (Easy now, don't use all your muscles here! RPE) Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield approx. 5- 6 pints.
Courtesy The Practical Produce Cookbook, ISBN 0-9718456-0-3
There's more going on here, I have two loads of laundry to hang and another two bushels of celery to process. I'd better get to it. Enjoy your Saturday!
When you move away from the ocean's edge, the fare at fish markets can be a bit... dubious. Seafood-loving New Englanders are a picky lot though, and they know amazing quality when they taste it.
North End Seafood Company is one of those amazing gems. Tucked into a sunny corner of a small plaza in Somerset, Massachusetts, NESC has an impressive array of seafood.
Let me stop for a minute and say this: I do not receive a dime for the products, people or businesses that I recommend here. If you see it, or read about it here, it's because I'm so smitten that I just need to pipe up. Regional, yes, but NESC deserves a pat on the back and whatever business I can throw their way. Heck, they may ship it to you if you ask... Who doesn't like getting fresh lobster in the mail?!
Excellent Portuguese and local accompaniments, as well as national brands, are displayed enticingly.
If I wasn't going to can my own roasted peppers, I would have brought home a jar just to have that color on my shelf...
Love this seafood case. I really appreciating knowing that a few hundred people have not been breathing all over my fish. I also appreciate that my seafood hasn't been wrapped in plastic. Love the easy to read chalkboard price display. Deep ice, fresh fish, and impeccably clean counters - heck, even my
mother-in-law, the queen of clean, would buy fish here.
Wild versus Farmed Salmon
I have to admit, I was surprised to see that Jason carries farm raised salmon. His explanation dovetails perfectly with my real-food rant on Facebook this week.
Remember the rant? One sentence read:
Unfortunately, farmed salmon falls under the category of 'almost'. Wild salmon, on the left, is only available certain times of the year. Bold flavor, bright color. Farmed salmon is available all the time, is cheaper, and get this: people like it because it is sweeter. Yup, American's like their farmed salmon because their sweet tooth has an opinion. You can read more about the evils of farmed salmon at World's Healthiest Foods. (All I'm going to say is this: that pasty pink color is fake. Fake as the lunch-lady's blue hair!)
My mother purchased fillet of sole, and I bought cod fish. The fillet was flavorful without an overpowering fish taste - applauded by Tom, who has only ever eaten canned salmon (bleck!) and frozen haddock (ha-DOCK, as they incorrectly pronounce it in Pennsylvania).
My cod cooked up flaky, with a deep fish flavor. Our money was well spent. And I'll probably spend more - when mom and dad come back in the fall, I'll be ordering some fish for them to bring home...
Everyone wave to Jason (and Jessica, not pictured) Viveiros, owners of NESC!
We just missed meeting their two year old son. Hope we meet up the next time - would love for Trey to have an NE fishing buddy!
Visit North End Seafood Company on Facebook or stop by the market at 970 County Street in Somerset, Massachusetts. You can also read more about their business in this Herald News Article.
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Jill Hollis Photography
When I first moved to Pennsylvania, I befriended a plain-sect (Amish) woman who uncharacteristically took me under her wing. Rebekah taught me about eating real food. She encouraged me to think bigger - teaching me about gardening, cooking, sewing, and yes, real milk. Rebekah's family owns two Jersey cows.
They give the richest, sweetest, tastiest milk I've ever consumed. For a while, I purchased her extra milk for our family. Then I had to stop. The FDA began actually raiding Amish farms (guns drawn) that sold milk without going through them. If you follow me on facebook, you'll know that I'm enraged that Americans are being denied the right to choose their food.
Jill Hollis Photography
Many of you won't be able to buy raw milk, because it's illegal in your state.
Go ahead and buy a pack of cigarettes, but try to buy raw milk and this what you'll hear: 'that stuff can kill you!'
It's amazing how many Amish families DON'T die from drinking raw milk...
But that's not what this article is about.
What I wanted to share with you is this: Raw Milk Rules.
I'm sending you to a website of a woman who's done all the research and has tons of references for you. I hope you have time to really read through this: What You Should Know about Raw Milk
In a nutshell: know your farm (not all raw milk is safe), raw milk is alive (like yogurt only better), and raw milk is good for farmers. And cows. And the environment. And the consumer.
Here in Pennsylvania, we still have the right to buy raw milk from certified farmers. But if the FDA gets their way, that right will be going away. If that happens, I can guarantee you, we'll have a COW!
I mean, we'll buy a cow.
And the FDA people aren't invited to our homemade ice cream party.