Category Archives: Jon’s Veggie Blog

Weekly blog posts about the veggie’s in your box and other produce related fun.

Something New About Carrots

We all know that eating well takes a lot of discipline. Here some helpful facts about carrots to motivate that choice between pizza and the fresh veggies in your box!

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According to the CDC 11.5% of adults in the U.S. suffer from cardiovascular disease. That’s 26.5 MILLION people.

Luckily, a new 10-year study from the Netherlands has some encouraging news. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study tracked the diet of 20,069 men and women. Researchers categorized food by color, and found that those who ate “orange/yellow” colored vegetables on a regular basis saw a reduction in heart disease by 32%!

So, what’s in carrots that is so heart healingly wonderful?

Fiber

How, you may ask, does fiber benefit the heart? Well, There are two types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both are necessary for your body, but soluble fiber lowers LDL cholesterol, reducing plaque in your arteries and making it easier for blood to circulate through your body. One≥ cup of chopped carrots contains, roughly, 14% of your daily fiber value.

00279Vitamin A

A commonly held belief is that carrots will help you see well. If you’re like 75% of most Americans, you need glasses. While eating a carrot won’t give you night vision, it definitely will help the overall health of your eye. What makes carrots so good for your eyes is the extremely high content of vitamin A. And I when I say high content, I mean high. One cup of chopped carrots has 427% of your daily value of Vitamin A. Crazy, I know, but true. When eaten, vitamin A is converted to retinol, which strengthens the membrane around your eyes. This membrane helps light travel through your eyes and gets the correct message to your brain about what you’re seeing.

00311Antioxidants

Carrots have so many different kinds of antioxidants you need a chemistry degree to pronounce all of those words (hydroxycinnamic acid and anthocyanindins, for example)! What’s important to remember is that antioxidants help your body dispense of free radicals, which helps decrease cancer.

Moral of the story is: eat your carrots! They’re really tasty and they might just help you live longer. That’s enough to get me to start eating more of them. They are tasty raw, so you can really get all the nutrients from them. They also go really well with ranch.

Happy Eating!

Presidents’ Day Pie

Today is Presidents’ day, which I think is a great excuse to make a pie. Apple pie is synonymous with every patriotic American holiday, which means that it is quite a cliche and an often over done recipe. I still feel like making a pie, but I really don’t want to eat another blah apple pie.

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This one looks really good, but it still tastes like sticky cinnamon.

There are lots of options for jazzing up your apple pie. Lots of recipes will zest things up with ginger, cheddar, dried cherries, caramel, etc. They are tasty but even those seem over done. So I decided to try to come up with something myself.

I thought about what kind of apple pie I did want to make and decided to try to adapt the Bourbon Glazed Pears recipe I made a few weeks ago into a pie filling. Except of course with apples. Here is what I came up with

Jon’s Bourbon Apple Pie

Ingredients:

4 large apples (I used the Braeburn apples from my box and two Organic Granny Smith apples to add some tartness).

2 Tbsp Butter

6 Garlic Cloves

2 Tbsp Bourbon (Optional Substitution: 1Tsp vanilla extract + 2 Tsp water) (really don’t recommend substituting)

1 Cup Ricotta Cheese

1/3 Cup White Sugar

2 Tbsp Sea Salt

2 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Dash Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1 Egg Yolk

2 Tbsp Honey

Crust

I used this crust recipe and it worked well Perfect Pie Crust.

Directions

Make your pie crust first because it needs to chill in the fridge for an hour. It is really pretty fast to make though. Preheat your oven at 425 degrees.

1. Core, slice and peel the apples, finely chop 4 garlic cloves

2. Melt butter in a frying pan on medium high heat

3. Remove pan from heat, and add bourbon or the substitute. It will pop and splash so watch out! Add garlic and return to heat.

5.  Cook 1 minute

6. Add apples and cook for about 5 minutes. The apples were a lot more resilient and didn’t cook down nearly as quickly as the pears had, which is what I was hoping. I really didn’t want the apples to get soft, just to pick up the flavors of the garlic and bourbon.

7. Put the apples and all juices from the pan into a bowl. Add 2/3 cup ricotta cheese, 1  cup white sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt, 1 Tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 dash fresh ground black pepper and mix up with your hands.

8. Roll out the bottom crust and place it in the pie pan. Place the filling in the pan and put the top crust on. Cut some holes in the top crust and brush on the egg yolk. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 425 degrees.

Topping

9. Mix up 1/3 cup ricotta cheese, 2 Tbsp honey 1 Tsp apple cider vinegar and 1/2 Tbsp sea salt and place in the freezer for about an hour.

Once the pie is golden brown on the top and it smells really good in your house it’s done. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Add a dollop of your honey ricotta and enjoy. I didn’t leave my ricotta in the freezer long enough and it melted very quickly.

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Overall I enjoyed it. The consistency was good. Not too soft with a pleasant crispness from the Granny Smiths. The garlic was surprising and almost distracting at first, but though I might reduce how much I use in the future, I don’t think it was too overpowering. As you might suspect, with that much ricotta this is a very rich piece of pie. It had a lot of creaminess to it but seemed to be lacking a fresh flavor. I will definitely use the recipe again but I will probably adjust the filling somewhat and I think I will add fresh crushed chocolate mint to the chilled ricotta. For all that, it was definitely different than any apple pie I’ve ever eaten and my family and friends enjoyed it as much as I did!

Hope you enjoyed your presidents’ day and a pie.

Lots of Layers

To know one’s onion is to know one’s stuff.
– Old English Idiom

It is COLD outside in Washington! I hope everyone has been staying safe and warm in this snowy cold weather.

OnionYou might be wondering how, in these temperatures, can anything edible grow? However, there is a root vegetable that has endured many climates to become a foundational staple of almost every diet in the world: The ONION.

Onions are incredibly resilient and durable, which is why they are considered to be one of the first cultivated crops in the world. The Onion has been around so long, (approx. 5000 years!) horticulturists aren’t exactly sure of its origin. They hypothesize it originated in central Asia, Pakistan, and/or Iraq but really no one is sure. For it’s time, it was quite the progressive vegetable.

The Egyptians believed its anatomy represented eternal life, and included the onion in many feasts and altars to their gods. Egyptologists have even found them in mummies tombs, including Ramses IV.pile of onions

Early century doctors from all around the world used the onion to cure all sorts of aliments. Pompeii’s own Pliny the Elder used the onion to cure a plethora of ailments, like toothaches, insomnia and mouth-sores.

The Greeks made their Olympic Athletes drink onion juice before competitions, and rub onion oil over their bodies. They believed it made them better athletes because it lightened the balance of the blood. Interesting for this years winter Olympics, onions are a very common vegetable in many traditional Russian dishes.

876096_77650520You would be hard pressed to find a country that doesn’t use onions and the United States and Washington state are no exceptions. Here in Washington we grow a large portion of the countries onions and some of the best onions. In fact onions and a particular species of onion have put the Washington city of Walla Walla on the map.

So enjoy some onions this week. They have been a healthy staple for thousands of years of human history and are still delightfully tasty today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Health and Beets

Here at Pacific Coast Harvest, we care about what we eat. One of the biggest reasons we support local organic produce is not only to foster sustainable practices, but because it is simply better for you.

Towards that end, this week I’m focusing on something new: nutrition.

We know our customers are invested in being informed consumers. We hope you’ve appreciated learning about other veggies we’ve featured in the past. To start us off here are some good things to know about beets!

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Beets have a history dating back to the Middle Ages, where they were primarily used for medicinal purposes. It wasn’t until the French started cooking with them in the 1800s that this root vegetable began to become a popular food.

There are quite a variety of beets, as you have probably seen in your boxes, the most common being golden or red beets. No matter what the type, beets are a super vegetable that if included in your diet, has a myriad of health benefits.

·      For starters, it cleans your liver, which cleans your blood by filtering out toxins and nutrients.

·      Beets also contain about 14% of the manganese you need in your diet. This mineral will keep your brain sharp and your nervous system functioning well.

·      Thirdly, betaine. It’s incredible. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “the growing body of evidence shows that betaine is an important nutrient for the prevention of chronic disease.” Beets contain around 175mg of betaine, which decreases harmful substances in your blood vessels, and thereby promotes a healthy cardiovascular system. Who doesn’t want that?

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·      Got hypertension issues? Try beet juice. According to the American Heart Association, consuming around 500 milliliters of beet juice will quickly reduce hypertension. The effects can even last up to 24 hours!

·      Lastly, for all you runners out there, you’ll love this next fact. Saint Louis University published a recent study that eating beets can actually make you run faster. They found the nitrate released in cooked beets actually helped some runners shave off 41 seconds in the last mile! If you’re curious, here’s the link to the actual study: http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(11)01948-4/abstract

Now that you have been thoroughly schooled on the advantages of beets, you might be wondering, “but how do I make them not taste like dirt?” For starters, check out Marshall’s Recipe and try our Roasted Golden Beets and Apple Salad.

Enjoy, and CONGRATULATIONS SEAHAWKS!

Planning your Garden

It is that time of year. Time to start thinking about your garden. I hope that you are as excited as I am about growing some of your own organic veggies! Towards that end I will be writing 4 blog posts over the next 4 months to help you plant your own spring garden and grow some carrots.

Though it may come as a surprise to some, now is the right time of year to start thinking about this years garden. A garden needs to be prepared before you can plant anything and now is the time for that preparation since you can plant your first spring crop in the next 3 or 4 weeks.

Lettuce Rows

Plan Your Garden Beds

The first thing to do is to plan out your garden beds. There are many ways to lay out a garden. If you don’t currently have a garden bed I recommend reading the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. You can also read about this method without buying the book here. If you already have a garden or garden beds now is the perfect time to do any repairs or landscaping, such as making new beds or paths.

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Preparing Your Soil

Once you have your garden bed you will need to clean your bed and prepare your soil. If you are like me and a lot of other gardeners, your garden bed still has weeds from last fall and the winter that are growing quite happily. Removing your weeds before you plant and even before you turn over your soil will save you time and headache later on.

After all of your weeds have been removed it is time to attend to your soil. There are lots of options when it comes to soil. If you have soil already in your beds, this is the best time to turn your soil over and add organic mulch or fertilizer. To turn over you soil simply use a shovel to turn over the top 8 to 12 inches of soil.

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If you don’t have soil there are plenty of places to get good organic soil. You’ll find most everything you need at your local hardware store. Local nurseries are also a really good source of organic soil and fertilizer. I prefer to mix already composted steer manure from my local hardware store into my soil as I am turning it over. Composted steer manure can be purchased in bags from any hardware store, it’s organic and easy to handle.

Organic Fertilizer

Though I prefer steer manure there are many other kinds of organic fertilizer. You can learn all about different organic fertilizers and mulch on veggiegardener.comorganicgardening.com, and gardeners.com.

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Once you have turned your soil over and added your steer manure or preferred organic fertilizer, all that is left to do is rake your soil out until it is even and flat. Then your ready to plant! At the end of February it will be time to plant carrots and lots of other spring vegetables. Have fun working in your garden!

Bosc Pears and Things

2014 has arrived and with it Pacific Coast Harvest has been making more deliveries than ever before. We have expanded into a new and larger workspace and are working hard to make 2014 the best year we have had so far. Over the past year we have tripled the number of deliveries we do each week and we hope to do the same this year as we continue to bring the best local produce to our community.

One of the several ways we hope to make this year even better than the last, is by expanding our online communication with our customers. So keep an eye out for new things showing up on our Website, here on Jon’s Veggie Blog, Marshall’s Recipes, and Facebook!

To get this year started right, let’s take a quick look at one of the Washington grown fruits in this week’s box, Bosc pears.

Bosc Pears

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Bosc pears were first brought to the us in the early 1830s. Trees were first planted on estate orchards where the first harvest on record was made in 1836. Pears moved west as the country expanded, finally settling in the Northwest where the climate and soil conditions have allowed the Bosc pear to thrive. Oregon and Washington now grow the majority of Bosc pears grown in the US.

They are a fall and winter fruit, with their season beginning in late September and ending in April or May. Unlike many kinds of pears however, Boscs are sweet and flavorful even in the early stages of ripening, which makes them quite tasty even if the flesh isn’t yet soft.

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The Boscs you get to enjoy this week were grown here in Washington by Bluebird, Inc. Founded in 1913 Bluebird, Inc. is one of the state’s oldest growers co-operatives and has now been growing pears for 100 years.

Pears, especially Boscs, really don’t need any preparation to eat. They are great eaten fresh off the tree or right out of your box. But if you want to try something a little bit more fun with your pears this week here is a recipe you might like. I made it last night, take a look at how it went!

Bourbon Glazed Pears

Ingredients:

2 Pears

1 Tbsp Butter

1 Garlic clove (optional)

1 Tbsp Bourbon (Optional Substitution: 1Tsp vanilla extract + 2 Tsp water)

 Because all our produce is picked fresh and delivered right away, like you, I don’t have this week’s Bosc pears yet. I picked these organic Bosc pears up from my local grocery store. Not as good as the ones that will be coming this next week, but still really tasty!

Directions:

1. Core, slice and peel the pears

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2. Finely chop the garlic cloves

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3. Melt butter in a frying pan on medium high heat

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4. Remove pan from heat, and add bourbon or the substitute. It will pop and splash so watch out! Add garlic and return to heat.

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It really did crackle and pop. Be careful because the butter is really hot.

5.  Cook 1 minute

6. Add pears and cook for about 5 minutes, until pears are soft and shiny.

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My pears were a little under ripe so they took about 10 minutes to cook instead of 5. Just wait for them to be soft and glistening.

Then enjoy! I had mine with roasted vegetables (golden beets, potatoes, red onion, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper) and a kale salad with clementines and a balsamic vinaigrette.

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This was great as a side dish but I bet it would be really good on pork chops. I also would love to try these pears over some vanilla ice cream!

If you would like to learn more about any kind of pears visit: http://pears.usapears.org/

Hi, I’m Jon

As you may have noticed PCH has started writing some blog posts over the last month or so. What hasn’t been done yet is to introduce the blogger to you. My name is Jon and I should probably tell you a little bit about myself.

I grew up with John Tom and Mike, went to high school with Reece, and have been involved with PCH off and on since it started. I have also been involved in other businesses with the same guys and only have great things to say about them. They really are some of my best friends in the world. Back when the company first started I worked for PCH packing boxes and doing deliveries and learned a bit about farming and delivering organic produce. It was a great experience; a lot of fun and hard work with some of my best friends.

photo_5 - Version 2A couple months back the guys approached me about possibly writing for PCH’s blog as a way to provide you the customer and other interested people with some more information about how the company works, the produce we deliver, organic farming, sustainability, healthy eating, and the impact of local farming and local eating on the community. I jumped at the opportunity and have since then written a few blog posts. Over the next few months we will be expanding this content so that we can bring you more, and more interesting, information on what we do, how we do it and why we think it is important both for you and for the community.

So a little about me. I grew up gardening and have always loved it. My family grew a fair amount of our years produce in our backyard, which was a great place to learn, play, and grow up. I can remember sitting on our back porch, after a couple hours of picking green beans, snapping beans and putting them in bags to be frozen for the winter. I have fond memories of growing rhubarb for homemade pies, of eating sweet peas and cherry tomatoes right out of the garden, and digging up potatoes. Living in the city and not having a yard of my own, I haven’t been able to do much gardening in a few years and that is something that I regret and really miss. So when the opportunity arose for me to write for PCH I was excited that at least in some way I would be connecting again with growing vegetables.

I hope you have enjoyed the first few posts. I know I have enjoyed learning new things about vegetables and PCH. There is a lot more to come and I hope you keep reading.

kiwano

To make sure that this isn’t the most boring post ever here is a picture of a Kiwano melon and a recipe that I made with the vegetables in my box about a week ago. It may not be the most typical roasted vegetable recipe but we had friends over, cooked WAY more than I thought we’d eat and finished it in no time flat. So if it is a big hit with a crowd that seems to eat primarily pizza I think you’ll enjoy it.

Oven Roasted Veggies

This can be made almost entirely out of the root vegetables that you receive this week.

The amounts are essentially up to you. Make what you will eat, but it keeps well for leftovers too!

Ingredients

  • 1 Turnip
  • 1 Sweet Onion
  • 1 cup yellow potato
  • 1 rutabaga
  • 1 or 1 cup red beet
  • 1 green apple
  • ¾ cup Butter
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Preheat oven to bake at 400 degrees.
  • Cut all of the vegetables and the apple(s) into 1” pieces and put in a large bowl (you could put them anywhere you want but a bowl seems easiest)
  • Melt butter and coat vegetables
  • Mince the garlic and add it to the vegetables
  • Mix everything together (easiest with your hands)
  • Spread out vegetables onto a cooking sheet/broiler pan/large flat bakable surface
  • Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper
  • Bake for about an hour (I’d check it at about 40 minutes)
  • When it’s done everything will be tender enough to easily stick with a fork.

And there you go. Roasted vegetables. The different kinds of root vegetables offer a variety of textures and flavors and the onion, beets, turnip, and apple add some natural sweetness. It is definitely one of my favorite ways to eat seasonal root vegetables.

Where the Food Comes From

To give everyone a better idea of how PCH is able to bring you fresh local produce we thought we’d write a few blog posts on our entire process from farm to table. This first week let’s take a look at the farms we work with and how we are able to select the highest quality produce each week.

As you know PCH works closely with several farms to put together the box you get every week. Because we are working with small local farms, no one farm is big enough to grow all of the vegetables every week. Instead, each week, farmers from each of the farms hand pick which crops will be ready for harvest that week and give us a call on Thursday or Friday and let us know what they can bring the following week. Once all of the farmers have let us know what’s ready to be picked, Reece chooses a balanced box of the best the week has to offer. He picks staples that everyone is used to cooking with and is also always excited to be able to offer a few other vegetables that people don’t eat as often.

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Then we post the list for what’s in the next week’s box on our website so that you can take a look and do some adding and substituting. Often the items we put up as options for you to add are either some of the crops that farmers had an abundance of or that multiple farmers had ready for harvest in the same week. Sometimes we are a little late posting the info on the next weeks box. This is because the farmers had to take a little more time to figure out exactly what would be ripe at just the right time. We think that extra time is worth it to make sure that we have produce that is the best it can possibly be.

In the morning the day before each delivery, the farmers harvest the next day’s produce and get it ready for delivery. Then on the day of delivery our farmers come and drop off just that day’s crop by early afternoon. Our guys then pack your boxes usually starting just an hour or two after the produce arrives. As soon as the boxes are packed our drivers are off to bring you produce as fresh as possible.

Golden-beets-583pJust to help put that in perspective produce (even the organic produce) that you buy at the grocery store usually has been out of the ground for about a week, sometimes almost 2 weeks, before you buy it. Because grocery store produce has to travel much farther and in much larger quantities larger farms actually harvest food a few days before it is really ripe so that it will ripen while it is being shipped to the distributor and then to the grocery store. The stores then hold the produce in the back for a day or two until they have space to display it and until it has ripened enough. Though that method works alright, the produce will never taste as good as it does when it is allowed to ripen just the right amount before it is picked. This is also why produce in a grocery store always seems to be just a little too ripe or not quite ripe enough.

The whole process gets hand picked and carefully selected produce from the ground to your house in 36 to 48 hours. It’s hard to get food much fresher than that unless you’re growing it yourself!

 
Farm-photo-3-10-10-300x225Our website has some good information on our farmers but we hope you will take a further look at them. Not all of our farmers have web pages but here are the links to the ones that do.

http://www.vanvurenfarm.com/

http://www.tahomafarms.com/

http://sanfordsfarm.com/

http://www.stemilt.com/

Tidbits about Turnips

In honor of this tasty winter vegetable, here are some fun things you probably didn’t know about turnips!

Turnips were first cultivated in India almost three thousand years ago for the oil in their seeds. They were a common crop in Greek and Roman culture where they cultivated as a staple food for the working class. Because of their pungent flavor and associations with the lower and working classes, most upper crust Romans refused to eat turnips. Those who did were known to flavor them with cumin and honey.

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There is evidence to suggest that a large portion of turnip cultivation took place in western Asia and Europe where many of the turnips cousins, such as mustard and radishes, can be found. In the 18th Century farmers in England discovered that they could keep their livestock alive year round by growing winter crops of turnips for them to eat.

Turnips are one of a number of vegetables that can be left in the ground all winter long and then harvested the following Spring or Summer. They are good to eat the whole year round but they are usually sweetest between November and January. Turnips are a very hearty plant that can be grown in lots of kinds of soils that other vegetables wouldn’t and can thrive in weather that would kill more particular plants. They are perfectly suited to be grown in Washington!

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In addition to being tasty turnips are really good for you. The roots are high in vitamin C, the greens are high in vitamins A, C and K, and the whole plant is fat and cholesterol free making it heart healthy. Though turnips are a starchy vegetable they have only a third amount of the calories as potatoes, which means that even if you’re on a diet you should be eating turnips.

Here are two of my favorite ways to cook turnips:

Turnip greens

Cut two strips of thick pepper bacon into ½ inch pieces.

Cut the turnip greens into 1 ½ inch pieces.

Fry the bacon in a pan on medium heat until it is mostly cooked and the bacon grease covers most of the bottom of the pan.

Put the turnip greens in with the bacon and cook for 5 mins or until the greens are tender.

Sprinkle with a little ground black pepper and enjoy!

– for a special holiday meal try putting a tablespoon of real maple syrup in with the bacon.

Turnip roots

Put 3 cups of peeled and chopped turnips in a pan with ¼ cup of chicken stock.

Simmer until the stock has almost entirely evaporated and the turnips are tender, which should be about 15 minutes.

Gently stir in 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.

Gently stir for another 6 to 10 minutes until the sugar has melted and has formed a sticky coating over the turnips.

Serve and enjoy!

Get to know your squash

This week our boxes have butternut squash in them and that gave us the idea to spend a few minutes talking about squash and butternut in particular.

 

There are lots of different kinds of squash, many of which have been around for thousands of years. Squash was probably first cultivated in Central and South America over 8000 years ago. There is debate about whether cultivation of squash and other forms of agriculture spread from Central America up into eastern North America or if agriculture and squash cultivation arose independently in eastern North America. Either way, by the time European explorers landed in the Americas Natives were growing maize, beans and squash.

 

Often referred to as the Three Sisters, the trio of vegetables highly benefits from being grown and eaten together. When grown in the same space the maize provides a structure for the beans to climb and natural shade for the squash. The squash in turn shades the ground, keeps out weeds and acts as natural pest control. When eaten together they compose a complete carbohydrate and a good source of protein. In addition, the beans return nitrogen to the soil which is necessary because maize and squash draw significant amounts of nitrogen out of the soil when they grow. Thus, the Three Sisters are naturally sustainable, both for the earth and as a food source.

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Butternut squash

Butternut squash is a fall and winter squash that was originally developed in Massachusetts. It has a rich orange color which darkens as it matures. In some places in the world it is actually referred to as a type of pumpkin. It can be eaten young when the skin is still soft or after it matures when the skin is much thicker and though still edible is far less pleasant to eat.

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The insides of the Butternut squash are composed of a rich flesh and a seedy pulp. The seeds are edible raw or roasted and can be quite tasty. Butternut squash flesh when cooked is creamy and dense with a natural sweetness and pumpkiny flavor. It is often roasted or baked by simply removing the seeds and pulp, lightly coating the inside in cooking oil and baking.

How should I cook my squash this week?

Here is my favorite way to cook butternut squash:

Cut your squash in half lengthwise and clean out the insides. With the pulp now removed from both halves score the flesh inside the squash lengthwise with 3 or 4 half inch deep cuts. put a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of brown sugar in each half. Cover the open side of the squash with aluminum foil and place rind side down, foil side up, on a cooking sheet. Place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

To test if your squash is done remove the foil and stick the flesh with a fork. The squash should be tender and soft, much like a cooked sweet potato.

Let your squash cool for 5+ minutes. Remove the foil. You can now eat the squash in any number of ways but my favorite is to mash up the insides with a fork or a spoon, mixing in the cooked butter and sugar and then to simply eat the squash using the rind as a bowl. Enjoy!