Editor's note: This column originally appeared in the Sept. 20, 2018 edition of Lovely County Citizen.
Sadly, the summer bonanza of fresh veggies is beginning to slow down. Peppers and okra are still plentiful but the local tomato is harder and harder to find, as is fresh basil. Summer squash is still to be had as are just a few of the fall variety that is just beginning to show at the farmer's market. Local is best.
With the weather cooling a little, I fixed an acorn squash for dinner the other night. The recipe was simple. Wash, slice, clean and bake in orange juice (fresh squeezed) at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes with slices of oranges arranged over the top along with a tent of foil. I added a pinch of sea salt, a touch of pepper and a dusting of ground ginger after taking it out of the oven. Heaven was achieved on Earth!
Soon we will be getting a large selection of fall veggies. Acorn, butternut, Hubbard and spaghetti squash will be plentiful and cheap. Storing them in a cool yet dry area at home will keep them fresh for a long time. Preparing them for the table is easy and the finished product is not only tasty but also chock full of vitamins and minerals. Acorn and butternut are just a little higher in nutrition than some of the other varieties but all are a treasure trove. If you donít add lots of butter or brown sugar (which you don't have to) these guys are amazingly low in calories.
Iím a strong advocate of choosing foods that match the season. You remember the problem some years ago with spring onions? Some folks in a wintry northern state got sick after eating some that were shipped in from another country. Apparently, an all-natural fertilizer, and you know what I mean, wasnít fully washed off the produce before cooking and serving. The bigger picture is not just about washing produce, but that green onions ó also known as scallions or ďspringĒ onions ó arenít part of the foods in our North Country during the winter. When we try to change the natural patterns, the smallest things can cause big problems. And the difference in flavor ... well, think about the difference between a peak summer garden tomato and the supermarket ones found in February.
As with any fruit or veggie, be sure to wash it first and for soft veggies, eat raw or lightly steamed. Hard veggies like the Acorn squash need to be steamed or baked till tender. Staying in season, local to your area is a good thing to do. Local foods are fresher and reflect what we have to deal with here in our little part of heaven.