All it takes is a little cool weather, and I'm back in the kitchen again. It must be a hibernation thing.
I called my sister, Linda, in Florida. She spent the whole weekend cooking, too.
In the event you, too, are in the mood, I'll share this weekend's discoveries. One's a quickie, and one takes some time. Both are squash.
My childhood response was based entirely on not liking the sound of the word, since I never even tasted it until I became an adult. Frankly, it's not bad.
Acorn squash is a fall favorite now appearing in a variety of colors. Along with traditional green, you can get white and gold.
Gold is great for beginners. It is really tiny. One whole squash makes two 1/2 -cup portions. (You can sample one without making a major commitment.) It goes from microwave to table in it's own container. It provides fiber, B vitamins, beta carotene, and a little calcium. Here's the recipe.
Golden squash: Select a firm, fresh-looking squash. Wash and pat dry. Pierce skin with sharp knife. Microwave 3 minutes on high. Turn. Cook 3 minutes. Remove and let stand several minutes. Cut in half from stem to point. Scoop out seeds and strings. Season each half with 1 teaspoon butter or margarine and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon sugar.
Butternut squash is pale tan with a long, wide neck and a slightly bulbous bottom. It is an extremely rich source of beta carotene, equal cup-for-cup to cooked carrots. It has a rich, creamy texture which makes it ideal for the following soup recipe, adapted from "Hot, Hotter, Hottest" by Janet Hazen.
Don't be afraid. It's not very hot. Pungent is more accurate, since the heat comes from a hearty -- of ginger.
I've decreased the fat, reduced the sodium and thickened the consistency so it comes out like split pea soup.
& Ginger squash soup Serves six.
2 pounds butternut squash
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon butter
3 14-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup chopped fresh ginger
sour cream thinned with water
Cut squash in half length-wise, seed and place on shallo baking dish. Add 2 inches of water. Bake 25 to 30 minutes in a 425-degree oven until tender. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, scoop pulp from skin, into a bowl. Reserve.
In a large pot, cook onion, garlic and spices in olive oil and butter, over medium heat, 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add ginger, squash, 2 cans chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.
Puree the soup in batches, using a blender. Strain and return to saucepan. Add remaining broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, drizzled with sour cream.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.