Wednesday, November 25, 2009

a new holiday tradition

Well this is the time of year where many family traditions have originated. Handed down from one generation to the next. It's why so many children, teenagers and adults alike look forward to the holiday season. Now we all have at least one or maybe several that always bring back a special moment that we shared with a favorite loved one or friend. Of coarse there is always a new joy of sharing it with that special someone in your family who is brand new to this type of grand treatment. To watch their reactions of excitement and joy, and how knowing you are passing on the torch so to say. These traditions can be anything from a special dessert to grandpa's homemade dressing or those special movies, parades, songs or a social function you might enjoy at this time of the year. Maybe just knowing that you will be able to share the holiday season with your family once again. No matter what your special tradition maybe our main goal is remembering the day, those we share it with and being thankful for what we have been blessed with.

With all of that in mind maybe a new tradition could or should be added to our holiday season. We all know or maybe are even feeling the effects of our struggling economic situation in our country this year. Due to many company closings, lay offs and cutbacks many once thriving citizens are finding themselves in a financial failure of their own. Our homeless rate is now advancing at a speed in which we have not experienced in our country since the great depression. Many of these folks were solid citizens in our nation for many years and many have been forced now to trying to survive on the streets. This also includes whole families too. The growing number of children now living on the streets is terrible. Sure these unfortunate people try receive local help, work, food and a place to stay or sleep but that is also a problem. These organizations and churches that are geared toward helping the homeless can only do so much. As with anything funds are slim for them too.

So what we should do this and every holiday season is try to donate a little, food, money or personal time to help those that are so much in need, Where hope for them is a fleeing dream. This doesn't have to be a huge type of contribution either. Drop off a few can goods at your local church or food drive, or contact your local coalition for the homeless and see what you might can do. There are many ways and places to give a little bit, but a little bit means that maybe a child is not going hungry tonight.

This is the season for giving thanks and for brotherly love, something that is becoming a dwindling commodity in our nation. If we all do just a small thing it will result in a major blessing to so many that are in need. It's amazing to what extremes we will go to help abandoned animals in this country but yet people seem to ignore the homeless problem.

So on Thanksgiving as you are preparing your turkey remembering to baste often so that it is tender and moist. Take time to give thanks for all you and your family have been blessed with for you never know how fast things can change. Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Classic Recipe for Acorn Squash
It has been some time since I visited our local farmers market. So I decided to do just that. The Leesburg Market, located in Leesburg
Lake County is held every Sat. from 8 am till 1.00 pm and located on Main street downtown. There is always a nice crowd of folks
enjoying the many different vendors and their products. With the added pleasure of live local entertainment coupled with a friendly atmosphere it's easy to find yourself in a relaxed mood.

My mission today though was produce so I found myself at the stand of 44 Produce. A local marketeer with a fine selection of veggies and fruit. 44 Produce has been in the area for several years and has a permanent road side stand located on Highway 44,
about a mile past Radio Road. Their vegetables and fruit always look hand picked with care and have excellent presentation. It is family owned and they are very willing to help you with any questions you might have. As I looked around I decided to purchase some Acorn Squash and Zucchini.

Personally I have never prepared or eaten acorn squash before. Even though I have found it to be intriguing in shape, color and size, similar to a gourd. So today I went for it. The folks at the stand didn't mind a bit in sharing how to prepare and cook this squash. It definitely sounded like something I could handle so I headed back home with my treasures and readied myself for a first time ever adventure of acorn squash as for the zucchini well that's like an old friend and we will definitely meet up later in the week.

The recipe in case you too have never tried this particular type of squash goes something like this.

Take one Acorn squash and cut in half Scrap out the seed section. Now add a pad of butter or margarine to both halves
Sprinkle well with brown sugar,
May also add some maple syrup if so desired
Add just a pinch of cinnamon to both halves, I found it really helped bring it all together.
Salt as desired
Now place in the oven on a pie pan and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes

When the outer skins of the squash are soft they are done.
Serve them up just as they are.

Acorn Squash in my honest opinion has a very unique flavor compared to other types of squash, maybe it isn't for everyone, but I found it to be a delightful
change. We welcome your comments on this unique squash.

The Gourds are upon us

The Gourds are upon us !

Well if you have been to the grocery store or an open air market lately, you have probably noticed that fall and the holidays are just about upon us. Why you might ask? That's easy, gourds are every where in all those cool shapes, colors and sizes. So why do you suppose we only see them around the holiday season? It could be because they are a fall harvested type crop. Coupled with their autumn type colors they are a perfect way to bring a touch of nature into our homes. We have latched on to them in a big way and that's a nice tradition to have.

There are two different groups of the gourd family. The curcurbita a day blooming plant which produces a yellow flower and the lagenaria a night blooming plant with a white blossom. Together they make up hundreds of different species of some of the coolest looking fruits found around the world. Gourds are not at all on the edible side of life as we know, so don't try eating your holiday decorations, not such a good idea.
Of coarse here's a little factoid
Did you know that pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon and honey dew melons are derived from the gourd family.
If you think about it you can see the resemblance.

So what do we do with gourds? It takes about 140 days from planting till harvest. That's a lot of vested time for something we can't eat. Well the truth is there are many different uses found around the world. From painted art objects, musical instuments to utensils such as bowls, cups, pitchers or ladles. Here in the good old USA we use them more for bird house, crafted art work and of coarse holiday decor.
The truth is that gourds have been around for a long time and there is a lot of history with gourds and mans utilization of them. It's still nice to see that with all of our modern inventions and technology gourds still have a place in our world.

So the next time your visiting friends or family over this holiday season, you might just see some interesting gourds being displayed on the kitchen counter or table top. They really do bring a sense of change and holiday spirit into the home.

If you've never tried them at your home well it really is a nice inexpensive way to decorate for the fall season, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Just check them out at your local grocery or farmers market. It can really be a fun adventure for the kids too.
Just a little non- food for thought.