Thursday, November 10, 2016

Butternut Squash Soup, and Roasted Squash, and the Full Beaver Moon / Supermoon, by Margaret Ullrich

Finally, the election in the United States is over!
It was very stressful for many.
I’m hoping that all the stuff was just Donald Trump telling the voters what he knew they wanted to hear so that he would be elected, but that he will end up being a good president.


A couple of weeks ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s Pumpkin Soup.
Now that Halloween is over, the stores are giving more space to other winter squashes.
A friend asked if the other squashes can be used in a soup, too.
Yes, they can!

Butternut squash is also known as butterscotch squash, butternut pumpkin and gramma. It tastes like pumpkin, so you could also use it in some of your favourite pumpkin recipes. It is a good source of vitamins A, C and E, as well as fiber, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.


Roasting is a popular way to prepare a squash.
The easiest way is to wipe the skin and place it in a pan or on a baking sheet.
Bake it at 400º F for about an hour (times vary a bit because the size varies).
The squash will become soft. 
Just slice, remove the seeds (they’re in the bottom ball part) and serve.

You could also cut the squash in half lengthwise, place the two sections in a pan and lightly brush the cut surfaces with cooking or olive oil.
Or you could put the pieces in a pan, cut side down, and add some water. 
Bake for about 45 minutes or until soft. 

Leftovers can be be mashed and used in casseroles, breads, and muffins.
These recipes would also work with other winter squashes, such as acorn squash.
My favourite is the butternut because it has a nice sweet taste.
Acorn squash could do with a bit of sweetening. 
Maple syrup is nice, as is brown sugar.


Butternut squash can also be grilled.
Place a large sheet of aluminum foil in a pan.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and place a section, cut side up, on the foil.
Spread a layer of spinach and crumbled feta cheese over the cut surface.
Place the other piece cut side down on the filling.
Tightly wrap the squash and cook on the grill (or you could bake it in the oven).


If you have the time, a butternut can be peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes.
Then place the cubes in a roasting pan that has been lined with foil.
Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and toss the cubes.
Sprinkle over them 2 cloves garlic, minced, and salt and pepper.
Roast in a 400º F oven 25 - 30 minutes, until squash is tender and lightly browned.


Trivia… 
Squash is technically a fruit, because it has seeds, but it is used as a vegetable.


Hints:

Sage and thyme, or nutmeg and cinnamon, also go well with squash.
The seeds are edible, and can be either eaten raw or roasted.
The skin can also be eaten, but toss the knobby cap bit at the end.

Peeling a butternut is a hassle. Here’s a method:
Lay the squash on its side and cut the ball at the bottom off. 
Cut the top from the longer part so you have two cut flat surfaces. 
Stand the tube on one flat end. 
Cut slices of skin from top to bottom. 
Cut the bottom from the large ball. 
Stand the ball on one flat surface. 
Following the contour, cut slices of skin off, from top to bottom. 
Cut in half (top to bottom) to expose the seeds.
Scrape the seeds out and discard or set them aside to be roasted.
  

Leftover cooked squash can also be frozen.


About this soup recipe…
Leftover cooked squash can be used.
If it was roasted it would also have a stronger squash flavour.

You can also adjust the amount of garlic, more or less, and add a pinch of curry powder.
Or, if you’d like it to be a bit hotter, add cayenne powder and a little nutmeg.

The soup can be served hot or cold.


                        Squash Soup

Peel, seed, and cube
1 medium butternut squash

Chop 
1 small onion
1 stalk celery (optional)
1 medium carrot (optional)
2 medium potatoes or sweet potatoes

Melt in a large pot
2 Tablespoons butter
Add the chopped vegetables and the cubed squash.
Cook 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Add
2-3 Cups chicken or vegetable stock (enough to cover the vegetables)
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in
2 Cups chicken or vegetable stock 
Scoop some of the soup into a blender and puree to make it smooth.
If you want the whole soup smooth, repeat until the soup is the way you want it.
If it’s too thick, you can add more stock.
Season with
salt and pepper

Reheat soup, if necessary.
Served with a big dollop of sour cream and crusty bread, such as Ma’s Hobz.


About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

November 12-14 — North Taurids Meteor Shower are expected to peak at this time, with the best viewing direction south 12 – 2 a.m.; however, the light of the waxing gibbous Moon will interfere with visibility. The Taurids are actually two annual meteor showers created by the comet Encke. They are named for constellation Taurus, where they are seen to come from in the sky.

November 14 – At 6 a.m. EST, the Moon will arrive at its closest point to the Earth (known as perigee) in 2016.  Two hours later, at 8:52 a.m. EST, the Moon will officially turn full. This is a true “supermoon” and is the closest full Moon since January 26, 1948! November’s Moon is traditionally named the Full Beaver Moon. 
Watch this short video to see how it got this name.

November 15 – Look to the east in the evening hours to spot the star Aldebaran and the Pleiades Star Cluster above the full Moon. Viewing might be a little difficult because the nearly-full Moon will be bright. Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation Taurus, The Bull.

November 17-18 — The Leonids Meteor Showers peak. Best viewing time is between midnight and 5:30 a.m. local time. This meteor shower, named for the constellation Leo, is typically one of the more exciting showers of the year, producing an average of 20-30 meteors per hour. But the light of the waning gibbous Moon may squelch visibility.

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