Thursday, October 11, 2012

Something Old, Something New

Pumpkin, Sweet Potato Squash, Turban Squash
I enjoy food. I like new recipes and prefer to visit restaurants with adventurous menus. But there are plenty of foods in markets and shops that are foreign to me. More than one aisle in the supermarket is devoted to ethnic foods from a number of regions in the world. So I decided to make an effort to learn about and try one new food a week. Here are a few of my recent "explorations".

My first purchase was from a local farm store. I buy pumpkins and butternut squash here but had not tried a turban or sweet potato squash.

Verdict: I cut the sweet potato squash in half, brushed it with olive oil and roasted it until tender. The flesh was sweet and the skin edible. I would buy it again.

The turban squash was the toughest gourd I have ever tried to cut open. I feared losing a finger in the process. Finally I just put the halves in a slow cooker and left it while I was at work. It was not as sweet as the sweet potato squash and due to the dangers in preparation, I will not get another one. They are pretty to look at though for a fall decoration.

We visited a farmers market in Carp, Ontario just outside Ottawa. I bought a fennel bulb and a small basket of patty pan squash. I don't recall seeing these tiny summer squash before.

Verdict: Fennel smells and tastes like licorice and I do not like that flavour. We cut it lengthwise in thin slices, brushed them with oil before roasted in a hot oven. The flavour is interesting in small amounts but I wouldn't buy it again.

We roasted the patty pan squash in a hot oven as well after cutting them in half. I popped one in my mouth when they were done and we ended up eating all of them right away. Delicious! They have sweet summer squash flavour but are not watery at all.

Fennel and Patty Pan Squash
I pass through the Six Nations Reserve when I visit Ruthven Park for bird banding. Gasoline is taxed at a lower rate on the reserve so I always fill up on the way home. I saw a sign for lyed corn and cornbread at the gas bar and decided to buy this traditional native food. I asked the young woman at the counter how she would prepare the cornbread. She told me she was a picky eater and did not eat it but her father cut it in slices and boiled or fried it. 

Lyed corn is similar to Mexican nixtamal and the cornbread tastes like masa which is used to make corn tortillas. The Mohawk cornbread has added kidney beans and the round of dough is boiled in water until it floats to the top of the pot. While it may not win a blue ribbon for looks, it is surprisingly tasty when heated up.

The native American "three sisters" are corn, beans and squash and aboriginal people frequently planted them together. I served the Mohawk cornbread with turban squash and bean stew for a locally traditional meal.

Verdict: I would buy this again but would freeze half the loaf. I am interested in trying lyed corn soup which is much like Mexican posole.

All these foods were locally grown or produced. We have a few fall market days left before the snow comes and I will look for new local foods before trying some imported items.

Do you enjoy any unique or unusual foods?

Historic St. Paul's Anglican Church at Six Nations Reserve


  1. The various squashes intrigue me but I'm with you on the fennel. I look forward to someone else cooking in Costa Rica this winter.

  2. I really like the last picture. That church nestled among the trees is very pretty.

  3. We have been in Carp for 7 years now, and haven't made it to the Carp market -- been to Carp but not the market.

  4. I have used fennel before, and agree with you on the taste. Perhaps it needs to be paired with something stronger tasting than squash.
    I used it in a salmon potato chowder.

    Recipe for salmon chowder here

  5. @KGMom, Was it really 2007 when you did your soup posts? Wow, time marches on. Now that I have had fennel I agree that it would be far better in that soup than on its own. I take back my "never try again". Thanks for the reminder.

  6. I wish I were more adventurous like you Ruth. One taste of that fennel would have made me wince. I hate the taste of licorice. :c) The squash sounded really interesting though.

  7. We slice fennel in thin strips and mix in strips of apples and onion. Spices to taste and chill. Excellent side dish for salmon.
    We also cut it in half and barbeque it (real charcoal) which cuts the anise flavour.

  8. @SLD- I take it you eat it raw then as a salad. I really have to visit and taste Maria's cooking!

    @Jayne- Licorice is a love or hate flavour. Fennel doesn't taste as nasty as licorice allsorts though.

  9. I like all kinds of squash, so I was interested to read how you prepare the different varieties.

  10. I don't think I've had squash yet this Fall.I'm going to look for a new variety today when I go shopping. Nice photos too.

  11. How nice of you to share your food try-outs with us. I have looked at that patty pan squash many times and never bought it. I thought it would taste horrible. I don't really know why, but now I will certainly give it a try!
    Sweet potato squash is good. I did try it once, but usually fall back on the old favourites - butternut and acorn.

    You are brave for trying that turban squash. Maybe one day I'll see what it tastes like.
    Anyway - nice pics. I too, love the church nestled among autumn trees.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.