Posted on 05 September 2014.
Winter squash, one of the Three Sisters
(part three of a three part series)
by Vicky Babcock
Long before the Earth was populated by people, there were the Sky People. This particular tale, of the Three Sisters, speaks of Sky Woman, who, because of her curiosity, fell through a hole in the sky while peering through to the world below, a world of endless sea. The creatures of this world saw her fall and swiftly scooping soil from the sea bottom, they placed it onto the back of a giant turtle, that she would have a safe place to land. This “turtle island” remains today and is what we now refer to as North America.
Now Sky Woman was pregnant at the time of her fall and, when her time came, she gave birth to a daughter, who grew up and in turn gave birth to twin boys by the West Wind. She died in childbirth and Sky Woman (or the woman’s children by some accounts) buried her in the new earth. Three sacred plants sprang up from where she laid—a gift from the Creator. These gifts were corn, beans and squash, the sustainers of life. They became known as the three sisters and were the three major crops raised and held sacred by Native Americans. They were grown together as three sisters, each sustaining the others.
The third sister, squash, provides ground cover for her siblings, crowding out weeds and helping to retain moisture in the soil. It was an important ingredient to a balanced diet, providing nutrition and fiber as well as caloric content. Native Americans consumed the seeds as well as the flesh of this prized fruit.
Winter squash is harvested and eaten when it is mature, as opposed to summer squash, which is eaten in the immature stage. In its mature stage, winter squash can be stored for longer periods. Winter squashes are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C and provide significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 as well as dietary fiber. While about 90 percent of winter squash’s total calories come from carbohydrates, a number of studies suggest that certain starch related components in squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties. A cup of winter squash, cooked, provides about 80 calories, comparable to a single medium apple.
Winter squash has been consumed for over 10,000 years. However, one of the most popular winter squashes, the butternut, is a relative newcomer to the plate. Charles Leggett has been credited with the development of this squash in the mid 1940’s. With its buttery flavor, its relatively thin skin and plentiful flesh, the butternut has quickly won the hearts of most squash lovers. Other varieties include, acorn, buttercup, hubbard, Lakota, pumpkin and spaghetti. There are over 40 varieties of squash available in the United States and countless subspecies.
Look for winter squashes in mid to late September and in early to late October. These tasty treats are a great way to round out your diet!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup butternut squash, cooked and pureed*
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
For the spiced glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or cut a clean brown bag to fit and butter lightly.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add cold butter, working into mixture using a pastry cutter or two knifes until it resembles coarse crumbs.
In another bowl, whisk together squash puree, milk, egg and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough forms.
Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Roll the dough out into a 10- by 7-inch rectangle. Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut into 4 even pieces crosswise, making eight rectangles. Cut each rectangle into two triangles, making 16 scones.
Place scones onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk as needed; set aside. For spiced glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and milk. Whisk until smooth; set aside.
Cool baked scones for 10 minutes and spoon on glaze before drizzling with spiced glaze.
Allow glazes to set before serving.
*Butternut squash can be washed and baked whole in a 400ºF oven. Remove the skin while still warm and scoop out the seeds. Leftover squash from this recipe can be mashed and served with a little salt and butter or frozen for later use. Yum!
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