food crumbscooking, food preparation, recipes, nutrition, food science


Cucurbita (Latin for gourd) is a genus of herbaceous vine in the gourd family.  Basically squash is the fruit of the gourd family plants. The varieties of squash are divided into summer squash and winter squash.  The plants are thought to have been in the Americas before humans and likely they originated in southern Mexico.

For the most part, summer squash have thin skins. They are more perishable than winter squash an requires less time to cook.  Winter squash have harder, thicker skins and seeds. Their flesh is firmer and requires longer cooking time. They are less perishable and can be stored for longer periods of time.

There are many types of squash. If you confuse the different types, perhaps the following descriptions will help.



Squash-COCOZELLE-2        Cocozzello squash is a long, round slender fruit – 8-10 inches when harvested. It has dark green skin striped with lighter green.






squash-crookneck-2         Crookneck  is a yellow, golden or white elongated fruit curved at the one end. It has a “bumpy, yellow skin and yellow flesh.







Scallop  or Pattypan squash is a small round and shallow shape with scalloped edges resembling a toy top or flying saucer.  It can be yellow,              green or white and usually 2-3 inches in diameter.  It is also know as sunburst, granny, custard, or button squash.






      Straightneck  squash has yellow skin and yellow or golden fruit with a stem edge that narrows.  It has a straight neck, unlike the crookneck.




squash-veg marrow1


Vegetable Marrow is a long, elongated squash.  (The Spaghetti squash is a winter variety of Vegetable Marrow.)




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Zucchini squash is a cylindrical fruit, dark or light green (also there is a yellow variety).  It is usually harvested when about 10-18 inches long.









Acorn Squash  –  Winter squash with a pointed apex with longitudinal grooves.  Acorn squash are small, dark green – to orange squash and has a      rubbed rind and yellow interior.






Butternut Squash – Winter squash, They grow about 12 inches long and bell-shaped.  they have thin butterscotch colored skin and a sweet,                  nutty, flesh.









Calabaza Squash – or West Indian Pumpkin squash – popular in the Caribbean.  Sweet, juicy, golden fruit. Taste and texture  are similar to                  butternut. It has a tough, tan or orange rind.






Delicata Squash – 1-2 pound fruits with pale, yellow skin with dark green stripes – looks like a cucumber.  It has a creamy flavor and texture               and some say it tastes  like sweet potato. It was popular in the early 1900’s.







Hubbard Squash  –  8-20# fruits.  Rind is orange to grayish blue and has yellow flesh.  It is sweet.







Kabocha– pumpkin shaped, Japanese squash.  Each piece is about 2-3 pounds.







Pumpkin Squash – This round squash has bright, orange skin.  Each weights about 2-8 pounds. It has a mellow sweetness and dense flesh.





squash-spaghetti-2 - CopySpaghetti Squash or Vegetable Marrow Squash.  It is a winter variety of the Vegetable Marrow squash.  It is an oval shaped, yellow squash with stringy fruit that when cooked, separates into spaghetti-like strands.  It is very mild and each fruit weighs 4-8 pounds.






squash-ornamental gourds


Ornamental Gourds – Non-edible – for decorative purposes.










Confused about rhe various cuts of meat?

Perhaps the following charts will help.












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Meat cookery methods are divided into dry-heat and moist-heat methods and a combination of the two.  Since it has little effect to making meat tender, dry heat can be applied successfully only to tender cuts of meat.

Cuts which are less tender may have dry heat applied for part of the time if the flavor due to browning is desired, but they must have moist heat applied for the major part of the cooking time.

Dry heat methods of cooking meats are broiling, pan-broiling, roasting or baking and frying.

  • The terms “roasting” and “baking” are used synonymously and apply to the method of cooking meat by the dry heat of an oven.
  • Broiling consists of cooking meats before an open fire such as a gas flame, live coals or electric element
  • Pan-Broiling is a variation of broiling. Heat is applied by means of contact with hot metal. Pans are heavy metal and are heated until they smoke slightly.  The surface of the pan is slightly oiled with a piece of fat meat.
  • Frying may be pan-frying or deep-fat frying.


Braising  or pot roasting is a combination of dry and moist heat.  It is usually applied to less tender cuts.  Dry heat for browning purposes may be applied by pan-broiling, baking or frying.


Moist- heat methods are steaming, stewing and simmering, sometimes called “boiling”

  • Stewing consists of cooking meats in liquid at simmering temperatures.


The term “fricassee” is applied to braised meats which have been cut into small pieces before cooking

High temperatures, whether dry or moist heat, tend to toughen meat and can cause shrinking during the cooking.



`Meat is “done” and ready to eat when cooked to an internal temperature:

BEEF: Rare – 135-140 degrees F   Medium – 145-158 degrees F  Well-done – 160 –165 degrees F

Veal – well done – 165 – 170 degrees F

Lamb, medium – 155 – 158 degrees F,                Lamb, well done – 165 – 170 degrees F

Cured Pork, well done – 165 – 170 degrees F     Fresh Pork, well done – 185 degrees F







Food Supp5

food supp-3  With so much information in the news today about nutrition, what is one to believe?

Eat healthy food, Take your vitamins, fats, calories.  People are spending a lot of money on food supplements, powders, potions, and vitamin and mineral supplements.

The best answer has been and remains today – is to eat a balanced diet from the basic groups in the amounts recommended –

We are all well aware that inadequate intake of nutrients can lead to deficiency problems. In our effort to avoid deficiency problems, many of us have turned to supplements.  Can too much also be a problem and the answer, with many nutrients is Yes!

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We know that too much carbohydrate, protein and/or fat can cause overweight. But there can also be other problems.

Too much protein can cause stress on the kidneys and dehydration.

Excess vitamin B6 can cause nerve problems,

Excess Niacin can cause flushing

Excess Vitamin C can cause kidney stones,

Excess folic acid may mask a B12 deficiency, especially in people over 50.

Excess Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in body tissue and can accumulate to dangerous levels.  Too much Vitamin A can lead to birth defects, excess Vitamin E may increase the risk of hemorrhaging.  Excess Vitamin K can lessen or reverse the effect of blood thinner medicines and prevent normal blood clotting.

Excess intake of minerals can also be problematic.

Excess Selenium can cause reversible balding and brittle nails and give a garlic odor to the breath and cause intestinal distress, weakness and slowed mental functioning.

Excess  potassium can cause an irregular heart beat.

Excess Zinc can cause gastrointestinal irritation (upset stomach), diarrhea and nausea and can cause copper deficiency.

Excess calcium intake can interfere with kidney function, cause kidney stones and constipation and interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc.

Excess doses of antioxidants can turn into pro-oxidants.

Natural foods contain components that interact in highly complex ways to benefit ones overall health.  We need adequate vitamins and minerals and all nutrients to function optimally, but extra vitamins and minerals do not give a competitive edge.

Through much research the government has established the Recommended Daily Dietary Allowances (RDA) –the amount per day of each nutrient, that an individual should consume to maintain adequate health and the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). The Tolerable Upper Level is the highest level of a daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no health risks. Above the UL there is potential for increased risk.

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Many persons believe that that our food supply is not nutritionally adequate and that they should take extra vitamins and minerals to supplement their diets. The various nutrients from natural foods that we ingest perform biochemical reactions in the body that supply energy, growth and the needed chemical reactions for the body to function. These nutrients are found in the plants we eat and are created by the plants themselves. Minerals are natural substances that plants absorb from the soil.  If the soil is deficient in a needed mineral, the plant fails to thrive or yields small fruits and vegetables with a poor appearance. Depleted soil does not yield depleted plants; depleted soil produces no plants.  Thus all tomatoes or apples or whatever have the same nutrient content.

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Other’s believe that they need additional nutrients because they are very active, they exercise daily or are in athletics.  All individuals need adequate vitamins and minerals to function optimally but extra (beyond the recommended amount) vitamins and minerals does not give a competitive edge.  Vitamin supplements do not enhance performance, increase strength or endurance, provide additional energy, or build muscle in healthy active people.   Athletic persons and persons who exercise more also eat more and if eating a balanced diet, they do consume adequate nutrients to do their activity. Eating 1200 calories per day of “natural” foods will supply the recommended daily allowance of most nutrients for most individuals.  (Deficiencies are more likely to occur in sedentary persons who eat very little, such as elderly persons who eat very little and thus do not consume their daily recommended allowances of all nutrients.  Also persons with anorexia or who eat an inadequate vegetarian diet may not consume all needed nutrients.)  Vitamin and mineral deficiencies do not develop overnight but rather over months or years.

Thus consumption of additional supplements, protein enhancers, energy bars, vitamin and minerals do not enhance activity and health but may be dangerous.  In addition, many foods today are fortified with additional nutrients.  Breads, milk, cereals, etc.  have extra vitamins and minerals added.   The combination of eating whole foods, fortified foods and supplements  raises safety concerns.  Eating fortified foods while taking supplements can cause a person’s diet to exceed the safe upper limits and potentially lead to a toxic buildup.

There are some times when engineered sports drinks and food bars may be of help such as for high-level endurance cyclists, marathoners, triathletes, and persons who exercise intensely and who may have a sensitive stomach but these are best taken under the guidance of a Registered Dietitian. Each person’s body reacts differently and the use of supplemental products depends on the type of sport or activity and the timing to consume – several hours prior to the activity or a couple hours or immediately or during – speak with a trained Registered Dietitian.   The best rule is eating natural foods that are as close to the natural form as possible to improve and maintain health, prevent disease, optimize healing and enhance performance.

However if one decides to take a supplement, know the tolerable upper limit of nutrients and check labels and add in the content found in natural foods and fortified foods that one is also eating to be certain you are not exceeding a safe intake of nutrients.







soil,300    We all know that one of the secrets to having healthy and bountiful vegetables from the garden is to have great soil! But how do we know if the soil is great?  Well of course       one way is to Look.  If the plants look healthy and are producing an adequate or bumper crop, the soil must be good.  If not, one of the problems may be the soil.  (Of course      there must be ample sunshine and water, also.)  To learn if the soil is adequate, one can test the soil.

There are test kits one can get at garden centers or one can contact the local Cooperative Extension Office and they will test your soil – this could take a few days. The                 garden   testing kits are usually a testing meter with a probe that one puts into the soil and one can then read the results. Soil testing is usually a testing of the pH level.  Soil     pH indicates a plant’s ability to draw nutrients from the soil. PH is measured on a scale of 1-14.  7.0 being neutral. Below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline.  Most plants prefer a nearly neutral soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7.2.   Test in various locations of your garden, as soil can differ from one area to another.

To correct:  for acidic soil – add lime; for alkaline soil – add sulfur or gypsum.  Lime can be added anytime of the year but it does take time to be effective. So autumn, winter or spring are preferred times.  Can use hydrated lime, ground chalk or limestone.   To reduce pH add decaying humus from a compost pile or add ammonia sulfate and flowers of sulfur.

I bought a new digital device to test my soil.  I tested in three different locations and my readings were all 7.0.  I am thinking that may not be correct as my plants are not all that great.  So perhaps I am doing something wrong, perhaps the probe is not clean or my soil sample is not wet enough or is too wet.  Guess I will be trying again!

In addition to pH, other factors in plant health as mentioned by Rodale’s Organic Life* is the soil structure and workability – is the soil clumpy or powdery; the amount of organic life present such as ground beetles, centipedes, spiders, earthworms, etc. -there needs to be enough organisms to ward off pests and disease and to make nutrients available for plant growth; and enough water.






soil tester















  • Rodale’s Organic Life (www.rodale’







1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Slice one small baguette (5 ounces) diagonally into sixteen 1/2 inch thick slices.

3. Brush both sides with a total of 2 tablespoons olive oil.

4, Bake on a baking sheet until golden, about 8 minutes.

5. Half 1 ripe avocado lengthwise and remove pit.  Scoop flesh into small bowl.

6. Mash with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.

7. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

8. Spread on toasted bread.

9. Top with 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered.


Gr beans-1

TWO-BEAN SALAD   (serves 4)

3 Tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

coarse salt & ground pepper

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup minced red onion

shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving  (optional)

1.  In large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

2.  Cook green beans in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.  Drain in a colander.  Pat dry with paper towels.

3.  Add warm green beans, cannellini, and red onion to dressing in bowl.  Season with salt & pepper.

Toss well.  serve.

Garnish with Parmesan, if desired.




4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each) cut crosswise into ½ inch strips.

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Course salt and pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely chopped

4 plum tomatoes, cut into ½ inch dices

½ cup reduced fat sour cream

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, toss chicken with 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken.  Cook, tossing occasionally until opaque throughout, 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat remaining tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion.   Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon paprika, and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes and ¾ cup water.  Cook until saucy, 4-5 minutes.  Return chicken(and any accumulated juices) to skillet.  Stir in sour cream and cook just until heated (do not boil)).  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve

Serve over cooked egg noodles tossed with a little butter and fresh or dried dill.





Zucchini-Honey Bread

(2 loaves (12 servings/loaf)

3 cups all purpose flour                                      2 large zucchini

1 teaspoon baking powder                                 2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda                                       1 ½ cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt                                                      ¾ cup honey

1 tablespoon ground  cinnamon                         1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup chopped pecans                                          2 teaspoons vanilla



  1. Combine first five ingredients;  stir in pecans.  Peel Zucchini, if desired; Shred enough zucchini to measure 2 cups.  Combine zucchini and remaining ingredients; add to flour mixture;  stir until dry ingredients are moistened.
  2. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes;  remove from pans and let cool on wire racks.





            (Serves 8)


3 pounds (5-7 ripe pears, peeled and cut into ¾ inch piece

1 Bag (12 ounces) frozen mixed berries

2 Tablespoons flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread berries in a single layer and thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make Oatmeal Topping  (opposite)  Refrigerate.

In large bowl, combine pears with lemon juice, thawed berries, sugar, and flour;  toss well.

Put in a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

Sprinkle evenly with chilled topping.

Bake until fruit is tender and topping is golden, about 45 minutes.

Cool at least 20 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, if desired.




1.  In a large bowl, mix together:

3/4 cup flour

¾ cup light-brown sugar, packed

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Pinch of salt

Stir in ½ cup rolled oats.


2.  Using a pastry blender or knife, add 4 Tablespoons cold butter (cut into small pieces) into flour mixture until large, moist clumps form.