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Native cooking column

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As we get into serious squash season, I have a couple of good old favorites. By "serious," I mean the meaty winter squashes like butternut and acorn. There are many other varieties of winter squash like Hubbard, turban, patty pan, spaghetti, etc. Butternut is my personal favorite. Baked or mashed, hot with a splodge of butter and a little salt and pepper is heaven. The acorn squash pulp is a little less dense, a little less rich than the butternut. Like the pumpkin, the acorn squash shell is a perfect serving vessel. Acorn squash shells make beautiful bowls for individual servings of relish, soup, even ground meat (venison mincemeat). For color, flavor and texture try acorn squash stuffed with tart cranberry compote.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sassamanesh (Cranberries)

2 acorn squash, medium or large
1-1/2 cups whole fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup maple sugar or brown sugar
3 teaspoons hazelnut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each squash in half, seed and trim the

bottom ends so that the halves will stand upright in a baking dish. Bake the squash in the center of the oven, skin-side up for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine cranberries, applesauce, orange peel, sugar and oil. Spoon this mixture into the squash cavities. Return filled squash halves to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Like many Native American foodstuffs, butternut squash can be cooked and presented in a variety of ways. To eat plain or as a preparation for other recipes, slice a large squash lengthwise, seed it and place it skin-side up on a cookie sheet. Roast it for 45-60 minutes in a 350-degree oven, until the flesh is tender and soft. You can fill the cavity with maple syrup, or other fillings, or mash the pulp with boiled or roasted turnips as a side dish. Butternut can also be peeled, cut up and boiled. Cut it into 1/2-inch slices and serve as a side dish sprinkled with bacon bits and crumbled blue cheese. Sliced and saut?ed onion is also a nice accompaniment with a light dusting of sage.

Buffalo Steaks with Herb Butter

6 buffalo fillet steaks (4 ounce each) cut 1-inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Fresh ground pepper

Heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Saut? the steaks until browned on each side, approximately 7 minutes. Transfer buffalo steaks to a serving platter and season with the salt and pepper.

Herb Butter:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon each of rosemary & thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

Spoon herb butter over the tops of the hot steaks and serve right away.

I was a convert from beef the first time I ever tasted a buffalo burger at a pow wow. It was perfect. I have had others since then that were a tad dry, but that is the cook's fault. People ask me what it tastes like and I tell them it's like the best beef you have ever had, rich, not gamy with nary an ounce of fat. That is also the beauty of buffalo; it is heart-healthy. Many people who have had heart attacks are banned from enjoying beefsteak. Many doctors actually recommend it to replace fatty beef in patients' diets.

Don't cringe, but here we go with the squash again! Like I've said before, you can never have too many squash recipes, or scissors or socks, well, you know what I mean. This recipe is great because you can vary it and not change the outcome - which is delicious.

Fresh Squash Skillet

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3 yellow summer squash
3 green summer squash
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon garlic oil (see notes & tips)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash, trim and slice the squash in 1/4-inch slices. Heat about a quarter cup of olive oil in a large skillet. Saut? the squash until brown on both sides. (You may have to do this in two steps if you have a lot of squash.) Remove from pan and arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the basil leaves, thin onion slices, tomatoes and vinegar. Salt and pepper all and let stand for about an hour or until the dish is nearly room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

Notes & Tips

Garlic oil can be expensive but it is so easy to make your own. Put a couple of cups of good olive oil in a jar or cruet and drop in three to four peeled garlic cloves. Shake once or twice and put aside for a few days. It will last for weeks in your fridge, but, you must remember to bring it to room temperature so it doesn't stay cloudy.

oAnother good stuffing for acorn squash I forgot to mention, is fresh cut-up apples with a little brown sugar sprinkled on. Bake the apples and sugar just like the cranberries in the Sassamanesh (cranberry) recipe.

o Leftover chunks of winter squash can be thrown into soups and stews to add another dimension to the flavor and to thicken them.

oWinter squash contain a great deal of vitamins C and A, plus potassium, fiber and beta-carotene. Squash is a good all over food just like its sisters, corn and beans. It is reputed to aid in preventing lung ailments.

oWhen traveling, I love to take pictures, especially of landmarks and special places where I am. A friend once told me to buy a lot of postcards. That way I'll have professional pictures of the places and can concentrate on people snapshots.

oToday, we need to travel very light. Leave the jewelry and hairdryers home. I found that I could get more in a small suitcase or carry-on bag if I roll clothes. They shake out without creases.

oWhen I stay in a city more than a few days, I must find all the thrift shops and used-book stores. One time I went crazy and bought way too many books to lug home in my suitcase. My hostess said to ship them to myself, which I did. Why didn't I think of that!

oFile goodies:

I live in my own little world. But it's okay

... they know me here.

The most precious thing we have is life,

yet it has absolutely no trade-in value.

When I was just getting used to yesterday,

along came today.