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Thanksgivings & Bountiful Harvests

5 Nov

Isobel loves any and every holiday that comes her way, and now that Halloween is over she is excited to celebrate Thanksgiving. Only, she seems to forget what Thanksgiving is about from year to year. Eventually I’ll get into our cultural myth of the Pilgrims and the friendly Native peoples and the meal that was shared, but right now that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to her. In recent times, we celebrate the meaning of Thanksgiving as a literal “giving thanks,” but I think there’s also something to be said about the nature of harvest dinners and the simple fact that we are celebrating having enough food to eat. We take this for granted as a culture, but up until more recent times starvation, or the threat of it, was a part of every human life.

As the holidays are upon us and the season of giving is at hand, I’d like to take a moment to link back to a post I wrote last year about food pantry donations. In it are ways you can help a food pantry beyond donating an old can of green beans no one seems to want to eat. As we celebrate with feasts and family it’s impossible not to think about those who have neither. If a donation isn’t in your budget, the guide I wrote should help you find an inexpensive way to give that will help enrich a life nutritionally. Most of us have so much–it is a shame to allow others to hunger.

Recipe: Zephyr Squash Bake

14 Oct

I am always glad to add another recipe to my summer squash arsenal because this time of year people are innundated with squash and every where you go home gardeners are trying to relieve themselves of it. I love to turn them into fritters or add them to a soup and my mom loves to grate them and cook them with onions like you would hash browns. When my friend Jacob came to town awhile ago he brought a Zephyr squash from his garden, which looked like a yellow-green striped zucchini the size of a small loaf of bread, and it was so large I wanted to try to bake it like you would a gratin.

Summer squash is a general term which can be applied to any squash harvested in the summer, such as zucchini, patty pan, lemon zuke, etc, as opposed to the winter squash which are harvested in the fall and keep well during the cold winter months: pumpkin, acorn, and butternut. Zephyr squash is not required for this dish, it just happened to be what I had on hand. It worked well because of its large size.

After some pantry rummaging I decided not to do a gratin after all. I had some tomato sauce and half a block of jack cheese that I wanted to use up. This turned out more like a meat-less, pasta-less lasagne, so think lots of sauce and a bit creamy from the cheese. I wanted to use either ricotta or cottage cheese but I had neither, so I substituted Greek yogurt, which worked really well. It  separated a bit when cooked and so it created a ricotta-like texture that was really nice.  I served it with a green salad dressed with oil and vinegar, Parmesan toasts, and because I live with two carnivores, baked meatballs.


  • one large or several small summer squash, sliced into rounds or half-moons, seeds removed
  • half a yellow onion, sliced
  • about two cups of tomato sauce (jar of veggie pasta sauce will do)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, fat content up to you
  • one half cup jack cheese, or more, to taste
  • parsley for sprinkling


– Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

– Slice squash and put it in a 9 in x 9 in pan.

– Dice a yellow onion and add to pan.

– Pour tomato sauce over onions and squash. Mix gently.

– Add yogurt and mix again.

– Layer top of pan with jack cheese and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbling and squash is fork tender. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


This dinner was simple to put together and perfect for a late summer dinner.



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