Buy winter squash varieties while prices are lower.

Native Cooking: Time for Squash, Chestnuts, and Some Cranberry Quick Bread

Dale Carson

I absolutely LOVE fall! It must love me too because it keeps sending these beautiful days and soft breezes. I have a lot of things to tell you about making the most of fall foods. The first is buy lots of winter squash when and where you see it. Prices are low now and you can count on butternut and acorn squash to have a long shelf life, other winter varieties as well.

It is also time to be “nutty!” I picked a lot of chestnuts off the ground last year from our trees because they can be cooked in the microwave. In the past I would pick them and give a lot away to friends in their raw, unroasted state. A lot of people like them in that condition to roast or use in their own recipes, so I still gift a lot of them.

To microwave, crosscut them as you would to roast in the oven and set the timer for 68 seconds. One cup of shelled chestnuts contains 310 calories, 4.6 grams of protein, 67.4 grams of carbohydrates, 726 milligrams of potassium and 43 grams of calcium.

Bake and freeze as many quick breads and other good foods as you can, like chili, quiche, pies—use ice cube trays to freeze mint, pesto or other small amounts of herbs in water.

Other fall treats are the aromas, like apple cider, cinnamon, baking bread. We cannot do it anymore, but the smell of burning leaves was a sure sign of the season change. Hunting season is nearly upon us, so get your wild turkey and venison recipes ready.

For now, here is a recipe for a quick bread you can freeze and use as a gift in a month or two. Walnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts or hazelnuts are great in this bread.

Cranberry Quick Bread

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

1 orange, grate the rind, squeeze enough juice to make ¾ cup of liquid, add the grated rind to this juice

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg

1 cup raw sugar

1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1 cup chopped nuts (see note above)

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

Grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan, set aside. Heat the rind, juice and butter enough to melt butter. In a large bowl add the cranberries, nuts, egg and sugar to the orange mixture. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, mix well with orange mixture before pouring into greased loaf pan and bake for one hour. There should be a crack on the top to indicate doneness. Let cool for at least 15 minutes to make cutting easier.

Many Algonquin speaking people call cranberries SASSAMANESH. In the Abenaki language the word for cranberries is “POPOKWAMOZIAL.” In fall, the Wampanoag people of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard and Mashpee, Massachusetts celebrate this bouncy berry. Cranberries contain a lot of vitamin C as well as a property that helps fight urinary tract infections. In everyday cooking they add color. Craisins, which are simply dried cranberries and are widely available are nice additions to trail mixes, pemmican, quick breads, as well as by themselves as a snack.

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking,” “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.” She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.

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