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Butternut Squash

Squashes and pumpkins, especially those with harder rinds, were often grown by settlers as they both provided great nutrients deep into winter and helped solve several problems for the time-stretched homesteader. They were part of a hallowed trio, called by Native Americans 'The Three Sisters.' Here is a great explanation from Renee's Garden:

Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the following years corn. Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops chances of survival in dry years. Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans. The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season, to build up the organic matter and improve its structure.

Corn, beans and squash also complement each other nutritionally. Corn provides carbohydrates, the dried beans are rich in protein, balancing the lack of necessary amino acids found in corn. Finally, squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds.

Cool, huh? Add to that the fact that corn and beans can be dried and stored for winter, and you have all sorts of problems taken care of in one fell swoop . . . weed suppression, corn stabilization, soil health, preservability, pest deterrent, and the technique even saved space, making the most of every square inch of tilled soil.

Ingredients

  • Butternut squash
  • Water
  • 2-3 tbls melted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste OR 1 tbls brown sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut squash in half and de-seed.

Cut halves again into quarters.

Place quarters, cut sides down, in a baking dish large enough so that pieces do not touch each other.

Add about a half cup of water.

Bake, covered, for about one hour.

Remove cover and continue baking until the pieces are tender, and the water is evaporated, about 1½ hours total.

Remove cover and peel off skin (carefully, it will be HOT!) with a fork or tongs.

Brush generously with melted butter.

Either sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste OR sprinkle with sugar and place back into oven for about five minutes, or until the sugar is melted and browned a little.

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