I got to work as soon as I learned the Iroquois legend about the Three Sisters. I became curious and couldn’t wait to do the same thing. Although it was a little late into the summer I went on and planted beans, squash, and corn anyway just like the Iroquois tribe did. I thought it would be a wonderful Thanksgiving idea to be able to give thanks for the nature’s bounty that came from my own new vegetable garden. I chose Lima Beans, Zucchini or Courgette, and White Corn.
It was normal for the Native Americans to plant different kinds of squash, beans, and corn together. They called these three plants Three Sisters because they took about the same time to mature and helped each other in the process. The corn stalks offered support for the bean vines to climb. The bean plants took the nitrogen out of air that was needed for growing. The squash leaves provided shade for the ground, prevented weeds from spreading, and deterred animal pests. Lima Beans and Zucchini or Courgette were the only vegetables out of these three that I was able to harvest in sufficient amounts to make more than one dish.
First “sister” I worked with was squash. Unfortunately, this time, I had to purchase it. I had realized later that “squash” actually meant fall squash. Oops! I wanted to make something fast and easy that even kids can get engaged in doing. Then I remembered how my mom simply sliced pumpkins and baked them in the oven until they became soft with a beautiful dark orange color and an aroma that spread quickly around the apartment. She even roasted the pumpkin seeds. We were eating them when we gathered around the kitchen table during the cold days to talk.
So, last night, I decided to build on this way of having squash and made a mixture with honey, and walnuts. I did not want to get into sophisticated recipes with measuring calories. You can’t ask for more natural foods than squash, honey, and walnuts. I was very delighted with my results. I named it Happy Honey Squash Nut. Just like a lot of my cooking, it is a combination of things and common sense.
Here’s how it went. I used two good size acorn squash that I cut in slices about one inch wide to cook faster. You can cut the squash in half or thicker slices. I lightly rubbed them with extra virgin olive oil, arranged them on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil, and placed in the oven on the middle rack. I set the oven to bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour until they got soft.
I smashed about 7 oz. of walnuts (which was a little too much) on a cutting board using a meat tenderizer. I placed a sheet of plastic wrap on the board, covered the walnuts with another sheet, and folded their edges to form an envelope to keep them from spreading and making a mess.
In a separate bowl, I mixed the smashed walnuts, honey, and cinnamon. Because the mixture was pretty thick I added a couple of tablespoons of water.
I warmed up the mixture in the microwave for about a minute to loosen it up a bit and make it easier to dip each slice of squash into it.
I placed the coated slices on a plate afterwards. They tasted better when they were warm because they could be covered again with the delicious syrup and not get dried.
I am sure you can get very creative with all kinds of squash. You can substitute or mix the honey with maple syrup or other syrup of your choice. Pure vanilla essence, a splash of rum, rum essence, and pumpkin spices are other flavor suggestions. The amount of your ingredients can be adjusted according to your taste. You can improvise any way you want and trick people, especially kids, into getting valuable vitamins and proteins when they don’t like squash.
Don’t forget your four-legged friends!
…like I did. I couldn’t have a delicious desert without inviting Kasper. I cooked another acorn squash in the microwave, scooped out its pulp, chopped it very finely, and mixed it with some peanut butter. I refrigerated the leftovers. I do the same with sweet potatoes and peanut butter. I make daily small portions that I place in sandwich bags in the freezer. My dog goes crazy for this snack!
*** The legend of the Three Sisters
Here’s a version of this legend for those of you that have never heard it before and you don’t grow vegetables on a regular basis. For a more detailed story, perfectly suitable for children, check this website http://www.iroquoiswhitecorn.org/about/the-three-sisters.
“The earth began when Sky Woman who lived in the upper world peered through a hole in the sky and fell through to an endless sea. The animals saw her coming, so they took the soil from the bottom of the sea and spread it into the back of a giant turtle to provide a safe place for her to land. This Turtle Island is now what we call North America.
Sky Woman had become pregnant before she fell. When she landed, she gave birth to a daughter. When the daughter grew into a young woman, she also became pregnant (by the West wind). She died while giving birth to twin boys. Sky Woman buried her daughter in the new earth. From her grave grew three sacred plants—corn, beans, and squash. These plants provided food for her sons, and later, for all of humanity. These special gifts ensured the survival of the Iroquois people.”
My next posts will present dishes with dried beans and corn. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the slide show with the Happy Honey Squash Nut.
Source: http://www.birdclan.org/threesisters.htm and wikipedia