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Winter Squash


The change of seasons is upon us here in British Columbia, and that means new autumnal vegetables are taking the place of summer’s harvest. Where we once had beautiful, soft-skinned zucchini’s, we now have large, hard-skinned winter squash. Winter squash are varieties of squash that have different looks and flavours, but they are all very healthy for you. Check out your local farmer’s market this week to pick up some winter squash. They make for great side dishes, as well as soups, and provide a pleasant autumn aesthetic to any kitchen.

Winter squash varieties that have a sweeter flavour are red kabocha, butternut, sweet dumpling, and blue hubbard squash. Mild flavoured winter squash varieties are buttercup, acorn, and spaghetti squash. Squash with more earthy flavours are kabocha (green), delicata, and red kuri squash. Red kuri has a chestnut-like flavour.

Squash are a very healthy food. They are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and manganese. They are a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, tryptophan, and various B vitamins. They are also low in calories.

You can bake the flesh of the squash to make a delicious and hearty side dish. It is also quite easy to prepare. You preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. As a helpful hint, put the whole squash in the preheating oven for about 7 minutes to soften the gourd, making it easier to cut the squash. Once you remove the squash from the oven, using a towel because it will be hot, you cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp with a large metal spoon. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush with one tablespoon of canola oil and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Place the squash on the parchment paper, flesh-side down. Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the squash over and put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until the flesh is soft. When you turn the squash over, it is optional to add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of brown sugar to the flesh-side to sweeten the squash.

Like pumpkin seeds, you can roast winter squash seeds to make a delicious and healthy snack. Simply place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them at 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes.

Squash can be kept through the winter if certain conditions are met. For one, you must buy a near-perfect squash. This means the squash has no bumps or bruises, and the stem is still attached. They store best in dry air. They do not like cold or damp conditions. If stored correctly, most squashes will survive into the spring.

If you are in Vancouver and looking to eat some squash, you have a couple of options. East is East has two locations, one on West Broadway and another on Main Street. They serve a sambar (butternut) squash soup. Bandidas Taqueria on Commercial Drive has many squash options, including the “Stella”, “Dani’s” enchilada, and “Sophie’s Poblano.” Try either of these restaurants for delicious squash options, or, better yet, buy some local squash from the farmer’s market and try experimenting in the kitchen with this delicious autumn crop.


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Radishes are an easy crop to grow and cultivate. They are a good beginners crop, and should be attempted if you are new to gardening. Radishes grow best in a cool climate, making it a very successful crop around the lower mainland. The ideal air temperature for radish growth is between ten and eighteen degrees Celsius, making late spring and early autumn the best times to plant and harvest radishes. They grow rapidly and, in proper conditions, will only take three to four weeks to mature. They can take up to eight weeks to mature in colder temperatures. Since they mature so quickly, radishes can be continually planted and produced through their growing season. Plant more radishes every two weeks to continue their harvest. It can also be beneficial to thin your radishes to about an inch apart, this will allow the radishes to grow larger. Considering how quickly they mature, do not worry about pulling some radishes because you can always plant more while the temperature is still right. They are also great accompaniment plants. Their strong odour will repel many pests from your garden, such as cucumber beetles, tomato hornworms, and squash bugs. Radishes work well with other vegetable crops, and they seem to thrive when grown in close association with cucumbers, lettuce, peas, and chervil.

Radishes are consumed throughout the world. They are an ideal addition to salads because of their crunchy texture and various colours. You will find radishes that are red, white, yellow, purple, and even black. Radishes are low in calories, with only sixteen calories in every one hundred gram serving. Also, in the same size serving, radishes provide you with eighteen percent of your daily vitamin C intake. Normally only the swollen taproot is eaten, but the entire plant is edible and the leaves are sometimes steamed as a leafy green or used in soups and stews. The taproot itself, although usually eaten raw, can also be steamed to make a tasty vegetable side dish.

If you are in the Vancouver area, there are many restaurants mixing fresh radishes into their dishes. Fable, on West 4th, has radishes in their green salad. España, on Denman Street, has a beet, radish, and labnah salad and they also include radishes in their roast pork belly and octopus appetizer. For a more unique, radish centered dish, try Happy Valley Seafood Restaurant, on West Broadway, which serves fried radish cakes.

You can buy farm fresh radishes at nearly any farmer’s market around British Columbia right now. The UBC farmer’s market certainly has fresh radishes, as it is where I took this article’s photo this past weekend. You can also buy radish microgreens that are grown by SkyHarvest, Canada’s only certified organic urban farm. These microgreens are found at Choices Market, which has locations in Mount Pleasant, Kitsilano, Yaletown, and Commercial Drive. Local farms are also growing radishes right now. Stop by Cropthorne Farm in Delta, Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm in Chilliwack, Howard Wong Farms in Matsqui, KBF Nursery and Farm Market in Abbotsford, Mary’s Garden in Surrey, or Ralph’s Farm Market in Langely to buy fresh radishes directly from the farmers.


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Corn is ready to be harvested through summer and into autumn. It can be found at local farmer’s markets across British Columbia. Corn is delicious and healthy, and it has quite a history within our shared culture. Try buying corn now from the farmer’s market and freezing it so you can have the taste of summer corn all year round. It makes as a great side dish when combined with zucchini in a sauté.

Corn is a staple in nearly all diets across the world. It has a long history of being eaten by the Native Americans, and the first record of sweet corn comes from 1779 when the Iroquois gave the vegetable to the European settlers. Sweet corn, the type we usually eat off the cob, helps increase our bodies level of ferulic acid, which has cancer-fighting properties. Sweet corn is picked while still immature, in its milk phase, unlike other field corns that mature into the dent stage where they become dry. To tell if a piece of sweet corn is really fresh, simply pop one of the kernels. If the juices come spraying out, that is the sign of truly fresh sweet corn.

Unfortunately, once corn is picked, it has a very short window of freshness. However, corn freezes very well and you can easily freeze the corn you buy at the farmer’s market. It only takes a couple hours and, if you make enough, it will provide you with that sweet, fresh flavour of summer corn all through the winter. All you have to do is bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and put six ears of corn into the boiling water for three minutes. Fill a large stainless steel mixing bowl with water and ice (about 10 cubes). When the corn is done, move it from the boiling water to the ice water. Once the corn has cooled, cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife. Take the kernels and place them into freezer bags. Try to get as much air out of the bag as you can, and then put the corn into the freezer. Simple as that! Repeat these steps until you have as much corn as you want to save.

A fantastic side dish that is worth trying to make is the corn and zucchini sauté. This recipe is simple to moderate in difficulty, but worth the challenge for its unique taste and its rarity as a side dish. It is not commonly seen, but works with nearly any main course. The recipe is as follows:


Corn and Zucchini Sauté

2 tablespoons butter

1-tablespoon olive oil

1½ cups small-diced sweet onion

1-teaspoon kosher salt

1¼ cups small-diced zucchini

2 heaping cups of fresh corn kernels (cut off the cob)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1-teaspoon ground cumin

1-teaspoon ground coriander

2-3 tablespoons fresh mint

¼ lemon

Freshly ground black pepper

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are light golden and shrunken, another 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is slightly shrunken and almost tender, about 3 minutes. Add the corn, garlic, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the corn is tender but still slightly toothy to bite, 3 to 4 minutes. (It will begin to intensify in colour, glisten, and be somewhat shrunken in size, and the bottom of the pan may be slightly brown.) Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mint, a good squeeze of lemon, and a few generous grinds of pepper. Stir, let sit 2 minutes, and stir again, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, or lemon. Serve warm.



Corn and zucchini sauté recipe adapted from the Summer 2015 Cookfresh magazine (page 88)

Corn freezing technique adapted from the Old Farmer’s Almanac blog, “Celeste in the Garden” (

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