Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Second and Third Sisters

Speaking of squash...
This is a butternut.  Weighs 24 pounds...and we have a few more.

As I mentioned yesterday on the blog, Native Americans counted on the Three Sisters as staples for their diet: squash, corn (or maize), and beans. So do MM and Elora.
If we had to, we could survive nicely on only these three to provide a balanced diet of carbohydrate, protein and vegetable fats and sugars.  All three grow very willingly; domestic animals eat the leaves and stocks; in cooking, all can be flavored in a variety of ways, adding natural herbs such as sage and wild onion and wild garlic; they are nutritious and it's hard to ruin them in the cooking process.  Too bad most people these days have no idea how to prepare them.
Count the ways they can be eaten: Corn can be ground for tortillas, johnny cakes, fritters;  kernels can be soaked and added to soups and stews; or cured for hominy to make grits; beans are soaked and cooked in twice the volume of water as the volume of the beans, then set on a back burner to cook for several hours.  For faster cooking, I use the pressure cooker, but a wood stove is ideal for slow-cooking a pot of beans...add onions, (and if you are flush consider adding a little bacon, too) and you have most of a meal; add squash which offers a sweet-tasting vegetable that can't be beat. If you don't want it as a vegetable, make a "pumpkin" pie for dessert.
Here's the Third Sister:  35 pounds of dried beans grown this past summer and winnowed three days ago in the brisk wind we often get in the fall.  The gusts blow away the chaffe, and leave the heavier beans behind, clean and ready for the pot. 
Cost for a Three-Sisters meal?  Hmmmmmm.  Caculator handy?  Pennies, even with amortizing the cost of growing.  Most expensive part is the energy cost of preparation unless you have access to a woodstove or even solar. 
Bon Appetit!

1 comment:

  1. Elora -- Never have I seen butternut squash as large as you have. My question is do they get the dark spot as they increase in size? And, do they keep they're good sweet flavor at this extra large size? I grow butternut but never anything close to the size of those in your photo. Is there a secret to growing them that large? -- barbara