Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dessert or side dish?

Tonight's dinner was roast chicken.  The thing I love about such a simple main dish, is getting to play around with more flavorful side dishes.  In the fall I can't get enough of the winter squashes available.  One of my favorites, a new variety to me, is the delicata squash.  Usually with the delicata or acorn squash I love cutting it into rings, drizzling with olive oil and maple syrup and sprinkling with Mexican spices like cumin and chipotle powder.  Oh, salt and pepper of course.  They get baked in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes (I also love the toaster oven for this if I am not using the oven already).  After reading this post, I knew I had to try something a little different.  I was also hoping that making them a bit more sweet would entice my oldest to try some squash tonight (it did not).  They were delicious though, and I couldn't help but spice mine up a bit with some chipotle spice and sage leaves - fantastic.

Now, tonight's dinner wasn't something I did with the kids.  Handling raw chicken and cutting open squash doesn't give them much to do.  (I suppose they could help with the drizzling and sprinkling though.)  They did help in the gathering of ingredients.  This afternoon was a pleasant surprise, and much warmer than I had expecting.  We took a late stroll down to the farm to grab some ingredients for tonight and the week.  My oldest picked out a cabbage, so I will be doing some research on what exactly to do with that, aside from adding it to a New England Boiled Dinner.  In any case, more importantly, our afternoon stroll gave us a neat surprise.  The farm stand is locating across from a small (200 cows) dairy farm.  The calves are kept outside, and we usually visit them on our way home.  Today, one of the farmers was out feeding the calves (milk), and I asked if we could get a tour of the dairy since my son is always asking to see the big cows.  He was happy to oblige.  I was happy to get a peek inside to see how things are really done.  This is a dairy farm close to our home, and their milk is used in many regional products.  The bonus at the end was finding out that we could by raw milk from them.  How great!  Fresh milk, from the farm down the street, at half the price of organic milk that comes from who knows where!  While I would hope to see the cows they keep out in pasture a bit more, it wasn't too bleak of a picture.  There aren't too many cows for the space, the farmers take good care of them, and they are fed locally grown hay and corn, as well as leftover grains from a nearby brewery.  Not too bad.

I have to thank my curious little preschooler for finding us this great local source today!


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