Weekly Food for Thought with items on cooking with squash, "The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries" by Sam Talbot, the Beer Nut and more.

Fall means every farmers' market and produce stand is displaying its harvest of squashes. Americans were introduced to winter squashes by native Indians. Pilgrims and early colonists realized how easy they were to grow and how adaptable they were in many recipes.

Acorn, pumpkin, butternut and Hubbard squashes have a hard, thick rind. The rind protects the squash and keeps it from spoiling for long periods, but it makes the job of peeling it a challenge if you want to remove the rind before you cook the squash.

"Make an initial cut to create a flat, stable surface that makes it easier and safer to cut up the squash," recommends chef Scott Swartz with The Culinary Institute of America. "Cut through a butternut squash at the point where the neck meets the rounded body. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any filaments in the center of the squash. Then, set your squash, flat side down, on a work surface, and use a chef's knife to cut away the skin."

Pumpkins also make their arrival this time of year. They are like the mascots of autumn. Chef Swartz suggests using pumpkins to serve squash soup. Use smaller pumpkins for individual plated servings, or use one big pumpkin for guests to serve themselves.

Prepare the pumpkins by washing them with warm soapy water, rinsing them thoroughly and patting them dry. Carve out the top to make a lid, and remove the seeds from the inside. Carve away some of the flesh inside the pumpkin so it can hold more liquid.

-- The Culinary Institute of America

Tip of the Week: Kids need their fruits, veggies

USDA’s MyPlate program recommends that half your plate consist of fruits and vegetables. To get your kids to meet that goal, have them pick out their own produce at the grocery store. Kids may get excited about trying exotic fruits or new veggies, especially if they look interesting, like star fruit. Teaching them about rare heirloom varieties may also help spark intrigue.

-- EatRight.org

Easy Recipe: Plantain Chips

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying 2 green plantains, peeled and sliced 1/8-Salt to taste

Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees. Deep fry the plantain slices, about a dozen at a time, until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain in a large bowl lined with paper towels, and salt to taste while still warm.

-- allrecipes.com

Did You Know?

Studies have shown the most effective way to prevent food poisoning and food-borne illness is to wash your hands repeatedly. – FoodSafety.gov

Food Quiz

What new food was brought to Europe by the crusaders of the First Crusade in 1148?

A. Sugar

B. Coffee

C. Olives

D. Garlic

-- funtrivia.com

Answer is at bottom of column

Wise to the Word: gourd

[GOHRD] The inedible fruit of any of various plants with an extremely hard, tough shell. When all the flesh is removed, the shell can be dried and used as a container, utensil or for decorative purposes.

-- epicurious.com

Number to Know

500: A large order of french fries at McDonald’s is 500 calories.

 -– calorieking.com

The Dish On …

"The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries" by Sam Talbot

Sam Talbot is a professional chef, restaurateur, surfer, painter, philanthropist and, since the age of 12, type 1 diabetic. Yet he has not let the disease stop him from living a rich life packed with energy, adventure and achievement — culinary and otherwise. In his first book, he recounts how diabetes has affected but not compromised his life or career, and he shares his own tips — alongside those from other famous diabetics like Halle Berry, Larry King and Tommy Lee — on how to handle everything from work and hobbies to relationships and travel with discipline and enthusiasm. He also offers bits of foodie wisdom and 75 innovative recipes for fresh, all-natural dishes anybody, diabetic or not, can prepare and enjoy.

-- Rodale Press Inc.

From the Beer Nut’s Blog: Stone Brewing releases book

OK, put down that beer because it’s book-learning time. Actually, maybe have a beer while you read the new book, “The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.” Written by Stone’s Greg Koch, Steve Wagner and Randy Clements, it hit bookstores in late September. Here’s all of the details:

It is with great pomp and gusto that Stone announces its highly anticipated literary tome, "The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance." Inside the book:

* A behind the scenes look at the 15 years of Stone Brewing Co.

* An in-depth history of beer through the ages.

* Pointers on properly storing, pouring and pairing craft beer.

* Never before released homebrew recipes, including Stone Pale Ale.

To read more from the Beer Nut, visit http://blogs.townonline.com/beernut/.

Food Quiz Answer

A. Sugar

GateHouse News Service