Get Out And Harvest!
By Valerie Beerbower
Autumn has wrapped its beauty around the Miami Valley, and you can take advantage of living in a temperate climate that permits vibrant foliage. Before the trees shed their last clinging colors, take a hike in one of these parks:
Drive the scenic loop through the park off Conservancy Road. Stop by the restroom and hit the boardwalk to the picturesque Valley Overlook. (200-yards) For a longer jaunt, park at the end of Old Mill Road and follow the Twin Valley Trail all the way to State Route 725 and back. You’ll see beautiful overlooks, mature forest, colorful prairies, the Twin Creek and a hilly landscape. (4 miles)
Enter the park at the east end of Englewood Dam off U.S. Route 40. Park at the trailhead parking area near Patty’s Shelter and hike the 0.8-mile yellow trail to the new boardwalk through the swamp forest there. You’ll get an eyeful of some of the biggest trees in the MetroParks—and maybe even an owl or two!
Welcome to one of the “secret” MetroParks. This conservation area is a small (9 acres) but spectacular swamp forest. Park at the small lot for the Wolf Creek Rail Trail off U.S. 40 northwest of Brookville and walk south along the paved trail for a quarter mile. The entrance to Dull Woods will be on your left.
Hills & Dales MetroPark:
Park at the PawPaw Shelter off of Deep Hollow Road and follow the Adirondack Trail through the Wetlands Boardwalk to Dogwood Pond where you’ll find spectacular photo opportunities. (0.5 miles)
If you haven’t checked out the new trails at Taylorsville MetroPark, take advantage of the beautiful fall colors while you “test hike” the trails. This is the first park to receive sustainable trail upgrades. Hike the southern loops around the orange trail to get a taste of what’s to come at a MetroPark near you! Learn more at metroparks.org/detours.
Another wonderful aspect of this time of year is the abundance of fresh produce available at the PNC 2nd Street Market. Don’t forget to stock up as the farmers will be outside for only a few more Saturdays before heading into a brief winter hiatus. Speaking of stocking up, the Market will be open for a special shopping day prior to Thanksgiving: Stock-Up Wednesday is set for Wednesday, Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Put in a holiday pre-order with your favorite Market vendors and have it ready to pick-up, or simply stop by to cross off any last-minute items on your shopping list.
Finally, I wanted to address an issue that perplexes many of my friends and Market-goers—what to do with those gorgeous gourds! At first, even I had a little trepidation when it came to approaching these knobby, bumpy, oblong autumn all-stars. But my affinity for pumpkin curry, butternut squash soup and the crunchy, salty delight of roasted seeds fueled my determination to conquer
Here’s how you get
the goodness out of your gourds:
Cooking Methods: roast, steam, grill
Tools: Chef’s knife, cutting board (one used for veggies—no cross-contamination, please!), spoon (of the grapefruit variety if you’ve got it), and cooking device (based on chosen method)
Step 1: Rinse the squash/pumpkin/gourd under water and remove any dirt
Step 2: Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds with your knife
Step 2a: Pick off any excess stringy bits and spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet, then sprinkle with kosher salt and roast at 325 degrees for 25 minutes for a crispy, salty snack.
Step 3: Whether you decide to roast, steam or grill your squash, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on the cut side of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Roasting – place the squash cut-side up on a baking sheet and put in a 350-degree oven for 1.5 to 2 hours. The squash is done cooking when the thickest part of the
“meat” is soft.
Steaming – cut your squash so it fits into your steaming device. Maintain the largest possible chunk size. You’ll steam the squash up to an hour depending on the size of the chunks. Squash will be soft when it is ready.
Grilling – place the squash cut-side down on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes with the lid on, then turn 15 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes to get perfect grill marks.
Step 5: Let the squash cool slightly and peel the skin away from the flesh. Now you can mash it, slice it, puree it—the possibilities are endless!
What’s your favorite squash/pumpkin/gourd recipe? Share with us on our Facebook fan page: www.Facebook.com/2ndStreetMarket.
Reach freelance writer Valerie Beerbower at email@example.com