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Monday, November 1, 2010

Zero waste challenge: Easy plastic-free crunch, yum and crackle when the game is on

Roasted sweet dumpling squash
© L Kathryn Grace
The game is on. It's Saturday, the day before Halloween. The two year old is coming over, Game 3 of the World Series starts in a couple of hours, and we expect to munch between yelling ourselves hoarse. That means bags of chips and tubs of dips, right? Not exactly.

See that sweet dumpling squash? It's easy game buffet fare--or a supper side dish--that is scrumptious, wholesome, locally grown if you're lucky, in season right now and does not come packaged in plastic. I've included the super simple recipe below.

For crunch, I roasted the squash seeds, baked up some sesame seed crackers, pretty much the same recipe as reported here. This time I rolled them super thin, barely 1/16 inch, brushed the dough lightly with water before scoring, sprinkled liberally with raw sesame seeds, and pressed them in gently.

It took an hour to make the crackers, start to finish, not much longer than a run to the store. Soon as they came out, I upped the oven temp and popped in the squash, saving having to heat the oven twice.

The homemade crackers were downright delicious dipped in fresh guacamole. The middle grandchild was visiting, and she and I had fun mashing the avocados and squeezing the lime. When the game started, we all sat down together and noshed crispy sesame crackers and guac while the Giants got whupped, as we used to say.

Was it worth it? Probably a wash, cost-wise, but times past, we would have bought two kinds of chips and two or three tubs of dip, had none of the fun with the grandbabe getting ready, and those chips and processed dips would have set in our tummies like leaded goo. Instead, we were energized, full and happy.We had fun, despite the loss, snacked finely, and didn't add a single plastic container to our "reusables" collection or a box or a bag to our recycle and trash bins.

Three easy recipes for game-day fun

I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of the guac and crackers. We couldn't wait, but here's our simple, child-easy recipe.


2 ripe, soft-to-touch, medium avocados
1 ripe lime
Dash salt
Twist fresh ground pepper

Adult: Split avocados in half lengthwise. Child: Turn each half upside down over a bowl and squeeze the skin till the pulp and pit fall into the container. (Kids love this part.) Fish out the pit with a spoon and compost or sprout for growing fun (video).

Adult: Cut a lime in half. Child: Squeeze the juice all over the avocados. An old-fashioned squeezer with a pointed, ribbed cone on top, set over the bowl, is easier for little hands than other types.

Child (adult can help, of course): Add a sprinkle of salt and a grind of pepper, mash till its gorgeous, smooth and creamy, lick the forks before you toss them into the sink, and giggle together. Serve with "guackers." (See link above.)

For a yummy, almost as easy hot treat to go with your crunchy snack, roast two sweet dumpling squashes. They're in season now and a make a colorful plate on a chilly autumn day.

Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash


Two sweet dumpling squashes
1-1/3 t butter
1 T each raisins and dried cranberries (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash, then carefully cut the squashes in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. This was tricky for me, as I don't have a lot of strength left in my hands and those buggers were tough, so be careful!

Scrape out the seeds and stringy mass with a spoon. Set aside.

Place the squashes cut side up in a pie plate or other shallow pan. Dot the inside of each quarter with 1/3 teaspoon butter. Add a few raisins or dried cranberries if you like a little sweetness with your squash. We didn't this time, but we may next.

Bake uncovered thirty minutes. When the timer goes off, pierce with fork. If tender, remove from oven and serve. If not quite tender, return and bake a bit longer. Serve with crunchy roasted squash seeds on the side and a plate of fresh fruits, if you can wait and do it properly.

Roasted squash seeds

Roasted sweet dumpling squash seeds
© L Kathryn Grace
While the squashes are baking, clean the seeds from the stringy stuff. I find this easiest in a small bowl of water. Under water, rub the seeds away from the strings. Compost the stringy stuff and pour the nutrient-rich water, which is now a gorgeous pumpkin orange color, into your frozen vegetable cooking water, if you save yours for making soup. (We pour leftover bits of vegetables and vegetable cooking water, when cool, into a container in the freezer. When it's full, we thaw it and use it for soup stock.)

Rinse the seeds, drain them a bit, pat them dry with a clean tea towel, place them on a small cookie sheet or pie plate and pop into the oven during the last 8-12 minutes with the squash. When the squash timer goes off, the seeds should be well toasted. Remove from oven and sprinkle lightly with salt to taste.

The squash was as delicious as it looks. It didn't make it to the living room with the crackers and guacamole. We ate it standing up in the kitchen right away, blowing on each bite to cool it. Our granddaughter loved it as much as we did, oohing and ahhing and "Yum!"-ing over every bite. We had two cups left, which we'll chop coarsely and add to a stir fry with bean sprouts, and other veggies for dinner tomorrow night. More end-of-summer goodness for our taste buds and bellies, and all easy on the pocketbook.

That's one way we had a lot of family fun and together time while making conscious choices this week. I know Wanda made cold frames last week, and Deb struggled between the pull of nature to go outside and play and the pull inside to create something new. What were you up to?
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.


kario said...

Sounds delicious and perfect (except that I was watching college football instead of baseball)! I roasted squash with a little chicken stock, garlic and tarragon and then scooped out the insides and mixed it with 1/4 cup of cream, the stock and garlic and pureed it, topped the whole thing with some shredded parmesan and stuck it under the broiler for a bit before dipping crackers into it. YUM!

Hayden said...

Wonderful yummy post! Thanks for the link back to your crackers, I keep meaning to try those and haven't yet.

Karlo's hint above is great, too! I never thought of using squash as the base for a dip... maybe with drained yogurt instead of the cream, huummm... another goodie to try!

Kathryn Grace said...

Kario, your squash dip sounds fabulous. Did you set the squash whole in the chicken stock, or cut and simmer in pieces? What temp?

Hayden, the crackers were much better rolled thinner than the original recipe specified. I like your idea of using yogurt instead of cream too. Methinks must try it both ways!

Sharon said...

Yum yum yum!!! I want mo, please....

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