Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eating the Plates: Pumpkin & Apples

In honor of the great Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I would share a recipe from a book I found in my library -- a very interesting book about the food and manners of the pilgrims (citation information below). There were a number of tasty recipes included, but this one seemed particularly pleasant and appropriate for the season. I'm looking forward to trying it someday.

Whole Baked Pumpkin Stuffed with Apples
1 medium pumpkin
6 small red apples
vegetable oil
maple syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Wash and dry the pumpkin. Carve a circle around the stem and open the pumpkin. Remove the seeds and pulp (roasted seeds are awfully good!). Brush the outside of the pumpkin with vegetable oil.
  3. Wash and dry the apples. Core them. Spoon a teaspoon of maple syrup into each apple, then place the apples upright inside the pumpkin. Spoon two teaspoons of maple syrup over the apples. Replace the pumpkin top.
  4. Put the pumpkin on the prepared cookie sheet and put it in the oven. Bake until the pumpkin and the apples are tender (1.5-2 hours).
  5. When the pumpkin is done, remove from the oven. Remove the top and take out the apples. Slice the pumpkin into 6 slices. Serve the pumpkin with a baked apple and maple syrup.
If you get around to trying this recipe, let me know -- I'd love to know how it turns out.

Penner, Lucille Recht. Eating the Plates: a Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.

Thanksgiving Guest

I was busy preparing my homemade cranberry relish and talking to my mom on the phone while she baked cranberry bread, when I looked out my kitchen window and saw a brilliant splash of yellow and chartreuse on my clothesline -- a parakeet! And a hungry one, at that. When he figured out how to manage the birdfeeder, he sat there for 5 minutes eating and eating and eating. I hadn't the heart to tell him that Thanksgiving isn't until tomorrow. He's been back 3 times since then, and is a joy to watch. While the chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers all flit and scurry, he sits calmly -- except while he's eating.

Do you know anyone who has lost a parakeet recently?


Monday, November 16, 2009

Restaurant Review: Baku's African Restaurant

After more than a year of going out to local restaurants and mentioning them here and there on the blog, I have finally decided that it is time to start reviewing them -- at least some of them. First up -- Baku's of Amherst.

Baku's African Restaurant is on North Pleasant Street in Amherst. A small restaurant featuring no more than five tables and seventeen chairs. We had passed it by many times on our to and from the Toy Box, frequently commenting that we should actually stop and try it -- one of these days. "One of these days" finally arrived a few weekends ago, on a warm and damp Halloween night.

Baku's features southern Nigerian cuisine, and its small menu lists appetizers and meals in variations of rice, beans, meats, and vegetables. The menu is gluten, dairy, and dessert free, representing the traditional diet of the African region. The owner and head chef is also authentically Nigerian, a great cook, and quite a character.

When we arrived at Baku's, a group from Connecticut was just finishing, leaving the restaurant all to us. We took the menus from the counter, consulted with each other on our meals, and ordered back at the counter, paying when the order was complete. Water was served, our drinks were delivered, and small salads presented to occupy us while our food was being prepared. Our meals arrived quickly: the Flavorful Lamb entree -- stewed lamb in a rich curry tomato sauce over jollof rice -- and the house special Curry Chicken. Delicious. The lamb was succulent and tender and the sauce was just as not-spicy as I had asked. The curry chicken was also good, but a touch dry. After eating ourselves full, there was still plenty to take home -- which I packaged up to take to work.

The meals at Baku's are simple but savory and range from $10.95-$13.95 for a dinner entree, with appetizers and small plates starting at $3.95. The kids menu stands at $5.95 and family meals begin at $29.95 for 3 people. Baku's also caters events and delivers through Delivery Express.

Baku's has been open since 2005 and attracts customers from all over -- and when you try their home-cooked food, you'll understand why.

Definitely recommended.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Library Vote: I Voted

Yes.  I voted YES for the Library, and before I get into a description of the goings-on at the Special Town Meeting, I would like to thank those who came out to vote.  As my husband likes to remind me, democracy in action is a great, invigorating thing, even when it doesn't go the way you'd like.  More than 1000 people showed up last night to debate and vote.

My condolences to the Director and Staff of the Library, the Friends, the Trustees, and all those who volunteered time and money toward the Clapp for Community Campaign -- and also to the entire town -- half of which does not even recognize the importance and worth of what they lost last night in failing to invest in the future of the town.

The meeting began with general articles about roads and budgets; they were all approved with fairly limited discussion.  The article on the library was introduced around 7:50pm by the Moderator.  Selectman Reardon presented the article and spoke for it.  It was then spoken against by the majority of the Town Finance Committee, spoken for by the minority of the Finance Committee.  The head of the Clapp for Community Campaign gave details and answers to questions that had been asked in previous weeks.  The floor was opened for the townspeople to speak.  A motion to make the vote a secret ballot was declined.  A few members of the community spoke for and against the article.  Selectman Aponte spoke against.

At about 8:40 a motion was made that further discussion end and the vote be taken.  This motion passed, and the vote was made; a 2/3 vote was required to pass.  The vote was vocal, and the Moderator declared that the Nos won, but a recount was demanded, and this time the vote was made and counted by raised ballot.  The Nos carried the win with ~480 votes; the Yeses had just over 400.  More than 100 people in the gymnasium did not vote.

Emotions were high, and there were more than a few tears at the close of the evening.  However, according to the Clapp for Community website, the campaign for an upgraded and expanded building will continue, and I can only hope that success is found.  Having a strong library is a powerful benefit to the community -- it supports education, finance, business, growth, recreation, families, individuals, adults, children, and more.  I'm saddened and sorry that more of the residents of Belchertown could not see their way to improving their town by supporting the expanded library, and I wish luck and hope to the Clapp Memorial Library as it seeks alternatives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Reposting

Tonight is the special town meeting for the Library.  Details at the link:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seasonal Craft Fairs

I'm putting the call out -- if you know of a local seasonal craft fair coming up in Nov or Dec, drop a comment here.  I'll take a look and hopefully get it on the events calendar.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Library News Update

Don't forget that tomorrow night at Town Hall is an information session about the proposed library renovations.
Next Tuesday evening (no school the following day) is a Special Town Meeting for the vote on the project.  Educate yourself about the project at the forum tomorrow night and/or by visiting the Clapp for Community website.
The November newsletter from CfC related information about the combining of two Town Meeting Articles into one.  Read this to see what you'll be voting on next week.

Photographs and text copyrighted by Livin' In the Belch blog author, unless otherwise stated.