“Pumpkin” originated from the Greek word Pepõn, (meaning large melon). Pumpkins are believed to have originated in the Americas along riverbanks. After corn was cultivated, ancient farmers learned to grow pumpkin (or squash) along with corn and beans using the “3 Sisters Tradition”. The 3 sisters being squash, corn and beans which when grown together, thrive. Corn acts as the natural support for the beans to grow on while the bean roots put nitrogen into the soil which nourishes the corn. The squash plants shelter the shallow roots of the corn plant and shade the ground to hold in moisture and keep out weeds. This is a proven, tried, tested and sustainable practice going back generations. The pumpkin provided a reliable food source that lasted throughout the winter and could be roasted, baked and dried. Pumpkin seeds were used as medicine - as a diuretic, for kidneys and to rid the body of parasites.
In the early days, the Native Americans used the seeds to grind into flour. The shells of the pumpkin would be dried and used as carrying or holding vessels for other grains and seeds. The early pilgrims didn’t make their pumpkin dessert quite like we do our pies today. They would actually cut off the tops, scoop out the seeds and fill the inside with honey, cream, eggs and spices and when baked in a buried hole of hot ashes they would produce a delectable custard-like dessert. They were also known to use pumpkins for beer-making, along with maple syrup, persimmons and hops. Without pumpkins on the North American continent, those early settlers might have had a much more difficult time with many succumbing to starvation.
This is an actual poem over the testament of the use and necessity of pumpkins in those days;
“For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon."
Pilgrim verse, circa 1633
To me, the term artisan is more than just a word to describe the process of food being put on a plate for you to enjoy. It has a deep rooted meaning and for me means, at a ripe young age, having my granny push me up to the kitchen counter to assist in her daily food creations. Looking back, it may not have been the best thing for me to have my face so close to a pot of oil, ready for fresh made donut batter, but as granny would always throw caution into the wind so have I with how I’ve grown to develop my own “mad” kitchen style. There are no rules and recipes don’t exist. What you have on hand is what you have and if that means altering a dish 50 times ‘cause you’re short an ingredient or two then so be it. I hope you’re starting to get an understanding for where my passion was rooted - in granny’s kitchen. Back then we had a little family farm with pigs, cows, chickens, goats and of course vegetables. I remember pulling those sweet carrots out of the ground to snack on mid hide-and-seek with my sisters and cousins. I never really questioned food back then, I knew if you wanted eggs you would just go to the coop and grab some or if you wanted mashed potatoes for dinner you’d have to get your hands dirty.
So where does “artisan” fit in? It fits in between the necessity to make and eat real food and use the natural tools you were given to create those meals. Your hands! In order to understand food you need to develop a relationship with the ingredients, you need to know the smells, textures and colours of these foods and be able to piece them together like a puzzle. Food is a word that doesn’t give enough meaning to the importance of these nourishing substances. Food brings people together, food comforts and food consoles the heart, mind and body. Having a relationship with food means being able to utilize the many different cooking techniques needed to reach the many different results. Have you ever imagined boiling a roast for dinner? Of course not! That would be absurd! You need to respect your roast and treat it properly, and it will give you a moist and tender meal with deep brown sauce to cover your potatoes and dip your bread. Cooking has many different layers -your energy and passion are reflected in your piece. Artisan means having that passion, acceptance and reliance on the beautiful tidings that nature has to offer. Artisan means picking your own blueberries, to bring to your granny’s kitchen, rolling out pastry to make blueberry pie for dessert, then carrying it home for your family to enjoy! I dedicate my passion, my patience and my love of food to my granny who thought you were never too young to stand at the stove and create.
This is in memory of Elizabeth Hazel Cross. You will always be remembered, respected, admired, adored and your memory will always live through each dish that passes through my kitchen.
-Chef Tanya Cross
Some things to be aware of with aging
Healthy Eating Plans for Seniors
Eat a healthy diet full of essential nutrients and help ward off potential health problems that are common to senior citizens such as; constipation, heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Nutritious foods will also help you maintain a healthy weight and can be great for your energy levels
Boost Your Nutrition – Tips & Tidbits to keep in mind
And don’t forget! No matter your age, exercise and mobility are key to maintaining your health so grab a partner and get moving!
Come into Artisan Food Co. for our seniors discount throughout the month of October and start eating healthy today!
Tanya is a classically trained, Red Seal Chef, and former restauranteur and caterer, with additional studies in Holistic Nutrition and business. Having food as her foundation she continues to build on her interests and knowledge base in the study of the body, mind and brain connection. She now spends her time as a Mom of twins, researcher and writer, while continuing to participate digitally in the culinary world with her company, Artisan Food Co.