The Pantry Kitchen’s ‘Weeknight Challenge’ yields stuffed squash recipes and many unexpected gems

The goal with the first challenge of Season 2 of the Pantry Kitchen Challenge was to get everyone in an autumnal mood, and to introduce the new “wild card” rule designed to throw a different wrinkle into each round. Wellll …. perhaps we should have been more specific?

Round 1 was “The Weeknight Challenge” with a 30-minute prep time limit, and squash, apples, nutmeg and soda as the ingredients. We didn’t foresee that folks would interpret the 30-minute limit in two different ways: 30 minutes to prep the dish and get it ready for cooking or 30 minutes from prep to plating.

Oops.

So to be fair, we selected the top three finishers in both categories. (And props to those of you who saw “30-minute prep” and decided this meant 30 minutes total!) You hustled and came up with some pretty impressive stuff. This challenge garnered 45 entries! Many of you saw the ingredients list and thought stuffed squash or butternut squash soup. So bonus points for those who went above and beyond those two staples.

In the “30-minutes from prep to plating” category, Paul Shapiro wins for butternutchos, turning butternut squash into tortilla chips for a unique plate of nachos. Runners-up: Darci Rogojin, whose autumn doughnut holes with nutmeg cream soda icing looked delectable, and Beth Cavalli, who combined Western ingredients with Mexican and Asian flavors — tamarind soda! — to create a tamarind stir-fry!

In the “30-minutes prep, then cook to your heart’s content” category, the mother-daughter tandem of Joan and Keri Segna wowed us with this gorgeous stuffed pumpkin dinner called Filled with Goodness. Runners-up: Thomas Finnegan transformed the ingredients into an interesting chicken curry with squash and apples, while Jeff Abrams also stuffed a pumpkin in spectacular fashion to produce pumpkin and apple English pudding with root beer glaze.

Here are the top 12 submissions! Thanks for playing. See below for details on Round 2.

Season 2 Round 2 “The Entreé Challenge”

Ingredients:

Rules:

  • You have to use all four ingredients, but you can use as many additional ingredients as you desire. 
  • Wild card rule for Round 2: You have to make an entrée. Defined as: more substantial than appetizers. You cannot make dessert for this round. Sorry dessert lovers!
  • Deadline: Create a dish, tell us how successful you were and email photos (JPG files!), your recipe and a description of your dish to food editor Stefanie Loh ([email protected]) by Friday, Oct. 16. 
  • Judging will be based on creativity, how well you incorporated the four ingredients, presentation and adherence to the wild card rule. We’ll name the top three entries and select several of the most interesting submissions to be published in a future edition of The Mix.

Pantry Kitchen Challenge Season 2 Round 1 Best Reader Submissions

*To download a PDF of recipes from this round, click here.

Butternuchos (30 minutes flat)

Paul Shapiro turned slices of butternut squash into tortilla chips for this plate of “butternuchos.”  (Courtesy of Paul Shapiro)
Paul Shapiro turned slices of butternut squash into tortilla chips for this plate of “butternuchos.” (Courtesy of Paul Shapiro)

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Victory garden harvest at southern Alberta museum yields nearly 1,300 pounds of vegetables



a man standing next to a pile of hay: Volunteers get their hands dirty to harvest potatoes and carrots at the Heritage Acres Farm Museum near Pincher Creek, Alta. on Saturday.


© Eloise Therien / Global News
Volunteers get their hands dirty to harvest potatoes and carrots at the Heritage Acres Farm Museum near Pincher Creek, Alta. on Saturday.

Around four months ago, staff and volunteers at Pincher Creek’s Heritage Acres Farm Museum held a sod-turning ceremony at its first-ever victory garden project. Fast-forward to Saturday, and the benefit of a hard summer’s work were reaped as nearly 1,100 pounds of potatoes and 180 pounds of carrots were harvested.

“Victory gardening” refers to the practice of gardening to support the community, originating during the First and Second World Wars to aid with food supply for troops overseas.

According to board vice president Anna Welsch, the idea for the garden came about while the museum was closed due to COVID-19.

“Being that we’re a farm museum and an agricultural community… this was our opportunity to hopefully take away some food insecurities from our local community,” Welsch explained.

Read more: Lethbridge garden centres experience boom in summer sales amid COVID-19

In sticking with their roots, antique equipment was used in the harvesting process, along with the hands of a more than a dozen volunteers.

“The interesting thing is our potato [harvester],” executive director Jim Peace said. “That tractor is a 1945 McCormick, and the potato digger was built in England at the turn of the century, so it’s been part of the collection here at Heritage Acres for years. It would have been originally pulled by a horse.”

According to David Green, coordinator for the Family Community Support Services for Pincher Creek, the food bank didn’t have the resources to take fresh produce until recently. Now, the new Pincher Creek Community Food Centre has the ability to store more varieties of food.

Read more: Heritage Acres Musuem plants victory garden to support Pincher Creek food bank

“We’re making the transition to the new organization in a fiscally sound manner, they’re in good shape financially” he said.

Green adds although there hasn’t been a significant spike in need for the food bank services, they are consistently serving the community. He says a lot of people, not only Heritage Acres, have stepped up to increase donations through the pandemic.

“We’re very thankful to the community, both individuals and corporations.”

With such an increase, Peace says the choice of vegetable will allow them to donate in stages to suit the food bank’s needs.

“We picked potatoes and carrots because they store well,” Peace explained. “We have a heated Quonset, so we can actually bag them and provide them to the food bank [as we go].”

On top of the the potato and carrot donation, the museum says they have received around 1,500 pounds of hamburger through cattle donations from the Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange, Dewald Livestock, Larson Custom Feeders, and Big Sky Feeder Association in conjunction with the Chinook Breeder Co-Op.

Pincher Creek is located approximately 100 kilometres west of Lethbridge.

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