Savoring the Seasons

Potlucks and sharing recipes


I love potluck meals for many reasons, mostly because I love opportunities to share meals with friends and/or people I’ve yet to meet. Potlucks inevitably expand my cooking horizons as I get a chance to taste dishes I’ve never eaten or even imagined. Recently, I went to a birthday party/potluck supper for my friend, Carol, who lives near Worcester. Carol’s long-time friend, Paula, brought a marvelous variation on roasted vegetables.

Not only did Paula’s dish include more than the “usual” root vegetables, it was seasoned with a surprising combination of spices. I adore basic roasted root vegetables made with basil and thyme, and Paula’s dish made me ponder other seasoning possibilities. Paula said the recipe called for whatever vegetables you have on hand. We all raved about Paula’s dish and asked for the recipe (see below). I’m even contemplating taking something other than my standard pesto/pasta/spinach potluck dish to the next potluck I attend.

Some of my favorite potlucks each year are local food potlucks during the Week of Winter Fare in February. This year, Franklin County’s Winter Fare is Feb. 2 to 10, starting with the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market on Saturday, Feb. 2 (Groundhog Day!). The folks in Ashfield have already scheduled their Winter Fare Local Food Potluck for Friday, Feb. 8. My fellow Conway-ites and I are plotting when to hold ours.

I hope you’ll consider organizing a Winter Fare local food potluck or other event. Check out and this column in future weeks for more Winter Fare information.

Local food potlucks were a key beginning to my focus on savoring and promoting locally grown food. My original “local food group” is planning a reunion potluck to discuss the incredible growth in year-round availability of locally grown food since we started meeting in 2001. One reason we have access to more locally grown food is Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA). Please join me in supporting CISA’s great work.

A Message from Phil Korman of CISA: Last week, CISA found out it will sustain a $50,000 funding cut due to the Governor’s 9c cuts to programs that promote locally grown food. CISA’s “Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown” campaign is one of the most successful campaigns in the nation, and our campaign touches many of the 2,000 farms in the area. We have doubled the amount of food our farmers sell directly to all of us, as residents of western Massachusetts, from $4.5 million to $9 million. 

Our farms are part of the answer to our current challenges, wherever anyone cares about fresh and nutritious food, climate change, beautiful vistas and/or the resiliency of our local economy. You can make a difference. How? Make sure your state representatives and senators know how important local farms are to you; Buy local in every season (including at winter farmers markets, Local Hero restaurants, etc.); and, Support CISA’s work and get involved. For information, visit or call 413-665-7100.

This Week We’re Eating ...

Roasted Vegetables with Cocoa Spice Rub

By Paula Kirk, Westborough (from

1 T. sea salt

1/2 T. cocoa powder (unsweetened)

3/4 tsp. white sugar

1/2 T. brown sugar

1 3/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 T. onion powder

1 3/4 tsp. cumin

1/2 T. chili powder

1/2 T. ground pepper

1 butternut squash (diced)


8 small red potatoes (diced)

2 carrots (diced)

1/2 red onion (chopped)

1 yellow pepper (chopped)

8-10 Brussels sprouts (halved)

2 roma tomatoes (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (minced)

Toss veggies in bowl with some olive oil and the rub.  Next spread the veggies on one or two cookie sheets. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash and potatoes are tender.

(Note from Paula: I roasted them on 2 cookie sheets at 450 for 15 minutes, then turned the oven down to 375 and roasted for another 15-20 minutes.)

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