Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 1 of Food for Thought – Alice’s Squash Casserole

Each day from October 5-12, I will post one of my mother’s recipes (my favorites of course), how FTD has affected my family and a little bit about the AFTD.  My mother has this terrible disease.

What is Frontotemporal Degeneration? 

Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) is a disease process that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.  It causes a group of brain disorders that are characterized by changes in behavior and personality, language and/or motor skills, and an inevitable deterioration in a person’s ability to function.  FTD is often diagnosed in the mid- to late-50s, when a person is actively parenting and nearing the height of his or her career. 

How has FTD affected my family? 

My mother loved to cook.  She grew up helping her mom cook the food that came from their garden and fields.  One of my earliest memories of my mother cooking was preparing and delivering supper to my dad who was working the night shift at the bus station (chicken fried steak, green beans and macaroni and cheese).  My last memory of my mom cooking was horrible.  We were getting ready to go to a family reunion.  She hadn’t been diagnosed with FTD yet, but the FTD was in high gear…inappropriate comments were flying out of her mouth.  We had put a squash casserole in the oven to take to the reunion.  While we were waiting for it to cook, my mom decided the casserole needed toasted bread crumbs on top.  She had done this many times successfully.  She proceeded to turn the burner on under the skillet, melt the butter and pour in the breadcrumbs to toast.  She then walked away.  When I got back to the kitchen, the bread crumbs were burned.  I lost my patience which didn’t even phase my mother.  When I removed the casserole from the oven and before I could set the potholders down, my mother poured the burned bread crumbs over the casserole.  I lost it and screamed at her.  I just knew she had done this on purpose.  Little did I know that she had no control over this behavior.  Six months later we found out that she had the behavioral variant of FTD.

How can I help?

The first thing you can do to help is to learn as much as you can about FTD and the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration or AFTD (www.theaftd.org).  The AFTD is a not-for-profit organization founded to advocate for more funding into the causes and treatments of FTD as well as provide caregivers and patients with a dependable source of accurate, reliable information and support.  The second thing you can do is make a donation to the AFTD.  Your support helps to promote and fund research into finding the cause, therapies and cures for FTD.  Please go to http://theaftd.givezooks.com/grassroots_fundraisers/alice-s-angels-food-for-thought-2014 and make a donation during our 2nd Annual Food for Thought week, October 5-12.

Squash Casserole – 6 servings (side dish)

My mother used to make this recipe with the abundance of yellow squash in their garden.  She would make it in large batches and put into smaller freezer-to-oven containers to save for a later date.

3 medium yellow squash, sliced into ½ inch rounds
1 medium onion, diced
½ cup crushed crackers (like Saltines)
3 Tablespoons butter, divided in half
1 egg, beaten
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup dried breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the squash in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring the water to a boil and cook the squash till just tender.  Drain well.  Transfer to mixing bowl.  Using a potato masher or a large spoon, mash about ½ of the squash.

In a 10 inch skillet, saute onions in one tablespoon of butter till tender.  Add to squash.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in the skillet and lightly brown the crackers.  Add the crackers to the squash mixture.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine everything.  Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray and fill with the squash mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes or until center is hot and bubbly.

Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet and brown the breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole and serve.

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