It’s the season for boiled dinners and next day “leftover” meals.

These meals coincide with, and originally were derived from, the hardy root crops, like carrots, leeks, potatoes and cabbage, that can still be pulled from the garden. One of my sons here in the county has developed his land with an extensive vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, beehives and two greenhouses. Oh, and laying hens. Right now, he still has the cold-hardy root vegetables that we pull from the ground for great cold-weather meals, New England boiled dinners.

I made that for my family a couple of weeks ago, although my version nowadays I call: “Poor man's New England Boiled Dinner” because it’s made with kielbasa rather than brisket. (Have you checked the price of brisket lately?) First time I made it with kielbasa I was pleasantly surprised. It’s downright good.

Another plus using the kielbasa is the cook time. Instead of three-four hours to cook the brisket, you just have to throw the vegetables in your big pot and when they’re about done, toss in the meat for a few minutes.

I use potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, cabbage and kielbasa. I put the potatoes, turnips and carrots in whole, adding extra of everything to be sure I have enough for “bubble and squeak” the next day. I bring them to a boil, turn to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes or so and then add the onions and quartered cabbage until they’re almost done. The kielbasa goes in for the last 10 minutes or so, since all it needs, basically, is warming up. It also gives it time to share its flavor with the vegetables.

(Don’t tell my family, but before I dish it all up on a huge ironstone platter for the table, I take out the extra I need for the next day’s “bubble and squeak.” Otherwise, that “extra” would be gobbled up in seconds and thirds.)

The first time I heard of “bubble and squeak” was when my late friend and neighbor, Evelyn, a little English-Irish lady, served it to me. Her grandmother had taught her how to make it. That would take it back to the mid-1800s but it goes back further as hearty, ancient English dish. (My friend, born in 1896 in Yorkshire, passed away at age 103. She had lots of invaluable ages-old cooking tips and recipes.)

I usually make “bubble and squeak” for breakfast as I just can’t wait to have it for lunch. First thing is to use a good old cast iron fry pan. I have a nest of them in all sizes. (They’re all old ones that have the baby-butt smooth surface. I wouldn’t give houseroom to the ones they make today.) Cast iron is the best, as far as I’m concerned, best all-’round when it comes to cooking.

I prefer using bacon grease, liberally, to fry in with this meal. (Schmaltz is great too when I have it. It’s made from rendered chicken fat. But it takes the fat from several chickens to get a pint of it. That usually means saving the fat up in the freezer, adding to it until there’s enough to render.)

When the heat is up, I first fry up a fresh onion until browned and then add home-fry slices of the boiled potato and carrots in small rounds and sliced turnip. I stir that around for a bit to get the vegetables warmed good and some browning on the potatoes and then add the cabbage and toss in chunks of kielbasa. (If there wasn’t enough cabbage from the day before, I will shred up some fresh cabbage and sauté it with the onion.)

While cooking and stirring, the ingredients will bubble and squeak, hence its name. I like it with eggs and either applesauce or apple butter.

And before we know it, it will be Christmas. And time to make Evelyn’s equally old recipe, with her invaluable little tips from the 1800s: Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.