“Is this about the last of the squash?”
That’s the question Tom usually asks after the third dinner with squash.
I picked squash on Friday and was gone on Saturday and Sunday. When I went out to the garden Monday morning, I had a few zucchini the size of ball bats and at least one good-size squash on every plant.
Now there are only two of us, so I should only plant one or two plants, right? But I had to plant one for each color and then another in case a bug got the first one. So eight squash plants would be just right for two people.
So guess what? Lots of squash are coming from those plants. Every time I leave the house, I have a peach basket full to give away. I leave squash on porches, in mail boxes and hang bags of it on door knobs. I can only hope it’s welcome.
I used to give my kids the extra-large squash along with plastic knives and spoons. I just told them to make art, and they were the best sculptors. They also used them for science experiments – a little vinegar and baking soda can turn a big zucchini into a volcano.
Now if squash get too big, I give them a hack with my little garden spade and fling them over the fence to the chickens. Even with all that, by Tuesday, I had a full basket in the kitchen and about the same amount waiting to be picked.
When I was growing up, we had yellow crookneck squash. While the squash were coming in, we had fried squash every day for lunch and supper. Sometimes Granny would make a casserole by cooking the squash, stirring in cream of something soup, putting fried onion rings on top and baking it. She only made that for carrying to church or if company was coming. Daddy was not about to eat it – he only ate fried squash. He preferred it fried with green onions and okra, and if I had my druthers, I’d have it that way also.
I guess I first heard of zucchini when I went to college. By then I was steaming every vegetable I could find in a pot with a collapsible steamer. You’d add a little salt and you had dinner. I was trying to be a vegetarian, despite an occasional lapse at the Town House.
I have several squash recipes, but my favorite is one I learned at an Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project workshop a couple of summers ago. A chef (I don’t remember his name) was telling us how to get children to eat squash and taught us to make an easy, fun dish. Here it is – with a few changes.
You’ll need squash, onion, garlic, olive oil, water, cooked rice and goat cheese.
Grate the squash (one small squash per person).
Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a cast iron pan.
Cook the squash in the oil, adding a little water.
Add finely chopped onion (2 tablespoons per squash) and squeeze a garlic clove into the mix.
Stir until tender, and add leftover rice (short grain is my favorite).
Add a little more water to make it slightly soupy.
Drop in a big dollop of goat cheese.
Stir this all together – it’s sort of like a risotto.
I really like this squash stuff. If you put it in a casserole dish, you can take it to your covered-dish dinner. You can use up several squash this way.
Now the question is what to do with the rest – freeze it or make pickles and relish?