More Squash!

Well, I still found more squash in the refrigerator so I found another recipe.

This time, Squash and black bean enchiladas.  I made the enchilada sauce from tomato paste from this past summer’s tomatoes.  It sure was fabulous!  I found this recipe on the internet.

Squash seeds are easily saved by scooping out the seeds from the inside of the squash before you bake it.  Next, I let the seeds sit briefly in water as I separate them from the slimy innards.  Then, I dry them on a screen.  This time, I took a screen from my dehydrator and placed it over the heating vent in my house.  I elevated it with lots of jars of pear butter so it had good air flow.

This year I finally learned a crucial fact about saving squash seeds.  Only the squashes that share a species name (for example C. pepo – pepo is the species) will cross. Unfortunately, that means that all summer squash will cross pollinate and they will also cross pollinate with pumpkins.  But squash from different species (like C. maxima, C. moschata, or C. mixta) will not cross pollinate with each other.

This year, if you want to save squash seeds, grow one from each of the varieties.  To avoid cross pollination with your neighbors, make sure that your squashes are separated from others of the same variety by a quarter mile.

Here are some examples of the differences.  My last post was about the glorious Lower Salmon River variety of squash (Cucurbita maxima)

I chose the Lower Salmon River Squash for its excellent winter storage qualities, its great taste, and the fact that it is an endangered variety.  Click here for a reference on other endangered varieties of vegetables that you can grow this year in your garden.

 

 

Winter Squash – a plant that generates lots of meals!

Lower Salmon River Squash

The warm orange glow of a winter squash is just like sunshine in the winter!  There are many different varieties that one can chose to grow in your garden.  I tend to select winter squash for flavor and for a long shelf life so that they will last throughout the winter.  If you grow different kinds of winter squash, pay attention to their capacity for winter storage.  Ensure that you eat the ones that have the shortest shelf-life first.

I have grown many different varieties of winter squash.  Some of my favorites include:  Delicata, Acorn, Spaghetti, Butternut, Pumpkins, and more.  This year I grew only one variety of winter squash:  Lower Salmon River.  I chose this squash because it is fabulous for winter storage.  In fact, it will store so well that my partner says that we need a bandsaw to cut through it (we can process it with standard kitchen utensils too).

There are many different ways to cook a winter squash.  I used to just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds (save for later, how to save squash seeds will be in a future blog post) and place the halves face down on a cookie sheet filled with water.  They bake in a oven at 350 degrees.  You will know your squash is cooked, when a fork slides through the skin nicely.  Then, scoop out the innards and use in cooking (recipes below).  This way seems to take the least amount of work, and more cooking time then some other ways.

Another way to cook squash is to chop it into pieces after you have scooped out the seeds.  You can bake the squash in smaller pieces or you can cook it on your stovetop in a steamer basket.  Recently, I think that the least energy intensive way to cook squash is to chop it in smaller pieces and take off the rind before baking it in the oven.  It cooks fast this way and you already have the skin removed.

I have also tried cooking it in small pieces in a pressure cooker after the skin has been removed.  This cooked in 10 minutes but it was quite watery.  This way is best for soup.

Once my squash is cooked, I puree it in a food processor.  Usually I have so much squash puree that I freeze some and cook with some.  This week, I had so much squash puree that I made three cakes and two soups.  Below are the recipes

Winter Squash Chocolate Chip Muffins (or Bread)

  • ½ cup chocolate chips (or raisins, aronia berries, or currants)
  • ½ c. warm apple cider or other fruit juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
  • 1 ½ c. squash (or pumpkin) puree
  • 2 c. brown rice flour (or other all purpose flour)
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  1. Soak dried berries in the cider for 20 mins.  (omit if using chocolate chips).  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and beat until smooth.  Beat in the puree.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. Sift the flour mixture into the squash mixture, alternating with the chocolate chips or dried fruit, and cider.
  5. Grease the muffin tins or bread pan and spoon in the batter.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed up and firm.  When they are done your kitchen will smell divine and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Let cool.

Winter Squash Cake

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ c. cooked and pureed winter squash or pumpkin
  • ½ c. apple cider, or other fruit juice
  • 1 ¾ c. brown rice flour (or other all purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9×13 pan or a 9 or 10 inch bundt or tube pan.
  2. Melt the butter and combine with the sugar and eggs.  Add the squash and apple cider and beat until well-mixed.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Add to the creamed mixture and beat well.
  4. Pour into the pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Prepare the glaze if you want it extra sweet.

Apple Cider Glaze

  • 1 ½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ c. Apple Cider

Combine the sugar and the cider in a bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Use right away before it crystallizes.

Squash Soup

  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 1/2 c. dried peppers
  • 1 golden onion
  • 1 celeraic
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 c. Winter Squash Puree
  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 c. tomato puree
  • 1 lb chicken (can substitute for 1 cup of cooked garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tsp curry paste
  1. Saute the chicken and onions until cooked.
  2. Fill a crock pot or large pot with the stock, and purees.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer.
  3. Chop the vegetables and add to the liquids.
  4. Add curry paste and any other desired seasonings.

Coming soon…

Brussel Sprouts ~ a delicacy in the winter

I have been enjoying my three Brussel Sprouts plants so much this year!  So far, we have had about 6 meals from the three plants and more to come!

I love how Brussel Sprouts taste slightly like horseradish. When you harvest your Brussel Sprouts, pick them off the stem and bring them inside to clean them.  Peel off the outside leaves and cut off the base.

My favorite way to prepare Brussel Sprouts is in a gratin.  Lightly oil a glass baking dish and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the Brussel Sprouts in half.  Cut up two cloves of garlic (or more) and scatter over the Brussel Sprouts.  If you do not have enough Brussel Sprouts to fill the baking dish, you can add other vegetables.  I like to add parsnips or potatoes.  Once the baking dish is filled with vegetables, add a bit of cream to cover the bottom (or milk, soy milk, or water), and top with parmesean cheese. Lightly add salt and pepper and place in the oven to bake until your vegetables are tender.  Enjoy!

I planted my Brussel Sprouts from starts in mid June.  They were started by seed in March.  These plants developed large root systems all summer and the Brussel Sprouts were ready to eat in December.  They are still producing now in January.

Yum!