Oh my gosh, it’s squash!

Oh my gosh, it’s squash!

It’s the gorilla, gripping innocent female bystanders like pieces of chalk. It’s the monster in the water, circling, lurking, waiting for … that…. moment….                       It’s SQUASH!

Oh, it’s not as horrible, harry knuckled and crazy eyed as I’ve made it out to be, but squash is not the dainty heroine either. If squash were a nutritionally complete meal, we could scatter their white papery seeds out of airplanes and have them sprout throughout every corner of the globe. With the way these plants produce, there’s the potential to put Malthus’ theory slightly at bay. To ensure that you don’t get fruit the size of your entire arm, squash has to be harvested every other day at a minimum. And what do you do with those every other day yields? – As the saying goes, “Don’t leave your car window down at church in the summer, or you’ll find a bag of zucchini on your seat.”

Ok, enough of this villanizing, really. What a gift to have such a fantastic veggie able to produce in abundance. I’m not being facetious here, even if I am slightly exhausted by the constant harvesting of those prickly plants. The wonderful characteristic of summer squash is that it is immensely versatile. I can be a purest with veggies. I love squash simply grilled with salt and pepper. With this wealth of squashy abundance however, thinking outside of the recipe box is a must! Here are some recipes for you, dear CSA members, who every week probably state out loud “Oh my gosh, more squash!”

Hot off the grill!

Summer Squash Ribbons –

This concept hails from the time when my mom was a devotee of Susan Summers. In this recipe you make ribbons of squash by peeling a whole squash down with a potato peeler. You then steam the ribbons and use them instead of pasta in a pasta-like meal.

Step 1 – Take 3 large, 5-6 small summer squash and make ribbons by peeling the squash down with a potato peeler. This step takes a bit of time, love and labor. You can see my mom here ‘making ribbons’ and having them land into a large steaming pot. I’m now saying peeling, but when we were in the process of doing this we called it whittling and we whittled away, taking Appalachian accents and conjuring up stories about the good ‘ol days when grandpappy would sit on the porch and make whittled squash. Never a dull moment in this household.

Step 2-  Hunt in the fridge for everything you love to include in a nice bowl of pasta. In our fridge we found beet greens, onions, broccoli, tomatoes and, well, more squash (we’ll save those to make fritters)! I cut all the beautiful Homeward Bounty veggies into small pieces and compiled them all on a plate. I also uncovered some sausage and cooked the links up in a pan. The squash steams up quickly, so it’s nice to have all these steps done first. Steam the squash in a big steaming pot or use a steamer and cook until veggie al dente. Squash holds a lot of water, so I would pour the finished steamed squash into a colander and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Place steamed squash in a large bowl and mix in either pesto or tomato marinara. We used pesto and it was so fantastic that it would be hard to experiment with anything else, but I’m sure a tomato sauce would bring its own pizzaz to the meal. After mixing in your sauce of choice, add in your cut up veggies and meat.                                                                    -Enjoy this one with friends, a bottle of wine and a relaxing summer afternoon out on the porch!

Friends – Wine – Setting Sun – Yum!

Summer Squash Fritters – 

If this recipe was worthless and unpalatable (which it IS not), it would still hold value in the fact that saying the word fritter is down right fun!

Ingredients –

4 medium zucchini or any type of summer squash

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch parsley or cilantro, or both

2 eggs

1/2 flour or cornmeal

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp lemon zest

oil for high heat –  safflower or grapeseed

Directions –

1. Grate squash with a cheese grater. Place grated squash in a colander and sprinkle a little salt over it to draw some of the water out. Let sit while you cut up vegetables  – chop onions and herbs. Put in a bowl, mix in eggs, spices, and lemon zest. Add squash and flour/cornmeal. The batter should be thick enough to be able to make patties in your hands, but not too dense and they’re not moist.

2. In a skillet heat up a layer of cooking oil. Grab a bit of mixture in your hand and shape into a patty and place into oil. Cook on both sides until golden brown. You can place finished fritters on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.

– Different chutneys go great with fritters. They’re also quite tasty with sour cream or plain yogurt on top!

The Farmer and the Sea

The heat has found this Northern California corner. The fires and smoke have welcomed themselves to our doorstep too. I guess it wouldn’t be a true passage through summer without a week at high 90’s and a haze dyed, bright red sunset. In this weather I want to sprawl out under the coffee table, like a cat, and sleep it out. When I lived in Germany, I would experience cold nights walking home with my chest cinched tight in all efforts to keep in every single molecule of warmth, so much so that it would be hard to breathe. On those bitter nights it seemed impossible to imagine being too hot, having too much sun on the skin, to be dry and parched and craving a chill. Now, in the stagnant mirage of heat I reremind myself of rain, of socks and breathing into chilled hands. If there was a down pour right now I would arouse my cat self from under the table, with out even stretching a leg or arching back, and drench myself in unfeline fashion!

This poem has always resonated with me and with this heat I can feel the spray of the waves. I’ve always felt this poem was more The Farmer and the Seed – and as I’ve been cleaning spinach, bok choi, dil and watermelon seed lately it feels nice to revisit it’s lines.

The Farmer and the Sea

The sea always arriving,

hissing in pebbles, is breaking

its edge were the landsman

squats on his rock. The dark

of the earth is familiar to him,

close mystery of his source

and end, always flowering

in the light and always

fading. But the dark of the sea

is perfect and strange,

the absence of any place,

immensity on the loose.

Still, he sees it is another

keeper of the land, caretaker,

shaking the earth, breaking it,

clicking the pieces, but somewhere

holding deep fields yet to rise,

shedding its richness on them

silently as snow, keeper and maker

of places wholly dark. And in him

something dark applauds.

– Wendell Berry

A full rainbow arches over the farm.