It’s the Squash Gremlins!

Stripe has leapt into the swimming pool!  I let it have water; I let it feed after midnight, oh noooo!

Italian Trombocino Zucchetta Rampicante – that’s five you see in the one square foot-ish area of vines. This photo posted a few weeks ago shows a baby squash growing right along a hands width from the larger. I’d harvested that squash two days later for the photo here  – showing it on a 20 inch napkin. The neat thing is the squash is very good a bit larger, quite a bit larger, than other summer squash. Even the seed companies tell you it can be harvested anywhere from a few inches to 3 feet long. In There are no seeds in the neck, only in the small bulbous bottom.

Dark shots as I ran out at 7:30 pm to get a few more for this post. I’m thinking this squash could solve world hunger. On the right side of photo you’ll notice that the squash are growing on the vine only about 8 inches apart from each other and there’s another forming off to left. When I grew Tuffy acorn, I was lucky to get two per vine. This roots as it grows so the number of squash per vine (plant) is just limited by the length of your season. For gardeners, don’t let the white flower fool you – I have gourds growing in that area as well.

They are everywhere.

My previous shots of the garden were from the other side. For the bed in the foreground, it’s Maranka gourd, Trombocino squash and lemon cucumber (filling right third of the bed and growing out).

It has a stronger zucchini flavor than the Zapallo or Sunburst, which are both mild. Stays firm and tasty sautéed. It can be grown as a winter squash. At the various garden forums and blogs, unanimous love for it as a summer squash is professed. As a winter squash it has some supporters while others prefer Butternuts, acorns and pumpkins for winter squash flavor. The way this thing is multiplying, there will certainly be some I can test out later in the season.

 

Hands down – Sunburst is my favorite summer squash. If there could “be only one” this would be it. I love the mild flavor, the stable texture and that you can use it at all different sizes. The baby ones raw dipped in a bit of Marie’s chipotle ranch salad dressing are the best. If I miss one and it gets really large I’ll scoop out the seeds and grate it for Spiced squash bread, chocolate squash bread or squash patties (think potato pancakes made with grated squash). “It’s the earliest (and reputedly most productive) of the yellow scallopini, an AAS winner. Can be picked from baby size up to 8 inches across without losing its tender, buttery flavor” – from the seed packets and positively true. It’s so much earlier and so incredibly prolific, that until a week ago I thought the Trombocino was a dud (boy, was I wrong!). You’ll notice I don’t grow regular zucchini logs or green “8 balls”; not a fan.  I grew ‘Horn of Plenty’ sweet yellow crook neck summer squash this season, and it’s one for the ‘eh’ file. It can become a bit watery when cooked and the seed area in relation to the squash is large. It‘s quite pretty and ok flavor wise, just not the star the others are.

Italian Zapallo white scallopini is firm when cooked and has the most marvelous shape. Imagine this one with the top cored off, a bit of stuffing in the center, and the lid and placed back on. So beautiful.

Shoshana’s gift all of Godzilla Butternut seed and seedlings are really coming along.

The Butternut squash is only planted in the front third of the bed – I keep pulling the vines out and down. There’s nothing below this bed, so it can grow as long as it wants.

Dealing with the bounty a.k.a. my freezer is my friend. With the proliferation of vegetables piling up – I look for the easiest ways to preserve them. Here are the Cherry 100 tomatoes ready for freezing. Just rinse off, let dry and freeze.

The tray for initial freezing is useful as 1 – I don’t have a flat open space in the freezer and 2 – to prevent me from spilling the tomatoes all over the floor when I open the freezer door.

A friend raved about her Food Saver vacuum sealer for over a year before I finally broke down and bought one. I am so glad I did.

Frozen cherries ready to throw into a sauté or on top of a pizza come winter. I like a few green ones for tart; they’re all ripe enough to be soft, no hard nuggets allowed.

When I last made the Summer Squash Spice Bread , I set up my little assembly-line with four bowls for dry and four bowls for wet plus pans ready for four recipes. It’s so easy and so fast. Set the oven to start at 25° higher so the temp doesn’t drop too low when you add the four pans. Reset it to 350 after 15 or 20 minutes. Grab the flour and dump 1 1/2 cups in each dry bowl – and so on down the line each ingredient. Just make sure the dishwasher is empty before you start.

 Now the thing about the Food Saver vacuum sealer is that it’s powerful. My original thought in getting it was that I love home-baked breads and muffins and also enjoy stocking up on bagels and bakery breads at Costco. Imagine my surprise when, not being one to read the directions coupled with the hour and half drive through windy one lane mountain roads plus meeting a friend for shopping and lunch, I took my marvelous new machine out-of-the-box, placed a loaf of Costco hard crusted bakery bread in a bag and hit seal. Vroom, it seals and pulls all air from the bag – and before my eyes my hard crusted bakery loaf shrank to about an inch high. I started laughing. I did wish I had a camera on. Then, I read the instructions and found out you have to freeze many things solid first (ooohhh); thus the tomatoes going in on the tray to freeze before vacuum sealing the bag.

The machine has a small tray to collect liquid so you can just grate your squash, put it in the sealer and go. You don’t have to parboil it first. What will happen is that the moisture being sucked out by the vacuum will prevent the seal from the adhering wherever those droplets of moisture are. Solution is to toss it in the freezer for a few hours or overnight, then reseal it. You can also do this with things like blanched chard or kale leaves – anything with just a bit of moisture. When you defrost frozen grated summer squash, you’ll end up with some liquid and some squash. There are two camps – one:  those who religiously put both the liquid and the squash into their recipes and claim they don’t end up with soggy breads and two: those who only use the squash in their recipes. I’m in the latter camp, the liquid can go into a soup or on the compost pile.

Since my first garden years ago, I’ve been freezing pesto in ice cube trays. The taste has always been wonderful and fresh. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it until I saw others do it, a Homer ‘DOH’ moment – pesto is garlic frozen in olive oil, fresh herbs (basil) frozen in olive oil. So, garlic, herbs, peppers and onions are being minced, tossed into ice cube trays and drizzled with olive oil. Once frozen, into the Food Saver bag they go. Just leave the end of the bag longer and so you can open and reseal it a few times. All those lazy, tired nights – you can skip chopping and mincing and just grab the cubes. Each is about 2 tablespoons of minced herbs.

Egads, this post is a book. But, I saved the best for last. Each of these two linked videos is less than a minute. It’s really worth your time. Saveur – how to peel a head of garlic in less than 10 seconds. I did the garlic bit this morning.

It works. I took the three pound bag up of garlic, courtesy of Costco, and went at it. I did not thwack it with the heel of my hand as he did. I knew I had a whole bunch to get through and that would be painful – so I smacked it with the bottom of my bowl. Some cloves would go skittering across the floor, easily collected. It appears my bowl was not always lined up for the shaking part and I ended up with bits of garlic paper on the counter, the floor and me. It was still worth it. I would shake a little bit, pull out the clean cloves and rinse them, shake a bit more, pull out the rest. Optimum for me was two or three heads in each shaking of the bowl. This really goes fast. You are bruising the garlic, the scent is released and it gets sticky. This is my mess with the plastic bowl of empty papers and the two sticky shaking bowls. Some of the garlic will be frozen; some will be minced, covered with oil and placed in the fridge and some will be left whole, covered with oil and placed in the fridge. The bowl pictured is a bit less than half of the bag.

Trick for separating eggs.

 This one looks like so much fun. I have a coffee ice cream recipe that takes 6 egg yokes. I already have two meringue recipes lined up for the whites. Mine broke, repeatedly. I was all ready with bowls for yolks, whites, breaking and everything.

First thought was that I used the little glass cup and the bottle was sucking up the white with the yoke (which it was). For the second try, I used a saucer for the egg.  Gosh darn it, remembered something from an old cookbook and realized my eggs, courtesy of my neighbor, are simply too fresh for this method.

In really fresh eggs, the white and the yolk cling to each other. Photo courtesy of Time Life books, Eggs and Cheese. Copyright says you can only reproduce a small portion with a review, so – I really learned a lot from this out-of-print book and enjoy the recipes.

Finally, remember the date, Nov 3& 4 – Murphy’s Dia de los Muertos has a Facebook page. Above is a simple scarf for the celebration I’d decorated using an Urban Threads design.

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This post is participating in Unknown mami’s Sundays in my City, the Gallery of favorites hosted by April at The 21st Century Housewife and Alea of Premeditated Leftovers, Seasonal Sundays at the Tablescaper and Sundae Scoop at I Heart Naptime.

8 comments on “It’s the Squash Gremlins!

  1. Chris says:

    Loved the part about the Costco bread! lol Very informative post – thank you!

  2. BLOGitse says:

    wow. my hubby was here to watch the video how to peel garlic…now we know!!!
    Your veggies look soooooo gooooood!!! 🙂

    • Maggie says:

      I love that garlic peeling! My bowls weren’t the same size – I just held them tightly together. I wouldn’t use thin plastic bowls as I think you could crack them. I was amazed it worked so well.

  3. unknownmami says:

    I love squash. Whenever my mother wants to spoil me she makes me a zucchini dish that I have loved since childhood. I never knew about the egg dispersion. I recently had what was an old egg and wondered why it was disperseing so much. Now I know.

    • Maggie says:

      Claudya, I wish you lived closer – I literally have squash coming out my ears and continue to look for places to give it away (my town census showed 2,200 folks in 2010 – so there’s the senior center, a church that does lunch one day a week – not enough).

  4. 21stcenturyhousewife says:

    What a wonderful garden you have! I have had hardly any harvest this year with the wet weather we have had (lots of summer squash though!). This is such an interesting and informative post, with some really excellent storage ideas.

  5. Cindy says:

    Beautiful photos of your veggies! I never knew that about eggs, so I learned something new! Very informative and interesting.

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