Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cooking out of the box: Squash

Some notes on contending with Summer's last gasp and Fall's glut.

1. Squash

Full Belly farm has come into squash harvest time. In the past month we have received Red Kuris, Delicata, and, last Friday, two massive Acorns.

We are but two humble eaters. And though winter squash keeps pretty well, organic produce does not have the indefinite fridge life of its chemical brethern. A few recipes to use up your squash:

Squash Bread

The past few weeks I've baked numerous loaves using Joy's of Cooking's pumpkin bread recipe as a jumping off point. The recipe can be found in the 1997 Joy, page 774. I find their spice-based quick breads to be bland and achingly sweet, so I decrease the sugar and increase the ginger, allspice, and cloves. I detest nutmeg, so omit it.

This recipe works with any cooked mashed squash.

Grease an 8 cup loaf pan with butter. Do not use Crisco. For anything. Ever. Even pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the following:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (King Arthur is great if you can get it)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Here's where Joy and I part ways:

Joy: 1 tsp ground ginger BK: 2 tsp

Joy: 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg BK: none, instead one tsp Allspice

Joy: 1/4 tsp ground cloves BK: 1 tsp

Joy and BK: 1/4 tsp baking powder

Combine in another bowl:

1/3 C water or milk (I usually have only water, and it works fine)

1/2 tsp vanilla (my vanilla is a pod that lives in a bottle of brandy)

In a large bowl--I use my KitchenAid mixer--beat six tablespoons sweet butter until creamy.

Gradually add sugar. Again, Joy and I part ways here, so their version and mine:

Joy: 1 1/3 C white sugar or 1 C sugar plus 1/3 C packed brown sugar, light or dark.

BK: Scant C sugar, some white, mostly light brown.

Cream with butter until well mixed.

Beat in two large eggs.

Add 1 C squash puree, taking care to keep the strings out.

Add the flour and milk/water in three parts: flour, a little liquid, flour, more liquid. You get the idea.

Blend carefully, at low speed, to avoid getting pureed squash and flour all over your kitchen.

You can add raisins or nuts at this point, if you like those sorts of things. I don't.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake about an hour. In my oven I go about 65 minutes or have an underbaked top.

Let cool. You can now slice this, freeze it, and have a nice breakfast for you, a child, or your significant other all week long.

Hockeyman, who is not a breakfast eater, loves this bread. It has a velvety texture and keeps well.

That takes care of one cup of squash. What about the rest of it?

I find squash goes beautifully with pork. So with last week's pork butt a la crock pot, I took out the leftover Red Kuri and mashed it with a potato masher. I then ladled the liquid from the crock pot (the pork had cooked in tequila, a little olive oil, carrot, and garlic) into the squash, allowing the vegetable to asborb the juices. I added salt, pepper, a pinch of cumin, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. One down, pounds more to go.

Last night I dealt with the Delicatas. There were two, fortunately smallish. I made Delicata Squash Rings, from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Basically, you peel and seed the squash, then saute it olive oil. I used butter. The sugars carmelize and you end up with a crispy exterior. These are easy, quick, and as addictive as french fries.

Soup, bread, mashed, fried. Two Acorns notwithstanding, I was out of ideas, and turned to the Gourmet Cookbook, where I found baked breaded Acorn Squash (p. 587) and a recipe for Pumpkin Apple bread (p. 599) that I intend to make this afternoon. The recipe calls for canned solid pack pumpkin; I am hoping my solid pack Acorn, freshly roasted and cooling, will make an admirable substitute.

Next post: acres of greens.


Works Cited:

Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. The Joy of Cooking. New York: Scribner, 1997. 774.

Deborah Madison. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. New York: Broadway Books, 1997. 440.

Ruth Reichel. The Gourmet Cookbook. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. pps

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