This past growing season I’ve had the rewarding opportunity to be part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) run by Deb Lentz and her husband Richard Andres called Tantre Farm. This Michigan farm has been totally organic since 1993 and produces the most amazing food!
As part of our last share of the extended season, Deb set out some blue Hubbard squash for us to try.
These boogers can run up to 40 pounds, but the one I selected ran about eight. Still a challenge. Because the outer shell is hard and brittle, Deb suggested I roast it first at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes to soften it so that it could be broken into manageable pieces and de-seeded.
This I did, but even after the baking, other than making a small nick in the neck of the squash with my big knife, nothing was happening. That squash wasn’t budging!
So I took it outside, raised it above my head, and smashed it on the cement driveway:
Voila! A broken squash. Very satisfying. Not hard to break into pieces at all, at this point.
Then I had to take out the innards. The size of the squash is misleading, because unlike a butternut squash, it has a big inner cavity filled with fibers and pumpkin-sized seeds. Kinda of gross, actually, now that I think of it.
But after all the parts I wasn’t going to use were scraped away, I was left with the shell and the real meat of the squash, ready to go back into the oven. The squash has grown in surface area at this point, and I’ve graduated from a cake pan to a cookie sheet to bake it:
Oops! Not quite ready. According to the Joy of Cooking, my absolute reference for the kitchen, the squash should be cut side down, with a quarter-inch of water and foil covered. Pretend the foil cover is in place:
At this point it goes back in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. The house should start to feel cozy-warm by now, with the great smell of roasting squash wafting through.
Ding! And out it comes. Let it cool a bit, and the meat is easy to scrape off the shell pieces with a spoon. I dumped it all in the mixer, added some butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a little maple syrup:
The end result, a generous quart of squash, filled with fiber, iron, potassium, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, and niacin. Plus it tastes good, with a rich, complex flaor! What’s not to like?
I scooped some of it into containers for freezing and ate the rest, right from the bowl. Yum!
Kudos, Deb, for a great recommendation of a new vegetable to try.
And Elizabeth, the washerwoman? That story goes back a ways. According to the legend, a sea captain found a new variety of squash in South America in the late 1800s and gave the seeds to his sister Sarah Martin. She was a shy sort of woman and gave the seeds to her friend Elizabeth Hubbard to try.
Elizabeth in turn passed them on to a man she washed clothes for, a seedsman named James Gregory. They made his fortune. Because of the popularity of the squash, he went on to become the largest seed grower in America by the early 1900s and named the squash in Elizabeth’s honor.
If her friend Sarah had been a litte braver, perhaps we would be celebrating the Martin squash instead of the Hubbard.
If you don’t dare, you may never have a squash named after you!
What about you.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve cooked?
What is your favorite, cook-all-the-time comfort meal?