Native Cooking

People with gardens are really reaping the benefits now. Are you putting
paper bags of summer squash and other over-abundance on your neighbor’s
doorstep? The general rule is that three squash plants per four-member
family is about right.

To make most recipes for squash, the young squash that is four to eight
inches is ideal. This ensures tender flesh, delicate flavor and digestible
seeds. Sometimes, you get tied up and don’t pick at the right time, then
you get these giant squash. What to do with them, especially if there isn’t
a contest for the largest squash in your area? Grating the larger squash,
peeled, in recipes is one way to use them up, but summer squash of any kind
does not freeze well, it gets mushy.

Squash Ideas

Summer squash cut into chunks is great in soups and stews. Just remember to
add it at the end of cooking so it retains its shape since it cooks so
quickly.

Make a casserole of layers of sliced squash, sliced onions and buttered
bread crumbs. Two or three layers is good, then bake at 350 degrees until
hot and bubbly.

Some really oversized squash can be carved into containers, like they do
with watermelons. Clean the insides then brush with lemon juice to retain
color. Fill with raw veggies and a dip (in a separate container) in the
middle. Very pretty.

Refry squash leftovers and use in quiches. Refrying dries the squash out
enough so it doesn’t water up or separate the egg-cheese mixture.

Because squash is very watery, it is important to ‘salt’ it, especially if
it is grated or cut very thin. Put the grated squash in a colander and
sprinkle with sea salt. Let sit in colander for 30 minutes, rinse with cold
water and squeeze the squash in cloth or paper toweling.

You can saute, steam, broil, bake, grill, stuff or deep-fry summer squash.
The herbs that like to be combined with summer squash are dill, basil,
mint, tarragon, rosemary and curry.

Green Squash Relish

10 cups green summer squash, ground in food processor or meat grinder

4 cups ground onions, preferably sweet

5 tablespoons salt

Drain all together in a large colander twice and put in a large pot.

Add:

3 cups vinegar

5 cups sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons celery salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 bell pepper, fine chopped

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 red bell pepper, fine chopped

Boil all ingredients for 2 minutes, then simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes.
Put into sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 5 minutes.

Vegetable Stuffed Green Squash

2 8-inch green or yellow summer squash

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup corn kernels

1 tablespoon chopped chive or minced scallion

1 cup grated cheddar cheese Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put whole squash in boiling water for 5
minutes, then put into ice water immediately and drain. Cut in half
lengthwise and scoop out insides leaving about 1/4-inch shell. Puree the
corn, ricotta and chive, season with salt and pepper. Fill the squash
halves, mounding the filling. Sprinkle with the grated cheddar. Put the
filled squash shells in a buttered baking dish. Cover lightly and bake for
30 minutes. Remove the cover for the last few minutes to let the top brown
slightly.

Delish Squash Bread

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups grated green summer squash

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients together. Beat the
eggs with the sugar, oil and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients to
this mixture. Now stir in the squash, raisins and nuts. Grease two loaf
pans and divide the batter in two. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Turn onto a
rack to cool.

Notes & Tips

Squash contains tons of vitamins and minerals as well as other substances
which are still being studied. Squash has been found with artifacts in
Mexico that date back 7,000 years for certain and probably more than that
in reality.

I recently discovered a great spread for bagels or sweet quick breads. Just
mix a tad of honey with softened cream cheese.

I want to thank all of you who have sent in suggestions and ideas to
NativeCooking@aol.com. I am always learning things. Please let me know what
YOU want to see for recipes in this column.

Dale Carson is the author of three books, “New Native American Cooking,”
(temporarily out of print) “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher
Book.”

For ordering information write to Dale Carson, P.O. Box 13, Madison, CT
06443 or e-mail NativeCooking@aol.com.

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