An Accurate Squash Recipe

Recipes read like joke books to me. In particular, the ones involving squash. I always look at the ingredients list and think “3 cups of squash? Are you kidding me?” What I’d like to know is; who are these people who just have three cups of squash? Do they not have gardens? Or mother-in-laws that farm? Are they the ones buying the teeny baby squashes that are sold in grocery stores by the pound for exorbitant prices?

Admittedly, I have less squash than I’ve had in previous years. And nothing will ever compare to the year of the gourds. That was the year that butternuts came like the plague only instead of grasshoppers, we got gourds, an endless parade of gourds. Not even the little ones that are sold in the grocery stores- these were giant butternut squash that ate the little grocery store squash for breakfast, then took over the zucchini patch for lunch.

Tex and I ate two hundred pounds of squash that year. Two hundred. By December I didn’t love my favourite squash recipe anymore. I used to be able to eat that salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, while Tex is willing to take one for the team and eat his family’s allotment of dog fur flavoured seal meat, around about January of the year of the gourds, my husband gave up eating squash. Meaning that in twelve months I ate more than my weight in gourds. That’s right, I ate a butternut person. And if my mother-in-law drops off another couple hundred pounds of squash at my door, I’d do it again.

I started hiding squash in things. Not like couches or other people’s cars, although that would have been brilliant idea and relieved me of a couple of gourds, more like in dishes. I discovered that squash thickens up homemade spaghetti sauce. And best of all- you can’t taste it. I mashed acorn squash into chili and then told Tex that it was just chili. Because otherwise he might have balked and gone out for KFC.

During the year of the squash, we had so much that Tex, my resident knife sharpener got tired of touching up the blades every other day and invested in a cleaver. The butternuts were rendered easier but the Koboka squash were still tough to crack. Don’t be upset if you’ve never seen or heard of a Koboka squash before, its part-gourd, part-medieval-cannonball and they’ve got a rind made of  cast iron.

My uncle who grew up on a farm suggested throwing the Kobokas down the stairs to crack them open. Not only would we have lost our damage deposit along with a means of accessing the laundry room in the basement but I suspect the Kobokas would have rolled away without a scratch. Tex purchased the cleaver specifically for them.

To cut up a Koboka, Tex would stand at one end of the kitchen, and using all of his farm boy strength combined with engineering know-how, chuck the cleaver at the Koboka like a hipster at an ax throwing competition. The cleaver would barely sink into the skin of the cannonball-squash-cross but it would be enough. Then he’d walk down to the local prison and ask the largest inmate, the one who spends his entire jail sentence bench pressing weights, to lean on the cleaver. Once that strong man was exhausted, the Koboka would be pried open enough that Tex could repeat his cleaver throwing bit again and begin to carve the vegetable up for dinner.

We had twelve Koboka squash that year. All of them were approximately the size of a chubby eight month old. I know this because I held a photo survey with my family asking “Who’s larger: the squash or the baby?” The squash won by a landslide.

In addition to the sheer amount of work necessary to chop them up, I also was forced to find new recipes. Hence the laughable nature of a soup requiring just three cups of squash. So I’ve decided to make my own recipe. One that farmers and those with gardens will actually find helpful.

 

Squash Soup or Squash Casserole or Squash Rigoli or Whatever You Need To Call This Dish So That Your Family Will Eat More Squash

Minutes of preparation : Until the end of TIME

For serious, you will have squash until the end of time. Your days will be marked by time not preparing squash versus time chopping up and cooking squash. If you wanted a different life, maybe you should have considered that before taking up gardening.

Ingredients

Squash, all the squash, as much squash as you have the strength and wherewithal to chop up.

Other vegetables, probably broth.

Steps

  1. Cut up squash. Give up halfway through and start downing shots. Eye the twenty other squash sitting in the corner or your pantry with a combination of revulsion and appreciation.
  2. Return to the kitchen. Might I suggest using the dull knife after all the alcohol?
  3. Finish chopping squash.
  4. Lay squash on a tray, place in the oven. Bake at 375 F for an hour. Unless the squash is spaghetti squash from Tex’s cousin, in which case it’s going to take a minimum of two hours. While you’re waiting, down more shots.
  5. Remove squash and put in pot with other flavourful vegetables that will hopefully cover the taste of the squash. Add broth. Bring to boiling and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Depending on how bad the situation is at your house, you may need to blend the sucker. In fact I recommend it, anything to disguise the fact that you’re eating squash.
  7. Serve to your unsuspecting family. Tell them it’s carrot soup. If the soup isn’t orange, add an Oompa Loompa as a garnish.

 

This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law, who has lovingly grown every one of the 600 lbs of squash that I’ve eaten since 2015. And put up with teasing about her plentiful squash patch.

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There’s A Terrible, Devious Part Of Me That Wants To Call His Bluff

So I arrived home to find this on the counter.

If you can’t read my husband’s writing it says

“If I find one more of these loose in the bottom of the dishwasher clogging up the drain, I will preemptively remove all of them. We will be having “surprise” for supper a lot.

Love, Tex”

And there is an arrow leading to my label which says “Pork Spcg Sauce”, which for those uninitiated to my serial killer printing, means pork spaghetti sauce.

The ironic thing is; the containers began being labeled because of Tex. He objected to pulling what he thought was sausage soup out of the freezer, only to arrive home to a thawed container of applesauce. I don’t know about you, but I am fine with just applesauce for dinner. I just pretend that I’m eight months old again and sporadically sneeze into my dining companion’s mouths to complete the experience. Although I’m not a fan of the dessert course, when you take off your socks, rub them in your applesauce coated hair and then suck on the juicy toes.

In fact, I was accustomed to the concept of mystery dinners, because ten years ago, I started a steamy love affair. With soup. I had just begun learning to cook and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t something I wanted to do every day. Enter my hot and freezer worthy friend. I began cooking vats of soup. And then freezing it in small batches. It was convenient, it was fabulous; I had discovered the culinary equivalent of a boyfriend sweater- all easy to heat up, comforting and right there when you need it.

When I lived alone, because there’s only so often a person can grow a beard, scratch their groin and retreat into their own personal hovel, I had potluck dinner with friends twice a week. In the morning, I would grab unlabeled containers out of my freezer then leave them to thaw all day in my car. This plan would never work now, what with my snuggling up to polar bears and camping on icebergs every night, but back when I lived in the south with that stranger whom people call “heat”, my soups melted. (It’s approximately minus a bajillion outside today. A snowdrift knocked on the door asking to come in and warm up but I had to turn him away because there was already a hypothermic ice sculpture shivering in the hallway.) Then I would crack open said “mystery” supper container at my friend’s house. There was only one occasion where I did a Homer Simpson impersonation after realizing that I had not shown up with chili- it was pasta sauce, which I also made in large batches.

Luckily my friends were as lackadaisical about food as me. I also suspect that they were grateful when I didn’t turn up on their doorstep with eight pounds of mashed rutabaga. Because this was also around the time when I turned full hippie and was a pious, irritating, root vegetable-farting locavore.  I was one stick of organic incense away from braiding rugs out of my underarm hair.

Sula, my best girlfriend, moonlighted as a taxidermist on weekends. Her freezer was often stuffed full of meats succinctly titled “STK”. A rarely discussed benefit of stuffing wild animals- sometimes hunters give you the meat. For our weekly craft nights, she’d pull one of the trays out and create culinary masterpieces. Including the one time when I walked in the door and Sula said “I’m sorry, I thought it was venison but I think it’s bear.” Then she dipped her spoon into the mixture and took another taste. “Yep, it’s bear.”

Though my friends and I loved this devil-may-care approach to dinner, this did not fly with my husband. So when I started cooking up giant vats of different soups using his old 60 liter beer making pot, the final step before stowing the endless parade of containers in the freezer became making indecipherable labels for them. For  serious it was an endless parade, even though the plastic vessels weren’t filled with candy, there’s a part of me that feels vaguely like an Oompa Loompa after dealing with 50 liters of soup. This might have something to do with my hands being dyed orange from peeling and chopping ten pounds of carrots like I’m a cook on a military base. Or an orphan in a Dickens’ novel.

Tex would even make jokes to chastise me when I would forget the labels. So there’s an evil part of me that wants to test my husband’s patience along with his taste buds because at some point, if we remove the labels, Tex will end up eating an entire container of wild cranberry sauce for lunch. Sweat sock smell, round pits and all. I’ll let you know if my diabolical or, more likely, forgetful side wins out and the labels get tossed. I can’t wait to eat apricot kiwi mash for dinner. I’m going to toss some of it in Tex’s hair just to make it authentic. What would be the best though, is if I was still nursing our son. Nothing like a wholesome cup of breastmilk to cap off a rough day.

 

Addendum

Tex arrived home right after I finished penning this post. While writing it, I had sent him a text saying “Do you have your key? Also, I did what you asked.”

The second sentence being a reference to the fact that he signed his note with the moniker I use for him on my blog. I thought Tex had wanted me to write a post. When my husband walked in the door, he breathed a sigh of relief over not seeing a pile of tiny labels next to his note. In his words “My wife is a little evil, I didn’t know what to expect.”

I love that our marriage is a bit of a crapshoot for him.