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.
Squash, all the squash, as much squash as you have the strength and wherewithal to chop up.
Other vegetables, probably broth.
- 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.
- Return to the kitchen. Might I suggest using the dull knife after all the alcohol?
- Finish chopping squash.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.