Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer Squash

Jon planted what he thought was a massive row of cucumbers. The package said cucumber, so he assumed when the bright, broad, squash-y leaves came sprouting up and growing up his homemade trellis, that he'd planted cucumber. At some point he noticed that all the leaves, while quite squashy in nature, varied slightly from plant to plant. Then strange little shapes began to appear which did not quite resemble cucumber at all. They more resembled the decorative squash and gourds I buy each year and toss in the compost once Thanksgiving has passed. And that's what they were. In fact, they were all manner of squash, pumpkin, and zucchini, and only one lonely cucumber plant.

This discovery ushered in zucchini season. A little late this year admittedly, though I'm not sure if that's our fault for our planting timetable or just another side-effect of this lame mild summer we've been having. Whatever the reason, our zucchini didn't really take off until late July. By the first of August, however, it came rolling in just as it should and we are still in the mighty midst of coping with it.

City Fresh gave us at least five fruits of as many as three different varieties of summer squash each week, Jon's Baba sent us home with a bag of zucchini just like every summer when we visit her, and our garden yielded mammoth round things, best used for baking. Barbara Kingsolver described Zucchini Season excellently in her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in a chapter titled, "Zucchini Wars."
Garrison Keillor says July is the only time of year when country people lock our cars in the church parking lot, so people won't put squash on the front seat. I used to think that was a joke.

...It's a relaxed atmosphere in our little town...So the family was a bit surprised when I started double-checking the security of doors and gates any time we all were about to leave the premises.

“Do I have to explain the obvious?” I asked impatiently. “Somebody might break in and put zucchini in our house.”

I first became cognizant of this phenomena in 2000, when upon a July visit to my mother's kitchen, I noticed her counters crammed full of two-and-a-half-foot giant zukes (as well as all manner of smaller ones), dumped there by a midwife friend. In between it all were pans with zucchini cake and loaves of zucchini bread. My mother is quite the baker and feels most comfortable dealing with the overwhelm in this manner. I'm pretty sure she started just shredding and freezing the stuff for breads and cakes later in the season as well. Which would make sense when faced with this level of starchiness.

We recently got a much smaller refrigerator thanks to our landlord (and I'm not going to comment on whether this is a good or a bad thing), so there's no shredding and freezing for us. Besides, with the borscht-cicle Jon has stored between his containers of chicken and beef stock, there's no room left. Thus when faced with this:There's only one thing for it: squash soup.
Zucchini crisps.

And loaves of zucchini bread pawned off on the neighbors.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I have an awesome recipe for Grilled Summer Squash Succotash if your interested. Found it last year and have made my own changes and additions and we think it's a pretty swell way to use up summer squash:)

I'm surprised, we planted 6 summer squash plants (zucchini, crookneck & peter pan) and haven't been too overwhelmed.