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Thursday
May032012

Winter squash

Nothing makes a winter or spring meal seem richer than a brilliant orange baked squash on your plate.  We grow butternut and seminole squash, which can be used interchangeably, except for these differences:  Butternut can be peeled raw with a vegetable peeler, while Seminoles have a hard skin and should be baked in halves and scooped out or steamed and then put through a strainer; Seminoles are generally sweeter and have darker orange flesh; Butternuts don't keep as long, but are ready to eat soon after harvest, whereas Seminoles get sweeter after a few months' storage and will keep practically forever if undamaged.  Store these squashes at room temperature.

How we eat squash: 

1. Baked.  Cut in half, scoop out seeds, and place halves face-down in a baking pan with 1/2 inch of boiling water.  Bake at 350 or so, until a knife slides into the flesh with no resistance--about 30 minutes for Seminoles, more like an hour for butternuts, and varying with size.  To eat, melt butter in the seed cavity and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

2.  Steamed.  For butternuts, peel them first.  Then cut open squash and remove seeds.  Put in a pot with an inch or so of water, and cook over low heat, covered, until mushy.  Butternut squash can be made into a smooth puree now in a blender or food processor; Seminole, which will still have its skin on, needs to go through a strainer that squeezes out the pulp and leaves the skin behind.  Use in recipes calling for squash puree--if it seems too moist, let it sit in a colander awhile first.  I make big batches of this and put it in the freezer in quantities for pie.

3.  Pie.  First, make steamed puree, or scoop out the flesh of baked squash.  Mix together 2 1/2 cups of squash puree, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup coconut milk, and a little nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.  Pour into an unbaked 10" pie crust and bake at 425F for 30 min., then at 350F for 30-45 minutes, until the filling no longer wobbles much when you move the pan.  Let cool before cutting.  This pie makes a nutritious breakfast; I serve it for supper, too.  And snacks.