DIGGING DEEPER

Farm NewsLetter 08/14/06

Week of August 14th, 2006

Summer squash is going crazy! There are big ones, little ones, zucchini, crookneck, patty pan, and even a few flying saucers. I know there are a lot of bad jokes out there, often especially demeaning to the ubiquitous zucchini, and summer squash in general are misunderstood and underappreciated. So I have taken it upon myself this week to work towards re-educating the community and rectifying that situation.

Summer squash is a member of the cucurbit family which also includes winter squash, cucumbers, melons and gourds. Cucurbita pepo is an extremely popular and diverse species which includes pumpkins and acorn squash in addition to most of the summer squash. Unlike pumpkins and acorn squash which are used as mature fruit after the seeds and rind have become firm, summer squash are harvested when the fruit is immature- often within a week of flowering. At this point they are quite tender with very inconspicuous seeds and can be cooked with no prior preparation except perhaps a little slicing or dicing.

All squash are native to the Western Hemisphere. It is thought that Cucurbita pepo originated in the area of Mexico and Central America. The first known record of squash by the uropean explorers was when the white patty pan or Cymling were accurately illustrated by the French botanist Matthias Lobel in 1591. Something very similar to the cookneck squash was described later, by Sammel de Champlain in 1605 when he saw them in the gardens of Cape Cod. Prior to the 17th century, summer squash were often referred to as gourds. In the English speaking world today they are usually known as summer squash, vegetable mallows or by their French name courgette. Our word “squash” comes from the Massachuset Indian word askutasquash, meaning eaten raw or uncooked. I don’t know what the native Americans did with their squash, but I prefer mine cooked thank you.

Speaking of cooking them, the options are many and varied. Often the size and/or shape of the squash dictates how I choose to cook them. The smallest ones can be steamed or sautéed whole then served with just salt & pepper or a simple sauce. The medium sized zucchini and patty pans I often make thick slices, coat with olive oil and grill them on the BBQ. You can get a similar effect, but roasting them off in the oven and squash cooked like this can be stored in the fridge for several days. Along with grilled or roasted eggplant, peppers and onions they can be chopped up, reheated and served in sandwiches, over pasta or in a fritatta. And last but not least, when the HUGE oversize squash does cross your path, consider grating it to make a cake!

The Weather: Quite pleasant
Thank you everyone for all your help!

Your share this week may include:

Basil Big bunches this week for making pesto!
Green & Purple Beans Both the purple string beans & flat romano beans are tender & tasty.
Carrots Bunches of sweet baby carrots
Cucumbers These slicers are thin skinned and tasty.
Eggplant Use these long thin Asian eggplant just as you would the fatter Italian varieties. There are just a few in the share this week, but there will be plenty more to come.
Baby Lettuce Heads These little batavian crisp lettuces are super in the summer when other varieties bolt or get bitter. No matter how hot it gets, these stay sweet and crunchy.
Red & Yellow Onions The tops are starting to fall, but these are still very fresh! Use them quickly or store in the fridge.
Parsley A very versatile herb! Makes a great pesto or sauté it with garlic and olive oil and pour over pasta for a simple side dish.
Green Peppers Choose from nice blocky bell peppers or long thin Anaheim roasting type.
Jalapeno Peppers These are pretty mild when compared to say the habenero, but please still take care when preparing them.
Summer Squash Wow do we have squash this week! All different shapes colors and sizes. The recipe below is a great way to use up the bigger ones.
Tomatoes!! These little Stupice tomatoes from the greenhouse are super tasty

Coming Soon… Sweet Red and Yellow Peppers!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
From Shareholder Amanda Weber-Welch

Cream together: Blend Dry:
1/2 cup soft margarine 2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup oil 4 Tablespoons cocoa
1 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon soda
Add/Blend: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Add dry to wet mixture
Add 2 cups grated zucchini
Greased 9×13 pan
Sprinkle top with 1/4 cup chocolate chips and/or 1/4 cup chopped nuts
Bake at 325 for 45 min