Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the persistence of squash

My uncle grew Hubbard squash this past summer. I don't know if this was on purpose or by mistake. Hubbard is very very sweet and tasty. It also is huge. My brother got one that was 52 pounds! The first year that Bill and I put in a garden, he insisted that we grow Hubbard. What he really wanted was sweet mama's. A modest sized squash that is sweet and keeps relatively well. When our garden filled with light green monsters, he realized his mistake. The vines even climbed up the hedge.

Liam and Simon with the squash in the field. Liam is eating a cucumber. No wonder the kids grew an inch in a month. He never stops eating.

Our squash was a moderate 26 pounds. I didn't have time to deal with it in the fall so it took up residence in the living room under my loom bench. And then I proceeded to ignore it. Before Christmas I was always so busy and after New Years I just didn't want to deal with it. Memories of my sister dealing with her squash "for days" had me running scared. It started to turn orange

and I played the gardeners version of chicken. Who will give in first? Me or the Squash? The squash gave in first and started to rot. It happened really quickly! Once a squash has decided that it has had enough, it doesn't waste any time.
You can see the black end and the whitish area on the top was also soft.

I had the day off yesterday and it became squash day.

Skins on Hubbard's are thick. Skins on old squash are thick too. So you can imagine how thick and tough an old Hubbard would be. When my big knife only scratched the surface the question became what next?

Thankfully Liam had asked for a hatchet for Christmas. He was going to break in to the squash when it was time, but his friend was more alluring so it became my job. I gave it a few wacks and it split in two.

You can see the thickness of the skin. It is the slightly lighter bit along the edge.  I scooped out the seeds and hacked away the rotten bit (again with the hatchet) and baked it in three pieces. Even after it was baked and I had scooped out the meat, the skin was solid.  What with the loss of weight for the skin, rotten bits, seeds and goo, and possibly loss of moisture over  4 or 5 months, it weighed a lot less than the original 26 pounds. But it was still a lot of squash so I made squash soup.

Squash Soup

9 lbs squash
2 tbsp oil
5 pears seeded and diced
3 large onions chopped
10 cloves garlic
3.5 tbsp curry powder
4 quarts chicken stock (veggie would also do)
1.5 cups white wine (chardonnay)
1 cup heavy cream

Bake squash until done.
Saute onions and garlic in oil until soft then add pears and cook until soft.
Combine everything (except cream) in a BIG pot and cook until throughly heated.
Blend with a hand blender or in batches in food processor or blender until smooth.
Serve swirled with heavy cream.


tanita davis said...

Sometimes a garden just gives you COMEDY. (Add children to that, and it doubles.) I just made pumpkin bread from (sadly) canned squash guts. I would love to have fresh, even fresh that I had to whack open with a hatchet.

Someday I'll be back to complaining about the vines that overrun the entire garden! One more year! (Well, eight months, anyway.)

Your boys are WAY cute.

Julia said...

Jackie, I thought that your dad grew the Hubbard squash as opposed to your uncle. Maybe handeling the big Hubbard squash was too much for you, lol..

I'm sure that your dad will plant some more this spring if it ever comes.

I love the pictures. Mamoo

Christine said...

Dad sent me two squashes. I kept one (the 28 lb one) and it took me an entire weekend to process but it was so worth it. We had two types of squash soup, squash pie, squash cookies, squash loaves, and squash casserole... And puree left over.
We just finished the last squash loaf a couple of weeks ago. :)

I gave the other squash to one of our friends who made enough soup for 40 people. :)

Next year, I will gladly take 2 or 3 hubbards.

David T. Macknet said...

I must say to Liam, "for shame!"

That said, though, I'm glad that he left his hatchet at home for you to use.

I have a rubber mallet to use in conjunction with our Chinese cleaver, just for the purpose of getting through those hard squash (Kabocha is the absolute BEST squash EVER, but you can throw it on the ground and not have it split - we've tried).

Hope the childrens appreciated your efforts.

Christine said...

I forgot to mention...
To cut last year's squash, I used a very sharp tomato/steak knife and sawed it open.
Next year, I think power tools might be involved in the processing. Joe would love that. I've also considered dropping it from a second floor window onto the driveway, but after reading David's comment, I wonder if that will work.

mira's papa said...

I thought that Jackie's choice of tool was appropriate. I chopped some of it with our cleaver after the beast was rent in three by the hatchet, and it was seriously tough. Sharp knife and a lot of hand strength. But it was sweet and tasty, if a bit on the wetter side than we prefer.