Hello again everybody. I apologize for missing my post 2 weeks ago, but I was helping with a funeral for a friend in our congregation that passed away. The memorial service was on Sunday, and things were so busy I couldn’t sit down to blog. Then the next Sunday came and went, and I had my hands so very full with our now producing garden that I had to forego another post!
So things have been super busy here. I’ve found that you spend all winter planning for your garden and for all the things that you’re going to preserve. Then summer starts and one harvest is on the heel of the previous one. It’s been a whirlwind of activity here, especially when you add in the usual business of life in general. That’s definitely something to consider when weighing the cost of homesteading. Even doing it on a semi-small scale requires a fair amount of dedication. Sometimes that fun day with friends must be foregone so as to get the green beans canned (true story).
But to get to more of the positive aspects of homesteading on my smallish level in the summer, let me tell you the latest goings on and some of the neat things I’ve learned so far, particularly in the area of the humble squash.
Don’t Quash the Squash: Experiment!
So one of the most prolific things in your garden will almost inevitably be your squash. We’ve been pretty unadventurous in the squash growing department over the years. EVERY year we grow dark green zucchini and crookneck squash. Those are my standbys because they are GOOD and also versatile. They’re also what I grew up with, and old habits die hard.
Recently though, I’ve tried my hand at Spaghetti, Butternut, and Cucuzza in recent years, and had good success with them. We ate our fill! So this year I ventured a little farther out of my comfort zone and planted an heirloom acorn variety called “Thelma Sanders” that is supposed to taste like sweet potato. We shall see…
But back to the squash I know the best, the humble Zucchini and Crookneck. Full disclosure, I wasn’t always crazy about squash. When I was a kid, I wasn’t the biggest fan. I ate what was on my plate, but never did I request it for dinner!
Then one day, that switch in my brain flipped. Thank you, adulthood! My sister smothered down a pot full of crookneck squash and onions in butter and that was all she wrote. I LOVE yellow squash cooked that way! Here’s an easy recipe that I guarantee will make your mouth water!
Smothered Crookneck Squash
4 regular sized crookneck squash, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: In a heavy bottomed pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté till translucent, stirring frequently. Then add squash, stir, and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to low. Every 5 minutes or so, open pot and stir squash. Then return lid to pot. Continue to check on squash until it reaches a tender consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Grab a fork and dive in!
That recipe is so easy to increase or decrease. Cook one or two squash for a single meal, or 2 dozen for a big family dinner! Just increase the amount of butter and onion as well! And as for using butter, I recommend it over olive oil. The butter flavor really compliments the squash in this recipe!
Once I realized I liked squash, I decided to grow it and try cooking it other ways. My husband likes it chopped raw and thrown in a salad! I like cutting them in half lengthwise and brushing them with olive oil before laying them facedown on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven till fork tender. Season with seasoning of your choice. Top with Parmesan cheese, or eat as is! It really is delicious!
Sliced yellow squash and zucchini are a great addition to soups as well! Sometimes I will make say, a chicken vegetable soup for dinner. Once it is done simmering, I add approximately 1 sliced squash, either fresh or frozen. Then I cover the pot and let the hot broth JUST cook the squash to where it’s tender but still has a little bite to it.
Then this year I was really determined to make sure there was little to no waste of our garden bounty. So when I went to check the garden and found several zucchini and a carrot, the wheels in my mind began turning. Here is my rough recipe for what came next:
Summer Vegetable Pancakes (all measurements are approximate, cuz that’s how I roll)
1 medium zucchini, finely shredded (see picture below to see which slot on my grater I used)
1 medium carrot, finely shredded
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup pepper of your choice, finely chopped (I used hot banana peppers from the garden for a little “kick”, and it was awesome!)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Seasoning of your choice; I used 1/4 tsp of salt, a pinch of pepper, and 1/2 tsp. each of onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
Instructions: In a mixing bowl, add all vegetable ingredients and toss to combine. Add flour, seasonings, sugar, and baking powder to veggie mixture and stir to combine. Batter will now be a sticky gooey consistency. Add egg and stir. The egg loosens the batter but will also help everything stay together on the skillet.
Under medium-high heat, melt a pat of butter on a skillet. With a 1/8 cup scoop or spoon, drop batter onto hot skillet. You want to cook it just like a pancake, but beware! The moisture from the zucchini and carrot keeps the patties very moist. You really have to cook them on each side longer than you would a regular pancake. Wait until the bottom is golden brown before you attempt to flip it and cook the other side. Serve warm!
Notes: This recipe serves as a great side to dinner, yields about 10 patties that reheat in the oven beautifully! Alternatively, you can add some fresh corn cut from the cob to give these pancakes some extra texture. I made both kinds back to back to go with dinner and I honestly can’t decide which I like better! I also highly recommend using a hot pepper in this recipe. The spiciness doesn’t come through very strong, but you do get a noticeable kick, which really adds to the depth of flavor! Plus, it gave me a way to maximize the use of my produce!
This morning I actually tried putting zucchini in a breakfast quiche that I was making. My son sliced one large zucchini very thin and he placed it in a thin layer at the bottom of a pie pan. Then, we layered lots of different stuff on top like chopped tomatoes, banana peppers, jalapeños, spinach, and then lots of cheese! Then we poured our egg mixture on top and baked it at 375° for about half an hour. Talked about delicious! The zucchini came out perfectly tender at the bottom of the quiche and just added a really nice flavor to the overall dish.
Really, when it comes to squash, the possibilities are endless. And to some extent, if you don’t like it, it’s probably because you just haven’t had it in a way that speaks to YOU!
Even my kids are picky about squash. They won’t eat it cooked with onions like my husband and I do, but my oldest son tore up the veggie pancakes! The younger two weren’t so crazy about them, but whenever I make Lemon Zucchini Bread (and I add a cup of fresh blueberries to the recipe!) they eat it gleefully, knowing full well there’s a ton of squash in it! Same goes with the savory Bacon Cheddar Zucchini Bread!
I guess really what I’m trying to say is: let the humble squash help you unlock your experimental, crazy, wild cooking side! Grow it, try it, try it again, and again, and again… try all the different ways! 🤪
Thanks for stopping by my blog, reading, and taking this homesteading step with my family and me!
Till next week,
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