Friday, August 24, 2012

Starting over with Blogger! (Or, squash me baby!)

Wow! This is different.

You may have noticed that many of my old posts are gone!

Why are they gone? Because I figured out that nobody wants to listen to me pitch about what all's wrong with the world. Even if they did, they probably don't like my ideas about how to fix things.

What's news then?

Don't pick squash with a cell phone in your pocket! 

You didn't know squat about my squash? The plants are about 36 inches high and growing.


Tip for wanna-be-farmers:  Never grow squash just because someone says she would like some. Asked Judy Booker, the lady at the little corner veggie stand last year, what she could use more of. She indicated "summer squash." So this year I planted them ... a lot of them in fact, and the veggie lady bought the first bag or two. Heck, I made ten bucks or so.

But then a sad thing happened: When I tried to sell the same veggie stand another bag of scallop squash a few days later, Judy was gone -- I understand she is going back to teaching school -- and the young ladies in charge said, "They didn't sell."  End of my career selling squash. But squash were growing rampant. (I never thought of them as weeds before.)

What to do with them all? I was so enthusiastic last year that I planted several kinds, separating them from each other to help minimize cross pollination. So I have four types of squash: North squash, south squash, east squash and west squash, on each end of our "farm" garden.

The north squash are the little yellow crooknecks, but ... they are not little any more. They look like big yellow swans. Sorry no photos but my camera broke just the other day. (Minolta Dimage 7000 too, a nice digital camera, but it must have gone on strike. No images in the view finder now, and the zoom seems to be broken.) But where was I? Oh yes, crooked yellow squash are getting as big as swans! Well, make that ducks, or baby swans. But they are big yeller tanks with goose bumps all over them, because they were not picked when they were babies themselves.

South squash are as big as pumpkins and kind of shaped like tops ... the kind you spin, spun ... when you were a kid. That is, us old folks used to spin them. Don't know what the next generation was spinning. But they are big and orange and they taste like pumpkins. South Lockwood squash. Laura (my wife) made them into puree and froze baggies-full to make pumpkin pies out of later. There was some puree left over so I dumped in a bunch of spices without measuring, poured a LOT of sugar in and mixed with an egg and we made ... something. Pie? Pudding? Custard? Whatever it was, was really good.

West squash is very similar to the South Lockwood pumpkin flavored squash, except that they are green! Have not tasted them yet.

East squash was what they guy with the cell phone was picking. Our neighbor brought over a friend named "Miguel" to pick squash. They just  showed up, made me really happy because I was about to tear out all those squash plants. As I said, made me happy when Juan (the neighbor) said, Miguel's wife loves squash! I brought out a couple of really big knives from the kitchen and they began chopping away until it got dark. Filled the pickup with squash, green beans, and tomatoes, they said, "Goodbye," and left.

Cell phones in squash patches

A few minutes after dark there was a knocking at the door. Miguel had lost his cell phone in the squash patch. I was certain they would never find it in the dark. The squash plants were up to my belly button and growing! The squash, not my belly. Both actually.

Being the old fashioned guy I am, I went in to the laundry room to round up all the flashlights I could find, but I never got to use them. They had already located  the cell phone. Here's the trick to finding a cell phone in the squash patch: Look for it after dark! Have your friend Juan, or whatever your friend's name is, have him call you on the cell phone. It not only rings, it lights up the  understory of the plant population! The insects probably thought that the sun had come up too early. It was bright. Of course, this might only work if your cell phone is the kind that lights up when someone calls. And ... you must drop the phone face up of course.

With that problem solved, Juan promised to come back tomorrow and show me how to properly cook that kind of squash. I may find out why Miguel's wife has such a thing about scallop squash. Also, unlike the lady at the veggie stand, she is not "picky" about the size of them. The veggie stand likes the squash small. The customers? They don't know what the squash with that shape are even for! While I was delivering the second bag of squash to the veggies stand, the customers were asking, "What do you do with those?" or even, "What ARE those? Do you cook them?"

I always told people to use them like any other summer squash: Fry them or steam them or boil them lightly, add butter and yum."

It seems I did not know the half of it. Juan says they cut these squash in half, put them in sauce pan, pour (sprinkle) sugar in them and put the lid on. "The squash will expand and fill the whole pan," Juan said.

This I gotta see. I keep fantasizing now about a little scallop squash filling the pan with something that tastes like, in my imagination mind  you, tasting like cotton candy! But tomorrow will be the day of truth. If Juan's East Lockwood squash is as good as the South Lockwood pumpkin-flavored squash, this could be a real treat.

Tomatoes growing out my ears

Laura had planted 43 tomato plants. Yeah. Worse yet, they were the "Brandywine" variety, the kind that grow on tree-sized trunks. These are the Jack-in-the-Tomato-Stalk variety. Hint, plant them on heavy trellises. I had staked them using metal stakes, but the vines were so heavy that the rows started falling over! 

Lessons learned: Next year I will double stake them. I also might go to a different variety: The Brandywines tend to develop large humps around the tops, and sometimes they crack open or split. Also, they ripen suddenly, from not-ripe to over-ripe just like that. 

We ended up with a lot of overripe toms. Luckily the chickens still like tomatoes. Since we had so many tomatoes, Laura decided to make spaghetti sauce. Another lesson learned: It takes a ton of tomatoes to make a pound of spaghetti sauce! Laura had to buy bigger pans to hold them? The ingredients were all fresh, mostly came from our own garden too. But ... this stuff has to cook for hours and hours: Following the instructions in the book we got from the extension office, Laura boiled them down until they were about 50 percent reduced, or was that "reduced by 50 percent," or is that the same thing? Anyway, hours later they were "processed" enough to can in quart jars. 

The smell from processing spaghetti sauce is out of this world. All those fresh veggies and spices making their special aromas, and my stomach is growling even now, just thinking about it. The best part for me was licking the bowl afterward. (And you thought only kids did that)? 

Well, it's early and I am looking forward to seeing Juan later today.


End.



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