The older I get the more I appreciate simple things: blue skies, an apple, a book that need only to be opened to be read, not ever needing to be re-charged, a sleeping cat. Squash fall into this category of simple things. Bold vegetable sculptures, often scarred after a summer out in a field, they resolutely refuse to be hip or cool, and will never come in pink. Some cooks shy away from squash, being unclear as to how to cook them. But here’s a little tour of the squash in our photo. The big orange thing is a hubbard squash. How do you cook it? First, take a saw and saw it in half around it’s middle. Honestly, it’s not that difficult. Then cut off the stem with a cleaver. Scoop the seeds out–they can be cleaned and roasted with salt in a 400 degree oven. Saw your halves in two so you have four pieces. Also in a 400 degree oven, bake the squash quarters which have been salted and dotted with butter and sprinkled with brown sugar, for about 40 to 50 minutes. Then fall on it like a famished animal who just happens to have a spoon.
The white and green squash is a sweet dumpling squash. I think these are the most delicious squash of all with a delicate flavor and light sweetness. I like to do the smaller squash in the microwave for weekday meals. Somehow hubbards are for Sunday dinner. To cut in half, use a sharp cleaver, as a saw is definitely overkill here. Slice the cleaver back and forth across the squash midsection, then raise the cleaver with the squash attached, and bring it down on the butcher block table with a tremendous “thwaack.” It will fall into two halves. I follow the same procedure as with the hubbard, scooping out the seeds, seasoning, and cooking. I cover the squash halves with a paper towel and microwave for about nine to ten minutes, but this timing can vary depending on the squash size. The green squash in the foreground is acorn squash, and you cook it like the sweet dumpling. Once you experience how simple it is to cook squash, you will see them as a kind of autumnal fast food. The seeds of any of these squash can be saved for planting next year.
In the garden the other day, I came across a woolly bear caterpillar. Folklore says that woolly bears can be used to predict winter weather. I dug into woolly bear lore and found that this one is predicting that the winter will start off cold but then will be mostly mild before ending cold again. The woolly bears in Pennsylvania, though, are predicting a severe winter.