Squash Squash Squash Squash. Can't squelch Squash. O no.
When you make friends with a farmer, watch out. What you consider a garden they consider a flower pot, what you consider a farm, they consider a small garden, and so on. When I farm sit, Patrick says, motioning to his "summer garden," "Hey, take a few things before you leave, eh?"
What he means by a few things might be a case of tomatoes, any number of cucumbers measuring 1-2 feet, a pound or two of Sweet 100's, 10-12 Italian eggplants, and enough basil to make pesto for a hungry basketball team. I always remind him that I don't need this much. When I get back to the Bay Area, I give away as much as I can.
After I excitedly wrote about Annabelle Lenderink, I ran into her at the market. "HEY!" She shouted at me. "I went and Googled myself the other day, which I never do, and I saw you wrote about me! What's the big deal? You called me GRUFF??!!! I'M NOT GRUFF!"
Backing away hurriedly into oblivious Berkeleyites, I meekly responded, "Wait, didn't I also call you friendly and beautiful? I think I also called you beautiful... didn't I?"
"I DON'T REMEMBER. But you called me gruff, I know THAT, and I'M NOT GRUFF!"
But now she likes me. Go figure.
And every week she pushes of another few squash on me-- "HERE. Try this one. Come back AND TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!"
Thank goodness my beau is a strapping young ox. They're strong, and can carry more than one 5# Squash at a time.
So after a few weeks of turning the tight corner into my cozy leetle livingroom and stubbing all my toes against these hard winter beauties, I roasted all but one of them for my first Pie Dough class yesterday.
I'll have to get back to you on the names. That Annabelle is one smart, gruff, beautiful, sharp, funny, knowledgible farmer. She's growing forgotten Heirloom Squash varieties, bred for more defined, specific traits and characteristics, both in flavour and texture.
Starting in the upper right ~
The long dark orange one: this is you basic "pumpkin flavour" and texture. It roasts very fast, retains a lot of moisture, has a thinnish skin and can be a bit stringy. The flavour was nothing to write home about.
The green ovular shape: yellow flesh, retains a fair amount of moisture, not stringy, a bit spongey, very light mild flavour. Compared to the others, this one lost.
The two corrugated conical pale pieces: This is my new favorite Squash. It has a pale, buttery flesh which can both be really smooth or slightly spongy-- depending on size, age and how you cook it. It's barely sweet, but just enough so that you could use it for pie. If you can get to the Berkeley Saturday Farmer's market, please please buy enough of these to last you.
The orangy-black-green guy who looks like kabocha: This one was the most interesting! It had a thick skin that made it difficult to tell if it was done. The skin is thick like a weathered dock with barnacles living on it. It was so sweet I could barely believe it was vegetal! And the flesh is extremely dense, smooth and dry. Parched, almost. The flesh is persimmon orange when baked, absolutely gorgeous.
The little flesh colored orb: Bright yellow-orange flesh. Mellow flavour, smooth flesh. Very middle-of-the-road, but in a good way.
The big daddy: Is still on my living room floor.
After hours of roasting, my little oven needed a rest.
Winter Squash can be kept, like onions, potatoes and garlic, in a cool, dark, dry place, for as long as a month, or more, depending on the weather inside their storage unit. They are picked, like their brethren, melons, when the curlicue stem attached to them, like an umbilical cord, dries up. And then they're moved to a storage facility where the skin/outer shell will continue to harden. The Squash's character changes the longer they're kept. Some say they get sweeter.
Annabelle, for all you Bay Area folks, will only be at the market until just before Christmas.