It's in the Bag, Gluten Free & The WoW Diet

Monday, November 15, 2010

Squash It!

Hello readers old and new! We're glad you're here. It's that time of the year, the brief space between the end of fall and the dawning of winter. There's been a few flurries in the air and hearts are full of thanks, which time to SQUASH IT! So, for all of you wondering about the delicious and versatile gourd, here you have it: The Bag Lady on Squash.

Where can I purchase canned butternut squash for the butternut soup found on page 77 of It's in the Bag?

Bag Lady: I buy mine at Target.

What are your general thoughts on squash? Is it a food close to your heart?

Bag Lady: Squash to me is the perfect fresh food storage food because it will last from fall to spring if properly stored. There are also many different varieties and many ways to prepare it. We usually plant butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squash. We experimented with several other varieties and decided to save the seeds from the following store bought varieties: sweet meat, butter cup, sweet dumpling, stripetti, and swan white acorn.

What if I have limited garden space and don't want squash vines everywhere?

Bag Lady: This year we tried growing our squash up a trellis of sorts. We tied the vines onto the fencing using yarn scraps. To our surprise the squash grew all season without falling off of the vines. We did not even support them with slings etc. They just hung there and ripened.

When do I pick my squash?

Bag Lady: I was taught that you pick your winter squash just before the first frost. There has been some confusion as to the timing. I believe this stems from my recommendation of picking concord grapes after the first frost to ensure maximum sweetness. Just remember squash is before and concord grapes are after the first frost. If you are still confused, send in a picture and I will tell you if you have a squash or a grape. Ha, Ha!

How should I store my squash?

Bag Lady: Once you have your lovely squash harvested simply place them in a cool place i.e. root cellar. Remember to keep them off of the cement. We store ours in our unfinished basement where the temperature hovers around 40-60 degrees year round. I just lay wood boards on the cement floor and place the squash on the boards. Some people recommend hanging the squash in netting. I haven't found the need to do so.

Can I can squash?

Bag Lady: I have never canned squash because it's low acidity level lends itself to food borne illnesses such as botulism. I have frozen my winter squash and it becomes watery, so I use it for soups and sauces or pies.

The endless varieties of squash are so overwhelming! How do I find a variety I want to grow?

Bag Lady: If you find new varieties of squash in the store that you would like to try growing, simply scrape out the seeds and allow them to dry for two- four weeks on a paper plate. After they are dry, place the seeds in a cool dark place and they will be ready for next year's planting. You should never need to buy squash seeds again.

So, I've got a bunch of what?

Bag Lady: Try my delicious Butternut Squash Cheesecake!

Butternut Squash Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs
1/3 cup chopped nuts of choice
1/3 cup melted butter
2- 8 oz. pkg cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup butternut squash puree
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup ground nutmeg

In a bowl, combine crumbs, nuts and butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a springform pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. In another bowl combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Remove 1 cup of the batter. Add remaining sugar, squash, and spices to remaining batter, mix well. Alternately layer squash and cream cheese batters in baked crust. Cut through the batters with a knife several times for a marbled effect. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes. Cool before removing pan collar. Serve chilled.

There you have it friends, the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the seeds and strings of squash! If you have any other questions (or are still trying to decide if you have a squash or a grape) send us a comment or email. You know we'll respond. Good luck with all your Thanksgiving preparations. If you're one of those that hates pumpkin pie (like myself) maybe you should give squash cheesecake a try!

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