the annual ode to summer squash
August 20. I feel the annual Ode to Summer Squash coming on. We’re at that stage when zucchinis pump their way from demure to Oh-My-God overnight. Even checking every day there are surprise gigantics. Chicken squash is what we call it around here, and the chickens love it right up until the season of melon rinds, at which point squash becomes just all right. I do my best to incorporate squash into at least one meal per day, most often steamed or stir-fried with pesto. I’ll never tire of squash as long as there is basil. I have also done my duty these ways: zucchini pancakes, grated squash salad, squash stick snacks (to dip in pesto). A couple of zucchinis of the Almost-Got-Away size are waiting to be stuffed and baked. I’m considering squash smoothies.
Tera, one of our neighborhood’s food artists, has taken on the challenge of dehydrating excess squash so we’ll have it for winter soups. If it lasts that long – the crunchy rounds are surprisingly tasty as squash chips, prompting Tera to make rosemary-salted zucchini chips and a lemon yellow squash version. Her next project involves grinding the dried slices into flour for squash/corn tortillas. All this bounty from just seven very happy plants.
It’s still early enough in the season that non-gardeners receive squash gifts with open arms, and we sell whatever we bring to the Mendocino farmers market (part of the incentive for recent squash creativity is that we haven’t gone to market the last two weeks). I confess that in the distant past I have been among those late summer gardeners to leave anonymous squash gifts on the doorsteps of strangers. Now there are the chickens, and I’ll be grateful for them next month when tomatoes have my attention and I don’t check the squash for several days and then find enough big ones to need the wheelbarrow to make a delivery to the chicken yard. A good enough reason to keep chickens, if anyone needed another reason.