Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Summer Squash

One of the best things about small town living is that locally grown produce is sold in our little independent grocery store. I couldn't resist this beautiful squash today and it made me think of two things. One, if it's perfection is the result of this season's sunshine and rain then I have great hopes for my crop of tomatoes. And two, I have never liked squash - ha!
But my mother absolutely loved it as though it was the sole purpose of an early garden. Mother had quirky, or maybe just very southern names for things. To her cornbread was a "pone", a paper bag was a "poke" and the liquid from any cooked greens was "pot-liquor". Molasses and grits were both plural and "they" were both good. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that her "summer squash" is properly called crook-neck squash and I must admit that I cooked it every summer for 20 years and forced myself to eat it just because it made me think of Mother.
Mother's "Stewed Squash"...Simple enough to do:
  • a little bacon drippings in an iron skillet with sliced squash and chopped onions
  • a little salt and a ton of pepper
It was cooked until it was tender and began to show bits of that caramelized, brown color. It is a classic to some but still, the dreaded summer squash to me.

About 25 years ago, (yes I've been cooking it for 45 years) I decided to find a way to love it. Combining everything in the photo makes a wonderful
Summer Squash Casserole
  • 4-6 cups of squash - cubed
  • a good amount of onions - coarsely chopped
  • one can of evaporated milk
  • one sleeve of Saltines - crushed
  • and whatever cheese you have on hand - grated
Reserve a little of the cheese for topping later. Just mix everything in a bowl, pour into a greased casserole, cover and bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining grated cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes or so until it's all bubbly - YUM! I can make a meal of it. In fact, I did! Hope you give it a try and enjoy.
By the way, this freezes well in single servings and reheats in the microwave.

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