The Kansas bounty is here! Most of my friends know my life goal is to become a professionally trained chef one day. Of course, knowing this, my friends will randomly drop home grown vegetables by my house. I will never turn down a vegetable (unless it’s a mushroom. Thankfully, the only mushrooms I’ve seen around these parts are rather phallic looking and inedible… whew!)
I’ll come home from work to find a basket of homegrown tomatoes on my doorstep or a couple zucchini sitting on the bench outside the front door wrapped in a pretty ribbon. There are several likely suspects in the investigation called, Who Keeps Leaving Me These Random Veggies? I’ve contracted my father to run a polygraph exam (he really is a lie-detector dude) on likely candidates. I’ve already narrowed it down by nixing a couple from my list though…
In my overactive imagination I see The Neighbor down the street sneaking over in the cover of darkness with a mask on her face dropping off overflowing baskets, all while walking The Pink Panther. She wouldn’t do it though. It’s more her style to hand me a zucchini and say, “Can you make me something with this?”
Another suspect would be my friend with a massive garden in her riverfront yard. I’ve been hearing for 8 months about the soil on the riverfront and how perfect it is for gardening. She doesn’t share her bounty though… so it wouldn’t be her.
That leaves The Lovely Co-Worker. It’s more her style to bring veggies to the office or stop by the house. I’ve been munching on her Juliette tomatoes for over a month now. I swear, those tomato plants don’t stop… and thank goodness too! Juliette tomatoes are by far the best snacking tomatoes I’ve ever eaten.
The Investigation is still open. I suspect several other people but to protect the innocent, I should refrain from pointing fingers.
The Lovely Co-Worker gave me a bushel of tomatoes this weekend along with a summer squash that I can’t even describe. I had no idea what to do with such a monster of a squash so I asked around and was told to make “Squash Casserole” by three different people. Huh? What in the dickens is squash casserole? I was told, “Oh, you know, some bacon, some cheese, squash… saltines. Don’t you forget the saltines now. Then you bake it up until it gets bubbly.” I’ve never heard of such a thing and at risk of being called out for not being a true MidWestern Girl I replied, “OH! That’s right! Squash Casserole! Why didn’t I think of that?” This required research. Did you know there are hundreds of thousands of recipes for Squash Casserole? They all include the same things really, just a variation of amounts and cooking instruction. I decided I’d take the finer points and run with it. Besides, there’s nothing I dislike more than mushy, overcooked vegetables. Oh. My. Goodness.
I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of cooking my squash to death and then slopping cheese and crackers in with it. But I digress, this was unbelievable. The Husband actually ate it and enjoyed it (he’ll eat anything, but he doesn’t particularly care for summer squash.) I found him in the kitchen hovering over the casserole with a fork and a guilty look on his face at 10:00 last night. Do yourself a favor, splurge on making this Squash Casserole… besides, the goodness of the squash counteracts the bad from the cheese, butter and crackers… right? Empty calories?
A Cat’s Pajamas Take on Hundreds of Thousands of Squash Casserole Recipes
1 huge squash (3 1/2 lbs)
3 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, halved, then thinly sliced
Salt and loads of pepper (about 1 t salt, 3 t pepper)
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
1/4 c butter, melted (most of the recipes call for 1/2 c butter… but seriously?!?!?)
In a large non-stick skillet saute the bacon until almost browned. Add sliced onions and turn until they become tender as well.
Cut the very large squash in halve lengthwise, the into quarters, then slice in 1/4″ slices.
Once the onions are tender, add squash to the skillet and turn until slightly tender. I should have cooked the squash a little longer, but I have an unbelievable hatred for overcooked vegetables. Cook until tender. Stir in cheese and half a sleeve of the crushed crackers. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese melts.
Transfer the squash to a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. I served ours with Fillet Mignon (way to class up a steak, huh?) last night.
One of the random zucchinis on my bench was so large I couldn’t believe it was real. I’ve never seen a zucchini that could make a loaf of French bread look like a dinner roll. I grew up eating my grandmama’s zucchini bread and I make it all year long so there wasn’t any confusion as to what to do with that. Make zucchini bread/muffins/cake for the greater Kansas City area, right?
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
1 1/2 c a.p. flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t salt
2 c shredded zucchini
1 c sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c bittersweet chocolate chips
Lightly butter a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
In a large bowl, combine zucchini, oil, sugar and egg. Add dry ingredients to zucchini mixture, stir in chocolate chips. Transfer to prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes until slightly browned around the edges.
*This zucchini was such a wopper it took TWO hands to grate it over my box grater. I trippled the recipe and filled an 8 x 8 square baking pan. It cooked along perfectly with the loaf. This morning I froze it and we’ll use it for one of my breakfasts with the in-laws.