Archive for ‘Squash Challenge’

September 10, 2013

Squash blossoms: delicious with cheese.

This summer I took a Maya Cooking workshop at UBC farm where we walked into the farm kitchen, took a seat and the Maya gardeners cooked us at least 6 meals accompanied by family chatter and the most delicious corn tortillas I’ve ever tasted.

The table setting had delicate greens and squash blooms, baby sunburst squashes and mystery herbs like Zapote and Yerba Mora.
Mayan Cooking UBC

We were cooking with Faviana, Francesca, Maximo, Nattie, Martina, Juanita, and Leche. Martina showed us a handful of greens, Amaranth/”bledo” and served us our mystery greens, blanched, sauteed with onion and served with pinto beans.
Nattie showed us Yerba Mora, “Very good in soup” and used as medicine, teas and poultices. She had also created her very own Yerba Mora juice- mixed with blueberries, acai, and pomegranate, and taken as a shot.
Slowly the wine from the night before faded away.

We ate a salad of Purslane, Macuy, Yerba Mora. The dressing: sea salt and lime juice. The mix of every single ingredient was magic. It didn’t need a coverup. All cooking techniques used minimal oil. No broth, just water. A pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime.

We had a harvest of squash blooms for our soup, complete with baby sunbursts and even the squash stems. I learned how to differentiate a male and female blossom. To leave some male flowers in the garden to pollinate the females. A female blossom has a small bulb under her bloom that will be a baby squash. Sex education for gardeners. A family tip to never remove the stamens from the bloom- “that is where the flavour is!”.

And this was summer.
This soup.

UBC: Squash Blossom Soup

Squash Blossom Harvest

I left the class and spent the next couple of weeks studying my sunburst squash plant. A few blooms. A boy. A girl here and there. Harvest, zero. I wanted a big bowl of squash blossom soup.
A bit of powdery mildew set in the leaves. I babysat my plant with a rescue remedy.
September rolled around and bloomless, with a harvest of one sunburst and a few babies, I considered chopping the stem and making a soup out of the whole plant.
Then last weekend I wandered up to the garden early enough on Saturday, and there were two beautiful blooms and a baby. Enough to make breakfast for two.

Saturdays Harvest: Squash blossoms, a baby squash, a handful of juliet romas and yellow pear tomatoes, a lemon cucumber.
garden harvest: squash blossoms
Our last meal with the Maya cooks was sauteed baby squash and blossoms. I remember the tastes and flavours of every single dish but with my prized two blossoms all I could hear was the clever and often repeated wise words from Nattie: Squash blossoms “delicious with cheese”.

Squash blossom scrambled eggs "delicious with cheese"

Squash blossom scrambled eggs “delicious with cheese”

Credit to my husband for piling the breakfast bounty on a bagel. I present to you: Breakfast bagel with Squash, blossoms, and cheese:

sh Blossom Breakfast Bagel

Squash Blossom Breakfast Bagel

Enjoy!

-Thanks to my dad for documenting the class with beautiful photos, while I ate.
-And a very special thank you to the Maya families who cooked the most incredible dishes of my summer.

Maya cooking workshops are held at UBC farm:Three Sisters in the Kitchen- A Traditional Maya Cooking Class
The Mayan Garden is an initiative of the Vancouver Native Health Society, the VNHS Garden project has been growing and preparing food at the UBC Farm since 2005. The garden project runs a weekly community kitchen with urban Aboriginal participants who grow, prepare, and eat food while sharing knowledge and skills with members of the UBC community and beyond. Ceremonies and celebrations throughout the year mark important seasonal shifts in traditional food ways, such as harvest feasts and the use of the cedar smokehouse for fish (part of the project’s work to bridge land and sea).

February 16, 2013

The Squash Project Finale: A really easy lasagna

I wasn’t sure what to expect from my speckled hound.
Speckled Hound Squash

When I sliced him open, he smelled like a fresh cantaloupe.

I was intrigued.

Here is what the CSA said about the speckled hound: Orange with blue-green blotches, Speckled Hound pumpkins are prized for their dense, buttery yellow flesh; they are ideal for roasting, soups, and more!

If you have been keeping track of the “Ooh Squash for dinner!” project- perhaps you’ve been wondering what happened to #4. Well he sat in the cupboard until after new years. I thought about new years resolutions.
Last year I decided to compost. This year, I decided to empty the compost more often. I thought about some other unfinished business and my speckled hound came to mind.

Here is what we did with him:

Squash Lasagna

Easy Lasagna with a Speckled Hound Squash

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December 3, 2012

Squash for Dinner Part 3! Chili!

Pumpkin chili?
I thought of adding some pumpkin as soon as I smelled the maple from the bacon cooking in the stock pot.

That may sound insane but here is my reasoning: I’ve been reading a lot of squash recipes and baking, roasting, pureeing different varieties. Often maple syrup or honey comes up as a flavour combination with squash. One cooking class, I learned to smell what you’re cooking with and see what flavours are invoked in your head. My squash project has added a new flavour profile to my brain, squash and maple. Another flavour combination is the Three Sisters. This is actually a companion planting method of corns, beans, and squash.
The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a “living mulch”, creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the human body needs to make proteins and niacin, but beans contain both and therefore maize and beans together provide a balanced diet. From Wikipedia, Three Sisters Agriculture.

Well now that I was going to be adding pumpkin in the chili- did I want to hide it?

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