This past week, I picked up my second order from the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. I had been waiting for leeks to be ready, and they finally were. Leeks, new potatoes, creme fraiche, beef bones, chuck roast, ribeyes! (my husband’s 50th birthday is in July), fresh broccoli, fresh corn, and seventy-five pounds of Stratford peaches.
Yes, seventy-five pounds.
My daughter, her friend, and a former supervisee were canning. Oh, that I could just taste fresh peaches every day I might write more like Shakespeare!
I’m going to tell you about some of this produce and how it turned into a delightful meal, but first I need to share with you why Cucuzza squash might actually be Audrey II in the next production of Little Shop of Horrors. (The guy sure looks like plant food to me!) By the way, I think Levi Stubbs did such a great job with that song. But that’s beside the point. The POINT is that I told myself last year I couldn’t grow squash in my small raised gardens.
Then I changed my mind. I was in Lowe’s, I sauntered over to the seed packets, glanced casually along the top of the veggie packets and then hesitated. “Cucuzza Squash?” I thought. “What is that? Hmmm…” I read that it’s a yellow-green heirloom Italian summer squash you pick when it’s approximately eight to ten inches long. And, when left to its own devices, it continues to grow then dry into a gourd. “Hmmm….”
As soon as my cauliflowers (which turned out to be cabbages) were cut and the soil was cleared and refreshed with compost, in went my cucumber and squash seeds. I told myself, “Oh, they’ll just vine around the fence, and up the wall…it won’t be a problem. I think I can control the situation. Yeah, definitely.”
Since that irrational thought process I learned that the beautiful Cucuzza plan is downright predatory when it comes to hogging space. And choking other plants, like the poor innocent Anaheim and jalapeno peppers next door. Humph! I have cut one completely down. Clipped the little curly tendrils off the squash at least 10-15 times, and continue to dismember the vines that get too dangerously close to my tomatoes and onions. It’s crazy, it’s out of control…and, it’s true. My Cucuzza squash IS Audrey II. Pretty soon, I’ll be getting calls from Hollywood. “Ms. Roberts, can we please cast your squash as the new 2012 remake of Godzilla? We hear it’s huge, green and eats things.”
What I’m hoping for is a summer garden moment, somewhat like this photo by Frank McMains, where I lovingly gather the Cucuzza squash into my apron, make my way toward the kitchen, and put together a drop-dead delicious ratatouille, summer squash bake, or minestrone…yum. Until then, I’m in the market for a machete.
Now, on to more positive thoughts: Leeks. I’ve never cooked with leeks. Well, not until this week, and now I wonder about those 47 years. I wonder HOW I ever got along without them?! I’m going to end this post with an encouragement to you: Please. Please consider picking up some beautiful leeks at your neighborhood farmer’s market. Or better yet, grow some yourself! They’re so delightful. I imagine them somewhat as a milder version of green onions, with a garlicky finish, that chop and act almost like celery. Leeks are beautiful and they make new potato and leek soup beautiful.
I’m demonstrating this recipe. I had all the ingredients except the chicken stock. I called my trusty little Covell Corner store and they had ONE can. “Hold it for me, please!” I exclaimed, cell phone at one ear while gathering my keys with the other hand, pushing the screen door open with my foot to the garage. “I’m on my way!” Sometimes I get a little panicky when people “only have one left.” I wasn’t in the mood to make chicken stock.
I’m not sure, however, if I love my Cucuzza squash. I’ll let you know. If I can’t get out of my front door in the next few weeks, at least I’ll have my machete ready to hack the vines.
Have a great week,
Last week: My Little Victory Garden – Potpourri for 200, Alex / Next Week? Wait and See!