There are a number of reasons why winter squash are my spirit vegetable. Their season is autumn, which is the best season. They come in a lot of different colors, many of them orange. Pumpkin cake and squash chana masala are delicious.
Mostly, though, I love winter squash because they are so chill. Easy to grow. Easy to harvest. Easy to store. Tomatoes get cracky if they don’t like how they’re watered. Beans and stupid cucumbers have to be picked every 2 or 3 days lest they become enormous, inedible beasts. And eggplants…I don’t even know what the eggplants want except to spend their whole lives as two bug-eaten leaves that refuse to turn into a functioning plant.
But squash will grow through neglect. Weeds? Whatever – they power through. Harvesting? Whenever you want! A pumpkin will just sit in the sun and wait, hoping you remember to bring it inside before the first frost. And then you don’t even have to eat it right away! Winter squash will store for months and be at the ready when you’re craving some pumpkin bread.
Last week, I was craving some pumpkin bread, so I pulled out my next-to-last North Georgia Candy Roaster and…well, roasted it up.
I love this heirloom squash. It is said to be the originator of pumpkin pie. The fruits are crazy fun to look at, but also so easy to use. Many squash are actually death traps. Trying to cut into a pumpkin or recalcitrant butternut is a hazard to my precious knitting fingers. Not our good friend the Candy Roaster, though. She has nice thin skin, but isn’t too delicate to store for a while (like Delicata squash can be). Her shape is conducive to cutting, and once cut, the seeds are a cinch to remove. I have so much love for this rare, heirloom vegetable!
…as do the chickens who get the seeds. And the goats who try to steal the seeds from the chickens.
I roasted the squash until it was tender and then divided it in two. Half the squash was cooled and then put directly in the fridge to wait a few days. Half was scooped into a bowl, blended with my stick blender and then immediately became pumpkin bread. I love this recipe from Dishing Up the Dirt because it uses honey instead of sugar, calls for whole wheat flour, and contains chocolate chips. It is my go-to pumpkin bread recipe now. I did make the vanilla bourbon glaze (because bourbon), but neither Bill nor I found it to be necessary. A few days later, I made Maple Pumpkin muffins with the leftover squash. Also delicious.
There is only one Candy Roaster (and one butternut) left in my squash storage for this year. It’s a good thing spring planting is just around the corner!