crooknecks as still life

Vegetables are inherently beautiful. The colors and textures created by nature need very little embellishment, they simply are gorgeous. The smell and taste of homegrown food is so much better than anything bought in a big supermarket. Connecting us to the earth and the changing seasons, our home gardens inspire us. If I were a painter, I would paint this still life.

Usually I harvest the small ones, as they taste the best and do not have a lot of seeds. Every once in a while, one hides from me. Usually it is growing on the backside of the plant, under a leaf. Like this giant, whoa big fella! Almost looks reptilian now. Not so good to eat, but very good to harvest seed from, for next years crop.

I have a special place in my heart for these squash, they are one of my favorites. Growing up, my Mom would plant a summer garden every year. Usually she would plant the same things, like corn, green beans, chard, zucchini, patty pans and crooknecks. Nothing tastes better to me, or more like my childhood than these summer vegetables. Mom would make a great casserole out of the crooknecks and patty pans. I asked her about this recipe recently, and she never wrote it down. It’s pretty simple, so I was able to recreate it. Comfort food 101. Crookneck squash and mushroom casserole:

3 cups yellow crookneck squash, chopped

2 cups green patty pan squash, chopped

1 can Campbell’s mushroom soup

1 can milk

1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Open can of Campbell’s mushroom soup and heat in a pot on the stove. Add a can of milk to soup, cook over low heat until incorporated and warm. Chop all the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Grab a casserole dish and butter. Put vegetables in dish, then pour soup over. Add cheeses on top. Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. At this point, take foil off, and cook for another 10 min, until vegetables are soft but not mushy.

In other news, I attended the National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa yesterday. What a great event to have in our own backyard. It was amazing. A pure food fair, with seed vendors, compost experts, and local food movement. I stayed for the lecture by Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement. His lecture sort of blew my mind. I want to blog about it, but I need to organize my thoughts. Stay tuned…

My first garden blog

ImageThis blog is something I have wanted to do for a long time. Ever since I read Julie Julia, the idea of blogging has appealed to me. And while I love cooking, for me it’s all about growing vegetables and being sustainable. Slowing down. Getting in nature, working with nature. Well, now I realize that I can write about gardening anytime, because I garden year round. And you can too. It’s easy. It’s fun. And you get food out of it! I mean really tasty, fresh, healthy food.