Sweet Meat Chronicles

The sweet meat in its youth.

A year ago in winter, Kelly and I spent several evenings at the kitchen table poring over seed catalogs and dreaming up our garden. As usual, our little gardeners’ hearts did most of the deciding, and our spatial judgment was severely, if temporarily, impaired. That is to say, we ordered too much seed for our growing space and our busy schedules.

Among our more space intensive crops was “Sweet Meat” squash. I started seeds in the greenhouse on March 27th, and eventually planted a baby squash out in the orchard. It blossomed profusely and set a grand total of one squash. This was probably all my fault. I was unaware that squash should be planted in pairs, at least, for optimum pollination, and by the time Kelly informed me of this fact, it was too late.

Fortunately, that one squash grew quite large, and we managed to save it from gnawing squirrels and rats by fashioning a makeshift chicken wire cage around the fruit. Since I harvested it on September 21st, the nearly 9 lb. squash has been sitting on our kitchen counter turning from gray to dusty rose.

Facing the giant

Yesterday, with the task of making dinner, and stern instructions not to cook up another bag of frozen pot stickers, I braved the squash. As it turns out, I use the word braved quite literally.

The Excalibur squash.

Wielding our biggest kitchen knife, I plunged the blade deep into the sweet meat and attempted to leverage it in a downward arch. Unfortunately, given my limited upper body strength and the squash’s impressive proportions, this maneuver proved impossible.

Long story short, I ended up enlisting the help of my 200 lb. little brother who, with much knife wrenching and muscle flexing, managed to halve, and finally quarter the beast. Phew!

I baked the wedges for upwards of two hours at 350 degrees in the covered pan usually reserved for turkeys and large chickens. I added a little water to the bottom of the pan and drizzled some olive oil on top. The final products: a ground turkey and squash hash with carrots and kale which I cooked on the stove, and a baked squash dessert consisting of one sliced fuji apple, a handful of raisins, a drizzle of maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon and (drumroll) squash. This I baked for an additional hour and a half at 350 degrees, also covered.

We ate the squash and turkey hash, which Kelly described as “homey” and “very hippie,” and then moved on to dessert. I’d considered pouring coconut milk over the top, but we opted for heavy whipping cream instead. Heavy cream is our dessert condiment of choice these days, and it did wonders for the baked squash. Honestly, though, I was impressed by the sweet meat overall. It was sweet, without being overly so and had a good nutty squash flavor.

Fresh from the oven!

Kelly has promised to make squash soup with the remaining wedges, and I’ll be sure to report how it matches up against the other squash creations. In the meantime, the worms got the baked squash skins, and I’m drying the seeds to plant this spring.

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