Growing up our daily diet was mostly the same. During school days I was exposed to a greater variety of foods prepared in different ways, but at home my mom cooked a basic menu because that’s what we could afford. Every night she soaked dried great northern beans in a pot of water. The next morning she cooked them slowly on the stove. When they had started getting tender, she stirred up a batch of cornbread, poured it into a cast-iron skillet and baked it in the oven. Next she peeled red potatoes, sliced them, and fried them in lard.
This was our basic meal twice a day. When the garden produced we added vine-ripened tomatoes that Mom peeled and sliced. As the garden progressed we enjoyed fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and fried squash as well.
Today my choices of food are greater and (unlike my mom who gardened to put food on the table) I have the luxury of gardening for my spirit more often than for nourishment. There are two food plants though that I always include among my flowers. These are tomatoes and yellow squash.
This year my garden has been ravaged by moles and the spring rains were minimal. I’ve already watered beyond my budget, and I’m starting to categorize my plants into “must save” and “must let go” if the rain patterns don’t change. A couple weeks ago I came outside one morning to find large holes dug out of part of my east flowerbed. While it would have upset me before our mole invasion, I just smiled when I saw it. “Maybe a stray cat found herself some moles,” I hoped.
This week I have finally started to see the results of my pricey watering. I planted four squash plants. The two on the east side have done well while the other two are surviving but not growing nearly as fast. I don’t worry though because I figure when the first two have finished their production I’ll still have two others coming on.
My two faster plants are now producing quickly. Last night I made my mother’s fried squash for supper. There are many variations of fried squash but mine (my mother’s) is the simplest. I started by harvesting my squash. Then I washed them and sliced them using the cutting board. Mom always cut them straight but I like to cut them on the diagonal.
Then I prepare a skillet with cooking oil and lay out the pieces in a single layer. It is best to stay nearby and turn them often.
Once they are nicely brown on each side, I dip them out and lay them on a paper towel to absorb the oils.
They are delicious served with many things, but I still am partial to cornbread and great northern beans. I didn’t take the time to make either of those last night but I did heat up the leftover stroganoff and the fried squash made it a special treat again.
Today for lunch I used more yellow squash in a way my mother never knew. I cut up small squash into quarters and piled them into a steamer with carrots, cabbage, and onions.
I cooked some chicken strips as well so we enjoyed a quick lunch that was tasty and good for us too.
I still have two more squash in the refrigerator and my two plants will most likely be ready to harvest again tomorrow. I’m looking through my recipes now and checking on the web to find other delicious ways of preparing squash that are quick and easy.
- Roasted yellow squash (aintbut1thing.com)
- Southern Squash Casserole With Honey (romancingthebee.com)
- Spring Galettes: Asparagus, Yellow Squash, and Apple (adodge529.wordpress.com)
- I’m Back for Supper (cookingwithterry.wordpress.com)
- Little Squashes Everywhere (justbeproofdoandexist.wordpress.com)