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From the Seasonal Kitchen (09/26/2010)
by Emma Roth - Schwartz

Guess we have to admit it – there’s no way around it now. Summer is over. Yes, yes, I know, we’re not ready. This very odd summer didn’t really get started until it was too hot to go outdoors; now it’s been pretty chilly since before Labor Day. But before we all get too down about what’s coming, let’s take some time to enjoy what we have: cool mornings, a few sunny afternoons like this one, and squash from the garden.

Remember what we thought about the canned squash that some of our mothers brought home from the A&P and tried to foist on children who knew better than to eat it? Think again. Our family recently discovered the joys of the real thing. And better still, it’s a versatile, easy side dish that leaves you free to enjoy these last few beautiful days.

First things first: a winter squash of modest size, cut in half, seeds scooped out, and baked at 350 degrees cut side down for maybe an hour (or until a fork goes in with no resistance) is a thing of beauty and a joy for dinner. Season it with butter and salt and pepper, or maybe with maple syrup, and watch it disappear. Experiment with some of the beautifully bright colored local squash available now, and find out which ones are your favorites.

Then consider winter and think of breakfasts on cold, cold weekend mornings when you don’t have to be anywhere special. Or of snacks with tea on a frigid afternoon. Or of something to share with friends on the spur of the moment. The major almanacs are telling us that this winter could be something special in both length and depth. Actually, since Minnesota is well north of the equator, we can expect cold that will make any winter seem long. So bring on the squash!

Squash? Squash. Think of winter breakfasts adorned with loaves of sweet pumpkin bread that you “just happened to have on hand.” Think of pulling a loaf of zucchini bread or a zucchini pie out of the freezer in the nick of time for a pot luck dinner. Think of whole wheat apple bread as an after-school snack. Well, okay, it isn’t all winter squash, or even all squash in the case of the apples. But you can do it, and it’s all at its freshest best right now.

Zucchini Bread

(for those few fugitives that still lurk out there, grown to football size)

2 cups grated zucchini, unpeeled, seeds and all

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil (not olive)

3 eggs

1 t vanilla

3 c flour

¼ t baking powder

1 t baking soda

½ t salt

1 t cinnamon

1 t ground cloves

1 c chopped nuts (optional)

Mix well

Pour in 2 standard loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans

Run knife through the batter 3 times to remove bubbles

Bake 350 F 1 hour (45 min for mini pans)

Turn off oven; leave in for a further 15 minutes

Zucchini Pie

Contributed for this column by a Master Gardener

Toss together in a bowl:

4 cups sliced zucchini, sautéed until tender crisp

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Dash of salt

Mix in a separate bowl:

1– ¼ cup sugar

1– ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 – ½ teaspoons cream of tartar”

Dash of nutmeg

3 tablespoons flour

Add zucchini and mix well.

It will be runny, but that’s OK. Dump the filling into a 9” unbaked crust and dot with butter: Add a top crust and bake at 400 F for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Glazed Pumpkin Bread

2 cups flour

1 t baking powder

½ t nutmeg

½ t ground cloves

½ t cinnamon

¼ t allspice

¼ t salt

1 – ½ cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

½ cup orange juice

½ cup sour cream or vanilla yogurt

3 T melted butter

1 – ¼ cups cooked mashed pumpkin

(cook it just as you would squash – see above)

¼ cup powdered sugar

2 t warm water

½ t fresh lemon juice

Sift together first eight ingredients; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, eggs, orange juice, sour cream, butter, and pumpkin; beat until well mixed.

Add dry ingredients and stir until all is moist and well blended

Pour into greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan

Bake 350 F for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan 15 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.

Combine powdered sugar, water, and lemon juice; brush over cooled bread and let set until glaze has dried.

Winter Squash Bread

2 cups flour

1 t baking soda

½ t baking powder

½ t salt

½ t cinnamon

½ t nutmeg

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

2/3 cup canola oil

2 eggs

½ cup honey

¼ cup light cream or milk

1 c cooked & mashed winter squash

Sift together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Sift again and set aside

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil; beat until light and creamy.

Beat in eggs, honey, milk, and squash

Beat in dry mixture only until all is moistened

Pour into greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or 3 mini pans

Bake at 350 F for 65 min or 60 min for mini pans

(Toothpick inserted in center should come out clean)

Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing; cool completely before slicing

Whole Wheat Apple Bread

from Penzey’s Catalog

1 cup vegetable oil (not olive)

2 cups sugar

3 eggs, well beaten

3 cups whole wheat flour (or half whole wheat, half unbleached white)

1 t salt

1 t baking soda

1 t apple pie spice

2 cups chopped, peeled baking apples

1 cup pecans or walnuts

2 t vanilla extract

Grease and flour two 8 ½ x4 ½ loaf pans and set aside.

In a large medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing well after each addition.

Fold in the apples, nuts and vanilla

Pour into the loaf pans and bake at 350 F for about 1 ½ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the loaves comes out clean.

Turn out of the pans while still slightly warm (wait 20-30 minutes) and let cool completely



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