On Tuesday, one of Caleb's teachers asked me if I would bring to school some of the "gourds" I mentioned on my last visit. She wanted to have the kids check out the seeds and see the variety and so forth. She said they are talking about crops and farming. Basic sensory experience, as far as I could tell. We have a large bowl overflowing with "gourds," so I was happy to oblige.
By gourds, she really meant winter squash. Before I started to cook more from scratch, I didn't understand what people meant by winter squash versus summer squash. I definitely didn't realize I could eat most of what I saw as decorations, let alone know HOW to prepare winter squash. When we started going to the farmers' market, Caleb inevitably would pick up something that neither Aaron nor I recognized and beg to buy it. We would ask sheepishly what the thing was and how to prepare and eat it. The answer was usually to cut it in half, add olive oil or butter, salt and pepper, and roast until done (tender, soft, edible).
The first winter squash Caleb introduced us to was delicata squash. The link takes you to a beautiful food, garden and cooking blog. Delicata squash is the shape of a fat cucumber, light yellow in color with green stripes. The interior is a yellow or light orange usually. It is a sweet and tender squash. It makes a delightful side dish to any number of meals.
This year we received many kinds of winter squash from our CSA: butternut, acorn, sunshine (looks like a smooth slightly darker orange pumpkin), carnival, sweet dumpling (looks like a delicata squash in color but is round), and at least a few that I don't know the names of yet.
The next winter squash Caleb introduced us to was blue hubbard squash. It is NOT a pretty squash, in my opinion. Big, bluish-gray, bumpy. It is delicious, once you crack it open. The microwave is fantastic for softening up winter squash skin.
And so this morning I picked 4 different squash - butternut, delicata, carnival, and sweet dumpling - and gave the teacher instructions for how to prepare them:
"Microwave them for a few minutes to soften the skin. Cut them in half. Add butter or olive oil. Salt and pepper OR brown sugar. Roast until done."
I'll let you know how it goes.