29 October 2009

Winter Squash Abound

I finally made it out to a pumpkin patch, but not with the intention of hay rides or even to select my Jack 'o Lantern to-be.  No, my goal was to peruse the wide, interesting array of winter squash, harboring ambitious plans to pick a decent variety to admire then cook in creative and delicious ways.  Also no stranger to the kitchen, my mother opted to join me on this adventure.  This particular pumpkin and squash purveyor offered the usual varieties like acorn, butternut, and delicata squashes, along with types of which I'd never heard nor seen.  They ranged in size from the roughly hand-sized Hungarian finger fruit to banana squash almost the size of a toddler.  The guy minding the stand was kind enough to lend us a helpful guide--created by the so-called Squashman years ago--about the various squash available, which included tips on how to cook each type and even offering accompanying some of the Squashman's favorite recipes.  Taking note of what seemed most interesting and tasty, my mom and I grabbed us a wheelbarrow and made our selections.  She chose her two acorn squash, so called for its acorn-like shape, which happens to be Mom's favorite winter squash; I picked up a Guatemalan banana squash, an oblong, blue squash probably around two feet long; a blue ballet, blue and round with slight points on opposite ends; a Tahitian butternut, which looks like a typical butternut squash but a bit larger, smoother, and often with a long, craned neck; and a black futsu, apparently a "hard-to-find" Japanese heirloom pumpkin that is black when ready to be harvested, then turns to an amber color (like mine) as it sits.  With such a wonderful assortment of winter squash, it should be exciting to explore all of the great ways to cook up these edible beauties.  I'll definitiely be doing a lot of roasting, because I like how the process brings out squash's natural sweetness.  I welcome and would be thankful for any suggestions for cooking and recipes, if anyone cares to share them here!

Squash types: (left to right) blue ballet, Guatemalan banana, Tahitian butternut, black futsu, acorn.

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