Does the word conjure up anything in particular for you?
For me, I always chuckle and slide back in time to 1974, the year I, city girl that I’d been, became a farm wife, the year I planted my first-ever garden. What great fun I had poring through the seed catalog, naively selecting seeds, and finally placing that order: winter squash, zucchini, lettuce, beets, onion sets, tomatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, beets, turnips, and potatoes. I was, I admit, perhaps a bit overenthusiastic.
By the end of that summer, I’d learned three vital gardening facts. The first two were, in order of importance: one must never plant an entire package of zucchini seeds, and the growing season in the Catskill Mountains was unusually short, so that early ripening tomato seeds were a garden must. My tomatoes ripened late and most tomatoes came into the house green just before the first frost.
I will never forget that zucchini crop. It seemed zucchinis that were about three inches long in the morning grew to the size of toy foam rubber baseball bats overnight. I cooked them, pickled them, froze them, and watched my neighbors hold out their hands in a stop gesture when they saw me approach with an armful.
The next summer and every subsequent summer, I planted no more than six seeds per garden. This has worked out very well.
One recipe, Posh Squash, has remained a favorite through the decades and is on my table tonight. The creamy custard, rich with Parmesan cheese, never fails to taste sumptuous.
1 pound yellow and/or zucchini squash
2 beaten eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 small onion, chopped
¼ green pepper, chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook squash until just tender; drain well. While squash is cooking, beat eggs together, then add remaining ingredients. Lastly, mix in cooked squash and pour all into buttered baking dish. Dot with butter and crumbs, if desired.
Bake 30 minutes at 350. 6-8 servings.
Recipe from my friend, Deni Drennan
And the third vital gardening fact I learned that long ago summer? A garden, in order to thrive, requires the basics of any healthy relationship: daily time, attention, and love. A heart filled with gratitude is one of the gifts in return.