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Crazy squash just looks like a football

Weird on the outside, delicious on the inside: Crazy squash. (Photos:
Debbie Arrington)
Recipe: Winter (mystery) squash looks challenging, but results are versatile and delicious

By Debbie Arington

It’s time to tackle the crazy squash.

The last of the fall harvest can linger for months. (That’s why pumpkins make such great decorations.) Hard-shelled squash will keep without refrigeration for weeks. That’s why they’re nicknamed “winter squash”; you can eat them “fresh” from October through March (or longer).

But some winter squash can be a formidable challenge. First, what is it? Like all members of the squash and pumpkin family, these plants can easily cross, creating mysterious hybrids.

That’s how I ended up with a bunch of crazy squash. From the outside, they looked sort of like banana squash, but not quite as big (thankfully). Maybe they had papaya squash or more likely butternut squash in their parentage; their size and shape reminded me of a football, only rounder. (A rugby ball, perhaps?)

Their insides, once cooked, tasted like pumpkin. So, that made these squash crazy versatile, too. They can go savory or sweet.

So how do you approach a football-size mystery? First, wash the skin well, scrubbing off any accumulated grime. With a long sharp knife on a firm cutting surface, cut in half, then quarters. That makes it easier to scrap out the seeds.

Quartering the squash makes removing the seeds easier.
After seeding, peel the skin and cut the flesh into 1-inch chunks. Those chunks can be steamed; they’ll be tender in about 20 to 30 minutes. The cooked flesh can be mashed and used in any pumpkin recipe such as pumpkin bread, soup or cookies.

Those chunks also make a great side dish on their own by simply roasting. They make a tasty (and vitamin-packed) accompaniment to hearty winter meals that’s crazy good for you, too. Who knew you could enjoy “garden-fresh” fresh squash in February?

Roasted crazy squash
Serves 4 to 6

Steam the chunks and mash them to use in recipes as you
would with pumpkin. Or roast them.
6 cups winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Seasoning salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large baking dish, toss squash cubes with oil and seasoning until well coated. Bake squash at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until squash is tender. Serve.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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