Get in touch with the land and stir up some memories

Guest post by Kurt Jacobson

If you were fortunate enough to have a relative that owned a farm when you were growing up you know that farms are special places. I had an aunt and uncle in Sikeston, Missouri whose farm I visited two or three times as a youngster. Driving Uncle Charles’s tractor on that Sikeston farm was one of the highlights of my life at age 9. These days I volunteer at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland about once per week on a journey that takes me back to those days on the farm in Sikeston. The wonder and beauty of growing your own food on a real farm is priceless, even if it is hard work. There are many memorable events in our lives, but when you grow your own food you are setting yourself apart from the masses of people who will never know this skill. What a great feeling when you watch seeds you planted come up out of the ground alive and well. Even better is when you put vegetables from those seeds on your table feeling the intense satisfaction of being the source of your own food. Not to mention you are in control of what goes into your food. You get to make the choice to add or not to add chemicals.

Out at Wilbur’s Farm they are not certified organic, but they don’t use chemicals in growing their produce either. I was thrilled when they let me use one row of perfectly good soil to grow a crop of nearly organic heirloom Strawberry Popcorn I bought from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I planted it the oldfashioned way on my hands and knees. With a row approximately one hundred and fifty feet long I planted 480 seeds. It was thrilling to see the little corn babies sprout up back in early June, and grow to five feet tall or more. When the bugs attacked my crop I handpicked the beetles for a week and a half plopping them in a jar of soapy water until the insect war was under control. Then I waited another three weeks until it was time to pick a few ears to dry and test. The big day finally arrived in mid-September to pop the first batch of homegrown popcorn. It popped up great in cute little cloud like bits with their red speckled centers. It was a perfect consistency and very tasty with the Lawrey’s Seasoning salt and dried Porcini mushroom powder I sprinkled on it. I might even grow it again next year?!!

They grew delicata squash this year at Wilbur’s and much to my surprise almost no one bought it. People didn’t know what it was or how to cook it. I have been buying and cooking delicata squash for about ten years and it’s one of my favorites. It stores well and cooks up great in a variety of dishes.

Here’s what I found on about delicata squash:
Delicata squash (Cucurbita pepo var. pepo ‘Delicata’) is a winter squash with distinctive longitudinal dark green stripes on a yellow or cream colored background and sweet, orange-yellow flesh. It is also known as the peanut squash, Bohemian squash, or sweet potato squash. Although considered a winter squash, delicata squash belongs to the same species as all types of summer squash known in the U.S.A. (including pattypan squash, zucchini and yellow crookneck squash).

What Wikipedia didn’t say is how great this cucumber shaped squash tastes. I like to make soup with it, salads and bake it with garlic, olive oil and sage for one of the tastiest squash you will ever eat. It cooks up fairly quickly and is easier than butternut squash when it comes to preparing it. You just cut about a half an inch off each end, and then split it lengthwise. Then scoop out the seeds with a spoon and it’s ready for whatever recipe you have for it. Don’t forget to clean and roast the seeds as they are delicious tool. The folks at Wilbur’s have gifted me most of their crop of Delicata so I have been experimenting with it often, but share with you my favorite recipe. You can also find more delicate
squash recipes on my website.

Oven Roasted Delicata Squash

1 Delicata Squash
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste
1 fresh jalapeño chopped, optional

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash squash then cut lengthwise. Scrape seeds out of each half with a spoon and reserve.
  • Cut squash into 1/2 inch semi-circle slices.
  • In a mixing bowl combine squash, oil, jalapeño and garlic then spread out on a baking sheet pan.
  • Bake for twenty-five minutes then remove from oven and sprinkle sage and stir in well.
  • Continue baking for ten to fifteen more minutes or until tender, but not overcooked.

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