Adrian being a goof with the sunshine kabocha

Everyone has stories, stories about squash. Tales of the biggest pumpkin at the state fair, of the pies they would eat at family dinner, or of that one vine that took over the backyard that summer. Tales of that one squash they couldn’t resist buying at the farmers market as if it were calling their name from some ethereal plane. This section will contain personal stories as well as stories of squash in legends or as a point of cultural relevance. We are connected in a very tangible way, we have grown together and our world’s heritage and culture will always make room for SQUASH stories!

Spooky Squash Season

I Am Afraid Of Squash (And Pumpkin Too)

By Kristen Conley: Blue Barrel Produce Kieler, WI

I am afraid of squash. Not the plant, but the prepared fruit. I am afraid of pumpkins too. Not your friendly ol’ Jack-O-Lantern, but finding a pie pumpkin and making my own fresh pumpkin for pie. Do I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies, and pumpkin bars? Yup! But- only if it’s out of a can that says “Libby’s”.

For all of you that are also ‘afraid’ of squash and pumpkin, its ok, my kids are too. Two years ago my relationship with pumpkins and squash began and ended. A friend from India asked me to grow her some ‘green pumpkins’. I didn’t know there was such a thing! I found a green pumpkin seed, ordered it, planted it for my friend, only to have her move. At my market stand the lonely green pumpkin never sold.

Last year, 2018, I planted the remainder of the ‘green pumpkin’ aka kabocha squash seeds. No one wanted to buy the plant, no one wanted to buy the product. I can’t blame them. They are scary! The thought of an unknown fruit? It was probably ‘gross’! EW, WHO WOULD EAT A GREEN PUMPKIN?!!? I was giving them away, just so they wouldn’t go to waste.

On a cold afternoon this past November, I didn’t know what to make for supper. On the counter stared at me three kabocha squashes. “Ugh, why am I even going to attempt to make this, it’s just going to be a waste of time,” I told myself. I did a quick Google on ‘how to make kabocha squash’, I found a recipe that told me:

“Wash, cut the top and bottom off, but be warned the skin is super hard, dig the seeds out, and cut into 1-2” chunks. Place on a foil lined pan, drizzle with olive or grapeseed oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven at 425 for 45 minutes, or until flesh pierces easily.”

With much hesitation, I did it. I roasted that creepy green thing in my oven, waited for it to cool, to the point where I could handle it to cut the green skin off. I cut it into 1” chunks and placed them in a bowl with the though of mashing it, hoping it would taste like a mashed sweet potato. (I love sweet potatoes). I must have been hungry enough, I stomached up the courage to taste it. It wasn’t bad! I was very surprised! Squash taste good! NOOOO!!! Couldn’t be! “Squash with the strange texture, covered with massive amounts of brown sugar and butter I had grown up with and been so reluctantly forced to eat as a child”! “THIS SQUASH WAS GOOD!”

To my surprise, I continued to snack on the kabocha as I cut it up. before I knew it, I was full. I ate squash, and it was good. My kids even at it! No brown sugar needed! Just a little butter, salt and pepper. This deliciousness left me with a craving for more-except I was out! A couple weeks later at Dubuque Winter Farmers Market I noticed Will and Adrian at “Jupiter Ridge” had the now coveted, “kabocha”!

Of course, I purchased some, never being let down! I even mustered up the courage to try an orange kabocha! Adrian told me it was a bit sweeter. I made it the same way. It was just as good. A month later, I even ventured into trying a ‘butternut squash’. Made it the same way, although I’ve come to learn I like butternut squash a little less- due to the texture. I have since looked up more butternut squash recipes, and put it in soups this past winter.

This year I am growing a wider variety of squash, because I am not afraid (that much) anymore! I might even attempt to make a real pie pumpkin this year! And, I might try an acorn squash, and, I might, just might, try the strange yellow and green striped delicata! I really do encourage everyone to try a new fruit/vegetable occasionally, and if you’re a new parent- make your baby eat some delicious fresh organic squash! Roast it for you, puree it for them! Face your fears, do a “Google” and try a squash this year!