Pin It
Favorite

Simply MJ 

by Mary Jane Butters


Buttercup squash, native to our soils and indigenous to our diets, can be a healthy, regular menu item during the fall and winter months. It's easy to bake, sweet and creamy, silky smooth and rich. Served plain, people mistake it for pumpkin pie filling. Its flesh is orange and very sweet. Its skin is dark green and round. (Pumpkin is more watery, stringy and less sweet.)


Buttercup can be stored in a cool, well-ventilated spot in your kitchen for several weeks. When shopping for buttercup, choose a squash that is hard and heavy, indicating that the flesh is moist and dense. Check for soft spots, a sign that it has been mishandled.


Even though many recipes require "peeling" a squash, the task can seem impossible. It's better to bake buttercup with the skin still on, then scoop the flesh out for use in recipes.


Wash the squash. Cut it in half with a broad, heavy knife. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the strings and seeds. If you're in a hurry, it's just as easy to scoop them out after it's done. If you're really in a hurry, you can bake a buttercup whole, complete with its stem. All this requires is poking a hole in the top with a knife for the air to escape, like pricking a potato before you bake it. If you scoop the seeds out before you bake it, you should try baking the seeds separately -- a delicious treat! Put the seeds and their surrounding stringy mass in a colander and run cold water over them as you clean them with your hands. Don't worry about getting all the squash off the seeds. Spread them in a baking dish and cover them with melted butter as you would popcorn. Sprinkle with a little salt and bake at 350 degrees until brown. If you heat your home with a wood stove, spread the squash seeds evenly in the bottom of a heavy cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle with a tiny amount of lime juice and salt. Or try adding some soy sauce. Put the skillet on your wood stove and stir the seeds constantly until they are crisp and nicely browned. Keep your eye on them so they don't burn. Once cooled, they make a delicious dry snack.


One advantage to cutting the squash in half and baking it cut side down is the carmelization that occurs. The resulting glaze is sweet and "candied," without adding any additional sweeteners.


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking dish with a light layer of butter or oil. Or you can add a small amount of water (about 1/2 inch) to the bottom of the pan instead of butter or oil. Bake halves cut side down until a long skewer glides easily through the squash, especially near the top. Baking may take as long as an hour, but you should check after 45 minutes.


Now you have a menu item that stores well in your refrigerator. Or it can be eaten as is, fresh from the oven, as an addition to any meal. It can be added to soups, stews, and savory tarts. It's tasty with butter, cream, garlic, a wide variety of cheeses, and toasted nuts or its own toasted seeds. It can be eaten with beans, rice, or potatoes. Try a curried squash soup with some hazelnuts as a garnish. Diluted with water or milk, it can be added to cornbread or biscuit recipes as a colorful, natural liquid sweetener. Spoonfuls can even be added to salads! You won't be disappointed when you allow a buttercup squash to join you at your table.





Sunday Morning Squash Muffins


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 12-muffin pan with muffin cups.





Whisk together:


1 1/4 cups cornmeal


3/4 cup flour


1 to 4 tablespoons sugar, if desired


2 teaspoons baking powder


1/2 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 teaspoon salt





In a separate bowl, whisk together:


2 eggs


1 1/3 cups liquid squash


*Liquid squash is baked squash diluted with water or milk (about half and half ratio), until it is the consistency of buttermilk or heavy cream.


3 tablespoons melted butter or oil


Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot with butter and fresh fruit.





Publication date: 02/20/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Reunited We Stand
  • Reunited We Stand

    With major provisions of Trump's executive order put on temporary hold, 11 Iraqi refugees reunite with their families in Spokane
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Working Blue
  • Working Blue

    Spokane police officer under fire for profanity; plus, Tomi Lahren — and her opinions — are coming to town
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • 'Cautiously Optimistic'
  • 'Cautiously Optimistic'

    Spokane Public Schools has seen improvement since committing to reducing suspensions, but the hardest part is yet to come
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • More »

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Harlem Globetrotters

Harlem Globetrotters @ Spokane Arena

Tue., Feb. 21, 7 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Mary Jane Butters

  • Venison Time

    Every fall, my entire Mormon clan went deer hunting for two weeks. In the sagebrush outback of Utah, my parents and relatives created a kid's paradise. Truant from school, we lived in wall tents, washed our clothes by hand, ate withou
    • Oct 16, 2003
  • Simply MJ

    Dear MJ, I've been told that garlic bulbs grow bigger if you don't allow them to flower, so I always cut the flower stalks off. Can you tell me if it's better to wait until the stalk is mature and has straightened out or cut it when i
    • Jul 24, 2003
  • Simply MJ

    It's easy to run to the store and pick up a new hose each time you spring a leak, but not nearly as satisfying as making good use of those holey old hoses taking up space in your shed or garage. They may be just what you need to turn
    • Jul 17, 2003
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • Cause For Alarm
  • Cause For Alarm

    Residents of a remote part of Stevens County say something is making them sick, but no one is sure exactly what it is
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • Paradox of the West
  • Paradox of the West

    There's more to our region's success than just rugged individualism
    • Jul 15, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation