Wednesday, October 23, 2002
NEW MEXICO'S OWN
Winter Squash Wonders
By Patricia Aaron
For the Journal
Of course something that looks as strange as winter squash just has to be good for you. Packed with nutrients, all winter squash are superb sources of vitamin A. They are low in sodium, high in potassium and contain a fair amount of magnesium.
Adjusted for high altitude
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin or 2 cups mashed, cooked pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 11x16-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
To prepare frosting, in a medium-size bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in sugar. Spread frosting evenly over pumpkin bars. Makes 35 bars.
A 1-cup serving contains about 80 calories, a bargain in daily caloric computation. Several common varieties of winter squash are available now through early spring. The small acorn squash weighs from 1 to 3 pounds and has sweet, slightly fibrous flesh. It has distinct ribs running the length of its hard blackish-green or golden-yellow skin.
Butternut squash's bulbous end and pale, creamy skin readily identify it. Weighing from 2 to 5 pounds, it features a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. Store butternut squash up to four months.
Hubbard, banana squash and pumpkin are the giants, ranging from 9 to 70 pounds. Pumpkins can grow even to several hundred pounds.
Hubbard squash averages about 12 pounds with a thick, bumpy skin from dark green to deep orange and yellow-orange flesh. Store Hubbard squash six months or longer. Banana squash is usually sold in cut pieces, as it averages 10 to 15 pounds.
Pumpkin is the most famous of all winter squash varieties. This squash is usually thought of first as a pie ingredient, then as a soup, but it can be substituted in any recipe calling for winter squash. One medium size pumpkin (15 to 20 pounds) will yield 5 to 7 quarts of cooked pumpkin.
Turban squash, with a bulb-like cap swelling from its blossom end, comes in bizarre shapes with extravagant coloration that makes it popular as a harvest ornamental. Store turbans up to six months and cook in any way Hubbard is prepared.
Spaghetti squash, a small, watermelon-shaped variety, ranges in size from 2 to 5 pounds or more. It's the only winter squash that cannot be substituted for mashed, cooked winter squash in other recipes. Spaghetti squash has a golden-yellow, oval rind. When cooked, the flesh separates in strands that resemble pasta. Store up to 2 months after harvest.
Winter squash mature on the vine and develop inedible, thick, hard rinds and tough seeds. Because this rind makes it difficult to peel, it's easier to cook unpeeled winter squash, and then scoop out the cooked flesh. The seeds are scooped out before or after cooking.
To bake a whole 1 to 11/2 pound winter squash, pierce the rind and bake in a 350-degree oven 45 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing with a fork. Boil or steam quarters or rings 25 minutes or until tender. To microwave, place halves or quarters, cut side down, in a shallow dish; add 1/4 cup water. Cover tightly and microwave on high 6 minutes per pound. Once squash is cooked and mashed, it can be used in soups, main dishes, vegetable side dishes, even breads, muffins and custards. One pound of winter squash equals two servings or about 2 cups cooked, mashed squash.
Winter squash are high on the list of long-keeping garden produce. Place squash on the floor on top of thick pads of newspapers in a cool, dry location. Check on a regular basis for rot.
Call 243-1386 in Albuquerque if you would like other recipes for winter squash. Hope your little goblins (and big ones, too) enjoy these Halloween treats.