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Saturday’s are made for soup

Musings from the Hill

I have never claimed to be a great cook.

I can follow a recipe — more-or-less — though confess to freely (if not wildly) substituting when I lack one of the required ingredients. Once I find something good I’ll repeat it for each series of guests until it has run its course, and, yes, of course I do keep track. I note next to the recipe the date, my comments and for whom it was made.

I’m far happier being outdoors (or, truthfully, just about anywhere but the kitchen) though claim no better gardening talent. But then though I can sit back and marvel when something appears. Mother Nature tells me what she supposes I should grow (not especially what I’d like). By now I know I’m good for dill, lettuce and squashes.

This season I watched one grow … and grow. (No, I didn’t know what kind it was. The tag said spaghetti — who knew?) Eventually “grandpa” was accompanied by a small “grandson.” Checking “Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans and Other Good Things” — a wonderful lifesaver — I found a recipe for “Squash and Apple Soup.”

Perfect! I haven’t made applesauce for a couple of years but definitely know which trees have sour/tart fruit. The recipe calls for no “foreign” ingredients which is inevitably a good sign. I always have chicken broth in the freezer for I love the simplicity of roasting a whole chicken — at least till I get to cleaning off the bones.

Now I felt set . . . as soon as I could put aside some time. Saturday afternoon with the opera on the radio was all I needed.

I knew before then my apples were all gone – rotten or shriveled up. Henry was no longer here to stop daily at his favorite tree (mine too) which seems to miss him for it produced very little this season. Granny Smiths to the rescue. Right? Wrong. Where are the Grannys when I need them? I settled for two of the largest (and most unattractive) apples I’d seen. I don’t remember the name but the sign said they were good for baking.

Saturday rolls around. (In all fairness, the days around here gallop. Only “rolling” would be down an unbelievably steep hill.) The squash was still waiting in the garden as of Friday afternoon. Apples ready. Cookbook open. What could go wrong?

Oh, you know me, do you?

It’s a cold, blustery morning, a perfect day for soup. Jacket pulled tightly (I had to first feed the birds and dispose of a mouse), I head for the garden. My squash had jumped out of the enclosure! Half is lying on the ground, scooped empty. I know darned well a chipmunk or squirrel didn’t do that. I had been aware of something eating weeds (about all that’s left) and a few of my beans so it has to be able to reach to six feet. Deer, I’d suppose, though I’ve seen so few this year. Whoever’s the culprit left little for me. I’ll take the grandbaby squash and a pretty red pepper which doesn’t excite me as much as it should.

As directed, I bake the squash, all the time wondering if it justifies getting out the powerful (and heavy) blender.

I suppose I could just eat the cooked squash for dinner. But then what do I do with those huge apples?

Bake at 425 for 45 minutes to an hour. Simple. Only my squash popped open and has made a dreadful mess, sticking hopelessly to my baking sheet. Is anything even left to be enjoyed for dinner? It’ll have to cool a bit first. Who anticipated such a mess?

Cooled. Cut.

I measure a scant three-quarters of a cup of squash and that partially blackened. So, were I to go on, it would basically be an apple soup cooked in chicken broth with seasoning.

Guess what I’m having for dinner?

Later. I don’t know what anybody’s supposed to do with spaghetti squash. I just heated and thought it had a bit of a fishy flavor. The strands which obviously give it its name are not enticing.

I’m glad I didn’t make soup.

Susan Crossett has lived in Arkwright for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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