One of the side benefits of being married to a medical dude is that I very occasionally get taken to a nice dinner that is paid for by Big Pharma. Not often, due to industry restrictions, but sometimes. It’s fantastic, because they always pick the best restaurants in town, and I’m usually allowed to get kind of tipsy and tell them how many robots* Chris has in his home office.
This last dinner was held at Mizuna in Denver, which is one of my all-time favorite Colorado restaurants. The Colorado restaurant scene is surprisingly underwhelming overall, but there are a few gems in the Denver Metro area, and Mizuna is one of them. It’s a Frank Bonanno restaurant. He won the Food Network Mac and Chee challenge a few years back, and his lobster mac and chee is still on the menu (and still fantastic and rich and decadent, even if I do take against lobster). The last time we went, I had the vegetarian option, which was this absolutely dreamy stuffed, handmade gnocchi with porcinis or morels…I can’t remember. I would eat it again. Without question.
But when we arrived for the drug rep dinner, the vegetarian option (which I had hoped to eat again) was actually something to do with courgettes and frisee. It had a large number of words, which usually means it’s trying to be something it’s not.
Do you know what a courgette is? It’s a ZUCCHINI. Needless to say, I did not order this entree.
At my house, currently, we are drowning in zucchini and yellow squash. I originally planted one zucchini and one yellow squash seed as self-esteem crops. Basically, I knew they’d grow even if nothing else did, and since it was my first year gardening, I wanted to feel successful at something, even if it was a gourd of which I am not particularly fond. Those two seeds have turned into one 4×4 foot zucchini and two small yellow crookneck plants, placed about 6 feet away from one another.
Yeah. They cloned and migrated. Of their own volition. And you’re still worried about a robot apocalypse?
The zucchini plant turns out a steady number of large, green Louisville sluggers. I try to catch them as babies, both because they are more tender, and because it means disposing of less zucchini, but this seems to only encourage them to produce more zucchinis, larger, and faster than before. I’ve gotten a couple that are literally as big as my femur, and I am not a short girl.
That’s a single zucchini plant up front there. And that thing poking out the bottom left is a rogue butternut squash. Anyone know when I’m supposed to pick those?
The yellow crookneck squash plants are filthy whores. Even picking them as fast as nature allows, I currently have about 16 actual squashes on two small plants. They’re coming hot and heavy and are now getting sort of deformed, like they’ve given up completely on quality, and are now just breeding for quantity. STOP BREEDING, SQUASH! YOU CAN’T EVEN AFFORD THE KIDS YOU’VE GOT!
So I’m doing everything but running out there with a spray bottle of liquid prenatals and hosing them down, hoping that the extra folic acid will help them develop into normal, healthy-looking squash. You think I’m employing literary exaggeration?
I am not.
Every single one of those little yellow twigs is developing at breakneck (crookneck?) speed into a long, skinny, wonky-looking squash. They’re one step short of developing sub-families and spending too much time talking about tater tot casserole.
My tomatoes are losing their minds, too, and producing enormous colonies of green fruit, which is slowly ramping up production from a single less-sweet, ripe fruit at a time, to large caches of fruit that are large and legitimately delicious. God bless Colorado’s tomato growing weather. Tons of sun, bursts of rain, and appropriate soil makeup.
8 reasonable fruits in a single colony, all almost too pretty to be good tomatoes
So what do you do when nature sends you a bounty like this, and you’re feeling a little ungrateful for your bounty, on account of squashes are prolific and not terribly flavorful? You Put Them In Things. Everything. I’ve put grated squash in bolognese sauce, made squash tacos, added chunks to chili, grilled them, roasted them, hidden them, celebrated them, cursed them, and stir-fried them.
Mmmmmm…garden stir fry contains onions, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, jalapenos and cabbage, all of which is from our tiny backyard for FREE.
It’s a known fact that white people make shitty stir fry. We use frozen vegetables, cook everything in soy sauce alone, and make sure the meat is steamed and the vegetables are limp. Gross. Try to amp it up a little. Cook things over very hot heat, add things in order of length of cooking time, so each thing is only cooked to toothsome perfection, and cook the meat separately in a searing hot pan before adding it. As for sauce: a basic stir fry sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, red pepper, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, water, and cornstarch gets whisked together and tossed in at the last minute, when everything is done and very hot in a hot, dry pan. It reduces in 10 seconds, and then gets dumped unceremoniously over rice. Easy. And tastes better than your local delivery place, I swear.
This has beef, but it could easily be vegetarian by using tofu OR just using your vegetables. Nothing wrong with a veggie stir fry.
Seriously, squash. Close your legs. Nobody wants to see that.