Fall is upon us! This time of year I scramble, trying to use up my precious garden veggies. In the boreal forest, where I proudly pitch my fork, at this time of year (or any time, really) there could be a sudden frost. As the calendar moves further into September, every day without frost is a gift and an opportunity for our garden vegetables. As I write this, there is a mountain of work waiting for me out there, but I try to extend (avoid) it as long as possible, seeing as the best storage is happening outside while the plants are still alive.
Once picked, the work begins.
Those of us with gardens carefully watch the forecast and when there is a risk of frost, there are announcements on the radio, on Facebook, and from friends, in-laws, and neighbours (speaking of neighbours, right now we are on cougar and bear watch thanks to some concerned folks living down our road. I love community!). Even Environment Canada posts a huge red banner at the top of their weather page if frost is imminent. When a frost risk is announced, we talk about it all day to everyone we see and we run outside in the dewy evening, ideally before dark (but at my house we like the extra challenge the dark provides, particularly locating the sheets in the dark tool-filled shed and the wild animal attack potential), and cover up our precious food with sheets and blankets, preserving them for yet another day of ripening. This can go on for days and days, with the garden blessing/burden looming in our thoughts while we are at work!
The still-surviving, as-yet un-frostbitten vegetables I want to talk about today are squash.
I often plant random seeds from a variety of packages, never knowing what variety may turn up. Except pumpkins! Pumpkins are kept separate and considered sacred (mainly because everyone is interested in carving them) and are a bumper crop this year; the kids are planning a roadside pumpkin stand as we are expecting about 30 nice sized pumpkins to emerge from beneath the broad leaves (update, make that about 60)! I love to walk through the garden trying to get a peak underneath the prickly foliage to see what’s hiding; following the trail of vines-at-risk extending far beyond the garden.
As for the other squashes, there are countless uses for them: and around here we are all trying to use it up. Funny: we all like to complain about it but we keep planting it year after year. In September, almost any house you walk into in these parts will have a squash sitting on their counter or in their pack porch the size of football, or an elephant’s trunk. Chocolate zucchini loaf is a back-to-school staple in our house, and I am fortunate enough to have a minion that makes it (an added bonus of having kids).
Now, how to use up that squash. . . have you tried grilling it? While there are many around here that turn their noses up at the large zucchini, I like them big or small. I usually grill the larger ones in slices on the barbeque while basting on some lemon, butter, garlic, and parsley mixture. I also like to toss a variety of vegetables in olive oil and grill them in the grill basket. But the other day I had a client tell me about a recipe she used on grilled vegetables that sounded different, and we need variety to help us consume the endless supply of squash. I modified the recipe (from her urgently texted photo of the recipe) based on what I had handy and it turned out great. The ginger was the best part.
Grilled Garden Vegetables Grilled Vegetables Printable Version
4 cups sliced vegetables (such as zucchini, sweet peppers, green beans, onions, asparagus, and mystery squash)
Juice from one lime
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. agave syrup or honey
1/8 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat barbeque grill or oven to 400º. Toss vegetables in olive oil. Place in grill basket or baking dish and grill until tender but crispy, stirring frequently. This will only take a few minutes. Remove from heat and coat with dressing and serve!
Enjoy and be ever so thankful to the earth and sun for those glorious vegetables!