Copyright Ozarkhomesteader 2009. Please see other posts about fair use.
In the late 1980s I was living in Madison, Wisconsin, on a budget so tight that I spent just $10 total on food and entertainment a week. If I wanted to go the movies (we did that back then), I had to save up or cut back. I learned how to eat locally and in season long before the concept was cool because it was all I could afford. That was how I ate my first acorn squash. You see, I had been raised on good vegetables including summer squash, but my deep South family had not grown winter squash (or at least I never saw it!).
That year, Madison-area farmers had a bumper crop of gigantic acorn squash, larger than many pie pumpkins. When I saw a dozen of these big beauties for $2 that was about to go on end-of-market sale for $1.50, I knew I had to try them. I had no idea how to use them, though,--and we had no internet–so I asked the kid who was tending the booth. Oh, it’s easy, he told me. Just cut them in half, scoop out the seed, and put a little water in the hole. Then bake them at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. He told me I also could stuff them with chopped apples and walnuts and add cinnamon and brown sugar. I bought the dozen and lugged them home and did exactly what he’d told me. It was so good, so rich compared to what I’d been eating.
Next week, I went back to the booth to thank him. He wasn’t there, but his mother was. When I told her that he had given me cooking directions, she looked stunned. He had never prepared an acorn squash in his life! When she told me the squash would keep through the winter, I bought another dozen.
The morals to the story are
- eat local and in season if you want to eat cheaply;
- acorn squash is easy to prepare, even if you’ve never done it before; and
- if you buy two dozen giant acorn squashes for $3 because you’re on a budget and they’re cheap, you’re going to be sick of them by the time you finish them.