Fire very near the house!

The fire at our neighbor's house last Thursday. Those little vertical squares in this photo are the windows in the house. Fire reached 20 feet high a few times.

A fire broke out on Thursday late afternoon in our neighborhood. It was less than 1/2 mile away which is basically 3 houses down the road and the way the wind was blowing with 45 mile hour winds, it could of taken out some of my neighbor’s houses or shifted and gotten ours. Luckily it went right in between 2 houses and missed everyone. I figure about 1/2 mile burned. Many of us neighbors were on the back line putting out hot spots and hosing down the land closest to the homes. The fire got within 30 feet of one home. I shoveled the hot spots and saved 3 trees from going up in flames. After the firefighters got there (3 fire engines) they made us get out of the hot zone after about an hour. Actually this was good because my throat was killing me the rest of the night from the smoke inhalation-it went away by morning. We had most of our valuables at the front door in case we were evacuated and several friends lined up to get our animals out but it wasn’t needed thank god…The next morning I was still shakey from the adrenaline rush/crash afterwards. We were all very, very lucky..

The Mystery of the Calabacita Squash

Article first published as The Mystery of the Calabacita Squash on Blogcritics. Story by giantveggiegardener.

As a gardener and a cook, I’ve been searching for a particular squash seed-the Mexican Calabacita. It was the original squash used to make the famous ‘Calabacitas’ dish of squash, corn, onions and green chili here in New Mexico. Most of us now use zucchini to make this savory dish because of it’s availability, but here at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, you can buy the Calabacita squashes in early summer and then by mid summer, they are gone. They are little green squashes with soft skin and teeny weenie seeds-too small to harvest. I researched it and found that the squash originally came from Mexico but not a lot of information is out there on it. No seed catalogs have it. None of my gardening friends have any seeds. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Then two years ago while on vegetable gardening forum here in Santa Fe, I met another gardener and during the course of our conversation after the forum, the mysterious Calabacitas squash came up. I told her of my difficulty finding the seeds. She told me she had gotten some Calabacita seeds from another farmer whose family had been here for generations.  She offered me a few of the seeds. Finally I would get some seeds! So we emailed each other and I sent her an envelope to send me some but they never came. I went by the Farmers Market where she sells produce but we kept missing each other. Another season passed and still no seeds.

This year, on the last day of my season as ‘The Tomato Lady’ at the Farmers Market where I sell heirloom tomatoes, I went by her booth and mentioned maybe I could get some of those seeds for this upcoming season. She said,” Why not buy one of the squashes now?” When she pointed them out, I said, “That’s one of them? It doesn’t look anything like the ones earlier in the season” and she remarked, “Yes that’s one of them. They are actually a type of WINTER SQUASH. We just pick them when they are really young and immature and have no seeds”. That explains it! Why I could never get any seeds from them. That is why we don’t see them later on in summer-if you let it keep growing; it will become a mature winter squash. There were several there at her booth with different colors. Some were green with orange stripes and some were salmon color with green-grey stripes. She said there really wasn’t any difference in the taste.  I ended up with the salmon-green striped one. It weighed about 15 lbs and has a squat oval shape outside and lovely orange color inside. It smelled like a cross between a cucumber and a melon.

I got the seeds and roasted the squash. To roast it, I quartered it and rubbed some oil on it and put it on a cookie sheet. Then I added a little water in the bottom of the pan so it wouldn’t dry out. I put it in the oven at 350° and placed some aluminum foil loosely over it so it would not burn. It took about an hour to cook. Afterwards, I put the flesh in a freezer Ziploc and will later cook squash lasagna with béchamel sauce.

So Calabacita squash can be used to make Calabacitas in early summer or later in the fall used in winter squash dishes.

Here is a recipe for Calabacitas from New Mexico:

1 lb or more Calabacita squash or any summer squash, cubed

3-4 ears fresh corn cut off the cob or 1 can corn

1 chopped onion

cumin to taste

New Mexico green chili to taste

Sauté the onion, add the squash and corn and sauté till tender.

Add cumin to taste. Add New Mexico green chili to taste.

Santa Fe’s Farmer’s Market

For the Discriminating Cook

This year the Santa Fe’s Farmer’s Market, which was recently rated as one of the best in  the nation, was a juried-in only market for farmers. Well, I went in the their office and they said I got accepted but I haven’t received their acceptance letter yet which makes me nervous as it’s been 2 weeks. I need to know for sure because it will determine whether I plant more tomatoes or not. We’ll see…

Last year at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

I am known as ‘The Tomato Lady-Heirloom Tomatoes & Exotic Veggies’ for the discriminating cook. I grow varieties that you don’t get at the grocery stores or at our farmer’s market. See you there this summer!  I’ll keep you posted when I start going to sell my produce on SATURDAY mornings this year-probably late June since I sell warm season crops…