Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Avocado Squash - A must for any garden

 This year I tried Avocado Squash for the first time in my Straw Bales. I didn't know what to expect. To be totally honest there was not a whole lot on the vegetable for us to really learn about... But there was one thing that was certain and that was the prolific growth from early spring and still going strong in the fall.

So what exactly is an avocado squash? There are a number of names for this vegetable. It is an Asian vegetable and if you like Zucchini you will absolutely Love the Avocado Squash.

There is some caution that needs to be adhered with regards to Growing and Eating Avocado Squash...First... If allowed to grow on the vine the Avocado Squash will get extremely seedy. The first picture shows a small Avocado Squash but as you see in the Pic I had to scoop out the inside. A good rule of thumb when Growing Avocado Squash is to grow it to the size of a large orange. If left on the vine the Avocado Squash will grow to the size of a Pumpkin.. which is great for seeds.. Some have used that size in soups.. I personally don't  want to go that route
The Entire vegetable can be eaten at the size of a large orange. Skin and All... The texture is buttery and smooth and is an excellent alternative to Zucchini.. Paired with garlic this vegetable is a home run!!

The Shelf life is short if left out at room temperature. If you harvest more than you can eat.. which you will... the Avocado Squash will store perfectly in the fridge for about a week.

This variety grows perfect in Straw bales and as personal experience will tell you it grows out of control..It also has the unique quality of being a vertical grower. So if you have limited space and want to grow up.. this will do the trick. I have heard the Avocado Squash makes Great Zucchini Bread. I cant wait to try that. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Garden Buddies

Earlier this year I had a war with insects eating my garden before it got started. I thought I wold never win the battle. I left for a few months and my expectations were not great for the garden. Upon returning I noticed that my wife just literally gave up.. The garden Looked like Jumanji... Foliage was everywhere. Although it was not what I wanted I was happy that things were still green. I also noticed that the leaves were extremely healthy.. The Garden was thriving... Bumblebees are visiting... Wasps have put a dent in the slug population. Parasitic Wasps are impregnating aphids with their spawn, with the turn of a spade there are more earthworms than I can ever count and I have an unbelievable amount of Praying mantis that have resided in and around my garden. They must be breeding because I see small ones and big ones. The Mantis is so cool. They are so patient. I suspect they are thriving on the healthy flying cockroach the south is so well known for. Have at it!! All in all things are looking good while preparing for the fall growing season.. Hopefully we can continue to provide a sanctuary for my garden buddies in the years to come.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Redneck Lobster---- Gar Fishin

My buddy Scott is an amazing fisherman. He knows the local waters better than anyone and does a really good job catchin and landing gar. On a recent trip I was curious to see what Gar actually taste like. As suspected... the normal reaction is...... Nah man that's a junk fish.... Scott However, has actually tried to eat gar and in his opinion it wasn't the worst fish out there and it wasn't the best fish. So with a little research as I typically do in my own fashion..... I found several YouTube videos and websites dedicated to the art of dining on Gar. To my surprise I learned that you either gonna love this thing or hate it. But if I was a bettin man... I would be willing to bet that most people who don't like it have never tasted it. They are just passin along broken knowledge from generation to generation. But to the contrary.... there is something to be said about Seminole Indians trading bass for gar and cooking them over open flames in their hard shell. They absolutely loved it.

So I was convinced..... or at least the only person I had to convince was Scott to catch one or we go together and catch one so that I will cook it. And so we set out on the lake in search of Gar.. We don't have any Alligator gar where we are.. Just common gar, log nose, spotted and Black Gar. It took us all day and we finally got one heading back in to dock. The Shell of the Gar is literally an armor plate. But I was prepared. We had a nail and hammer and brought my thick tin snip cutters and sharp filet knife along with some freezer bags. A quick nail in the skull to a board and immediately sever the spinal column with the tin snip cutters. I ran the tin snips along the back to the tail and I was able to separate the meat from the armor with the knife as I pulled the meat away from inside the armor. BY running the knife along the back all the way to the tail on both sides I was able to get to huge filet's like the back straps of a deer. Some of the prettiest meat I have ever seen.

We cooked it two ways..... One back strap we fried... I prepared lemon wedges and melted butter for the course and the second back strap I cut into chunks and threw it into a Cajun Boil and for approx 5 mins and let simmer down for an additional 3 mins. This was served with a side of melted butter also.. The Verdict.................... ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! and I am not just saying that.. the meat is likened to grouper and when dipped in butter tastes like sweet lobster. SIMPLY AMAZING!!! If Gar isn't the best Fish in the Water and River I want to know what can compete with it. I have tasted practically every fish in our Waters and my favorites are Walleye, Trout, Crappie and Salmon. Now Gar is going to be added into the top Five. If you like Catfish... You will sell your home for Gar!!

Important things to remember....... Make sure you rinse the gar meat off well with cold water and put on ice. I freezed the gar for a night and thawed it the next day to eat it. After it thawed I put it in the fridge to keep it cold until ready to eat. I was flirting with the idea of soaking it in milk... but When I opened the freezer bag there was no smell whatsoever that can be found on the gar. It was clean. So opted out of that. The key ingredient to cooking car is time. Gar doesn't need to be cooked long and it needs to be served hot to enjoy the best the meat has to offer.

So in Short.... with the economy getting tough and families looking for ways to spread their dollars. Instead of heading to Red Lobster... Go and catch a Gar and prepare some Redneck Lobster:)