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home : lifestyle : lifestyle today   May 29, 2016

9/9/2013 11:49:00 AM
Harvest time includes cucuzzua

Nancy's cucuzzia squash hangs from her pergola outside the back door.Submitted photo
+ click to enlarge
Nancy's cucuzzia squash hangs from her pergola outside the back door.
Submitted photo
Nancy Dinelli-Prill

Holy cow! We are into September already.
As crazy as it seems, “The Farmer” has been getting up at 3:45 a.m. to go cut greens and tees at the golf course, just like he use to do on the farm as a kid when they were milking cows. It is the end of the golf tournament season, so they have to cut early.
I can’t ever remember my father’s workmen on the golf course cutting grass in the dark, but then it was a different time. They walked behind the green and tee mowers and of course, none of the mowers in that era had lights. Yes, times do change.”
I’ve got all my onions and garlic cleaned and braided. Can’t brag about the garlic, but the onions are beautiful, both the red and the yellow and I will have enough of the braided garlic and onions to last us the winter. It feels good to walk out under the grape pergola and see all the braids hanging on their posts.
I’m picking my zucchini squash while it still is very small and has not yet dropped the blossom. I have found that picking them at that age, makes for a tasty extra to a salad. Slice them really thin and they can replace celery in a tossed salad.
I have only two plants of zucchini, but that is more than enough when it comes to just two old people who don’t use them to make breads or cakes. I had three nice big ones that I used to batter and deep fry, but I don’t seem to be interested in doing that this year. Therefore, I placed them out on the mouth of the driveway with a free and they were picked up and gone in no time by a passerby.
My few tomato plants that are planted among the flowers in the Italian garden are keeping us eating tomatoes daily. I’m not freezing or canning or pickling anything this year.
But speaking of tomatoes, on Saturday I needed to have someone else cook for me in a relaxing and peaceful setting. We took one of the cucuzzia squash into our favorite Italian restaurant in Rockford. Jimmy the owner is Sicilian, and because the cucuzzia is known to most Italians, I thought he surely would know what to do with it, but I had to explain.
He was so pleased with our gift, he went right to his kitchen and with his own homegrown special tomato, which he had been proudly showing everyone, went back to the kitchen and made a platter from that special tomato just for us. It was to die for. We must have looked like two people who hadn’t eaten in the past month.
The bread came along with the platter as did the wonderful herbs and spices and an oil, which I can only imagine was the most virgin of all olive oils. I use only extra virgin olive oil imported from Italy, but I have never had an oil that was so light in color and taste.
When I first met “The Farmer,” he was all fried potatoes, big baloney and heavy desserts.
After 51 years married to an Italian, he loves a platter of tomatoes fixed like my mother did. Fruits and fresh (not canned) veggies and fresh salads are a must for our table, plus good bakery bread with lots of seeds.
Therefore I laughed when, at the restaurant, the devoured platter of tomatoes was gone. The wonder broth from it all was left, I knew he was thinking if he should pick up the platter and drink that wonderful broth, which at home, I always have suggested to him that it shouldn’t go to waste. I laughed as I watched him is his dilemma as to drink or not drink the broth at a restaurant.
“Why don’t you ask for a big spoon,” I suggested, and that is just what he did. Inwardly I laughed and remembered at his last checkup how they were surprised that a man 81 years old took no prescribed medication. Is it the olive oil?
At any rate, that was then and this is now and this morning I packed a box of my grapes in one of those boxes that they ship lobsters and at this very moment, “The Farmer” is shipping it to one of our readers who was crazy enough to want to make jelly out of my grapes. They are so pure, no fertilizer, no sprays, grown only how God had intended to have them grow.
Only now, there are cucuzzia squash hanging under the pergola and it is a site to be seen. Our college helper came last week and was to just take the vines of the cucuzzia off the roof, as not to ruin our new roof. He laughed as he held up his find. Cucuzzia almost as tall as he was and I think in all he picked over a dozen of these very large things.
If I were in tip-top shape, I would invite all of you for a cucuzzia and grape festival.
That would be nice, but not this year. Ciao!

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