2019: S… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Squash Pepperoni Quiche and Squash Blossoms
I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!
My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew. 2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on. 2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!
I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!
Squash Pepperoni Quiche
My father in law planted zucchini every summer… and the very first squash found… always went into the making of this summer quiche.
I make lots of notes on my recipes… Do You?
Most everyone in our family makes this during the summer, but for some reason, my mother in law’s always tasted the best… why… I just don’t know! This is one of the dishes my husband enjoys cooking… and now his is definitely the best! Every dice of pepperoni and squash is perfectly uniform in size… why… it’s just the way my husband rolls! He’s even very particular about which brand of pepperoni he likes to use. I’ve eaten several different quiches over the years and the Margherita brand does have the better taste… at least to us.
You’ll also notice that some pepperoni releases more oil than others when cooking… but you’ll find what works best for you. If I see extra oil bubbling up on top of the quiche at the end, I’ll blot with paper towels to absorb it… rather than let it drain back into the quiche. I can only assume that not all pepperoni’s are created equal… in regards to fat!
Hubby cuts all pieces uniform!
Almost ready to pour into baking dish
I can almost smell it!
Hubby used to often show up at work with a neat little tinfoil package of this fresh baked quiche… the girls loved to see him show up with something he’d just cooked!
Squash Fried Blossoms
Along with using the first squash for the quiche dish, we also couldn’t wait to pluck the first “male” blossoms off the plants to fry… and it was Grandma Minnie who taught me all about frying squash blossoms!
Fresh picked from the garden!
Before I ever even tasted them, Grandma Minnie took me out in her garden one morning to show me how to pick the flowers. There are two flowers that grow on the summer squash plant. The female flower… that you never pick… because it has the squash growing from it. The male flower just has a small stem… no squash grows from it, and that’s the one you pick! Why are there two flowers… well, I don’t know, other than maybe you need both flowers on the plant to produce the squash!
As I walked out with Grandma Minnie that morning, I learned quickly that she wasn’t carrying a brown paper bag just to put the flowers in. She told me, “you must pick them early in the morning before the blossoms close. If you wait until the afternoon you’ll probably have a bee hiding inside the closed blossom.” After filling up the bag, and before coming into the house, she closed the bag… shook it lightly… then listened to it. She was listening for buzzing sounds… as those tricky bees like to hide deep down in the flower petals. Once you bring your flowers in the house… you don’t want bees buzzing around in your kitchen! I remember thinking… “that was a pretty clever idea.“
The older cooks… have the best know-how!
If you don’t have a garden full of squash… as it does take quite a few plants to gather enough blossoms to fry… don’t despair! Either make friends with those who do… or visit the local “farmer market”. Blossoms have become quite popular recently… and also a little pricey at times. They sell out fast, so don’t dawdle in the early morning if you need them that day! Be prepared to fry on the day you buy them… as they are very perishable.
Grandma Minnie taught me to tear the blossoms into the batter, but there are many who just dredge the entire blossom in the batter and fry… don’t forget to remove the pistil inside! I’ve done it this way also… even adding a small cube of mozzarella inside.
Whenever you went to Grandma Minnie’s house, you always found her in the kitchen – cooking. No sooner before coming in, you’d hear… “mangia, mangia” – meaning “eat – eat” in Italian. Her kitchen overlooked Long Island Sound and it was where she spent most of her day… the kitchen was a warm family place where everyone gathered to visit. The first thing she always did when family came was… to put on a pot of coffee and of course you had to “mangia, mangia!”
When I was pregnant with my son… she made me eat many different foods when I came to visit, telling me that I must try all foods while pregnant so the baby would like them. It seemed to work, as my son eats pretty much everything… especially Italian foods!
Continue reading more of the A to Z… Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories
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