Eat Well: Squash Blossoms & Roly-Poly Squash

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, WWW! We missed you and we're super pumped your back! TGIWWW! 
It’s been quite a month—fabulous vacation to New England (where I fell madly in love with Maine) and knee surgery last week. Thank you, all for your wonderful thoughts and good vibes. I felt all the love so strongly and I really think it made a difference. The surgery was a success. Hopefully after I recover I will be back to body surfing, carrying grand babies, and hiking without the constant fear of ending up in the ER. I am extremely grateful for modern surgery techniques—and ice machines. I’ve nicknamed mine “Icy” and Icy is my new best friend.

Although I haven’t been able to cook much, I did manage this weekend to sneak in a meal mainly because in our absence, a volunteer squash plant had crept across our entire patio, bearing several mottled round squashes and a plethora of huge blossoms begging me to stuff them. When we left on our trip, the plant had already spilled over the sides of the box where it had taken up residence, but when we returned, this is what we found.
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I immediately called the family plant guru, my mom, to see if the squashes were edible.

“Oh yes,” she replied, “But they probably won’t be very good. Most of those volunteers are weird mules—very vigorous but strange hybrids and not very tasty.”
I picked the three squashes anyway. When I cut one of them open, inside was white flesh that dripped with beads of liquid.
I sampled some of it raw and—it tasted like a sweet, juicy zucchini—and stashed the squashes in the refrigerator until I could figure out what to do with them. A few days after my surgery, feeling completely housebound and needing an outing, I asked Larry if he could take me to our new local farmer’s market (it’s small enough that I felt I could hobble around with my wounded knee and not overdo it) and there amidst a large variety of colorful and unusually shaped squashes was my squash…the round, mottled-skinned squatters growing in my garden.

“Do these have a name?” I enthusiastically asked the seller.

“They’re called roly-polys!”

“Are they super sweet and juicy when you open them up?”

“Yes!” he continued. “They are great for stuffing!”

I bought one and compared it to the squashes waiting in my refrigerator. Low and behold, they were identical.

I used to stuff zucchinis all of the time. The kids loved them and it was a great way to use the larger fruit I had missed in the zucchini patch. In those days, I filled them with a combination of Italian sausage, breadcrumbs, herbs, onions, and pine nuts. You can stuff squashes with any sort of stuffing—rice, quinoa or other grains and veggies and herbs. This time I decided to stuff them with ricotta cheese and herbs since that sounded quick and easy and wouldn’t require my standing on my feet too long.

Ricotta Stuffed Roly-Poly Squash 

4 medium roly-poly squashes
½ onion, chopped
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T fresh chopped herbs (oregano and thyme work great) or 2 t Italian dried herbs
1 egg, beaten
A pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like things spicy)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop squashed in the boiling water and cook about 5 minutes until skewer gives slightly when pierced into squash.
Let squashes cool.

Cut the tops off of the squashes and scoop out the seeds.
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Turn upside down on paper towels to drain.

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil on medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute. Combine cheeses, chopped herbs, onion, beaten egg, red pepper flakes, pine nuts and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Stuff drained squashes with the cheese mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Cook at 375 until cooked through and browned on top, about 45 minutes.

My roly-poly monster is an extremely vigorous vine with huge leaves, tons of gigantic male flowers and very few female flowers, which means not many squashes. But since I am a squash blossom fan, it has been truly a treat to harvest a dozen 5-inch blossoms every day and cook them various ways. The entire squash, cucumber, and melon family produce two types of flowers—male and female—and they depend on insects buzzing from flower to flower to fertilize them. The female flower is attached to a very tiny fruit and when pollen from the male is deposited, via a bee, on its pistil, fertilization occurs and the fruit begins to grow. After the males have closed up for the day, they are useless to the plant and can be picked for many different uses in the kitchen. Make sure you are truly picking a male flower. You can tell the male flower because it resides on the end of a long thin stem as opposed to being attached to a baby squash.
Male flowers with thin stems
There are many ways to use squash blossoms. You can stuff them with different types of cheeses, dip them in flour and egg, and fry up for an appetizer or a side dish. You can add them to soups, lay them on pizza, toss them with pasta, stir fry them with other vegetables, or add them to quiche, egg scrambles, or frittatas.
Squash blossoms truly make this frittata beautiful as well as delicious. And it is quick and easy to make. I have a 12-inch cast iron pan but if you have a 10-inch pan, use 5 eggs and fewer blossoms. This is a very forgiving recipe and lends itself perfectly to improvising. I used what I had in the house since I’m slightly housebound right now and this is what I came up with. Fresh dill or chopped chives would be yummy instead of the herbes de Provence I used. And you could use any cheese—asiago, Parmesan, jack, cheddar or whatever cheese is your favorite.

Squash Blossom Frittata 

12 to 14 large squash blossoms (or enough to make a pinwheel in the bottom of your pan), stems trimmed
8 eggs
1 sliced onion (can use shallots or leeks if you want)
fresh herbs (such as chives or dill) or herbes de Provence
4 oz cheese (I used goat)
Salt and pepper
1-2 T butter or olive oil

Check blossoms for bugs by gently opening them and looking inside. Wipe carefully with a damp paper towel.

Whisk eggs with salt and pepper. Add chopped herbs.
In a 10-12 inch heavy bottomed oven proof pan (preferably cast iron) melt 1 T butter or olive oil on medium high. Add sliced onion (or shallots or leeks) and sauté until slightly brown. Set aside onions.

Add a little more fat in pan and arrange blossoms in a pinwheel, stem sides to the middle.
Fry for about a minute until wilted. Turn and fry for another 30 seconds or so.

Preheat oven on broil. Add onions to eggs, stir, and pour into hot pan.
Pour in egg mixture
Add cheese evenly all over. Cover pan and cook on low until eggs are almost set but still runny on top (4-5 minutes). Put under broiler to finish cooking eggs (watch carefully…this goes quickly!)
 Flip out onto plate and serve. Can be eaten at room temperature.


I have been making the following recipe for over 20 years. It came from the 1987 version of The Best of Sunset Magazine. I didn’t have the cream cheese in the house so used goat cheese and it was yummy! If you use small squash blossoms, these make great appetizers. My jumbo flowers, though, made a great side dish.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms 

6 large squash blossoms or 12-15 small ones, gently cleaned and checked for bugs
3 oz cream cheese or goat cheese at room temperature
1 T milk
1/3 cup freshly grated Paresan cheese
freshly ground pepper
1 ½ T canned or freshly roasted diced green chiles
2 large eggs
olive oil

Rinse blossoms with a gentle spray of cool water; shake off excess. Trim off stems completely (close to blossoms). Set aside.
In a bowl, blend the cream cheese (or goat cheese) mil, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and chiles. Spoon about 1 teaspoon filling into small blossoms or 1 T into large blossoms. Twist tip of blossom to close. Roll blossoms in four to coat lightly. Set aside.
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In a small bowl, beat eggs with 1 T water. Heat oil in a 10-12 inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Dip blossoms one at a time into beaten egg.
Place in oil (do not crowd) and cook, turning as needed, until gold brown.
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Drain on paper towels and set in 150 degree oven until all blossoms are cooked. Serve hot and enjoy! 


A Tale of Three Boxes (Sponsored & Giveaway)

The following post was sponsored by Wittlebee kids clothing club. Thanks, Wittlebee! photo-1
orchid c/o Nana, shirt and pants c/o "floral box" for Fall


Since my first Wittlebee post a few months back, we've received three more boxes of awesome. Here are their stories:

Box #1: Styled by Fable
The picks (in the above box) were Wittlebee's doing but I may have mentioned in a style profile or two that tutus are always in season at casa de GGC (nudge, nudge) and sure enough: BAM: 
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A headband? Amaze. A shirt that could also be worn like a dress? Perfection. Leggings to layer? I mean... do you know my kid, Bee to the Wittle, or am I just really great at style profile quizzes thanks to all those years spent reading Seventeen Magazine with my friends?
Regardless, Fable went right to work, styling what would soon replace the outfit she had on. 
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One of my favorite photos of Fable (and one I've posted here before) is this, which I took of her newly styled creation. All pieces I would have never thought to put together. All pieces that look PERFECTLY FABLE AMAZING on. 
Box #2: Essentials + Ensemble
When I filled out the Wittlebee style profile for the twins, I asked for more essentials. Onesies, leggings, long-sleeved tops. We're good on dresses thanks to Fable's hand-me-downs and our trade-ins at the local consignment shop. (When the twins outgrow their clothes I trade them all in for new and gently used clothes and so on... It's worked out really great so far for dresses and cute little outfits but essentials aren't usually for sale/trade on consignment.) So! Wittlebee heeded my call and sent out a box of onesies and leggings:
IMG_9396 Revi + her new leggings and AA onesie, leotard style.
IMG_9402 Bo + her new (organic) bear onesie.
Wittlebee also included this sassy two-piece number which fits Bo perfectly and soon enough, will fit Revi as well. (Bo has four pounds and half an inch on her sister.) 
Bo + one of our favorite books. 
*** Box #3: Florals for (F)all!
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Last week our newest box arrived with an outfit for each girl. (Archer's too big for Wittlebee's service, hence the lack of boy clothes in the mix, here.)
Fable wore her new dress and leggings (above) to school the other day and Bo and Revi rocked their new tops and leggings earlier this week:
photo-3 Oh hello, Fall. 
photo ***
Once again Wittlebee's offering $15 off coupons for first-time buyers/subscribers (you can cancel at any time!) with code GGC1. (Offer expires Oct 31st.) I also have a free box to give away, today. Just leave your comment below with your "style profile" a la Wittlebee style quiz action. Or, if you're not in the mood to take a quiz right now, you can just leave a comment and that's okay, too. I'll choose a winner via disqus comment randomizer next Friday, Oct. 5th. Don't forget to leave your contact info and good luck! 


Updated: Congrats to disqus randomizer winner, Liz! And thanks to all who participated! 



Pure awesome =

136. Jasper by: Aidan Knight


Liner Notes 9/24

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This morning before school drop-off, Fable and I shopped for the invitations and party favors for her fourth birthday. She knew exactly what she wanted, as she so often does, and spent the drive home with her hands overflowing with everything. The invitations and the stickers for the invitations and the cups and the candles and the special candle and the plates and the plastic diamond rings for the goodie bags. She held everything in her hands as we seat-danced to Pink's Try (my new favorite song EVER. This shit is an ANTHEM!) and it was a moment, you know? One of those, "who is this person with her hands full of candles and her mouth full of lyrics that are all wrong and her one shoe that fell off and 'turn up the music, Mom, dance with me!'" moments.
Fable never had a terrible twos. Since birth she has been a complete joy, but about a month back, something changed. Her love for putting together outfits became an obsession of five costume changes before school. Her love of all foods turned into I WILL ONLY EAT THE PEACH WITHOUT THE MARKINGS ON IT! Her sweetness and light turned into sweetness and light and (daily) tantrums which I understand is part of the package. Time makes you bolder. Children get older. I'm getting older too blah blah. Still. Not an easy phase to navigate when you're a first-timer.

Which I am.

Archer to this day has never talked back. He regularly reminds me not to give him, for example, dessert because "you took away my dessert privileges, tonight, remember?"

Archer is a by the book, rule person. It's clockwork to him. He messes up. We call him on it. He immediately recognizes what he's done and sends himself to his room. He's always been that kid. He's always adhered to the rules, wanting desperately to do right by them.

Fable, on the other hand, is more like me, and Hal, and most human beings. She hates being wrong. She wants it her way.

Welcome to life, my girl. Bienvenidos.
The other day after a TWO hour battle of wills over her HAVING TO WEAR HER BALLET OUTFIT TO SCHOOL OR ELSE SHE WOULD DIE! and me refusing to let her because IT'S NOT FAIR FOR YOUR TEACHERS TO HELP YOU GET IN AND OUT OF YOUR LEOTARD EVERY TIME YOU GO TO THE BATHROOM, she finally gave in and put on a dress. With leggings and a skirt over them and forty necklaces.

And then we sat down together to discuss without yelling (me) and kicking the wall (her).

"Sometimes my heart feels messy," she said.

So we discussed the best course of action to clean that heart of hers up, or at the very least, try...

More sleep?

Deciding on outfits the day before?

Having some special mommy Fable alone time?

Check, check and check.

Because even though Fable isn't technically a middle child and although she's never acted jealous or resentful of her sisters, it must be tough for her sometimes. Just like it's tough for me and for Hal, it's tough for her. Especially now that her baby sisters are walking and pulling and getting into her stuff. Perhaps her sudden defense has to do with an innate NEED to demand power in a house where quiet voices do not carry. Or maybe this is just what happens now.
Maybe this is her (and our) growing pain. Strong will? She has it. But the stronger will is mine. The stronger will will always be mine. One of the plus sides of being eternally thirteen. I will win the battle. Sorry, kids. 

Anyway. We had a kind of breakthrough the other day and even though we aren't out of the woods yet a la "challenging almost fours," I feel kind of relieved to be dealing with the first of what I assume will be MANY conflicts with her now. Like we've gone through the first few years with her on a cloud and BAM, reality. And I felt sideswiped by it, lets be clear. But I feel almost closer to her now than I ever have. Because with every conflict and tantrum and battle of wills... something happens. A new closeness.

And I think of my own mother and our formerly tumultuous relationship. I think of all the times I told her I hated her and how in the end we'd both cry and better understand each other's "messy" hearts. I think of all the people who have said in passing, "You think it's hard now? Just wait until you have three teenage daughters." I think of all of the things I should be afraid of in Fable and realize I'm not.

I'm not afraid of the teen years and I'm not afraid of now. Some days are hard and that's never going to change. Some days Fable will hate me, say she's sorry, slam her door. Some days I will, too. Some days she'll mean all of those terrible things she's going to say. I said them, too. And I meant every word. In the moment, I meant every word.

...Until I realized I didn't. And then I was sorry.

The other night for the first time Fable called me "stupid" and then she stopped and immediately took it back. She had never said anything like that before and it shocked her. She immediately stopped crying and sat down.
And then I sat down. I was angry and hurt and told her in a very yelly way that she'd be losing her privileges for the next two days and instead of fighting me, she nodded her head.

"Okay," she said.

And then, finally: "I'm sorry, Mama."

She knew she was wrong. She knew she was busted. She was sorry.

And all at once, I remembered. I remembered being Fable and my mom being me and how it felt to hate her.

I remembered calling my mother stupid when I was little and a bitch when I was big and how every time the words left my mouth, they stung. They bled. They made me feel like I was going to be sick.

And then my mom would cry and I would cry and in the end we'd both win the fight because every conflict led to some kind of resolve. Or at the very least, a better understanding of why there was a mess and how best to clean it up. An opening to squeeze through or at the very least pick at.

I told Fable it was okay and that I forgave her and then she did this thing she does when she's sorry and she pulls on her lower lip with her hand and looks away, except this time she looked at me and I looked back at her and something changed.

I don't know what, but something.

The next day she cried when I reminded her why she couldn't watch TV. She cried and she screamed and she cried but eventually she gave in, stopped crying.

And then she was fine. She spent the rest of the afternoon drawing and being fine.

In the words of Fable's misquoted Pink lyrics (that we seat-danced to this morning in the car) just because it turns doesn't mean you're in the sky. 

Maybe it's because she's my kid, but I knew exactly what she meant.