From Community Garden to Casseroles

It was, stated Nellda Gallagher, “a Lucy minute.”

Which is not “lucid,” as in rational or sane, but Lucy, as with the scatterbrained character built famous by comic Lucille Ball.

Gallagher, culinary teacher at TCC Southeast, admits coming up with “grandiose strategies,” a person of which was possessing learners, using a recipe from her grandmother, make a squash casserole not just from scratch–buying the squash from a grocery store–but applying squash raised from seeds.

Seedlings are commonly out there for order, but Gallagher wished to “know the plant. If you purchase them by now started out, you do not know where they came from.” In its place, she bought natural and organic seeds and planted them in a biodegradable container that could be transferred intact from a hothouse to a yard as soon as the seeds sprouted.

The seedlings just about did not survive the journey from her dwelling to the Southeast community garden. “They looked excellent when I took them up to campus,” Gallagher explained. “I experienced a course that night, but I assumed, ‘Well, my car’s kind of hothouse’ and determined to go away them until eventually after class.”

When she went to retrieve them, even so, “they did not search so excellent. They had been just slumped in excess of.” She gave them a liberal watering, planted them and hoped for the most effective. “If these issues survive, I’ll be actually thrilled,” she believed at the time.

Survive they did, irrespective of a deficiency of rain and the depredations of “critters”–possums, racoons, skunks and birds. At a person stage, TCC Southeast Biology teacher Laurie Ertle, who maintained the back garden, referred to as Gallagher and informed her she experienced an considerable crop. Gallagher responded, “I do?” and on investigation loaded an complete crate. “And it is been filled three far more occasions following that.”

So, what to do with all that squash? Time for a further Lucy minute!

She remembered that the summer season School for Youngsters plans ended up about to start and that one of them was Culinary College or university for Youngsters. “We can give these to the young children,” she assumed. “We’re heading to do this!”

Even colleague Sherry Sipho, who ordinarily plays Ethel to Gallagher’s Lucy, reeling her in from some of the more bonkers brainstorms, received into the act. She contacted Rex Allen, the kids’ instructor, who was delighted to undertake the undertaking. Less than his watchful eye, the children cleaned, prepped, and froze the squash blossoms to be designed (in accordance to Allen’s recipe) into a casserole the subsequent 7 days.

But Sipho wasn’t by, enlisting Gallagher to pay a visit to a person of her courses to explain the project and the heritage driving the recipe.

“Grandma Helen,” Gallagher said, was Texan to the bone – similarly cozy, she remembers from pics, in a formal robe or in western garb with a snake all over her shoulders. She went hunting with her partner to furnish recreation for the compact café she owned in the vicinity of downtown San Antonio. Gallagher would clear the quail and enable out with the cooking.

Grandma Helen did not care much for extravagant ingredient phrases. Including cheese to a essential white sauce was “cheese sauce,” not mornay. And, recognizing that Texans liked their potato and corn chips, she would grind them up and place them in her sauce to increase each texture and flavor.

Following Gallagher’s presentation, Sipho’s learners made use of the recipe to make a casserole, not a chunk of which remained at the finish of the class.

The casserole remains a staple at Gallagher’s home. “It’s on our desk each Thanksgiving,” she mentioned. “We can not have Thanksgiving without the need of it.”

And she’s extra than content to share the recipe.

Grandma Helen’s Squash Casserole

By Chef Nellda Gallagher CEC, CPC

5 medium dimension Yellow Crookneck Squash
4 T. butter
½ medium white onion, diced
¼ t. white pepper
½ t. mustard powder
¼ cup of flour
2 cups milk
2 cups grated longhorn cheese, divided use
1 cup of crushed Fritos, divided use
Salt to flavor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, change rack to center of oven.

Slice squash into rounds about ½ inch thick. Cook in salted h2o until finally tender. Pressure squash and return empty pan to stove top.

In another pan, soften butter and increase onion, sprinkle with salt, white pepper and mustard powder, and prepare dinner on small until eventually onion is gentle, but do not brown. Increase flour and cook until eventually flour is absorbed, but do not brown. Increase milk, stirring constantly right until sauce heats and receives thick. If sauce is much too thick, insert adequate drinking water to skinny it out.

Incorporate 1 cup of the grated cheese and stir right until melted. Incorporate ½ cup of the crushed Fritos. Finally, include cooked squash and stir to combine. Flavor and regulate seasoning as preferred.

Position mixture into 2-quart glass casserole dish. Major with remaining grated cheese and Fritos. Bake till bubbly in the middle, about 20-25 minutes.