When asked about the blushing squash blossoms delicately displayed on his table at the Clayton Farmer's Market, Tim Hess of Silent Oaks Farm surprisingly started talking about bees. He described how the bees are attracted to the blossoms. With his hands and one blossom, he showed how the blossoms open up in the very early hours of the morning making room for the bees to fly in and buzz around.
A design of nature, many flowers like squash blossoms or morning glories open only in the morning. The bees know this, arriving for their breakfast and getting covered in thick, yellow pollen as they move from male to female blossoms--pollinating the plants. As Tim continued the explanation, a mischievous smile appeared and he went on to describe another design of nature. After a short time, the squash blossoms also close up and remain that way until the next morning.
Hence, picking squash blossoms for market sometimes requires heroic rescue measures to free trapped bees--without getting stung, of course. Intrigued by the story and awed by the warrior tactics that may be called upon to bring each squash blossom to market, I had to have some. But then, what do I do with them I asked. Tim wisely deferred to his wife, Marcille, for the continuation of the story and an answer to my question.
After nodding knowingly to her husband's bit of fun, Marcille went on to describe how she regularly makes stuffed squash blossoms for her family like I would describe making pancakes when my son was small--matter of factly. What was a new and exotic delicacy to me, was simply a staple of country life---and cooking.
Her favorite way of cooking squash blossoms is to stuff them with soft cheese, mushrooms, or bread crumbs; dip them in egg and then in seasoned flour and fry them in a pan. Marcille's description was told in much more detail with the nuances of a country woman and mother who's very at home in her own kitchen--and cooking without recipes. I was inspired.
However, when I laid my squash blossoms out on my own kitchen counter the next morning with the assembled ingredients, I was afraid of messing up their delicate beauty and did a little recipe research to bolster my confidence. I also have to admit to listening for the buzzzzz of bees as I went about the buzzziness of stuffing the blossoms. Below are a couple of links to squash blossom information. Who knew?
Well, I'm pleased to report that my own "Squash Blossom Morning" was a big success, at least according to my taste buds. Delicate golden-orange flowers from Silent Oaks Farm (hand-picked by a squash blossom warrior) filled with herbed Baetje Farm goat cheese, dipped in whisked farm eggs, then in seasoned pastry flour and finally-- fried briefly in hot oil in a favorite cast iron skillet.
Served immediately with fresh basil leaves and a sprinkling of freshly ground green peppercorns--the slightly aromatic, yet nutty squash blosssom flavor was delicious. Even though squash blossom season is winding down, if you find some, I highly recommend creating your own "Squash Blossom Morning".