“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world,” a quote from Howard Zinn tells us. This quote helps to extend my experience at last weeks Farmer’s Market from short outing to a new tradition.
This last Thursday downtown SLO hosted the weekly Farmer’s Market with an outburst of people, most likely attempting to enjoy the coolness after a week of unprecedented heat as temperature records were set all over the county. With this information in mind, I decided to perform a small act: buying a few local products to celebrate a week full of soaring temperatures with no air conditioning in my apartment.
Everybody wants to make a change, and with the purchase of peaches, sunflowers and a rather large squash, a minuscule one change was made in at least a few peoples’ lives.
With the purchase of some fresh peaches from Avila and Sons, I made a batch of peach iced tea. The recipe was delicious (for the day that it lasted in our fridge!) and was accented perfectly by the farm fresh peaches bought at the market.
A bouquet of fresh sunflowers brightens our apartment
A vase of sunflowers–that were quite popular throughout the market as many people were seen with a bouquet of yellow in their hands–now sits on our dinning room table. And even now that they slightly wilted they still add some color. Once again, a small thing brought a smile to multiple peoples’ faces as they wandered into our living room this weekend.
Now, the imaginative cooking came from the squash that yielded way more food than we could possibly eat. So faced with a massive pile of the golden center, I (perhaps not so) naturally turned to the idea of baking it into a cake of some sort.
“What started as an apartment joke of being able to turn squash guts into something sweet ended up being a delicious and nutritious use of the farmer’s local produce”
With a few changes to some recipes, some creative juices and a little extra butter and vanilla, a surprisingly yummy smell erupted from our oven. The result? A cake that was so good we could not even get a picture before half of it was gone.
I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post, and hope that trying it out (trust me, give a vegetable cake a chance!) will inspire you to venture down to a local market and pick up a new ingredient. I rarely cook with squash, but because a local farmer convinced me to try it out I have a new favorite recipe, and a new friend who keeps pestering us to make it again.
What was left of our experimental cake after about 5 minutes
This small and spontaneous act has inspired our apartment to attempt to start up a tradition of buying and cooking with a strange, interesting or just plain weird local ingredient per week, and I encourage you all to try something like it. Something as small as the act of buying something different gave us a few hours of fun and some new friends who will no doubt be stalking our apartment every Thursday night to see what else we have cooking. So check here for a listing near you and take the chance to do something small and make a difference in at least one person’s life, even if it just lasts for the time it takes to swallow a bite of squash cake.
Squash Cake Recipe
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup stick butter — softened
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup chopped cooked spaghetti squash
Preheat oven to 350F.
Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Beat sugars, butter, ginger, and cinnamon at medium speed of a mixer until well blended. Stir in milk, vanilla, and egg; beat at low speed of mixer until well-blended.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Stir in sugar mixture and squash. Spoon into prepared cake pan, spreading evenly.
Bake at 350F for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean
Roughly chop a cup of almonds and place in a pan over low heat. Heat until slightly toasted. Meanwhile, melt a quarter cup of butter over low heat on the stove, adding about half a cup of brown sugar until completely dissolved. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and a splash of milk to thin out the topping.
Invert the cake onto a plate and sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Drizzle the topping over the nuts and the cake. Serve warm and enjoy!