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COME INTO THE KITCHEN, GARDENER: Squash, A Limitless Bounty  

By Karen England for Let’s Talk Plants! May 2024.

After Karen England did an exhaustive search of all her photos, she realised she had no pictures of her homemade pumpkin pies. Probably because she ate them all. So, here is a WiX stock photo of someone else's pumpkin pie.

Squash, A Limitless Bounty    

When you think of squashes, which do you think of first? Pumpkin? Zucchini? Acorn?

I think of pumpkin. And then, I think of pie.

Who’s with me in this? I see those raised hands…

My German born grandfather was an apprenticed baker in Germany before immigrating with his young family to America through Ellis Island in the 1920s. He ran a bakery here in the US until the 1940s before changing careers to asphalt paving, because he liked the hours better (I’m not joking). My cousins and I inherited some of our grandfather’s bakery recipes and pumpkin pie is one of them.

That's Sunshine Santa at his Bonsall neighbor Waterwise Botanicals (with pumkins he did not grow.) This is where kids at Christmas go to see Santa now that Sunshine Gardens closed. Photo credit: Karen England.

My American born cousin, Ron Martin, you know him as the owner of Sunshine Gardens in Encinitas for fifty years, and still as Sunshine Santa, now lives in Bonsall on ten acres where, among other things, he grows squashes (in the ground these days and not in color packs) and I use his “Santa Grown” pumpkins to make our grandfather’s pie.

Facsimile of Karen's grandfather's handwritten recipe for pumpkin pie. Notice the flour and spices do not have measurements.

Here's Karen's version of grandad's pumpkin pie recipe

PIE CRUST (9” pie pan)


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons plus more if needed, ice water


In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment mix together using only enough water 1 tablespoon at a time to form a blob that holds together but is not sticky. Chill 30 minutes before pressing or rolling out. Simply press it into a pie plate or roll out between two sheets of lightly floured or sugared wax paper.



2 cups pumpkin puree *see note

2 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon each ground allspice and ginger

pinch of salt


Mix all together in a blender and pour into a prepared 9” pie plate with crust.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake 45 more minutes until pumpkin custard is set in the middle.


How to cook a pumpkin for pie from Van Groningen & Sons, Inc.

Pumpkins & Fall Decor | VG & Sons ( Pamper'd Pumpkin

Clean your pumpkin, remove the stem and seeds. Cut pumpkin into squares. Put into large baking dish, cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender. Scoop out flesh from skin and puree until smooth. If there is excess liquid, let stand for 30 minutes and drain with a cheese cloth.

Recommended book:

I love The Compleat Squash by Amy Goldman. However, I am reticent about recommending this great book because it is now out-of-print. Originally priced at $40 twenty years ago, The Compleat Squash - Amy Goldman Fowler c. 2004, used copies are priced at around $150.



From the newsletter archives:

Excerpted from Let’s Talk Plants! May 2021, COME INTO THE KITCHEN, GARDENER: Eat from Your Summer Vegetable Garden by Karen England.

Tomato with man-bun and zucchini. Photo credit: Karen England.


Since, as Sommer states, "Zucchini is incredibly prolific; one or two plants can easily feed a dozen people. Even the blossoms are edible."

If you have a "zoodle" kitchen gadget which is a vegetable spiralizer, then here's a zucchini recipe winner. Spiralizers are readily available online and at kitchen and some grocery stores.

Zoodle Alfredo aka Three Ingredient Zucchini Alfredo


zucchini noodles

1 stick unsalted butter, divided

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lots

olive oil, splash

pepper, to taste

salt, optional


1. Make a bunch of zucchini noodles called zoodles with a vegetable spiralizer tool. There are plenty of them available online and in stores. I bet you probably have one, but if you don’t have one then cut the noodles with a knife from a large zucchini. Remove the ends, slice the zucchini thinly longways then slice the slices into thin long “noodles.”


2. Sauté the zoodles in a cast iron pan with a splash of olive oil and a little (2T.) unsalted butter until soft and soupy.


3. Toss the hot noodles and all its juice in a bowl with 6 tablespoons unsalted butter that had been blended in a food processor with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


4. Season with lots of freshly grated black pepper. The Parmesan cheese is salty, so only use salt after tasting first.

(The zucchini recipe posted here was inspired by the 3-ingredient Fettuccini Alfredo recipe in the premier issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. This qualifies as a 3-ingredient recipe because olive oil, salt and pepper are considered pantry ingredients and don’t count. Ahh, new math...)

As Sommer says, "Share your surplus with your neighbors. Remember, a healthy garden is a harvested garden."



President Karen England grew up thinking zucchini squashes were called "Zonkers" because that's what her family called them (due to them being picked late and ginormous). So, when she makes spiralized zucchini recipes, at her house they are called Zonker Zoodles!

Want to tell Karen what you call zucchini? Please send her an email to


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