I mentioned in the Succotash post, that my husband and I visited family and went camping in Eastern Tennessee recently. Well, we also stayed at a wonderful Bed and Breakfast. Our camping trip was followed directly by a visit to my husband’s Uncle in Johnson City. I feel comfortable with my in-laws, but not comfortable enough to roll in for a visit after 3 days of hiking and no bathing. I am a messy kid. I cook. I make art. I play in the mud. I do all that. But when it’s time to visit uncles and parents, or go to church or fly in an airplane, or interact with anyone in a professional context…I need to bathe, and brush my hair, and put on makeup and wear nice cloths. I’m fussy like that.
So! After our camping trip, we scooted down the road to Nolichucky Bluffs B and B. We would go back again (even if we didn’t need a bath) because it was terrific. They have many well-appointed cabins, all right on the beautiful Nolichucky river. We chose to stay in the loft at the Grist Mill. This is a fully operational grist mill with a tiny, cozy sitting area and a loft that features a claw foot tub and nice comfy bed. There is a big picture window that looks out into tree tops and over the river and also a window behind the bed that looks down into the mill itself. The rest of the bathroom is in an “outhouse” but it has running water and light. It also has a porch overlooking the river. It is a comfortable, cozy and quirky spot.
The property also has a beautiful glass chapel. If anyone is looking to have a small autumn wedding in Tennessee, you need to check this out.
In addition to the cabins and the grist mill and the glass chapel, there is an organic farm on the property! You can purchase a beautiful basket of homegrown, organic seasonal vegetables. The other cabins have full kitchens, but the grist mill has only a fridge and microwave. I was prepared to break out the camp stove, but the lovely proprietress, Pam, let us use the beautiful kitchen where she prepares breakfasts for the guests. We had a wonderful time visiting with her.As you can see, our basket included okra, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, cucumber, green onions, rosemary and a MYSTERIOUS SQUASH. The mysterious squash was very pale green (almost white) and looked otherwise like a small butternut. I was excited to see this squash, because my mother-in-law had the same mysterious squash growing in her yard. She said that she had planted Early Prolific Yellow Summer Squash (You know, the ones that are like little yellow zucchini). However, the plants that grew did not produce early, nor were they prolific. Instead, she was alarmed to discover that it the plants suddenly produced three enormous, pale green squashes in the fall! (Dramatic music here).
The squash in the basket was same, but it had been picked at a size when it seemed like it would still be good eating. I was hoping that Pam would be able to tell something about the mystery squash, but she was as baffled as to its origins as Chris’ mother. Despite a gnawing suspicion that the squash might have something to do with an alien invasion, I decided to make it into a gratin.
We had some Manchego cheese and a knob of dry sausage leftover from our camping trip. They had seen better days and needed to be consumed or discarded. The sausage went into a stew with the green onions, peppers, okra and tomato. The tomatoes were particularly amazing by the way. They were that heirloom variety that are dark green on the outside and dark red on the inside. Yum. The Manchego went into the mystery squash and rosemary gratin. I wish that I had taken pictures of it, but I was too busy visiting with Pam while I was cooking. The mystery squash had a small cavity full of seeds (like a butternut) but it’s flesh was much crisper and full of moisture (like a cross between a butternut and a yellow squash). Because of the extra moisture, the gratin did not require any liquid other than a bit of oil for the baking dish and the grated melted cheese. It was delicious! If you have mystery squash, do not be afraid! Make Gratin!
MYSTERY SQUASH GRATIN
- A bit of olive oil for the dish
- 1 mystery squash
- fresh rosemary
- Manchego cheese
- freshly ground pepper
- Oil a small baking dish and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Peel the mystery squash. Slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. thinly slice it into half circles and moon shapes.
- layer the slices overlapping in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with minced, fresh rosemary and grated cheese.
- If you have more slices, do another layer of squash, rosemary and cheese.
- Top it with a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and bake until the squash is tender and the cheese is melted and golden on top.