JEFF TIEDEMAN: Build me up, ButtercupFlavorful winter squash won’t let you down.
Do songs ever trigger old memories for you? They sure do for me.
Whenever I hear “Dandelion” by the Rolling Stones, released in the summer of 1967, my thoughts drift back to the bus rides we used to take to out-of-town high school football games as Cathedral “Blue Wave” players. It’s almost as if I can hear my cousin, Dick (he was a year older than me), and some of his classmates who sat in the rear of the bus, singing along with the song (though not always in key) when it was played over the radio.
The same goes for “Take It Easy” by the Eagles. I remember “standing on a corner in Winslow, Ariz.” — while on vacation with two friends (Kurt Heldstab and Dan Tuseth — whenever the song is within earshot.
Another hit song that conjures up such recollections is “Build Me Up Buttercup” by the Foundations. (It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.) “Buttercup” was popular in 1969 during my senior year in high school, particularly at the time of the state Catholic hockey tournament we played in at Duluth.
(Younger readers might recognize the song from the 1983 film “Luggage of the Gods!” or when it was featured in movies twice (in the 1995 soundtrack of “Mallrats” and 1998’s “There’s Something About Mary”) and in The Frantic’s 2007 album “Audio & Murder.”
But now, when someone mentions buttercup, it’s not the song I recall but the tasty vegetable that’s been part of my garden for many years.
The buttercup is a dark green winter squash (with narrow gray stripes) that typically weighs 5 to 7 pounds, is round in shape and grows with a distinctive protruding ring around the flower end opposite the stem end. It can be stuffed, baked or microwaved to be served in soups, casseroles, stews, pies or as a side dish.
The orange flesh of a buttercup is rich, sweet-flavored and somewhat nutty tasting and is fine-grained, creamy and dense.
One of the nice things about the buttercup is that when it’s stored in a cool, dry area, it can be kept for months. (After being sliced, it should be wrapped in plastic, refrigerated and kept for only several days. Cooked squash can be kept for one or two days refrigerated or approximately three months when frozen.)
My favorite way (and perhaps the easiest) to fix buttercup squash is baking it. All I do is cut the squash in half, place it flesh side down on a cookie sheet sprayed with vegetable oil and bake it for an hour or so at 350 degrees. I then scoop out the flesh into a bowl and add a tablespoon or two of butter. (Some people like to add brown sugar or maple syrup to the squash, but I’ve found it to be sweet enough on its own.)
If you are going to buy buttercups in the store (they are available from August through March), look for ones that are firm, heavy for its size and have an even cream color. Avoid ones that have soft spots, dull and wrinkled skin or that is extremely light for its size.
Nutritionwise, buttercup squash is naturally chock-full of beta-carotene, fiber, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A and C.
And most importantly, the buttercup won’t let you down like it says in the song’s lyrics.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.