Southern Squash Gratin
Tasting this Southern Squash Gratin promptly placed me back in the 1970s, 2:30pm, Sunday dinner at my paternal grandmother Nana’s home after church, fresh mint from her garden lacing frosty glasses of iced tea. Even though I was the only Black student in my grade throughout elementary school, I lived in a White world weekdays, my weekends however were steeped in a Blackness as dark and quenched as a glass of sweet tea. Dr. King said 11am Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in our “Christian” nation. If White evangelicals vote again in overwhelming numbers for our incumbent president, I think the segregated sacred hour will be permanently sealed.
My mother grew up in segregated Mississippi rarely having contact with White people except, on occasion, her maternal grandfather who was from a prominent local family. John Harrison did not contribute financially to the well being of his daughter, my grandmother. He had the temerity to say to her after she was grown and married with children of her own “T, I would help you more if you left those Fraziers alone.” The Fraziers are my matrilineal relatives, my grandmother’s mother and grandparents, uncles and aunts, the people that raised her, sheltered her, loved her. My grandmother never lived a luxurious life, she did not have indoor plumbing until the 1960’s, even though she completed two years of study at Tougaloo College, rare for anyone really in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Black people have been cut off from inheriting generational wealth from the White men that often raped our great grandmothers, thereby leaving their own children mired in poverty.
When someone in the community needed money, Mom said everyone pitched in a small amount to help. Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard wrote a book in 2014 about African American economic cooperatives. A Yale educated professor of economics, she remarks “I began my research by reading W.E.B Du Bois. He wrote a book in 1907, Economic Cooperation among Negro Americans. He starts reporting about enslaved people working together to save enough money to buy somebody out of slavery, or to do a community garden so that they all can get some extra vegetables and fresh food to eat. And the roots of collective action and pooling of resources go back even further. Every society, every group in the world through history has used some form of economic cooperation. To say it came only from a European tradition, which I sometimes hear, is unfair and untrue.” I will continue to demonstrate how to eat economically by sharing my recipe for Southern Squash Gratin, which melds a French cooking technique with Native American horticultural tradition and African American creativity. Serve the gratin with Navy Beans, Sauteed Cabbage and Pan Fried Cornbread for a pleasurable, prototypical, African American Heritage Diet, plant based dinner. Try my Creamy Cushaw Squash for a sweeter take on one of our favorite vegetables.
Southern Squash Gratin
- Paring Knife
- Chopping Board
- Food Processor or Blender or Grater
- Large Spoon
- 1.5 quart Round Casserole Dish
- 3½ cups Grated Yellow Squash or Zucchini You can use a combination of squashes like Patty Pan
- 3 Organic Eggs, beaten
- 1 cup Organic Cheese, grated I used a medium cheddar
- ¼ cup Organic Whole Milk Use cream or half & half if you desire a richer result
- ¼ cup Minced Organic Onion I always use red onion because they are more nutrient dense and flavorful
- 1 Edward & Sons Not-Beef Bouillon
- ¼ tsp Poultry Seasoning
- 1 pat Organic Butter
- 3 tbsp Warm Water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease casserole dish with butter.
- Grate squash, onions and cheese. Place into buttered dish.
- Put the bouillon cube into the water and microwave for 15 seconds or until the cube is dissolved. Stir and pour into casserole evenly distributing.
- Combine remaining ingredients into the dish stirring thoroughly.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out of the center without any liquid on it.