Allotment: Life’s a squash with all these houseguests

LAST Christmas, my cousin bought a ham so large – literally the size of a small armchair – that it meant her family was still eating “ham-sagne” well into February.

When it came to cooking the brute, her ingenuity knew no bounds – there was ham meatloaf, ham hash, ham curry; I even have a suspicion she tried to incorporate it into a crumble, writes Georgina Wroe.

Now I know how she felt. My ongoing culinary abundance, however, comes in the torpedo shape of courgettes.

I shouldn’t complain. The good news is, after four months of toil on the allotment, we are now self-sufficient in Cucurbita pepo.

The fridge has been full for a week and still they are everywhere – under tables, propping up bookshelves. In truth, I could lag a small loft with them.

What to do with the godforsaken gourds?

Yes; you can boil them, steam them and griddle them. You can grate them and hide them in other foods (although even I draw the line at muffins). You can stir fry them, douse them in cheese sauce, white sauce, and even drown them in vinaigrette.

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But what you can’t do is stop them coming.

The tyranny of the squash. Ignore them and, overnight, they’ll swell to the size of a small airship.

Offices up and down the country are stacked high with carrier bags with the desperate plea: “Unwanted courgettes. Please help yourself”.

It seems churlish to complain. A fortnight ago the only vegetables the allotment had produced were a handful of pea-sized potatoes and a sprig of mint.

But it’s the lack of consistency I object to. Tesco online manages to deliver a regular, varied supply of vegetables – why can’t the vegetable plot?

We have the Genovese globe-trotter Christopher Columbus to thank for courgettes.

Before that they were a staple only in ancient pre-Columbian lands (along with beans and maize).

I know I should be making more of my glorious glut, but I can’t help thinking constructing a life-size replica of Shrek might be putting them to better use.

Talking of squashes, the growth of Dave – our giant marrow – continues with the pace of a GB cyclist in the velodrome. He has now swollen to 2ft in length, with the circumference of Anthony Ogogo’s biceps.

If there were a Veg Olympics 2012, I might fail to qualify in other categories, but would surely scoop the gold for gourds.