chayote and the coyote
Chayote squash is a member of the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, along with melons, cucumbers and squash. Chayote is a good source of amino acids and vitamin C. The pear-shaped green fruit has a thin skin and a flattened pit (seed) that can be eaten, but is generally discarded. Chayote may be eaten raw, but is usually cooked as a side dish. You’ll find it in the produce section sold individually in little plastic sleeves or wrapped in tissue paper, which helps protect the thin skin from being pierced or blemished.
Now that you know all about chayote, it’s time to tell you about the coyote. But first, a little history.
Our backyard is enclosed with 6-foot tall solid block wall. Inside that wall live quail, bunnies, ground squirrels, and (gasp) roof rats. I can live with the cute quail and bunnies, even though the quail are stupid and bad parents and they tick me off and the bunnies eat my flowers. I used to think the squirrels were cute until one snuck into my house. Well, he didn’t actually sneak in, he walked right in through the open door. It was two years ago, and I’m still not over it. Here is what I posted on Facebook that day – October 26, 2009
Here is a picture of my yard squirrel, taken back when I used to like him, before he ventured into my bedroom when my dear husband left the bathroom door open!! Now I have renamed the picture from “Cute Squirrel” to “Squirrel Stew Candidate”!
Yeah, that’s right, Dave has this problem with opening the doors when the weather is nice (fine, I do that too) and then not closing the doors when he leaves the room – or leaves the house (I do NOT do that)! On that particular day, two years ago, I had not ventured into our bedroom/bath since I got out of bed. It was about 11:00 and it was time for me to get ready for a lunch date with my dad. He would be arriving at 11:30 to pick me up to celebrate my birthday, so I walked into the bedroom and came face to face with that squirrel, standing on his hind feet just as he is in the picture – staring me down! I calmly turned and closed the double doors leading into the bedroom, he swiftly ran under my bed. I don’t know what it looks like under your bed, but under mine… a bunch of junk… boxes of junk! So after much ado, I was able to get him out from under the bed, using a broom. He ran into the bathroom as I ran following with the broom…into the separate shower/tub/toilet area he went. I closed the door, trapping him in there. Now What?!?
By now I am sweating (and cursing) up a storm! I am at a loss. How am I going to get the rodent back outside? Yes, he is no longer a cute squirrel to me, he is a filthy, and for all I know, rabid rodent. There is no door that separates the bedroom from the sink area of the bathroom, and the door leading into the back yard is next to one of the sinks. So now I’m building a barricade to keep the squirrel from venturing back into the bedroom… a fast- smart-tree-climbing-squirrel barricade… yeah, sure no problem! Whatever! I am going to kill my husband! That is all I can think of – Kill. Husband. Mind you, this is the day before my birthday and my dad is on his way to pick me up for lunch… this is supposed to be a happy time, not a homicidal insane time. Kill rodent… then Kill Husband!
Long story short, turns out I am a darn good squirrel-barricade builder… or just a lucky Irish gal, because I opened that door and said squirrel ran directly out the door into the backyard, right as the front doorbell was ringing. Happy Birthday, to sweaty, insane, homicidal me!
Of course, the thing I am most worried about isn’t even the squirrels getting into my house, it is the roof rats. If I EVER find a roof rat IN my house, I will move out – that very day! I am not kidding. I could not handle it. We pay big bucks to have ugly traps all over our yard and on our roof to keep them at bay, but I am a paranoid freak when it comes to roof rats, they make me sick. I lose sleep over them, I would sell this house and move away, if one rat even set a disgusting foot into my home!
OK, finally, back to the coyote. Yep partners, we have coyotes in these parts. I see them all the time; in the street, on the nearby golf course, in our very neighborhood. While we were dog-sitting Bubo last month, I wouldn’t let him be outside alone, because I was afraid a coyote would get him. One bite and that little brat would have been history. Dave and my dad thought I was a paranoid freak about the coyotes getting the little pooch. Hey, we have a six-foot wall around our yard. Whatever!!! It’s my sister’s dog and I’m not going to take a chance.
So… guess what Dave sees on our back porch this very morning – right out the kitchen window – you guessed it – a coyote!!! And “Mr. Leave the Doors Open and Leave the House” – “Mr. Leave the 3-pound Dog ALL Alone in the Backyard” – “Mr. Why are YOU Such A Paranoid Freakazoid?” … he actually admits to me that he sees a coyote on our back porch. His mistake! I mean, after he left the bathroom door open and went off to work, just this past Friday – (yes, he did!) – he totally deserves this public bashing… at least he’s still breathing and walking this earth… for now!
Friends, Family, Neighbors – I will confess right now… if you ever find Dave beaten with a broom and a “for sale” sign in my front yard, and me moved out … you can bet a roof rat got into our house through an open door! And this very post will be the cornerstone of my defense.
Chayote Squash and Corn Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and minced
1 chayote squash, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 yellow bell pepper; roasted, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon base
12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup fat-free half and half
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Heat a large pot over medium heat, add oil and swirl to coat. Add the onion, squash, and garlic and season with salt and pepper; sauté until onion is soft and translucent.
Stir in the corn, roasted peppers, and chicken base until the base “melts” into the mixture. Add the evaporated milk and the half and half, bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until squash is tender.
Use a slotted spool or a spider to lift out about half of the solids, along with one ladle of the liquid and place in the bowl of a food processor or blender, puree until smooth. Return puree to the pot and heat for 5 minutes over the lowest heat.
Ladle into serving bowls, garnish with cilantro and serve.
P.S. Have you ever seen the words “paranoid freak” used so many times in one story?!?