Gold in them there Gourds

Because,

if you’re house-sitting the week of Halloween and have already been displaced so you’re at your ancestral home but 2/3’s of your stuff is at your former dwelling where the fire was AND you’ll be moving in November….did I mention it was the day before HALLOWEEN…..then you should definitely give into the temptation to buy, not one, but 2 giant and rather unattractive ‘decorative gourds’.

But they were substantial and hefty and the price was right – and they had the promise of being tasty culinary gold.

And after Halloween ALL the Gourds and Pumpkins  will be

GONE

Gone gone gone. As if they had never been here at all; as if there was no need for a Pumpkin or a Gourd in Winter. Winter is for Squash, alone.

Poor squash. Alone, poor lonely squash.

pumpkin 2015

They actually looked quite a bit like this, a Speckled Hound variety, but there were more warts.

amygoldmancompleat squash

SOMEWHERE I have a copy of this book, which has everything you could want to know about squash and pumpkins between it’s covers.  But think I learned well. Thank you, Amy G.!

The upside is that not only have they been decorative, but once I had time to hack, seed, peel and cook one……I have over 10 pounds of delicious golden squash/pumpkin/gourd (because they’re different names for essentially the same thing) .

You can’t freeze squash or pumpkin without cooking it first (consider the water content – you’ve seen this on front steps everywhere you look every year around a Halloween frost). Keep them indoors where the frost doesn’t go and you have much more lee-way. When the weather is cool  – and this week has been downright cold, and windy and rainy/snowy/sleety – it’s a perfect excuse to keep the oven going, as you roast it up to store in the freezer.

My excuse to keep the oven on and the kitchen toasty on an otherwise far too gray a day . Like John Alden, I shall speak for myself.

In typical fashion, the first quarter of the pumpkin took more  (or at least as much) time as the last three quarters.  I weighed the seeds and peelings when done – a little over 5 pounds. I wasn’t particularly wasteful; it really was that big.

I did have the option of roasting it whole, which I did once several years ago to a giant Blue Hubbard, Hubbard being my Dad’s favorite. That squash had been used for decorative purpose, and I saved it from the Dumpster. It was a carry in both arms /bigger then a big baby big.

Hubbard_squash

Blue Hubbard

I actually brought it to the ancestral home, poked it with an ice pick (evidently the real reason that that was still hanging around. Even though we called it an ‘ice box’ it was an up to date Frigidaire, frost free and everything) and put Baby Blue on the biggest baking sheet in the house and put it in the oven for a couple of hours until it was all  schlumpy. When it was cool enough, we used the stainless steel serving spoons to break in, separate the gold from the skin and the seeds and packed the gold  into baggies. Lots and lots of baggies. Which we stored in the freezer until there was need for gold. And it got us both through the better part of the winter.

But if you roast a squash or pumpkin whole, you end up with pulpy pulp, and I wanted to hold onto a little more structure/texture.

My new kitchen has 4 windows, so I set my cutting board on the table and was able to watch the dogs walking their people on the green, and cars coming and going at the street corner and the sun moving on the  horizon….I was also paying attention to the big knife that is necessary to cut a big squash…and my knives are home! Knives are sharp. No wounds to report.

Cut the giant in half.

Seed with the ice cream scoop. Seriously the right tool for the job.

Ice+Cream+Scoop

Ice cream scoop/pumpkin seed scoop – a multi-tasker!

Cut into whatever shapes make it possible to peel, peel, peel.

Toss with a little oil, sprinkle with a little salt, spread out on a baking sheet and pop into a 375° oven until it’s done…..20-40 minutes – poke it with a fork, you’ll know.

pumpkinNimono_of_japanese_pumpkin_2014

This is what it looks like coming out of the oven. You can eat it just like this. While humming happy food songs.

Some I ate off the roasting pan as it came out of the oven….lunch.

  • I kept  three of the chopped pounds to add to an equal amount of potatoes for slow cooker  for Squash and Potato with Rosemary that I’ve made before.

 

Italian slow cooker book

  • I’m going to use some of the leftovers of this to make a version of the squash and potato soup. I’ll puree the already cooked veg mix with the broth, and since I’ve already seasoned with rosemary I might leave the sage out. Note to self: Next time cook squash and potato with sage instead of rosemary.
  • Some of the squash/potato mixture will be mixed with eggs and fried in olive oil, a golden and easy fritatta. I fried a chopped shallot in some olive oil, added a little more oil, put the egg/potato/pumpkin in. When the bottom was browned, lowered the heat, put a lid on it and waited impatiently for it to be done.I had thought to sprinkle a little cheese over, but I forget and it was LOVELY.A glass of pear cider and a greens salad with pecans and blue cheese dressing made up the rest of that supper.
  • Some will be thinned with a little broth (or wine) and mixed with some hot macaroni, I’m thinking some hot pepper to season that…

Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee has another version of Squash Mac and Cheese that I’ll be trying with freezer gold.

Gold updates  as they occur.

 

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