It’s taken, well, a year I suppose, but today I had my first harlequin squash cottage pie, roll down a bit for the recipe. Now, this is a recipe blog, I am a food blogger and I will acquit myself accordingly! OMG! You guys won’t believe this recipe only takes…I was joking, don’t look at me like that! I’m just poking fun, mostly at myself. The recipe is pretty simple, an original, the usual thick and rich gravy, a benevolent blessing on the mistake that made me discover the thickening and enriching power of cashew butter. The topping though requires time, it takes over seven years without potatoes, it takes three years of growing harlequin squash and it takes seven months of growing to harvest. A berry, ever and always will I think of them as such, it lends them a magical air, that when steamed and mashed becomes so close to a floury potato that without the sunshine colouration, a yellowed hued bliss in a bowl, any tampering with the colour would be hubris, hue hue hue, you would scarcely tell them apart. Add to that a little salt, some cheddar, heat and finally grill and therein lies what will the best meal of the year for me. This year’s secret ingredient is smoked salt it add such perfect notes to the harmony of squash mixed with gravy and meat. If I still had my old stomach capacity I’d gladly eat two. I’ll just have to wait for the next pie day to roll around. I just typed an entire paragraph on pie, I should write a book on this, it’d be terrible but mesmerising. Like a car-wreck, you’d be loathe to look away.
As you can see I’ve been harvesting basil again, I’d swear by the tomatoes and chillies as companion plant because whenever I see them start to grow the basil follows suit. This time I scalped the entire top of the plant leaves about five inches at the base. Then I poured in comfrey and nettle tea, the smell of which is utterly unholy. I have no intention of letting this be my last harvest, but it was time to cut it down by a lot. I did notice that even though the plants were extremely large they still were barely flowering. It’s an interesting thing to watch plants helping each other, even if they’re not, leave me my fantasy. Also my basil.
The weather has been dreadful so I’ve been forced to stay out of the garden most days, I have been on squash watch. I’m taking a different tack with them this year, when all the fruit has been harvested or is just starting again I’m dumping a strong batch of the aforementioned tea, in the hopes of pushing the plants to produce new blossoms. I did notice that they won’t produce from the centre, but instead put out a new vine, very short and thick which a new clump of leaves and flowers grow from, almost like a second plant on occasion. I’ve seen it before, but never realised this was what the mature plants end up like. They died in my first year before this could happen. A throw back to non-bush types perhaps? Hence the extreme feeding, if they’re that far away from the roots it might mean they’ll need more to be productive, we’ll see how it fares. I haven’t given up on my hopes for a third harvest. A Jack can dream, dear reader. Until later.