Clever Titles Will Resume in 2018

We’re down to the runts of the uchiki kuri squash. Worth buying for bread, but this is the last.

You know, if I cough too hard it still feels as if someone has punted a football into my gut, though the after pain isn’t there so much now. Progress! What a great way to start a post. I’m been thinking, dear reader and boy, are my arms tired. Don’t cry, dear reader, I’ll stop with the dad-jokes. Anyway, I’ve often apologised for repeating myself in posts, sometimes years apart, but that’s Jack, other-times I’ve lamented the lack of topics to post about, yet again I’ve been saddened by the lack of views some recipes get. So, I think on occasion, like this, I’ll share what I’m making, be it old or new, talk a little about the hows and whys, because in my now eight years I’ve learned a lot. A lesson worth learning is worth repeating is the best way to put it. Not that my dear readers, ever complained, you’ve been staunch supporters of team Jack.

Tasty tasty turkey…juices.

Ah, Christmas traditions, nothing says Christmas quite like juicing your own turkey. Getting it into that small chute isn’t easy and boy are….NO I WAS KIDDING COME BACK! The turkey juices are often tossed out with the baby, no that was bathwater, sorry, baby. This year I thought we should save them for gravies and it really made a delicious gravy, or so I was told. I had curry. I’ll use the frozen blocks later, probably to cook turkey in. It’s not that healthy, but considering I barely use any additional oil in my cooking these days it balances out. Roasting vegetables has been a boon to my taste-buds and health.

I love these tins. Hate getting them out as they fly everywhere when I bash them.

Ah, chocolate and vanilla…Hmmm? No? Oh, okay, treacle and peanut butter each with squash.I like one slightly sweet loaf and treacle is sugar, but has some additional nutritional benefits, not enough to spoon it copiously into everything I eat, but a slice a week isn’t so bad. I didn’t make gingerbread this time as I just wanted a plain treacle loaf. The one trick to making breads with treacle is to cover them with greaseproof paper for the last fifteen minutes to make sure they don’t burn, but do cook. The breads are all based on one recipe, but they’ve branched of numerous times and I usually tweak them as I go anyway. When I share a recipe it’s exacting to make sure you have the greatest chance of replicating it, but as you repeat the recipes you learn how much, give sounds good, give there is in a given recipe. These loaves are nutritionally packed and will receive additional protein with peanut butter spread on, sugarless for a while now, or if it’s a all pumpkin loaf then calcium from cheese, though I may have had peanut butter cheese sandwiches by mistake due to a mislabelling on occasion. It takes a lot to get here, but it’s worth building up the experience to give yourself this kind of diet. Trust me it might be work but it’s worth every second, even if my arms are tired, boy.

I’m glad I can’t hear the collective groans. 

I’m still learning to adjust for lighting. Getting better.

There’s quite a lot of flesh in those squash so scones were a given. I try to reduce the sugar whenever I double a recipe, there’s very little in some to begin with which is a good practice. You can, and probably will add additional sweetness when eating, but when you start with a lot you’ll still feel the need to add more which is extremely detrimental. Diets are self-moderating, which is why so many fail when they adopt a diet unsuited to their temperament or needs. We’re only as strong as we are willing to admit to our weakness. Sugar isn’t a friend of mine, I’ve cut it down and mostly cut it out and I’m better for it, though I have to admit, no shame in it, dear reader, that, boy, are my arms tired. I’m sorry! I’ll stop. A stocked freezer is a necessity for me, I went on a top up shop today and couldn’t get any yoghurt or flaxseed. They’ll be open in a few days, but I really have to be on the ball constantly. Them’s the breaks, dear reader. I’ll be back again, take care.

Varying sizes because…ehhhhh.

I used 650g of squash and there’s some left.

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Hisashiburi Uchiki Kuri

Er, sorry Japanese readers!

I did it, dear reader! I came up with the best blog post title I’ve ever thought of. That’s it, we can all just leave now. No? Okay then since it’s Autumn, or Fall depending on where you are, here it’s Winter which will be followed by Further-Winter. It’s really dull and deary, dear reader, but thankfully I have Uchiki Kuri squash again. The same woman grows them every year. I’ve actually only used one so far. So, instead of carving pumpkins, we’ll talk about this squash that is pretty great. It’s no harlequin, but it comes a close second.

Nothing compares to harlequin squash.

Well, firstly that name is wonderful. It’s almost Ohh Cheeky Curry. You can’t say that and not smile just a little. Second is that it’s a very thin skinned squash, same as an Hokkaido Pumpkin is, you just grab a potato peeler, mine has never touched a potato, and start scrapping away and in short order you’ve got a peeled squash. There’s a reason I cut in into two.  Look below.

The colour is a bonus, just not on your hands.

See it yet?

It’s not just to remove the seeds and insides easily, when you leave two halves you protect your fingers from the peeler and you will catch yourself even if you’re careful, trust me. This way you can safely peel the squash and waste very little, nothing if you have a compost bin. The other thing I love about this squash is that it was made for mashing and consequently it makes amazing bread. It’s extremely soft, you can roast it very quickly, but no “fries” with this, I tried, but it’s too soft, but it isn’t watery, this is more true of home-grown, but even store bought ones had that drier, creamy flesh that makes perfect bread without adding too much moisture. I am thinking of growing this or its blue cousin next year.

I’m getting pretty adept at this squash preparation malarkey.

I saved some for mash too.

There’s another aspect to this fruit that makes it perfect for baking, I mentioned the colour which gives a hue similar to turmeric, but there’s also a inherent sweetness that when combined with a little sugar and cinnamon makes a bread that just can’t be compared to. The recipes are here. As I said, I did say, right? I only used one squash which brings me to my last point: You get a lot of flesh even after peeling and deseeding. There’s very little loss when preparing this squash. If you’re going to use it then think soft preparations like soup, or pasta sauce, or to add additional moistness when baking. You can roast it, but it’ll break apart, so you’d get a lovely roasted flavoured puree, but not crispy chunks of squash. This is my second year preparing these kinds of squashes. I did a write up about carving them last year, right here.

Uchiki Kuri, Turmeric and Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Some for bread, some for future dinners.

I talk a lot about squash, but I think that there’s not much known about them, I’ve learned…The power went out for a few hours, dear reader, the world away from here is deary and I really don’t recommended it. I played cards and board games with my nieces and nephew enough for several lifetimes I don’t need to do that again any time soon. As I was saying, I’ve learned a lot about squashes by growing them yearly and eating them frequently. There are so many with so many distinct uses that you could eat squash once a day and rarely repeat a meal. Speaking of meals I tried something new with an old recipe.

Thankfully when they’ve baked they’ll be distinct from each other. The light one is Nutty Squash Bread.

Look at that colour! This is unaltered, unfiltered, all natural.

Instead of making my Pumpkin Curry with meat and freezing it with a portion of rice I opted to just make the sauce instead and after defrosting added cooked meat, boiled and made fresh rice. I’ve often said that a lot of my recipes could be made vegan with very little effort, that’s very true of the curries, this one can be made with maple syrup and meat isn’t needed. I actually made this with butternut squash and sweet potato, just sweet potato ends up too thick. If I end up with too much Uchiki Kuri I may make some more with that. It’s a nice compromise, you get fresh rice which is the best part of a curry and you get what I like to think of a winter-kick, all those warming spices and ginger, and, yes, that’s pretty much a pumpkin spice curry sauce. Handy to keep your body in tip-top condition, needs be when everyone is incubating germs and bugs, dear reader. I’m impervious to illness, nothing can stop Jack!

Multitasking is a myth. It’s just clever use of the downtime in recipes.

Sunlight is the best light for photos.

So, yeah, that’s it Oh! I found out that I’ve been using buckwheat flour for three years now. I’m not sure if that’s a long time or not, but I can honestly say it’d been the best alternative flour I’ve ever used. I think, at this stage n my life, I’m eating almost nothing that I used to, way back in the fat-days, as I will forever call them. It’s pretty amazing how the small changes add up, isn’t it, dear reader? I’ll see you again soon, possibly with a post about the second squash, depends on how I use it really. Until then. Take care.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Original can be found here.

Hello and welcome to every single food blog at this time of year. It was bound to happen eventually, dear reader, at some point I was going to have squash puree leftover and it was going to be made into a frothy concoction. Now my favourite pumpkin is of course: Generic Orange Squash Flesh. Seriously, the difference between a random butternut and a pumpkin isn’t that great unless it an extremely sweet pumpkin and even if it is just use more sweetener. No shops sell pumpkin puree here, but they do sell squash, often cheap, and once you add it all together it doesn’t really stand out that much. I’m running the recipe down a bit, aren’t I? No harm intended. It’s a pretty decent way to use up some squash. I like the fact that the squash gives it a real rich, thickness. I only have an ordinary blender so it was slightly gritty. Though it did froth up really well. I tweaked this a bit with the milk, if I added cold milk to hot coffee I’d have lukewarm at best. I didn’t want to dump it all in a saucepan, I’m still tired and that’d mean more cleaning up. Microwave to the rescue. So, this is my first Pumpkin Spice Latte, I could mock the ubiquity of pumpkin spice products, but I won’t. People like what they like. It’s nice in that there’s nothing messy going into it, I can imagine that commercial ones would feature more than the basic ingredients. So, a nice hot drink, warming spices and a handy way to use up puree that’s left over from making bread.

I’m one month post-surgery this Thursday. I’m standing almost completely straight, there’s still swelling, nothing severe thankfully, and numbness, but it’s doing well. It’ll be a long road, but this is the last major hurdle. There’s no pain, dear reader, not like there was. No pull, no muscle strain, no self-hatred. I’m getting sleepy even writing this, I get bursts of tiredness, but that’s to be expected. Your old pal Jack is doing just fine, so have no fear. I forget if I mentioned it, but the Crab Apple jelly has new photos. I made a rosemary version and it was amazing with turkey. I’ve heard it’s great over ice-cream too. If you’re looking for more pumpkin spice recipes remember I’ve used it a lot and there’s a tag devoted to it. See you later, dear reader.

Ingredients

120ml Freshly Brewed Coffee
120ml Milk or Dairy Free Alternative
1 Tbsp Pumpkin or Orange Fleshed Squash Puree
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/4 Tsp Pumpkin Spice

Method

1. Heat the Milk in a microwave or saucepan until warm.

2. Add the Hot Coffee, Puree, Maple Syrup, Pumpkin Spice and Milk to a Blender and process until frothy.

Baked Table King Squash Fries

This takes so long, but it’s worth it.

Back again, dear reader, with another squash. This time I tried table king fries and they worked really well, not quite as good as the harlequin, but still really worth trying. As I’ve repeated often you can’t compare a freshly harvested squash with a store bought one so I can’t say with certainty how you’ll fare if you do try this with store bought fruit. I imagine they’d still be good, but maybe not quite the same. They crisp up rather well, they are slightly softer than the harlequin, the standard which all squashes will be unfairly held to, I can’t help my love of that humble berry, dear reader, no more than you could stifle the love of Jack in your heart, why are you laughing? They’re in no way soggy thankfully. Nothing more unappealing than soggy vegetables.

Fake McDonald fries anyone?

This marks the last of the first batch of pollinated and harvested squash. There are more waiting in the wings, but it’ll be a while before I’ll be able to use them. No rush, I’ll be searching for new recipes to try them in. I’ll leave it at that today, dear reader, take care.

Seven Spice chicken open faced waffle sandwiches.

Ingredients

1 Medium King Squash, Around 400g
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, Black Pepper and Garlic Powder to Taste

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175c (Fan) and line a baking tray with tinfoil.

2. Peel the Table King Squash, remove the seeds with a spoon and slice them lengthways, each slice should be about about half a centimetre thick, then cut them into half centimetre strips. Add to a plastic bag, season to taste then drizzle in the Olive Oil. Shake everything until the Table King Squash Fries are coated.

3. Spread out over the prepared tray. Making sure there’s plenty of room between the fries. If making a large batch use two trays. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. until the Table King Squash Fries are dry and crisp. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate and let cool for a minute or two. Table King will crisp up more as it cools.

Last of the pea onward.

Harlequin Squash, Apple and Sage Stuffing

Another year, another stuffing recipe.

Harlequin stuffing, familiar? We’re back with another potato recipe, traditional Irish recipe at that, being converted into a harlequin one. This time we’ve ditched the sausage and opted for apple. Now, less of this we, dear reader, it’s my show. I found I couldn’t tolerate pork, doubt I ever could, why? Who knows. Why is there so much Jack can’t eat and yet he has so many recipes? He’s a wonder, humble too. Stuffing varies from place to place, I see it often online as this bread cube lumpy concoction and that isn’t the stuffing I grew up with. This is childhood taste revisited, or as close as I can make it. Stuffing was mashed potato, onion, sage, rarely fresh, but I like it fresh, and sausage. It was billowy, creamy and crusty on top and delicious. It has been a long time since I have had it. Last year I made a meat version, this year, aside from the butter but margarine could replace, I never list until I’ve tried and soy allergy stops that trial, but you’re creative dear readers, I know you’ll manage. Er, rambling there, sorry, aside from the butter it could easily be vegan. I tried it unbaked and it is worth making. Tomorrow I’ll bake it and add a photo if I remember.

Rake the tops and hope for crusty stuffing. The taste of childhood revisited.

So, yeah, addressing the giant berry in the room, you need harlequin for this. It’s the best potato substitute I’ve ever eaten. It’s dry at first when you’ve freshly steamed it, but add the buttery onion and apple, a delicious aromatic variation I have to admit, and suddenly it’s this creamy, fluffy mixture. My sage wasn’t in it’s prime and I had to add a little dried to up the taste, but you could use all dry if you can’t get fresh, use a third of what’d you use in fresh. Three ingredients are from my garden. The squash, sage and onion. There is a huge benefit over the pork version, you can freeze this. My Mother warmed me of freezing sausage meat and I stay away from it, this though can be frozen. Handy as it does make quite a bit. I went by the squash, but you can adjust it as you see fit. Try other vegetables and let me know how it fared. I’ll see you again, dear reader.

Ingredients

375g Harlequin Squash, Peeled and Cubed
125g Cooking Apple, Peeled and Chopped Fine
50g Butter
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped Fine
16-20 Fresh Sage Leaves, Chopped
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Makes about four 170g Servings

Method

1. Steam the Harlequin Squash and place into a bowl, Mash and set aside.

2. Chop the Onion and Apple finely and fry in Butter until Onion is translucent and Apple tender. Add the Onion and Apple mix, Sage, Salt and Pepper to the Harlequin Squash and mash everything together. Taste test and add more Sage, Dried if there’s no more Fresh, if required.

3. Scoop mixture into a greased baking dish and smooth down. Bake at 200c (Fan) for half an hour. For a crispier top grill for the final 5 minutes. If freezing divide and freeze in tin trays.

Creamy and delicious.

Baked Harlequin Squash Fries

I was going to julienne it with the peeler.

Yeah, I, er, cut my finger, skinned the tip a bit, nothing major, but I seem to be making a tradition of this. The peeler just snagged on the small squash and, yeah, if any of this isn’t quite coherent then I’m laying blame on the finger whether it was that or not. You could say I’m pointing the finger…don’t cry, dear reader, I’ll stop making bad jokes someday. So, here we are a again, another harlequin squash another recipe, it is just a tweak of my sweet potato fries, but there’s rosemary and it’s harlequin squash, it’s never not amazing when it harlequin squash.

More or less rosemary to taste.

So, not much here, which means there’s not much leeway, if you keep things as even as possible, not easy when you consider the shape and hollow cavity of the squash after peeling and de-seeding, then you won’ have to worry about uneven cooking. This can be tweak with any spices you like, but I enjoy the simple taste of  fresh harlequin squash, the crispy crunch and he soft interior. This is why I grow them, these simple recipes that showcase its strengths. I have no need for potatoes when I have squash like this. They do resemble McDonald’s fries a bit, don’t they. I should’v called it a copycat recipe and become world renowned. It could happen, shush. Nothing stopping you using any squash this way, but only harlequin seems to crunch up like this. Maybe I’m wrong, if I am tell me of other squash, I’m always on the look out for new varieties. I’l see ou again soon, dear reader.

These posts are scheduled, by the time you see this my finger will probably be healed.

Ingredients

1 Medium Harlequin Squash, Around 400g
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to Taste

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175c (Fan) and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

2. Peel the Harlequin Squash, remove the seeds with a spoon and slice them lengthways, each slice should be about about half a centimetre thick, then cut them into half centimetre strips. Add to a plastic bag, season to taste then drizzle in the Olive Oil. Shake everything until the Harlequin Squash Fries are coated.

3. Spread out over the prepared tray. Making sure there’s plenty of room between the fries. If making a large batch use two trays. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. until the Harlequin Squash is dry and crisp. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate and let cool for a minute or two. Harlequin Squash will crisp up more as it cools.

Haggard, Hardened and Productive

Wait, what date was this harvest?

No, not me! I’m beautif… have an honest face. You shut up. I feel the need to type, dear reader, will you then go with me on a verbal journey, not an overly verbose or deep one, just to the garden to admire the marvels of production, the harlequin squash? Cast your mind back to the chaotic first year, I, naive, young…inexperienced, budding Jack had been told of the marvellous ease that squash grew with. Then the hailstones came, the frost came, the powdery milDEW CAME! Ahem, no I’m fine, that first year I will ever and always recall harvesting my first squash, lifting it gingerly for fear of breaking, I still hold the same reverence for them now, that and I’m clumsy at the best of times, lifting it slowly from the plant, which came up with the squash because it was dead. How they ever grew that year I will never know. Care and diligence, perhaps. T’was love, dear reader, love did grow the squash! Or tomato feed, probably the feed. The second year led to the discovery that with good weather came a second harvest. This year has been a mixture, but thankfully there will be a second harvest, barring some unfortunate occurrence.

Like me falling on them while taking photos.

They’re growing at all angles.

One thing you will notice is how ugly and gnarled the plants become over time. The lowest layer of leaves dies away and you have to let them seal up, they’re hollow tubes, so no infection can make its way into the plant, which rest on a single, fairly narrow stem. The bad weather is causing the powdery mildew, though I’m treating them, it never vanishes. There’s dust blowing where it has dried, but it’s still there. The squash is growing at all angles now, harlequin seems to enjoy spreading out, there are huge tendrils with more leaves and flowers and fruits all spilling every which way. I love it, really I do.

I tried pruning last year and it’s a waste of time.

They can ripen very swiftly.

I’m currently at six harvested, two table king and four harlequin. The table king made a delicious, simple pasta sauce. Next I’ll be making cottage pies. What I’ve done this year is give them a dose of nettle and comfrey tea while the next fruit setting starts, it’s less balance, more general than geared towards fruit, but I’m hoping the it’ll give them a boost and maybe, just maybe, there might be third harvest. It can’t hurt that much. I don’t want them putting out too much green at this stage, but they’ll need to bloom for a third time if I want more squash after this. I did warn that I’d wax eloquent endlessly on squash, didn’t I, dear reader? I enjoy it and thankfully you can skip past this when you want.

Quite a few danglers this year.

Another is wedged between two lids and a block.

I do dispose of the lids after using, you never know what they might be retaining and it’d be  waste to damage a squash because you didn’t want to get a fresh coffee cup lid. Kindly donated by anywhere that has them. I do all I can to keep them happy and healthy, but I think there’s a point where the plant can grow no further, where it’s used more than it’s stored and just stops. I’d like to harvest them all year-round, but I’ll settle for the weeks or months of harvesting. It’s an enjoyable time, in no way diluted by repetition. I’ll be back again soon, dear reader.

All that growth with such a thin centre.

Mounding the earth around it at the beginning helps so much with stability.

The second growth never quite matches the first.