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.

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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.

A Fool, A King and Jack

I couldn’t wait another day.

Last year I grew golden nugget squash alongside my harlequin and with each successive squash I grew more and more disappointed. They seemingly had no resistance to bad weather other than to harden up so much that a hammer bounced off the skin. You can imagine that I wear leary and weary of cutting into my huge table king squash, my first ever table king no less. Though the knife did stick, it’s a very large squash, I’m more than happy to report that acorn style squashes will be what I’ll be growing from here on out.

“Wait, another squash tasting post?” Don’t cry, dear reader.

You know these posts feel like an alternative world version of those paid for product reviews. These are squashes grown from seeds I paid for, taken care of by me and eaten solely by me. The reason I’m sharing? Well, you never know who it might help, be it a prospective gardener wondering what they should plant, a curious shopper recalling a post like this when they stumble across freshly stocked squash. Last year I hadn’t much opportunity to compare the squashes, I’ve been eating harlequin for three years now, but this is the first year I could really compare freshly grown squash to store bought as I have a more varied selection and more experience.

I just sauteed a sample not a whole squash….this time.

If I were pad by the word I’d be a rich, rich Jack. As I am, well, I’m rich in spirit and I have squash so it balances out. So, what was my second squash like? The first thing I noticed, even when raw, was that the flesh is so creamy, it has none of that slimy hardness that you sometimes find with squash. They are stored so it’s unsurprising there’d be a difference with my fresh, but it’s such a great divide, they’re like two different berries. As you can see I tried a little coked and I can say if you can’ get harlequin then a table king wouldn’t be a bad replacement for potato, it was quite as crispy and crumbled as the harlequin, but it did have a lovely fluffy interior with a crispy shell. I made it into a pasta sauce with shallots. This was just one squash, I’ll be trying them as many ways as I can with what I have.

You get about half the weight after peeling.

It always looks like custard to me. The taste is pretty mild, pleasant in it’s own way, but I’d like this with some kind of seasoning. If I have a smaller one I may roast it with cinnamon or honey, something sweet. There’s not much else to say, but I’m really pleased with my choice of secondary squash this year. I love putting something away in the freezer made with fresh produce, I’d never use it all at once anyway and this way, in the Winter when everything is going dormant I’ll have all these wonderful flavours to enjoy. That’s all for today…oh, my seven feet, at least, artichokes fell over, I nearly crippled myself righting them. They better flower next year or, nah, I’ll keep them, they’re fun to look at. See you later, dear reader.

The roma are starting to ripen too. The plants are sagging dangerously. Next year: Tepees!

Butternut Squash Cottage Pie

Slowly replacing photos, dear reader. I managed to get four harlequin squash topped cottage pies and a further fifteen servings of pesto, so Jack is well stocked up for the squashless, basilless Winter.

Pep's Free From Kitchen

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

Pie sans filling.

With harlequin squash topping.

August 2017 Update:

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