Tag Archives: Squash

Squash Blossoms

Originally published August 17, 2011.

A squash blossom, still on the plantIf any food can be described as ephemeral, it’s squash blossoms. They’re only around for a short while, and once picked they deteriorate rapidly, which is why you usually can’t get them at grocery stores, only farmers’ markets and neighbourhood gardens.

Squash plants actually produce two different types of flowers: male and female.  The male flowers grow on the end of long, slender stems.  The female flowers grow on thicker stems that buldge where they meet the flower.  This bulge is what will eventually become a squash.

Generally there are more male flowers than female.  The male flowers can be picked without affecting the production of fruit, so long as a few are left behind … Continue reading.

Introduction to Soup

Split-pea soup with ham hock and crème fraîcheThere is something medieval about soup.  It is often made from bones.  It takes time to prepare, and to eat.  Soup is slow and simple and primordial and the opposite of modern.

I consider the promulgation of soup a personal mission.  Most of the formal meals that I prepare for friends or at work include a soup course.  Burns supper, for instance, begins with Scotch broth, Thanksgiving with squash soup, Viennese dinners with pancake soup.

Types of Soup

This is the kind of rant I usually relegate to the footnotes of a post, but I want to talk about soup classification.  In culinary school our standard text was called Professional Cooking for Canadian Chefs (PCCC).  I learned a lot from … Continue reading.

Roast Pumpkin Seeds

A lil' bowl of roasted pumpkin seedsRoast pumpkinseeds are a very rustic North American snack.  While pumpkin seeds are relished in several far flung parts of the world, including central America (pepitas) and Austria (kurbiskern), I think ours is the only civilization that eats pumpkinseeds in their shell.  Pumpkinseed shells are woody.  Frankly they are just barely edible, and certainly not digestible.

But I do like them.  Lengthy chewing promotes contemplation.  Rumination, even.

And though you can eat pumpkins throughout the fall and winter and into early spring, growing up I only ever ate roast pumpkin seeds at Hallowe’en.

A nifty trick for separating the seeds from the stringy pumpkin guts: throw the whole mess in a large pot of water.  If … Continue reading.

Rethinking Pumpkin Pie

A hubbard squash from Tipi CreekI love pumpkin pie, but there are a few things about the classic preparation that I don’t understand.  First and foremost, why we use canned mix when there’s a stack of fresh pumpkins at every grocery store this time of year.

Lisa and I get loads of squash from Tipi Creek every fall, so often we make “squash pie” instead of “pumpkin pie.”  Obviously they’re very similar.  Hubbard squash, pictured at left, makes fantastic pie, as do butternut, buttercup, and acorn squash.

Using fresh squash allows you to adjust the flavour and colour of the custard.  Canned pumpkin is dark like caramel, I assume from a lengthy cook that reduces and browns the flesh (though that’s just a guess… maybe … Continue reading.

Eating a Jack-o-Lantern

Jack-o-LanternsThis is weird, I know, but most years, on All Saints Day, I eat my jack-o-lantern.  I usually carve the night before Halloween, then keep the pumpkin in the fridge overnight.  In Edmonton, Halloween is typically a chilly evening – sometimes there’s even snow – so setting the pumpkin outside for a few hours, I still feel perfectly comfortable eating it.

I should mention that the pumpkins we carve are from Tipi Creek CSA, so they taste fantastic.  Sometimes I carve other types of squash.  At left is a butternut squash jack-o-lantern.  I can’t attest to the eating-quality of the massive carving pumpkins sold at supermarkets.

So, after the trick-or-treaters have stopped calling, I take my jack-o-lantern off the step, … Continue reading.