Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Frostier, and frostier

We have even more frost today than yesterday and if you can imagine a mountain behind the wagon and frosty trees you can see we are still socked in to a lacy lovely world - but c-c-c-cold - -6 degrees Celsius (21 F).
This is Japanese knot weed which some would argue really is a weed and others would class it as "noxious". It's all where you grow it. Mine is planted in a 5 gallon bucket in a trench between bedrock slabs. It has been here many years and never escaped. We're also so dry up here on the hill that few things wander, the challenge is for them to grow and live! I love the fact it holds it's lovely dry burnt sienna leaves in winter and the little stemmy business left from the flowers are lacy in themselves. In late summer when it blooms it is alive with paper wasps.
And this, the mock orange, is just so very lacy! I moved it from further down the hill. Here they are wild and wonderful in June,
So today James has "stolen" my beautiful big orange squash that I've been saving since fall and probably should think about baking before it turns to compost. James is seeing if it will star in a painting - and then I'll cook it!
I love the fact that winter squash will last and last without the need to can or freeze. Mortals shouldn't even consider canning them. They need to be pressure canned as they are low acid but even in the pressure canner it takes 90 minutes. Letting them sit on a cool shelf makes so much more sense, and then freezing the leftovers as, if we're talking of a big hubbard squash, there will be leftovers.
Your gardening - food preservation tip of the day: if you wipe things you've harvested from the garden, like winter squash, with a 10% bleach solution it will get rid of some of the organisms which would cause them to spoil. If you consider chlorine bleach to be toxic waste try using vinegar. It should work equally well.
Zucchini, which is not a winter squash, will keep a long time if allowed to get big and over ripe and to develop a tough skin. At this time it is good in soups or zucchini bread.
Besides the obvious "squash as a vegetable" serving suggestions winter squash is equally wonderful in soups and works as a rich filler. Winter squash also makes an even better pie than pumpkin. If you buy canned pumpkin in the store (and who would?) what you really get is canned winter squash.
And then, on a totally other subject, sweet potatoes or yams can be substituted for pumpkin and make a lovely smooth pie filling.

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