Squashed…

…but I don’t mean our spirits!

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The cloud will lift…
After recent political events, it would be easy (and understandable) to feel somewhat crushed, but that’s not going to help in the longer term. So my period of moping is now over, and it’s time to look up, be determined to focus on what is good and what is valuable all around us. An unpleasant event has come to pass, yet caring folks will continue to speak up and out against bigotry, and seek to find genuine solutions to real problems. I forget where I read it and who said it, but there was a commentary on recent events that said the answers are likely to be found in a series of small solutions instead of one giant fix. Well, the world does appear to be in one giant fix, that’s for sure, but good people will fight to produce the series of small solutions. After all, you have to hope…

– Yeah, alright, but why squashed, PlaidCamper?

Well, because my moping period found me back in the kitchen, a place I find great comfort in during the good times, and even greater comfort during the less good times. If this blog wasn’t OldPlaidCamper, it could have been OldFakeChefDude. I’m certainly an almost outdoorsman, and most definitely an almost chef. I’ve faked it and earned a (meagre) living in a few kitchens in the past. The stories I could tell (but won’t, because you probably enjoy eating in restaurants, and I don’t want to be arrested…)

– Yeah, alright, but why squashed, PlaidCamper?

img_20161103_170459I was cooking with squash! A comfort food if there ever was one, and one of my favourites. Roast it, steam it, mash it, sautée it, make soup from it, but eat it up, with all that vitamin goodness and colour on a plate. Mmm, squash. Acorn, butternut, crook neck, kabocha, pumpkin (least favourite), delicata, spaghetti, and more. Food list poetry? I think so.

There are so many ways to enjoy squash (my meatatarian brothers insist a squash is best enjoyed when left to rot atop a compost heap – food heathens! – although they always dig into the butternut and black bean chilli…) and here are two ways with squash that we’ve cooked recently:

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Camping! Only six months away…

PlaidCamper Parcels

(Really? Chef ego much? These kitchen primadonnas…)

This first one is great for if you’re camping. Get a good campfire going (glowing at the base) and keep it stoked.

Put diced squash, halved mushrooms, quartered shallots, whole almonds, broccoli florets, chilli flakes and a teaspoon of ground cumin onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Add a generous glug of good olive oil. Give it a mix and then fold up your foil into a parcel.

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Did I really take a picture of this? Yup!
You might want to double wrap it if the foil is the thin stuff cheapskates like me buy. False economy. Place on the hot metal plate or over the griddle. Turn the parcel from time to time to allow even cooking. Trust your sense of smell – you’ll know when it’s ready! Burn your fingers unwrapping the parcel (you won’t mind because it’ll taste so good) and enjoy the contents. Delicious campfire fare! dscf3791

The care and attention I’ve given to quantities and timings might be an indication as to why I’m not a chef any more. I can create and follow precision recipes, but mostly enjoy the slapdash approach. Closer to Jamie than Heston. To make up for the lack of detail in the first recipe – recipe?! – I’ll simply copy/paste the second (and add the link, because the other recipes on the page are also quite wonderful) from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall:

Pappardelle with squash and sage

Serves four.

About 750g squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2-3cm cubes
4-6 fat garlic cloves, skin on, lightly squashed 
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil 
75g walnuts, very roughly chopped (optional) not optional, Hugh, essential
250g pappardelle (or other pasta)
50g unsalted butter
15-20 sage leaves, cut into ribbons
Finely grated parmesan or hard goat’s cheese, to serve

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put the squash in a roasting tin, add the garlic and some salt and pepper, trickle over the oil and toss together. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking, until the squash is completely soft and starting to caramelise. Add the nuts for the last 10 minutes, taking care they don’t burn.

When the squash is about halfway cooked, bring a large pan of water to a boil, salt it well and add the pasta. Cook for the time suggested on the packet, then drain. While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter very gently in a small pan. When foaming, add the sage and cook over a low heat, without letting the butter brown, for three minutes. Turn off the heat.

Toss the sage butter, the hot squash and walnuts into the pasta – add any pan juices, too, as well as the garlic, provided it’s not too burned. Season to taste and transfer to warmed dishes. Finish with more pepper and serve with parmesan for people to help themselves.

A great one to try out over the coming winter at a cabin. Or at home. The recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Squash Recipes – go on, follow the link, read the others, you’ll be glad you did.

Old Hugh has some amazing recipes. I first heard about him many years ago when a friend was telling me about roadkill pie. Retching noises. Personally, if I ran over a squash I’d be mortified, but it could be worse. Even back then, falling wildlife populations in the UK meant you’d most likely run over an unfortunate hedgehog. There are recipes for clay baked hedgehog, but you’d really rather not…right? Stick with the squash.

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Glass more than half full (an anti-moping technique and we all deserve it…)
Well, not a hugely outdoorsy post this week – thanks for your patience – but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing some anti-moping activity we’ve been engaged in.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share a recipe or anti-moping technique, and have a wonderful weekend!

As an extra treat for the curious-minded, here is a link to a fun article about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (and it mentions his connections to roadkill cuisine, but that really isn’t what he’s about!) More about Hugh FW

Published by

plaidcamper

I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

29 thoughts on “Squashed…”

  1. Ooh I have to try these recipes out and especially that one that roast the squash over a campfire, I can do that in my backyard this season. I agree, I love squash except for pumpkin. Meatatarian…..I had a laugh at that one and I can’t wait to use that term, in a nice way of course. 🙂 Great post!

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  2. Excellent post pc! I know many of us are doing what we can to move forward, and hope, and be proactive. I find cooking occupies and relaxes me, too, and I really like these recipes. Sage butter is one I have never done, and I can imagine it is perfect on squash. I often roast squash (it’s fast and easy); sage butter would be perfect with it. I laughed and giggled at your post today (being mortified at running over a squash had me guffawing), and appreciate your spirit in moving on to new days. Have an excellent weekend, my friend~~

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    1. Oh yes, sage and squash, a perfect combination!
      I aim to be a careful driver, so most roadside fruits and vegetables are safe enough (but I did run over my water bottle – twice, backwards then forwards. Might as well be thorough…)
      Picked up GGG yesterday, raced through the first chapter, then made myself put it aside until we’re next at a cabin and it can be read in longer sittings. Looking forward to that!
      I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed the post and I’m glad your moping period is now over. I am finally able to watch the news again and while your moping period found you back in the kitchen, mine was eased by the wine cabinet located near the kitchen. I seem to have the same fascination with cooking as I do with outdoor adventures, I love reading about adventures and collecting cookbooks, but find that actually hiking and cooking is not as enjoyable as the books and rarely happens. I would definitely follow OldFakeChefDude and have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. I’m sort of watching the news through fingers and with a bit of a wince. A glass of wine would probably help!
      I don’t think OldFakeChefDude will ever happen, but it’s kind of you to say that you’d read it!
      I hope you’ve had an enjoyable weekend, and that the worst of the weather didn’t appear.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mashed is maybe the least interesting way to have squash. Those childhood aversions to particular foods are hard to get over – British school dinners in the early 1970s were almost a form of cruelty!
      I hope you’ve had a great weekend – and not a mashed squash in sight!

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  4. Thanks for the best anti-moping article this side of complete political transformation. I really enjoyed reading through your tales and anecdotes of kitchen comfort, and I say this not as a lover of squash (I am not, although I’ve learned to tolerate it since I’m not “meatarian” and my wife does have some of the culinary skills that you possess) but as one who digs reading about your adventures, no matter where they lead, even if they led to an alt-blog called OldFakeChefDude!

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    1. OldFakeChefDude? He was never the sharpest knife in the rack…
      Well, if we can’t get a speedy political makeover as quickly as we’d like, we can at least take comfort where we find it, and then begin to

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      1. OldPlaidCamper isn’t too sharp either – just posted the reply above without finishing the sentence. Let’s try:
        …pick up the pieces, formulate a recipe that nourishes and supports a more positive future in the longer term. Might require several courses and many chefs pulling together.
        I think I’ll stop here – it’s too hard being ChefDude and PlaidCamper…
        Have a wonderful week!

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  5. Great post. I’ve never been the biggest fan of squash–although I don’t mind a baked spaghetti squash stuffed with goodness–the kitchen is a good place to find comfort. A handful of the right recipes can really do a person wonders.

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  6. Hello Plaid Camper – thank you for the post and the recipes. As a vegetarian, I enjoy squash and the variety of ways it can be prepared.

    Sometimes, when the clouds are low I know they will eventually lift. I know also when my spirits are low, they too will eventually lift. In order to help lift my spirits, I take a short early morning walk to my neighbourhood library where I spend some time – just browsing. I then walk over to the mall, enjoy a cup of coffee, then on to my best “spirit lifter” – shopping! Later in the evening I enjoy listening to my favourite music – classical, jazz, blues. These days I am addicted to listening to my most favourite singer, songwriter – Leonard Cohen.
    These are some of my anti-moping techniques.
    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Hello Pandora – glad you enjoyed this one! Thanks for sharing your anti-moping strategies, seems you’re well prepared to beat the blues. So sad about Leonard Cohen’s passing, but he left a fine body of work to enjoy.
      Thanks again, and I hope you are having a pleasant week!

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  7. I would read ‘OldFakeChef’, if you ever decided to make the switch. I do love to cook and bake, but I’m afraid I’d also have to agree with your brothers on a good use for Squash. It seems to be an acquired taste that I’ve not gotten around to acquiring yet. 🙂 Have a beautiful week.

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  8. Oh I do like the sound of that squash over the campfire. Always love trying new recipes. Thanks for an enjoyable post and glad to hear you’re feeling more positive.

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