He tried to hide. Really, he did! He had a nice little mouse family living in a hole underneath him. He was happy in the garden.
But it was not to be. We got him! We had to haul him up with the garden tractor; he was too unwieldy for my trusty wheelbarrow.
We let him and his baby brother cure in the garden for a few weeks – until I had the time to do the cooking.
Then the big day came! Time to do the butchering!
Mon mari got out the trusty machete….scrupulously cleaned, of course.
Fortunately the garden table is sturdy.
Fortunately mon mari needed an 'aggression break'. (Actually, he's been painting the house so any excuse for a break is welcomed.)
Let the butchering begin!
Finished. Now I get to clean up the mess. (Typical!)
What is it about boys and toys? I have never had a strong desire (or even a teeny tiny one) to own a machete but when mon mari saw this baby it was a 'must have'. It now has a purpose; it's useless in the brambles.
I picked the last butternut squash this morning. Isn't it darling? I call it 'Arrested Development'. This baby will not meet his fate at the point of the machete. I still have 5 the size of the big one that are destined for the oven today, as well.
After cleaning them, and duly saving the seeds for toasting, I cut them in big chunks, cover them with foil and roast them 375F (190C) for a couple of hours.
When the pieces are past fork tender and well on the road to mush, I take the pans out and let them cool. Basically, I bake it until it's the consistency of a purée For most recipes it's ready to use as is. For creamy soups I purée the finished soup in the blender.
I scoop it off the skins and let it sit in a colander for several hours or overnight. It will release quite a bit of liquid. I keep trying to think of a use for it….
I put the drained pumpkin in freezer bags, using 1 1/4 cups to end up with 1 cup thawed. It will release about 1/4 cup of liquid, again, when thawed. (That liquid I use as a substitute for water or stock in whatever recipe I'm making.
The pumpkin in the colander is 1/4 of the Great Pumpkin, about 9 cups.
When it's all roasted, drained, and tucked away I should have 30 – 35 cups of pumpkin purée. I'll use it in soup, soufflés, bread, muffins, timbales and anything else I think of.
Why do I do this?
My two favorite Christmas treats are Cranberry Bread and Pumpkin Bread. That first Christmas we lived abroad I realized that not everything would be easy.
We were in Ireland and there was no pumpkin anywhere: not canned, frozen or fresh. I found cranberries; Ocean Spray, even, but they were pathetic, old and wrinkled. I bought 2 bags in order to get 2 cups of berries (I was desperate) and it cost me about 15 dollars (I was REALLY desperate).
The next year we were in Andorra and there were no cranberries. (Actually, I've never seen cranberries, since. There is a small berry that the Brit's and French call a cranberry but it doesn't look at all like a 'real' one.)
But there were pumpkins. Big green ones at the markets that the tiny little farmer used to prop on his belly to cut with the smallest, sharpest knife: cutting towards himself. I was always terrified he was going to give himself an appendectomy while getting me my pumpkin.
Then we moved to France: no cranberries; no pumpkin. Now you know!
Recipes to follow as I
come up with make them.