wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Saving Seeds

Five years ago when we were in Montana on our annual trip, Mick, a farmer friend gave us two buttercup squashes he’d grown. He suggested we could cook them in the microwave in our trailer. They were so good that I decided to save the seeds and bring them home. I’m glad I did. I am still growing Mick’s “Montana squashes” now, five years later, and they taste of good Montana memories.

I harvested a squash today and cut it in half. I scooped out the center and separated the soft tissue from the seeds.

Then I washed the seeds in cold water and scooped them out leaving much of the gooey protective mush behind. I dabbed them dry on a paper towel and set them outside in a warm place to dry off for a few hours before bringing them inside out of the damp night air.

I peeled the two halves of squash and cut them into wedges to pre-cook in the microwave for about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, I chopped a cooking onion and sauteed it in a frying pan.

I added the partially cooked squash pieces and cooked them slowly until they were golden brown on both sides. For spices I kept it simple: salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of some green herb (this time it was savoury, but I’ve tried others – like oregano or thyme – and found them to be quite nice too).

In the photo below the squash is not completely browned yet but one or two pieces in the center are starting to get brown and have been flipped over.  I use a generous amount of butter so the pieces don’t stick.

When the seeds are completely dry, I store them in a jar in a cool, dry place. I found out that these squashes like me a lot. When I am not diligent enough to do everything right, the bits that I’ve put into the compost over the winter will sprout in early spring if I throw shovelfuls of the composted soil around the garden.

These buttercup plants started to grow as soon as I threw the shovelful of composted soil onto the ground. It’s a bit late for them this year but I’ll keep it in mind to start some of the volunteer compost seeds early in the spring next year.

Meanwhile, today we enjoy buttercup squash and think of our generous friend, Mick, in Montana.

I save seeds from all kinds of plants and am extra happy when they grow for me. I think it could someday become a very useful bit of knowledge to be able to save seeds for future crops.

Do you save seeds? Which are your favourites?


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Mick’s Buttercup Squash

The Captain and I try to go to Montana every year if possible. We have found good friends among the farmers we’ve met there. Three years ago, Mick, one of these friends, gave us some buttercup squash that he had just harvested. Since we had our trailer with us, he suggested the easiest way to cook it would be to microwave it.

I did that, and it was very good. So good, in fact, that I saved the seeds of the squash to bring home. For the next three years I planted and saved Mick’s buttercup squashes. This year’s crop is descended from those original squashes he gave us in 2015.

Here is one of them, growing on the garden fence where it climbed up.

The funny thing is that although I carefully started some of the squash seeds in little pots for transplanting when the weather warmed up enough, Mick’s squash has a mind of its own. I must have put some compost in the garden last winter, and this spring, way before I thought it was okay to plant anything, these squashes volunteered to grow in my garden and they have by far outstripped the ones I so carefully tended in little pots for transplanting.

I have found a way of cooking these squashes that makes us very happy. I clean, quarter, and peel the squash and microwave it just long enough to make it barely tender (a few minutes). While that is happening, I sautee some chopped onion  in a pan with butter. When the squash is tender enough to cut easily but not so mushy that it is falling apart, I cut each quarter into slices (the way you would cut cantaloupe in thin wedges) and lay these in the pan to brown a few minutes on each side.

That’s it. Eat and enjoy.

PS When you’re cleaning the squash, be sure to save the seeds for next year’s crop.


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Buttercup Squash

Last year I couldn’t wait to plant the  seeds I had saved from squash given to us by a friend in Montana.  I should have waited a few weeks. The seedlings were ready to transplant into the garden way before it was warm enough. I managed to baby them until I dared to plant them outside and luck was on my side. I ended up with a great crop of squashes.

This year, I thought I’d be smarter. I waited until it was closer to spring and warmer weather. I planted the seeds of the crop from last year and so many popped up I was quite pleased with myself. Until … they grew so well they started stretching for the light too much and were getting gangly.

It was supposed to be getting much warmer by now! Where was that warm April weather? I was STILL too early. Now I’ll put these eager plants into individual little pots, give them a pat, and tell them, “Slow down. It’s not as warm as it should be. You’ll have to rein in your enthusiasm.”

Here is one of last year’s squashes. I hope to have many happy plants this year too.

When I look at this young beauty, I’m encouraged to work at getting a good crop of these buttercup squashes growing again this year. They are one of the tastiest, sweet squashes I know. Great keepers and delicious to eat. If I remember, I’ll share a recipe later this summer.