Hi honey I’m home!

All too briefly for a few days. I’ve flown from Geneva to Gatwick, two airports guaranteed to make me go grrrrrr. But maybe that’s because they are airports, that frankly could be anywhere in the world that need to sort out their coffee.

Or maybe it’s because I’m in the air for an hour, maybe and hour 20 minutes maximum and that entails getting to the airport beyond ahead of time to queue up, to then take my belt, shoes, jewellery off for the pleasure of a woman with a beepy machine only to confirm that you are wearing an underwired bra.

I’m actually pleased to be home for a few days – I get to catch up with a couple of friends over coffee, sleep in my own bed, see the sea, hear the seagulls on the rooftops squabbling with each other. Oh, and pop up to the allotment 🙂

A bit of damage has been wrought over winter. Some hefty storms have blown in, but I knew that already – the windows on the back of the house (which face seawards) are smeared in salty stormy gouk.

Aaah, a cup of tea and sitting down at the kitchen table, making a to-do list, the fire in the sitting room is lit. I’ll ignore the pile of envelopes to open till later, but I can’t put it off for ever.

Surveying the house and contents, what do I check first? The pumpkins of course! Anyway, I know what’s on the menu tonight, one of the Australian Butter Squashes has started to go off. The base has started to go mouldy in patches and I was greeted with some yellow ooze. It’s the first time I’ve grown and stored these, and they haven’t appreciated the windowsill as much as I thought they would.

The windowsill test is my test. I grow the squash, pick them in mid autumn, give them a clean up and then put them on windowsills around the house. A double whammy of decoration and edible ticks my boxes.

But storing them on windowsills isn’t the recommended method. You are meant to place them in darkened rooms, that don’t get too cold or too warm. But space is limited here in this corner of the south-east. I don’t have a handy basement, garage etc. only a former outside loo and now a shed (but it get’s too cold). So it’s need’s must.

Show and tell picture of mouldy oozy gouky pumpkin

And what to do with a pumpkin that’s going off?

Option 1 – is to invite ALL your friends and family round for a pumpkin fest, and cook the whole thing in one sitting and make Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry.

Option 2 – if you are not feeling that sociable, slice away the bad bits. Cut up a few slices and roast them with some olive oil and rosemary/sage to have with your dinner.

Option 3 – includes option 2 but includes peeling and chopping it all into large chunks and freeze it bagged up but uncooked. It will freeze ok, not brilliantly like eating fresh but good for stews and soups.

Option 4 – cook it all, i.e. roast or mash it and then freeze it in separate portions for use as is, or in soups and stews.

Option 5 – canning it, if I knew how.

And then there is Option 6 – Halve the pumpkin, steam 1/4 of it and mash it, roast 1/4  and then divide the other section and give to friends to cook and eat 🙂

It seemed the only sensible option considering that this bonny baby weighed in at over 6 lbs!


  • Welcome home, Claire. Hope your garden isn’t in too bad a state. My first crocus opened today into a bright amber splash of colour.

    • Thank you. I had to do some repairs on the greenhouse, but it was nice to be there! Lucky you, I haven’t spotted any crocus yet, but I can see the tips of Tulips emerging. Roll on Spring!

  • Were I your neighbor, I would want you to share the wealth. I didn’t get any of these lovelies from my garden this summer. I did however get a 40 lb watermelon, and of course, if we were neighbors, then there would have had to have been a watermelon party in which to share it all. 😉
    Today, for me at any rate, I stay in because we are having horrible weather. Gloomy, flooding, and thundering to shake the foundations… Best to stay inside with a warm kitty and work on my quilting. LOL!
    ~ Lynda

    • Oh Lynda I’d definitely swap some squash and would join in heartily wuth a watermelon party! I don’t know if you drink or not, if you do have you ever tried watermelon and vodka? Pure summer!

  • I have exposed to winter squash this fall. I received several butternut squashes and incorporating them into my cooking was a foreign challenge. We found a nice recipe tat I loved. Measurements are not metric….another challenge for Texans!
    1.5 to 2.0 lbs cubed and peeled squash boiled until tender.
    In the bottom of a deep 8X8 greased baking dish put in a 20 oz. can if apple pie filling. I used the low sugar type.
    Layer on the squash.
    On top of the layers cover with a mix of 3/4 cup cranberry sauce with whole berries, 2 tbsp apricot preserved and 2 tbsp orange marmalade.
    Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Minutes- that’s a universal measurement unit!!!! Great side dish as well as nearly a dessert. I can picture pumpkin squash being a good alternative.

    • I think I might give butternut squash a go this year. They are meant to be trickier than standard squash needing more sunshine and heat (always an issue here in the UK). I like their flavour a lot, but generaly don’t buy them as I grow lots of others. And thanks for the recipe! it sounds amazing, regardless of universal measurements 🙂

      • So that brings up my question. I also have a problem with not enough sunshine and heat–and no luck with butternut squash. So how was the Australian Butter Squash in your climate? Or are their other squash that do well with not as much sun as would be desirable? I have grown buttercup squash very successfully the last couple of years–they are very cute, but small. Would appreciate any suggestions! I know it’s January, but I am dying to think about gardening! Thanks.

        • Hi Nancy I know exactly what you mean about wanting to think about gardening! I haven’t tried butternuts yet, I might do so this year. I was told the Australian Butter needs a long summer, but that I might be able to grow it as I live in the south-east.
          Ok my favourites and what might work would be Crown Prince a lovely Australian variety that tastes superb and stores well. Followed by Queensland Blue, another fabulous squash that does well for me.
          Other varieties I’d recommend would be Potimarron, Acorn Squash, Red Kuri Squash – they are smaller and are quick to form and ripen. Oh and Little Gem Rolet. The trick is to look at the number of days a squash takes, chossing the shorter ones! The trouble is there are so many to chose from!
          Baker Creek (in the US) have an amazing range, and I’ve bought seeds from them before (squash, herbs and lettuce). Be warned though their site is addictive 🙂 http://rareseeds.com/vegetables-p-z/squash/winter-squash.html?dir=asc&order=name&p=1

  • Home, ah how lovely! Winter storms? We’ve no rain, storms or snow here in California. Crisp nights in the mid 30’s and our days still in the 60’s. Feeling a wee bit guilty in paradise!

    • Hi Deb, yes storms. We badly need the rain to fill the resevoirs, autumn was so dry!
      And humph to 60s! In the Alps when I left it was a chilly -5 🙂 Thermals all round!

  • Still it must be nice for you to touch down at home for a bit. Winter squashes are still a big part of our January diet. I recently turned a large buttercup into “pumpkin bread.”

      • Ironically, I’ve “lost” my favorite recipe somewhere in the house, so I recently had to fake it. I remembered the four eggs, so I started with that. 4 eggs, pureed squash — however much you have (a couple of cups?), 2 cups plain yogurt, 2 cups sugar (scant) 3 cups of flour — plain or part whole wheat pastry flour — a little salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder, sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger), walnuts if you like them and optional ingredients like dried cranberries or sultanas. You can make it as loaves or muffins. 400 degree oven.

        • Fantastic! And thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I think I might wait till I’m next home, I don’t quite trust the oven in the rented apartment. It sounds perfect 🙂

  • I’ve never been to Gatwick airport but I’ve heard a lot about it and none of it is positive. Good luck with your pumpkin issues.

    • Hi there and thanks for popping in 🙂
      I think the problem with Gatwick is that it is so busy, and at the moment is in the middle of big building work. To be honest my biggest gripe is the coffee, it’s appalling!

  • Funny, I was just looking at Australian Butter Squash in one of my seed catalogs; think I will be growing it this year.

    Welcome home!

    • Great minds think alike! It’s a lovely squash, fairly sweet, but nice firm flesh, not to dry and also it has lots of flesh, you know how some squash are all skin and seed cavity. Well this one isn’t! It was nice roasted 🙂

  • Welcome home :). I know when I return home, I always find things as I left them and learn of some new things that happened that I didn’t know about. I hope your garden isn’t in bad shape though :).

    • Thank you. And thanks for popping in here 🙂 The garden is surprisingly ok – a bit of damage to the greenhouse but mostly looking like it needs some of my time and attention!

  • Welcome home! Isn’t coming home after a trip just the best thing? Sleeping in your own bed, cooking in your own kitchen. Re the pumpkin, you could cut it in half and drizzle with oil and salt, bake it, and then scoop the cooked flesh into a big pot with a little seasoning and chicken stock and cook it into a pumpkin soup. It will keep well in the freezer for ages, and make a perfect easy supper! 🙂

    • You know it’s a great feeling. when I’ve been away before I alsways enjoy the first nights sleep in my own bed, crisp white sheets, big fluffy duvet, perfect sized pillows, calm decor, en-suite bathroom. Bliss!!! Home is best 🙂
      But I love your idea for storing the squash. I was discussing today with a friend what to do with the large ones, and we decided to share them between us. So I’ve given away half of it. And I’m sure it will be appreciated 🙂

    • Awww 🙂 You know I must have some sort of magnet attached to me. Every time I wash the windows at the back of the house, a few days later we have storms. I never seem to learn!

  • Welcome home, Claire! Except for the pumpkin, it sounds like your homecoming was very uneventful — and that is the best kind. Enjoy your 1st night back in your own bed. Sweet dreams!

  • Curry and pumpkin or squash? Oh, yes indeed! I used to (and should again, now that you remind me) make a creamy soup with nothing but pumpkin or sweet squash puree, buttermilk and my homemade sweet curry powder (and salt to taste), served with a few toasted sliced almonds sprinkled on top. I’ll look at your Sri Lankan curry for further inspiration!

    Much as it’s hard to leave our travels behind, it is very welcome and warming to be in our own corner of the universe when we get home too. You captured the whole process exactly. And that is a *very* pretty teacup, too! I would think any tea served in it would have enhanced curative powers. 🙂

    • Hi there 🙂 I love the sound of your soup, and the addition of sliced almonds sounds perfect. I make a spicy gingery squash soup too, an dthen there is one with coconut milk and thai flavous that is good too 🙂 Oh so many soups to try!
      I love drinking tea made in a proper tea pot and drinking from a china tea cup. Somehow it tastes just perfect that way 🙂 Claire

  • Welcome home dear Claire, seems that the weather is so bad there… But as you said to be at home and to drink a cup of tea or coffee in the warm room should be the most beautiful thing. Storm and sea salt on your window… Oh my God… I hope and wish you to be in safe and everything to be fine there… This winter seems strange in here again… Not snowing… but they expect…. Anyway have a nice and enjoyable day, Thank you, with my love, nia

    • Because I live so near to the seafront it’s quite common to get the spray / sea water mixed in with the rain. The positive is that I live near to the sea and can wander down there and take the sea air 🙂

      • Actually I live near to the sea too… But the climate and also the sea are not the same of course… I just feel the humidity sometimes… I was in Bournemouth last summer. I have checked your town yesterday, It is not so far from Bournemouth… But it is beautiful… I wish to visit one day Hasting and these coast line towns… Once I watched on BBC there was a program all about the coast of UK… It fascinated me so much. Anyway, Thank you dear Claire, have a nice day and weekend, with my love, nia (by the way how I miss to be in Devizes, UK)….

        • I adore the Bosphorus, I have only visited Istanbul one and it was mesmorising. I could watch it all day!
          Bournemouth is beautful, a real English seaside resort, I think the programe was called coast to coast. MAnd thank you Nia 🙂

    • The squash was ok, I just had to cut a few bits off. Its a shame that it didn’t last as long as I hoped. Anyway I made 2 friends very happy by sharing it out 🙂

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