Yesterday I decided I had time to cook up my squash. I always cook in large batches and I could fit about half the squash I had on hand in the oven. I cooked up the two Magdalenas that I grew and one sugar pumpkin and one butternut. I choose the last two because they were starting to rot already and had to be used. The squash just isn't keeping well this year. Usually I would wait until I had used this batch up before cooking more, but this year I think I'll get it all done within the next couple of days. The freezer is a safer place for it.
Cooking squash is one of my least favorite chores. I hate having to cut through their tough skins and worst of all I hate squash guts. They are slimy and gross and don't like to separate from the flesh. Ick. I think it ranks up there with squishing slugs in the garden.
Pumpkins are always the worst. They have the thickest skins and are terrible to cut. I'm always afraid of losing a finger or putting a permenant cut in my counter. I gladly gave up making Jack-o-lanterns when the kids moved out. I know Halloween is supposed to be scary, but I'm happy to let go of this scary chore.
I breathed a sigh of relief when they were all chopped up and gutted. I put them in their roasting pans face down and poured in some water. I cooked them up at 375F for an hour. This is a long time. Last year I froze my squash in cubes and did the traditional 350 for 45 minutes. Cooking it longer gives it a nice flavor and if the rind starts to brown up, it becomes really easy to peel. If I were making it in cubes it would be over cooked and wouldn't hold its shape, but for puree, it was perfect.
I mixed all the squash varieties together in the puree. I like mixed squash. I find pumpkin to not be very good alone, but mixed with others it adds to the flavor. Butternuts are really, really sweet, but can be a bit overwhelming. My Magdalenas were more mild and not sweet at all. They do have the butternut flavor, but it isn't so overpowering. Mixed together they made a great puree - about 9 cups total. I'll be using it in pumpkin cake, pumpkin pie and casseroles.
I've thought about the cooking up the seeds for many years. I've never done it before. They always seemed a bit inedible to me. But I figured their time had come. I hope they are worth the effort because after separating them from the slime and drying them out they were a lot of work so far. Does anyone have a favorite squash seed recipe? I figure I ought to make one that is sweet and one that is savory. Or maybe I should just salt them? What do you do with your pumpkin seeds?