The first time I really encountered a Butternut Squash was in a fresh fruit and veg box. It was completely alien to me. Let me explain.
My parents were chips, gammon and beans type people when I was growing up, so the most exotic thing on our table was spaghetti bolognese. The food I began to cook and eat later in my life was more of the – everything that smells good, new spices, bold flavours and colours. I explored new flavours in restaurants, eating butternut squash ravioli, goat cheese and butternut squash salads I had tried it now but never picked one up for myself or tried to prepare one.
When I finally got my own one, I had no idea what to do with it. I had to search the internet to find out how to peel it, what was the best way? I carefully followed all the instructions. I even cut my thumb.
I scooped all the seeds out, and after I had done all that I still had no idea what I was going to do with it!!
When you search for butternut squash the second search term is soup. So the first thing I ever made with a butternut squash was a soup. It was a cold day, as most autumn winter days are, and I had a huge sense of satisfaction having a big beautiful pot of creamy, filling and healthy soup on the table when every sat down. I served it with a crusty loaf, something that has taken me years to get right.
Since then I have been a little more adventurous and my very tasty latest recipe was Barley and Butternut Squash Risotto! Super simple but still has all the wonderful flavours of my first butternut squash.
Food for me is a journey. My Partner is Vietnamese, but born in Holland so we have massive Asian influences in our food but a strong bond with things like Frikendellen, Erwtensoep and good cheese. The fresh and fried spring roll, the meals his parents make are packed with flavour and is something he has grown up with. To the other side of my family who are Scottish and enjoy a Rollie, Softie, haggis and Cullen Skink – and yet I’d never, ever used a butternut squash! I have always lived, for as long as I can remember in Birmingham or Wolverhampton, well known for their amazing Indian cuisine. I became familiar with the bite of a vegetable samosa being sold at lunch time in school, the creaminess of a korma on a weekend as a treat and the delicate and warming spices coating a masala fish. My home often being filled with the smell of the women cooking for their families on a weekend and the loud celebrations of new family members being welcomed and Indian sweets being given out in local shops.
Since I have had my own house, my own money and I think the freedom to experiment in the kitchen, make a mess, burn things, taste as you go and eventually get it right, I have tried to cook new things all the time. From Caribbean Chicken, mixed spices and oxtail flavourings to Mexican with refried beans and sweetcorn fritters, to the very simple but wonderfully sweet carrot soup and very recently a gorgeous Sweet Potato Curry with Rice (yumymy!). A firm staple of the house is ‘variety mash’, which is basically me putting different herbs and spices in every time we have it and them guessing what is in it! My favourite being cumin or wholegrain mustard for warmth and crunch.
I research new recipes, watch a lot of cooking programmes and then begin to experiment, hopefully getting close to the wonderful flavours that you could experience in that country, it was something as simple and as down to earth as a Butternut Squash and an ounce of curiosity that started the whole thing off for me and it’s something I will long continue.
This blog post is an entry into the Foodies100/GLORIOUS! soup #GloriousAdventures blogger challenge