GOURDS GALORE We all have our own sense of style when it comes to what is displayed and adorned in our homes. But everyone can appreciate the naturally eclectic splendor of all shapes, sizes and colors of gourds. If you’re having a hard time deciding how to set your festive tone, try one of these ideas on for size:
From seed to style to supper, learn how to make the most of these fleshy fruits.
WHAT’S FOR SUPPER
GO FOR THE
TIME FOR THE HARVEST The best way to determine whether or not a gourd is ready for harvest is the look and feel of the vine and skin. While the skin of the gourd will appear pale and hard, the vine will begin to die back. Use these simple steps when gathering your gourds:
Centerpieces. Use your colorful array of gourds to add some gusto to your fall table. For added oomph, set gourds on decorative cake plates or bowls. Vases. Stack one or two (or five) gourds in a translucent vase. Look around your house. Chances are, you already own the perfect vase. Crafts. There are so many ways to craft a gourd; we wouldn’t be able to scratch the surface. Whether it’s painted, printed or punctured, a pumpkin (and other types of gourds) can become so much more than a jack-o-lantern! Candles. Cut off the top and hollow out your gourd in order to create a cheerful holder for your candles. Pots. Pick out a plump gourd and set it on top of a beautiful pot you already own. Set several potted gourds together in an entryway for added brilliance.
Although not all gourds are edible (or tasty), those that are have amazing nutritional value. For instance, potassium, folate, lutein and vitamin A are just a few more reasons you can smile while enjoying some zucchini this fall.
SPICY ZUCCHINI FRITTATA
PUMPKIN SEED SNACK
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced and deseeded
Waste not, want not, right? We all love to paint, carve and doodle on the outside of beautiful, plump pumpkins, but don’t forget the innards! Enjoy a salty, crispy snack by roasting the pumpkin seeds.
Small red onion, thinly sliced
Clean the seeds by rinsing them thoroughly.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Boil the seeds in salt water for about 10 minutes.
Cilantro or parsley for garnish
Use a colander to drain the seeds and pat them dry with a paper towel.
8 large eggs 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
1. Make a clean cut. Don’t pull or twist the vine off. Instead, use a knife or pruning shears to cut the vine, leaving at least two inches of stem intact.
First things first, heat up the broiler. Meanwhile, in a medium ovenproof skillet (cast-iron works best), heat olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion and jalapeno. Continue stirring for about five minutes until the veggies are tender. Add zucchini and corn and cook until tender, approximately five more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Get the grime. Gently remove dirt by cleaning the gourd with a mild, soapy detergent. 3. Rub it down. Wipe the gourd with a diluted bleach solution or other household disinfectant.
Whisk eggs in a bowl (add a little salt) and pour into skillet with vegetables. Cook for about two to three minutes until the egg is set on the sides. Carefully move the skillet to the oven and broil for two to three minutes until the dish is set in the middle and lightly puffed and golden. Serve slices with garnish, like cilantro or parsley
5. Seal it up. Once the gourds are completely dry, protect and seal them with a paste wax or shellac. 12
4. Dry it off. Place the gourd on top of newspaper or cardboard in a space with good ventilation to help them dry. Make sure gourds do not touch. For several weeks, replace any wet newspaper or cardboard and rotate the gourds. Once the gourds are noticeably lighter and you are able to hear the seeds rattling when picked up (usually four to six weeks later), they are most likely done drying.
Thinly spread the seeds onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil. Roast the seeds at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Once you’ve taken them out and shuffled them around, roast them for another 10 minutes. Eat up the crunchy goodness! Tip: After they have cooled off, taste-test a few seeds in the middle of baking. You want the inside to be golden but not brown.
Did you know Alabama has its own gourd festival? The 2013 Alabama Gourd Show will be held October 19 and 20 at the Cullman Civic Center. This family-friendly event has gourd exhibitions, artists, gifts and boasts nearly 20 different classes centered on the crafting of gourds. Want more info? Visit alabamagourdsociety.org.
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