Last week a friend and I, while on a long bus ride, visited the topic of decorative gourds–a common sight this time of year.
Somehow we ventured into whether it is possible and/or prudent to cook and eat them. Were they cook-able? Were they edible? What do they look like inside? What do they taste like? We didn’t have a clue. We even asked another friend close-by what she knew–not more than we. Bouncing along side by side sharing a school bus seat, we sat in gourd ignorance…competent, middle-aged Minnesotan women who grew up with gourds every fall but never knew them more intimately than their lovely decorative features. It was sad, but not without hope.
On my way home from our bus ride, I stopped at the local veggie stand and bought a couple (see pic above). I had to make sure I didn’t buy look-alikes like the miniature pumpkins or one of the varieties of miniature squash. Around to the back of the stand I found them, good ole gourds.
Tonight the house is empty, just me and the pets, so I determined this was my moment, my glorious gourd unveiling moment. I grabbed our brand new super sharp knife and cutting board (bought just this past summer from a friend selling knives)
and set to cut them in half, like I prepare squash. To my chagrin, I could barely get the knife point in the beast much less cut it in two. The shell was rock hard, carving a pumpkin is infinitely easier. I wasn’t going to let it totally win, though, so with a significant amount of effort, I beheaded it. Bwahahahaha!!
After exercising a similar fate on its yellow fellowmate, I topped a foil laden pan with my prizes and let my 350 degree oven take over.
I set the time for 60 minutes, grateful that in an hour’s time I’d know answers to decorative gourd mysteries…
What was I going to do for an hour, though? Upon exiting the house, Rich (my husband) had commented that I wreaked of a bonfire (we burned today). So I figured a quiet, cleansing, contemplative bath would help ease his pain. I drew the water, turned off the light, lit a candle and entered a long soaker.
Well along into the watery luxury terror struck! My pruned fingers grabbed the edge of the tub while thoughts raced through my head: “What if I was supposed to poke those gourds?! What if they’re like potatoes and explode all over the oven if they don’t get poked, if there is no place for steam to escape?!” My contemplative soaker was turning on me. All I could imagine was gourd plastered all over the inside of my oven!
I sat for a moment while waves of horror passed through me. Then my brain began show up and usher in some logic to the situation: What should I do? Should I extricate myself from the tub and run dripping to the oven with a sharp knife, do the deed (a sort of reversal of Psycho’s shower scene), and then drip back to the tub? Should I cut short the bath and let the gourd win? Should I stay submerged and let the chips fall where they may (for all I knew the gourds had already burst, it was too late)? Then I had a Spirit inspired thought: “Hey, maybe I should ask God what to do.” So, I prayed and think I heard Him whisper to my spirit “I am God of the gourd”, which I interpreted as Him saying “I’ve got you covered. Stay put and pray.” Well, sounded good to me although it required a leap of faith that no matter the condition of the gourds or my oven at the end of the hour that it was as God would have it. So, stay and pray I did. It was a lovely time–connecting with God is like that.
After a time, the phone rang, disturbing my soaking silence. Too many “what if that is ‘so and so’?” ran through my head. I let it ring through to voicemail and heard the signal that a message had been left. So, out of the bath I arose and into pj’s I poured. The timing was perfect as by the time I got to the kitchen only 6 minutes remained of the arbitrarily chosen 60 minutes. (The phone call was St Olaf for Emily…I worried needlessly, which seems to be a theme in my life!)
Fresh and clean I edged toward the oven with trepidation. “What ifs?” ran through me. A night of scouring the oven flashed before my eyes. I wondered if the cooked squash scent tickling my nose was just a cruel teaser–that I’d not taste gourd this night, just know it in baked-on form. I knew there was only one way to find out, so I boldly opened the oven door while recalling the divine “I am God of the gourd.” declaration.
Sorry for the dark pic, but as you can see, they are intact. No explosion happened (insert Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus here)!
I cut them open pretty easily (for the skin must soften during cooking) and here is what a decorative gourd looks like on the inside:
I scooped out the seeds and went for a taste. Not too alarming…these gourds tasted very much like squash. My lucky night as I love squash, especially with butter and brown sugar topping. Filled those buggers with the duo and popped them back into the oven for a few minutes of melting. Out they came, looking quite scrumptious, if I do say so myself (note the decorative touch at the top of the plate…they ARE decorative gourds, afterall).
Although I ingested more butter and sugar than gourd (these gourds didn’t have much flesh for feasting), I found the treat quite tasty.
Now, back to whether I should have poked them or if they were ok without, I do not know. I know next time (will there be a next time??!!) I’ll definitely try to stab them before visiting the oven. I wonder, though, did the God of the gourd intervene on my behalf and spare me oven scouring? Did He preserve these darlings so I could taste His creation, so I could know just a smidgen more about what He has provided for humankind? I don’t know and I may never know…but I am grateful He cared enough to come and calm my fears so I could keep on soaking and praying…