Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 12:01 am
How not to cut a squash
The following week a tall stack of boxes of NuWave products showed up at my front door. Like an anxious kid on Christmas morning, I opened up a NuWave Mosaic Precision Induction Wok, a NuWave Brio Air Fryer, a NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop and a NuWave Duration Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Set. Cathy wanted me to be able to work with the products before the film shoot and everything was mine to keep. She thought they would be useful on my bus. I eyed all the boxes scattered around my living room and was skeptical; my storage space on my bus is very limited and it already has a propane oven and three-burner cooktop.
Bertha Bus does not have air conditioning, so using the stove in hot weather can run the inside air temperature to more than 100 degrees. I quickly discovered that induction cooktops hardly give off any heat. As long as I had access to electricity, the NuWave products could potentially improve the quality of life on the bus.
Kenosha’s Peacetree Music Festival is a family-friendly event that takes place in August in a city park on the Lake Michigan lakefront, so we decided to bring the grandkids along. Cathy had made arrangements for us to park the bus inside the festival grounds. I arrived early and was met by a six-member film production crew. The first couple hours were spent lining up the camera angles and testing recording levels. Crowd noise from the outside kept showing up on the playback audio so we had to close all the windows. It was in the high 80s already, so I worried how hot it would get when I started cooking. Because of the noise, we couldn’t use any fans.
By lunchtime we had only completed filming the introduction and testimonials. They especially liked my endorsement of their NuWave Mosaic Precision Induction Wok, so it was decided that for the afternoon’s filming I would demonstrate making a Thai curry.
While the production crew was at lunch, my sous chef Ann and I began prepping vegetables for the curry. Escaping the midday heat inside Bertha Bus, Ann set up a table outside under a shade tree and began cutting up a kabocha squash with my freshly sharpened chef’s knife. Kabocha, like acorn and butternut squash, is an extremely hard-skinned winter squash. Just as she was attempting to break through the tough skin, her granddaughters ran up to ask for money to buy treats from the vendors. As she turned to respond, the knife slipped and cut totally through her thumbnail. The festival’s paramedic was summoned and he suggested she go to the E.R. Realizing that I couldn’t watch her grandkids while filming the cooking demo, she opted to remain at the festival and control the bleeding with Band-Aids and the exam gloves I had the foresight to bring along from my dental office.
The filming of the cooking demonstration went smoothly, and to finish up, the production crew rounded up some of the festival goers, had them sign releases, and then filmed me handing them bowls of curry out the window of the bus. They then filmed the recruits enjoying my curry at the picnic table outside the bus. When a father and his little boy came up for their filming, I was concerned, because I had the spiciness of the curry ratcheted up fairly high. Off camera, the little boy was told to taste the curry and smile in approval. Like a trooper, he took a big spoonful, smiled and gave thumbs up. As soon as he was off camera, he spit out the curry and screamed that his mouth was on fire!
At a recent visit to the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, I asked squash farmer Mac Condill for his advice on safely cutting up hard squash. He told me that if the squash is to be used as a puree, simply roast it whole; the skin will soften. If you want raw cubes to cook in a stew, he recommends spreading newspapers, raising the squash up over your head and hurling it to the floor.
THAI SQUASH CURRY
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped ginger (from about a 1-1/2-inch piece; use the side of a spoon to remove the peel)
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 medium kabocha or butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds) peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
Heat the coconut oil in a wok over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent but not browned. Add the peppers, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry another minute.
Push the vegetables away from the middle of the wok and add the curry paste and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, soy sauce and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.
Add the squash and continue to simmer until the squash is slightly firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and add salt as needed.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.