What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Spaghetti squash the easy way!

Oh no, I'm cooking again .....

Gotta admit it. I love spaghetti squash. It's inexpensive to buy, super-easy to grow for yourself, and can be easily prepared several different ways.

First thing you do is choose a squash that is ripe. It should be a uniform yellow. If it is white or greenish-tinged, it's not ripe. If the squash has a lot of brown or black markings, and or the skin is soft enough to be indented by your thumb, it is too ripe and should not be eaten (although the seeds would probably still be good for planting). The one I had was almost too ripe as you can tell from the brown spots on the picture below, but the skin was still hard, so it was OK

Take your ripe squash and rinse it clean. Use a very sharp and long heavy knife to slice it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.

If you want, save the seeds for planting in the spring. After they've dried out, roll them around in your hand to separate them from the pulp, and store them in a cool dry place. The seeds can also be roasted like pumpkin seeds for a snack. If you decide to just throw them away, watch where you toss them. I once found a plant growing in a sorta hidden corner my back yard. Not sure how the seed got there. Stuck to my shoe? Bird grabbed it from the trash can and dropped it? I just let it go, though, and harvested several good squash from it that fall. HA!

Place the cleaned out halves face down in a microwave-safe bowl and add about an inch of water.

Nuke it for about 15 minutes on high. Poke the skin with a fork. If the fork easily penetrates the skin, it is done and ready for the next step. If the fork won't go in, or requires some effort, nuke it for a few more minutes and repeat.

Once it is done, use a fork to scoop out the flesh. It will separate into strands that look very much like fine spaghetti, hence the name. CAUTION: it will be very hot, so be careful handling it.

Once you have all the flesh scraped out and all that is left are very thin skins or rinds, you toss the rinds into the garbage or compost bin.

The flesh can be prepared a couple of ways. You can add spaghetti sauce, or a butter-and-garlic sauce, or just about any way you could fix spaghetti. (I have NOT tried to make mac-and-cheese with it, though. I kinda doubt that it would work very well.) My favorite is butter and garlic, with a little salt and pepper.

Bon appetite! 

The squash can also be prepared on the stove, by boiling the halves for 30 to 40 minutes, or by turning the halves face-down in a roasting pan and baking for about 30-45 minutes at 400*. Check for doneness after about 30 minutes.

I think next summer I'm going to try wrapping the halves in foil and baking them in the coals of a camp fire. Yep. Sounds good!

God bless!

Ron and the Debster

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