Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Good Fight

Sometimes I feel like it's me vs. food.

I entered the kitchen last night with the best of intentions - to make a pasta with butternut squash, sage, and pine nuts recipe that caught my eye earlier this week from one of my favorite food web sites, The Kitchn. I had fond memories of a similar recipe that I made last year, although I realize now that my selective memory blocked out the bad stuff.

That is, how freaking hard it is to cut open a butternut squash. This guy was almost a foot long and its, ahem, bulge at the top was five inches wide. The recipe made it sound so easy. Just cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, peel the skin, and chop into 1-inch cubes.

I suppose the real problem here is how dull my knives are, but after wrestling with the squash for about 10 minutes, I thought my hand was going to fall off. (It didn't help that I burned the top of my hand on the oven while mixing up roasting pieces of squash.)

The peeling went a little better, although sliced skin flew every which way.

I felt a bit beaten down as I fried the roasted squash, garlic, and onions together with pasta and sage (I didn't have pine nuts). I had sore triceps, hand cramps, and all. But in the end, I think I came out on top. Although the final result tasted a little dry, the flavor of butternut squash has been one of my favorite food discoveries since I joined a CSA, making last night's battle well worth the fight.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cry, Cry, Cry

While I haven't been very diligent about photographing my meals lately, I used a lot of food from my CSA this week.

On Sunday night my intention was to make the yellow spaghetti squash that had been taunting me from its waiting place on my kitchen table. I had never prepared nor eaten spaghetti squash before, but with Ryan on a business trip and a prior bad experience with the food, I thought it would be a good time to make it and catch up on some trashy tv.

Of course I was too tired to cook on Sunday night, so I vowed to make it on Monday and even found a recipe for pear and radicchio salad to go along with it, since those were two other items from last week's box.

Instead I *prepared* a dish, which is what I used to do all the time before I truly started to cook. I took the last 5 potatoes that didn't make it into the kugel and threw them in a pot of boiling water. Once softened, I mashed with butter and salt and paired with a small salad consisting of the remaining green lettuce and carrots from the CSA.

Then I watched Extreme Home Makeover and cried at the reveal.

Of course I was too tired to cook on Monday night, so after staring down the squash, I vowed to make it on Tuesday and scrambled some eggs with sauteed diced leeks and sliced heirloom tomotoes, both from the CSA. I prefer my tomatoes of the grape variety, but I have to say that these orange-colored orbs were sweet and tasted delicious mixed with the eggs.

Then I watched Gossip Girl and cried when I realized it was a repeat of the season premiere.

Tuesday night was the second presidential debate, and I was determined to make that squash, especially since Ryan was home and game to eat it. I preheated the oven to 375, poked some holes in its gleaming skin, and stuck it in the oven for an hour. While it cooked, I chopped a head of radicchio with pears and tossed with a dressing of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Once the squash was ready, I sliced it open (my knife went through it like butter), scooped out the seeds and gook, and used a fork to gently peel away the strands. I was enthralled with how much it looked like spaghetti! We made a recipe called spaghetti squash with Moroccan spices. I should say that the recipe recommended microwaving the squash, which I find horrific for some reason, but I found that baking it made my kitchen smell really good.

We then cried (with joy) as Obama thumped McCain.

Spaghetti Squash with Moroccan Spices (from

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) spaghetti squash
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Pierce squash (about an inch deep) all over with a small sharp knife to prevent bursting. Cook in an 800-watt microwave oven on high power (100 percent) for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn squash over and microwave until squash feels slightly soft when pressed, 8 to 10 minutes more. Cool squash for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderately high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute.


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