Cumin Roasted Delicata Squash

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Expectations are *%$#ers. 

Though I love the holidays, it's a constant discipline to accept what is instead of compare things to how they could be. And I even have a loving marriage, astoundingly fantastic children, and a roof over my head. November and December can wreak havoc on any of us who are grieving, remembering, tired, or longing. Yancey talks about how their call volume at the fire station goes way up during December. Lots of panic attacks and worse. 

For some, the panic is about feeling stuck and choiceless. For others (me and lots in my middle class set), it's about having too much choice. Maybe you planned the basics for Thanksgiving, but then your cooking magazine came in the mail and they are insisting that you break tradition. You've started making a new shopping list and having your own mini panic attack. 

Or you had planned to stay home the day after Thanksgiving, do a few chores, maybe play some games with your kids, snuggle with your cats, or take your dog for a walk. Or maybe you have to work. But now you see that your Facebook friend with the perfect life is planning the ultimate Christmas kickoff day in downtown Seattle and for some reason, you're now feeling bad about yourself.

Joanna Macy says all of us have "tics,"  almost neurological default places we go under stress or uncertainty. She says her tic is anxiety, and she's learned that she will always deal with it in some form. Her antidote is to acknowledge it. That's it. To welcome it. There's no way we can let it go until we've acknowledged it's there! 

The poetry is coming fast and furious lately. I'll leave you with the advice I give myself.

Plus a recipe that was DELICIOUS. And this:

I'll be blogging every day for Advent like I did last year. November 30-December 25. Little moments, recipes, photos, signposts reminding us of the incredible "Yes!" of this season. I hope you join me.

Headwaters

Some days, all that's left
is to take myself aside,
find a quiet place,
and say,

"Dear, you are in pain.
You like to control things,
and you know how silly that is.
Lie down, light a candle,
laugh at yourself,
quit trying to fix, arrange, plan, sort."

Then, like headwaters
in the middle of luscious nowhere,
the ancient power will appear--
cold, clear, unstoppable,
unexplainable. 

Cumin Roasted Delicata Squash and Carrots with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
One of the things that makes the holidays SACRED for me (instead of commercial, rushed, or guilt-ridden) is my connection to church, to my faith community. When I enter that space with those people, something in me slows down and remembers where I came from.  We had a Thanksgiving potluck after church on Sunday. I didn't remember until I woke up, so I scrounged up and found some forgotten squash in my pantry bin. Yay for the pantry! I wanted to eat this whole platter. Delicata is so delicious and tender, and my favorite thing is they don't need to be peeled. 

2 good-sized or 3 small delicata squash, washed
2 bunches small rainbow carrots or 1 bunch big carrots, cut into sticks
olive oil
coarse salt
2 tsp. cumin
handful chopped parsley
handful pumpkin seeds 

For dressing:
coarse salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 Tb. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
1 Tb. pomegranate molasses 

Preheat oven to 425.

Cut each delicata in half, then scoop out the seeds and pulp. Slice squash into 1/2" rings. Toss squash with carrots, olive oil (quite a bit), salt, pepper, and cumin. Spread out on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Don't squish it all onto one or it will steam and not roast. Switch the sheets halfway through baking time to make sure they cook evenly. Roast for about 20 minutes until browned and soft (but not mushy).

For dressing, whisk, pepper, cumin, and vinegar until salt dissolves. Then add olive oil and pomegranate molasses, whisking until emulsified, adding more of anything to taste/consistency.

Arrange roasted vegetables on a platter (Much prettier than a bowl. My favorite trick.) and gently toss with dressings. Scatter parsley and pumpkin seeds over the top. Serve room temperature.

Roasted Squash, Mark Driscoll, and other Collapsing Things

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My friend Tracy just left for a trip to China. I was trying to reassure her that the to-do list would get done and that her son would be just fine without her. As we parted, she called out, "The world is a scary place!" Tracy is one of the least fearful people I know, but she's right. The world is a scary place, and my little life in Bellingham doesn't know the half of it--ebola, extremists, refugee camps, dictators, drought. But you don't even have to go that far to run into grief, loss, depression, loneliness, poverty, longing and disappointment of every kind. If I pay attention, it's enough to get me asking every morning, "How then shall we live?"

Some of you know that I grew up in a big, Evangelical church, so the news about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church has me really thinking about leadership, about religion, and how the two of those things can get so #$%ed up when they intertwine--how many people get hurt when what's supposed to be a message of love becomes one of shame, subservience, and sin. 

It's tempting to villainze people like Mark Driscoll, but a client reminded me this week that what we permit, we promote. It's our own longing for certainty and belonging that allows leaders like Driscoll! It's our own drive to codify, categorize, and enshrine that lets us idolize institutions or people that will fail us. In the end, we've got to have something more bedrock than church, than work, even than family and our relationships with one another. It's that darn Saint Catherine of Genoa again, running through the streets and proclaiming, "My deepest me is God!" If we dig down and find love of power, success, or fame, workaholism or violence, we haven't descended far enough. Because if we go to that deepest place, there is nothing to fear.

I'm now one of those food bloggers that's tempted to apologize for not writing about food, but here's another poem instead. And if you can stay hooked for a minute, there's a little bit about roasting squash down there, too.

On the Resignation of a Public Figure

I believe what they say,
what every news outlet almost gleefully reports--
he lied, cheated, abused his power, 
betrayed thousands of people.

I picture him, at home with his family,
avoiding the liquor cabinet (or not),
sneaking out to his car,
driving for hours to get away from himself.

I imagine running into him
at the grocery store, both of us
doing late night milk-runs.
If I got in his way, maybe he'd look up.

Then I could say,
"There is enough. You are enough.
If there is mercy for me, there is
mercy for you.
We're all dipping into the same bucket,
and it never runs out." 

P.S. I had collected quite an assortment of squash from my CSA deliveries--delicata, acorn, butternut. I know from experience that a huge, hard squash sitting there probably won't get thrown last-minute into dinner. So I halved everything, rubbed the cut sides with olive oil, and spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baked until everything was falling apart--about an hour. After they cooled, I scooped the flesh into a tupperware and stuck it in the fridge. Tomorrow, I'll use it to make squash soup with coconut milk and red curry. But you can just keep it in there, smashing it into quesadillas, tossing it with hot pasta, cream, and parmesan, throwing some in your morning smoothie, dropping dollops onto pizza. Autumn at its best!

Broiled Eggs with Kale and Roasted Kabocha

kabocha and eggs

The Pacific Northwest just finished up over 80 days without rain. Until last week, people were sitting on their decks with cocktails. At Wyatt's soccer game 2 Saturdays ago, I took my shoes and socks off and pretended I was on the beach. 

Now, rivers of rain out my window, there's no mistaking the arrival of Fall. I think Puget Sounders are a little relieved. So much sun was too good to be true. Now we can go back to taking our Vitamin D, feeling sorry for ourselves, and coming up with every conceivable use for pumpkins.

I got the most beautiful Kabocha (or Japanese Pumpkin)  squash at Joe's Garden before it closed for the season. I peeled and thinly sliced it, drizzled it with olive oil and salt, and roasted the slices at 425 until they were tender, about 12 minutes. I then used it for a million things, including a galette and these eggs. 

And that's what I recommend for those inhospitable squash, sitting in your pantry or on your porch and staring you down. If you roast it up (there's a good method here) and put it in the fridge, all of the sudden it will be in your eggs, squished between bread with cheese and grilled, or tossed into pasta. 

Broiled Eggs with Kale and Roasted Kabocha
Serves 2. Turn broiler on. Saute several handfuls of washed and chopped kale in an ovenproof skillet with olive oil and a little garlic and salt. Cook until halfway wilted. Add a handful of your roasted squash and a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of grated lemon zest. Stir. Crack 4 eggs over the top of the kale and squash mixture, and top with feta, sharp cheddar, or other cheese. Add some chopped fresh herbs if you want (parlsey, rosemary, thyme, cilantro.) Cook until eggs are set a bit, then transfer to to the broiler. Broil until everything is bubbling and eggs are cooked to your liking.  Cut around eggs with a small spatula and serve, or just eat right out of the pan by yourself or with your friend or sweetie.  

Summer Salad Series: Grilled Squash with Preserved Lemon

Roasted squash

At the end of a busy week, all I feel is blessed. I feel a list coming on. Thank you, Loving One, for:

  • Rich, Mary, Oscar, Milo, and Sebastian being with us for the week and our precious friendship that's endured a move
  • Liz and her amazing Lego Camp and how much delight it brought Wyatt, Oscar, and Milo every day
  • Walking with my aunts and cousins in the Relay for Life and remembering my uncle's battle with cancer
  • My new meditation pillow and the (surprising) discipline with which I've been using it
  • Falling asleep in the sun
  • Privileged time with clients doing good work
  • Pandora summer stations
  • My cousin Josh and his girlfrend Jamie coming up from Seattle to see us
  • Volunteering in the Roosevelt Elementary garden and harvesting golden beets, kale, snow peas, lettuce, and broccoli
  • Walking with my family and Bellingham First Congregational in the Pride Parade this afternoon. When our pastors walked in front with their robes and stoles on, I cried. Indeed, God loves everyone.

And a little meandering at the Bellingham Farmers Market where I bought a couple pounds of the World's Most Beautiful Summer Squash. Smooth, bright yellow, thin-skinned, firm, small. Just completely perfect.

We slathered grilled bread with pesto, laid some thick slices of French feta, then piled this salad on top of that. That was dinner, and there were groans of delight all around the table.

To make: Cut several small summer squash lengthwise into 1/4" thick strips. Grill with olive oil and a bit of salt. Toss the grilled squash with a few tablespoons of smashed preserved lemon (pulp, peel, and juices), olive oil, pepper, and lots of parsley leaves.

Perfect Roasted Squash

Barely keeping my eyes open to write this. Really--how pathetic! Surely a report on roasted squash can wait.

But today was one of those days just begging to be recounted. Me and the kids met Bethany, Chris, and family up at Gordon's Pumpkins, we stopped at the fire station to visit Yancey on the way home, had the world's most perfect apple, then had dinner with Emily and Ricky, where I used the squash for our pizza. All day long, I was under the October sun, aware there won't be many more days like this for awhile, and just feeling in my skin. 

Blue Hubbards

I wrote about Gordon's last year and it's easy to be even more superlative this year. What a riot of color! Drowning in pumpkins, gourds, squashes of every imaginable shape and persuasion, kids hauling back giant jack-o-lanterns from the field, everyone awash in harvest and abundance. I'm glad things grow from the earth, that farmers tend them, and they end up in my arms. Gift after gift.
Loretta at Gordon's

bethany and sarah
And if you come home with too many squash for your own good, you should store them in a cool, dry place (like a covered porch) and try cooking them this way. You can keep the roasted squash in the fridge and pull it out for pizza, pasta, soups, burritos, or panini. Tonight, I scattered the chunks over pizza dough with sauteed kale, chevre, fresh mozarella, and fresh thyme.

Perfect Roasted Squash
This method ensures the squash stays just moist enough while it's roasting. Keeping it covered the whole time would render it too mushy, and keeping it uncovered might dry it out. Preheat oven to 425. Cut up a medium butternut squash (or something equivalent). Toss it with a couple glugs of good olive oil, coarse salt, pepper, and some fresh thyme if you have it. Spread it out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover the sheet with foil, and bake for 12 minutes. Remove foil and roast for 12-15 minutes more until squash is tender.

Galette with Roasted Squash, Kale, and Ricotta

squash-galette

How's that for a mouthful?

Here's the story: I had a tub of whole milk ricotta in the fridge that was about to expire. I bought some beautiful little zucchinis at the farmer's market last week with no purpose in mind. And here's the real story--we are SWIMMING in kale around here, and I can't use it up fast enough. I send Wyatt out to the garden to cut it, he comes in with big armloads, and I have to figure out what to do with it. I wish I knew someone I could call for ideas. Maybe someone who constantly thought about food.

kale

roasting squash

And I have a friend whose son was just in the hospital and wanted to drop by some food. I often bring a galette in such situations for these reasons:


  1. It will keep beautifully sitting on the counter for a couple days.
  2. I have a stack of flat pizza boxes in my basement just for this purpose. Slip the galette in there on a piece of parchment paper, fold the box up around it, and it's as indestructible as portable food gets.
  3. There probably won't be 10 other galette deliveries to the recovering household (though there is nothing wrong with eating spaghetti all week).
  4. Savory ones are good at any meal. Fruit galettes are great for breakfast or dessert.
  5. They make me look like a better cook than I really am.
  6. It's just as easy to make two. If I'm trying to gain entrance to heaven, I give them both away . If I'm more sane, I keep one for us.

Wyatt has been such a great helper and companion lately--cutting kale, watering the garden, getting snacks for Loretta, making up games for her while I clean the kitchen. During Loretta's nap the other day, Wyatt and I lounged around on my bed, talking. It was one of those moments when I didn't want to budge. He was letting me play with his hair and rub his back, and we were talking about the fish he planned on catching at Ross Lake. Somehow, I would up asking him if there was anything he was worried about. He put a pillow over his face, growled, and said, "Mom! Can we puh-lease not have this conversation?" End of Precious Moment. I went too far. Someday, he'll be in therapy, saying, "My Mom. Wow. Where do I start? She always wanted to talk about everything. And what I remember most about my childhood is grocery shopping. Always the grocery shopping."

my boy

Galette with Roasted Squash, Kale, and Ricotta
This makes two crusts and two fillings. You can, of course, halve it. You could also leave the kale out of the ricotta filling, sub sauteed spinach or chard for the kale, and use other roasted veggies on top--roasted tomatoes (YUM!) or garlic, roasted peppers. Just stay away from dumping a bunch of raw veggies on top, which make the situation very watery.

For dough:
2 c. flour
pinch salt
1/2 c. cornmeal
14 Tb. cold unsalted butter
2/3 c. ice water
6 Tb. sour cream


Pulse  flour and cornmeal together in the bowl of a food processor.  Drop butter in and pulse until butter is in pea-sized lumps. Stir ice water and sour cream together in a small bowl, then drizzle over flour mixture.  Pulse again about 8 times just until mixture holds together–you don’t want to pulse it so much that it forms itself into a ball.

Gather dough together and form into a ball.  Put ball on a piece of plastic wrap, loosely gather plastic wrap around it and twist, then press dough into a disc. Repeat with second half of dough. Refrigerate for one hour before rolling out.  Roll out on a floured surface till dough is about 1/8″ thick.  Fold into quarters and transfer to baking sheet.  Unfold and fill.

For roasted veggies:
Heat oven to 425.Take three or four small zucchini or summer squash and slice them into 1/2" thick rounds. Cut a medium yellow or red onion into coarse chunks, and toss the squash and onions with a big glug of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread mixture out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, and roast for 25-30 minutes, until veggies are soft and getting charred in places. Stir once or twice. Remove from oven and cool.


For ricotta mixture:
Saute down a BUNCH of chopped kale with olive oil and salt. At least two bunches if you've bought it at the store, and as much as your pan will hold if you're picking it. I start with a big ol' wok-full, then fill it up again when the first addition shrinks. Cook for about 10 minutes. Let it sit for a bit, and the water will pool up underneath it. Leave the water in the pan, and put the cooked kale in a medium bowl. Add one 15 oz. tub of whole milk ricotta, 1 egg, grated zest from one lemon, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.


To assemble:
Get your crust onto the pan you'll be baking it on. Spread half ricotta mixture on crust, leaving about a 1" border. Scatter half of roasted veggie mixture over ricotta, then finely grate a bit of parmesan over the top. Fold crust in, pleating as you go. This is where "rustic" really comes in. It will look beautiful no matter what. Brush the crush with an egg wash--one egg, lightly beaten with a tsp. of water. Dip a pastry brush in, and lightly brush the crust.


Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling a bit. Let cool for several minutes before slicing. Is great at room temp the next day, too. I never refrigerate them.