It’s Officially Fall ~ I am nesting

It was a gorgeous day here in a suburb of South Seattle. Blue skies, warm sun, just a faint hint of Fall – a kind of Indian summer quality to the air that cooled as darkness quietly fell. I know it is Fall because suddenly I am nesting. This means my interest in cooking has returned, but it has taken an odd turn. Healthy. I am cooking vegetables – and not just my usual artichokes, but acorn squash. Acorn Squash! I am not a squash affectionado – yep, I like pumpkin, but in pies or the seeds toasted – none of that pumpkin soup our foodies love so much here in the environs of cool chefs and twiggy, leafy stuff. Someone gave me the acorn squash, but that doesn’t account for buying a bunch of Southern greens, defrosting some bacon in preparation for cooking it tomorrow. The friend who gave me the squash said blithely, “Oh, just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, put it in a microwave dish, fill the center with more butter than a human being should imagine, add some brown sugar and cook it for 20 minutes.” Hmmm.

Well, that sounded easy enough, but I couldn’t leave it alone. I looked up recipes, read about acorn and varieties of squash, and after all that, did what my friend said, but adapted the others into it. Cut the sucker in half – anybody who has cut squash knows exactly why I called it the sucker – this is not cantaloupe you’re cutting – holy God! I watched my super expensive knife balk at piercing the skin. I finally upended the blade and then sort of glided it in and out – hoping I wouldn’t lop my wrist off while I was at it. Later, I read the cautionary words of advice in Joy of Cooking… wisdom prevailed even in ignorance – that was a killer knife I was using.

I ended up using only one half of the acorn squash because I thought to try it both ways – via microwave and the oven, but got distracted by the seeds and the idea of roasting them, which I am in the process of doing at 250 degrees for 1.5 hours or so…. I put one half in a dish cut side down, added some water, covered it with Press N Seal (my favorite), leaving a side open for breathing. Cooked it five minutes on high; then another 7 minutes. Took it out, peeled back the cover, carefully lifted out the squash and tested it with the aforementioned knife – that’s more like it! Cut some groves into the center, cut a half a stick of butter and put it into the center, packed it with brown sugar, back in the microwave for six minutes. It’s beeping as I type.

Tonight’s dinner is artichokes boiled in water, olive oil, lemon juice and rinds. (For the first time in my life, I used the kitchen shears, a Christmas gift from the friend who also gave me my super knives, and trimmed the leaves – a pretension I have always resisted. Surprisingly relaxing, like doing ironing.) The artichokes will be accompanied by the acorn squash, which is supposed to be mashed up and served, but it’s so soft, I might just slice it – you can always mash later, not so?. I was going to add corn on the cob, but my system is beginning to rebel. Where’s the beef? Where’s starch? Where’s the substance here? I’m adding in Artisan’s crusty French bread with more butter. Toasting the night with a mini martini of Stoli. Either way, it’s going to be good.

(Images from Acorn Squash Recipe and Artichokes Recipe – Allrecipes.com)

(Image from Disney’s Family.go.com)

(Image from Stoli – strangly, no minis… :))

Update: Ladies and Gentlemen: Squash verdict: we have a convert. It was fantastic and would have been really good with some baked pie crust. Two of the four artichokes with melted hot butter down; four slices of that Artisan bread with butter – oh, and the trimmed leaves were a lovely touch – hah! pun. Half a large bowl of squash with more for tomorrow. The roasted seeds turned out great! Nice flavor! Do not, repeat do not put them in with the squash – they turn moist – had to take ’em all out, but I’ve still got a small container full of tasty, crunchy seeds. The ice cold Stoli was good, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

12 thoughts on “It’s Officially Fall ~ I am nesting

  1. I have never actually eaten acorn squash. Or I might have and it’s called gem squashes here ๐Ÿ˜‰
    But I can safely say, no artichoke anything has ever crossed my lips.
    Then again, I don’t cook, so I suppose that’s why ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Glad you enjoyed P!

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    • Oh my, you have missed out on the artichokes! They are actually kind of bland – it’s the sauces you dip ’em in whether butter, mayonnaise, aioli (garlic mayonnaise) – you tear off a leaf at a time, dip, scrape the “meat” off with your front teeth – the prize being getting to the end of the leaves and to the heart of the artichoke, a nice chunk of “meat.”

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  2. I love acorn squash! I make it like grandma: just wash squash, place largest, heaviest knife along groove in skin and smack with bottom of a pickle jar, honest! Grandma was lethal in the kitch. Once it is attached to the knife, you just work the blade through. then scoop out the seeds and cook cut side down in microwave or pressure cooker. We weren’t a butter & brown sugar family, they were usually just served in the shell, plain with salt.

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  3. Hunt, I will have the Stoli’s with you and I will search out the beef. I am so much a redneck when it comes to eating. Meat and potatoes, or Potatoes and meat .That really sums up my true eating choices. Oh, I forgot shrimp and lobster, and fried chicken. But since my heart surgery and because of my wife, I have branched out significantly. I do eat and enjoy squash, broccoli, asparagus, and a variety of combinations, so all isnโ€™t lost. I am sure your meal was great for you, and great tasting to you. And I know you really enjoyed, you could almost see the spill over on the post. Take care, Bill

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    • Bill, 90% of me is with you on meat and potatoes. Give me that any day of the week and I am very happy. Thankfully, I have friends with much broader, foodie tastes and, as a rule, all are superb cooks. Ah! You’ve reminded me of how I came to make the vow to at least taste something once, which might make a fun post. Stay tuned!

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      • Hunt, LMFAO, If I don’t like it I don’t eat it, If I suspect I won’t like it, I won’t eat it, If I going out to dinner, I never experiment, I am paying for the right to enjoy a meal, so I always order something I know I will enjoy. I suspect my attitude makes me a redneck, but I don’t mind. I have eaten a lot of things in lhe last few years in an effort to live longer, many of those things I have learned to enjoy. But if my wife works late I eat the way I want. Do you like Nickelback? just curiouos, Lullaby was playing as I typed this, and it made me think of you. Take care, Bill

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        • It’s a Nickelback night, the song “Kiss it Goodbye” is playing and it has this line in it … “it’s tough to see thru bullshit when it’s up above eyes,” when we exchange posts regarding politic’s that line comes to mind all the time. — Take care, BIll

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        • Now. y’see there, Bill… about our exchange re politics and it being tough to see thru the bullshit – people will think we disagree. Except re attorneys, we seem to land on the same tarmac. ๐Ÿ™‚

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