Summer squash and rice gratin with salsa verde

June 15, 2012 § 32 Comments

I have waited for almost a year to get to eat this gratin again.  Waiting, waiting, waiting for it to feel reasonable to purchase some summer squash.  Finally I cracked because I just couldn’t wait any longer.  I wanted my gratin!

I first had it last summer when I was home visiting my parents.  It was my mother who suggested making it, and I thought it sounded fine.  Though, how exciting could a summer summer squash gratin really be?  Zucchini and cheese struck me as tasty, but in no way revolutionary.  Just kind of summery comfort food.  (Eep!  That was in no way intended to be a dig at comfort food!  I love comfort food!  But you’ve got to admit, it’s not exciting, per se.  That’s kind of the whole point.)

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Twice baked butternut squash

October 31, 2011 § 30 Comments

There’s a crack that opens up in the earth today, letting all manner of little demons and naughty spirits out to roam the earth for the night and make mayhem.  I just thought I’d let you know that, in case you hadn’t heard already.

It’s the original reason behind dressing up on All Hallows Eve (Halloween), actually.  If you were disguised as a witch or demon, then it was highly unlikely that the real demons wandering about would notice you and cause you trouble.  They would think you were one of them and leave you alone.  Which, on the whole, makes sense, don’t you agree?

A similar thing happens on the solstices, and at periods of your life when you’re in transition.  Those pesky demons come out and can make a muck of any number of little things, or even make you sick.  Nowadays we blame things like stress, which often increases in times of transition.  But, those of us who are in the know – and now you’re in the know! – know that it’s actually demons.

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Swiss chard gratin

April 19, 2011 § 3 Comments

I tried to make caramels yesterday.  It was a spectacular disaster.  Tasty judging by the mess I licked off of my fingers , but also crazy sticky, goopy, runny, and in sum, disastrous.  I knew it was not something I ought to be doing, even before I started.  A large batch of caramels was the last thing we needed around the house to tempt us to snack on.  And, I knew I had a focus group guide to edit and a conceptual model to draft and shouldn’t be distracting myself.

And yet, somehow I found myself in the kitchen caramelizing sugar to a dark amber and pouring it into a foiled pan and patiently waiting for it to cool and set.  But, it never set. It remained barely stiffer than the consistency of caramel sauce, so when I took it out to cut it and wrap it, it flowed like an unstoppable saccharine mudslide all over the cutting board, the counter, my hands, everywhere.  Obviously the universe was sending me a signal.  ‘Get back to work.  Cook vegetables.’  At least, that was how I interpreted it.

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Leek and artichoke bread pudding

January 23, 2011 § 21 Comments

We all have something I like to call “the wanting monster.” It’s the little thing inside of us that will barely ever let us be fully content, even if we’ve just received a wonderful gift or had the most phenomenal day. After a brief sojourn of abundance we start to get this creeping feeling, stealing in, tugging at the corners of our minds, trying to convince that something is still missing, even if that thing is only the fact that a beautiful moment can’t last forever. And then we start wanting. More recognition, more control, more money, more toys, a smaller nose, curlier hair, slimmer thighs, bigger muscles… you name it, it can be “wanted after.”

I won’t even get started on the intangibles my wanting monster frequently has me spinning in circles over. But, when it comes to concrete “stuff,” luckily – since I only have a staggeringly small grad student income – my wanting monster isn’t too horribly active. Dangle designer shoes or bags in front of it and it will lumber off to go find a corner to nap in. Roll in fancy cars or high tech gadgets and it will give a loud snore and roll over, completely uninterested. Tempt it with exciting outdoor gear and it might perk up its shaggy head for a moment, intrigued, but it will shortly lie back down again, feeling happy enough with the gear it already has. But oh, show me some lovely dishes or other beautiful kitchenware, and look out! The wanting monster will come crashing in, her eyes glinting with desire. I simply adore beautiful dishes and linens! Even just to look at! Joel, being very handy – a trait that befuddles and amazes my family to no end, since we are not people who build things, we are people who break things – has built us some massive storage cubbies, and already they are half taken up by my swelling collection of colorful dishes and cloths and silverware. (My total adoration of food photography has only been making my dish-lust worse, though at the same time, it sort of justifies it. Maybe? I hope. Let’s just say that it does…) « Read the rest of this entry »

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