Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Page 56

The past few days have been an exhausting blur; hence the blog silence. Just to keep things going, I'm posting this:

Blog exercise (thanks to a fellow blogger)
  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.
  5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
Here it is:
There are some kinds of food that consumers cannot even buy anymore, as regional products vanish from the shelves.

Slow Food: The Case for Taste by Carlo Petrini
Deep. Concerning. What does your book say on page 56?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Creamy butternut pasta sauce

Squash has become almost an icon of American autumn. Yet, most of us are satisfied to arrange it artfully on the front steps and carve it into lanterns. I am definitely a fan of both of these uses, but I'm also a strong proponent of eating it.

Squash is full of the kinds of vitamins and minerals that most of us don't get enough of: vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E (antioxidants!); folic acid; and potassium. It's also quite filling and (in my opinion) incredibly yummy.

You do have to work a bit for that nutrition, though. But I promise, the creamy, garlicky pasta sauce I made with it today is totally worth the effort.

First you have to peel, chop, and de-seed the squash. This is the hardest part. Use a sharp knife and consider this an opportunity to get out your aggression for the day.

I like to separate the neck from the bulb -- this makes it easier to chop into segments.

Then it's time to roast it with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It's pretty easy from there -- just purée it in the blender with some half-and-half.

Squash on the front steps is beautiful. But you have to admit, so is this.

And this (the finished product). It'll go into the freezer for use on cheese or veggie ravioli, with a few walnuts sprinkled on top.

And when it's all over, it's time for a turkey provolone sandwich with cranberry mayo (compliments of Mr. Incredible).

Happy butternutting!

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
coarse salt and ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, peel on
1 cup half-and-half

Preheat oven to 375°. Trim, peel, and de-seed squash. (Halve crosswise to separate bulb from neck, then halve both pieces lengthwise.) Cut into 2-inch chunks; transfer to a baking sheet.

Toss with oil and sage and season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through.

Remove and discard garlic skins. Transfer squash and garlic to blender; purée. With motor running, add half-and-half and process until smooth. Add some water, if necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Continue to process until smooth.

Season again with salt and pepper to taste and freeze for a quick and delicious topping for ravioli or just plain pasta. Serve with chopped walnuts or pecans on top.
[Note: my butternuts, grown with love in Dillsburg, Pa., amounted to about 8 pounds together, so I quadrupled the recipe above. This yielded a lot of sauce, but it also means I have plenty on hand for those weeknight dinners when I have no time to make anything else.]

I need to branch out

Recently, I've been feeling like my world is a little smaller than it ought to be. Specifically, that I'm limiting myself in the many interesting websites, blogs, and online communities that I could be enjoying and learning from. I keep up with a few food blogs (most notably, Tea and Cookies), but I feel certain that there are lots of other blogs and websites out there that I'm missing out on. Today, I checked out A Chicken in Every Granny Cart and A Way to Garden, both interesting sites I just might find myself revisiting in the future.

But I was wondering if my loyal readers might be able to suggest some of their favorite blogs and sites, too? As you probably know, some of my main interests are food, gardening, travel, and writing -- but I am very interested in branching out. Suggest away!