the best ever roasted squash

Dr. Beardface* and I consume astounding quantities of winter squash. Three big handsome squashes (butternut, delicata, and sweet dumpling) perch plumply on the table right now, awaiting their demise.

the best ever roasted squashThe Fella’s luscious roasted butternut squash galettes. As handsome and delicious as those are, they prove a tad too involved to stake out a spot in our daily or weekly repertoire. We’re far more likely to scarf down our squash in roasted form, and though often we simply toss it with oil and salt and plunk it into a hot oven, I like to take the extra two minutes of hands-on work that transforms plain roasted squash to the best ever roasted squash. Inspired by Laurie Colwin’s squash tian recipe**, the best ever roasted squash has been thoroughly transformed by time, habit, and hazy memory.

*a household endearment for The Fella that honors his stunning beard credentials.
**found in More Home Cooking, a book whose nominal place of honor on my kitchen shelf is usually a narrow empty space — the book itself is rarely far from my bedside, so alluring are its comforts.
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squash galettesjpg As promised, here’s a hastily snapped photo of The Fella’s roasted butternut galettes with caramelized garlic and fresh sage. These savory pastries, with their fine-crumbed dough and fragrant filling, made a heck of a hit at the Thanksgiving table, and the next day people still rhapsodized over them rewarmed with leftovers. They came from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

This is the second time he’s made them, and I’m hoping (hoping hoping!) they’ll become a staple around here. With a side of greens or a salad, you have a handsome winter meal. They would cozy up nicely to creamy broccoli or simple tomato soup or a brimming bowl of minestrone. My brother B opined that these little miracles would go with any meal, and he talked about trying one with his morning coffee, if any survived that long.

To sum up: they were much admired and quickly snarfled up despite an overloaded buffet. Happily, The Fella made a double batch. The extra dough and filling sits undefended in our fridge right now, and soon I’ll skulk in and help myself to a slapdash galette all on its own. Just the thing to warm me up on this cold evening.

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The demon in my mouth

Last night, I dreamed I was a devil, possibly the devil. My secret: Lucifer, a tiny little homunculus devil, lived in my mouth and performed his dark arts from inside my head.
In the dream, Lucifer had escaped. He careened around the dreamscape wreaking destruction and sorrow on everyone he encountered. I chased after him, hissing “Lucifer, you get back in my mouth!”
I needed my demon back. The demon in my mouth was the source of all my power.

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For the second year in a row, I’m a guest at Thanksgiving dinner instead of the red-cheeked frazzle-haired organizer/ chief cook and bottle-washer. I could get used to this.

We’re bringing a few dishes, but that’s nothing like being the poor sucker who’s up ’til midnight to drop the bird in the icy cold brine, then up again at six a.m. to wrestle that slippery carcass back out of its icy-cold bath, to say nothing of the array of side dishes and appetizers.

I’ve already prepped a dish of garlic-braised greens with chili-seasoned mushrooms and lemon: everything’s blanched or sauted or sliced as necessary and packed up to go, so I can flash it in a pan right before tomorrow’s dinner.

I expect The Fella’s contribution to be met with fanfare: roasted butternut and caramelized garlic in yeasted olive-oil dough. Packed with fresh sage and a taste of parmesan, they’ll make a lovely salty-sweet contrast to the turkey and trimmings, and also make a gorgeous entree for the vegetarians. I’ll try to snap a photo before they’re all snarfled up.

Tonight, I finish the rolls my mother requested for Thanksgiving dinner. Bored with all my standard recipes and looking for something without milk, I decided to try a riff on Average Jane’s dinner rolls.

My adaptation follows.

update 24 November: I brought a batch of these rolls to both of the Thanksgiving dinners we attended this week, and at each the rolls got rave reviews. They’re a snap to make, the dough kneads up beautifully unlike most sticky doughs, and the oven-spring is spectacular. Try them.

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Enjoying my first egg nog of the season spurred me to remember one more quirk: I find it hard not to swig the whole glass at once. Something about the taste and texture of egg nog — and of no other drink — urges me to fill my entire mouth with the stuff, like a tiny baby who packs his face with mashed beets to sate the taste buds located on the sides and roof of the mouth.

Occasionally, I allow myself to do the same with M&Ms. If you’ve never filled your mouth with M&Ms and felt the cool shiny sugar shell click against your molars, you’re missing out.

Oh, shut up.

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update: Sweet honeyed Lucifer, it runs in the family.

The Trouble with Harry: a review

The Trouble with Harry is not that he’s dead. The trouble with Harry is this: what do we do with him now?

In this film, Hitchcock allows his macabre humor to take center stage instead of winking at us from the corner of the screen, and it’s a pleasure to watch this dark comedy unfold in the bucolic splendor of the Vermont woods. (Okay, some was shot on a stageset due to heavy rains in the Vermont location, but it’s a wicked bucolic stageset.)
Young Arnie Rogers (a pre-Beaver Jerry Mathers) discovers a body in the stageset woods near his home. His mother Jennifer, curiously unmoved, recognizes the corpse as her erstwhile husband Harry. Indeed, all the characters populating this small rural town are similarly unflappable: local struggling artist Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe), retired seaman Capt. Wiles (Edmund Gwynn), and quavering spinster Miss Graveley (Mildred Natwick) take a whimsical, almost jaunty attitude to the annoyance posed by Harry’s presence… this despite two of them thinking they may have inadvertently killed him.
Tension and humor bump comfortably against each other throughout the film, making it one of Hitchcock’s oddest concoctions — and one of my favorites.
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