Wednesday, November 30, 2011

comfort and joy


Because I was procrastinating and avoiding a different holiday (in the magazine world, right now, there are easter eggs to be dyed and bunny burritos to be developed) I made a new holiday garland. My friend Emily has the tutorial here that got me started, but if you have a good sewing machine, boy is this an easy project. Many of you knew me back when I did not have a good sewing machine--back when every sewing project ended in cursing and tears and the drinking of wine from the bottle and the sewing of my hand to the snake costume and the subsequent trip to the ER and/or the Betty Ford Clinic. But now I have a good machine. Which I got because I went on Craigslist and posted a wanted ad for "An Excellent, Heavy, Old (but not antique) Sewing Machine," and then named a few brands, countries of origin, models, and years. And I was rewarded with a beautiful Bernina from the 80s that does a few things and does them well. I really recommend asking for what you want, in the most literal way.

This banner is just letters cut from brown grocery-bag paper that I'd painted gold with acrylic paint. Also some stars and circles cut from various scraps of vellum and shiny paper. It is hung in the doorway of our living room--with the added advantage that if you're inside the living room, it spells "yoj + trofmoc," because I'm meticulous like that.

Comfort and joy to you. xo

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pink Slaw

This is an unretouched photo, seriously. Is that not gorgeous?
Because I was not actually awake, it was difficult for me to understand what was happening. Birdy, who had gone to bed with a stomachache, had woken up screaming and crying, and so I feared the worst. But wait—it was an even worse worst. What was she saying? She’d pooped in the bed? I couldn’t really hear, on account of the crying and the yelling, only now Ben was in on it too, in his room next door, horrified by the fact that Birdy appeared to have wandered in and barfed on his carpet. Wait, wait, what? No. Birdy appeared to have coughed up an enormous hairball on his carpet, which didn’t make sense. And the poop in her bed was an intact string of small turds, despite the fact of her still-clean pajamas. I may never accustom myself to the requirement of parenting that you make sense of the world while you’re brain is still giving you the “I’m sorry, that number is no longer in service” message.

When we went downstairs, there was more of everything, in a bad way, plus a gigantic, lounging cat, who rolled onto his back and thrust all four paws in the air in his classic love-me posture. Poor, gluttonous Craney Crow. He had stolen and eaten various holiday delicacies during the evening (turkey leg, smoked trout mousse, brie, pecan pie) and then spent the night shuffling from room to room, it seemed, in a kind of fit of evacuation.

Who me?
Ah, as always, a classy recipe lead-in. All I’m trying to say is that I’m offering you something bright and fresh and vegetal because perhaps you also could use a break from the richness of the holidays. This slaw is that break. It is, first of all, ridiculously gorgeous. The mottled purple-and-white of the cabbage is transformed, via pickling, into a brilliant, glowing fuchsia. The prettiest color in the world. Plus, the slaw (and, by the way, it is technically a pickle) gets this incredible kind of squeaky-crisp texture, and a deliciously light sweetness and sourness that makes it a versatile accompaniment to anything from tacos and scrambled eggs to turkey sandwiches and roast pork or a bowlful of beans. If you add the ginger, it will be less versatile but more brightly flavored—you can decide what you think about that.

And will your kids like it? They will like the color enough to taste it, I predict. Mine will not pick it out of a quesadilla, and they ate a couple forkfuls last night when I served it with our Smorgasbord of Leftovers (including the last of the stuffing, the last of the gravy, and the last of the nutmeg-scented sweet potatoes). They neither loved nor hated it, and they did appreciate the tangle of color on their plates. The brightness of vitamins and antioxidants that is wafting off of it nearly visibly, and this alone is reason for thanks.

Pink Slaw
Makes less than you think, but enough, and it keeps well.
Active time: 15 minutes; total time: 4 hours

You can use green cabbage for this, and it will be delicious, but guess what? It won't be pink. You could still call it "Pink Slaw," just to be weird and confusing.

½ medium head of cabbage, red or green
½ cup water
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
a couple of slices of ginger, smashed, or 1 dried chile (optional)

Shred the cabbage fine. I use this Japanese mandoline, which you can get here, in Utah! Not here, really, but there. If you use the coupon code dalaimama, you will get 15% off your entire order. It is the perfect tool for all those things you need to slice very thin, like potatoes for something fancy with the word "saint" in its title. Plus, there are other blades that come with it so that you can julienne things. I love it and use it for everything, especially during pickle season.

Now put the shredded cabbage in a deep bowl and bring the remaining ingredients just to a boil in a small pot, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the hot brine over the cabbage. Put a small plate on top of the cabbage, and then something heavy on top it, such as a tea kettle or a large can. Leave it for 3 or 4 hours, at which point the cabbage will be smaller and the volume of liquid in the bowl much greater. Wring out the cabbage by the handful (discard the leftover brine), and store it in the fridge in a covered container.

The battle-scarred exterior of the storage cabbage belies its beautiful insides.
As far as I'm concerned, that's right up there with the greater wonders of the world.

Did you want to see who was back there? That's Socky. He was visiting for the afternoon.

You could do this with a knife, but it will take much longer and be less fun and less thrillingly treacherous.

I love, love, love this very sharp slicer. It's light and easy to use, and the color is fantastic.

Take heed!
Moldy ginger that I did not even bother to peel. Nice.

Ready to be brined and weighted.

The longer you leave it, the picklier it will be--though I never get into the multi-day fermenting kind of situation with this, though you probably could.

Tell me that's not gorgeous.

Right?

Lunch yesterday.

Breakfast this morning. Corn tortilla with melted dill havarti, scrambled farm egg, and pink slaw. My parsley's motto seems to be "keep on truckin.'" I can't believe it's still thriving out there, in the untended wilds of our yard.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ornament Tree Advent Calendar

2006.
Dear Ones,

Oh, I just could not pull off a pie, and I'm so grateful to Tea for Two for posting her recipe here! Thank you for having my back. Luckily, my mom is in the house, and so the pecan pies will now be made effortlessly, and with her customary grace and amazingness. (Thanks, Mum.)

Instead, I wanted to make sure you had enough time, in case you wanted to make a new advent calendar for your kids this year. I am going to add "Jews and their Advent Calendars" to my roster of coffee table books I want to make, which include "Jews Go Cross-Country Skiing," and also "Jews Making Bacon." So be it. First of all, if you don't have time, here's the idea I pitched years ago to Wondertime magazine (RIP), and which is just a visual cue:

Yes, it looks a little like a fraction--but only because I'm bad at rubber stamping.


I think Wondertime actually ran that idea--24 numbered bags on a clothesline--albeit a little tarted up. 

But 5 or 6 years ago I became obsessed with matchboxes and made this:

If I had put gorgeous berry-colored paper behind my tree, I would not have made myself saw around the poster board with a bread knife. Alas. That's the color of one wall of my dining/craft room. Nice, right?

It's been a favorite part of our Christmas ever since, and it's not hard to make--just a little fiddly and time consuming. 

Start with 25 matchboxes (you can buy packages of 12 at the supermarket, and luckily you had one extra lying around), and dump the matches into a large mason jar, where you will keep them hopefully and in the spirit of resourcefulness for one year, after which you will throw them away. 

Use a piece of white paper and a pencil and scissors to find the perfect size paper for wrapping around the box, then use this as your template and cut 23 pieces of decorative paper, then use rubber cement or another glue of your choosing (not white glue or you will cry) and wrap 23 of the boxes with paper. If the paper seems inclined to pop off or peel, use a clothespin to hold it while it dries. Now make a template for lining the drawer, cut out 23 drawer liners, and glue them inside. Mine are all mixed and matched. The 24th box is two boxes opened on the side and glued together, then wrapped. I don't remember how I accomplished this, and it's not strictly necessary--it's just that I wanted the star to be bigger than the other ornaments. Decorate the boxes with ribbon, if you like, and number them somehow: I glued on tiny tags that I had stamped numbers onto.




Now make your ornaments: A 1-inch circle punch would make this easy; I think I traced around a quarter. If you want to fancy it up, you can add a little rectangle of silver paper for the top, and a little loop of silver thread for the hanger--and you can stick them both on with the self-adhesive Velcro dot you're going to add to the back of each dot anyway.


Are you with me so far? Then make the tree and background. I did this by covering the bottom half of a standard piece of poster board with decorative paper (it's white with white dots, and, thus, not really that decorative) and then I glued on a large tree shape cut from construction paper. Only after I had glued it on did I wish I'd put something beautiful behind it, and, in fact, so regretful was I about this that I decided to cut around the outline of the tree, which was the only truly difficult part of this whole advent-ure. I don't recommend it. Get yourself a nice piece of paper, glue it down before you add the tree, and call it a day.

Now space the 24 velcro dots all over the tree, including one at the top for the star or whatever else you make for the top. The other half of each dot, as you'll recall, is already on the back of each ornament. Then glue the gift-boxes to the box (I think glue dots would be a good way to do this), pop an ornament in each one, saving the star or whatever for the final box, and voila! 

I know this is not a tutorial in the strict sense, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. Questions such as "How does this look with a menorah burning nearby" (nice) or "What does the word advent even mean?" (I don't know).

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I am now, and always, grateful for your company.

xo

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Stuff

Hello, dear friends!

Car Heart. I really came out to this one recent frosty morning. Lucky girl, right?
I thought I'd share some holiday ideas and recipes today. Which is very uncharacteristically useful of me, I know.


First off, if you wanted to give homemade vanilla for the holidays, and I really recommend this, now is the time to start making it. For bottles, do a search for "flint glass bottles" on ebay--unless you have a nice collection of small recycled bottles at your disposal. Likewise, search "vanilla beans" on ebay to buy them in bulk. And do this right now, so you can get a move on, okay? It needs to steep for a month or so. Also, I should warn you, now that it's been 3 years since I've been making it, that every time somebody runs out of vanilla, they will bring you their empty bottle with the pleasant-faced expectation that you will refill it. It is, more or less, like giving a magazine subscription, and you'd better be willing to stay on top of it. Forever.

Relatedly, I often make a little boozey something at the holidays that needs to sit around for a while before it gets really good. Limoncello, for example, is very beautiful and elegant (I use vodka instead of Everclear, just by the by). But this year I am making this warm, fragrant, utterly delicious Honey Citrus Liqueur:


Because I am meticulous, I taste it every day to make sure it's good.  So far, a week in, it is really, really good. I think I'll borrow bottles from Birdy's dollhouse when it comes time to decant it for gifts. I made up the recipe, in consultation with various versions online because we had some gorgeous honey to use, and here's what it is: In a small pot, bring 1 1/2 cups of honey to a boil with 2/3 cup water, 3 cloves, and 2 cut-up vanilla beans. Simmer for 5 minutes, cool to warm, then pour it into a bottle into which you've already put the peeled zest of one large, clean orange. Fill the bottle up with Jim Beam or something similar (around 3 1/2 cups), then let it sit in the dark for a month, shaking it as often as you think to, and tasting it constantly. Strain through a fine sieve, decant into smaller bottles, and give it away, weeping. If you want to call it by its Lithuanian name, write "Grietai Pagamintas Krupnikas" in festive script on the labels.

That's all you need to deal with for now, although if you wanted to get a jump on ordering games for your kids, these are my posts on the subject from years past: last year's big-kid games; last-year's little-kid games. And this stray one. There is not a dud in the bunch. Oh, and this holiday book round-up, which I still stand by as well. I'll be posting a few new thoughts in the coming weeks too.

And, finally: Thanksgiving? Are you in? I mean, really. What choice do you have. Here are a few recipes from years past that might come in handy:

Sparkling Cranberry Centerpiece
Wonderful Cranberry Sauce
Beautiful Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Fantastic Crudite Platter with the World's Best Dip
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

I am really going to try to keep track of all my traditional dishes this year--stuffing, mashed potatoes, and the Bird Himself--so that I can offer some basics next year. But it's hard to remember, what with my dad's forceful taking over of the mashing of the potatoes, and the turkey's uncertain doneness, and the holiday caving in on itself in a puddle of food and drink, as I know you know. I might try to post pecan pie on Monday. Which would give me an excuse to make it over the weekend!

Speaking of: have a great one. xo

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roasted Cabbage


Remember how nobody used to like Brussels sprouts? We all shuddered to think of them from childhood, the way they’d been boiled to a noxious mush that filled the house with the smell of old shoes that someone had filled with egg salad. “Ugh!” everybody said. “Brussels sprouts! Why would anybody?” And then I had the brilliant idea to roast them. Okay, so did, like, a bazillion other people. But remember? How it turned out that everybody loved Brussels sprouts after all? We just hadn’t realized that they could be sweet and caramelized, tender but still green-tasting and a bit crunchy, salty and a little greasy and totally addictive. And now we know. Now they’re on every hip bar menu and every Thanksgiving table, and everybody’s happy.

I want to make the same case for cabbage, and for roasting it. But first, to be clear, I love cabbage every which way, and we eat tons of it. I buy these enormous heads, locally grown and the size of basket balls and 99 cents apiece, and then we saw away at them for weeks. I steam cabbage and serve it with lots of melting butter and salt and a sprinkle of cider vinegar; I sliver it and make various coleslaws stirred up with sweet-and-sour vinaigrette or spicy lime-scented mayonnaise; I fry it with onions and apples, then I add a big splash of cider and a hefty pinch of sugar and let it finish cooking; I braise it in the oven, with chicken broth and lots of olive oil, according to Molly Stevens’ justly famous recipe; I sliver it and add it to every kind of soup and stew, and (this does not overjoy the children) to everybody’s quesadillas and tacos; I make fresh-pickled cabbage with vinegar and, one time, I made true fermented sauerkraut that bubbled furiously in its jar and stank to high heaven and tasted fantastic, flavored delicately with caraway and juniper.

But roasting it is new to me and, as with Brussels sprouts, it is a revelation—which is not that surprising, given that cabbage is pretty much just a big, mild Brussels sprout. You have to be patient, though: what you want is to cook it for a long time so that it gets deeply browned and sweet and that perfect kind of toothsome-but-tender, and this takes close to an hour. But that makes it the perfect side for something else that’s hanging out in a hot oven for an hour or two: a roasting chicken, say, or baked potatoes, or a brisket. Try it, please, and report back.

Roasted Cabbage
Serves: some number of people
Total time: 1 hour

Green or white cabbage
Olive oil
Salt

Heat the oven to 425 and oil a rimmed baking sheet with plenty of olive oil.

Cut the cabbage across in big, thick (about ¾-inch) slices. My cabbage was so big that I used one single slice out of the middle of it, and this fed all four of us well! Crazy. But you will likely need a few slices. Now cut these in half, or in quarters, so that the pieces are manageable but stay intact. (Alternately, you could cut it into wedges, but I find this trickier, since they don’t cook very evenly.)

Put the cabbage in the pan and drizzle it generously with olive oil (another few tablespoonfuls) and use your fingers or a brush to get it evenly distributed over the vegetable. Sprinkle the pieces generously with salt, then pop the pan in the oven.

After about twenty minutes, check the cabbage by lifting up a piece of it and seeing if the bottom is brown (this might take more like half an hour). If and when it is, then take the pan out of the oven and carefully flip the pieces, which will fall apart a little, which is fine. Roast the cabbage until the second underside (hunh?) is brown, another twenty minutes or half an hour or so. Taste a piece to make sure it’s tender and salted enough, and serve.

For a variation, add a very small splash of balsamic vinegar about 10 minutes before the cabbage is done roasting.

There's a penny here for scale--but you can't even see it! Okay, there's not. But this was a big-ass cabbage.

"I do like cabbage. Or something. Maybe I just like to stick my paw on the oily pan and then walk around the kitchen."

This would be a lovely Thanksgiving side dish. In fact, if you're planning to come to my house for that holiday, this might not be the last you see of it.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Brown-Sugar Oat Scones


After a five-day power outage, it still feels so utterly decadent to do things like run water, flip on lights, open the cold fridge, and heat the oven—so I couldn’t resist baking a weekend breakfast treat. That said, though, earlier in the week I baked on our wood stove for the first time ever, and it was a fantastic experience. I made my regular biscuits, but first I preheated our heavy, lidded Dutch oven over the very hot stove for a long, long time—an hour or so. Then I opened it, popped in a piece of parchment and half the biscuits, and lidded it up again. I cooked the biscuits for 12 or so minutes (I’d rolled them thinner than usual), flipping them halfway through. And they were, um, perfect. I will certainly make a habit of baking on the stove. I love the rough beauty of it, and the conservation of energy, and the pioneering satisfaction.

We are trying to hold onto the best that life without power had to offer us: long, candlelit evenings and an absence of internet distraction in particular. Also, though, something else. Something like a kind of courage—to be imperfect, maybe. “Come for dinner,” we said. “Come for lunch. We’ll just wing it.” I have never felt so free simply to put honest, humble meals on the table. Even though, and I know you know this, that’s pretty much all I do anyway. But somehow, with the obvious limiting context of the power outage, I just felt so open and improvisational. I will have to think more about this and try to explain it better—but I think it’s a feeling for me to hold onto.
We are as delicious as we look, we promise! We are not secretly made of oat-scented cardboard like those other scones that broke your heart!

Okay, but these scones: Michael hates scones, so I almost never make them. He feels like they’re this kind of false promise of deliciousness that turns out to be dry and tasteless, and I know what he means. But these are simultaneously rugged and delicate: coarse and grainy, but then really quite buttery and moist and sweet. The kids and I love them, and Michael likes them okay. “But seriously,” he said, when I pressed him. “I don’t really think that generating great love for another baked good is high on my to-do list.” Fair enough.

Brown-Sugar Oat Scones
Makes 8
Active time: 10 minutes; total time: 30 minutes

This is an adaptation of Deborah Madison’s Oat Scones from her wonderful bible, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I use all whole-wheat flour, half-and-half (she suggests either milk or cream), and a good deal more sugar and salt. But, then, that’s just what I’m like.

1 cup rolled oats, plus more for the counter
1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
7 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
2/3 cup half and half (or a mix of milk and cream, or, if you must, milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 425, and get out a non-stick baking pan. If it’s not reliably non-stick, grease it or line it with parchment.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the butter pieces and toss with your hands to coat them with flour. Now use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients, lifting handfuls of the mixture up out of the bowl, then gently letting it fall through your fingertips as you rub it lightly together. Eventually, you'll have a bowl full of lumpy sandy crumbs, which is what you're going for—don’t try mixing it until it’s all nice and even.

Whisk together the egg, half and half, and vanilla, then pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just barely combined.

Scatter some oats on your clean counter, dump the dough out onto it, and pat it into a circle that’s a half an inch (or so) thick. Use a knife to cut it into 8 wedges, put them on the baking sheet, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until nicely browned. Serve warm, plain or with butter and/or honey and/or jam.
Really? Just leave that one little peasley old tablespoon of butter behind? Yup. Though I'm tempted just to toss it in.

The pebbly mixture. I don't do this in a food processor because I don't want to grind the oats up.

The dough is pretty wet, which is fine--you're not actually interacting with it for very long.

Just a quick pat and cut.

And they're ready to bake. This is Craney's "You didn't know about scones and how they're my favorite?" face.

Baked. I love their rustic look.

The grabbing of the scones.

Ben played with the honey the whole time the scones were baking.

And then put plenty on his plate.

Along with plenty of other stuff too. I love this picture, where the scone is dwarfed by honey and jam.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Chile-Lime Squash Fries


squash "fries"
Even as I write this, I’m looking out the window at the new blue November sky, against which Michael is silhouetted. Michael, who is cutting dead wood out of the dogwood, which is almost, at this point, entirely dead wood, and which is—from my very narrow, personal perspective—the only bad thing about the wild storm that has kept us without power for nearly 3 days now. Well, that and the tick-tick-ticking of a freezer full of produce and meat that may or may not be thawing because I’ve resisted the urge to open it and check.
Maple, October 30, 2011
Oh, but mostly it has been heaps and heaps of brilliant snow, the steaming glow of the woodstove, the sizzle of sausages cooking on it, board games by candlelight, a full and happy heart without the pesky distractions of computers, the internet, phones, school, work, or showers. Seriously. I have been in total powerless heaven. The neighbors congregate outside for updates and gossip and supply-trading, and to scheme about whether somebody’s generator can be rigged for the watching of the Patriots game (it cannot). The kids sit by the fire to sew themselves new fleece hats. I nap and read and do crossword puzzles saved up during busier times. The oaks break my heart a little, with their leathery leaves still clinging to the fallen branches that line every street in our neighborhood. We let the cat out, and he steps gingerly through the snow, shakes each paw after every step, and then meows to be let back in. 

I might write a collection of love poems called "Wood Stove."

Birdy, by the woodstove, looking at a picture of the woodstove. Do you know this book? The Midnight Farm. Don't spend $89 on it, but do consider buying it used for 1 cent if you still have small children. It is one of the most relaxing and beautiful kids' books I know.

I try to figure out how to post my column—this column. Will I go to Nicole’s, where their power is restored and there’s the promise of macaroni and cheese and cider? Probably.

But were you maybe here for the recipe, and enough about my fake pioneering life, complete with running water, flush toilets, and digital cameras? I understand. Onward and upward to the squash fries. I have to mention, though, that they’re not really fries, or even anything like fries. But there is chile and lime! And squash!!! But Chile-Lime Squash sounded like a recipe I’d need to apologize for—without the requisite marketing pizzaz! you need for warty old winter produce.

Now you don’t trust me, and I understand. But still, this is a lovely recipe. I, for one, require something spicy or funky to cut through the relentless sweetness of winter squash, and given that not everyone shares my great passion for blue cheese and/or anchovies, lime and chile work perfectly. (Oooh—would a few drops of fish sauce add a little je ne sais quoi? Je ne sais pas.) They stick to your teeth just the right amount, with a little crunch from the frizzled skin and a little softness from the tender flesh. Perfect.

Chile-Lime Squash Fries
Serves 4-6
Active time: 25 minutes; total time: 1-1 ¼ hours

Winter squash: 3 delicata, 2 acorn, 1 smallish butternut, or some other kind and amount
4 tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon chipotle puree (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
Juice and grated zest of half a lime

Heat the oven to 450.

Scrub the squash well, then halve them and scoop out the seeds*. I no longer peel squash like acorn or delicata, but for some reason I do still peel butternut. Do what you like in this regard, bearing in mind that the skin is edible and wholesome and a pain in the ass to peel, and that it keeps the squash slices from disintegrating, but also that it might be the final straw for someone who’s already teetering on the back of the liking-squash camel. Michael, for example, at this very meal, said, “Didn’t you used to peel the squash?” the way you might say, “Didn’t you used to bring me flowers on our anniversary?” and it gave me a slight sinking feeling.

Trim the ends off the squash halves, then slice them into half-inch pieces, and toss the pieces in a large bowl with the oil, chipotle puree, salt, and honey or maple syrup. Arrange the pieces on a large, rimmed, greased non-stick baking sheet (or two), and put them in the oven. (If your sheets are not reliably non-stick, then I would line them with parchment paper).

Bake for 20-45 minutes, which I know is a big range, but your goal is to get them simultaneously tender, crisped, browned, and unburned. If turning them over seems like it would help, then do, but I find that to be sort of a diminishing-returns situation and don’t tend to bother. (“Didn’t you used to turn the squash over?” Next thing you know, I’ll give everyone a whole, raw squash and a spork. Enjoy!)

When the squash is done, grate the lime zest over it. Can I talk about my new grater? I am in love with it. I like it even more than my microplane zester, which had perhaps gotten dull? I’m not sure. Either way, this new one is razor-sharp, and you feel like you could leave a block of parmesan near it and walk away, and the cheese would turn into a flurry of shreds just from the proximity. 

Now squeeze on the lime juice, taste for salt, and serve. To really gild the lily, a little chipotle-lime-mayo wouldn’t kill anyone, now, would it? But I confess to serving ours with tiny dishes of honey for dipping, which is totally not like me, I know, but I never promised to be consistent.

* You saved the seeds, right? Rinse them in a bowl of water and try to separate them from the stringy stuff, not that it matters that much since once that stuff bakes and crisps it will just be a wholesome little addition of flavor. Now shake the seeds in a colander, then spread them on a rimmed baking sheet, toss them with oil and salt, and roast at 325 until they’re crisped and toasty, about a half an hour. At this point I tend to put something else on them—Worcestershire Sauce or Frank’s Red Hot or Lime Juice or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos—and toss them again before putting them back in the oven to crisp up again. Yum. Better than pumpkin seeds, even, thanks to the more favorable shell-to-seed ratio.
I put Bragg's and jalapeno-spiked vinegar on these before they finished baking, and then I ate way too many of them. But I like the way it feels like they're scraping out your insides--like a Master Cleanse diet, but without all the pesky fasting, etc.
Delicata. Though they're hardly, like, spun glass or anything. Really quite sturdy, actually.

Squash.


And again, squash.
Some of the stuff you need for it, plus my afternoon mug of tea.
Which segues nearly seamlessly into a glass of beer. Note the lovely grater.

Ready to bake.
BEN DOES THE ZESTING. IN ACCIDENTAL BLOCK CAPS.
Ben honey-dipping his squash, at a more normal volume. "Hey, honey," I said. "The people are asking about your hair. In a nice way. What do you want to say?" And he said, just a little bit sassy, "Um, that it's long? Because I like it long?"
Burger and "fries." Go heavy on the air quotes, and everyone will be happy.