Squashing guilt

A true confession: we were given two spaghetti squash by a friend from church months ago.  I dutifully cooked one right away, very simply, and I’m sorry to say, most of it ended up in the trash.  The other squash has been waiting very patiently in the onion-and-garlic bowl ever since, tossing me sad, neglected looks almost daily. 
But then…I found this recipe:
Now I will admit, I did not make it with low-fat anything, but otherwise followed the recipe with my more calorific ingredients.  It was wonderful!  Goodbye unused squash guilt.  So in case anyone else finds themselves in a similar situation, try this.  Or go buy a spaghetti squash and try it.  I never thought I’d hear myself say that, but there it is.  It was that good.

Bread is never just bread

So I’ve been doing most of my own baking for a few months now (hard to justify the expense of inferior store-bread, when I’m just at home all day doing, well, you know…at-home things).  And as I was clearing up lunch yesterday, including Lucy’s half-eaten sandwich, it occurred to me that I was somewhat offended that she would blithely toss out a whole slice of the bread I had kneaded by hand the day before.  How dare she be so wasteful of my hard work!
Which got me thinking, of course, about how much food we throw away in our family, and in this country in general, and how little it concerns us.  And how much the great distance (both physical and psychological – do you think about the provenance of that beef?) between us and the source and manufacture of our food has to do with this lack of interest in the end that meets so much of our food.  (Today’s Latin lesson – manufacture = “made by hand”- how often is that true of anything anymore?)
What real connection do I have to that fast food hamburger, or even to the canned soup I merely heat up for dinner?  I rarely think twice about clearing those leftovers from the fridge to the trash can.  But it seems that the more involved I am in where my food comes from, the closer I am to the “ground” of the process, the more meaningful eating, really being nourished by my food is.  And the more I care how it is used.  Or not, as the case may be.
Another argument for slow food and the simple life, I guess.  Add it to the pile.  Maybe we’ll actually get close to those ideals some day!
And, all moralizing aside, at least I’m starting to make some really good bread.

Burritos and Basil

Well, we knew Lucy was stubborn, but we attributed that to her being the oldest child of two oldest children.  But it appears it may actually be genetics, because Samantha has a stubborn streak, as well.  For example, we had burritos for dinner.  Samantha was in her high chair, happily eating rice until we all sat down to join her.  Then she got very upset.  We offered her different things, including pieces of tortilla, but nothing worked, so we took her out of the chair and Craig was holding her.  She still didn’t settle down, and we had the impression that she wanted what the rest of us had to eat.  So Craig rolled up a piece of tortilla to look like a burrito, and she grabbed it with both hands and munched away happily.  Here’s the evidence:

First "burrito"

On further thought, I realized that the only reason we survived dinner last night was that we had red beans and rice, and she had sweet potato and rice.  I’m so not ready for this.

We also picked up some basil for tomorrow night’s dinner at the farmer’s market today.  It looks like something out of Harry Potter to me, or maybe something Craig and his brother could use to fight the zombies they have a sudden interest in.  I’m really looking forward to cooking with it. : )

Purple Basil

Food for Thought, and Thought for Food

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately.  I like to spend time in the kitchen, making good food from scratch (or close to it).  Unfortunately, that often means something else in the never-ending list of house and school chores is being neglected.  As much as I know I would miss all my kitchen comforts, some days I envy women whose work for the day is almost exclusively involved in preparing food for their families.

We’ve spent Mardi Gras at my parents’ house, away from all the festivities (and traffic) in New Orleans.  My dad grew up on a farm in Mustang, Oklahoma, which is now practically a suburb of Oklahoma City.  We were talking with him the other day about how his mother would provide a hearty, hot breakfast, a full lunch (fried chicken, potatoes, vegetable, etc.), and then a large dinner as well.  The men would come in from the fields to eat lunch during the harvest.  She got up before everyone else and started the stove on winter mornings.  She butchered the chickens.  I don’t envy some of the hard work she had to do, but I do envy having work with such a clear purpose.  

We’re working our way, very slowly, closer to the land.  Our little garden has produced well considering the neglect it has suffered.  We’re looking at joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) group out of Baton Rouge, so we will pay a fee for the year and get fresh, organic produce every week in April through August. (This takes out the middleman and supports a small farm which doesn’t destroy the land, not to mention cutting down on the effects of transportation.)

In many places just getting food on the table (if there is a table!) is an all-consuming daily project.  Where our food comes so easily to our tables, it is less appreciated.  One of our plans for Lent is to eat more simply, and hopefully more healthily, and stick to a tighter food budget.  Hopefully along the way, we can learn to be a little more careful in our eating, and a little more thankful for our bounty.


Today is the feast of St. Lucy, our oldest daughter’s namesake. (It’s a little strange to call her the “oldest” when she is barely two!) So we got up early-ish and got to work on the Saint Lucia buns. We used cardamom instead of the traditional saffron, but they came out pretty well, and the house smelled wonderful all day! Then we had a big brunch to celebrate Lucy’s special day.

I don’t have any profound insights about it all, except that it was wonderful to make something special that actually came out right (I’ve had a string of culinary defeats lately) and how entertaining dough can be in little hands. Lucy made her own buns, which were not exactly traditionally shaped, but still tasted great! This morning reinforced to me the goods that come from simple things like hand-kneading bread and working side-by-side with your family. It is hard to describe the peace that came working in the kitchen in the morning sun, and the sense of accomplishment when we tasted what we had spent so much time and effort making. I don’t think I could do it every day, but it was a wonderful, relaxing way to spend a Saturday morning!