It’s comfort food season, roasted vegetables, slow-cooked stews, etc. When I watch recipe tutorials, the gorgeous photography alone inspires me, especially if it involves getting out a heavy cast-iron pan first, and then picking some herbs half-way through, and finishing off with a grating of cheese.
There is one thing that always catches me unaware, and that is when the cook flourishes seasonings in such a grand and generous manner that they fly all over the place. As a cook who cleans up her work space compulsively, I feel an urge to hand them a Norwex kitchen cloth to clean it up quickly, but how photogenic would that be? Another thing is when they have melted butter or softened cream cheese in a bowl and they only give it a cursory swipe with a rubber spatula, then leave gobs of it still in the bowl and proceed cooking merrily without it. I remember the earliest days of baking with my mom, waiting to lick the beaters or the mixing bowl, but when she had finished with the “scraper” there was hardly anything left. Sometimes she would have pity and leave some gleanings on purpose for us, but never ever would she have put great pools of butter into the dirty dishes pile like the Pioneer Woman does.
I have a website for you, This Mom Cooks, where my husband’s cousin’s son’s wife 😀 blogs about cooking and posts wonderful recipes: a variety of Amish staples, chocolate whoopie pies, crock pot meals, creamy soups, etc. (Hi, Marilyn. :)) One of the things I appreciate about her recipes is the simplicity of the ingredients.
I have gone on a Half-baked Harvest spree recently, and even made the Creamy Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Pasta for fellowship meal. It flew like a lead balloon, largely because the color was suspect, my husband said. It didn’t look like cheese sauce, since there was ricotta, gouda, and parmesan mixed with the butternut. I loved it, but there is only so much leftover squash pasta one person can eat, so I treated the chickens to a gourmet feast one day.
Another butternut recipe that I have loved is from Well-plated by Erin. Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash comes out tasting better than a roasted sweet potato, in my opinion. Maybe it’s the convection roast setting on my oven, but those buttery cubes with their slightly blackened edges are well worth the icky feeling on my hands from peeling the squash and the strenuous work with the chef’s knife to carve it up into manageable bits.
As you may be able to tell, I have a lot of squash. I even baked pumpkin pies last weekend, and my family thought it was a foretaste of glory, or at the very least, mom got converted from her non-pie baking ways. I actually have, a little bit. I have decided to give up the excuses and work on that pastry until I get it. The only way I like pie is if the pastry is very well-baked and flakey. I find that difficult to pull off, but practice might actually help!
Today I wrote out my Thanksgiving menu, and I am really looking forward to cooking a feast for my favorite holiday. Gabriel has to work on Thanksgiving Day, so we will have our company and luscious food on Friday. The children and I plan to make bread bowls and soup to eat by the fireplace on Thursday, and then we hope to make chocolate candy and drink copious amounts of tea while we play games. We get two days to celebrate, if you look at it with a squint and a good attitude.
I got the groceries today, hauling home copious amounts of cheeses and cranberries and oranges and sugar and flour and butter. I am thankful, very, very thankful for the privilege of buying what we need and much of what we want. I am also grateful for the harvest that is in my basement in jars and freezers, for the good soil that produced so much bounty, and for the mother who taught me how to preserve it.
Winter is here now. The leaves have all lost their grip and the naked trees lift their profiles to the sky. Gabriel stuck markers along the driveway so that we can see where to plow. We’ve had our first snow, with more coming soon. It is time to fill the birdfeeder. I left the spiky seedpods of the coneflowers in my flower borders, but they have already been cleaned of seeds by the finches so that only stems remain. One day last week a fleet of bluebirds swarmed the Virginia creeper on the chimney and cleared out all the berries. There are plenty of rose hips available yet for the songbirds, and the chickens still find great rewards on the compost heap. I feel a little sorry for them, and what they do not know about winter, but it’s all a part of growing up, I guess.
They’ll be just fine, especially if I keep trying new recipes that aren’t quite what we hoped.