What do we do on a cold feels-like-one-degree day in January? Bake and cook squash, that’s what we do. To stay warm, mostly. And save money for the bounty of spring and summer, when Ms. H and I partipate in Tantre Farm’s summer farm share. Tasty!
Today I am making country bread, which I love. It has no yeast and takes less than an hour from start to finish. Ms. H is the real baker in this relationship. I don’t have the patience with leavening agents. She does, however, and has a repertoire of yeasted bread performances that are nothing short of spectacular. We’ve invited friends over and watched them devour two fresh loaves of oat bread, which isn’t surprising, given how fantastic it tastes.
In these winter months squash is the vegetable of the day, week and month. Right now on top of the stove a black bean butternut squash chili is cooking. This recipe guarantees a warm kitchen. The dried beans cook for about three hours before the butternut squash is added. Oh humidity how I love thee! (You won’t be hearing me say that in the summer, though….). This chili will be hot, as I’ve added some dried chilies from Taos, New Mexico, seeds and husk. Spicy food is fantastic in winter, especially when I sweat. I’ve known people who sprinkled chili powder in their shoes to keep their feet warm. I’ve not tried it yet, but your mileage may vary.
To this lovely ode to heat and gas I will add a blue hubbard squash soup. The blue hubbard squash will roast in the oven at 350 for an hour. I like to roast squash for certain soups. For others, like the chili above, I don’t. I say experiment and find out what you like. We lucked out this year with Blue Hubbard. Normally these squash come in a beast-size only. But we did receive two smaller ones that mean I won’t have to freeze what we don’t use today. I haven’t added anything to the squash. The soup recipe will have nutmeg and sage and bayleaf and coriander. I figured there is no point in mudding the flavors by adding something to the squash as it cooks in the oven.
The seeds will get roasted after the squash comes out of the oven. Those are the seeds across the top of this entry.
I grew up with a father who cooked all our meals. To us he bequeathed a kitchen confidence that I relish to this day. Over time I have developed enough skills and confidence to freestyle cook, often with no recipe. I liken it to the culinary equivalent of flaneuring. I start off with some basic ingredients, mix,cook and adjust. In the end I hope I am the most surprised of all.
Squash will continue to be the winter food of choice in this latitude. We don’t have any other choice, really. And I’ve tried purchasing vegetables grown elsewhere at Costco and other places. The taste is decidedly lacking. So squash it is. I’ve come to realize that all this squash makes those first rasberries and asparagus of spring that much more delicious and that much more fleeting.
I have no right to hold on to culinary tastes throughout the seasons anymore than I have a right to peak experiences every minute of the day. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to.