Tag Archives: fall

Look Up from Your Latte and See the Change

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My pumpkin buddy is helping me write today!

In the midst of a hail storm a few weeks ago, my husband ran out to cover the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Meanwhile, I grabbed my scissors dashed out into the darkness and found the one bright orange pumpkin that I kept meaning to pick. Out of the twelve nearly ready for Halloween volunteer pumpkins, I could save at least one, right?

I suspect my husbands efforts were more substantial, at least comparatively, but the pumpkin sitting on the table next to me as I write is rather perfect looking, without a hail pock in sight. Not that a hail pocked pumpkin wouldn’t be delightful roasted down into all sorts of treats, but really… Hail comes and for some reason my husband and I fling ourselves out into the elements to save whatever we can, whether there is a rational reason or not.

The pumpkins arrived in our garden as volunteers. No, they didn’t help me weed or mulch, rather they made themselves comfortable in our tended soil, then spurted, grew and spun around the garden that I had an actual plan for. It took a while for me to guess what they might be and honestly it wasn’t until they were round, orange and obvious did I finally succumb to… yes, that is a pumpkin. The transformation was well over a month ago, but leaving it on the vine the extra week or so just had this irresistible Cinderella effect and with a ton of other stuff to harvest, I felt in no rush to snip it to freedom until the weather threatened to make it unrecognizable.

Around the time my squash went from random-green-gourd thing to pumpkin, there was another change of season: from regular lattes to pumpkin spice lattes.

Gotta be honest… I just don’t get it.

It isn’t because I do not care to drink them, or that I even care if you drink them or not. I actually really appreciate a bit of pumpkin-pie-spiced up food on my plate. Rather my ire is with the fact that a commercial change of beverage suddenly has a greater impact on our society than the fact that actual, real life nature is changing. And it is magnificent.

Why don’t we talk about the smell that ever so slightly lets on that autumn has begun. What about the leaves!? What about the wild temperature fluctuations, because seriously what is going on with that, this time of year?

Instead there is an argument about the joys or annoyances of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I realize this post shamelessly is included in the latter, but please get your face out of your sweet coffee preferences and look around at the actual change of season. It is actually changing. Gasp. And believe it or not, it has nothing to do with a corporation’s marketing strategy either.

Okay. I get it: cinnamon + ginger + allspice + nutmeg + cloves = comfort. I also imagine you do feel a temperature change that makes these spices a bit more inviting. Maybe you have also noticed a leaf or two falling, and at the least you can’t deny the sun is going to sleep a bit sooner than usual. Of course, I have lived places (looking at you Central Coast of California) where the change of season is a bit less dramatic, but even in the places that lack a definable four seasons: change is happening. I believe in my heart, that despite flipping a calendar to a month that ends in ‘BER’ and the appearance of fall’s most fashionable beverage, your internal clock craves feeling in sync with nature’s transition.

For the love of pumpkin pie spice, please just look up from your latte, whether it is in style or not, gaze out a window, and ask yourself “what is actually in season… from the earth?”

Now that my friends is where the magic can begin. Pumpkins are just the beginning. What about all of the goodness that is coming to an end: tomatoes in deepening shades of red or simply green and ready to fry, eggplant that will soften soon enough, peppers in various stages of heat or sweetness, the end of summer squash, spaghetti squash, delicata, butternut, apples, onions, pears, carrots, beets, roots, and shoots. This is the time to hit the farm stands, while the harvest is heavy and before farmers start to prepare their land for winter. This is the time to squirrel up the goodness into freezers, cans, jars or at the very least fill your belly with the local stuff before your food once again is shipped from who knows where.

I hope I haven’t shamed my Pumpkin Spice Latte lovers, whomever you may be, the truth is I feel sadness for all of our sake that a corporation has yet again a better marketing plan than Mother Nature. There is only one way we can change that. Look up and then seek the goodness that is growing all around you and let that be your guide this crisp, bliss-inducing autumn season.

Cheddar Squash Bake

squashcheddarbakeYou have cut them in half, chunked them into pieces and roasted winter squash before, but…
Have you tried shredding it?

Now is the time!

Out of all the squash possibilities, butternut is a great place to start shredding as the skin peels easily with a veggie peeler, the seeds scrap out without issue and then a big hunk can be shredded on a box grater.

However, if you are lazy like me, big peeled chunks can be placed in a food processor with the grater attachment and in a few minutes you will have a mass of bright orange shreds and… as a bonus you are less likely to scrape up your fingers as I manage to do on box graters!

Once you have these shreds, you can fold them with leftover quinoa and a few otherbutternutquinoapatties ingredients to make these beautiful Butternut Quinoa Patties as are featured in this week’s meal plan.

But, even easier is to toss the mass with olive oil, salt and bake it in the oven until it starts melting into itself. While the heat takes care of it, shred up a bunch of sharp cheddar.

Toss and press it together. More oven time.

Then dip into this gooey side dish which can become the main dish alongside your favorite fall salad.

Did I mention there are only FOUR ingredients… one of which is just salt! Roll up those sleeves and grab a grater!

Cheddar Squash Bake

One pound of squash with about two ounces of cheddar makes a decent serving, so adjust the recipe according to the number of people and squash you have available. Also, Lilly’s Table offers a handy-dandy way to adjust servings in this recipe as well. Give yourself about an hour to let the squash properly melt with the cheese in the oven. 

3 pounds butternut squash
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut the squash into four chunks: first through the middle just above the round, seed-filled part. Next, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Peel the skin away with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Shred the chunks with a box grater or cut smaller and shred in a food processor.

Toss the shreds with the olive oil and salt. Pile high in a baking dish. As the squash bakes it shrinks down significantly so a smaller dish works best. A larger dish will give you a very thin finished product. If you are concerned it will overflow in the oven, place a baking sheet underneath. Bake for about 20 minutes. Toss and bake for another 15 minutes until the squash is starting to fall apart.

Meanwhile, shred the cheddar. Toss half of the shredded cheddar with the squash as soon as there is room in the dish. Press down, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake 10-20 more minutes until the top is golden and the center is tender when you spoon into it.