A weekend to remember and a butternut squash recipe to die for - how to use leftovers
The past couple of months have been some of the worst months we have gone through. They have been quite depleting, phisicaly, mentaly, emotionaly, financialy. They have been bad months, not the worse months ever, and I have seen a lot of very bad times, but they have been exhausting, and sad, and seem to have sapped us of all the internal light and sunshine. Things were grey, inside us, for a while. There must have been grey clouds in each of us, and yet, those have never turned black nor stormed out. Eventually, some sort of sunshine started to come out from behind the clouds.
And yet, in the midst of all those darkened clouds that seemed full of rain, in the midst of all the exhaustion and the seemingly consumption of all our inner resources and strenght to carry on, I found myself at such a height for my energy and creativity. As I have mentioned in the previous posts, I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, inventing new dishes, trying out pairings and new recipes, cooking good food, noting everything down, and photographing a lot for the blog. I mean, you have no idea how many shoots I have waiting for me to start editing those photos. A lot, trust me.
Still, seems like some of the dark clouds that threatened around our heads have somehow begun to clear, seems like we can once more afford to go back to (our) some sort of normalcy, routine. People talk so much about not letting themselves fall into routine, I don't really get it. I wished for the return of our routines, we all did. Being back on our normal road, doing those things we like to do, together, again, as a family, as a couple, as father and son, mother and child... we crave for those routines, they fill our hearts, our days with sunshine and warmth. Routine is good. I long for it.
So this past weekend it felt as if everything was back on track, we were living our normal lives once again. We woke up early Saturday morning, and we managed to make the trip to the nearest thing to a farmer's market we have here, close to us. We came home with lots of goodies from the vendors and the butchers, amongst them a box full of beautiful mushrooms and a bag of pork kidneys that we turned into the yummiest pie for Sunday's dinner - despite the fact that I don't care a toss about Valentine's day, I do have a seven year old who latches on to every celebratory date on the calendar so he can have some sort of a party or a special dinner, so we did have to give in and cover the pie with dough hearts, and we did have to have chocolate fondue for dessert, as well. And it was fun, and it was as if love was all around, and we cuddled together after dinner, and we enjoyed each other's company all night long, for life is frail and it can be taken from you as fast as a blink of an eye.
On Saturday afternoon we did some more shopping, and got some fish that I haven't had for years, and after attending to some family functions we found ourselves sitting at a table, inside the restaurant across the road from us - one of our favourites - having a late dinner, the three of us together, happy and hungry and so elated that we could be there, so grateful that we could be there and share that moment between us. I swear I have never seen our boy eat so well, in such short time, with such delight. It was one of the best nights we had in a long row of darker nights. It was one of the best days we had in a while, as we cheered and remembered and appreciated the presence of someone, now departed, in our lives and in our hearts. Someone who will be sorely missed, but remembered with gratitude and love, and whom we hope is now at peace and in no pain.
As for Sunday, it saw my husband back in the kitchen with time in his hands to work on the breads he excells at - I may be queen of the cornbread and now all the soda breads, but my husband still stands as emperor of all the rest! - the redolent scent of fresh baked bread filling the house with warmth and life, it saw me running around like a crazy ant cleaning and dusting and vacuuming, and it saw the three of us enter the kitchen by mid afternoon and cook together a lavish meal, with a heartwarming soup that had shreds of portuguese cabbage floating in a thick, creamy broth, a mushroom and kidney pie with hearts cut out of the leftover dough streaming on top of it, fragrant strawberries and sweet, juicy clementines dipped in melted dark chocolate for dessert, good conversation, a feeling of utter love and peace and joy, a perfect celebration of what to me love stands for and truly means. It was one of the best weekends ever, I say.
I didn't get to serve this one dish in particular, but this is one dish that is perfect for using leftovers. If you use a big butternut squash or pumpkin instead of a small one like I did, you can have it for a family dinner, or a fancy entrée, even. I made this one up as I had a squash that I wanted to use in another dish I had been turning over in my mind, but I had too much squash for it. So I cut off the end of the butternut, and used it on this solitary lunch dish that made good use of some leftover runner beans I had cooked for the previous night's dinner and some leftover roast pork I had in the freezer. Neither was quite enough for three, or two as that matter, but they were the right amount for one, and I got to be that lucky one!! Want to know how to cook this? It's quite easy.
for one person you'll need:
- the bottom half of a small-ish butternutsquash, de-seeded.
- shredded leftover roast meat - you can ommit this and turn it vegetarian
- one small carrot, peeled and diced
- leftover bolied runner beans, or any other veggie you have
- cumin seeds
- salt, pepper
- olive oil
- coarsely chopped mix of nuts
- grana padanno or parmegianno