Shared delight in food, in words: it binds the foodies in the online world like sausage in stuffing, those of us who write and those of us who read.
As a special Thanksgiving treat, please welcome Kate Bowers, whose acquaintance I've made over, no kidding, butternut squash ...
Buying acorn squash is a bit of a mystery to me. I take it on faith that inside is sweet, orange flesh. If not, well, I can throw enough butter, sugar, and oven time at the thing to render it edible. This is a vegetable able to withstand almost any neglect perpetrated by cooks suffering from too many holiday distractions. It's an ideal vegetable at this time of year.
On a recent shopping trip, I got myself a lovely "golden" acorn squash; its brilliant orange exterior drew me in. I'd never seen one before. It looked pretty. I bought.
I loaded the groceries into the trunk of my car, which, during the winter, also contains the 20 pounds of rock salt that my father gave to me in the belief that an abundant supply of rock salt will save the day should my car ever become snow-bound. I indulge him in this. It means two things: first, that he, with an endearing naiveté, believes me to be the kind of competent motorist who can successfully deploy rock salt, and second, that he mentally still lives in the era before the cell phone and AAA. He is a true gentleman of the old school.
I back out, stop at the exit from the parking lot, and, waiting for traffic to pass, begin to contemplate the myriad possibilities of my impulse purchase. No been-there-done-that brown sugar and butter for my new discovery! "Cranberries?" I thought. "Sage? Perhaps curry?"
Taking a sharp left out of the parking lot, I hear from my trunk muffled noises, the sort that I imagine a loan shark's muscle man might hear when he brings a reluctant payer to see the boss. I'm puzzled for a moment or two. I take another corner, more scuffling. Ah, I realize. That's my acorn squash, freed from its paper bonds, making a break for freedom. I drive home, taking turns carefully, trying not to bruise my precious squash.
I open the trunk. Frustrated in its true purpose (saving me from a frozen death), my rock salt has decided to throw itself heroically upon my acorn squash. My trunk is awash in rock salt and groceries.
By the time I got it all cleaned up, I was too tired to be creative. My purchase suffered the indignity of being cut in half, scooped out, and baked in the oven with sugar and butter in the cavity as if it were any of its humble green cousins. It was delicious.
- Kate Bowers is alive and well in Belmont, Massachusetts and tries to eat five servings of vegetables and fruit every day.