What have I been up to, I bet you're asking? Or maybe you don't care. Either way, I'm going to tell you. Aside from making it to my job and going to sleep by 9:00 each night, not much, but I, for my waking hours, offer the following:
I finally made that 'savory lasagna' that I talked about. It wasn't pretty, but it sure was good. Whole wheat lasagna noodles + creamy butternut squash sauce much like this recipe + part-skim ricotta + wilted kale (can't get enough of those ruffled greens!) + a sprinkle of parmesan + bake according to lasagna box directions = a gooey, warm, taste-of-fall-in-each-mouthful kind of dish. Note for next time that I might need to drain my butternut squash really well because it was a little watery right out of the oven; it did firm up upon sitting, though.
I've been having really weird dreams lately. I had a very vivid one a couple of nights ago of my mother coming over and cleaning my kitchen. It really is a mess and could use a thorough tidying and scrubbing. Mom?
I also made more applesauce using some beautiful organic varieties from my CSA bag (some tart and some sweet). Something about the smell of it cooking in the kitchen and the moist air just makes me all warm and fuzzy. My personal take on the one necessary ingredient (well besides apples) is sea salt. This time I added some brown sugar and lemon juice too. Something about the sweet and savory. Perfect. I made both smooth (thank you, immersion blender!) and chunky versions. The smooth went in the freezer and the chunky in my belly (I packed little cups of it for lunches like I was in elementary school). Yum.
I monitored the activities of my neighbors that share my backyard fence line. Except they took down the fence. And the beautiful flowering cherry tree that I loved to sit under each spring/summer. And I think they filled in their in-ground swimming pool. Weird. Right now they've just laid grass seed and straw. Not much else. That's the news. Exciting, huh?
I experimented with acorn squash and using it as a bowl. I thought this was a fussy gourmet thing to do. Little did I know how easy it was. I just cut the acorn squash in half, scraped out the seeds (which I baked later as a crunchy snack), and placed the halves face-down on a prepared baking sheet (with sides since this does create liquid). I was inspired by this recipe and used it as a jumping off point. The two halves were baked for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Meanwhile, I cooked one cup of jasmine rice in a pot and started a large skillet with a little bit of olive oil, shallots, and minced garlic. I then added chopped celery (from my CSA bag - very delicate stalks) and kale (again, love this stuff!) to the skillet and cooked until the celery was a little tender and the kale wilted. Once cooked, the rice went into the skillet to absorb the flavors; salt and pepper were added. After the squash halves had baked for 30 minutes, I pulled them out, scooped out some of the squash meat and mixed it in with the rice. The rice mixture then went into the squash halves (now upright in a covered baking dish) and back into the oven for another 30 minutes. I think this will be revisited for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner with the parents - perhaps with some dried cranberries or nuts for a bit more tooth. We'll see.
I have started doing a 'research day' every week now where I don't go into work but instead go to the local university's library or to my own kitchen table for a quiet day of research. These past weeks I've been getting to know the microfiche machines. Did you know you can now scan microfiche to PDF documents?! This might not mean much to most of you, but for those in my circle of friends who have spent hours pouring over microfiche, this technological development is a godsend. And made me feel old. I haven't been out of school that long, have I?
Today I am actually off of work (comp day for being on duty on Saturday) and am going Christmas shopping before the rush. I hope to knock out a lot of the people on my list today. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Oh, and I might treat myself to a peppermint mocha for being so productive!