December 13, 2010


Had to share this photo. I only recently discovered Carnival Squash. And I think they are my new favorite. It's just the cutest squash I've ever seen. The love child of Acorn and Delicata is apt, Laura.

One more thing about winter squarshes: I have always scooped out the seeds of a squash-half BEFORE roasting... until now! Our friend, Kai, enlightened me last Friday to the wisdom of the seeds-in-squash roasting technique. Laying the squash on the buttered tray with the seeds snugly nestled in place by all those stringy fibers (which are not that easy to scrape out when raw, I find) helps to keep the moisture in the vegetable as it cooks. Afterward, gently scooping out the seeds, it's like butter.

December 7, 2010

Brussels Sprouts : Everyone’s (New) Favorite

I have been surprised how prevalent Brussels sprouts are in this new era, and how popular they are among our friends. Maria and her boyfriend Kyler seem to be eating them and buying them all of the time. I have served them a number of times when we’ve had guests this fall, and they always seem happy to eat them. These little cabbage-like things seem to have a constant spot in our refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. This is surprising; as a child, I loathed them and avoided them at all costs. But as an adult, I have found them to be quite pleasant, to the mouth and to the eye.

For a thanksgiving gathering I attended, I was asked to bring a vegetable dish, so naturally, I roasted some carrots and Brussels sprouts. I was pleased to find the sprouts for sale still on the stalk, which is always a sight to behold. Upon arrival at the gathering, someone excitedly exclaimed, “Elizabeth, did you bring Brussels sprouts?” And once again, I found myself slightly dumbfounded at the excitement around Brussel sprouts.

Roasting these vegetables is the way to go; it really brings out the flavor. Ina Garten, author of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, is the one who taught me to roast these veggies. Here is her recipe:

* 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
* 3 tablespoons good olive oil
* 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt, and serve immediately.

As you can see from my photo, I chose to cut the sprouts into quarters to speed up the roasting process.

December 5, 2010

The Other Squash

For anyone who wondered about the alien-looking squash in the bottom corner, I can't say with certainty what it is. I think it was either a "Dumpling," aka "Sweet Dumpling," or a "Carnival." Sweet dumplings look like the love-child of a small pumpkin and a delicata. The Carnival looks like the love-child of an acorn squash and a delicata. You can see how a person could confuse the two. Judging from the shape, I think the squash in the painting is most probably a carnival.

I did eat several of each this fall. The flavor of the sweet sumpling is actually quite similar to delicata. And, also like delicata, you can eat the skins! Why is this so exciting?! It feels good to eat the whole thing, you know?

What did I cook with this squash? I am a simple cook, so I sliced it in halves, face down (estimated 30 minutes) and then sprinkled a few toasted pecans, raisins or currants, and either blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbles, parmesan shavings, or (once) some melting brie. Half of a squash with such fillings makes a great little work-lunch. I also love this squash plain, with butter and salt. This Fanatic Cook roasted a sweet dumpling quash whole and ate it in slices. Fanatical!

Here's a good short list of other varieties of winter squash at What's Cooking America. I am interested in the Hubbard Squash.

December 1, 2010

New era + vegetables.

This last season of my life has been markedly different from previous seasons, for a few reasons. I am now a homeowner. I currently have the blessing of living with my sister (Maria). And I have been dating someone (Adam) for four months.

With these new (very good!) elements of my life has come a new routine. And vegetables and cooking seem to have a nice place in this routine…veggies are part of the daily stuff of life, and I love sharing them with the people around me. Maria and I both like to cook, and we have been enjoying the new kitchen very much. Adam (who has a distinct love for vegetables!) had quite an impressive garden in his backyard this summer, which means that I ate more green things, notably a lot of excellent kale.

Well, let us focus on tomatoes. (I would have blogged about squash, but alas, I am still a little intimidated….Katie and Laura’s posts, have, however, inspired me!) First, here is a photo of Maria in our new kitchen chopping some tomatoes from a friend’s garden. Delicious.

And here is the entire crop of tomatoes from Adam’s garden, in his hands. His kale was much more plentiful, but we were still able to enjoy his tomato harvest, a nice addition to a salad.

So, to conclude, I am grateful for tomatoes, for new surroundings, for the people in my life. And for my dear vegetable-blog friends. Here is a shot of tomatoes from Katy and Ryan’s greenhouse; such fond memories of the Liberal End Summit!