real quick

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(Note the dirty dishes in the cover photo. Because when you cook a lot, you wash a lot)

There is much to say.

But there is not time. At least not today. I would love to wax eloquently about the things I’ve learned this past semester, but if I don’t go study, the exam that is bearing down on me this coming Monday will get the best of me. I’m reminded of an exam I took my sophomore year of college, when the professor warned us that The Bridegroom Cometh for You Next Week, Lest You Find Yourself Unprepared. I’ve always been a fan of a well-placed Biblical reference used to strike fear into the hearts of unsuspecting undergraduates, but at the time I was one of the foolish, unprepared virgins who found themselves without enough oil in their lamps, and afterwards there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But now I’m older, possibly wiser, not living in a dorm and not chasing boys and I would like to hope I’m less distracted than I was then, or at least I am more disciplined and more scared of failing because, well, we did move here for this.

But I digress. Here is a relatively quick, incredibly easy recipe that has all of the seasonal warmth and comfort you can hope for, full of protein, flavor and color, and I ate it for dinner today. I also made it for a lovely group of senior citizens this past semester as part of a lunch demonstration; they were kind enough to at least pretend they liked it, and I think some of them actually did.

This recipe feeds at least 4 generously as a main course.

Squash, Pumpkin Seed and Quinoa salad:

1 cup of quinoa/grain mixture/couscous
1 small acorn squash, cut in half and seeded, sliced and cut into small cubes
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberrys
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus a little
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 cup vinegar (rice or apple cider)
salt and pepper to taste

*I made this twice, once with butternut and once with acorn squash. I think the acorn squash was my favorite, and the easiest, because you don’t need to peel it. The butternut is squash a little sweeter, the acorn a little more buttery. FYI in case you have a preference.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. On a baking sheet, toss the prepared squash with a small amount of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and slightly charred around the edges. Let cool slightly.

Cook the quinoa/grain mixture according to the package directions. While its cooking, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar in a small bowl. When the quinoa is finished, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Adjust flavors to taste. Serve in bowls.



zucchini and potato torte / eating summer

baked torte

In Mississippi, and most of the deep south, summer usually starts in May. While the rest of the world gets to continue enjoying their cardigans and cool breezes and warm soups, Mississippi residents are living in the early stages of a 3-4 month sauna. May (literally) melts into June. The hotter days mean lots of fun things like vacations, watermelons, lemonade, sandy beaches, fresh blueberries, popsicles, the list goes on. I love the food that comes with summer; it means the smell of fresh basil, juicy ripe tomatoes, cold sweet watermelons! The local markets, and my front yard, have been a veritable explosion of abundant produce.

Sigh. That brings us to summer squash. Yellow squash, green zucchini, however it is known to you, I’ve never really cared for it. My working memories of the summer gourd include pan fried disks of under-salted mushiness. Not a lot of flavor, kind of watery, seedy (as in, lots of seeds). I’m usually not inclined to the first world eating problem that is texture aversions, but with summer squash, it is very real. The sogginess! *shudder* But it grows so well in our garden in the warm moisture-thick climate we live in. So well, that new blossoms burst forth every day. Yellow and green pods grow inches overnight. The leaves are so thick and tall, you could easily lose a toddler in them if you’re not watching. Something this prolific needs to be given to chance to be eaten!

So my summer eating venture (challenge! said in that voice) has been to find ways of cooking squash that actually taste good and, well, don’t make me gag. Plus eating seasonally, that’s a thing these days, right?

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