Saturday, October 23, 2010

Slowing Down

Fall always seems to bring change. School starts and the leaves transform colors as the relaxation of summer almost abruptly vanishes. We seem to get caught up in our busy lives without regard for the beauty right in front of us. Whistling wind, falling leaves, and the crunch of a fresh apple become simply apart of the background. 

My school during fall

I know that lately I have been guilty of getting caught up in the commotion, but that does not mean that I always have to be. Today I took some time with my grandmother to truly appreciate the wonders of fall. We admired the bounty of vegetables at the Farmer's Market and shared a glass of freshly pressed apple cider at the cider mill. We each told stories, reminiscing about the past and just simply enjoying the present. Our wonderful day together came as a reminder of the importance of slowing down and just smelling the flowers crisp fall air. Being able to spend time with loved ones, chat with passionate famers, and observe natural beauty is a true blessing. This is what fall, and the holiday season, truly means to me.

How do you slow down? What is your favorite thing to do during the fall?

But, alas, this would not be a proper post without me telling you about my wonderful day at the market. What can I say, I get very excited every time I go there and love sharing my experience.

I loved talking with all the farmers at the market, especially my favorite squash growers. The one with the giant selection of produce has come to know me quite well. I think he recognizes my love for veggies  because when I came by, he moved in front of the squash and had a big bag in hand.

We had a nice discussion about herb gardens and the difference between buttercup and kabocha squash (please click here for HEAB's great pictorial of it). 

The farmer told me that apparently kabocha is just a variety of buttercup. However, common usage has proved otherwise. Usually we refer to the squash with the raised edges  as buttercup or turban, while the ones with button bottoms are called kabocha (which just means "pumpkin" in Japanese). Essentially, they are both from the same family, and we have just given the button-bottomed ones a special name (kabocha). So there you have it, straight from the farmer; the mystery is finally solved! 

And as you can see, there are even orange/red kabochas! Clearly I was excited to discover this and cannot wait to try it. I might have squealed a little upon seeing it. No shame ;).

In addition to the 3 kabochas (2 green, 1 red), I also bought two carnival squashes, one delicata squash, and one spaghetti squash from an organic farmer that I frequent (sadly, Mr. Kale has not been at the market lately.) Seriously, how cute are they? I especially love the character of the carnival squashes. I was only planning on getting one, but I just could not decide which was cuter so my grandmother just got me both. There are worse dilemmas :P. 

In honor of slowing things down and my awesome squash finds, I thought it would only be appropriate to finally share my method of slow roasting squash with you. I find that it works best for kabochas or buttercups, but I believe that slow-roasting imparts a wonderful flavor to most any squash. The slow roasting process draws out the squash's natural sugars, turning it into a creamy, soft, caramelized delight. Oh boy, now I am craving some! (But really, when am I not? I eat it for dessert!)

[Please excuse the strange lighting---it is golden brown, not burnt!]

Slow-Roasted and Caramelized Winter Squash

  • all-natural produce spray
  • mallet 
  • big knife
  • 1 kabocha or buttercup squash 
  • water 

Preheat oven to 400*F. Thoroughly wash and dry the squash using cold water and an all-natural produce spray, if you have one, so that you can eat the skin (it is delicious when prepared like this---trust me!) Use the mallet and big knife to cut the squash in half. Using an ice cream scooper or a large spoon, remove the seeds. Place each half the squash in two small casserole dishes or both in one large casserole dish. Fill the bottom of the dish with about 1/2 inch of water. Place the squash in the oven and bake for 1 hour, periodically checking to make sure that the water has not evaporated. After an hour, remove the squash from the oven and put just a little bit more warm water in the bottom of the dish. Cover with aluminum foil and return to the oven. Bake for one more hour. Next, either remove it from the oven or leave it in the turned-off oven until you are ready to eat it. Devour! 


Using a mallet and big knife is the key to easy cutting. You can buy a mallet cheaply from a hardware store for sole use in your kitchen or just use one from a tool box since it will not actually touch the squash. No struggling here! 

Water ensures that the squash will stay moist and not stick to the bottom of the pan. There will be a lot of sweet squash juices oozing, which are definitely not fun to clean up (better that they get coated the squash by doing this). 

Also, placing tin foil over the pan after an hour insures that the squash will be golden-brown from the first hour, but not burnt. It also keeps the moisture in by what some people call "steam roasting." Kabochas tend to be a dryer squash so keeping the moisture in is critical. Also, creamy squash just tastes better :D. 

Now this method might seem a little high-maintence, but trust me, it is SO worth it. When I said I eat this for dessert, I was not kidding. I will skip the vegan cookies and go straight for the squash, thankyouverymuch

[Please excuse the strange lighting---it is golden brown, not burnt!]

And would you believe that this method actually developed out of a mistake coupled with trial and error? You know know what they say, some of the best inventions were mistakes. The Meow-Mix singing cat commercial was (see here). Okay, maybe that is not a good example, but back to my point:

Try. This. Now. 

That is all :).  

Have a lovely day! 



1 comment:

  1. You really are quite the squash connoisseur girlie! I also roast it with water but never do the tin foil trick! I will have to try that for my last meal before leaving for CA!

    I'm happy you had some down time with your grandma!