30 November 2017

Rotini with Butternut Squash & Pancetta

The Thanksgiving CSA share was full of Cucurbita -- acorn, butternut, and autumn crown winter squash plus a few wee sugar pumpkins -- and I couldn't be happier. Not only because I love to eat winter squash, but also because the delicious little cucurbits will keep practically forever when stored properly, meaning I can eat CSA squash well into February.

But who am I trying to kid? I'll have eaten them all by Christmas!


The dish below is loosely inspired by Melt's recipe for "Roaring Forties with Honey Roasted Delicata Squash, Sage Butter, and Rotini" I made last month. In my dish, everything cooks on the stovetop -- freeing up the oven to bake the dozen wee sweet potatoes that were also in my CSA share -- and I've replaced the nuts with pancetta.


Rotini with Butternut Squash & Pancetta

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz chopped yellow onion
  • 4 oz chopped pancetta
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, & diced small (¼-inch cubes)
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ½ tsp sage
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 10 oz whole grain rotini
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese, plus extra to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium in a large Dutch/French oven. Add pancetta and cook for a few mins or until much of the fat is rendered out. Add the onion and cook for 5 mins, until it softens and the pancetta is crispy.
  2. Add the butter, squash, rosemary, sage, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix well to combine. Cover and cook for 10-12 mins, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, but not mushy. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the back of the box. Drain and add to the squash mixture. Add the blue cheese and season to taste. Serve in pasta bowls sprinkled with extra blue cheese.


For years, I thought winter squash was called such because it was harvested in the fall and we needed a name to clearly differentiate it from summer squash, but NO. I know nothing. Winter squash is so named because it keeps through the winter. So obvious.

29 November 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Hill-Stead

Hill-Stead, a Colonial Revival mansion, was the first architectural project of Theodate Pope Riddle, fourth registered female architect in the United States.

27 November 2017

Cream of the Crop


Cream of the Crop is the second book in Clayton's Hudson Valley Series and is set not too long after Nuts. One of Roxie's BFFs, Natalie Grayson, takes on an advertising campaign for the small Hudson Valley town of Bailey Falls. Like many twee New England towns, it is struggling to attract and keep tourists and the locals hope Natalie's hot advertising firm can give it the boost it needs. Meanwhile, Natalie hopes to get closer to The Hot Dairy Farmer who makes her favorite brie ... and who reduces her to a blushing, stammering, lust-maddened wreck whenever she sees him.

Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get into Cream of the Crop. Mostly, I never really felt I connected well enough with Oscar Mendoza to care about him. He's frequently monosyllabic, boorish, rude -- indeed, there's a scene toward the end where Oscar's behavior is utterly reprehensible (and no good explanation/excuse for it is supplied). I get that he's meant to be Natalie's sexy "caveman," but I needed something more from his storyline to fully embrace Oscar as Natalie's romantic interest. Maybe, more about his family -- they're all still alive, footballing and farming in Wisconsin, after all -- or friends he might have other than Leo or the ex-wife, Missy (who he consistently prioritized over Natalie -- it's admirable when people can be friends their exes, but that doesn't feel like what's going on between Oscar and Missy). I get that Natalie finds Oscar totally hot and loves fucking him, but ... why does she love him? Why does he love her? Does he? Does she? Is this even a romance?

Also, I felt uncomfortable with Natalie's description of Oscar's looks and her general fixation on his sheer beefcakeness. Every rich white girl needs a little caramel macchiato pick-me-up, ammirite? Oscar Mendoza is Natalie's Jason Momoa fantasy?? I don't know. It felt like, maybe, we didn't need an Oscar backstory because Natalie just needed an Oscar-shaped sex machine who growled "Pinup" and "great, big ass" and fucked her six ways to Sunday. That there was no need for Oscar to ever be a fully-fleshed human being. But, again, how then could this be a romance?

In general, Natalie herself left me conflicted. I enjoyed watching her work her advertising magic for Bailey Falls while slowly realizing that she could have it all -- a job she loved, a man she adored fucking, the city, the country, and the fromage. Also, Natalie's near constant internal monologue was both hilariously witty and delightfully dirty. She was clearly a woman who had figured out what she liked, how to get it with regularity, and made no apologies for any of it. But. In addition to the objectification of Oscar, she did sometimes come across as a self-centered rich girl and the whole "I'll make sure the ad campaign includes Chad and Logan (The Token Gays) so everyone knows how truly family-friendly Bailey Falls is" just made me go UGH a lot.

In the end, while I have mixed feelings about Cream of the Crop, I still look forward to reading the next book in Clayton's Hudson Valley Series, Buns, featuring Clara and the new owner of the Bryant Mountain House.

Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton (Simon & Schuster, 2016)