Stuff and Nonsense: October 2019


Roasted Delicata Squash & Brussels Sprouts

While I've long been Team Butternut when it comes to winter squashes, delicata is becoming quite a favorite. Its sweet, smooth flesh is reminiscent of a sweet potato and it is, I feel, one of the easiest winter squashes to cook since the skin is completely, deliciously edible. I like to roast mine with Brussels sprouts and onions, but they are also excellent stuffed or in a gratin.

My recipe for roasting delicata squash and Brussels sprouts is pretty basic:

  • Halve a few delicata squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  • Slice into ¼ inch pieces.
  • Put in a big bowl.
  • Trim and halve a bunch of Brussels sprouts and add to the bowl.
  • Drizzle in some olive oil and toss everything around.
  • Spread the vegetables out on your biggest sheet pan.
  • Season liberally with salt, pepper, and whatever herbs or spices you like (rosemary is always a go-to)
  • Roast at 425°F; for 25 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are a bit charred and crispy.

Since you're going to eat the skin, make sure you give the squash an extra good scrubbing before you prepare it.

Just before going in the oven. No after photo, because I was too impatient.


#WordlessWednesday: Purple & Yellow Cauliflower

Beautiful purple and yellow cauliflower for sale at the farmers market.


#WordlessWednesday: Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterfly enjoying the last of the summer zinnias.


Read & Create: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

I launched a new library book club this month, called Book Scents. The intention is to read a feel-good fluffy-ish book every two months, meet and discuss, and then do a craft at the end of each discussion based on scents from the book. In October, we read Sarah Addison Allen's First Frost (a novel guaranteed to sooth a heart bruised by the world's nonsense) and crafted small mason jar candles inspired by the Claire's magical candies.

This post is basically a walk through of how I led the meeting and made the candles, should anyone want to copy me.

We started with the candles as I knew from my practice candle it would take about 30-45 minutes for the candles to set.

Prior to the club members' arrival, I had set up two folding tables and at the far end of each table arranged a portable cast iron hot plate, aluminum saucepan, wax melting pitcher, and bottle of water.

At the near end of each table I arranged 5 fat Popsicle sticks, 5 4 oz quilted glass canning jars with their lids and bands, 5 sturdy paper bowls, 5 hot mats, 5 4-inch candlewicks, a strip of tiny glue dots, 5 metal wick centering bands, and 4 bottles of fragrance oils and their droppers.

The oil blends came from Nurture Soap as the Teen librarian swears by them and uses them in her crafts. I purchased:

  • Autumn Equinox
  • Awaken (2)
  • Fairy Garden
  • Lavender & Chamomile (2)
  • Maiden Rose
  • Rose Petal Preserves

When everyone had arrived, I split them into two groups of five and sent them to the candle-making tables. They added water to the saucepans, the each person put two jars worth of soy wax flakes into their group's wax melting pitcher and let the water come to a gentle simmer.

While the wax melted, they affixed their wicks to the bottoms of the canning jars using the tiny glue dots, and then slipped the wicks through the metal wick centering bands. That done, they set about sniffing the oil blends, trying to decide what they each wanted their candle to be scented with.

Once the wax was melted, the wax was divided evenly among the paper bowls, oil blends where added and stirred around with the Popsicle sticks, and then the bowls were gently cupped and the contents poured into the canning jars.

While the candles solidified, we watched a Goodreads video interview with the author and ate lavender and lemon sugar cookies (that's another post). We had actually discussed First Frost quite a lot while making the candles, but refreshed by coffee and cookies, we found new things to add. I had scheduled ninety minutes for the program and we used up every minute of it. Everyone who attended really enjoyed First Frost, the cookies, and the craft.

In December we will read and discuss Jenny Colgan's heart-warming holiday novel, Christmas on the Island, and then create a seasonal stove-top potpourri kit inspired by the book. I actually listened to the audio book last Christmas and found it both deeply, sweetly moving. I cried, I laughed, I hungered. Hopefully, the group will as well.


Roasted Butternut Squash With Apples & Cranberries

Unsurprisingly, now that it is fall, my CSA share includes many winter squash. Ordinarily, this would be fine. Lovely, even. Who wouldn't want a kitchen full of winter squash? A person who is trying to empty her freezer and cupboards while also winnowing down all her other possessions to get to only the things that have meaning (or, like the toilet brush, are useful), that's who.

As we all know, roasting is my go-to method for reducing the surplus vegetable population. Today, I chose to roast a butternut squash with a bunch of mealy apples and half a bag of (slightly freezer-burnt) frozen cranberries with a generous sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. The end results were delicious -- very reminiscent of apple-cranberry pie filling -- and made for a delicious breakfast with a bit of granola sprinkled over.

It is only now I realize I created what is, essentially, a deconstructed crumble.

Roasted Butternut Squash With Apples & Cranberries

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 4 apples
  • ½ lb frozen cranberries
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter cut into pea-sized cubes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F;. Oil or butter a 13x9 baker.
  2. Peel, seed, and chop the butternut squash into similarly sized pieces.
  3. Peel, core, and chop the apples.
  4. Put the squash, apples, and frozen cranberries in your greased baker. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar. Dot with butter.
  5. Roast at 425°F for 30 minutes, stirring halfway, or until squash is at the desired level of tenderness.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Eat with a sprinkling of granola.

Right. That just leaves one acorn, three delicata, and three mashed potato.


#WordlessWednesday: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoys a thistle somewhere in Eastern North Carolina