Thursday, October 27, 2011

A pinch of good and a pinch of bad

The day started out good, with a buffet breakfast in honor of an 8 month pregnant teacher at my school. Even better, it was worm day in science. I love the excitement it generates!

The next half was mixed. I took Fran to her first of two appointments, which N and I were asked to participate in. (which, sadly, meant I would miss the second half of worm day) I won't go into detail. I'll just say it was disheartening, distressing and discouraging.

But then we went to her second appointment. Thank you, Dr F, for making her feel just a little bit better AND thank you to both Rebekah and Karyn for getting us there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mindful Breathing

Many of you may remember me mentioning a book I read about a year ago, "How to Be Sick", by Toni Bernhard. Her book taught me two excellent techniques for dealing (in the moment) with stress and anxiety producing experiences.

During a recent visit with Amber and Rebekah, our conversation turned to how each of us tries to deal with these feelings. I wanted to share a few excerpts from Toni's book that have stayed with me and continue to use.

The first page is a separate technique from the following four.
Give it a try. Works for me. :>)

Click here to read the excerpts.
I apologize for leaving a few fragments of text.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Penne Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash, Honey Bacon and Sage

I can see why more and more cookbook authors are taking the opportunity to either tell a story with their recipes, teach important skills or delve into the world of science--people (like me) are using cookbooks less and less. This evening I was ready to thaw some chicken breasts to grill with a starch, a vegetable and a salad. It's what I do on my less inspired or tired evenings. Instead, I remembered the prepped butternut squash sitting in the fridge waiting. Waiting to be made into something suitable for autumn.

I didn't crack one of our many cookbooks, instead I typed, "roasted butternut squash, penne", into Google. I'm  more selective than I used to be. I tend to look for blogs instead of the usual allrecipes or I didn't see a blogger on first page of results, but I did see That turned my head. Well, that and the mention of bacon and sage.

You'll find the recipe and link below, but just so you know--I used a bit more bacon and cheese than the recipe called for AND I used 2-3 tsp of dry sage.
I hope you enjoy this as much as N and I did.

"Winter squash contains an amazing amount of vitamin A. Just a 1/2 cup of baked butternut or buttercup squash has more than a full day's supply of this powerful cancer fighter! Both butternut squash and buttercup squash are also low in calories but high in fiber and are packed full of potassium, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

You can use butternut and buttercup squash interchangeably in recipes. This recipe tastes best when you use fresh , just picked sage leaves. Sage is a very easy and very hardy herb to grow. Sage is also an attractive garden plant that can be grown in a container or in the garden with other perennials.
 Serves 4
Click here for a printable copy
 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup organic virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
1 pound penne pasta
8 pieces thick honey cured bacon, cooked and broken into bite size pieces
1/2 Sweet onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
10 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butternut squash on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil; season with salt. Transfer to oven and roast until squash is browned and tender, about 15 minutes. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt water and return to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Set pasta and reserved cooking liquid aside.

 Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add bacon, onion, crushed red pepper, and sage. Cook until onion is soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add penne and squash and toss gently, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid as necessary to moisten.
 Add cheese and black pepper and cook, tossing gently, until pasta and squash are heated through. Serve immediately with more grated cheese, if desired."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Splendid Table
From Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys and Legs of Lamb by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by Betty Rosbottom.

Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes if you purchase peeled butternut squash; 40 minutes if you peel and cube it yourself. 

Start-to-Finish Time: 55 minutes to 1-1/4 hours

 Although this dish calls for only a few ingredients, it delivers big, robust flavors and can be prepared almost completely in advance. The diced squash can be roasted several hours ahead so that at serving time all that is necessary is to arrange the cubes on a platter and sprinkle them with crumbled goat cheese, chopped walnuts, and minced parsley. My local supermarkets sell butternut squash that is already peeled and halved, and if you can find it in this convenient form, it will shave a good amount of time off the prep.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3 pounds/1.4 kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-in/2.5 cm dice to make 8 cups 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 cup/55 g walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup/115 g goat cheese, crumbled 
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley 

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/gas 5.
2. Brush a heavy, rimmed baking sheet/tray with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Spread the cubed squash in a single layer on the baking sheet/tray. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over the squash, and toss to coat well. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper.
3. Roast the squash, stirring every 10 minutes, until it is tender when pierced with a knife and browned around the edges, for about 35 minutes or longer. Remove and set aside. (The squash can be roasted 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, reheat in a 350°F/180°C/gas 4 oven until warm, for about 15 minutes.)
4. Place the roasted squash cubes on a serving platter and sprinkle with walnuts, goat cheese, and parsley. 

Market Note: Look for peeled butternut squash in the produce section of the supermarket. About 40 ounces/1.2 kg of this peeled squash should yield 8 cups. If you buy a whole squash, look for one that weighs 2-1/2 to 3 pounds/1.2 to 1.4 kg before peeling.

 Cooking Tip: To toast the walnuts, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet/tray and place in a preheated 350°F/180°C/gas 4 oven until lightly browned and fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes. Watch carefully so that they do not burn. Remove and cool.