Saturday, March 14, 2009


More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and
over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the
light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.
A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs—
all this resinous, unretractable earth.

by Jane Hirshfield from Given Sugar, Given Salt

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baked Squash and Sausage Pasta

Serves 8 - 10

12 ounces of fusilli or ziti pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds) peeled, and seeded
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot (about 1/4 cup) finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
table salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/3 cup chicken broth
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup evaporated milk, half and half or heavy cream
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
4 links (12 oz.) fully-cooked chicken sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup (2 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz.) shredded Parmesan, divided
16 fresh, minced sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray 4-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Prepare pasta in a Dutch oven, cooking one minute less than the stated time on package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to Dutch oven.

2. Heat olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add squash in even layer and cook, without stirring, until beginning to caramelize, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spotty brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Add butter and allow to melt, about 30 seconds. Add shallot, garlic, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, cayenne pepper and minced sage; cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are softened, about 3 minutes. Add broth, pumpkin puree, evaporated milk and flour. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, 5 to 7 minutes longer.
3. Add squash mixture to pasta; stir in reserved pasta water, sausage, cheeses (reserving 2 tablespoons of Parmesan), and sage.

4. Spread the pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with remaining pasta mixture. Lightly spray piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover pasta with foil, greased-side-down.
Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through. Remove foil; sprinkle extra cheese mixture. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes. Serve passing Parmesan cheese separately.

**Condensed milk was introduced to the U.S. by Gail Borden in 1856. The invention of evaporated milk followed three decades later.
*Evaporated milk, also known as dehydrated milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk. It differs from condensed milk, which contains added sugar. When mixed with an equal amount of water, evaporated milk is the equivalent of fresh milk. So the actual liquid product takes up half the space of fresh milk, making it easy to ship. Plus, it can have a shelf life of months or even years. This made evaporated milk popular before refrigeration as a safe and reliable substitute for perishable fresh milk, that could be shipped to locations lacking the means of safe milk production or storage.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

Ridiculous Happenings

1. I heard the MUSAK version of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" complete with soprano sax and vibraphones while on hold with my health insurance company. WHY was I calling them? NOT because of one piece of mail they sent me which kindly asked me to: "Call customer service if you cannot read this letter. We will be happy to answer any of your questions" WTF!

2. This squirrel wants to be my friend. I've decided that he's a baby boy, but he could very well be an aging hermaphrodite. Anyhow, he really likes to watch me tidy up and drink tea while striking "Thriller" poses and hanging onto my screen door.