Staple recipe: Roasted winter squash puree


As I mentioned in my Coconut Lemongrass soup recipe, Mike and Lily grew a successful crop of Galeux d’Eysines–a beautiful, bumpy heirloom winter squash that looks like a warty pumpkin and tastes like a slice of squash heaven.

We love squash in our house–mashed,roasted,pureed or in a pumpkin pie–we will eat it! Part of our addiction is purely superficial–squash is gorgeous. It comes in greens, oranges, creamy white, yellow and in smooth,bumpy and ridged textures. I love the shape of butternut squash–it reminds me of a bell and of course, I adore the stringy insides of spaghetti squash–nature’s low-carb answer to pasta. Sweet sugar pumpkins are adorable in their perfectly rounded symmetry.

When I was doing a little research for this blog post, it occurred to me that I had no idea if squash was a fruit or a vegetable or something entirely different like a legume. Botanically speaking, squash is a fruit. In cooking, squash is used as a vegetable and it is a fantastic substitute for meat.

Lily helped with every part of this recipe–she helped plant, water, nuture and then reveled in the end result–a warty, orange beauty that would be transformed into delicious recipes for our family. I had Lily help me make the puree and taught her a little French along the way. Galeux d’Eysines translates to mean “Warts from Eysines (a town in France),” a detail Lily found endlessly fascinating. Lily now has a little French in her tool kit (as every fancy girl should) and I have the sweetest memory of my little girl Bonjouring, Oh La Laing and cooking with me. When we eat something prepared with this puree, we eat a little of Lily’s first French lesson–I can’t think of anything more delicious.

Try this staple recipe with any winter squash you like and then use the puree to make fabulous things like squash soup, pies, squash ravioli or squash souffles–stay tuned to Nana’s Fabulous Life for oodles of great recipes.

Buy locally–it is a way to be sustainable and help your local farmer continue to bring you beautiful, nutritious produce for years to come.

To make and freeze the puree you will need:
2 or more pounds of your favorite winter squash; olive oil; some brown sugar; parchment paper; baking sheets; a food processor or blender; quart sized-freezer bags

The work:
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Select your squash, cut in half and remove the seeds and cut squash into chunks about a couple inches in size.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place squash, flesh side up on the paper. Drizzle with olive oil and then rub a small amount of brown sugar into the flesh of the squash.

3. Turn the squash face down and place in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until skin is easily pierced with a fork.

4. When squash is cool enough to handle, use a soup to scrape it into your food processor. Puree in batches until smooth.

5. Pour in 1 cup increments (I eyeball it out) into freezer bags. Label, date and freeze flat. Use in your favorite recipes (and soon to be faves!).
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Cooking together: Peachy Keen Salsa by Trish & Miranda

I love my girlfriends–especially as I plunge headfirst into motherhood and my 30s. This week, I had the joy of cooking with one of my favorite Nana’s-in-Training Miranda (author of the fab blog At the Cookery). We cooked and canned up a batch of Peach Salsa–it is sweet and spicy and oh so peachy.
While we chopped (and I made her chop the jalapeno, sort of a hazing into the Nana program), cooked and canned; we chatted. It made me think of women everywhere–those of today and those of centuries ago. Whether it is women working together in an office to build a corporation or two fabulous Mommas preserving summer in jar–it is the sharing of stories, tips and laughs that makes the end product special.
In each jar of our Peachy Keen Salsa, there is laughter and love and friendship. There is the background noise of our children–Max, Emma, Lily and Chloe–laughing and throwing toys around the room. When I eat this salsa, I’ll always savor the taste of my girlfriend and our day together.
Let me tell you a little about my girlfriend Miranda. Miranda is absolutely a Nana-in-Training. She loves finding authentic solutions for her family–whether it is monthly meal planning, cooking for the season or planning a meal that even a picky 3-year-old will eat–Miranda is a solution oriented momma. She is way more analytical than I could ever be-
-which is a wonderful complement to my wayward and wandering ways.
Our Peachy Keen Salsa is tomato-less. Even though I love tomatoes, I really wanted to make something that showcased peaches. We produced 20 half-pints. You could halve (or quarter) the recipe and just make a batch for your refrigerator too. If you don’t can it, still simmer it together–the heat softens the peaches and melts their natural sugar into the spice of the jalapenos and cayenne. Also feel free to adjust the heat of the salsa–adding less or more peppers.
We snuck some from the pot and tried it with tortilla chips. Miranda can’t wait to try it on shrimp. I think it would also compliment a firm white fish–Mahi Mahi (which will be our dinner tonight!) or even pork.
Here’s the recipe we followed (based on something I found online called Katie’s Peach Salsa).
Peachy Keen Salsa
18 peaches-diced, skins left on
3 small-medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
8 jalapeno peppers chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup lime juice (if you can, use bottled lime juice. if you are not canning, you can use either fresh or bottled)
4 tablespoons local honey
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
Toss everything in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. If processing, pack into hot jars and process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Nana Spotlight: Baking Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies with Olga

There are few things more precious than baking

chocolate chip cookies with your Grammy. Lily got the delicious treat of baking with her Grammy (a Nana-extraordinaire!) today. On the menu: delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies and memories for a lifetime.

Grammy (or Olga, my mother-in-law) is a wonderful cook. While my Nana, mother and father all influenced my culinary loves, Olga really taught me how to cook. I learned by watching and asking and helping. She has taught me to love food–appreciate the flavors and textures. She has also taught me how to make something out of nothing. All you have is a lime and some steak–well, how about fajitas? Some stale bread–make some french toast that puts room service to shame. Olga exposed me to all the best gear for cooking–from herb snips to the perfect cork screw–the things that inspire me to add more herbs and drink more wine.
I could write a book about Olga–an official Nana (to 5 fabulous kids) and a master home cook!
The recipe below is wonderful! The cookies are light and crispy and chocolately. Lily and Grammy mixed the batch in a beautiful heirloom bowl–the same bowl that Olga’s mother, Grandma Rudko, used to mix bread and cookies. There is history in that bowl–and when we eat something mixed in that bowl–we share in the history of the Rudko family.
Bake these cookies with your favorite Nana (or Nana-in-training!)
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats
9 oz chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large bowl, cream shortening, brown sugar and white sugar. Add eggs and mix thoroughly.
3. Combine the baking soda, salt and flour and stir into creamed mixture.
4. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir until well blended
5. Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes.