Make Me Laugh, Make Me Laugh

This week’s Spin Cycle is all about laughter.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you might have noticed I’ve lost my funny as of late.  Between menopause and the chronic insomnia, I haven’t found much to be humorous about.  To top that off, the kids have been laying down on the job (do you hear that, children?  MOTHER NEEDS MATERIAL).  It sucks, because I like to laugh – there’s little I like better than a good belly laugh.  Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced one.

Make me laugh.  Please.

That being said, I did have a gleeful squeal and a good chuckle this morning.

Gleeful squeal:  I put on a pair of pants I wore last winter, and they were almost too big.  I mean, gonna fall off of me five pounds from now.

Oh, HELLZ to the yes.

Good chuckle:

You have to be the parents of a teenage boy to fully appreciate this.

Which is why we are huge fans of this comic.

Have an amusing Thursday, y’all.

Honey-Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash

Yes, we’re still on our squash kick (just wait till I try to cook the Georgia Candy Roaster the Squash and Pepper Guy talked us into; there’s also a small Blue Hubbard sitting on my kitchen counter, as well).  We’ve been eating them at least twice a week, so I am determined to find as many ways of cooking winter squashes as I can.  Why?  They’re just so darn tasty.

Nor are they hindering our weight loss, even when prepared like this – as of this morning, I am down another pound (26 so far).

At any rate, Sweet Dumpling squashes are another variety I’d never heard of until I saw them at the farmers market, and it’s another variety I’m going to buy as many as I can of until I can’t find them any longer.  So far, they’re vying with the Delicata Squash for the top spot on My Favorite Squash list.  Striped and ridged like the Delicatas, they are shaped more like an acorn squash, but with a sweeter, milder and creamier flesh.  They probably would make a wonderful soup, or be great mashed or made into a souffle, they are absolutely delicious roasted with a little butter and honey.

And it’s darn easy, too.

Note: I used this same recipe with an acorn squash last night, and it was quite delicious, if not as creamy or as sweet as the Sweet Dumpling squash.

Honey-Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash

Honey-Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash

serves 4

1 medium winter squash, quartered

1 small yellow onion, quartered (optional)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons honey

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat; add the honey and whisk together well; keep warm.

Quarter the squash and scoop out the seeds and strings in the center; place on a shallow baking pan.  Place the onion, if using, on the pan with the squash. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, then baste with a little of the butter/honey mixture.

Roast for 45 minutes, basting with more of the butter/honey mixture every 15 minutes, or until the squash is golden brown and easily pierced with a fork.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat; add the honey and whisk together well; keep warm.

2.    Quarter the squash and scoop out the seeds and strings in the center; place on a shallow baking pan.  Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, then baste with a little of the butter/honey mixture.

3.    Roast for 45 minutes, basting with more of the butter/honey mixture every 15 minutes,  oruntil the squash is golden brown and easily pierced with a fork.

Honey-Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash on Foodista

Caponata

Beloved has become a Sunday morning Food Network junkie.  Well, at least on the Sunday mornings there isn’t anything that catches his attention on Turner Classic Movies, anyway.

Me?  Not so much.  A lot of what the Food Network shows on Sunday mornings irritates me; if the “personalities” don’t, then the methods of preparation do.  In fact, now that I think about it, most of what the Food Network shows irritates me these days.  So you can only imagine my reaction when Be came to me and said, “I saw some woman make the most delicious looking dish on the Food Network!  It was some Italian thing* with eggplant and zucchini.”

Let me just say that it was not entirely the Food Network that turned me off of making this – he said two other words that made me cringe:  Italian and eggplant.

Sorry.  Not a fan of either.  To say nothing of the capers I later discovered were in it.  Or the fennel.

But after he mentioned it several times a day and bought an eggplant at the farmers market, I decided what the heck – I’d give it a try.

So I did.  I have to tell you, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would, and Be devoured it.

*Modified from Anne Burrell’s recipe

Caponata

Caponata

6 to 8 servings

1 large eggplant, peeled, alternating with 1-inch strips of skin left on, cut into 1-inch dice

1/2 to 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/2 cup water

6 oz. can tomato paste, preferably organic

1 tablespoons sugar, Splenda or sucanat

1/2 cup red wine – I used a Cabernet Sauvignon

1/4 cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

1/4 cup pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant generously with olive oil and salt. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until the eggplant is soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Reserve.

Coat a wide deep pot with olive oil – I used my 4 quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Toss in the onion and crushed red pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the fennel, celery and garlic and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the peppers and cook for an additional 5 to 6 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt, to taste, and cook until the vegetables are soft and starting to come together as a stew. Toss in the roasted eggplant, water and the tomato paste; add the wine and sugar, Splenda or sucanat and continue cooking until the liquid has mostly been absorbed. Stir in the raisins, capers and pine nuts. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes.

We served this immediately, over sausage-stuffed peppers, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese; it wasn’t until later that I discovered you’re supposed to serve caponata as a side dish at room temperature.  It was still delicious.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

The G Man Goes To The Park

Guess who came to visit us for a couple of days last week?  So we went to the park to see the ducks.

So Many Ducks!
Takin' a stroll with Granpa down by the pond
Thataway, Grandpa!
We went ridin'...
And we went slidin'...
And we went swingin'...
We did a lot of swingin'...
See?
Some serious swingin'...
Me an' Grandpa an' Mommy

Because I Don’t

Thou art God.

Robert Heinlein

Stranger In a Strange Land

This week’s Spin Cycle is about religion.  Hmmm.  Hey Jen, make the next two about sex and politics and we’ll have a trifecta of Things That Aren’t Discussed in Polite Company.  I have no idea where I want to go with this, so I’ll just start typing and see where it takes me, m’kay?

You see, this post could cost me bloggy friends and/or other readers.  Jen has exhorted us to remain respectful of the beliefs of others and rightly so; I have absolutely no problem with that.  I have never had a problem with that.  However, I find that people often have a problem with my beliefs – or, to be perfectly frank, the lack thereof.

I do not believe in a higher power.  I haven’t since I was 8 years old.  I’ve pondered going into the reasons why I stopped believing at such a young age, but I think it’s better that I don’t.  Let’s just say that the reasons the 8-year-old girl didn’t believe were personal; the reasons the 47-year-old woman doesn’t believe are more rational.

I’ve not written about this before because I don’t like defending what I believe (or don’t, if you prefer)  – if there are a lot of misconceptions about the different faiths, there are even more about a lack of it.

Because I don’t believe doesn’t make me amoral.  I DO know the difference between right and wrong.

Because I don’t believe doesn’t make me immoral.  I have a conscience.  An overactive one.

Because I don’t believe doesn’t make me a hedonist.  I treat others the way I’d like to be treated.

Because I don’t believe doesn’t mean I don’t believe in helping my fellow man.  In fact, I’m far more comfortable helping others than asking for it myself.

Because I don’t believe doesn’t mean I’m a Satanist.  Really, people – if I don’t believe in God, do you really think I believe in Satan?

Because I don’t believe doesn’t make me ignorant of the Bible.  I’ve read it.  All the way through.   In fact, I know more about Christianity and its origins than some of my Christian friends and family (the genesis and evolution of various religions has fascinated me for many years).

Because I don’t believe doesn’t mean I am disdainful of those who do.  I have a great deal of respect for those with a strong, genuine faith.  I just don’t share it.

There have been times in my life I’ve wanted to believe.  There have been times in my life I’ve tried to believe.  I can’t – even if I could quiet the doubts of that 8-year-old girl, the rational mind of the 47-year-old woman won’t be still; I can’t give that rationality up and force myself into blind faith.

I’m tempted to close the comments on this, but I’ll leave them open for now.  Please, if you’re going to pity me or pray for me, keep it to yourself.  I understand that it might make you feel better, and that’s fine, but I’d prefer not to hear about it.  Please don’t try to convince me I’m wrong, either, because you won’t – and then I WILL close the comments.

Thanks.