Butternut-Pear Salad

I’m not one for making salads from cookbooks. I know the basics of which flavors match, and I know how to make my own dressings. I don’t often bother to follow someone else’s directions. However, last night, I made a salad from a new cookbook I picked up this week: Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories. (PS, the link says one price… go into the store if you want this book and can. The hardcover is on the bargain rack for $8 right now. They must have released a paperback version.)

The salad jumped out at me, because it had roasted butternut squash and pears – both of which I had in abundance – and a lime-ginger vinaigrette, which sounded (and was) delicious. It turns out that the cookbook author has a blog, and the recipe I tried is mentioned in this post, though the recipe in that post is for a different salad. (Of course she wants you to get the book… and this is why I try to respect cooks & authors by not reposting their recipes if they have not made them readily available on the internet, themselves.)

One massive pear
Ready to roast
The finished product

It was a good use for many ingredients that I already had lying around. When Susie suggested using frissee in the salad mix, it shook me out of my habits. We got frissee this week, and typically, my response is to make white bean & escarole soup and shove it in the freezer. Hooray for expanding my range! This only took half of the buttnernut squash that I purchased at the farmers market last Saturday (in a burst of motivation that then fizzled), so I roasted the other half in the skin so I’d have some squash puree. I’ll likely turn that into squash & apple soup later. Pears turn really quickly, and this was the first week we got really whomped with pears in our fruit share, so I was glad to have an excuse to get at least some of them consumed immediately.

Be prepared, this salad makes a huge amount of food. We had two containers of leftovers after this meal (which included salmon and rice), though the fact that Little Chef is resolutely against salad at the moment doesn’t help that situation.

A brief note on the sparse summer

I began this season with high hopes of cooking adventurously and posting often. I’ve, instead, managed to cook passably and post sporadically. I’ve mentioned my mother’s illness in passing, but there have been a couple of factors at play, and I just want to give a quick nod to why things have been sparse around here. (Hopefully it will also be reassuring for future improvement!)

I don’t want to dwell on talking about my mother’s illness, partly because it’s very personal and partly because I don’t know that any of us need more sad or distressing news, with the state of things right now. In short, my mother was hospitalized at the beginning of July. Two weeks in the hospital and three in sub-acute rehab later, I found myself needing to place her in assisted living. This was not a decision that was easy, nor was it taken lightly. She’s 59.  But, in short, it was the best decision for her. “Settling in” has taken this long, and is not even really complete. At 34 years old, I’ve found myself steering this ship, practically and legally. To say it’s been “a lot” is staggeringly understated.

Summer 2018 has proven to be a summer of both drastic highs and lows, however, as there has been happy news on the home front. We’re adding a Littler Chef (name subject to change) in February!

Our announcement photo

This is happy, welcome news. We actually knew for several weeks before my mom got ill, so timing has all been very strange. Why has this affected my blog? My first trimester – which, this time, included morning sickness and pretty severe exhaustion – lined up perfectly with the height of summer. It’s really, really hard to be enthusiastic about food when all of it makes you turn a little green.

Thankfully, we’re past that! I’m about halfway through this pregnancy, and food has regained its appeal. I’d forgotten what a sweet spot the second trimester is, and I’ve been enjoying it. Hopefully, this will mean an uptick in posts as we coast into the true fall part of the season. Look out, squash and root vegetables, I’m coming for you!

In a blessing/curse scenario, many of you probably know that our area has had a soggy, gross summer. So, this summer’s shares would not have been representative of typical years, anyway. Many crops – including some of my favorites, like tomatoes and beans – have really suffered from the soggy weather. I’m hopeful (as is my farmer) that the season will finish out fairly strongly, and then we can all pray for better weather next year.

This is CSA life. Real life, all tangled up with what we eat.