I bought these early season squash a couple of weeks ago at the farmers market thinking they were kabocha. I was reading through my new copy of Smitten with Squash and realized it was red kuri! It cooks up almost exactly the same as kabocha, with sweet, bright orange flesh and an edible rind. After eating zucchini and patty pan for weeks on end, it’s a welcome treat to bite into something dense and creamy. It hits the “comfort food” zone more readily than watery Summer veg. I’m sure this squash would make an awesome custard or pumpkin-pie-like tart. Which I’m going to try just as soon as I can. Probably with tons of cardamom, cuz that’s how I do.
So, as many of you know I’ve been traveling almost non-stop for the past two weeks. But I somehow found time to make this dish in-between flights, train rides, wedding planning, wedding dress research (yeah maybe that first one I found wasn’t “the one”), keeping up with my band and friends and work, and figuring out our honeymoon plans. Berbere is one of my favorite spice mixes. It adds tons of flavor to almost anything. I love adding it to lentils (with tons of ghee), to sautéed green beans, and to stews. I have an unending supply of soup and stew recipes so you could say I’m excited for it to get a bit cooler out.
Filed Under: Dairy Free, dinner, Gluten Free, Vegan Tagged With: berbere, dinner, ethiopian, fall, gluten free, healthy, maple, protein, roasted, side dish, spicy, squash, sriracha, tofu, vegan, winter
I’m coming to the end of a journey through this new, beautiful, big skyed state and I can’t help but look back with a pinch of curious regret. Did I buy enough copper earrings? How many hikes did I not have time to do? Is it possible to be sent a baby mountain goat by mail, since I didn’t get to see any on my trip!?
I can honestly say Montana was not pinned on the adventure map I keep in my room with rainbow colored pins of all of the places I want to go (fun fact: this pin board only exists in my mind). I had never given it a second thought, really. The Canada-bordering states that haven’t had lots of hipster-related press sort of slipped under the radar of my awareness. When we dropped into Great Falls, on our way to Helena, I found myself surrounded by huge mountains, sky spread out in an unthinkably large blue sheet above my head and pressing out towards infinite horizons. I realized I had never had a single question about Montana. And so my brain configured at least twenty within a five minute period to make up for lost time. What do people do in Montana? Is it a desert? Does it snow? What kind of flowers grow here? What’s it known for? Do Native Americans live here still? And on and on and on, like a little kid.
On another note, I feel like I never stop eating when I’m traveling away from home. There are just soooo many things to eat: new foods and old-standards that require “quality checking” so as to see how they measure up to home. Montana isn’t what one might call a “food mecca” — unless you’re trying to eat wild game and fish — but it has its pleasures just like any place. Beer is huge here, as are cherries and huckleberries and everything that can be made with them. Folks are into their coffee too, which I fantasize has something to do with the cold Winters the first adventurers and treasure hunters endured on their long-ago journeys. Coffee is the best portable luxury you can take with you to a damn cold place.
Here’s what I did in Montana, in numbers:
Read four books (working on the fourth now).
Ate one pound of cherries.
Collected fifteen tiny blueish huckleberries (they’re really hard to find and forage out in the wild and the season is sadly at an end, as Fall approaches much more quickly there than on the East Coast).
Drove 800 miles to and through Glacier National State Park (more like rode, as Logan’s dad did the driving).
Floated along one glacier fed lake in a little wooden boat straight out of a Wes Anderson movie.
Drank at least 10 gluten free beers (Montanans are so on the ball about gluten free awareness!).
Slept in two different wooden cabins surrounded by pine trees.
Borrowed 5 items of Winter clothing from my (almost) sister-in-law to combat the unusually rainy, wet, cold late-Summer weather.
Made one giant pot of chili that fed us for two days, 15 hummus-stuffed zucchini blossoms, one batch of kefir cornbread (recipe soon I promise), and two giant green salads. And that was the extent of my cooking, this trip. Too much traveling for kitchen wizardry.
Now on to rad links!
Logan and I have been gorging on figs since they’re so much cheaper in Montana! So these Chai Spiced Coconut Fig Popsicles are even sexier than they might be otherwise right now. Of course, I’ll have to make them for band practice because birdman haaaaates popsicles. And our banjo player is oddly a HUGE popsicle fan.
Berry shortcakes are gonna be my new go-to dessert through my birthday (september 18th!).
Speaking of birthdays, how do I convince my myriad friends to make me tomato galettes and miso basil eggplant with never ending pitchers of peach/plum bubble tea for my 25th? (Or maybe we’ll just order pizza for a crowd and pop some sparkly white wine…)
And then I can eat a massive bowl of warm puy lentils with spiced cavolo nero to combat the inevitable hangover the next day (topped with an egg… or three).
I’m in Montana. This is a completely different world to me, where the sky goes on and on and on. The air is dry. Grasshoppers jump and click as you stomp through trails. Everything smells of pine and cut wood. Rain is an event here, and everyone stops what they’re doing to watch a storm roll in like a thick blanket over a twenty mile stretch. What’s a drizzle to us in Virginia is a storm in Helena. And what I thought were mountain peaks in Virginia are rolling hills compared to this state’s sharp upward inclination of rock.
This is a small town, Helena. The type of place where the local library is an attraction (or maybe I’m just attracted to libraries?). In the Fall and Winter snow drifts along the roads and creeps up the houses. The state doesn’t scrape the snow out of the streets, so folks snowshoe to work or put chains on their tires. I met some folks who half-jokingly told me that the reason there are so many breweries and distilleries in Montana is because in the snow all anyone wants to do is drink. That and it helps keep your blood from freezing.
A farmer friend of mine had a windfall of thick shelled duck eggs from her apparently extremely happy lady ducks this past week. So when she offered to replace my usual dozen chicken eggs with the duck kind I was quick to respond with a huge, thankful YES. She’s a kind lady, that one. We trade recipe ideas (she has an incredible honey, lemon chèvre cheesecake recipe made with duck eggs I’m dying to share with ya’ll). And geek out about blueberries and sweet potato custards together. And goat yogurt. She’s our yogurt supplier, under the table. She milks her goats and makes yogurt from the milk immediately. Logan is obsessed with her yogurt. We often get 3 giant mason jars of it at a time. He eats most of it. What a fiend.
Eggs and milk, I learned this year, are part of the Spring and Summer bounty. They’re tastiest during the warm months — the yolks bright orange-yellow and the milk clean and creamy. I use the yogurt and kefir in custards often enough, but duck eggs are magnificent and rare. I’m sure they would make any simple dessert recipe completely decadent. Perhaps a spoon cake is in order? Or another clafoutis?