We have finally had a much-needed, relaxing weekend here. With my company’s weekend classes starting next Saturday, I know it is probably our last ‘official’ (that is Saturday-Sunday) weekend off, but I’d even be happy with a few more instances of Sunday-Monday or Monday-Tuesday freedom–some kind of weekend-type spread, wherever it might occur during the week. Again, working in the arts and entertainment industries keep M and I on strange schedules. But M actually had both Saturday and Sunday off, and, aside from a brief Saturday morning shift, I was free as well. After sleeping in (to a glorious 8:30 AM…oh, adulthood) M spent Saturday on a day-long bachelor party for his friend–go-carts, skeet shooting, bars, steaks, and beer pong with the boys. Punc and I headed over to visit my mother and let Punc get some energy out by playing with my mom’s dogs. I didn’t do much beyond chat with my mother (and visit her baby turtles–head over to my Instagram to see them! –>), but it was lovely to simply sit and do nothing for a while. I did go through my great-grandmother’s recipe box for ideas for a new project of mine. I will hopefully have more news on that soon!
Today, after another lie-in, M and I walked Punc and I actually climbed back into bed after my shower for another nap–guess I needed a bit more catch-up for my sleep bank! M and I went to an oyster roast with his coworkers and I came home with a bag full of apples from our friend’s parents’ farm. They’d pushed a full milk crate onto him and his roommates, but I was happy to take a pound or two off their hands! I will probably bake a few into something sweet, but I think most are destined to become apple butter…which will then probably find its way into a baked good. Now, I’ve banished myself upstairs while M watches the Breaking Bad finale. I’m lagging in season two, simply for lack of time. Usually, he will wait and watch it online on his iPad after I’ve gone to bed, but I figured the end should be on a real television.
M and I are going down to North Carolina this week for the wedding. I am stocking up on NookBooks and hoping M will have as brilliant of a find as our last road trip’s The Bone Season for our audiobook. We’ll be gone from Thursday to Sunday. While he has a host of wedding party duties, I’m hoping I can get some serious relaxation in before we hit the race of Fall: Fall/Winter = holidays and Holidays = a lot of work in all of our jobs. Hopefully I can squeeze in another post before we go and maybe I’ll find something inspiring over the weekend!
Today, I have a delectable recipe for Tomatillo Salsa that has been waiting quite patiently for some time. My recipes are stacking up–pumpkin smoothies, several variations of the softest peasant bread imaginable, and even some veggie-packed muffins are waiting for their turn on this blog. This salsa is perfect: though I am desperately clinging to tomatoes as summer comes to a close, I’ve been seeing tomatillos everywhere, still going strong. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of all of the vegetables, and can help prevent the watery taste that can sometimes come with tomatillos. If you are looking for something a bit different to top your chips, give this salsa a try!
Sweet & Smokey Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Serves: 8-10* | Prep time: 15 min. | Cook time: 30 min
- 1 pint tomatillos (about 5-6 large, or 10-15 small or medium)
- 1 small green bell pepper
- 1 large poblano pepper
- 1 large sweet yellow onion
- 4-8 garlic cloves, peeled (to taste–I used 7)
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers** (optional)
- 1/2 c. packed cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. good olive oil
- salt & black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Shuck the tomatillos by firmly grasping the stem and twisting. The stem and papery skin should be easily removed. Roughly chop tomatillos, all peppers (de-vein and de-seed jalapeños for less heat, leave some or all veins and seeds in for more heat), and onion. Mix vegetables and garlic and spread in single layer over a parchment paper-lined, lightly oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast for 30 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add roasted vegetables to a blender or food processor with cilantro, lime juice, sugar, olive oil, and additional salt and pepper. Pulse to desired consistency. If necessary, stir in more salt and pepper with a spoon, so as not to further liquify. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving, or store tightly sealed in refrigerator for up to a week.
*As a dip. If using to cover enchiladas, etc this should spread over 4-6 servings. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
**I did not include any jalapeños in the photos above–the salsa was incredibly mild, allowing the roasted sweetness and smoke to shine through. The jalapeños are used to directly influence your preferred heat level.
We had the first glimmers of autumn here in the past few day: a gentle crispness in the mornings when we take Punc out for her walk and cool breezes throughout the days. I, of course, pounced on this brief respite from the heat and took my cue to start thinking of all of the stereotypical fall plans. Pumpkin-everything, baking apples nine different ways, sweaters, and cool days and long, darkening evenings. Yes, I harbor a deep love for fall, for all of the stereotypical reasons. As mentioned, with my primary job working with children, our schedule revolves around theirs. We can segment the year into Fall, Spring, and Summer. Naturally, the oncoming of September each year has developed into a transition-type period in my life, and the hints of a season change only strengthens that feeling. After a long, hot summer, I am longing for the blustery, cool weather. This year especially, I find myself earnestly awaiting the season’s shift. Fall feels fresh; encouraging cozy clothes and the promise of fires in the hearth. As much as I have dreamy musings of wanderlust (long walks, new places, all colored with autumn leaves); I find myself craving stillness even more. I want stretches of quiet, allowing for reflection and reading. I want a quilt, a cup of tea, and a new book to keep me company as the day creeps from afternoon to night. I fully plan on getting what I want–I’m drafting up quite a list of books waiting to be read, and I’m compiling simple or long-and-slow cooked recipes for dinner, to simplify my evenings after work. Less stress, more rest–that is my plan for the coming few months.
I have been putting more effort into socializing as well. Living with my significant other and a roommate fulfills my basic need for conversation and camaraderie, but I do miss spending time with other girls, and the friends that have been close to me for years. It is so easy to get stuck in the rut of a daily routine: See roommates at home, see coworkers at work, come home, dinner, tv, bed, repeat. With my strange arts schedule keeping me working on weekends, meeting up with people with more “routine” schedules is all the more challenging. I am trying harder to keep connections as more friends are getting engaged, getting married, having babies, and moving across the country. Everyone is busy, but the initiative to see one another has to start somewhere. I am putting more effort into taking that initiative. (Plus, then I have an excuse to go to brunch/coffee/dinner–why didn’t I start reaching out earlier?)
I also feel like I haven’t really been listening lately. Not in a “can you repeat that” sense, but I have noticed myself interrupting more, and pushing to express my opinion. I am giving the people around me only half of my attention as I think about my own response–before they are even finished speaking. So there is another goal for this season: give all of my attention and listen fully to another’s story, anecdote, complaint, idea, sentence until it is complete.
This recipe for butternut squash gnocchi fits with all of my goals and with my seasonal obsessions: squash is one of my quintessential ‘fall flavors’ and these gnocchi make a filling, comforting dish. Plus, the preparation of the dough is a simple, meditative task that, while somewhat time consuming, allows for mindless relaxation or a long conversation with whomever you can lure into the kitchen. I’ll pour M a drink and force him to sit with me!
Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats
Serves: 6|Prep time: 60-90 minutes|Cook time: 5-10 minutes
- 2-2.5 lb butternut squash
- 1 c. brown rice flour (or white rice flour)*
- 3 Tbsp. buckwheat flour (or millet, oat, teff, or a heaping measure of quinoa flour)*
- 1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp tapioca starch*
- Up to 1/2 c. additional flour (2 Tbsp. tapioca starch + 6 Tbsp. brown rice flour or more of the mix)
- Additional flour for coating the rolling surface
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper, ground
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp sage, ground, optional
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
*Or use 1 1/2 c. total of your preferred GF flour mix–a low starch mix is preferred–my combo here is around 20% starch.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with foil and coat lightly with oil. Pierce the squash several times with the tines of a fork or the point of a sharp knife. Split the squash in half. Remove the seeds and discard, or save for roasting. Roast the squash, cut side down, for one hour. Remove the squash from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then scoop out the flesh. Mash well, then spread on a plate or cookie sheet to cool completely.
In a large bowl, mix the cooled, mashed squash with the egg and parmesan cheese. Whisk together all spices and flours in a small bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour mix to the wet mixture, stir and knead until a smooth, uniform dough forms. If too wet, add up to 1/4 c. additional flour, in small increments, kneading in between, until dough is smooth and slightly tacky to the touch. The dough should pull away from the bowl. Refrigerate dough for 10-15 minutes.
Flour your work surface and your hands well. Split cooled dough into large segments. Take each segment and roll into a long rope on a well-floured surface. The rope should be 1/2 inch- 1 inch in diameter. Cut rope into 1-inch segments, coat lightly in flour. You can either leave the segments unshaped and rustic, or roll them into the traditional gnocchi shape over a fork or gnocchi paddle.
To Serve Immediately: Boil a pot of salted water on the stove. Drop the gnocchi in one-by-one in small batches, stirring once after 30 seconds to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until gnocchi floats at the surface. Ladle out the pasta, into a saucepan with 1 Tbsp of butter+1/8 tsp. ground sage (per serving of gnocchi). Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring gently, until gnocchi is lightly browned. Serve with grated parmesan or crumbled goat’s cheese, or feta and balsamic vinegar. I’ve also made it with sliced sausage, onions, and wilted greens as ‘add-ins’ that can be added to the gnocchi in the saucepan. This gnocchi would be delicious with a variety of sauces.
To Freeze and Cook Later: Before placing kneaded dough in fridge, knead in an addition 2-4 Tbsp of flour mixture*. Place in fridge for 10-15 minutes. Flour your work surface and your hands well. Split cooled dough into large segments. Take each segment and roll into a long rope on a well-floured surface. The rope should be 1/2 inch- 1 inch in diameter. Cut rope into 1-inch segments, coat lightly in flour. You can either leave the segments unshaped and rustic, or roll them into the traditional gnocchi shape over a fork or gnocchi paddle. Place formed gnocchi on a cookie sheet and freeze flat overnight. In the morning, transfer to a freezer-proof bag. Cook from frozen–do not thaw.