We have had a beautiful fall season so far. The weather has been fairly cooperative - an equal number of warm days filled with sunshine and rainy, slightly chilly days. Nothing extreme but rather everything you would expect during the months of September and October. Emma, in particular, has been rejoicing in every moment this season.
When the sun is shining, she will say: "It's a beautiful sunny day! Let's go to the park!"
When it is raining and gloomy, she will say: "It's a beautiful day! Let's get my boots and umbrella and find some puddles!"
I love her optimistic perspective on everything. It certainly helps improve the mood of this glass-half-empty Mommy.
But she is so right to see the beauty in the countryside surrounding us no matter whether it is ! Just look at these gorgeous images from our walk this morning!
We had company over the other night and I took the opportunity to try something a little different with one of the many, many butternut squash that are currently piled atop our counter. Normally, butternut squash is used in a cooked application but I wanted to try making a raw salad with the sweet, orange flesh of one of my favorite gourds. While doing my cardio workout last weekend, I was watching the Food Network. Some might feel that gazing upon food preparation while burning calories is a little counterintuitive, but if I envision myself sprinting towards the cake, cupcake, or brownie being featured, I suddenly am able to run faster and further! Plus, everyone knows the only reason I work out is so I can reward myself with a big slice of cake later in the day. Anyway, I watched a new-to-me TV chef prepare a raw butternut squash coleslaw tossed in a maple vinaigrette. It sounded so delicious to me especially since I already love gnawing on pieces of squash as I'm cubing it up to be roasted. I made a mental note to prepare this salad as soon as possible.
The verdict? Easy, delicious, and refreshing! Everyone loved it - even the crazy kids! It honestly reminded me a bit of a shredded carrot salad that my Mom used to make while I was growing up. I remember watching her grate the carrots individually on a box grater and always thought that the tedious process was more trouble than it was worth! I hated carrots at the time, so watching her prepare that salad always made me shudder. Maybe if I had eaten more of that salad as a child, I wouldn't be so dependent on contacts and glasses now. Similar to that despised childhood salad, there was a bit of bicep work that went into the grating of the squash for this slaw - and I absolutely believe that it should be done by hand to guarantee the best texture - but after that, there was basically three additional minutes of prep and then it was ready! I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day with a couple extra nuts and dried cherries sprinkled on top. It was awesome. Don't be afraid of eating squash raw! This is a nice fall-inspired spin on the traditional coleslaw dish.
Butternut Squash Slaw
adapted from Damaris Phillips
Note: Toasted walnuts, pecans, or even roasted pepitas would be fantastic if you do not have sunflower seeds. Pumpkin seed oil, if you have it on hand, would also be excellent in the dressing.
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, grated on a box grater
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Whisk together the maple syrup, vegetable oil and sherry vinegar in a large bowl. Add the squash, parsley, dried cherries and sunflower seeds; toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.