buttercup lentil soup

Squash is a rather deceiving name for the vegetable to which it refers. With pudgy approachability and even cuteness, the squash family is far from cushy. Take, for example, this buttercup. Looks delightful enough. With its little cap and almost folded-in appearance, it’s the grandmother of the fall harvest.

But set a knife to it and it sure puts up a fight. This hard fact is what led me to one of the most important realizations of my cooking life: squash need not be peeled before cooking. Nope. No matter what those recipes tell you, “squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped” need not require a follow-up cool down and protein shake.

The secret’s in roasting the squash first: Hack it up (or not, as some argue) throw it in the oven, and digging into that squishy soft squash-flesh will become one of your happiest soup making memories.

Lately I’ve been trying to venture out of my butternut rut. There are just so many other squashes to try: hubbard (not so impressed with my specimen), spaghetti, and acorn (one of my favorites to stuff), to name a few. I finally got around to this buttercup, whose dense, creamy flesh surprised me. I’ve also got two Delicatas on hand to try sometime this week.

There are as many ways to prepare squash as there are to love it, but one of my favorites has to be soup. I know I could have just substituted this buttercup into any squash soup recipe, but instead decided to do an off-the-cuff version with whatever needed to be used.

And it was good. Very good. With bright tomato red, spinach green, and buttercup orange, this soup is fall’s palate in a bowl.

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cinnamon coffee cake touchdown

My first project for this blog coincided nicely with Superbowl Sunday, also known as Evening Of Excessive Eating. I figured that since I’m starting Triathlon training this week I deserved one last tango in the arms of Gluttony. Or at least in the collective embrace of butter and’ eggs.

So what to bring to the Great American Football Party? A late morning and a lazy afternoon yielded little inspiration for forays into the unknown world of new recipes or complicated appetizers.

And so I turned to The Book: a sturdy collection of our family favourites, lovingly copied out in my mother’s own handwriting. I flipped to her recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

This cake has a history. It’s simple cinnoman flavour and almost cheesecake-like density have made it the ultimate comfort food over recent years. It was there the day I moved into my new house full of roommates in 3rd year. It was there whenever I returned home, offering its crumbs of nutty, rich, just-sweet-enough-for-a-cup-of-coffee goodness. Apparently someone at Canada Post likes it too, because one was once “lost” in the mail en route to a Ward family member.

I made it for the gang, and it was a hit.

This cake reveals a slight swirl of cinnamon and pecans, achieved by layering them between boughts of dough in my favourite pan: Bundt bundt bundt. I just love the way that sounds. Apparently it was invented by an American engineer from Minneapolis who wanted a lighter version of the German ceramic Bund pan.

While this cake was the perfect companion to a potluck, it did make me a little homesick. I guess that means it turned out well.