Wooden spoons. Mixing bowls. Measuring cups. Rubber spatulas.
Not only are these the tools of the trade for chefs worldwide, but they are also the latest obsessions of my 16-month-old, Owen, who has discovered a fervent love of cooking, or perhaps I should say "cooking" (stressing the fact that the word is in quotes). His already-wide-eyes grow even larger whenever I pull the pots and pans out of the cupboard. And once that happens, he isn't content until he is either "helping" Mama cook or given some sort of "cooking" of his own to do. (The solution to this has been a large bowl with a handful of raw oats at the bottom. He stirs them, picks at them, and occasionally eats a few.)
I love his enthusiasm for cooking and being in the kitchen, but it does make my own cooking a bit more challenging. So, on some occasions, especially when the more complex recipes are called for, I take advantage of Owen-free moments. I knew that this acorn squash recipe would require such a moment. It's not that it's a difficult recipe. It's just one that requires a few steps and some chopping. And I prefer chopping when I can keep my eyes on the cutting board. My fingers appreciate the concentration, I assure you.
So, I took advantage of a "grandma day," one of the free-babysitting-by-grandma-afternoons that I am blessed with because both my mom and my husband's mom live within fifteen minutes of our house. I didn't have this luxury for the first year of Owen's life, so I completely, 100% recognize the beauty of the situation. O gets one-on-one grandma time. Mama gets time to cook or clean or make art or just sit and think (although, admittedly, that last one happens....oh, pretty much never).
Anyway, acorn-squash meet "grandma day." Finger-safe chopping took place at a nice, calm, peaceful pace...just the way I like it. I was relaxed. Nothing went awry. I didn't have to step over an oat-strewn floor to get to refrigerator. And...I'll just lack humility here...dinner was phenomenal. I must admit that I was rather thrilled with myself as I plated up dinner (and, what mama normally has time for fancy things like plating, anyway? Not this one.) It looked beautiful. It tasted even better. And while Owen didn't appreciate it nearly as much as Dan and I did, I won't hold that against the recipe. Make this for yourself. The kids can have pasta. Or, if they're like my kid, they can have frozen peas (yes, frozen).
This dish is fall at its finest. So, grab an acorn squash while fall is still upon us. Flavors this good are too amazing to pass up.