Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Nine Lives and Loves of Sa-Squash

I knew I was in trouble. The butternut squash had been sitting there in that same reclined position about a week too long. I was distracted by a large shiny bowl full of Orzo with Everything and its compadre, a kicky lentil salad full of currants, parsley, shallots and toasted walnuts luxuriating in a caramelized balsamic vinaigrette. By the time I came up for air and wiped the orzo from my face, it was too late. The squash suffered from serious blemishes to its posterior side and it was apparent that we needed to go in and remove the offending area. While it first seemed hopeful that the blight was localized, we noticed something far more disturbing- a vast pithy center approximately ¾” in diameter. Not to be deterred I forged forward, encouraging H to make deft cuts with her knife, “Peel, Chop, Core!” Overwhelmed with a heap of exhausted squash, it was clear the butternut needed to quietly disappear for awhile, so into the chilly depths of the freezer it went.

A few days later, prompted by the need to have more food to fill my now empty shiny bowl, sa-squash re-emerged fiercer than ever. I was low on inspiration and even lower on the love, but duty called I needed dinner. Into the pot the squash tumbled, some chicken stock thrown in with a few shakes of curry. By now I understood J’s penchant for salt (soy sauce in particular, which means that I really need to pay attention when she is close to the bottle) and all things sugar. Spice however, she does not tolerate well. Her eyes typically bug out when I list the spices that I need for a particular recipe. This day, each urge for “More Curry” is met with a doubtful look of fear and concern and an increasingly timid shake of the hand. Upon my fourth request (I am guessing the total amount was equal to a bit under ¼ tsp), she set the jar down and brightly announced, “It is better to put in too little than too much. You can always add more, later!” Thwarted, I silently rolled my eyes to the back of my head while I assessed the situation. With this stalemate I am dealt the discomfort of setting firm culinary boundaries. Really I am afraid that I may begin screaming obscenities and charge at said person with wheelchair. On this day, I knew the food situation was dire and becoming beastlier by the moment.

The finishing touches were close at hand. The squash was brewing tenderly in its broth. Half the contents were added to the blender with some soy milk-- vanilla soy milk to be precise. Yes, an unconventional choice but this is all that I had. In other situations, I think that this could have worked to underscore the sweetness of the squash and round out the curry. But this was sa-squash, it had a whole lot o’ living thrown at it and mostly while under my charge. At this point I asked for two shakes of cayenne pepper to be thrown in. I am strapped into this motorized machine which assists me in building my leg muscles and I am a good 15 feet away from the kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye I witnessed two aggressive flails of the arm and a tiny red cloud aftermath. I gasped in horror but tried to recover composure quickly so as not to alarm J who is honestly doing her best to cook according to my free wheeling instructions. Calmly, I added more insult to injury by dousing the flame of heat with more soy milk, which of course just highlighted the vanilla. The soup was blended. It was a rough food day.

Now really, if I had more sense that would be the end of the story. But it was hard for me to let it go, I hate food defeat. I did my very best to enjoy this soup with a dollop of yogurt and a friendly sprinkle of parsley. It was atrocious. “But under the proper circumstances, this could work…” said the provocateur within. And then and there it was decided that the contents would be divided amongst eight baggies* (approximately six tablespoons of sa-squash in each) and sent to the deep freeze once again for future adventures. Nine lives, only eight more to go.

*which I attempted to document for you, curious reader but the result was a very unappetizing shlumpy plastic-y mess.


marcie said...

my dear, i love your humor and writing!! i'm willing to taste even things you might consider a disaster.i adore that you humanized blemishes on the posterior of the sa-squash. i can visualize you breathing deeply to prevent ramming your precious help when she is unable to follow your culinary prescriptions. 'whole lot o’ living thrown at it and mostly while under my charge' is brillaint writing. i appreciate your admission of hating 'food defeat.' what ever will you do with 8 more lives???

Callipygia said...

marcie- I think that I will approach each baggie as a "flavor" enhancer, whenever I need more oomph. Thanks always for your encouragement, miss you!

Lydia said...

I applaud your determination to turn your "disaster" around (and really, it doesn't sound like too much of a disaster....), but I also give you permission to toss those 8 baggies into the trash! Sometimes we just need to pack up our kitchen failures and move on. I've thrown many a horrible soup down the drain!