It’s been raining ever since I arrived in Los Angeles. Pouring, actually. The weather reminds me of the 1997-1998 El Nino. It’s all good though. I’m here at a university working on a book project and the rain is keeping me indoors where I’m squirreled away in the library.
The last time I was out here to “work” I got a wee bit distracted and spent my days catching up with friends, visiting my old haunts, eating at my favorite places, etc. This time I’m being good.
“I picture you in a dark, dusty room all alone as you sort through archives,” my husband said to me on the phone the other day. Well, sort-of. I take the documents out of the dark, dusty room to a bigger, lighter conference room. And that’s pretty much where I’ve been the whole time – the exact same spot I was ten years ago as a grad student, typing notes on my laptop (do you ever have the feeling that you’re making no progress in life whatsoever? Anyhoo…)
Last Friday the weather channel called for rain Saturday and Sunday, so I planned to push through the weekend and continue working. But when I woke up Saturday morning, I felt sunlight on my face. I jumped up and ran to the window . . . sure enough it was a bright, shiny morning. The Pacific Ocean sparkled. I had to enjoy the sun while it lasted.
I was starving, so I gobbled down a veggie sandwich (tomato, California avocado, cucumber and sprouts on toasted whole wheat). Then I dashed to the bike path, buckled my rollerblades and – Zoom! – I was off. I bladed all the way to the end of the path, turned around and bladed back, and then turned around once again. I was like the Energizer Bunny . . . I kept going and going and going (‘cept for the part where I rounded a curve way too fast and hit an unexpected pile of sand).
It was the best. The veggie sandwich was certainly a tasty beginning to the day. But I tell ya, its sunshine that feeds my soul.
2 cups acorn squash, cooked
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fat free half and half
½ cup diced onion
2 leaves fresh sage
2 teaspoons maple syrup
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
1 package WASA Hearty Rye Crispbread
Slice open acorn squash and remove seeds. Place sliced side down in an 8 X 8 inch glass dish, cover and microwave on high until tender (approx 10 minutes).
Scoop out meat with a spoon when cooled and set aside.
Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and whole sage leaves. Sauté until onions are transparent. Remove sage.
Add squash, half and half, maple syrup, and parmesan cheese. Mix well.
Spoon into bowl, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve hot on a platter with crispbread.
TIP: May substitute WASA Oat, Sourdough Rye, Multigrain, or Rye Crispbread. Leftover dip may be stored in refrigerator for to 3 – 4 days.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Nutritional Value Per Serving
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The carrots I hold in my hand are fresh from a local garden. They’re dirty and have wild bushy green tops. I wash and peel the carrots then pick up the knife. I have a long way to go until I can maneuver this utensil like those chefs on the Food Network, but I’m getting better. Faster.
I cut the carrots, chop the onion, dice the celery, slice the mushrooms and throw everything into a skillet with water. While the veggies are steam sautéing I boil tri-colored pasta in a medium pot and steam spinach in a small one. I add tomatoes and tomato sauce to the skillet. When the pasta and spinach are ready I add those too, along with garlic and oregano.
My husband, Ron, wanders in the kitchen.
“What’s for dinner?” he asks.
“Italian Skillet Casserole,” I say.
He leans over my shoulder and investigates the simmering dish on the stovetop.
“Almost all veggies,” I point out.
Cooking healthier foods has been challenging in certain ways, but one thing I completely forgot about when I started this new path is that my husband can’t stand vegetables. He’ll eat certain items (broccoli or beans or salad) because he knows they’re good for him, but he would prefer them as a side dish, not the main dish.
But it just so happens that his company is having a Vegetable Challenge this summer.
So perfect timing.
I scoop out the meal into two bowls, light some candles, and sit down.
It’s delicious, and I look at Ron to see what he thinks. He’s pushing a piece of onion, a hunk of tomato, and a mushroom slice to the side. “I can eat them when they’re small, but these big pieces…” he shakes his head.
“You need to retrain your taste buds,” I suggest softly.
He’s a good sport so he takes a huge spoonful, onion chunks and all, and gives it a go. He likes it. This truly is one of the tastier dishes I’ve made, and when I’m done I push my bowl aside and lean back in the chair.
“Hey, what’s that?” Ron says, peering into my bowl.
“Nothing,” I say.
“Uh-huh,” Ron nods, smirking.
Okay, okay. So I really do consider myself a vegetable lover, but I’ve always struggled with cooked carrots. There is small pile of them left. I guess we both have some retraining to work through.