The Autumn Squash Challenge Round #3

Butternut Squash Vegan Mac and Cheese - The First Success

It's ridiculous how quickly time goes by when you're older. Everyone and their grandmother remarks of this at least once in their lifetime - "Back in my day...!" - but it's true that as you grow up days fly by inexplicably faster than they used to. I'm of the belief that it's because we don't mindlessly play anymore; we're overaware of the hours of the day and days of the week and everything we have to do before certain dates. It doesn't help that a good chunk of North Americans have very few, but very commercialized holidays throughout the year. About once a month there's a date we have to plan and buy gifts and make food for, and the stores we buy the supplies from are always two months ahead of us. You want Easter decorations? Start looking on January 2nd. If you're trying to prepare for Thanksgiving, you'd better have that eighteen pound turkey ordered three months ahead of time. Christmas is its own special cup of tea, shoving grinning pumpkins out of the way well before it's reasonable and putting a disrespectful screen in front of November 11th. GF and I actually went to our first Christmas craft show, because we're old ladies like that, just this past Friday (with poppies pinned to our chests, thank you very much). While I understand the jumping of the gun in some respects - craft shows are fun any time of year - it makes us overall more paranoid of time going by.

It was almost a full month ago I decided to learn how to cook squash, and it was with a bit of a shock that I realized I've only made about five attempts since then. Any time now, our craft show reminded me, we'll start getting snow here on the east coast (Manitoba's already had some), and it's a slow decline of fresh gourd availability after then. I've got to get my shit together! Especially now that I've finally gotten a grasp on how to cook pumpkin seeds. That's right, folks, I've finally figured out the trick. Thanks to the tutorial on Oh She Glows, I now know I need to boil - yes, boil - the seeds for ten minutes, then toast them for twenty at 325F. Perfection. Even my mother liked them!

Pumpkin seeds, by the way, not only have magnesium (muscle relaxation), potassium (nerve health), protein (everything) and healthy plant fats (brain and joint strengtheners), but are rich in tryptophan, that amino acid in turkey everyone says puts you to sleep. It is, consequently, beneficial if you suffer insomnia or high levels of stress, and is a precursor of serotonin, the brain's mood-regulating chemical. Folks who have depression often don't make enough serotonin, which is why SSRIs (meds that convince your brain you have more than you do) are so popular for treating it. The added bonus of cooking your own pumpkin seeds is that their hard shell is built of an insoluble fibre, which helps build and move feces along your large intestine. Hear that, everyone? If you're stressed, depressed, or can't sleep or poop, start downing gourd seeds.

My other success, with the actual flesh of a squash, was a batch of vegan mac n' cheese. I've come to the quick realization that I'm not as talented an inventor in the kitchen as I'd like to be, so I've been latching onto recipes and following them to a T, with fantastic results. You'd be surprised at how actual measurements can help make a concoction taste good. This recipe was also from Oh She Glows, although the first time I whipped up a batch I actually used honey mustard instead of dijon, so it was rather sweet. Can't decide which taste I preferred, though. The roasted squash by itself was fantastic, too.

It's a shame I can't claim to have figured out both these recipes by myself, but such is life. Maybe I'll stick to promoting other blogs' food inventions. Appreciate what talents you have and accept those you don't.

In related news, do you realize how many pumpkin seeds you can get out of two cheap jack o' lanterns? Manna from the heavens, I tell you! The world really does provide for us - you just have to know where to look. Now is prime time to start stocking up on homemade pumpkin paste and toasted seeds. Before you know it, the Christmas snowmen will have taken over!

Shortly put,
- Leah

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