My son is a particular sort of child. He likes his hair spiked or swooped just so and looks forward to clothes shopping more than his big sister; he has become my favorite shopping buddy. Whether it’s scheming or enthusiasm I don’t care, but he earns extra points by complimenting everything I try on. It's a nice contrast to his sister’s standard answer of ‘umm…I think it’s too small.’ She says this about everything, including shoes and scarves and sunglasses and I’m starting to think her opinion is not the best measure of my self-worth.
But back to the little man. Lately he has taken to waking up with a shrewd eye for the clothes I’ve laid out for him. He will survey his favorite camouflage t-shirt, cargo shorts, and high-topped camo chucks only to shift his gaze over to me with a disapproving sigh and raised brow, ‘Nope. Mom, today I am a cowboy…I need my red shirt with the pearly buttons, brown pants, and my hat.’—it all comes at me as though I’m the frazzled corporate assistant who carelessly misplaced the detailed memo outlining his demands.
Somehow, despite dropping the ball, I've managed to keep my job.
This kind of Devil Wears Prada of Munchkinland scene could easily shift to frustration, but through some miracle of motherhood I find myself eager to discover what the ‘character of the day’ will be. And what's more, I have somehow unconsciously joined in! More than once I have caught my inner voice, upon entering my own closet, announcing ‘Today I am a photographer, a gym rat, a yoga instructor, an artsy writer...’ Granted, my own imaginings fall short of the thrilling leaps my five-year-old makes, but the image of it all, the possibility and blank slate it offers in an otherwise humdrum week has been liberating. Perhaps someday I will start the day with a persona to rival his rugged Davy Crockett, squinty-eyed sheriff, or tool belt & oversized beanie-wearing home repairman, but for now I will settle for the childhood dream of Butternut Squash Ninja Master.
What’s that? You never heard of it? Well that’s the jewel of childhood imagination: the only obstacle limiting your ambition is finding the right costume and props.
Childhood whimsy, you belong to me.
I simply cannot rave enough about this recipe. In just the last few days, I have found a delicious home for it topping French toast, on a spoon, stirred into bowls of Greek yogurt, as a fresh apple dip, on a spoon, as a replacement for oil in waffles and this incredible gingerbread recipe. Did I mention it pairs great with a large spoon and an open mouth? Like eating pumpkin pie filling without all of that pesky crust-rolling business—not to mention, this recipe is uber-versatile, works beautifully with not only butternut squash, but acorn, kabocha, and, of course, pumpkin. It bears mentioning that, should you wish to forgo the sometimes life-threatening adventure of peeling and cutting open a hard winter squash, you can easily opt for a can of pumpkin. To brave and tentative cooks alike I say let them eat squash butter.
Crock pot Spiced Squash Butter
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds and strings removed, about 3-4 cups diced, or 1 29 oz. can prepared pure pumpkin
1 cup coconut sugar
2-4 Tbs. pure maple syrup
3 Tbs. butter or coconut oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Place the diced squash into a lined crock pot, and top with the sugar, syrup, butter or oil and spices. Replace the lid and cook on low about 4-6 hours (2 hours if using canned pumpkin), stirring occasionally or until the squash has completely broken down. Stir and mash the squash into the sugar and spices to fully incorporate. Turn the crock pot off and remove the lid, allowing extra moisture to steam off and the butter to thicken as it cools. Once cool, use as it is, or pour the mix into a food processor for a smooth spread. Makes about 2-3 cups.
*If you have yet to try crockpot liners, here is your chance.
Life. Changed. Forever.