Heaven help me, I’m about to get on a Disney cruise.
It’s about the last vacation I would have chosen – I’m deathly motion sensitive and the whole idea of being on a boat for a week makes me feel trapped. When I travel, I want to chart my path, explore new places, eat different and interesting food. To me the research is an enormous part of the fun. Here, 90% of the trip is going to be sitting on a boat, and exploring the lido deck is an awfully tame (and expensive) adventure.
But, vacation in any form is a rare and great thing. The cruise was supposed to be our big trip with my mom and dad last winter, but we had to postpone it after my dad got sick.
Now we have to go without him. He won’t miss it too much – he thought cruises were a lot of silly sitting around and eating – but he would have loved watching the kids enjoy the experience. He used to love watching a TV show with the kids: the kids watching and laughing at the show, and my dad watching their faces and taking joy in their delight.
So I’m ready to make the most of it. I’ve read that they have a galley tour so I can check out how food gets made daily for thousands. I’ve picked out a lunch place and a walking tour for the one interesting stop we’ll make. I brought books and magazines. I’ll use my computer for writing (my handwriting is illegible, even to me), but not having internet will reduce it to a high-tech typewriter. I’m stocked up ginger (gum, chews and hard candy) to ward off any queasiness.
And while I’m away, even though it’s spring, you might want to try roasting some butternut squash.
I turned my mom into a fan of roasted butternut squash this winter. She grew up on whole roasted sweet potatoes, sold on the street in Korea the way hot dogs are sold on the streets of New York, and she loves how sweet the butternut squash gets when its flavor is concentrated and sugars caramelized in the oven.
Grab the last of the season’s squash and give it a try. The key is to roast it until its edges are well-browned and crispy. Under-roasted vegetables are bland and watery. Much better to risk a little char than to take them out too early.
Start by cutting off the ends, so that the squash can stand. Then there’s the long part that’s solid inside and the round part that has the seeds. It’s helpful to separate them, especially if it’s a long squash.
Butternut squash skin looks hard, but really it’s thin and very easy to peel with a vegetable peeler.
A spoon will get the seeds out, but a knife helps to cut the stringy fibers.
Cut into uniform cubes. Smaller cook faster, larger need a bit more time.
Toss cubes on a baking sheet with salt, pepper and enough olive oil to make it all nice and shiny. Add garlic if you like, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a touch of maple syrup or brown sugar. Or all of the above.
Remember to roast it very well.
I like to snack on it hot from the baking tray. But I also put it in salads and on other food. I like it in my chili too, but I’ll make regular chili for the kids and add roasted butternut squash on top for me.
Roasted Butternut Squash
This isn’t much of a recipe – it’s just a reminder to roast your squash very well. Edges should be well-browned and crispy.
- Butternut squash
- Good olive oil
- Minced garlic
- Maple syrup or brown sugar
- Cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut ends off squash. Use a vegetable peeler to remove skin. Cut the long part of the squash from the round part. Stand each part up on its end and cut in half. Cut into uniform cubes and place on baking tray.
- Season cubes well with salt, pepper and olive oil. Add enough olive oil to make the cubes nice and shiny.
- Roast until cubes are tender with well-browned, crisp edges. It’s helpful to turn the cubes once during baking if you can. Depending on the size of your cubes, baking time can be 25-40 minutes. Taste one after roasting and add salt and pepper if needed. They are seasoned well if you keep wanting to eat just one more.
Here’s the link to a printable version.