A Little Game Called Hide the Squash

(Slimy flying saucer)

OK, so here’s a little secret: I hate summer squash. Ditto zucchini. Eggplant as well. Cucumber, if you really want to know. Actually, a lot of vegetables. I’d prefer to live off carbs forever, thankyouverymuch.

But also, I want to model good eating to my picky eater tribe, not die a stupid and preventable death, support local farmers, etc., and so I try to eat vegetables anyway, ugh.

If you or someone in your life is similarly afflicted, here are some methods I’ve adopted:

  • Grate into pasta sauce
  • Grate into zucchini bread (cheating, because this turns it into a carb.) Note: Only use zucchini. The seeds remain when you use summer squash, and if you use cucumber, even though the internet swears it’ll be the same, your husband will consider mutiny.
  • Chop into ground beef and saute. A friend taught me this. Basically anything works, but I use it most often for eggplant.
  • Mandoline it up! If I had to make a hall of fame for completely unnecessary kitchen gadgets I adore, a mandoline would be top of the list. (Also, I’m assuming you say “mand-o-LINE” not “mandolin,” right?) It effortlessly juliennes the vegetables you already feel resentful that you’re having to prepare, and then you can toss the thin disks into stuff like frittatas or pad thai where they will obligingly melt away. And hey, you can use it to make potato chips, too. All work and no play, you know?
  • Purée it into a smoothie. I do this for the kids, who refuse to accept it in any of the aforementioned disguises, but they actually really like half a zucchini in their berry smoothie…so long as I only reveal its presence afterwards.

How do you work vegetables into meals so they’re not noticeable?

Commonplace Book, 55

I’m finally learning how to French braid! Like a real girl!!

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • Do you, dear reader, find yourself possessed of the calm conviction, “This is how I die” every time you endeavor to hack up a butternut squash? This trick doesn’t work for every recipe — because cubed roasted squash is really freaking good — but sometimes you can just roast the behemoth whole and cube it later. See instructions here.

Read More »

Learning to Love Housekeeping

It’s an ongoing thing for me. It helps that I was raised in a family that values housework, in which both parents adopted and enjoyed certain tasks. (Except ironing, which nobody claimed.) It helps that I’m an introvert who also enjoys structuring her own time. But beyond this foundation, I’ve had a lot to learn — I was a pretty useless kid, and until I was about 25, I moved often enough that I never had to clean baseboards or ovens. (Though I really probably should have.)

Still, here are some of my professional (homemaker) interests at the moment:

  • Roasting vegetables: For the first five years of our marriage, there were only two varieties of vegetables J and I prepared at home: green salad and jarred pasta sauce. We aren’t a lot better now, but I’m trying, honest. Lately, I’ve been moseying over to our local Sharp Shopper (which really deserves its own post on its manifold attractions), where I snag a bunch of vegetables that look attractive (HA, says 15-year-old Katherine), and then one day when the babes are sleeping or playing independently, I prep and roast them all on one pan, then divide them up and use them in stuff. I get to feel smug about serving crispity roast brussel sprouts, and roast broccoli in my pasta sauce and mushrooms and asparagus in my quiche. It reminds me of the line in Sisterland — “I heard myself say to Ben, ‘I’m going to compost the rest of the bok choy,’ and pretty much everything I was smug about then was encapsulated in that single sentence.
  • Hampers for the kids: I asked my parents to get Pippin a truck hamper for Christmas, and they did, even though now they think I’m even lamer than the year I asked for a vacuum for my birthday. (It’s a really great vacuum.) So now we have a hamper for Pippin’s room and I appropriated a toy bin for Scout’s room to use as a hamper there, and WHO KNEW, Pippin actually loves to put dirty clothes in the hamper. So each weekday morning the three of us straighten up the kids’ rooms. It takes about ten minutes and then their rooms don’t look like crap. Please note: our room still looks like crap, because ten minutes won’t begin to put a dent in it.
  • Evening audiobooks: I’ve mentioned them before, but seriously, one of my favorite parts of the day is now cleaning up after dinner. J takes the kids downstairs to “bond” with them (wrestle and watch David Attenborough documentaries, as far as I can tell), and until Scout starts up her dinosaur chorus of shrieks summoning her personal milk truck, I wash dishes and straighten up and fold and put away laundry. And all the while I listen to Librivox recordings of classics, or, more recently, digital audiobooks from the library. Free hands, clear head, can’t lose, or something like that.
  • Slow cooker batch prep: On the days when I’m not using the slow cooker to make the meal itself, I try to put it to work for something else. Great things I’ve found to make in there: caramelized onions; roasted garlic; and even my arch nemesis, dried beans. Having these pre-prepared ingredients makes it easier to make meals special, and if I never have to sauté another onion at dinnertime as the baby bounces frantically in her exersaucer and the toddler hurtles trucks under my feet, it will be too soon.