Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grandmommy & Granddaddy's Roasted Butternut Squash


My mom's parents had a huge garden in their backyard... raspberries, apple trees, fig trees, citrus trees, and multiple large planter boxes full of various seasonal veggies. They were both avid gardeners (especially my grandpa), and they were both avid veggie eaters too! One of their all-time favorite crops was their annual haul of butternut squash. My grandpa would start the seedlings in his greenhouse and then transfer them to the planter boxes in the spring time. Then he would tend to them with great care: fertilizing, weeding, and frequent waterings all summer long.

Growing up, my brother or my cousin or I were often given the job of watering our grandparents' garden if they were going to be out of town for a few days. Before we were entrusted with this critical task, we had to go over and meet with my Grandpa, and he would give us a complete lesson on the current state of the garden, how long and how often to water each plant in the garden, how to hold the hose for most efficient watering... It was very thorough! As you might remember from my toast post, my grandpa was a man who did things with great care. It might seem like such an exhaustive lesson on watering the garden would be boring for a kid, but I only remember those moments with affection and love. Whenever this task fell to me, I would ride my bike to their house on my way home from school and water the garden just the way my Grandpa had shown me. It felt very special to be alone in their yard, without their company, and I felt happy to be trusted to take care of their garden.

Each fall, about this time, they would start to harvest their butternut squashes. They had a shed in their backyard - used for various things over the years - and it was dark and cool, so that's where they kept their harvested squash for the rest of the year. My grandfather kept very meticulous charts of how many butternuts he picked each year. On the wall of the shed there was a piece of paper with the year written on it, alongside tiny hashmarks for each squash he had harvested, and then a final annual count - which was usually circled. I think they often grew 150+. For reals.


So, what on earth did they do with all that squash? Well, they were very generous people, and they were definitely happy to share with friends and family. But, like I mentioned before, they also both really loved to eat their veggies. My grandma's favorite thing was to slice and roast the butternut squash. This simple dish is a total family classic in our family.

This recipe is very simple, and I'm sure you could do all sorts of things to make it fancy... but I can assure you that is not necessary. These slices of roasted squash are absolute perfection: full of caramelized sweetness, bursting with flavor, and melt-in-your-mouth softness. They are glorious.

Grandmommy's Roasted Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash, big or small
a little bit of oil

First, preheat the oven to 375 F. Next, peel your squash. This can be a bit annoying, but if you have a Y-shaped peeler, that really helps. Then, cut off very ends and discard them. Use a good strong knife and cut the long part of the squash into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick rounds. When you get to the bulbous part, use a spoon to scoop and discard the seeds, and cut the flesh into rounds or half moons (same thickness as before).

Arrange the slices on a large cookie tray and spray or rub on a little bit of oil (you really don't need to over do it). Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, flipping them after every 15 minutes. Be sure to check on your slices so they don't burn. I think they are probably yummy after 45 minutes, but I like to wait until there are really some golden brown caramelized/roasted bits showing up - for maximum yumminess.

14 comments:

  1. your blog is my new happy place <3

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    1. oh elyse, that makes *me* so happy!!

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  2. I will never tire of your amazing drawings and lovely stories. Recipes like these make me happy. Simple. Classic. Comforting. :)

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    1. thank you so much, Megan! I know what you mean, simple recipes can be just perfect the way they are!

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  3. What a wonderful legacy your grandparents have given you — so much love, knowledge and trust. You are honoring them well with your beautiful stories. Butternut is my favorite kind of squash, and your simple recipe shows it off to perfection.

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    1. Oh Andrea, it's so true. They were such profoundly important people in my life and I feel SO LUCKY that they were my grandparents. Such fantastic people full of love and dignity and curiosity about the world.

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  4. Yummy!! We have some growing out back no, nowhere near your grandpa's numbers though!!!! :)

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    1. ha ha! most normal folks don't grow quite so much!!

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  5. Amey, I think _I'm_ starting to be nostalgic for _your_ family from reading these posts... your grandparents sound like they were really strong and wonderful influences on your life.

    Also, now I really want some squash.

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    1. i miss you! :) yes, my grandparents were wonderful. I think I could have done a whole month of Noshtalgia posts just about them. :)

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  6. Your drawings freaking fill my heart with joy.

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    1. <3!! Thank you Randi!!

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  7. YUM i love butternut squash!

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  8. As I was reading about how your grandpa went into great detail about how you should be watering each plant in the garden, it reminded me of Fred every time we go out of town. Love it!

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Happy VeganMoFo! I love comments, they really make my day!