Hello, hello again, to whoever is reading.
I’m still not sure what to do with this little old space I created some six years ago. When I initially started this blog, I didn’t set out to profit from it. I didn’t troll other blogs and leave 50+ comments a day, in hopes to accrue a reader base. I didn’t track analytics, or try to form brand partnerships, and I didn’t advertise on social media channels. I didn’t blog every week, or even every month. I didn’t even get my own domain. I suppose I should have done some of these things, because I don’t know that I have much of a reader base (not trying, and blogging so infrequently won’t get you one), and my site is pretty darn dated. But I guess you should know that I started this blog for me. Just so I could have a little space on the inter web where I could share my thoughts and get to writing again. And I’m still not interested, nor am I really able, at this juncture in my life, to strive for a for-profit blog.
So much has changed over the years, and I find it harder and harder to come back here, and I don’t really like that. The majority of the work I do is centered upon helping other people with their food blogs. I write a lot of cute, punchy bits — which, don’t get me wrong, I love — but sometimes I miss writing for myself. After all, the women who inspired me to start this blog in the first place, the women whose writing was so beautiful, so full of imagery, and their blogs so basic, so minimalistic — are the types of writers I myself aspire to be. I remember first reading Molly Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette, back in ’07, and it sparked a fire within me. That woman can write, so effortlessly it seems. Same with Luisa Weiss, and her blog The Wednesday Chef. I just finished reading her food memoir, My Berlin Kitchen, and literally each page was so beautiful, so simply honest and elegant, that I savored each word from cover to cover, dreading the day I’d have to put it down. When I read both of Molly’s books, I felt the same way, especially in reading A Homemade Life — a book I hold close to my heart. These women and their words continue to inspire me. I consider them to be pioneers of the food blog world, and thankfully they are both still at it, their blogs still refreshingly the same — bell and whistle-free.
In doing the kind of work I’ve been doing, I find it harder to carve out the time for my own blog. I kind of feel like it’s been on life support for the past couple of years. For so long, I kept wrestling with whether or not to sustain it. Things have gotten stale. I wanted to give the site a face lift like four years ago. I wanted to blog more regularly. Even fairly recently, I thought I was finished, and that if I were going to start blogging again, it would have to be a clean slate. New everything. But I just couldn’t seem, still can’t seem, to pull the plug. So I’ve decided (for now), that those excuses aren’t good enough, and shouldn’t hold me back from having this outlet when I feel like I need it. I’d still like to give this blog a face lift, I’d still like to blog more regularly (as in once a week, rather than once or twice a year). I still have things to say. I’d still like to share recipes, like the one I’m going to share with you today.
I’ve never been a good “clean out the fridge” sort of cook. Oh how I’d like to be, especially considering I hate waste (especially wasted food). My mom is this sort of cook, and I’m trying to be. The other day, I needed to rustle some things up for lunch. I bought a butternut squash, with the intention of roasting it and making a warm salad of Tuscan kale, dried cranberries, goat cheese and pine nuts, like I did many times last year. But I forgot the pine nuts and the cranberries. I remembered I had some wild rice in the fridge, some leftover thyme and orange-scented goat cheese and some maple-cider vinaigrette that I’d recently made in the fridge. The wild rice had some stray remnants of caramelized shallots and plump tart dried cherries in it, from a salad I’d made even further back. So I massaged some torn kale in the vinaigrette, spooned the warm wild rice and butternut squash overtop, and added some dollops of orange-thyme goat cheese I had leftover. I also had some leftover roasted sticky pecans (with agave and Chinese Five Spice) that I added in the mix. This salad ended up being even better than the one I made last year. It sounds complex, but was really easy since I already had most of these things made. It’s colorful, citrusy, vaguely spicy and exotic and comforting (surprising for a salad). It’s a good salad to eat this time of year.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Salad with Cherries, Kale, and Goat Cheese
Makes 1 salad
- Roughly 2 cups of torn dinosaur/tuscan/lacinato kale (or more, if you’d like)
- About 2 Tablespoons maple-cider vinaigrette (recipe below)
- 1/3 cup of cooked wild rice (I like to cook mine with chicken stock)
- 1/8 cup of dried tart cherries (I like to plump mine up in a little bit of boiling water, with a dash of red wine vinegar)
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (you will have some left over)
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup Goat Cheese, softened, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh orange zest (depending on how citrusy you’d like the goat cheese to be)
- salt & pepper
- Chinese Five Spice Agave Roasted Pecans (I found that there was quite a bit of excess liquid, so I think you could probably get by with using just shy of 1/4 cup of agave, if not less). I also add some freshly ground black pepper.
Maple-Cider Vinaigrette (adapted from My Recipes)
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (I just do this to taste, you may want to add a bit more)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper (”)
- 2-3 sprinkles of ground cinnamon
- 2 sprinkles of cayenne
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl, until well emulsified. You will have plenty of vinaigrette left over, and it should keep in the refrigerator for at least two weeks.
For the Goat Cheese:
With a spoon or spatula, stir in the fresh thyme and orange zest, along with a sprinkle of salt and some pepper to taste.
For the Salad:
Preheat your oven to 400. In a bowl, toss your cubed butternut squash with a good drizzle of olive oil (about 2 Tablespoons or so), and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for about 25-30 minutes, turning a couple times throughout. The squash should be tender, but not mushy. With your hands or with tongs, massage the kale with the vinaigrette for about 3-5 minutes. The kale should turn a darker green and soften up a bit. Spoon the wild rice, 1/2 cup of butternut squash and the cherries on top. Add however many pecans you like (I do about 8), and dollop some goat cheese on top.