My grandmother, the late, great Martha (“Martha Darling” as she was lovingly referred to by my sisters and I) came to me in a dream last night. I wasn’t surprised by her visit. Having recently retired from my job of 13 years, I find myself — again — in a time of transition. (See this blog’s very first post, circa 2011, and you’ll understand why I say “again.”). Transitions are stressful. There’s all that un-knowing to contend with. And, as one who has spent the better part of the last three decades with some of degree of certainty as to what Monday through Friday looks like — well, let’s just say, this is unchartered territory.
In a recent New York Times opinion piece, author Alice Robb asserts, not surprisingly, that our dreams are windows into our conscious selves and that there is real value in trying to interpret them. In her research, Robb spoke with psychologists who claim that in dreams “our brains are reminding us of a time when we prevailed over something we had feared, boosting our confidence.”
In my dream, Martha joined me in a happy place — on a beautiful lake, the water moving endlessly and without worry while dappled sunlight sparkled on its surface. Martha leaned in and whispered, “You’re a good girl, Leslie.” Then she handed me a wooden mixing spoon, worn by years of use in what I can only imagine would have been any number of delicious dishes she created. And then she was gone.
Here’s how I am choosing to interpret this lovely reunion with my sweet, funny, one-of-a-kind grandmother who was – in case it hasn’t already been made clear – an absolute boss in the kitchen (and I mean that in the best possible way). Concerning my future, I don’t have any more answers today than I did before the dream, but I think Martha was simply trying to say: “It’s okay. You will figure this out. You’re a good girl.”
As for the spoon, well that was meant to be my dream-induced confidence booster, a not-so-subtle hint to get back into the kitchen and to writing this blog (which has been on a multiple year hiatus). Goodness — and hopefully deliciousness — will prevail. Enjoy!
Regan’s Butternut Squash Ravioli A lot has happened since I first started writing this blog in 2011, and I hope you will return again and again to find out more. In the meantime, what follows is a recipe for homemade butternut squash ravioli that is pretty much perfect for the season. I am especially proud to share this one since it comes from my daughter Regan’s ever growing arsenal of deliciousness. This recipe is for the filling; the homemade pasta recipe was adapted straight from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook.
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, whole with skins on
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 to 1-1/2 c. ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425. Place cubed squash and whole garlic cloves (skins on) in a bowl, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a greased or parchment lined sheet tray and add sprigs of thyme. Roast until soft fragrant, and just beginning to brown around the edges (approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove squash and garlic from the oven, remove skins from garlic and allow mixture to cool. Discard the thyme.
Once cooled, transfer squash and garlic to a food processor, along with ricotta cheese and lemon juice. *Add ricotta a half-cup at a time until you achieve desired consistency. You are looking for a smooth puree that is NOT too liquid-y.
To cook ravioli, cook in a medium saucepan of salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just until the center is hot and the pasta is al dente. Remember that this is fresh pasta, which cooks much faster than the dried variety. Toss with your favorite sauce, or perhaps just a shimmer of olive oil, salt and pepper, and enjoy!