Today I decided to make stew. A lovely stew full of meatballs and tomatoes and beans and squash.
I shopped for the ingredients the other day…. meatballs, canned tomatoes, kidney beans, and chicken stock. One of the ingredients was a 3 lb butternut squash. But I had a couple of acorn squash already at home, so I figured I use those up instead.
So today, I went down to start preparing. The first step was to cut some onions into wedges and cook it in oil with garlic. So, with my harvest of onions gathered from the garden and down in the basement, I went downstairs to grab a few. I grabbed a nice fat one — and it was squishy. EW. I grabbed another one — also squishy. OH NO, I thought… all my onions are rotting.
I brought up a bunch, and fortunately, got 3 that were okay. But I’m going to have to go down and deal with the rest of them. ICK.
The next step was to peel and chop the squash into 1 inch cubes. Well. Hm. Not as easy as you might think, given the shape of an acorn squash. Oh no. I was cutting that sucker every which way, trying to get a flat surface to peel. Shards of green skin were flying everywhere. So, after trying for an hour to peel a squash that is ribbed on the outside, I can safely say that when they tell you to use butternut squash, they’re not just whistling Dixie.
I had intended to do both squash — 3 lbs being the weight of the squash in question — but after fighting for an hour with the most combative squash in the universe, I said “screw it” and peeled and chopped a couple of potatoes instead. One squash would have to do.
So, onions and garlic and spices went into the pot, and were cooking nicely. Then the recipe called for the squash (and in this case, potatoes) to be thrown in and cooked until tender in 1 1/2 cups of stock. Okay, I thought, and in they went.
You’re JOKING, I thought. How are you supposed to cook THAT MUCH SQUASH (okay, squash and potatoes) in that TINY AMOUNT OF LIQUID?
So, I added more liquid.
It said to cook the squash on low for 20-30 minutes until slightly tender. So I set the timer, and set about unloading and reloading the diswasher.
BEEP! The timer went. I checked the vegetables…
…which were not so much “slightly tender” as they were “downright soft and losing structural integrity”.
Eep. Not good.
The next step was to remove 1 cup of the squash and 1/3 cup of the liquid and puree them. Okay, well, maybe the puree would help, I thought, so I doubled the amounts I put in the food processor. Surely that would make up for the overabundance of liquid and soft veggies.
The puree went back into the pot, and the recipe called for a pound of meatballs, a cup of chopped canned tomatoes, and a cup of kidney beans. Well, I was going for broke anyway, so I threw in a pound and a half of meatballs, a full can of diced tomatoes (and their liquid — ACK! The recipe didn’t say one way or the other!) and a full can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed, of course).
Well, there was an awful lot of fluid, and a whole whackload of meatballs, and the odd bit of tomato and squash floating about…
I heated it through, stirring only very reluctantly and gently, trying to preserve the already fragile bits of vegetable still looking cube-like. And I made some biscuits to go with the stew, because that might be good for mopping up the mess afterwards. And nothing cancels out a mediocre stew like fresh baked biscuits, laced with cheddar.
I needn’t have worried.
The puree did its job, everything thickened up nicely, and by the end, we were full and content.
“That was really tasty. It’s nice to have home cooking,” said BDH.
“Oh, well, it was so simple….” I said.