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Friday, November 4, 2011

Taking Comfort

Good 'Til The Last Drop

I hate leaving Halloween behind. Yes, I know...only 360 days 'til it's back BUT, I do love to linger in the afterglow. Putting everything away is painful.  It is nice to see that several neighbors are still in the linger mode as well. We had a fabulous time this year and a couple of new houses playfully joined in.

To me, Halloween is spirited in every sense of the word. Out of the 500 plus kiddoes we had brave our walk, I bet not more than 1-2 did not say "Thank You" or wish us "Happy Halloween!", too. Not that those salutations were solicited or expected either...all just uttered joyfully. The kids (of every age!) were playful, so colorful, so creative, so sweet, so fun...the human spirit at some of its best. Even my daughter commented, "Are people always this polite and nice? This is impressive."

Yes...always. I believe that is our basic human spirit and what I experience every Halloween is impressive and reaffirms my faith.

Even Veggies Do It!

I was chagrined to come in and catch a news story on how parents are preventing their children from Trick or Treat-ing...saying Halloween is a fearful, scary hell-iday thay they don't want their kids to enjoy. As a matter of fact, they want their kids to be frightened of it. To me, it's the same as teaching your kids to be scared of life and the people you'll meet living it. That's just me.

Made me so sad that I needed some comfort food.

Apple Squash Gratin (picture and recipe from fellow reveler Martha Stewart)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium leeks, white part only, trimmed of roots and tough outer leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, well washed and dried
Coarse sea salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus leaves for garnish
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 pound apples, such as Gala, Cortland, Baldwin, or Macoun, peeled*, halved, cored, and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (toss in an Arkansas Black apple for color)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 10-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add leeks and 2 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add sherry and sage and cook until liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 3 minutes; set aside.

In a 2-quart shallow baking dish, arrange squash in overlapping layers; season with salt and pepper. Spread leeks evenly over the squash.

Arrange apples in an overlapping layer over the leeks. Brush apples with remaining tablespoon oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 45 minutes.

Uncover and sprinkle cheese over the top. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. The tip of a paring knife should easily pierce the gratin. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with sage leaves. Serves comfort to 4.

*I rarely peel anything. Too many goodies in the skins to toss in the garbage. It will make the gratin more "rustic" in appearance, too, which I like.

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