“Have I told you lately that I love you?” ~ Van Morrison
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We sat together in their living room, one of the few places in the world that feels truly peaceful to me. A place I know I can always be myself.
I could have stayed all night
We talked about our favorite topics, what we've been reading, studying, and thinking about. We talk about the Bible, The Dali Lama's teachings, and what's on our hearts. He tells me the things that are making him anxious, sad, mad, and glad. I tell him about mine.
Two broken souls finding their way in the world
How I love him so
Big pieces of paper painted deep dark blue filled the ceiling. “It's a sky,” they tell me. On the kitchen counter a basket filled with gold stars, and a glue stick
The hope? A shift in focus away from the negatives of the days, and instead to the things that bring them joy. Things like simple acts of kindness and gratitude.
And so, for every random, unsolicited act of kindness they'd done, or anything (big or small) that they're thankful for, a star was placed in the sky. Every night, before they go to bed, they turn off all of the lights, light a candle, and look up at their painted sky filled with stars.
It's one of their favorite things
(I can understand why)
Reading a few, I was reminded of what a luxury my life really is. How I never want to take any of what I have for granted.
Not the food in our refrigerator, nor the heat rising from the grates on the floor, nor the comfy bed I'm propped up in while I type these words. Not the puppies snuggled in next to me, nor that I finished work this evening and don't have to drive through the darkness to make it home.
In the middle of the sky is a star for “sobriety” and I'm reminded of the darkest years. How good it feels to be a guest in my son's home, rather than a name on the visitor's list at a rehab center.
There's one for “empathy” a reminder not to let one's skin become too thick
Stars for all of the simplest things were there, love, laughter, ease, togetherness, gratitude, hospitality, and joy. (Perhaps it doesn't have to be so hard)
Before I said my final good-byes and headed off into the night, I contributed my own stars of gratitude onto their night sky; one for each of them, who I love so very much. What better places, than around the one that read
I've been experimenting lately with recipes for Thanksgiving, and this is a perfect one for all of us collecting ideas.
Sage and butternut squash are a classic pairing. Here, in a 500-degree oven, the squash is caramelized until they've developed bronzed edges and an almost candied interior — a hint of cayenne for a bit of a kick.
The pesto is rich and subtle all at the same time, not to mention impossibly fragrant. It's garlicky without being overpowering. Toasted hazelnuts are an interesting twist, lending richness, and depth
It's great eaten hot or at room temp
~ Adapted from Food52
Caramelized Butternut Squash with Herbed Hazelnut Pesto
- Herbed Hazelnut Pesto
- ¼ cup sage, chopped very fine
- 4-5 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- ⅓ cup hazelnuts, toasted optional
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp ricotta, crumbled or chopped into a fine crumble
- fine grain sea salt
- Butternut Squash
- 2 butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 1 tsp fine grain salt
- ¼ - ½ tsp cayenne (depending on your tolerance for heat)
- Preheat the oven to 500° F
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Butternut Squash
- Peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
- Cut each squash half in half width-wise (right where the slender part curves out to the bulge). Cut each quarter into 1" wedges and put in a bowl.
- Toss the squash wedges with olive oil, sugar, a pinch of sea salt, and cayenne.
- Place in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes until caramelized.
- Remove from oven and flip them over.
- Bake another 10 to 15 minutes until caramelized on the other side and cooked through (the pieces on the edges of the baking sheet will caramelize first so you want to move them around a bit during the baking time)
- Herbed Hazelnut Pesto
- While the squash is roasting, make the pesto
- In a small pan over low heat, warm 3 Tbsp olive oil, sage, and garlic until the oil bubbles.
- Remove the pan from the heat and take out the garlic clove
- Place the toasted hazelnuts in a mini food processor, along with the garlic clove, and process until they've become a fine crumble
- Add the cheese to the bowl of the food processor, along with 1 to 2 Tbsp more olive oil and the warm herb/olive oil mix
- Pulse a couple of times to mix
- Note: This isn't a traditional pesto -- nuttier than herby and not so much oil
- Assemble & Serve
- Once the squash is roasted, place in a large bowl and toss with pesto to taste.