Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll-Ups

The fall is here and you know it for sure when you get a bunch of sage and a butternut squash in your kitchen.  I'm not sure how I feel about fall just yet and to be honest I haven't given myself the time to think about it.  What matters most to me in the moment is how I deal with the food that the season brings me.

Butternut squash.  I've said it many times throughout numerous blog posts just how challenged I feel by winter veggies.  I'm sure that I'm not alone.  We've all (at least in North America) been programmed to eat our '5 a day' fruit and veggies.  How the hell are you gonna do that in the middle of winter?  In fact, in my part of the world it's impossible to do that for most of the year.  Answer: ship it in.  From Brazil, Honduras, Chile... wherever.  Ship it all in.  Blueberries fresh from... Argentina.  Strawberries fresh from Venezuela.  Tomatoes fresh from California.  You get the picture.  Tearing yourself away from that isn't easy and we allow ourselves a little 'treat' once in a while.  Most of the time though our fruit is of the home canned variety or over-wintered apples and pears.  Veggies are harder though.  I've got a freezer full of summer vegetables that have been par-boiled and flash frozen but it's not enough to get me through.  So I made a decision last year to get friendly with winter vegetables.  The kind we've all forgotten about (or purposely obliterated from our memory).  Last year I made a good dent in my mission.  I got really well acquainted with cabbage and turnip and rutabaga.  This year I want to get squash and celeriac into my life.  The best part of the mission is that it's good for you.  I mean really good for you.  All those root veggies are packed with good stuff.

This recipe is my first 'fall' try.  I'll be honest with you, I didn't love it.  I browned the butter a little too long and it kinda turned black and then when I added it to the flour to make the béchamel it turned grey.  Ick.  Then the butternut stuff got too gloopy and I really didn't have enough time to make it all into the kind of food magic that I was hoping for.  The fam have been eating this with no problem.  I'm still wrapping my head around it.  I still like it in principle and I want to try it out again making some variations before I give up on the idea completely.  I've made a couple of changes to the recipe already and have reflected them below.  I toyed with the idea of not posting this at all but I think that in the spirit of what I do 'When I'm not at Work' and also desperately needing to get another post out there, it was important for this one to be here.  I'm hoping that you get inspired and write to me with some things for me to start making.  Fall, Here We Come.

Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll-Ups adapted from "How Sweet It Is'
serves 6 - 8

12 - 14 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
3lb butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into chunks
olive oil
3/4 cup onion, sliced
3 - 4 cups mushrooms (the wilder the better) sliced
2 cups (about 3 large leaves) Kale, chopped
1/4 cup sage, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp salt
1 cup (200 g) goat cheese

12 sage leaves
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
3 3/4 - 4 cups warm milk
1 veggie boullion cube
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp pepper sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a large, high sided baking dish and set aside.
Toss the chunks of squash in enough olive oil so that everything is nicely coated.  Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until nicely browned on the outside and very soft.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the butter over medium heat and add in the sage leaves.  Cook the sage in the butter just until they start to get crispy then remove them and set them aside.  Add the flour to the butter and whisk until it forms a paste.  Slowly add in the warm milk, whisking continuously, until all the milk has been added.  Continue to whisk over med/low heat until the liquid starts to thicken.  Then add in the boullion cube, salt, honey, nutmeg, ginger and pepper sauce.  Check the taste and adjust if necessary.  Set aside.
Heat a large pan and saute the onion and mushrooms in a bit of olive oil until both are soft and the onion is beginning to brown.  Add in the kale and sage and cook just until the kale has wilted.
Place the butternut squash in a bowl and mash (or use a hand blender) until it's completely mushy.  Add in the sautéed onion mixture and mix well.  Add in the cream and salt and mix.  Check the taste and adjust if necessary.
Put a little bit of the béchamel sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
Take a lasagna noodle and spread it with 4 tbsp (or so) of the squash mixture.  Sprinkle a little of the goat cheese on that.  Roll up the lasagna noodle.  Place the noodle sideways in the baking dish.  Continue until all of the squash mixture is finished.
Pour the rest of the béchamel over the noodles.  Sprinkle the top with the crispy sage leaves that were set aside.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden and bubble on top.
Let it rest for about 15 - 20 minutes before serving.

Ginger Cookies

I am in rambling mode at the moment.  So rather than make this post about any one thing in particular I'm going to shoot out my thoughts in no particular sequence other than how they pop into my head.

1.  I'm tired of politics.  I don't even live in the U.S. and I'm tired of politics.  Maybe if there was a real difference between the political parties than I might understand some of the conviction and vehemence. However, realistically there isn't much difference and it seems kinda, well, silly from the outside looking in.  I'm saying this as a Canadian where we are essentially in the same boat except we have 3 parties instead of 2 - big diff.  BTW, don't we all know the game?  It's all just grand standing.  I love how Peabody put it.
2.  Every year I tell myself I'm going to get better organised about clearing up my garden.  Every single year.  And then it's the middle or end of October and I'm looking out at wilted tomato plants still in the ground.  Why is it so hard to get out there and pull the damn plants up?
3.  It still makes me agitated when I see people putting out there that they are boycotting certain 'food' products because they contain High Fructose Corn Syrup or Hydrogenated Palm Oil or some kind of Soy concentrate thing.  It amazes me that after all this time we are still convinced that pre packaged food is easier or more convenient.  Guess what, make real food and then you pretty much don't have to worry about that crap anymore (with a few exceptions ;-)
4.  Even though I'm kinda working toward less and less sugar in my life (does that count against #3 BTW) I still have a boat load of birthday chocolate to bake my way through.  And yes, I do dream about the brownies and chocolate chip cookies the chocolate will make.

5.  I made cookies today for the first time since the summer (and even then I think I only made one or two batches of cookies for the whole summer).  I love making cookies.  My BFF KT has said goodbye to a beautiful little bundle that she and G fostered for the last 6 months.  The little bundle is 6 months old so they've been there since the beginning.  I can't imagine having to give that gift away so soon.  It's hard not to be utterly and completely depressed I think.  However, KT is one of the most emphatically positive people I know (I think that she likes me because we are such polar opposites) and if there is a way to put a positive spin on this than KT will find that way.  I think that some of her favourite things in the world include molasses, oatmeal and ginger so I'm going to take some of these fantastic cookies (and trust me, they are fantastic... or maybe I just haven't been eating many cookies lately) over to her and see if they don't just help to kick start the 'positive spin' machine.

6.  I like things that aren't mucked up too much.  This recipe originally called for chocolate shavings and dried apricot.  I couldn't do it.  I wanted to straight up ginger cookie.  I wasn't disappointed.  And yeah, I ate the cookie.

Ginger Cookies adapted from 'SuperNatural Everyday' by Heidi Swanson
makes about 2 dozen med/small cookies

1 cup whole wheat or red fife flour
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsulfured blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp ginger, peeled and freshly grated
1 egg
3 - 4 tbsp coarse grain sugar, in a bowl and set aside.

Combine the flours, baking powder, ginger and salt together.  Mix well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicon liner and set aside.
Melt the butter - only just - and combine with the sugar by removing the butter from the heat source and mixing well with the sugar.  That way the sugar will melt into the butter well.  Add in the grated ginger and the molasses.  Mix well.  Make sure that the mixture isn't too hot - should be just barely warm at this point.  Add in the egg and mix well.
Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients.  Mix just until everything is incorporated.  Form the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (approximately).
Roll each ball in the sugar that was set aside.  Place each on the cookie sheet and press down just a little.
Bake for anywhere from 7 - 12 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your cookies.  The cookies should be just golden on the bottom.
Remove to a cooling rack and store in an airtight container.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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