My daydreams have been full of trees. A view of the mountains. A little house in the woods.
Ruby, a few years from now, skipping up a stone walkway, flowers in her hand, in her hair, at her feet.
A simple, sunny room with wide plank floorboards and a desk situated in front of a tall window. The desk is empty except for a notebook and a pen. And a mug of black coffee.
Who writes with a pen anymore?
Everyone has been talking about trees recently. "Studies have shown," they say. Studies have shown that, whether you like them or not, trees are add-years-to-your-life good for you.
I'm fidgety. Unfocused. Full.
If you've read the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle (or, like me, part of it), you remember the face in the water. If you haven't read it—seven year old Karl Ove is watching the news report of a sunken fishing boat when he sees a face in the shots of the waters off Norway where the ship went down. He tells his father, who, though more receptive than expected, does not understand the significance of the moment. To have seen something so compelling, experienced something so deeply, but to be unable to express it's importance is crushing, even—or especially—for a seven year old boy.
There is so much to say, so much to tell you, but I can't seem to say it. I can't find the right words. It sounds grandiose, I know. It isn't—in life's grand scheme. At least, if I did tell you, that's what you would think. So, until I can put my finger on it, I leave you with a recipe.
Think of it as pumpkin bread, but with pumpkin's more delicious cousin, the delicata. Buttery, rich, moist, and sweet, this loaf is that soul-soothing, belly-filling, just-right-with-a-cup-of-coffee comfort food the season calls for. Spread a generous schmear of honeyed goat cheese on a thick slice, cozy up, breathe deep, and daydream.
Spiced Delicata Squash Bread
1 large or 2 small delicata squash
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 large eggs
1. Roast the squash! Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half and remove seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, using your hand or a pastry brush to spread over the flesh and skin of the squash. Place cut-side-down on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, 30-40 minutes, turning half way through. Depending on the size of your squash, this may take more or less time, so watch carefully! Allow the squash to cool, remove skins, and puree in food processor or blender. Measure out 1 1/3 cups squash puree and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter or oil a 9-inch loaf pan.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
4. In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer), beat together sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Continue beating for several minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Beat in 1 1/3 cups squash puree. Slowly add flour.
5. Scoop batter into prepared pan. The batter should be quite thick and slightly sticky. Spread to ensure even baking.
6. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until golden. The top will spring back when touched and a cake tester will come out clean when the loaf is finished. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
7. Slice and serve with honeyed goat cheese (2 ounces goat cheese whipped or stirred with 1 teaspoon honey).