For a while now, I have felt like I needed to make excuses to myself for why I have adopted the stereotypical female role when it comes to cooking. My usual self-justifications have been:
I have a student lifestyle right now and it is just easier for me to start dinner, since I am home and Ben is not. (But, if I were working full time and he got home before me, would this change?)
I know better what my dietary needs and restrictions are. (True in the strictest sense, but he really understands a lot. If asked, he will list you the foods I absolutely cannot eat and the foods I can eat on a rotational basis).
And I could even go so far as to say I am a better cook than he is. (He might actually agree with this, but he is a great, imaginative cook. HE owned the kitchenaid mixer, not me).
It's hard for me, someone who strives hard to not let society define my femininity, to be someone who plans, prepares, and has dinner on the table when her partner gets home from work. I have even begun to turn on Oprah (gasp) while I prepare dinner and then, as it's getting close to done, call Ben at work to see when he thinks he will be home! Horror of all horrors, I have all the earmarkings of ...a housewife.
And, I like it. Female stereotypes be damned.
I like cooking good food and I like feeding those I love. Specifically, with Ben, I love his almost child-like excitement and unyielding appreciation for what I make. Is it my fault that years before I was born, society marked this behavior as ultimately feminine? Should I deny something I enjoy out of fear of being labeled?
Food is something which connects us, all of us. We celebrate with it, we drown our sorrows in it, and we provide it for those we love as a gesture of caring. How did the preparation of food become labeled as strictly feminine, for one, and two, how on earth did that develop a negative connotation??
I feel blessed in my ability to put together safe, healthy, and delicious meals.
This stuffed squash recipe is what Ben was oooing and ahhing over the other day. We have been eating a lot of winter squash lately, going to the farmers' market together to pick out new varieties to try. We get most (if not all) of our squash from Sun Gold Farm, which has been a favorite vendor of mine since I moved to Portland. Their fall harvest is full of winter squash varieties, several apple varieties, venus grapes, onions, and chillies (to name a few highlights).
Stuffed Squash (gluten free, dairy free):
I used two Kuri Squash because their insides are mostly seeds, leaving plenty of space to fill with your favorite filling. Save the seeds and roast in your oven for a healthy, delicious snack.
2 Kuri squash
½ cup cooked rice (I used a black and mahogany rice blend, cooked in broth)
2 chicken-apple sausages, cut into small pieces (try to find a brand that has pronounceable ingredients, like Applegate farms)
1 ½ cups chopped spinach
1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces
½ a medium sweet onion, chopped
Cut the tops off of the squash and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Sprinkle the nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger inside the squash and pat the sides, turning the squash to evenly distribute the spices (like you would to flour a cake pan). Place the tops back on the squash and place in a glass baking dish, with enough water to come up about ½ an inch on the squash. Bake in a 375F oven for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute the onion in olive oil and a good dose of balsamic vinegar over medium heat, until onions begin to caramelize.
In a medium bowl, mix the onion, rice, sausage, pecans and spinach. (You can also create this mixture for a delicious salad. In fact, I ended up with some left-over and at those leftovers for lunch as a salad)
Remove the squash from the oven and stuff each one with the rice mixture. Place the tops of the squash back on and return the dish to the oven. Cook for another 25-30 minutes (until the squash becomes tender).