Seasonal Sundays (Week 45) Winter Squash

Hey, hey, y'all. This week's collection features my very favorite winter squash, that would be the butternut and how easy it is to slip butternut squash into main dishes. I hope you love these recipes as much as I do!

Seasonal Sundays ♥, a seasonal collection of recipes and life ideas in and out of the kitchen.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays ...

It's a funny time, late October. We've got the fun of Halloween! and yet Thanksgiving is in play! and the stores are awash in Christmas carols and all-things-Christmas. For someone who likes to do one thing at a time, whoah. Still, today I'm taking a day-long deep breath and will pull out the "thankful" thingie for the mantle and the goofy metal turkey for the kitchen table and ... put a smile on my face and promise to live and love Every.Single.Moment. Because it's not just "enough" ... it's more than enough.

Who else is keen on butternut squash? They're easy to find, keep on the counter for easily a couple of weeks, are inexpensive. The one trick that makes all the difference? Knowing how to wrangle one of those suckers into manageable bites.

  • The first thing is, if it's hard to put a knife into a butternut, put it in the microwave for a minute or two, it'll soften just enough to make it easier.
  • The second thing is, deal with the squash in two separate section, the neck first (the flesh is a little sweeter here) and then the bulb (which is a little messier and definitely more savory).
  • Still as clear as mud? Then this step-by-step guide will show you all the details, see How to Cut, Peel & Cube a Butternut Squash and Keep All Ten Fingers.

About the Photo By Popular Request, a Little Insight into the Top Image: Our pool closed late this year and for the last while, it's been hard to keep up with the leaves. And yes, they look all contorted and confused but I'm reminded that once moved to mulch the flower and vegetable beds, they'll enrich the soil for another season ... and that next year, new leaves will once again appear and the natural cycle will repeat forevermore. A life lesson in wet leaves atop a pool? Hmmm, yes.

Random Notes ...

  • Naked: not yet clothed by experience ... wow, such beautiful writing ... and for anyone with young sons or grandsons, a peek into the minds of boys-becoming-men ... fyi, click "let me read it first" when a subscribe button pops up
  • a sample: "It's only a four letter word, but if you’re lucky, your leaf falls off the tree into a pile of leaves, and the seasons pass, and love comes and goes, and then one day you get raked up by someone from whom you learn that love is the only thing in life that you can lose again and again and yet find as if for the first time, still there, trembling with possibility even today."

  • At the grocery store yesterday, I watched a woman move from bin to bin, selecting the exact vegetables already in my cart but ... from the back of the bin! I just had to ask! She figures the stockers put the most recent additions at the back! Is she right? I guess so!

  • My husband is the devoted "feeder of birds" and swears by specific cardinal-friendly blends which we can use during the winter when the pool is covered. But the other day an inexpensive suet feeder jumped into my cart at the hardware store, a $2 suet square too. And it's fun! We hung it close to the kitchen doors and it's fun to watch the different species which show up for suet but not seed.

  • What must migrations have been like, before human activity decimated the wild bird population?! The twice-yearly global crossing might well be the most invisible natural wonder! Enter BirdCast, a bird migration app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Enter your state, county, even city to see how many/likely birds which passed over last night! Missouri is slowing down, just 6200 birds over our county last night. But my sister's county in Texas? 1.6 million birds just last night! Amazing, yes?! Not into apps? The same info is available right from the BirdCast webpage, link above.

It's Not Politics. It's Civics.
It's Like Voting Every Day. Legally.

The country needs calm, thoughtful and assertive voices amid the chaos inflicted by a minority hellbent on taking/retaining power by strangling democratic principles and equal rights.

It's time to look up, study up and speak up. Make your voice heard!

Don't get overwhelmed. None of us have to personally change the world.


Pick one thing and put it on top of your To Do List this week. Next week, add another.

Here are my suggestions. I'll be adding to this list ...

NEXT WEEK? Suggestions Welcome.

THIS WEEK Aim for a Good Win Heaven knows, noboby but nobody can predict the outcome of the November 8 elections -- especially not the polls and the pundits and very especially the ogres who maintain that votes only count when the ogres win.

So do vote, early, now: it feels great to stand up for free and fair elections.

And know that your vote, this year, counts for more this than perhaps any other year: because a vote for democracy means democracy has a chance to stand the assault from an authoritarian minority and that your vote will mean something in coming years too.

LAST WEEK Vote Early Word is, early voters are showing up in throngs all across the country. Voting early means voting when on your own time, when it's convenient. Who knows what might pop up by the official Election Day of November 8th?

In 2020, my dad was hot-hot-hot to vote early-early-early. He was a life-long Republican but was furious at the turn the GOP had taken and was aghast at the anti-democratic corruption of the 45th president. "I'm 94 years old," he announced. "I want to vote now." And so he did.

Life takes many turns. Vote early, as soon as you can.

For anyone who wants to more actively participate, I recommend this list of action items from Chop Wood, Carry Water and this list of places that are recommended for last-minute meaningful financial contributions from Robert Hubbell.

TWO WEEKS AGO Subscribe to a Local Newspaper My husband and I watch in dismay as our local paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, becomes increasingly thin in local content and even other content – except sports! I counted six sports writers in a recent issue even if the entire front section had only three local news stories.

I know, I know. It's seems senseless to continue subscribing or re-subscribing if the "value" or "utility" or "usefulness" is on the decline.

But the logic is this.

Without subscribers and thus advertisers, local papers will fail or worse, get sucked up by multi-paper chains that cut local staff and fill pages with USA Today-style pablum.

And without local papers, without focus on local issues, the "bad guys" will win because nobody's watching, nobody's connecting the dots, nobody's tracking people/issues over multiple years and even decades.

Here's an example. Last spring, I went looking for information on local school board candidates. There were dozens of candidates and zero information from informed, non-partisan sources ... zero. What did I do? I gave up. Even this highly motivated voter just gave up. I still have no idea who was elected, only that local schools are under tons of pressure to ban books, bully teachers, block student rights.

PS Facebook is no substitute.

THREE WEEKS AGO Question Your Own Truth One night, the light was so pretty as the sun set, the tree tops were bright with orange. Fall had arrived!

Except ... it hadn't. It was June, early June.

Instead, the long slant of the setting sun lit up the leaves, turning them fall orange.

Wouldn't you look at this photo and agree twas taken in early autumn, just as the first leaves begin to turn color?

Just look! We can see it with our very own eyes. Of course this photo was taken during fall.

But truth isn't always black or white or for that matter, green or orange. Facts can be a little slippery. Truth can be veiled by a big lie.

More than ever, it's important for us to stay engaged, listening to other points of view, discerning not "our own" truth but the real truth.

I think of this "fall" photo every time I'm ready to jump on something that's in the news, forcing myself to question something being presented as fact, remembering that news is is history's first draft. What's the source? What's the evidence? Who has what to gain by this information? Is it a developing story?

RECOMMENDED READING How Hitler's Enablers Undid Democracy in Weimar Germany, this covers a period of world history many of us have less familiarity with than the battles and Holocaust.

FOUR WEEKS AGO Make Sure Your Circle Has Registration & Voting Plans Focus on voter registration and election-day voting plans for your immediate family plus some number more. Do the research, make the calls, get the links and the forms, make sure people are registered (or know how to do it) and know when/where to vote. Follow up!

Why give focus to something so basic?

  • Because voter participation is the bedrock of the operation of our democracy. It's how we make choices about the kind of country we want for ourselves and the generations that follow.
  • Because elections are organized at a local level, where you live dictates your particular voting situation. For example, where we live, the St. Louis County Election Board conducts elections for County residents.
  • Because of the 2020 Census and re-districting, district lines may have changed. You and your extended family may live in a different district than before.
  • Especially in Red States, MAGA Republicans are hell-bent to make voting harder, different, confusing and even intimidating.
  • Your usual polling place may have changed.
  • Early voting may have been eliminated. There was no early voting for the August primary but there is for the 2022 Midterms on November 8th.
  • That means Election Day lines may be longer than customary in recent years.
  • Absentee voting may still be in place but may require a permission process well in advance.
  • In-person registration on election day may be gone.
  • ID requirements may be new. Be sure to know the rules for provisional ballots.
  • Polling places may have more "election watchers" than usual, especially in states/venues with angry 2020 election deniers.

TALK TO NEW / YOUNG VOTERS Will young people come out to vote in 2022?

We're taken to talking with young voters in the family, raising key issues and how their lives and hopes and dreams and plans will be affected for decades in a way our lives won't.

Our message? Don't let older folks like us make generational decisions for younger folks like you.

Voting is just one step, albeit an important one. Get active, get organized.

FIVE WEEKS AGO Educate Yourself on a Single Issue at a Time The news is a lot, no doubt. It's hard to keep up, we have lives to live. It's easy to look away, feeling helpless or even hopeless.

One way to counteract these feelings is to "clean your sink" or "make your bed".

Huh??? Well, sure, clean your kitchen sink and make your bed if you want but these are really metaphors for the idea that when you're feeling stuck, do ONE thing and have something to show for it.

This week, I suggest diving deep into a single issue, one that matters in your own life and those you love.

Two possibilities, straight from this week's headlines.

  • ENERGY Dig into some of the energy components of the vast, far-reaching Inflation Reduction Bill. I found this hour-long interview (from Preet Bahara's podcast) of U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Grandholm very, um, illuminating. What will make a difference in your own life, your kids lives, the lives of your community?

  • STUDENT LOANS This is a good place to start, educating yourself on how the Student Loan Forgiveness Plan (from the NYT, no paywall) will work. Suggestion: immerse yourself in it first, then consider your own view on its its fairness and impact, especially if someone in your circle relies on Fox for opinions.

  • Reproductive Choice? Book Bans? The J6 Committee Work? Pick just one thing that matters to you and dig in, become an expert in a way that works for you, for your own clarification, to speak confidently with others, to be able to refute hypocrisy, misinformation, disinformation and outright lies.

SIX WEEKS AGO Lean On Historians & Thought Leaders for News Synthesis Learn from historians and thought leaders who are fighting for democracy each and every day. Many are publishing newsletters on a site called Substack. Nearly all have "free" versions (that's what I'm doing, so far) even if there are options for paid subscriptions. Just type in your email and hit subscribe. No spam, no ads, just thoughtful thinking from smart people attempting to help the U.S. save itself from authoritarian anti-democratic minority rule.

  • My #1 pick will always be the brilliant Heather Cox Richardson who has been writing Letters from an American nearly every single day since September 2019. For me, "Heather" (as we refer to her in this house) is a must-read. She cuts through the day's news and presents an interpretation in a calm, history-grounded voice, with an eye/ear for what will matter to historians in future. Facebook people, she also does twice-weekly talks/lectures: she's whip-smart, speaks in plain language without drama. Yes, I'm a big fan.
  • I also read Substack newsletters from Robert Hubbell (which originated as a source of hope and perspective for family and friends after the 2016 election and five years later, remains true to that mission) and Aaron Rupar (an independent journalist who describes himself as "fair but not impartial" and is not shy about taking mainstream media to task for "both sides-ism" and similar equivocation).
  • There's Joyce Vance in another Substack newsletter called Civil Discourse. She's a law professor, a 25-year veteran of the Department of Justice, a former U.S. Attorney, a legal analyst for MSNBC and NBC – also a knitter and chicken keeper! The chicks and chicken show up every so often ...
  • There's also the so-familiar 90-year old Dan Rather in an aptly named Substack newsletter called Steady: and so it is, a place for what he calls "contemplation, empathy, learning and yes, a little humor when warranted".
  • Who's inspiring you? Please let me know!

SEVEN WEEKS AGO Learn About Relational Organizing Check out and sign up for Red Wine & Blue, suburban women on a mission relating to voting rights, reproductive choice, book bans and so much more. This week I participated in a 30-minute Great Troublemaker Training Session on Zoom that introduced relational organizing aka talking to your family and friends.

EIGHT WEEKS AGO Communicate with Lawmakers on Timely, Targeted Issues Sign up for Chop Wood, Carry Water, a 5x weekly email, each one with targeted, timely suggestions on who to call/write/text about what, including easily adaptable scripts. I lurked for a couple of weeks but now make five-ten minutes an essential part of my day.

SEASONAL INSPIRATION: Cooking with Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Butternut Bechamel & Roasted Butternut Squash ♥, three vegetarian layers plus a gorgeous 'Butternut Bechamel' studded with roasted squash.

Squash & Carrot Stew ♥, a low-calorie spice-rich vegetable stew with butternut squash and carrots. Two versions, one for the stovetop, another for a slow cooker. Vegan. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (Turkey & Wild Rice Soup) ♥, hearty soup with wild rice and butternut squash.

Lemon-Honey Chicken Skillet ♥, a one-pot chicken dinner with a medley of spices and vegetables.

Spiced Chicken Tagine with Roasted Cauliflower ♥, a one-pot supper, chicken and roasted cauliflower with warm spices and a touch of sour from Spiced Preserved Lemons.

Slow Cooker Curried Vegetable Stew ♥, a spiced vegetable stew, your choice of vegetables. Vegan. Paleo. Very Weight Watchers friendly!

Winter Stew ♥, a master recipe for a wintry meat and vegetable stew, a concept recipe that's been much-tested with many combinations of meats and vegetables, liquids and more. Shown here, elk meat, butternut squash, sherry and dried apricots.
  • THE RECIPE Winter Stew A master recipe, cook with confidence, no recipe required.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Beef & Mushroom Stew On the table and flavorful within an hour.

What's New?!

Wondering about a recipe from the last while? Check Recent Recipes from Kitchen Parade and Recent Vegetable Recipes from A Veggie Venture.

Old-Fashioned Southern Brunswick Stew, another healthy recipe ♥, an old southern tradition for election gatherings, layers of different meats and favorite southern vegetables like corn, okra and lima beans.

My Living, Breathing Recipes

Just so you know, everything's not all pretty pictures around here, hidden out of range is a pile of dirty dishes, groceries to put away, vegetables needing attention. And just like many (all?) of us, come five o'clock, I draw a blank about what to make for supper, despite having so so many recipes I so so dearly love. Here's a quick peek at "real-life recipes" from the last week ... and insight into why I can never write a cookbook, because even when I've made a recipe for years, it's still evolving.

Let me know what you think of this new section. Is it interesting? useful? etc?

Easy Skillet Stroganoff (Beef or Chicken), more weeknight comfort food ♥ Budget Friendly. High Protein.
  • THIS WEEK Such a quick, filling supper! The recipe's written for 8 ounces of pasta but a half-empty box turned out to be more than half-empty. So 5.5 ounces it would be and you know what? We didn't miss that pasta. In fact, next time, I'm going for just 4 ounces. I did use orichiette, those "little ear" pasta bites and loved how they cupped bits of ground beef and pickle. (FYI recipe not yet updated online with these details.)
  • THE RECIPE Easy Skillet Stroganoff (Beef or Chicken) The Russian classic, weeknight friendly.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Picadillo (Cuban Ground Beef Skillet Supper) Homey comfort food from Cuba.

  • THIS WEEK Sorry, no new pictures quite yet but this is a signature recipe. But this time, hmm, I found it a little too sweet and so next time will skip the sugar. I ran out of our usual Heinz ketchup but substituted the Trader Joe's ketchup and found it really good, maybe we'll switch? I do like Heinz's small squeeze bottles though. The Trader Joe's bbq sauce is also really good. I made a double batch (with 1/4 the bacon called for) and sent some home with a friend who's been helping out with some paint projects. He's long loved these beans and this week was no different, writing, "The Cowboy Beans were better than I remembered. Just had a big bowl with some leftover cornbread. Mmmmm. Mmmmmm." (FYI online recipe update may be live by the time you read this, no promises though.)
  • THE RECIPE Calico Beans aka "Alanna's Famous Cowboy Beans" A hearty baked-bean dish, meaty enough for supper, but more often served as a side at potlucks.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki) Cooked until creamy in the oven.

Best-Ever Oatmeal Bread ♥, a hearty substantial bread, made with oats, pecans, slightly sweetened with molasses. A family favorite!
  • THIS WEEK As per usual, I quit making bread during the summer but come October, it just seems right to have homemade bread on hand. I'd never mixed and kneaded this bread with a stand mixer before, it worked out great! I also used almond flour instead of pecan meal, buttermilk powder as a substitute for dried milk powder. (FYI, recipe updated with these new notes.)
  • THE RECIPE Best-Ever Oatmeal Bread Hearty and substantial, slightly sweetened with molasses. A family favorite!
  • ANOTHER TAKE Swedish Rye Bread Slightly sweet, densely delicious.

Maple-Glazed Pecans ♥, crisp and barely sweet, add a spoonful to salads, morning oatmeal, a bowl of ice cream.
  • THIS WEEK What, exactly, do you offer as a hostess gift when you ask what to bring and are told "nothing"? For someone who already has everything and has the money to buy whatever she wants? How about something you can't buy?! At the last minute, I slipped a pound of just-harvested Missouri pecans (they're smaller, sweeter, more info about them here with Buttered Pecan Ice Cream) but most times, I'm super-happy with Trader Joe's pecan pieces. These pecans are for people who find the usual candied pecans way too sugary sweet. This recipe uses just 4 tablespoons of maple syrup per pound of pecans, plus a little salt, and a long slow toast in the oven to create barely sweet, crispy bits of pecan. To top a fall salad? Perfect. Morning oatmeal? Wonderful. A little ice cream with sautéed apples? Excellent. They stay fresh a good month. So good, these. And yes, a welcome hostess gift. (Online recipe fully updated.)
  • THE RECIPE Maple-Glazed Pecans Crisp and barely sweet. Pecan Pizzazz!
  • ANOTHER TAKE Sweet Pumpkin Seed Crumbles

Just Updated!

One Quick Tip: Why Dried Beans Won't Cook ♥, the reason why dried beans some times won't cook, how to avoid it.
Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple ♥, familiar ingredients somehow create unexpected layers of flavor and color. Festive for holiday buffets and tables.

Homemade Butterhorns (Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls) ♥, my grandmother's recipe for butterhorns, the 'crescent rolls' so often served at Thanksgiving.

Squash Puff ♥, an old family recipe traditional at Thanksgiving, a welcome savory make-ahead casserole, just creamy winter squash topped with pumpkin seeds. Rave reviews! Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian.

Rutabaga Puff (or Turnip Puff) ♥, a delicious purée of root vegetables, either turnip or the sunny-colored rutabaga, also called a 'swede'. A Thanksgiving favorite, especially in Canada.

Don't Be a Stranger ...

I'd love to hear from you. Comment, send me a quick e-mail via, dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, launch a message in a bottle, send a Christmas letter, get the dog to yip, toss me a note wrapped in a rubberband, write a message in the sky, scratch a note in the sand, listen to a seashell, tuck a question into a plastic Easter egg, whatever.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. When you make my recipes, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below or better still, on the specific recipe's page.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.