Is it cliché to claim fall as my favorite season? If seasons can “trend”, fall is definitely the new summer (gross. I apologize). Regardless, fall has been my favorite season since I was little, as I come from a family steeped in tradition.
With the return of fall comes all of those things that make me feel warm inside. It starts with a trip to Craven Farms with my dad to get pumpkins, spending far too long in the fields with apple cider and sugar cookies as our sustenance. We each pick out a few pumpkins and line them up, like a casting call. When I took an old boyfriend of mine to the farm I had to warn him that it’s not just a “go out into the field and pick whichever gourd looks okay” situation, it’s serious business.
Pumpkins lead us into changing leaves at Greenlake and cold morning walks. From there it’s grandma’s kitchen for Thanksgiving, the window perspiring as we warm up the kitchen with the smells of home. After that? That is when the magic really happens. I’m entirely obnoxious when it comes to Christmas. I watch Elf on repeat, force those around me to listen to holiday songs, and spend hours making a wide variety of christmas cookies and crafts.
One important detail: all of these traditions are from my life in Seattle. I am not there. Instead, I am sitting in the Texas sun in November and it’s 80 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, this weather is relatively spectacular, and I understand why people are happier in sunny climates. But as a girl who grew up with seasons, mountains and warm coffee in mittened hands, I am just not sure how I feel about a holiday season without my family. This will be the first time in 26 years where I am not going to be home for Christmas. I am not going to go see the nutcracker with my uncle, not going to wake up early to open my stockings, not have Christmas breakfast with my mom. Yes, yes, I am getting weepy as I type this.
It may seem trivial to care so much about the holidays, but it’s more than that. My traditions, regardless of how silly they are, are why I am who I am. I grew up with an extremely strong and supportive family. There was never a lack of love, a lack of understanding or a want for anything. My family, they are my people. Not being around them (well, most of them, thank heavens my sister lives with me) has made me realize how blessed I am to be so close to them, how lucky I am to have so much of my heart in one place.
What I’m trying to say is… Take me home.
Butternut Squash Vegan Macaroni and “Cheese” with Kale
From: Oh She Glows
When I get nostalgic, I cook. This means I have been whipping up all kinds of creations in my kitchen in the past month. Oh She Glows has become one of my favorite blogs, she’s got so many delicious healthy recipes on the website. Seeing as macaroni and cheese used to be staple in my childhood diet, my cravings for something similar have been pretty intense. If I made traditional macaroni and cheese, I would have a stomach ache for eternity. Instead, I made her butternut squash macaroni and cheese and used gluten-free macaroni. It RULED.
- 1 fresh butternut squash
- Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
- 3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
- 6 Tbsp nutritional yeast, or more to taste
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4-3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt (to taste) & ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 servings gluten-free pasta (I used quinoa macaroni)
- Mix-ins (I chose kale and spinach, gotta get your greens!)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and mix your chopped squash with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 40 minutes, uncovered, or until tender. Keep your eye on the squash to make sure it doesn’t burn.
While your squash is cooking, prepare the sauce. Over low-medium heat, melt the earth balance. In a bowl, whisk together the milk and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) until clumps are gone. Add into pot and whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, dijon, garlic, lemon and salt & pepper) and whisk over low heat until it thickens (about 5 minutes).
Cook your pasta according to package directions. The sauce will make enough to cover 4 servings of pasta. In a blender, blend the sauce with 1 cup of roasted squash. Add cooked, drained, and rinsed macaroni into pot, along with your sauce and mix-ins. Heat and serve.
Promise me, you’ll add this recipe to your collection… it’s amazing.