Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spaghetti Squash

Blessed is the one
  who does not walk in step with the wicked
  or stand in the way that sinners take
  or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
  and who meditates on his law day and night.  Psalm 1:1-2

It has been a heck of a summer.  Far busier and speedier than I had imagined it would be.  Where did the time go?  It is already August and the kids are back in school. 

It was a great summer, though.  We travelled a bit.  Ate fresh tomatoes in Vicksburg, Mississippi, snacked on beignets and sipped lattes in New Orleans.  We visited with family, played at the beach, told stories for Vacation Bible School and attended Annual Conference.  We even had a new experience: Todd attended camp meeting and I experienced life as a full time working parent!

During 10 days in July, Todd worked as the coordinator of youth and young adults at Morrison Campground near Rome, Georgia.  Morrison Campground is a lovely place filled with “tents” (cabins) with woodchip floors, some beautiful woods and a spring in the back where children can wade in the cold water.  People gather there once a year to greet old friends and hear preaching.  I am impressed with any event that brings people to worship several times a day.

The kids and I visited Todd, but most of our time was back at the home front.  I learned the joys of being a single working parent.  While attending meetings, writing for church website and publications, calling on the sick and finishing a sermon, I also got to do laundry, meal prep and entertainment for two children who are only in school for three hours a day, three days a week.  That is an awful lot of entertaining.

I began with a spreadsheet outlining my schedule, including activities, outings and even meal plans.  While the contents of this grid mostly became the star in a tale of good intentions, I don’t know what I would have done without it.  It was helpful to have occupations planned ahead of time.  I was also rescued by invitations to dinner from friends and childcare services from relatives.  It really does take a village.

During my single parenthood – and the kid’s incarceration to my way of doing things – I decided to try some foods that I have been wanting to sample.  The first of these was Spaghetti Squash.  I had been told about spaghetti squash, that it cooks into long strings like spaghetti or vermicelli.  That it has a very mild taste so that it can be eaten as pasta.  That the eater can hardly tell the difference.  I scarcely believed this seemingly too-good-to-be-true tale, but I had to try it.

I bought a spaghetti squash at the farmer’s market, then Googled information on how to prepare it.  Cooking directions were easy to come by (below).  After cooking, cutting and scraping it out, I did have something on my plate which looked sort of like a pile of noodles.  I put marinara sauce on Vivi’s, cheese on Roland’s (as if he might think it was macaroni).  To my utter astonishment, the kids actually liked it!  By “like,” of course, I mean that my daughter ate some voluntarily, and Roland needed only the mildest of time-out threats.  All in all, I considered it a successful venture.

My kids are like any others.  Their tastes are set on foods they are used to; the typical kid fare of pasta and pizza and chicken nuggets.  They won’t necessarily like grown up eats, even the delicacies we pick out for them.  The best meaning parent offering their child the most delectable treat may find it rejected in theatrical disgust.  Like any other kids, mine want what they want. 

But why should they be any different from the adults around them?  We live in a society where we are used to wanting what we want and usually getting it.  We see commercials and billboards every day telling us we deserve whatever our hearts desire, though I’ve yet to notice that high level of virtue which causes us to be so worthy.  The truth is we are used to getting what we want more often than not, and we tend to think something is amiss if we don’t.

This doesn’t help us sit well with the will of God.  The truth is that most of us gripe like crazy when the delicacies God gives us don’t fit with our mac and cheese dreams.  We are not accustomed to setting aside our own plans to take on the unexpected, uncertain and often unwelcome will of God.

To me, God’s will is okra; a plant I grew up despising (I dutifully hated all green vegetables).  If I had to eat it, it would be in the manner of consuming all abhorrent foods; chew carefully, avoid all contact with taste buds, then wash down with the nearest beverage.  But when I finally gave in and really tasted it, I learned to my amazement that it was pretty good.  A gift waiting to be received.

When God gives us a treat, we are foolish to say “no thank you.”  Much better if we learn to swallow the things we don’t care for.  We might not have thought we wanted it, but in the end we it may be delightful!

Blessed eating!

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a good alternative to pasta, potatoes, or rice. The cooked squash flesh shreds into threads like thin spaghetti or vermicelli, hence its name. On average, a spaghetti squash measures about 12 inches in length and about 6 inches in diameter. The squash should be an even light yellow color and firm with no bruises. Store whole at room temperature up to 3 weeks. Spaghetti squash is available year-round with peak season in fall.

Spaghetti squash has a very mild flavor, thus it is usually served with a sauce of some sort. It may also be enjoyed simply with salt and a bit of butter. Cooking the squash is very simple.

You will need:

-         1 spaghetti squash.

-         Large sharp knife.

-         Baking pan.

-         Oven.

-         Kitchen fork

• Prick the spaghetti squash all over with a skewer so it will not burst while baking.
• Place whole squash in a shallow baking pan.
• Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 1 hour.

• When cool enough to handle, cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise with a serrated knife.

• Scoop the seeds and fibrous strings from the center of the cooked spaghetti squash.

• Gently scrape the tines of a kitchen fork around the edge of the spaghetti squash to shred the pulp into strands.

• Cooked spaghetti squash is usually served with a sauce or gravy because the flesh is very bland in flavor.
• It may be served alone as a side dish with the addition of salt, pepper, and butter.

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