I started cooking with my mom when I was very young. I think I started by helping lick the beaters when she made chocolate chip cookies. Then I graduated to helping melt the butter and chocolate for brownies… and licking the spoon. I’m not exactly sure when I made the transition to helping with dinner. I do know that by the time I was in junior high I was cooking or at least beginning the dinners on my own. I know this because junior high is when I sustained my first real kitchen injury.
Mom was on her way home from work and I asked if I could start making dinner. It was lasagna. My younger brother, Cory, and my buddy, Jennifer, were in the kitchen with me. The noodles had just finished boiling and I was getting ready to drain them. I walked the large pasta pot over to the sink. I was mid-sentence talking about who-knows-what fantastic story. I sat the pot down on the ledge in front of the sink. I let go with my left hand to motion, because I talk with my hands and arms. The pot lost balance and my skinny right arm wasn’t strong enough to steady the pasta pot full of just-boiling water. I tried to grab the pot with my left hand, but it was too late. Instead, I caught the cascade of about 6 quarts of very hot water along with the lasagna noodles on my left arm. I don’t remember being in immediate pain. I remember beginning to pick up the noodles and put them back in the pot. Then I remember my friend telling me to stop, that she would clean it up, and my brother running next door to get Ruth who was a nurse.
The next thing I remember is seeing all the blisters from my wrist to my elbow, and watching them change and heal over the course of a few weeks. I still have a very faint scar on my inner arm, it is the kind that only shows up when I’m cold. I had to keep my arm wrapped because the exposure to air was very painful. Finally, I remember that I got to skip a week of P.E. because it was difficult to change or do anything strenuous. The ace bandage guarding my arm probably made the injury appear more serious than it was.
What a great story to go along with a recipe for pasta, yes? Don’t be like me! When you’re ready to drain the large pot of pasta, go ahead and drain it! Definitely do not place it on a ledge and let go with one hand! That was never a good idea. What was a good idea, was to add four ounces of goat cheese to some pasta to create a tangy and creamy delicious dinner. I love the sweetness of the butternut squash, and I’m sure the nutrition it bring to the table is pretty good, too.
- 1 medium butternut squash, about 2 pounds
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, separated
- 1 pound pasta
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- freshly ground black pepper, if desired
- Heat the oven to 450F.
- Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place, cut side up, on a baking sheet.
- Rub with oil, sprinkle with salt, and add the garlic cloves to the baking sheet. Bake until the squash is fork tender, about 45 minutes.
- When the squash has 10 minutes left to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking liquid, drain the pasta, and set aside.
- Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a blender (I like to leave a bit out that I cut into chunks to top the pasta).
- Add the garlic, lemon juice, goat cheese, black pepper, and 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the blender along with the squash. Blend until you reach a sauce consistency, adding more pasta water as needed.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta.