November 28, 2011
Relaxed and Productive
I've decided that Monday is the new Sunday. Which explains why this post is appearing late in the day and not first thing Monday morning as I would have liked. I am generally a first thing Monday morning type of person. I like to be prompt and organized. I usually have a very long to do list at the start of the week and on Monday I feel a great deal of pressure to get it all done. I almost always work at my restaurant job on Saturdays, and often on Sundays too. On these weekend days I ignore my list, but I still go to work. When I am working at home, the first day of the week becomes a struggle between my need to be productive, my wish to accomplish everything, and the difficulty in starting the week off running.
I always have high hopes for Monday morning, but I think it's time to lower my expectations. I'm okay with easing into the week and taking more time today to get organized and start projects, but maybe I won't get very far. I'm not the greatest at finding this balance but as I think about the added holiday projects on my list I want to make sure to enjoy the process. What are you doing to find balance in this busy time of year?
Our Thanksgiving day was very relaxed, but we balanced that with cooking (which was also relaxed and productive as you can see above). On the way back from our morning walk, while pie crust chilled, I envisioned with the salad we would eat. It combines good fall ingredients into a warm salad that is hearty but not heavy, a nice contrast to many Thanksgiving dishes. Since squash, cranberries and walnuts are all still in season, I wanted to share this recipe which is good on a holiday or any day.
Winter Squash, Cranberry, Walnut and Arugula Salad
The sweetness of the squash (I used butternut) and the maple mustard vinaigrette balance the tartness of the cranberries nicely. I normally like my salads lightly dressed, but I like this one a bit more heavily coated. We had mac and cheese for our meal, so I didn't add cheese to this salad but some crumbled goat cheese or grated parmesan would work very nicely in it.
2 cups of peeled and cubed winter squash
1 cup whole cranberries
cumin and cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 cup walnuts
2-3 cups arugula
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Place the squash in a pot, cover with water and simmer until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the squash. Bring a cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil or butter and add the squash. Cook, stirring occasionally until the squash cubes begin to brown. Add a small sprinkle of cumin and cinnamon as well as salt and pepper. Pour in the cranberries and continue cooking until the cranberries are hot and some of them have lost their round shape. Pour the cooked squash and cranberries into the bowl you want to serve them in. Roughly chop the walnuts and toast them in the pan same pan. When they are toasted, add them to the bowl. Toss in the arugula.
Mix the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and maple syrup, whisking to emulsify. Toss the amount of dressing you would like with the rest of the salad. Serves 2-4, depending on whether it is a main dish or a side.