It’s been cool in the evenings this past week, cool enough to start having fires again.
We have a furnace and ancient hot water radiators in the house, but fuel is expensive and wood is cheap. Like all of the locals we have a wood fire every night. Sitting in front of a crackling fire with a nice hot cup of tea as the
sun goes down is one of the few things I truly love about winter.
We’ve had at least one fireplace in every house we’ve lived in. Our house in the U.S. had what you would consider a normal size fireplace; big enough for a couple of easy chairs in front but not so large as to lose small children in it.
When we move to Ireland we switched from wood to coal and, my favorite, peat. The smell of a peat fire with the wind and rain lashing the windows defines cosiness. Both peat and coal put out a lot of heat, but the fireplace was tiny, probably not more than 20″ (50cm) across.
In Andorra, our fireplace was in a corner. It was about 27″ (65cm) across in the front and about 24″ (60cm) high. It was a strange fireplace: we had to have the wood tucked way back into the corner for it to draw. We filled the house with smoke more than once – the spiral staircase up the center made a great chimney!
Here we have a proper fireplace. Mon mari can pitch 3′ logs at it from across the room. It’s 4′ (1300cm) wide and almost as high. And it came with proper equipment. No, not namby-pamby fireplace tools: cute little brooms, mini dustbins and fancy pokers. Ours has things that are really useful: an 8 prong potato roaster, a long-handled bread toaster for making afternoon ‘pan mogettes’ (toasted bread and white beans made with goose or duck drippings), well-used bread pans, a long-handled chestnut roaster, a 3-footed kettle, and a compartment underneath that I have no idea of it’s use (no, it’s not an ash bin). There could be more, the former owners left 3 garages full of stuff (typical in the country) but we can’t identify most of it. (Mon mari is starting a museum.)
I haven’t tried roasting vegetable in it yet, but one of these days….
For this Weekend Herb Blogging, founded by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen and hosted this week by Ulrike of Küchenlatein I give you Winter Squash. (Actually, I wish I could give you some, but that’s another story…)
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods site, 1 cup of winter squash gives 145% of the RDA of vitamin A and more than 20% of vitamin C, potassium, fiber and manganese. Beta-cryptoxanthin, an orange-red carotenoid found in squashes (as well as red peppers, papaya, oranges, peaches) may lower the risk of lung cancer and all of that vitamin A helps ward off other lung diseases. Then there’s the beta-carotene, all the B vitamins,…yeah, eat your squash, it’s good for you!
I finally convinced mon mari that there are other ways to eat acorn
squash besides filling them with butter and brown sugar (which, of
course, is wonderful). Roasting them concentrates their natural
sweetness and all you need to finish is a bit of salt and pepper…. or
you can smear on butter!
Roasted Acorn Squash Slices
1 acorn squash
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to finish
Cut squash in half, through stem and blossom ends, and scoop out seeds. Then cut in 1″ (2.5cm) slices the short way. Mix rosemary and olive oil. Toss squash slices in oil. Arrange on a baking sheet and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 400F (200C) for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes, until fork tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
Celebrate autumn with some lovely orange squash!
Be sure to visit Ulrike at Küchenlatein on Monday for the recap of all of the wonderful recipes. And next week it’s the big Two Year Anniversary at Kalyn’s Kitchen! Don’t miss it!