February 7, 2013 by Kriscinda Lee Everitt
Last week, we had our first dinner guest, ever. Not just here at the house, but anywhere. I think in the two years or so we spent in the last apartment, we had one person over there, once. And not even for dinner. So, first dinner guest…of course, it’s a big deal.
I had this awesome plan to make this really nommy-looking baked butternut squash rigatoni, but I was ill prepared. Or, I could have been prepared, had it not started snowing. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a glass baking dish. I thought I could run out really quick the day before (or, that’s when it ended up happening) and grab that, along with whatever other ingredients I needed. Alas, no. It started snowing, and it’s sort of been snowing on and off since then.
I may have complained about this in another post, but…my tires are crap. Complete crap. Which is sad because they’re only a couple years old, and they are supposed to be all-weather tires. They are one-weather tires. Sunny/Dry. They even want to slip a little when it’s just raining a bit. So, you can imagine that, when there is but an inch of snow at the top of our driveway—which, in a terrible design, slopes abruptly up just before it meets the busy road—my car starts to slide back when I slow down to, you know, check for oncoming traffic and try not to die. Little bit of snow? I’m house bound.
Obviously, no glass dish, and no cheese, which was important. No baked rigatoni. So, it’s the day of and I need to work with whatever we have in the house. I’m determined to use the butternut squash I got, at least. I’ve got the pasta. I do what everyone does—I Google it. The very first recipe that comes up is a Martha flippin’ Stewart recipe, and I’m like, “Really?” Really. I know, not at all metal, but then I think, well, she’s done some hard time, so maybe she’s a little metal now. I check the ingredients: I have them all. It’s a recipe for a butternut squash sauce. Sounds good.
When the time comes, I start a-cookin’ and all’s going well until about fifteen minutes before the guest is supposed to arrive. Everything’s pretty much ready, seems to taste good. All I have to do is roast the crumbled walnuts, except that I am also doing some last-minute tidying. You guessed it. A just minutes later, I notice some exciting lights fluttering around through the oven window. Lo and behold, my pan of walnuts are on fire. And not just a little on fire either…those oily bastard are really quite on fire.
Into the sink they go, me hoping my oven mitt doesn’t also catch on fire. *sigh* No roasted walnuts. Or, at least, I’m not going to make another attempt. So I go around and open some windows—luckily the place is a little warm from the cooking, so it could use the breeze anyway. I crushed some raw walnuts, put them in a bowl with a little spoon. It’ll have to do.
Now, everything’s ready and warm on the stove. But when our guest arrives, I did not consider actual socializing time. We had a lovely chat in the living room with some wine—relaxing at the end of a long, hard day. It was nice. Unfortunately, everything was cold or just barely warm by the time we got to it. My steamed broccoli was now soggy. And butternut squash sauce, coldish? Not so great. The flavors come out more fully when it’s warm/hot. You can’t add enough salt and pepper to cold butternut squash sauce without it just turning into a dish of salt. It lacked some serious zing, and of course, what gives a dish zing? Cheese. A little grated Parmesan would have worked wonders. But, no. There is, though, a lovely coating of snow on the ground outside. And wine. Thank the Universe for wine.
That could have gone better, but Big A and our guest were kind, and they ate it all. Oh if every food post on a blog could be a magical experience—oh, wait. Mostly, they are. No this post, folks. Not on this blog.
If you’d like to underwhelm your guests with this dish, it’s right here. Don’t forget to set the walnuts on fire.