What's for dinner?
Some of my favorite childhood memories are linked to my maternal grandmother and her big kitchen. Dear, as my cousins and I call her, did lots of little things that meant the world to me back then and still do today. Like the time when she baked sweet potato pies for church, only to find (right as she was about to pack them up to leave) that the crusts on each one had been systematically pinched off. I didn't even get in trouble. She just laughed her throaty laugh, kissed my crumb-covered face, playfully swatted me on my rear and said, "Well, I guess I know the pies taste good!" But my favorite memories from her kitchen are the times when she would bake cobblers, fruit pies or tarts and use the leftover dough, filling and a miniature tin (the tins were small, but not this small) to make an individual version of the same thing just for me. I don't think a child can feel more special than I did back then with my "Nicci pie" and tiny fork in tow.
My grandmother instilled within me a love for family and food and the many ways the two go hand in hand. I feel very lucky that she passed the good-cook gene on to me and even more fortunate that I can still call her and thank her for it. In fact I think I'll do that right now.
And tonight I'll make this, one of the many deliciously simple recipes (and lessons in love) she's given me over the years.
Dear's Baked Butternut Squash
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350.
Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.
Place squash on baking sheet, cut side down, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn over and put half of the sugar and half the butter in each squash, bake for 30 more minutes. Add salt to taste to balance the sugar.