One of my favorite parts of Charlottesville living was the fact that I had a group of friends who’s idea of a fabulous evening (or day) was gathering at any of our respective homes for an (relatively) impromptu dinner (or brunch), featuring whatever we could cobble together that day…which usually ended up being more food than we could reasonably expect to eat.
Last night, I was reminded of how joyful cooking with friends* can truly be.*And then introducing them to the parlor game of Celebrity (also called Fishbowl), which can only result in laughter and (mild) mayhem.
I have no recipes for you, only inspiration. My friend Shannon (who has seen me through years of friendship marked by the strange way in which I seem to be following her around the country…first to Austin…and now back to Charlottesville) had concocted the menu, and it was, to be sure, a delicious one. She made a delicious-looking cheese-and-charcuterie board with delicacies procured from Feast!, a gem of a gourmet food store where she happens to have a part time job.
Being scared of tasting any of it (aside from the cornichons), and consequentially having a GI situation on the drive home Saturday morning, I passed on this spread, but no worries, because the the star of this show was not the cured meat.* It was the acorn squash.
*Athough I did find myself saying, “It’s hard to be vegetarian when you know how good meat can be!”
Stuffing-stuffed acorn squash, to be specific.
[Or, if you are from certain parts of the South, dressing-stuffed squash.^]
^It is less redundant.
Shannon used her family’s famous cornbread stuffing recipe, and added some local sausage to the mix. After roasting the squash upside down for 15-20 minutes in a water bath, I removed them from the oven, drizzled the squash with olive oil and sprinkled on salt, pepper, and thyme, and then scooped the stuffing inside.*
*I had only done one before I realized I should probably call Shannon back into the kitchen and not completely take over the meal.
And , being the thoughtful friend that she is, she’d set aside a bit–featuring the crumblies of the cornbread….my favorite!–and bought baby bella mushrooms, so I could have a vegetarian version.
The now-stuffed squash needed about 40 minutes in the oven more–although we kept checking every 5-10 minutes, because squash are fickle little devils aren’t they? They never quite cook in the time you think they will.
Dinner was served!
Because she is a culinary queen–and locavore–in disguise, Shannon also made a salad featuringlocal greens (including local arugula), local pears, Muscet dressing made locally, and…Blue Diamond walnuts.
She also whipped up a homemade strawberry-cranberry sauce, which was the perfect pairing of sweet and tart…and definitely something I might have to recreate.
Wonderful meal. Wonderful friends.
It felt good to be home.*
*Even for just a minute. As I headed back up to Pennsylvania first thing this morning.