Home Alone, Part One
Pumpkin Seeds, right, and Kabocha Squash Seeds, left
I won't say never, but I hardly ever am home alone. Today was different. I kissed My Baby goodbye this morning, and had the whole day at home to myself. The day in the making started with the faint scent of woodsmoke in the crisp air, the kind of morning for which fuzzy warm slippers and a cup of hot coffee are made. This was going to be fun.
Designs for the adventure I'd literally cook up with my home alone day included:
- four pounds of pork waiting to be made into two kinds of sausage
- 2 pounds apple sage sausage
- 2 pounds hot Italian sausage
- one large Kabocha squash and a medium Cinderella pumpkin for a winter's worth of puree.
My good intentions quickly went astray. I grew more and more anxious as I tried to clean the slippery squash seeds, most of which refused to release their fiberous hold from their mother ship. I had a lot to accomplish with my day alone, and I didn't want to spend it all on one scant cup of seeds. The morning's calm was turning to subtle irritation. My commitment to the seed project grew challenged as my breathing grew shallow and I grew increasingly antsy. Who knew that squash seeds could be so unraveling?
Not So Slippery, Easier to Clean Pumpkin Seeds
What happened next is a testament to my five-year yoga practice.
I began to notice the seeds. As I paid attention to their nature, it occurred to me that the seeds were quite like so many other things in life... Neither a hold too tight nor a hold too loose proved productive. A "Mama Bear" hold allowed the seeds to easily come free from their pulp. My favorite little calming phrase began to repeat itself over and over in my mind, "Quiet mind, peaceful heart." As my breathing once again deepened, an untroubled karma yoga "discipline of action" filled me.
After a few minutes, the silent phrase was unconsciously replaced by my usual barely audible hum, a sure sign that my inner joy had returned. And, as a bonus, piles of spicy squash and pumpkin seeds and a winter's worth of sweet puree resulted for us to enjoy.
Sweet, Smoky and Spicy Roasted Squash and Pumpkin SeedsPreheat oven to 375. Cover a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
Fill a small saucepan 2/3 full with water and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add seeds from winter squash, thoroughly removed of fiber and rinsed, bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Drain, and pat dry.
Per squash, combine in a small bowl:
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Add seeds to bowl and stir several minutes to combine and coat evenly. Drizzle baking sheet with olive oil. Spread seeds atop in one layer. Lay several thin slices of butter ( about 2 Tablespoons) on seeds. Place baking sheet in oven for five minutes. Remove and stir seeds to redistribute and mix in butter. Roast for another 10 minutes, stir again. At this point, roast in five minute increments until the seeds are as toasty as you prefer, another 5 minutes or so for smaller pumpkin seeds, another 10 minutes or so for larger squash seeds. Allow to cool completely before eating, as they crisp up as they cool.
Eat out of hand for a snack, or sprinkle on salads, breads or casseroles.
There was more to my home alone day...