I am familiar with the phenomenon of not knowing what you have until it’s gone.
See also: sudden accidental death of husband.
But I am also familiar with another phenomenon that is a result of that first, very common phenomenon.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I know EXACTLY what I have, exactly when I have it.
Take, for example, my yoga community.
If you have read this blog for any length of time, you may have gleaned that I am also a yoga teacher. I just earned my 500-hour yoga teacher training certificate, and after some delay at the end of the actual course in August, my cohort and teachers at Baltimore Yoga Village got together to discuss ethics, eat some food, and sit around a fire, looking up at the moon, this past Sunday night.
I have been on this journey to become a yoga teacher for two years; I got my first level of certification in 2015 and decided to dive deeper and keep going. Some of the people around the fire last night did the same.
I have shared my grief, openly, with these near strangers in the first year.
I have watched them change their lives – new job, lost loves, old job, sickness, new love.
I know what I have in these people. I appreciate and value them for their support, their beautiful spirits, and their vastly different paths. I realized from the very first weekend, two years ago, exactly what I have in this community, and I am very grateful to have it.
Spirituality is a tricky thing, though, and I won’t attempt to delve into it here. The language of it is mostly useless, and often it turns into so much chatter with no real meaning.
But suffice it to say, over the past two years, this group of people has helped turn in and tune in. To my vibration, if you want to use the vernacular (which I don’t, but #OM). And for that, I am deeply grateful. To a person, they are exceptional humans. and I am grateful to have spent such intense time with them.
But you can’t really talk about spirituality without a sense of humor. At least I can’t. If you get too serious then it gets a little douche-y and fundamentalist, which I cannot abide.
Thankfully, humor is abundant in this group also.
I met Elaine in 2015 when we started our second level of training. Like me, she is a writer and a teacher. She is a great lover of pie, the eating and the making, which one might think would translate for her into other forms of cooking.
Around November of 2015, Elaine shared with me that she had in the trunk of her car a butternut squash that had been rolling around in there for several weeks.
She mentioned this squash again and posted the following picture on Facebook, FOUR MONTHS LATER.
She confessed that she had no idea what to do with a butternut squash. I urged her to bring it to teacher training the following month, and in April, she finally did. Minus the floppy hat.
We laughed, I told her I would make something, then I brought it to my house, stuck it in my kitchen, and mostly forgot about it. I said I would make something when teacher training ended, but then I missed the last weekend potluck. I thought the opportunity had passed.
Plus, at this point, the squash was over a year old. It was covered with a thin white-ish film, like dust but not dust. Its smiling face was fading along with the color of the peel.
But then the hunter’s moon rose, a get-together was planned, and I had to figure out a dish to bring.
So this happened.
I am not a big pastry maker. Gluten-free crust should be easy, but it’s not. Straight-up pie crust doesn’t generally require regular flour, as gluten is more of a hindrance, but for some reason, up until about a month ago my crust was always pitiful. Dry without being flaky. Flavorless.
So I approached this galette in the way I approach every uncertain baking situation: I made a recipe for the first time to take to a gathering, which is dumb, but I also made a back-up yellow squash casserole, just in case (I also just sort of made that recipe up, too, having never made a squash casserole. Also dumb).
Turns out, all you need is a little Greek yogurt (or sour cream) to make a crust that will make you weep (okay, maybe not weeping). This galette was delicious and easy and fed many people I love.
Sadly, not Elaine, who was unable to make it. But Elaine, this recipe is for you, with so much love and so many blessings upon you.
Butternut Squash And Caramelized Onion Galette
1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (regular flour works, too)
pinch of salt
1 stick of very cold butter, cut into bits (or frozen and grated)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream, or regular yogurt)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water (seriously. Ice water. Don’t skimp. Cold tap doesn’t work.)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon of salt
pinch of sugar (OPTIONAL)
1 medium onion, sliced in half moons
cayenne to taste
2 cups butternut squash in 1/2″ dice (about one medium squash, peeled, seeded, and diced)
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Make pastry first, as it needs to chill. You can even make it the day before.
Method one: Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and lemon juice. Add butter to flour and salt in food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add sour cream mixture and pulse to combine. Slowly add ice water until dough comes together.
Method two: Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and lemon juice. Using a pastry cutter or fingers, rub butter into flour until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add sour cream mixture and mix well. Add ice water and mix until dough comes together.
Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press together into a ball. Wrap tightly and chill for an hour.
Melt butter in a hot pan and add onions, salt, and sugar (if using). Turn heat down and slowly cook onions until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Once caramelized, sprinkle with cayenne and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil (for easier clean-up. #Trust).
Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast squash in oven until soft, stirring once. This will take about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine squash, onions, cheese, and sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside while you roll out the crust.
I use a piece of parchment paper to roll out my crust, as this makes for super easy transfer to a baking sheet.
Place chilled dough on parchment. Place plastic wrap on top of the dough (this keeps pastry from sticking to the rolling pin without adding extra flour, which can dry pastry out) and roll out into a circle roughly 12″ in diameter and no more than a 1/4″ thick.
Pile butternut squash mixture in the center, leaving about 1 1/2″ around the edge without filling. Fold the edges of the pastry over and pinch to seal any gaps. I use a bench scraper to pick up the dough so that I am not warming it up by touching it more than I have to.
Keeping galette on the parchment, transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes (check at 20) until the edges are golden brown.
Remove from oven and let stand for at least five minutes before serving.
- This pastry works for sweet fillings as well. Apple galette is in our future. Sprinkle the crust with turbinado sugar before baking.
- If your edges rip (as mine did), just make a patch with some of the other pastry.
- If you happen to be in the grocery store and happen to buy those pre-cut butternut squash cubes and decide to use those instead of peeling and dicing a whole squash, consider that a win. Butternut squash can be a bitch.
- An alternate method of roasting a squash is to cut it in half and remove the seeds. Brush flesh with oil and place flesh-side-down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in oven at 350 until skin is easily pierced with a fork. Scoop flesh out of the skin and proceed with onions and cheese.