"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"-C.S. Lewis-
This has been a week of friendship and food. They go together so well, don't you think?
I'm reluctantly saying a sad goodbye to an old friend & I'm sharing something old--like this essay & some oldie but goody recipes that either I (or my husband) just happened to make this week--plus a brand-new one that we gobbled up last night: Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce. Trust me--it was so good--and so easy.
Friendship, Fran, and Farewells (we're calling it just a leave-of-absence)
When Kelly Corrigan, the author of the extraordinary, "Middle Place", turned 40 she sat down to write something about women and friendship. Whether you're 40, or 50, or 60, or 70, or 80 you'll know just what she's talking about.
This past Wednesday when 20 of Fran's friends got together to toast her with Mojito's, Margarita's, & Merlot--and wish her good luck as she pulls up stakes and heads off to Nashville--we passed out copies of Corrigan's heartfelt words about women & friendship.
Fran's departure will leave a huge empty place in the lives of all of her friends. She's one of those women bursting with spunk, energy, creativity, a spirit of fun, generosity, warmth, and tell-it-like-is-honesty--who opens her heart--and her home to so many. Plus she and her husband are extraordinary cooks--and everyone loves to hang out at their place.
I know you'll "get" exactly what Kelly is talking about in this reprint of her "post-book" essay. Now, you have a choice here. Watch Kelly tell her story--or read her words--or both. (If this looks familiar--well, you have an excellent memory. I posted this last August after I read Corrigan's book.)
Transcending: Words on Women and Strength by Kelly Corrigan Click here to see the video
"I turned 40 a few weeks ago. I tried (twice) to make a toast about friendship but both times, I blew it. I wanted to say something about my mom and her friends, who call themselves “The Pigeons.”
There were once at least a dozen “Pigeons” (I believe the name was a self-effacing twist on Hens) but in the past few years, they lost two of the greats, Robin Burch and Mary Maroney, to cancer. On the pigeons go, though, like women do, limping one minute, carrying someone the next. They started in the 60s, in suburban Philadelphia, with bridge and tennis and chardonnay (ok, vodka) and, over time, became something like a dedicated fleet, armed ships sailing together, weather be damned.
For me and women of my generation, it started with playdates, cutting carbs and meeting on Monday mornings in workout clothes to do awkward moves with large colorful balls. And I can see exactly where it’s heading.
We’ll water each other’s plants, pick up each other’s mail, take each other’s Christmas card photos. We’ll confer about jog bras and contractors and pediatricians. We’ll gossip about babysitters, teachers, neighbors, in-laws. We’ll speculate about who had a shot of Botox, who cheats on their taxes, who cleans until midnight. We’ll implore each other to read this book or see this movie or listen to this song. We’ll persuade each other to bake, sell, recruit, fold, stuff, paint, clean and write checks for our favorite non-profits.
We’ll celebrate each other’s achievements –opening an exercise studio, a corner store, a jewelry business. We’ll celebrate our kids’ achievements – making the traveling team, singing in the choir, learning to use the potty or speak French or play the flute. We’ll borrow eggs, earrings, extra chairs, galvanized tubs for a barbeque. We’ll throw birthday parties for each other and stain the rugs and shatter the wine glasses and mark up new counters with the odd slice of lemon. We’ll worry about who seems down, who looks tired, whose drinking more and more. We’ll say things we wished we hadn’t and have to find a way to regain each other’s trust. Things will break, they always do. Many will be fixed.
We’ll fret over our children—too shy, too loud, too angry, too needy. We’ll brainstorm ways to help them become more resilient, patient, forgiving, light-hearted. We’ll protect them—fiercely—pulling little bodies from the deep end, double-latching windows, withholding car keys.
We’ll bury our mothers and our fathers—shuttling our children off for sleepovers, jumping on red eyes, telling each other stories that hurt to hear about gasping, agonal breaths, hospice nurses, scars and bruises and scabs and how skin papers shortly after a person passes. We will nod in agreement that it is as much an honor to witness a person come into the world as it is to watch a person leave it.
People will drift in and out. Book clubs will swell and thin. We’ll write someone off and they’ll reemerge later and we’ll remember both why we loved them and why we let them slip away but we’ll be softer and we’ll want them back, for nostalgia will get stronger.
We’ll admire each other for a fine crème brule, a promotion, a
degree, a finished marathon. We’ll commiserate about commutes, layoffs,
mortgage rates, bosses, unappreciated toys.
We’ll confide in each other
about feeling anxious or angry or uninteresting or uninspired or how
many pieces of Halloween candy we accidentally ate from our kids’ bags.
We’ll confess that our husbands don’t really listen to us or that we should be having more sex or that we yell at our kids every day. We’ll admit that we believe in God, Jesus Christ, Heaven and Hell, or that we don’t.
We’ll give up things together—caffeine, catalogs, Costco, social smoking. We’ll take up things too—morning walks, green tea, organic dairy, saying grace.
We’ll throw potlucks and take each other to lunch and give each other frames and soaps and bracelets. We’ll check each other’s heads for lice and examine new bumps and moles and listen to lists of symptoms. We’ll diagnose each other’s brown lawns, torn muscles, basement odors. We’ll teach each other how to set a ring tone, make a slide show, download a movie.
We will call and say “I heard the news” and whatever the news is, we will come running, probably with food. We’ll insist on taking the kids, finding second opinions, lots of rest and the best surgeon. We will face diseases, many kinds, and will—temporarily—lose our hair, our figures and our minds.
Eventually, someone whose not supposed to die will, maybe one of us, maybe a husband, God forbid a child, and all this celebrating and sharing and confessing will make certain essential comforts possible. We’ll rally around and hold each other up and it won’t be nearly enough but it will help the time pass just a hair faster than it would have otherwise. We will wait patiently and lovingly for that first laugh after the loss. When it comes, and it will come, we will cry as we howl as we clutch as we circle. We will transcend, ladies. Because we did all this, in that worst moment, we will transcend.
On the Menu At My House This Week
It was definitely a week of bringing out the oldie but goodies.
At last Saturday's bridal shower I selected the Calphalon Soup Pot off the Bed, Bath, and Beyond registry. As far as I'm concerned, no house is complete without a soup pot.
Included in the card were recipes for my three favorite soups. If you haven't tried them yet, why not give them a try?
Last Sunday I made up a batch of Obama's Kenyan Vegetable-Peanut Soup and took it over to a friend who was recovering from surgery. This one is my favorite "Take to a Friend" soup.
I also brought over my new fave casserole "Bulgur, Swiss Chard, Chickpeas, & Feta" (hold the feta for the vegan version)
On Thursday my husband was looking for something easy, portable, delicious, and different that he could bring to a Pot Luck for his Master Gardener's Group.
He ended up making another one of my favorites: Veganomican's Quinoa Salad with Black Beans & Mango
It was a huge hit--and this group is a meat-and-potatoes crowd.
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Don't get put off by the photo & the blob of orange sitting on top of the pasta. I definitely couldn't get a job as a food stylist! This sauce was lip-smacking delicious. Who would have thought of using butternut squash in pasta sauce?
The back story. A few weeks back I picked up an overpriced jar of Dave's Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce , stirred in a crumbled Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage "Grain Meat" sausage, and served it over Barilla Plus Multigrain pasta. Instant dinner. It was fantastic--a little sweet--a little spicy--and bursting with flavor.
But, Dave's sauce uses butter--and I thought it was something I could easily make if I could find the right recipe. I did. So here it is.
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce - serves 8
Prep time: less than 20 minutes
Based on a Martha Stewart recipe
1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds) We used 5 cups of pre-cut squash from Trader Joe's (27 oz.) Don't risk cutting your fingers--buy pre-cut!
1 TBS. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage (we left this out)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
5 cloves of garlic, peel on
1 cup Trader Joe's Soy Creamer
2 Vegetarian Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage "Grain Meat" Sausages (Italian would also work)
1 pound Barilla Plus Multigrain Thin Spaghetti
Toppings: chopped toasted walnuts, finely chopped fresh sage (we didn't bother)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place squash in a large shallow baking pan that's covered with no-stick foil, or sprayed lightly with oil. Toss pre-cut squash with oil and sage; season generously with salt & pepper. Scatter garlic around squash.
3. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove and discard skin from garlic.
4. Either transfer squash & garlic to a food processor or a VitaMix or a blender & puree. With the motor running add the creamer through the top & process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups of water (we used 1 1/2); continue to process until smooth, adding water to thin if necessary. Check seasoning.
5. Transfer sauce to a saucepan to keep warm. Add crumbled, warm sausages to the sauce. If your sausages are frozen, just thaw & warm them in the microwave. No need to pan brown them. If they were never frozen--heat them as you like--and crumble them into the sauce.
6. If you like a bit more spice to your sauce, try a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes.
Calorie Count for One Serving of Sauce
Here's to Great Friendships & Good Food!! They go so well together.
Never forget--Friendship Rules!!