Mariel here. I absolutely love fall. The nerd in me wistfully remembers those exciting first few days of school; the sloth in me loves curling up beneath a cozy throw and settling in for hours of (new!) primetime TV; and the glutton in me loves indulging in warm savory comfort foods, like the Apple Pie Sundae I’ve been eating every single night this week.
This fall feels even more autumnal since my son has just started nursery school. He’s in a “Twos” program so for three mornings a week, for two hours, I drop him off at the door and he plows into a pile of toys. I didn’t cry the first time I dropped him off – I was as excited as he was, for so many reasons – but I was shocked to discover that he didn’t cry either. I introduced him to his new teacher – a woman who has now reached celebrity status in our household – and I asked for a kiss. Instead of a soft, teary smooch and toddler-size meltdown, he waved at me casually and said, “Bye mama.” That was it. No kiss. No hug. No high five. Just, “See ya lady.”
I am so grateful he transitioned so easily. The biggest part of me was deeply proud of his bravery and confidence. A smallish part of me was sad he couldn’t even be bothered to kiss me goodbye. And the smallest part of me raised a tiny red flag that he was so willing to be dropped off – alone – in a room full of strangers in a building he had never been to before. It’s this little red-flag-bearer that immediately Googled, “When to talk to your children about stranger danger.”
Orange-Juice Glazed Acorn Squash with Cinnamon & Sea Salt
2 acorn squash, halved and seeded – $3.87
1 cup orange juice – stock
¼-cup Demerara or Turbinado sugar (a large-crystal raw sugar, worth having a bag for dusting the top of baked goods with a crunchy caramel flavor) – $3.49
½-teaspoon ground cinnamon – stock
Pinch of sea salt – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $7.86
Cost per serving: $1.84
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a roasting pan with tinfoil and mist with cooking spray. Arrange the squash halves, skin side down, in the roasting pan. Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce flame to medium-low and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
3. Spoon the orange juice mixture into each squash half and baste any exposed flesh (not the skin).
4. Bake for one hour, basting every 15 minutes, until the squash is soft and golden.
5. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve hot.