Black futsu squash and homemade butter

Five minutes after I put this squash in my cart another shopper pointed to it and gasped.

“I know,” I said.

Neither of us had seen a black futsu squash before. We talked about its deep, brain-like crevices and how to best cook it.

She turned one over in her hands. “I’d think you’d lose a lot of the flesh peeling it.”

I agreed. My plan was much lazier: roasting.


At home, I ran a chef’s knife through its middle, and was surprised to find that the rind wasn’t so rigid. And it cooked up soft, reminding me that the skins of winter squashes can be edible. The rind was a different texture than the sweet, mild insides, but I didn’t mind.

I finished the roasted wedges with globs of homemade butter. Orange-fleshed squash with a little fat and a little salt was the just the thing for the end of winter.

We’re spreading homemade butter on everything, out of this miniature butter crock I picked up a few weeks ago in Portland.

We spent an hour at Village Merchants during the long weekend. It was a wonderland: like five or ten of my favorite thrift stores put together.*

The guy at the register raised his eyebrows when he saw the ceramic artichoke I picked up for two dollars. “This is really cool,” he said, and smiled. That was my favorite find, too.

But a close second was the butter crock, sized to fit exactly one pound of butter.

Back in the day, I would have had to acquire a churn if I wanted to make butter, or spend a lot of time shaking and shaking a jar (not a bad notion). But I’m fortunate to have a mixer with a good motor and the online food community. I looked up instructions here.

I whipped the cream on high and after awhile, the white froth metamorphosed and bits of yellow butter started to cling to the wires of the whisk. I wrapped the top of the mixer bowl with an old kitchen towel to keep the spattering liquid in as a ball of butter formed. When it was done, I rinsed it in several changes of iced water, slapping it against the side of the bowl. Magic.

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Cooking something unusual or making something very usual from scratch prods me to stretch my legs and get out the camera. It’s a great distraction from wordsmithing, same as running the dog at the baseball field on a sopping wet day. Today, he looked like a water skier, sending out a wave of swampy water as he braked for the ball. The rain seeped through the seam in my rain hat, it was so prodigious.

These are the kinds of things that will help me ride, on the shoulders of a lion-ish March, toward and through deadlines, in and out of one spring event after another. It’s a busy time, but the little things are still so good.

*Maybe this ages me. At Rimsky’s later that night, our server told me she liked my new fingerless mittens. When I told her I got them at Village Merchants, she said, “Oh, that’s my mom’s favorite store!”