Butternut squash is such a delicious side-dish, why do I only make it at the holidays? It is so easy to make and such a beautiful, eye-catching color, while its mild but oh-so-mouth-watering flavor complements many a main dish. It's not thick and filling like potatoes, and it's not a vibrant green vegetable, which for some people is like a big ol' STOPDON'TEATMEBLEG! sign (not me - but I've heard there are people who don't like broccoli, lettuce, and even..GASP..Asparagus! ::Swoon::).
I make a sweet Butternut Squash mash, but you can easily make it a much more savory dish. Below is a simple recipe for this yummy little gourd.
Butternut Squash Mash
1 Butternut Squash - I like to find a medium to large one
Butter to taste - for a med/lg I usually use 3-4 TBLS
Brown sugar to taste
1. Peel the Squash and cut into large chunks - scrape out the seeds when you find them.
2. Put in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let cook until tender (easily pierced with a fork) - around 20minutes.
3. Pour off water and mash the squash until smooth. Add in butter and brown sugar as desired.
4. Transfer seasoned squash from the pot to the serving dish. Serve warm.
Not my picture - I didn't even think to take a picture of the finished product as I was making it to take to a friend's apt for thanksgiving and didn't think about presentation. Just imagine it was as lovely as the squash pictured here :)
My former bosses from Instinct took me to a screening of a movie - The Ghosts in Our Machine. It was a look into factory farming, for food and fur, and it was the first movie of it's kind I'd ever seen. It was incredibly well done, with a compelling story and nice ebb and flow of graphic/hard to handle images followed by images from Farm Sanctuary - an organization that rescues animals from factory farms.
Both my Instinct bosses are vegan, and I'd never thought about veganism until meeting them. I don't think I could ever go full vegan, but talking to them and being opened up to this whole new world, I've gained a greater awareness and knowledge of the plight animals are forced into. For instance, I had no idea they have fur factory farms - raising foxes, raccoons, minks, etc. simply to kill them for their pelts. I've always loved the way fur feels, but in my naivete I'd assumed they'd been hunted from the wild, not raised in a cruel existence bound for slaughter as soon as they were large enough. You can be sure I won't be wearing real fur again! And even if meat is certified as "grass fed" "free range" and "organic" doesn't mean they have a better situation/are treated more humanely than in a factory farm.
While I'm not planning on going full-vegan, I am interested in trying out many different vegan products - see how their meat substitutes taste, find some vegan recipes and try to eat that way a few times a week. I may switch my dairy habits over to completely vegan options and see if that helps with my allergies. My bosses were extremely helpful in providing info on products they like and where to get them. They recommend Whole Foods - but pretty much any good grocery store should have vegan options.To be honest, I'm not sure if being vegan truly changes anything in this world. They say every little bit helps, but I don't see the factory farm machine leaving our culture anytime soon, if ever.
As I'm experiencing this new awareness, I find it seeping into other aspects of my life.
I am a huge makeup person - I'm doing it more and more as a paying job, and it's great. I went into MAC yesterday to look for a new liquid foundation and on a whim asked if they were cruelty free. The saleslady assured me they are, and continued to cover my face in some fantastic products I really liked. This morning, I decided to do a little checking - I usually don't take one person's word as the end all on any subject. And guess what I found out? MAC DOES animal test! They hadn't until about a year ago, but since China REQUIRES animal testing, to market their makeup line to the Chinese, they've started mutilating bunnies. This makes me so angry - that a once cruelty-free company turns to animal cruelty for more profit. Obviously, they didn't NEED to test on bunnies to prove it was safe for human skin, but because China has some fucked up laws, they started doing cruel experiments on animals. Maybe the saleslady was just ignorant of the change in policy, but I'm still angry at being lied to.
So, this little incident prompted a search at companies that do and don't test on animals. And holy cow - it's insane some of the companies that do animal testing! Here's just a few of them: major makeup companies (MAC, Revlon, Oley, L'Oreal, Mary Kay, Avon, Estee Lauder, to name a few), CLOROX!, SC Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, Puffs, Proctor and Gamble (Head and Shoulders, Ivory, Herbel Esssences, Febreze, Crest, Downey, etc), Dove, Dial, Coppertone, Mr. Clean, and Ponds, to name a few. For a complete list, go here. If you're interested in making a change, here's a list of companies that do NOT animal test.
Not gunna lie, even doing a bit of research on this topic this morning, it's ridiculous trying to find the truth - different sites and people argue whether certain brands are or aren't cruelty free. And even though I'm not seeing Inglot on the PETA list, everything I'm finding says that they are cruelty free. And while yes, it is a hassle, an annoyance, trying to find cruelty free makeup, I encourage you to google search animal makeup testing. It's graphic, so I'm not posting it here, but it's something to keep in mind next time you're at the makeup counter.
What a crazy busy few weeks I've had! It's been absolutely terrific having so much on my plate. Hansel and Gretel opens Saturday and runs until January 4th. I finished up Tough Cookies. I began rehearsal for Reindeer Monologues. I've been working on new songs and monologues for audition season, and have been taking new classes. Some exciting new prospects are on the horizon.
I can't believe it's been over a month since I last wrote. So much has been happening - a trip to the Hamptons, friends and family visiting, an amazing trip to Boston, my rm moving out, having to search for a new apt, jobs, and my cat being sick. Instead of writing one stupidly long post, I'll break them up into more manageable and entertaining segments. But I'm going to begin with the one weighing most heavily upon my heart.
It's come to my attention that some of you are actually interested in the simple recipes I've been making of late. I thought, oh dear readers, you only wanted my grand experiments, things from my Pinterest Food Challenge, recipes on a grand scale (I supposed, rather narcissistic-ally, since that's what interests ME). However, at the urging of the masses (and by masses, I do mean one or two good friends who aren't super into cooking :P), I'll share some very quick, simple, but incredibly delicious recipes that anyone can make - even if you had just a pot and a heating plate (though I prefer to use a skillet, pot, and a stove).
It's been devilishly beautiful the past few days - nearly fall-like, my absolute favorite time of year. The crisp bite to the air, the not-scalding sunshine, the trees turning vibrant hues, the chance to buy a new sweater and venture forth into the world snug in a favorite scarf.
Yesterday I was finally able to get out of bed and into ballet class - with no friend motivation! I got to see The Nance, starring Nathan Lane, for free since it was being filmed for PBS. After the show, I read in Bryant Park for a bit (though I couldn't help thinking the square lawn would be better used as a equestrian jumping field. Sigh.), then met up with another friend for the Kinky Boots lottery (which we didn't win, alas). To cheer ourselves up, we took dinner at Chez Josephine as part of Restaurant Week, something I'd never participated in before, but so glad I finally had the opportunity! It was absolutely scrumptious, and I felt very grown up, drinking my wine, eating my steak, being all awesome-like.
Sometimes people come into your life and bring radical change with them. It's funny to look back and see the surrounding circumstances that made a specific meeting between two people happen in the first place, and where that initial meeting has lead. Such a friendship has been forged with one Australian former roommate.
This girl has an amazing way of experiencing life to the fullest - often bringing me along for the welcome wild ride. She's sampled more of NYC living in just a few months than I have in almost four years. I suppose she sees it all differently, and is here specifically to immerse herself in American life for a year. Whether she's extraordinarily lucky or simply knows how to ferret out adventure, there's never a dull moment in her company.
Case in point: I just had a night out on the town like you see in the movies (minus the drug use in a seedy bathroom). We were out celebrating her birthday a few days early, starting with a few "sneakys" at her apartment.
-Side note: I have become infatuated with Aussie slang. I should compile a list; I think I will be using it all the time. Sneakys are a drink or two before heading out for the night - I guess it'd be like pre-gaming. We also took a "roadie" with us (a drink for the road). Is there anything better than drinking alcohol from a water bottle in public? It brings back fond memories of college days with friends in the park. -
We make our way downtown to Lead Belly's. I'm always keen to try new places, but have a devil of a time finding out good spots for myself. This girl always somehow finds the cutest places with fantastic ambiance. Lead Belly's was no exception. Super adorable inside, with live piano player and saxophone background music. The food was delicious (albeit a bit pricey for the tiny portions), and we quite enjoyed ourselves. It was here we were met by another Aussie friend of hers, a most agreeable young woman.
This past month and a half has been a whirlwind journey of self-discovery. Some of it scary, some exciting, some unnerving, but on the whole it's been amazing to realize new things about myself and learning to find acceptance in that. I will not divulge all, but I wanted to share something I found fascinating.
What a summer it has turned out to be! I have been so blessed to have been working consistently for the past few months on some really terrific productions - none which excited me more artistically than getting the chance to play one of my dream roles, Rosalind in As You Like It. I grew so much as a performer and as a woman, and the run was over all too quickly. It seems the past month and a half I've made it a mission to find out about myself and grow in as many new ways as possible - it's been very exciting to see such personal growth.
Here are a few pictures - when my computer isn't being completely stupid, I'll post more.