day 4: reasons to change

I’m writing daily in October as part of The Nester’s 31 Days challenge, check out day 1,  2 and 3. Head over to the Nesting Place for other great 31 Days topics

It must be the popular thing to be into fall. You know what I’m talking about. The people who can’t wait to break out their cardigan collection while they hold a pumpkin spice latte with one hand and light a pumpkin spice candle with the other.

I want to be in this group but alas I live in a land with disgusting, horrible, despicable unedible pumpkins (but our chocolate’s the best!), and finding a spiced candle could be a difficult thing. There is one reason why my prospects could be looking up. I heard that Starbucks is bringing the pumpkin spice latte to Switzerland, but until I have a mug in my hand, I will keep my expectations low.

Can I be honest? In my heart I still miss my warm, summer temperatures and long days. Today and every day since September began, I honestly do not feel ready for the seasons to change.

But the seasons change whether we want them to or not, an invisible force that keeps us moving while the earth gets ready to go into its wintery cocoon to die so that it might live so that it might bloom and so on. And I will put away the tank tops and sundresses and flip flops and pull out my boots and jackets and yes, cardigans. I don’t have a choice, well unless pneumonia is a choice.( I will reluctantly pick the coat if the choice is between outerwear and serious respiratory illness.)

How I wish there was a mandatory season change in my heart when it came to the way I see things, to my attitude. Wouldn’t it be easier if there was something pushing my along, requiring myself to change, to catch up to see that the old way, the comparing way, it’s not in style; it was never in style.

Birthing Small One was closest thing to motivation that happened to me as I sought to  leave comparison island. In the sweet moments of holding a newborn baby, I found myself bombarded by thoughts about how he measured against other’s babies.

Is he a better sleeper? A worse sleeper? Does he seem nice? Swtiched on?

I found myself regularly feeling like I was winning and losing, but who was the competitor in this game? My innocent, sweet, unsuspecting newborn, of course. He was the collateral damage in Mommy’s need to feel better than other people.

There is always a cost to comparison. Always. We pay it, our spouse pays it, our children pay it, our friends pay it, but somehow I didn’t mind paying this cost. I didn’t mind until I saw that Small One was going to have to pay it, and then I realized I needed to do something about living on comparison island because there was no way I could put my son in this position.

Who is paying the cost to your life on comparison island? 

Butternut squash is one of the small ways I submit myself to autumn, and with its sweet, flavourful, nutty taste, it’s not hard to  cook, eat and enjoy this gourd. Maybe it’s even the easiest way I can greet this new season. Last year this soup was my go-to recipe for a butternut squash, but this year I’ve made it even simpler with this four-ingredient wonder. Yes. Four ingredients. That would be onions, butternut squash, vegetable stock and bay leaves. If the squash didn’t take so long to peel and chop, this would be one of those five-minute prep wonders.

  • Simple Butternut Squash Soup     Peel and slice three onions (or however few or many you would like – we are onion fans, hence the three). Put a good-sized, heavy-bottomed pan on medium high heat with a good amount of olive oil covering the bottom. Toss the onions in and let it caramelise for a while. Again, this step is entirely up to you. I love caramelised onions, so I left the heat fairly low and let it cook for 15 minutes, maybe even more. I used this time to prepare the squash. Peel and chop the squash (I used two small to medium-sized gourds, the quantities are entirely up to you and your needs), and when it’s finished and the onions are caramelised to your liking, toss the squash in with it and let it all fry a bit for a minute or so, stir frequently. Then top it all off with water or vegetable stock. I cook most things in water because this is for Small One as well, and I try (though frequently  fail) to keep his food salt free. I add the veggie stock powder at the very end. Throw in three bay leaves, and let it come up to a boil then lower to a simmer and let it cook for however long it takes to cook the squash thoroughly so that it’s falling apart. Then I just use an immersion blender to blend it all up. It can also be dumped into a blender and blended that way.
  • There is plenty of room for variation with this soup. The original recipe I used had cinnamon and cayenne pepper, both are wonderful compliments to the butternut squash. I do love this simple version though with just the caramelised onions and squash, the natural sweetness and nuttiness of the butternut really shines through. And well, I just like keeping it simple these days. I topped it with chopped walnuts and spinach. Delicious.

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