Challenge: Cook Something Hard


Let me start off by saying I am a good cook. I'm not a mediocre cook, I'm not a great cook, I am a solidly only good cook. I don't mean good cook by the standards of being able to wow my roommates with complex recipes I whip up out of thin air; I mean I'm capable of and comfortable with roasting, sautéing, searing, and baking a vast majority of vegetables, meats, fish and grains applicable. Except squash.

I really couldn't tell you why, but I seriously struggle bus with squash. I once recruited three people into my kitchen because I was incapable of cutting it open. Three people. To cut it open. I know you're probably thinking, "Well yeah okay you could't cut it but the titles a little misleading don't you think?"

No. I don't think.

I decided to tackle this challenge in the most complicated and comical means possible: with my good friend Ina Garten. If you've ever watched any of Ina's show The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, then you'll know that any "simple" meal to Ina involves no less than 14 ingredients, 67 "How bad can that be?"'s, and 5 incredibly staged trips to the local grocery store or farmers market by her always uncomfortably-terrible-at-acting-and-probably-not-as-nice-and-as-helpful-as-they-come-off-as friends. If you haven't, well I just told you pretty much all you need to know. Oh, except sometimes she goes off to other countries with her husband, Jeffrey, and it is just as oh-so-pleasantly-uncomfortably staged. But I digress.

Stage 1: Peeling Is Hard

I'm not completely sure if I'm goo supposed to be doing this with a knife but for the sake of keeping all of my fingers I stick to a vegetable peeler. After about 15 seconds the squash starts too ooze little droplets out of places I've peeled. Being the idiot that I am I decide to taste them. Poor decisions, we meet again.

Now that there is a terrible taste in my mouth to accompany the stickiness that is all over my hands, tongue, and computer (as I so brightly decided to live-blog this) I continue on peeling. To add to the d shredifficulty I'm already having with the supposedly mundane task, this squash is covered in stickers that are just too legit to quit. Seriously does it really take one sticker or even a helpfully descriptive super market sign to comprehend that this is in fact a butternut squash and not an imposter Dr. Evil canola oil acorn squash?

I thought for some reason that if I used a cutting board I wouldn't get squash shrapnel all over my counter. I was gravely mistaken. The recipe says the prep time should be 15 minutes. The recipe was also gravely mistaken.

Stage 2: Cutting Isn't Any Easier

We're back to cutthe root of the problem, only this time I'm alone in my apartment so I don't have two assistants to do their assisting. The closest thing I have to an assistant is Hozier Pandora radio, which is proving to do little more than keep me entertained; it is in no way helping me with the overwhelming fear that is filling my body as I continually get the knife stuck in the squash and have to yank it out.

This adventure has inspired me to be a carpenter. I hear smooth lines are important in that industry.

Current thoughts: The hardest part of cutting this thing is the whole cutting in half part, so actually dicing it into 1 1/4 - 1 1/2" cubes shouldn't be that hard.

Update: The physical cutting was easy, but I couldn't for the life of me eyeball 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches. Haphazard 3-D shapes will do.

Stage 3: One Does Not Simply Toss Squash In Butter And Spices

IMG_0419-1Microwave butter? Difficulty: Easy. Add salt, pepper, and brown sugar to butter? Difficulty: Easy. Pour butter mixture on squash? Difficulty: Moderately easy. Toss mixture together without getting butter splash all over laptop and counter: Difficulty: Immeasurable.

When choosing this recipe I over looked the whole "55 minute cook time" thing. I've never really liked surprises.

Stage 4: The Feast

Caramelized squash? How bad could that be?

Not bad at all, Ina. Not bad at all. It's actually insanely delicious. 100% worth the struggle and wait. Plus, it's serves 6-8, so looks like someone won't have to make lunch tomorrow!

Stage 5: Scoringdone

This might seem a little random but just go with it. I promise this is going somewhere.

  • successfully live-blogging: + 1 point
  • getting sticky squash ooze all over my laptop: - 1 point
  • tasting the sticky squash ooze: - 1 point
  • cutting abilities: - 1 point
  • adding too much brown sugar because I was too lazy to use actual measuring cups: - 1 point
  • generally killin' the caramelized squash game: + 5 points
  • confirmation by roommate of squash's deliciousness: + 1 point
  • making enough to have leftovers: + 1 point
  • eating 6-8 servings in 2: + 1 point
  • not being able to calculate my points total on my own: priceless

Grand total: 5 points. None of my many follies were able to cancel my overall squash-cooking success, so I'll take a win.

Molly: 4 - Challenges: 1

Liked this challenge? Loved this challenge? Booked me a flight on Delta Airlines because of how much you hated this challenge? Let me know what you thought and what else you want to see!