*Which is, arguably, a pretty crazy vegetable.
Friends, I have some exciting news: a couple of weeks ago, I got engaged! It was all very romantic: a picturesque snowfall, the IMA’s Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture, a luminous rose gold ring, the love of my life saying very sweet things that I could barely comprehend because I was so busy being surprised. We’d been talking about getting married for months, and had already chosen the ring, but he still managed to totally fool me about the engagement (which is pretty impressive considering we were returning to the location of our first date almost exactly on the anniversary of that date).
Also surprising? (Even though it probably shouldn’t be…) The many, many things that need to be done, remembered, and attended to while planning a wedding. The many, many things that need to be done, remembered, and attended to on a relatively short timeline when one desires to be married before packing up and moving hundreds or thousands of miles to begin a three-year journey of theological education. Which means, of course, that there are many, many things to be done, remembered and attended to until applications are finally submitted and interviews done and FAFSA completed and financial aid and housing applied for.
So that’s where I’m at right now—lots of wonderful, exciting things are happening in my life, but I have no idea where I will be living seven months from now. New York? Boston? Virginia? San Francisco? Accordingly, my fiancé has no idea where he will be living seven months from now, or where he is going to find employment upon leaving his current position. I’m fortunate enough to have a job right now, but it’s a contracted position without regular hours, a regular paycheck, or guaranteed work, which doesn’t do a whole lot to induce feelings of stability (but I have health insurance again for the first time in 13 months—thanks, Affordable Care Act!). I started an experiment in keeping my to-do list as Google Calendar tasks, which change color in a satisfying way when checked off, but are awfully easy to carry over to the next day, or the next. Like Stephen, I have developed a floordrobe punctuated with various other mildly organized piles of stuff.
All this can feel pretty overwhelming sometimes—a lot to do in what doesn’t feel like a lot of time. So I do what anyone would do: I eat.
Sometimes I don’t eat the best things. I like ramen noodles way more than any marginally healthy person should. I like indulging in anniversary meals consisting essentially of meat and accompanied by a bottle of wine. And I really like ice cream.
Sometimes, though, I do very well. Sometimes I experiment with spaghetti squash. Sometimes I make spaghetti squash lasagna boats for dinner.
Now, I LOVE pasta. Basically any carb for that matter. And I’m a big fan of lasagna. So I was very suspicious of the idea of making a lasagna-like dish without any noodles, especially one that used squash in place of noodles. Could it possibly be good? I’d been fascinated by spaghetti squash for a while, though, and wanted to try it, and this recipe seemed like a good place to start.
I made some changes to the original recipe. I cooked the squash in the microwave first. I’m not entirely convinced this was actually a time-saver. I also used only one, largish spaghetti squash, cut in half, but I didn’t cut back on all the other ingredients. This created enough food for at least three very hungry people, so beware.
I subbed cottage cheese for the ricotta and turkey sausage for the chicken (I had to peel it out of casings, which, by the way, is not pleasant). I used as much meat and crushed tomatoes as called for, even though I only used one squash, and I put a couple of lasagna-appropriate dried herbs where I was told to use fresh, because I have not yet managed to Pinterest my life by growing an aesthetically pleasing and highly practical indoor herb garden.
The lasagna boats took some time to make, and they weren’t really a quick, throw-together meal, but they were simple. The squash cost as much as the sausage, but for the amount of food, I’ve spent more on a meal. And you know what? It was delicious. I was shocked (though not quite as shocked as being faced with a ring box in the midst of a late-January snowfall). I ate until I was full, and then ate a few more bites. And then I ate the rest for lunch the next day. As I’m writing about it now, I wish I could eat some more. And this for a meal that’s undeniably at least a little healthy.
I don’t have pictures of the lasagna boats, because when I was eating them I had no idea I was going to fuss over a blog post and finally return to my old standby of writing about food and settle on this particular meal. Also, one of my boats broke, and both were sort of massive, so I’m not sure photographic evidence would’ve done them justice. The website where I found the recipe has plenty of lovely pictures, so you can look at those and imagine that’s what mine looked like (really, they were pretty close).
My life didn’t become any less crazy after making spaghetti squash, just like it didn’t become any less crazy after eating ramen for lunch four days in a row. I think, though, that good food and good company will always calm the crazy, if only for a couple hours. And if they don’t, well, at least the crazy is easier to deal with on a full stomach.
Alissa Goudswaard Anderson (’10) lives with her husband Josh in New York City, where she is earning her Master of Divinity at General Theological Seminary. Alissa enjoys private kitchen dance parties, big Midwestern thunderstorms, and perusing other peoples’ bookshelves. For more, find her online at www.episcotheque.wordpress.com or tweet her @episcotheque.