I'm starting to get nervous. My birthday is Monday. Saturday, I'm throwing myself a party to celebrate. Throwing myself parties makes me nervous. I start worrying about all sorts of things. I'm also not good at the whole concept of "fashionably late", so when the start time of the party rolls around and people aren't banging down my door, I start to get worried that no one will come. I'm generaly worried that no one will come when I throw a party. I don't know why. Emotional scars from middle school?
On top of my general anxiety, I'm turning 30. As cool as I thought I'd be about it ("It's not a big deal...most of my friends are already 30...what do I care?" or "I'm not going to get upset about this birthday just because I'm conditioned to believe that women are old and useless after they leave their 20s"). Uh-huh. I won't even start to describe the sheer idiocy that has sprung from my mouth in the last two weeks every time I discuss my impending birthday with D (which I think is OK, because he did about the same thing to me when he was about to turn 30 in February.
Talking about my birthday with my mom yielded this little gem: "It's OK. You're in a really good place: You have a good job, you're in a good relationship. Besideds, you and D obviously don't care about getting married and you're sister says you hate babies." Way to be supportive, Mom. (Just for the record, I don't hate babies. I just find children who do things besides sleep, eat , cry and poop much more interesting than tiny children who only do those things).
With all of these things running through my head, it's been a real struggle not to just eat things covered in gooey cheese every night. Or just break into that wheel of camenbert I picked up on sale at West Side Market the other day. I've had to convince myself to eat vegetables that are not covered in a cheesey, creamy sauce. Nothing but ice cream and nothing but chocolate are also not wise choices. This though, full of veggies and protien. A nice balance of spicy, sweet, salty and acidic. Just delicious and healthy. And not at all anxiety provoking.
Caramel Braised Sunshine Squash and Seitan
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 C sugar
1/4 c red wine vinegar2T + 3/4 c water, divided
1 small sunshine squash, or other winter squash (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1" chunks
6 oz seitan, cut into 1" chunks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T minced Joe's long cayenne pepper
freshly ground pepper
2 T chopped cilantro (optional)
Place a large, heavy skillet with a tight-fitting lid (I used my cast-iron and the lid to my Dutch oven--they fit together quite well even though they're from separate pieces) over medium heat. Add the sugar and two tablespoons of water. Heat, shaking the pan ocassionally, until the sugar is liquified and bubbly (about 10 minutes). Turn off the heat and VERY CAREFULLY pour in the water and vinegar. Turn up the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring for about two minutes, or until the caramel has completely disolved.
Add the garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the squash, seitan and minced cayenne pepper. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the squash is tender enough to be pierced with a fork, and the liquid has reduced significantly.