Back Away Slowly: A Cautionary Tale (don’t microwave gourds vol.1)

So. I’ve gone low carb. I have no idea what that means but I just keep talking about carbs and how much I am NOT eating them, and then looking pathetically to others for approval.

I’ve heard that vegetarians and vegans are unhealthy and sickly because they “smother everything in cheese anyway” and “don’t even eat vegetables because they were once alive” and “just eat bread”. Well, I can say for certain that one of those statements is entirely true when it comes to my diet. I am a bread whore. All I eat is toast. When I am not eating toast, I’m eating pasta and using toast to scoop up all the leftover sauce. YUM CARBS.

I have always had this problem where I don’t feel full or satisfied or any of that unless I am literally in pain from all the processed wheat in my belly. I briefly went on the South Beach Diet when I was 19 and lost a whole bunch of weight but sank into super depression from missing my old pals rotini and gemelli. I could eat an entire carton of eggs, or like 6 grilled chicken breasts and I still wouldn’t feel full. Gimme pancakes. Recently I’ve had some stressful life events and I’ve been crunched for time and money, which means pasta and rice have been happening pretty often. Now that I am on the other side of Life Event (more to come on that!) I have time to breathe, reevaluate my day to day, and make some changes. So first I wanted to try and curb my sugar addiction, but in a healthier way than my 19 year old self’s version of the South Beach Diet-which essentially meant skipping over all of the background and instructions straight to the food lists, picking the items I could tolerate, and ONLY eating those items. Typical day was: 6 black iced coffees with Splenda, a big ass salad with 2 grilled chicken breasts and cucumber, and a bag of almonds. FOR THE ENTIRE DAY. It’s amazing I am even alive.

I started consulting Google for low carb recipes and a little voice in the back of my head said “there’s such a thing as spaghetti squash Jenn. It looks like spaghetti but it is made of squash, and not of pasta.” So sure enough I found a couple of recipes and methods for cooking this thing. I loaded up my cart at the grocery store and when I got home, both kids had magically fallen asleep in their car seats, and I had a blessed two hours to experiment in my kitchen. First I tried to chop the spaghetti squash in half. Those websites don’t tell you that spaghetti squashes are actually made of cement. I settled on stabbing vent holes in it and set about baking it. Apparently this method takes 45 minutes at 400 degrees, and then significant cooling time. I continued Googling, and in my hunger I believe I hallucinated instructions that told me it was perfectly acceptable to microwave a spaghetti squash. This was great news, because I spent most of my 2 hour break time arranging and rearranging ingredients for my late summer spaghetti squash pasta on my cutting board to make a pretty picture for you (as pretty as one can take with a cell phone camera that doesn’t have a flash). See?

And this one too:

Anyway the point is I ran out of baking time, and it was hard to take these pictures while my wrist was swelling up from trying to chop the rock hard spaghetti squash, so it was time for Chef Mike. First I put the poor thing on a plate and nuked it for 6 minutes. All of the slices and stabs I made started to froth up a bit, and I started to panic and just paced back and forth in front of the microwave at a safe distance instead of turning it off. There’s no going back when you’re as hungry as I was. Either this was going to work, or I was getting hit in the face with a spaghetti squash cannon, and I was ready to accept those consequences. The first 6 minutes went by ok, so I turned it over and nuked it another 6 minutes on the other side. After some more panicked pacing, this is what I ended up with.

*backs away slowly*

I poked it. It squeaked and let out a puff of steam. So did I.

I let it stand for a couple of minutes and then carefully chopped it in half. The formerly well armed gourd took on the composition of an eggshell. What have I done? I thought briefly, and then soldiered on. The inside did not look promising either.

Oh well, what are you going to do? Am I right?

So I set about carefully scraping the delicate strands out with a fork and placing them tenderly in my serving dish. By this I mean I ravenously hacked at this poor, tortured thing and scooped it’s innards into my bowl. I tossed the lumps with my sauce (details below) and it was FUCKING DELICIOUS. I still have one more spaghetti squash hiding in the back of my fridge. It’s terrified of its fate and it keeps trying to roll behind the kale, but I see it, and I’m coming for it. Next time I’ll have the foresight to set it baking in the oven the moment I feel even the slightest bit hungry, and I am sure it will cook evenly and I will be able to actually scrape out some pretty spaghetti-like strands and trick myself into thinking I’m eating pasta. You cannot escape your fate little squash!

Spaghetti Squash Tossed “Pasta” with Tomatoes, Basil and Feta

olive oil

salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 spaghetti squash

3-4 vine ripened tomatoes (or whatever you’ve grown or purchased), chopped

1 red onion, diced

1/4 c feta cheese (or more! live your life!)

3-4 T chopped fresh basil

black olives (not shown)
Start out by baking/roasting your squash (or microwaving it. It was perilous but it only took 12 minutes). If you have the muscles, chop that sucker in half lengthwise and bake it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Or leave it whole and bake it for 45 minutes, let it cool, then chop it in half lengthwise. While the squash is baking you can ready your sauce. Warm up the olive oil in your pan and add the chopped onion when it’s nice and hot (NOT smoking. Repeat, NOT smoking. Don’t just shrug and think it will taste fine. It won’t.) After the onion cooks down a bit, add your diced garlic. I suck at chopping garlic, even after learning this trick for getting it all salty so it doesn’t stick to your knife, I can’t do it. And Husband told me that garlic burns really easily and you have to make sure all the tiny bits are the same size otherwise they won’t cook uniformly and you’ll have uneven garlicky taste. It’s horrible. So I use the minced kind you get in the jar and I continue living my life. Anyway. Cook the garlic now but be careful not to burn it. If you chopped it wrong, that’s on you. Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook down until they’re tender and the skins are starting to peel back. Toss your squash noodles (or if you used a microwave, your squash squash) with the tomato sauce, feta, basil and olives (if you have them). Season with salt and pepper to taste. It should look like this:

But if it doesn’t, and it looks like this…

Well, that’s OK too. It still tastes amazing and you’re not a bad person.

Also, the tags I’ve used for this post are utterly ridiculous.


One thought on “Back Away Slowly: A Cautionary Tale (don’t microwave gourds vol.1)

  1. Pingback: Working the System: Tales of a Welfare Queen | That's Not What I Mean

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