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All of a sudden it got cold in Central Massachusetts. For the next few days, at least, we are scheduled to have chilly, autumnal weather. This kind of weather always gives me an appetite for comfort food. Most of the comfort food recipes I make have been inherited from my mother’s cooking, like tuna casserole, eggplant Milanese, and use-up-the-leftovers soup. There is one dish I have perfected on my own, however. Mr. Food It Yourself likes a good chicken pot pie. I am terrible at dealing with pie crust. Therefore I started making what I call “chicken cobbler”. It has all the hall marks of comfort food. It is warm, filling, requires no expensive or unfamiliar ingredients, and tastes delicious. Check this out-
I started by disassembling two small onions, four ribs of celery and five carrots (they were skinny, when I have thick ones I only use three).  I let those saute in my favorite big @$$ cast iron skillet until they started to get soft. This is especially important for the carrots. Mr. Food It Yourself will eat as many cooked carrots as you give him but has issues with raw ones.  Meanwhile, I stepped out into the spooky dark night (it was about 6:15pm, which is after dark now) to pick some herbs. You can see from the photo my parsley is totally fine in the cool weather, as are my thyme and sage. I picked a little of each. Also while this was happening I was using my microwave to partly thaw a couple of individually quick frozen (“IQF” in food marketing lingo) boneless chicken breasts. Once they were defrosted enough to get a knife through, I diced them. You can use turkey, if that’s what you have. Even tofu would work. This is your dinner, do your thing.
It gets a little steamy as you can see.  I add the chicken (or whatever) and the chopped herbs when the carrots are almost but not quite done.  Then I let it cook while I put the topping together. If I were to make a proper chicken pie I would make a proper pie crust.  However, since pie crust and I do not get along I make a biscuit- like topping. Heat the oven to 357F Mix together:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 fat pinch of salt
In a different vessel,  mix together the wet ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
The easiest way to measure the wet ingredients, I have found is to use a large measuring cup. Pour in the milk, then carefully add the mayo until it hits 1 1/4 cups total. Keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until the filling is cooked and the oven has preheated.
If I have frozen peas, I’ll add them now. They just need to thaw out; overcooked peas are gross. I eyeballed a generous cupfull.  I added about 1/4 cup broth with a tablespoon or so of flour mixed in to thicken the juices. I let that come to a boil so the flour started the thickening process. Finally, I mixeed the wet and dry biscuit ingredients together, plopped the sticky dough on top of the filling, and placed the heaping skillet in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the topping was cooked.
Here is the finished product. It was just the thing to fill us up on a chilly fall night. I learned so much about cooking from my family, and I love our family recipes. However, now that I am a grownup I get to do my own thing with my DIYet!  What are your favorite comfort foods? Share in the comments! Remember how I had those volunteer squash sprouts this past spring? (See the picture to below to refresh your memory. )As my zucchini, cucumbers, and pumpkins were being eaten by an adorably evil woodchuck family, the two mystery sprouts were happily growing in my front yard with only the occasional nibble by a local rabbit. Then this happened: How cute is that? It was small and striped and I had no clue what it was. I was hoping for a squash or melon that was recognizable, but this looked like nothing I had grown before. After a few hot, humid weeks this little squash twisted easily off the vine, which is kind of the universal sign for “this is ripe”. The green stripes had darkened in the mean time. The shape was a little different, but the colors were starting to look sort of delicata like. Mr. Food it Yourself and I formulated two possible hypotheses. 1. This volunteer squash plant grew from the seed of a delicata squash we tossed into the compost pile last year. 2. This was some funky hybrid of squashes grown by us and/or other people in our neighborhood; bees did some funky cross-pollinating and squirrels moved the seeds around. There was only one possible test and it involved our shiny, new oven. Behold!

Slice that baby in half. I put the seeds aside in case this is something brand new.

Drizzled with alittle oil and lightly salted and peppered, the mystery baked at 350F for about 45 minutes.

A mysterious part of this delicious dinner!

The results- this is a delicata. It was not super sweet, I think it might have gotten waterlogged during our very damp July. However, the nutty-popcornish scent and creamy texture were a dead giveaway. Mystery solved. This has been an emotionally charged gardening season for me. I rant about it later, trust me. However, I had fun uncovering the Mystery of the Squash. Also, I think I might grow some delicatas on purpose in 2019. What is the greatest surprise that ever cropped up in your garden? Share in the comments!
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