Mom’s Handwriting-Rice and Winter Squash Gratin

Mom's Handwriting - Rice and Winter Squash Gratin
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4-6
My Mom has textbook perfect cursive handwriting. Every letter is perfection….the exact same size except for the capitals and the capitals are all the same size. It’s even and smooth….not at all shaky. It’s perfect. I remember as a child practicing over and over on the special lined paper they gave us in elementary school to write on. I was determined to have perfect penmanship…just like Mom. And I got pretty close. Mine wasn’t bad but wasn’t as perfect as Mom’s.

Then, somewhere in my teens, I decided that my handwriting had to break away from the conformity they were promoting in my classes and I started changing my handwriting. First I changed the spelling of my name, did the precious little hearts over my i’s. Next I began incorporating a typewriter styled e or a, and one unexpected capital in a word. I would mix printing with cursive within a word. My handwriting was interesting, still very neat and definitely distinctive. Somewhere along the years, probably in my 40’s, my handwriting just went to hell. I didn’t feel like putting the effort into it. I scribbled in my journal and on notes. It got so bad that I could hardly read my own notes.

I recently got a short letter from my Mom. It was beautiful, not only for what it said, but also for the textbook perfect cursive handwriting. I still let that note sit on my desk, after almost a year, where I look at it every day. One day, a few months ago, I pulled out a piece of paper, lined of course, and began practicing again. Wow, I could still do it, although not nearly as beautiful and perfect as Mom’s.

I decided to write her a letter in my most perfect cursive handwriting. I managed to finish it, but my hand was really cramping afterwards. All that concentration to keep every letter under control and the same size, except for the capitals, and all connected in the individual words, and as perfect as possible, took it’s toll on the muscles and tendons in my hand.

But I did it. Once. The next note I wrote to myself was back to my difficult to read scribble. I will always be impressed that my Mom, in her mid 80’s can still maintain that beautiful art form.

This recipe that I’m adding today was equally impressive to me. I was looking for new ways to use winter squash since that is what my garden is producing right now. This is a hardy rice & winter squash gratin that could be a main dish or a side dish. If you substitute the milk and small amount of cheese with non-dairy versions it could also be a great vegan dish. And it was really quite easy and quick to put together. I made my béchamel with leeks instead of onion since that is also plentiful in the garden right now.
  • Rice and Winter Squash Gratin

  • Béchamel (recipe follows)
  • 1c brown or white rice, cooked
  • 1T butter or olive oil
  • 1T sage, chopped or 2 t dried
  • 3 cups grated winter squash ( I used my Cuisinart)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ t sea salt and dash black pepper
  • ¼ c parsley, chopped
  • ½ c Gruyere or sharp aged cheddar
  • Béchamel Sauce

  • ¼ c onion, minced (shallot, sweet onion or leeks)
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 ½ c milk
  • ½ t salt and dash pepper
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • Cook the onion in the butter in a small saucepan over low heat for about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk all at once then cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  1. Oven 400 degrees. Lightly butter a 6-8 c gratin dish. Make the sauce and cook the rice. Heat the butter in a wide skillet with the sage over medium/high heat. Add the squash and salt and sauté until the squash begins to brown in places, about 8 minutes. Toward the end, stir in the garlic, parsley and cheese and season to taste. Pour into the prepared gratin dish and bake until bubbly and beginning to brown on the top....about 25 minutes.



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