I have the worst case of writer’s block. I don’t know what to say. I feel like Tim is going to tell me, any minute, that he’s finished what he’s doing and we need to go, so I can’t focus on what I’m writing because I keep thinking, we’re about to drive to the grocery store and we also need toilet paper and I can’t forget to set my alarm clock for tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m.! It’s Thursday night, the one night this week when we haven’t had something going on, and what was supposed to be a relaxing evening at home has turned into a nonstop day that continued into a nonstop night, and it’s 8:30 p.m., we’re only now about to go to the store, and I still haven’t written a blog post.
Part of the busy schedule this week has been, get this, because of food. In a strange turn of events, we ended up with three CSA boxes in the last two weeks, giving us bushel and bushel and bushel full of fresh food, all of which we needed to do something with so as to avoid the one thing I absolutely do not want to do, as in, waste any. This may have led to tears once or twice. Besides beets (roasted!) and beet greens (pesto!) and yellow squash, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers (ratatouille!) and potatoes (home fries! mashed! fritters!), we’ve had squash. Oh, have we had squash: butternut, acorn, spaghetti. Most of it roasted, so as to make pureé. Also, pumpkin—namely, a 20-pound monstrosity I carried around the house and outside for a photo as if it were a small child. Well, it weighed as much as one.
And tonight, while the fridge is stocked with roasted peppers and sautéed beet stems and a tomato-kale-pepper salad, while there are half a dozen butternut squash biscuits left on the counter and some quinoa grains soaking to be cooked tomorrow, I’ll be honest and say I know a week of longer work days and unexpected meetings and two extra bushels of vegetables is not exactly the stuff of nightmares, but, honestly, I’m tired. Tim and I are having friends for dinner tomorrow and then an overnight guest through Monday, and as I sit here, looking at the photographs of squash and biscuit dough, reading through the paragraphs I’ve written, the main thing I keep thinking is, would I want to read this if I were someone coming to the post? And I want to start over. But then, what would I write? See sentence two above.
The thing I’ve found in the last year or so, especially back in the midst of planning a wedding, is that when I get too busy, the kind of busy where I’m running from one thing to another, seldom processing anything, I only function at 50, maybe 60%. This is fine when you’re doing the dishes—less fine when you’re trying to put together paragraphs (and, ahem, putting together paragraphs is what some of us do for a living).
Writing is thinking. If you can’t think, you can’t write, mark it down. And the best writers, the ones who turn words with precision and truth, are the ones who are taking time to think about what they say.
So tonight when I have nothing to say, I guess I’m really saying, help! I need time to think! And so, while Tim and I run out to buy groceries and Q-tips, cracking open a chocolate tart between the two, I say to him, listen, let’s talk. How are we so rushed lately? What is going on? And we talk and we think together, and we look for ways to pare down and take tasks off our plates.
And by 11 p.m., we’re in bed, me on my laptop, writing these last words (because I love this place! So it stays!), Tim surfing the Internet from his phone, ready to rest.
Butternut Squash Spelt Biscuits
Adapted from Laken at the Farmhouse blog, who is herself planning an October wedding!
Makes 18 small 2.5-inch-round biscuits
I say “adapted” loosely here because, really, the main thing I changed was using butternut squash pureé instead of pumpkin—and the biscuits were so good, I honestly like this recipe as is. Flaky and soft and easy to eat one after another (after another). I bet it’d work great with sweet potato pureé, too.
Oh, and, be sure to eat them warm, topped with butter and honey!
2 1/2 cups white spelt flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup butternut squash pureé*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in cubed butter and rub mixture with clean fingers until mixture is grainy and there are no big pieces of butter. (Essentially, the very thing I try to keep in the dough when making pie crust is what we’re working against with the biscuit recipe.) Add milk, squash puree, cinnamon and nutmeg – combine, using your hands to shape the mixture into a ball of dough. Then, on a clean surface (maybe parchment, maybe a flour-dusted countertop), roll out dough thinly.. maybe a quarter-inch thickness? You won’t need to add a ton of flour to the dough to keep it from sticky—it’s not a wet mixture—and use your 2.5-inch biscuit cutter to make 18 rounds of dough. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the biscuits have risen and are golden around the edges. Serve with butter and honey.
*To make butternut squash puree: Preheat oven to 400F. Slice squash in half and remove seeds. Place on oiled baking sheet, cut side down, and rub a little coconut oil over the top. Roast until the outside skin is brown and blistered; remove and let cool; skins should peel off easily. Then just pureé the squash in a food processor, blender or Vitamix.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.