Reflections + RECIPE: Shrimp & Sausage over Butternut Squash Sweet Corn Grits

Hello friends! How were your Christmases and holiday celebrations?! Did you get everything you wanted even if all you wanted was a long day (or two) with the people you love?!

I got six very full days of family and friends, a bazillion warm winter layers, a 4-month subscription to Texture (have you heard of this thing?! I’m taking my treadmill reading to a whole ‘nother level!), and two waffle irons. Yes two. Trust me, it’s essential.

My Carrot got a bunch of tools for his garage workshop and a toy drone. He’s probably the happiest guy on Earth with a bazillion winter projects to embark on and a new toy to play with. He successfully flew the drone up the stairs (and over the cat) and I’m pretty sure the sky is the limit once you learn how to do that kind of fancy shit.

All in all, we had a really lovely holiday season hopping from one family event to another finding just enough time in between for runs and hikes to ensure that our clothes still fit into the new year. The food was serious business. There were two brunches, three eggbakes, dozens of latkes, pear crisp, pear chocolate chip scones, ham, scalloped potatoes, burgers, sliders, a Mexican feast, a hummus and pita bar, seven-layer Jello, bottomless movie theater popcorn, a cheap date night special, and about a thousand of those little Rolo pretzel thingies. Damn those are tasty. Our food game was 100% this December. Obviously. There were also a few non-food-related activities like trips to the movies, dog walks, and card games thrown into the mix.

It was a truly wonderful close to the year, but also really busy and honestly I don’t know how anyone could have any time leftover to think about the start of a new year. I don’t have any goals for 2017 just yet, but we’ve got a big trip coming up and I plan to spend my 20+ hours on planes and in airports diving into this. I don’t like the idea of a resolution or an obligation for the year ahead, but I do love any excuse to put my best foot forward. I love looking at my life, seeing what’s missing and finding a way to weave it in. Stay tuned.

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As for reflections, my brilliant friend Vanessa of Make Time Farm and A Fierce Practice helped me weave a little reflecting into each and every day of the crazy holidays. Her thoughtful nightly writings and end of year activities helped me realize that my 2016 was all about falling back in love with my life and with myself.

I think it’s really easy to lose yourself in the crazy process of growing up. You’re finishing school, finding your career, finding your partner, finding your home. It’s all-consuming. I’m not embarrassed to say that in the chaos that exists in becoming an adult, I lost myself a bit along the way. What can I say? It’s a big pushy world and I am easily persuaded. 2016 was a year of adventure, soul searching, a little less cooking and a whole lot of personal growth.

It was also the most tremendous year on the farm we could ever have asked for. There were a lot of firsts (like an employee, a greenhouse and becoming certified organic!), but also a lot of heartache during a truly difficult growing season. The community we discovered willing to pick us up when we were at our lowest was easily my favorite part of 2016.

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Tonight we’re welcoming 2017 from a place of pure joy. Snuggled on the couch with all our animals, we’ve got a Packers pre-playoff game on the T.V. and a steaming hot bowl of my favorite meal in our laps. Packed full of veggies from our freezer, and with just the right amount of spice to keep things interesting, this dish is a winter dream. I love the grits made creamy and sweet by the corn and boiled squash (instead of copious amounts of cheese). I love the heft of the sausage, the lightness of the shrimp and the brightness that the beer and parsley bring. I love the heat on a cold winter day. It’s the perfect meal to inspire a new year.

Infinite hugs to you all as we enter a new year with new ambitions and intentions,
Leek

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SHRIMP & SAUSAGE OVER BUTTERNUT SQUASH SWEET CORN GRITS

Serves 6-8
Takes 55 minutes

3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
4 cups milk
1 cup grits or cornmeal
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup parmesan
4 andouille sausages, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups diced red peppers (mine were frozen, if yours aren’t throw in a tablespoon of water)
3/4 cup scotch ale (or any mild lager-style beer)
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon dried parsley

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Pour in butternut squash and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a large stock pot or deep skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter over medium low heat. Add onion along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add half of the garlic and an additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Saute an additional 5 minutes until the garlic is fragrant but before it begins to brown.
  3. Add milk to pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove grits from heat and pour in grits slowly. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Return to medium heat and continue cooking and whisking until grits begin to thicken (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in squash, frozen corn along with remaining salt and pepper. The frozen corn will loosen the grits a bit (which we love!). If you prefer them less wet, use thawed and drained sweet corn. If you prefer them looser, add a bit more water or milk. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Parmesan and season to taste.
  4. In a separate skillet (cast-iron works great if you have it), melt remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and turn heat to medium high. Stir infrequently so sausage and garlic blackens in spots. After two minutes, reduce the heat to medium, and add red peppers and beer. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until reduced by half. Add shrimp and parsley. Cook until shrimp curl and become opaque (2-3 minutes). Serve over warm grits.

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