Recipe: kabocha nimono
Kaweah began having trouble hiking very far two summers ago. Because of that, we scaled back on her backcountry outings and assumed it was old age. But this winter, we’ve been bringing her along on some hikes and skis, and she’s been improving. It seems the more we do, the stronger she is getting. I’m guessing that like me, she prefers the cold weather exercise. We’re careful not to overdo it though. Kaweah is the type of dog who will go go go up to the moment she’s ready to drop.
hiking at chautauqua near the boulder flatirons
I usually don’t bring Kaweah down to Boulder with me because the drive stresses her out and it’s usually too warm down there. Jeremy always assures me she’s much happier at home in the mountains. The other day I had some business in town and then a couple of hours to kill while Jeremy wrapped things up at his office – so I brought Kaweah. It was nice and cool (right at freezing), the way we like it! I took her to Chautauqua Park where the iconic Boulder Flatirons stand watch. The last time I was there with Kaweah was just before my final chemo infusion in May 2008.
much happier now
Talk about happy. I mean both of us. After thirteen years of “Kaweah, come!” or “Leave it!” or “Drop it!” or “No pull!” she has finally got it (for the most part). Or maybe she’s just too old to fight anymore? She’s always been a sweet girl, but she’s actually becoming a little bit of a good girl too. I just want her to be a happy girl, and if I can be happy too, that’s a bonus.
always in the moment, she lives for the skiing
All of this increased activity has been great for Kaweah’s strength and stamina, although taking a thirteen year old dog out isn’t much of a workout for me. So I wind up doing double duty – and it feels terrific. We are both improving. I feel such a strong connection with Kaweah.
feathery clouds at sunset
color and texture
A delightful cold spell delivered seven inches of fresh fluffy powder at our local hill this past Friday, which was skied with much whooping and hollering before the winds came and blew it into Kansas. You have to grab it by the hojos, kids. I am totally in winter mode over here. Winter mode involves snow sports, yes, but it also includes hot foods to warm your belly after engaging in said snow sports.
sugar, mirin, soy sauce, dashi, kabocha squash
My first exposure to kabocha squash was in the sushi bar. A thin slice was tempura fried and included in the vegetable tempura medley. The squash was my favorite because it had a soft texture and a slight sweetness that played so well against the dipping sauce. I always thought it was a sweet potato. It’s actually a Japanese pumpkin.
scoop the seeds out
or you can dice the pumpkin
Years later, I was visiting my grandma and as usual, took her to the Asian markets to get groceries. She scrutinized the produce while I followed her, playing defense against all of the other Chinese patrons shoving carts into one another. Grandma picked up a short, fat, green squash and said in Chinese, “You should eat this, it is good for you.” She handed it to me to put in her cart. The following day, she cooked it in a soup for us to eat – lovely and warming.
mix the simmering sauce
pour over the squash
simmer until tender
I quite enjoy the Japanese preparation – a simple mix of mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and dashi poured over the squash and simmered until the pumpkin is soft. And you don’t even have to peel the skin off (this is a plus in my book). Don’t forget to ladle some of the broth over the pieces. A simple garnish of julienned fresh ginger and bonito flakes to finish makes for a nice presentation. Most of all, I love to settle down with a bowl of the kabocha squash hot off the stove, to warm myself up after playing in the snow. It’s satisfying without being overly heavy and that’s what I’m looking for these days.
serve as slices
1 kabocha squash (about 2 pounds)
2 cups dashi stock
4-5 tbsps mirin
2 tbsps soy sauce or shoyu
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
fresh ginger, julienned (for garnish)
Wash the kobacha, slice in half and remove the seeds. Trim strips of the rind if you like (I prefer to leave it intact) and cut the squash into 1-inch thick slices or into 1-inch cubes. Place the kobacha skin side down in a saucepan large enough to accommodate everything. Mix the dashi, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and salt together. Pour the liquid over the squash. It should come two-thirds of the way up on the squash. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the squash is tender. Take care not to overcook the squash or else it will go to mush. Serve in bowl with liquid spooned over the squash and garnish with some julienned fresh ginger.