♦ Bringing A Bit Of Home

Dear Shaina,

Reading your letter tugged at my heart a bit. I know that you’ll be fine, but I could feel that familiar trepidation that accompanies new beginnings. You’ve done this many, many times…and by now, you know what to expect and how to get through it.

When you went off to overnight camp for the first time at age nine, your letters proclaiming your homesickness and pleading with us to rescue you (if you love me, you will come get me, RIGHT NOW!) nearly did us in. By the time we came to retrieve you from your suffering, you were sitting on your bed getting a last game in with a new camp friend and told us that you would be finished in a few minutes…as if your trauma were some figment of our overly enmeshed parental imagination.


It is your way…to acknowledge your discomfort, to endure it, to master it…and to reap the rewards of your choices, as challenging as they may be. Most people are unable or unwilling to tolerate the discomfort of the unknown and unfamiliar.  Their fears, the fears that come with being in this world, become the all too narrow parameters that define their lives. You learned, at a very young age, that you can be afraid and still engage with the scary…and survive…and thrive. You came to trust the power and capacity of your internal resources.

So, now is the time for sitting and listening, you say…

I spent much of my twenties moving too fast, doing too much and obsessing about reaching the finish line…whatever that meant.  I was older than you when I first began to understand the importance of sitting and listening…to my self and to others. It was a life lesson…and life lessons are ongoing.  You already know…sitting and listening can be a really good thing, although not as easy as it seems.


Dad and I are at the beach…one week before we leave for Israel. I am beginning to gather your list of random items…Yogi teas, Ghiradelli cocoa, the nalgene water bottle with the happy face, a mesh laundry bag like the one you took to camp…eagerly looking forward to bringing you a little bit of home.

I am not yet back into any routine with all this coming and going.  Thanksgiving and Chanukah have converged and will arrive on the heels of our return from Israel.  I am already thinking menus and guests..mostly the usual…with a few Thanksgivukah tweaks.  Got some Mushroom-Barley soup (with shiitakes) in the freezer and made a squash casserole last week. I am already missing your presence at the table…and your food innovations.


I will try to get my fill of you while in Israel, but I don’t expect to succeed. At best, I will get a glimpse of the subtle changes that new experiences inspire and the adaptations that you have made to your new life…one refrigerator and no oven?!  You do have amazing adaptive resources!






Prep time: 45 minutes-1hour
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves 8-10 as a side dish

May be prepared ahead of time and baked or reheated before serving.

Can be frozen and served later for a winter supper with soup and salad or for brunch alongside lox and bagels.


This recipe is a compilation of several recipes that I have modified over the years in search of the perfect squash casserole.  It comes out different every time based on the quantities and types of ingredients I have in the house.  I have made a variety of substitutions to make it a little healthier, but I love it best when it has lots of butter and aged cheddar cheese topped with seasoned bread crumbs. For a gluten free casserole, leave off the bread crumbs and top with extra cheese or make a topping with your favorite nuts and cheese.

Wash and cut squash, onion and carrots into chunks and cook in salted water until vegetables are cooked through and soft.  Drain vegetables well (broth from cooked veggies can be saved and used for a soup base) and put in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or stick blender.4-5 pounds yellow crookneck squash

  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 carrots
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ -2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream (Greek yogurt may be substituted)
  • 1 clove fresh garlic minced or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs or crushed crackers
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

While mashed vegetables are still hot, add butter and grated cheese and mix thoroughly into hot squash mixture.  Add sour cream and garlic and salt and pepper.  Add 1 cup (more if you like) grated aged cheddar.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Set aside remaining ½ cup cheese for topping.

Lightly beat 2 eggs and blend into squash mixture.

Preheat a 9” x13” glass baking dish with one tablespoon of butter in the oven.

Mix bread crumbs with a tablespoon of melted butter.

Pour squash mixture into the preheated, greased 9×13 glass baking dish.

Top with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to an hour until top browns and casserole is bubbly and slightly browned on sides.

Allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.


One thought on “♦ Bringing A Bit Of Home

  1. Mmmm ..this is a recipe and a taidrtion of ours that I make Christmas Eve night. The next morning as we are opening gifts, it is in the oven cooking and then voila! Breakfast is ready and the house smells fabulous! Enjoy:)-Gina

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