Five Spice Butternut Squash

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It really is amazing; in almost every recipe I post I end up writing about the weather. Add this one to the list, then. The warm and invigorating pureed squash still fits the winter bill, and the lard is in there for a reason (though, no fear… it will be still be delicious no matter which fat you choose if lard isn’t an option). I, for one, have felt the effects of this dark winter. With every day that brings one more bright minute to the evening, I feel my spirits lift. I realize my priorities have fallen to the wayside, and hey–I need to practice what I preach. Translation: I’m going to eat my vitamin D (copious, fat-soluable amounts found within the precious lard!) while standing outside in the sunny snow with as much skin as I can possibly bare, because I think my body is telling me that D is nowhere to be found and it’s been getting me down. Another reason I have affectionately nicknamed my rendered lard liquid sunshine. It’s golden.

Five Spice Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon five spice powder (recipe below)
3 tablespoons lard (or fat of your choice–butter, coconut oil, palm oil, heck, even bacon fat)
1.5 teaspoons sea salt
additional black pepper/cayenne to taste (optional)

Fill a large pot with a few inches of water. If using a steam basket, place in the pot and dump all the squash cubes on top. If not, place squash cubes directly into the water–you’re trying to steam, not boil, so the least amount of water directly on the squash is best. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat, until the squash is very soft, about ten minutes. Transfer squash to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until quite smooth. Serve with additional spices and heat sources on top. Serves 4-6 as a side.

Five Spice Powder
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
5 star anise or 2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves or 4 whole cloves.

Combine all ingredients in a spice (or cleaned out coffee) grinder. Blend to a fine powder. Makes more than the recipe above calls for, so store in a cool cupboard with your growing collection of spices!