Friday, 10 October 2008

Simple Thoughts on a Friday Morning . . .

Sir John Everett Millais. Autumn Leaves. 1856. Oil on canvas. Manchester City Art Galleries, Manchester, UK.

"Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow."
~ Author Unknown

You can tell a lot about a person's character from the way they hold their face. Some folks positively radiate confidence and cheerfulness and others . . . well, it's all gloom and doom with them. I came to this conclusion having read the following story about one of the great presidents of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.

Mr. Jefferson was once travelling cross country with a group of friends on horseback. They came to a river that had overflowed it's banks and washed away the bridge. As a group they decided to force a crossing on horseback, even though it would be quite difficult and somewhat dangerous trying to pass through the rapid currents.

One of the members of another party of riders who happened to be at the same point, a virtual stranger, asked Jefferson if he would take him across on his horse. Jefferson agreed and the two men safely reached the other side.

As they stood there afterwards, one of Jefferson's group asked the stranger, "Why did you choose the President to carry you across." This must have come as a shock to the man, who'd had no idea of whom his distinguished rescuer was.

"All I know," he replied, "is that on some of your faces was written the answer 'No', and on some of them was the answer 'Yes'. His was a 'Yes' face."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all carry around 'Yes' faces?

"Come said the wind to the leaves one day,
Come o're the meadows and we will play.
Put on your dresses scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
- A Children's Song of the 1880's

Here's a lovely autumnal dish to warm the cockles of your heart now that the days are getting shorter and cooler. Hearty enough to be served on it's own with a simple green salad on the side or great as a side dish.

*Butternut and Rice Gratin*

Serves 6 as a main course, or 8 as a side

I love Gratins, with their creamy insides and crunchy topping. This one is full of the lovely flavours of sweet squash and creamy rice, not to mention a delightfully crisp and tasty topping of gruyere cheese. Don't worry about the quantity, it freezes like a dream.

1.5 KG butternut squash
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and minced
100g long grain rice
a sprig of fresh thyme
3 TBS fresh bread crumbs
a small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 TBS full fat creme fraiche
75g grated Gruyere Cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
softened butter

Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. (I like to rinse them off, dry them and save them to plant in the spring) Peel off the hard outer skin and then cut the squash into small cubes. Put it into a saucepan with 2 TBS of the oil, a pinch of salt and just enough boiling water to barely cover it. Cook over low heat, stirring often and adding more water as needed, until it is soft, about 20 to 30 minutes.

In the meantime, put the remaining TBS of oil in another saucepan. Heat and add the garlic, and stir and cook for about 1 minute until quite fragrant, add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring to coat the rice with the oil. Add 250ml (1 cup) water, a pinch of salt and the sprig of thyme. Bring to the boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cook until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well, and discard the thyme.

Mix the bread crumbs together with the parsley and another pinch of salt.

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Butter a shallow baking dish well with the softened butter.

Drain the cooked squash well and then mash it into a coarse puree with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the cooked rice and the creme fraiche. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Spoon the mixture into the buttered dish and smooth over with a spoon until even. Sprinkle the cheese in a thin layer over top of all, and then cover evenly with the bread crumbs. Dot with more softened butter.

Bake in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes until lightly browned. Serve hot.


  1. That is very true some people do look so glum all the time it put you off speaking other than saying good morning. Love Joan

  2. I like that...His was a Yes face!

  3. I've always like that Millais painting you have there at the top...the autumn beauty is captivating...And I love how you have a story for us of some kind every day. :o) People's faces do say a lot about them...It's interesting to take the time and look...and guess! Your recipe today is really warming my heart---I love butternut squash!!...mmm...I miss it--can't alwasy get a good variety of squashes where I'm living, and with the very short growing season, sometimes seeds don't ripen into to plants for a good harvest. Where you online yesterday afternoon...maybe I missed you...Chat of a chat today? Have missed catching up with you so far this week. Hope you & Todd have a lovely weekend ahead! Love you heaps ((HUGS))

  4. Oh I will definitley have to try this recipe. It calls out to me. Thanks.

  5. First of all, I love that the song "Everything" comes up when I connect to your blog. It is a favorite, such an uplifting song. Then to read about a "Yes face". That is great. I find myself smiling as I walk thru a crowd, and sometimes don't even realize that I am, until someone smiles back. Wouldn't that be great to be known that way? thank you for sharing!

  6. Oooh butternut and rice - yum. Looks great Marie.

  7. Lovely, Marie! I alwyas strive to have a Yes face! Try to be cheerful all the time. That gratin looks fantastic! Much love, Raquel XO

  8. Yes it would be nice for all of us to have our "yes" faces on all the time. It would make the world a better place. I try to smile and be polite when out in public I keep my sad and angry faces for home if at all possible.

    Have a good day, Liz

  9. I want to be a "yes" face too! I want to be a yes face even when I'm all alone and feel like I'd rather pout a no face. I think a yes face is as valuable to the one wearing it as it is to those around him/her to see it.

    Thank you for that story, it REALLY hit home for me today.

    Have a GREAT day today! Smile... it's Friday!!

  10. PLLLEEAAAAASSSSSSEEEEEEEEEEE make the PB and Oatmeal Blondies! I can't stand it! I need both. Please please please please please pleaseeeeeeeeeee.

    I'm off to that stupid wedding (snarl.) See you in a few days.

  11. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone had a "yes" face? Your gratin looks scrumptious. I've always wondered what does cockles mean?

  12. I am trying to have a good "Yes" face...gloom and doom doesn't help a thing.

    Erin got word that the birth mother still thinks they should get her baby. Her social worker went to Ohio to bring the birth mother back to Utah for just one week to have the baby, but the birth mother's sister convinced her to stay in Ohio. Of course this in causing more heart ache for Erin. We are still praying for the best but who knows what that is.

    John feels a little better each day but not good yet. Maybe your squash dish will cure him. It sure does look yummy.

    Have a nice weekend. I hope that you don't have to work Sat. Love, Lura

  13. I always want to have a 'yes' face but what with short sightedness and a wrinkly old forehead, sometimes I find it looks like a 'no face' even when i'm smiling

  14. HI DEar one
    I love the painting and the message for today. What a much softer happy face a yes face is compared to a NO face.I love the way you write as well as the daily

  15. Somehow I feel that story could so easily have been written that you are the "yes" person. I try to be I don't always meet with success but I try. love you and thanks for all the wonderful wonderful inspiring words you share.

  16. I hope that I'm a yes person - that's a wonderful goal to have I think. blessings, marlene


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