• Tina

My Two Food-Ways

Updated: Feb 7, 2019

I grew up with two vastly different gastronomic influences from each of my parents. My mom was from English heritage and my dad’s blood was 100% Mexican.


My dad and mom. Probably 1970.

My dad’s mom, Grandma Jenny, always had tortillas, rice, beans and salsa for us; sometimes tamales or menudo. My dad always ate a raw jalapeno with every dinner no matter what the meal. I remember making tortillas with him when I was little and when my grandma gave up her tamale “duties” later in her life, my dad took over. This became my job in 2010 when we lost my dad at age 63 to a stupid brain tumor.


My mom’s specialty at Thanksgiving was creamed celery (it was as good as it sounds) and her favorite meal was pot roast and Yorkshire pudding. Tuna casserole was on regular rotation in our household until I moved out at 18. She was infamous for it in our tiny family of four. She didn’t enjoy cooking and it showed, but she did always try to provide a healthy meal and often had a garden for homegrown goods.


My mom passed just before Thanksgiving in 2017 and though the celery dish has been forever retired, many other things live on in me including my love of growing my own food and tendency to have too many animals.


My two food worlds rarely cross but today they did, in a way. In my Google search for things to do with butternut squash I came across a butternut squash and kale quesadilla. To my Mexican family, they might think that this would be a pretty Gringo thing to make (I’m as Gringa as a half Mexican can be), especially if you topped it with sour cream (I didn’t). And my English blooded family, well they’d probably try a bite minus the habanero sauce while binge watching the PBS series, Victoria (watching it as I write this post).


Local butternut from the Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Cooperative

I had some kale still harvestable on this winter day, so I thought WHY NOT!


Whenever I'm in the garden everyone comes for treats.

I added some kelp to my greens for a superfood boost

I can’t say with certainty that authentic Mexican cuisine wouldn’t include such a dish. I can only tell you that this isn’t what I grew up eating at Grandma Jenny’s house. Not a bite of kale or winter squash ever graced her table, to my recollection, but I think if she or my dad were alive today, they would approve. My mom, well, she’d probably prefer the squash alone with some butter and not enough salt. Love you, Mom.




I didn't have any tortillas on hand so I made some from some hard red winter wheat berries, hence the weird shape..


Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas

Modified slightly from www.thepioneerwoman.comwhere you can find a great tutorial on peeling butternut squash. I used goat gouda in this recipe but you can use any cheese that melts well such as jack or cheddar.


½ butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

1 teaspoon (or more) habanero sauce or hot sauce (optional)

8 whole-grain flour tortillas

2 cups goat gouda, grated


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Place cubed butternut squash on baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and half the salt. Toss with your hands or a spatula to coat. Place in preheated oven cook for a bout 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven.

3. While the squash is cooking heat the rest of the oil and the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add garlic. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds to a minute then add the kale. Sauté for about three or four minutes until its wilted. Add in the cooked squash and add a tablespoon of habanero sauce. Remove from heat.

4. Place one tortilla on a medium skillet over medium heat topping it evenly with about ¼ cup cheese and about ½ cup of kale/butternut mixture, then another ¼ cup of cheese. Top with another tortilla and cook until the cheese is melted on the bottom. Flip to melt cheese on the other side.

5. Transfer the quesadilla from the pan to a cutting board and cut into four or eight pieces.

6. Serve and enjoy.

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