Autumn Squash | FoodLovesWriting.com

I have the worst case of writer’s block. I don’t know what to say. I feel like Tim is going to tell me, any minute, that he’s finished what he’s doing and we need to go, so I can’t focus on what I’m writing because I keep thinking, we’re about to drive to the grocery store and we also need toilet paper and I can’t forget to set my alarm clock for tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m.! It’s Thursday night, the one night this week when we haven’t had something going on, and what was supposed to be a relaxing evening at home has turned into a nonstop day that continued into a nonstop night, and it’s 8:30 p.m., we’re only now about to go to the store, and I still haven’t written a blog post.

Part of the busy schedule this week has been, get this, because of food. In a strange turn of events, we ended up with three CSA boxes in the last two weeks, giving us bushel and bushel and bushel full of fresh food, all of which we needed to do something with so as to avoid the one thing I absolutely do not want to do, as in, waste any. This may have led to tears once or twice. Besides beets (roasted!) and beet greens (pesto!) and yellow squash, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers (ratatouille!) and potatoes (home fries! mashed! fritters!), we’ve had squash. Oh, have we had squash: butternut, acorn, spaghetti. Most of it roasted, so as to make pureé. Also, pumpkin—namely, a 20-pound monstrosity I carried around the house and outside for a photo as if it were a small child. Well, it weighed as much as one.

The Giant Pumpkin | FoodLovesWriting.com

And tonight, while the fridge is stocked with roasted peppers and sautéed beet stems and a tomato-kale-pepper salad, while there are half a dozen butternut squash biscuits left on the counter and some quinoa grains soaking to be cooked tomorrow, I’ll be honest and say I know a week of longer work days and unexpected meetings and two extra bushels of vegetables is not exactly the stuff of nightmares, but, honestly, I’m tired. Tim and I are having friends for dinner tomorrow and then an overnight guest through Monday, and as I sit here, looking at the photographs of squash and biscuit dough, reading through the paragraphs I’ve written, the main thing I keep thinking is, would I want to read this if I were someone coming to the post? And I want to start over. But then, what would I write? See sentence two above.

Flour and Dough | FoodLovesWriting.com

The thing I’ve found in the last year or so, especially back in the midst of planning a wedding, is that when I get too busy, the kind of busy where I’m running from one thing to another, seldom processing anything, I only function at 50, maybe 60%. This is fine when you’re doing the dishes—less fine when you’re trying to put together paragraphs (and, ahem, putting together paragraphs is what some of us do for a living).

Cutting Biscuits | FoodLovesWriting.com

Writing is thinking. If you can’t think, you can’t write, mark it down. And the best writers, the ones who turn words with precision and truth, are the ones who are taking time to think about what they say.

Butternut Squash Biscuits | FoodLovesWriting.com

So tonight when I have nothing to say, I guess I’m really saying, help! I need time to think! And so, while Tim and I run out to buy groceries and Q-tips, cracking open a chocolate tart between the two, I say to him, listen, let’s talk. How are we so rushed lately? What is going on? And we talk and we think together, and we look for ways to pare down and take tasks off our plates.

And by 11 p.m., we’re in bed, me on my laptop, writing these last words (because I love this place! So it stays!), Tim surfing the Internet from his phone, ready to rest.



By the way: If you haven’t seen this on Facebook already, we’re thinking of doing a Q+A post sometime soon, answering any personal, blog or food questions (well, almost any questions) you guys have. Do you have a question? Ask it here: facebook.com/foodloveswriting.






Butternut Squash Spelt Biscuits
Adapted from Laken | the Farmhouse blog, who is herself planning an October wedding!
Makes 18 small 2.5-inch-round biscuits

I say “adapted” loosely here because, really, the main thing I changed was using butternut squash pureé instead of pumpkin—and the biscuits were so good, I honestly like this recipe as is. Flaky and soft and easy to eat one after another (after another). I bet it’d work great with sweet potato pureé, too.

Oh, and, be sure to eat them warm, topped with butter and honey!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups white spelt flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup butternut squash pureé*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in cubed butter and rub mixture with clean fingers until mixture is grainy and there are no big pieces of butter. (Essentially, the very thing I try to keep in the dough when making pie crust is what we’re working against with the biscuit recipe.) Add milk, squash puree, cinnamon and nutmeg – combine, using your hands to shape the mixture into a ball of dough. Then, on a clean surface (maybe parchment, maybe a flour-dusted countertop), roll out dough thinly.. maybe a quarter-inch thickness? You won’t need to add a ton of flour to the dough to keep it from sticky—it’s not a wet mixture—and use your 2.5-inch biscuit cutter to make 18 rounds of dough. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the biscuits have risen and are golden around the edges. Serve with butter and honey.

*To make butternut squash puree: Preheat oven to 400F. Slice squash in half and remove seeds. Place on oiled baking sheet, cut side down, and rub a little coconut oil over the top. Roast until the outside skin is brown and blistered; remove and let cool; skins should peel off easily. Then just pureé the squash in a food processor, blender or Vitamix.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. Erin

    I’ve had a post like this written at least four times in the past few weeks. I have three major things on my plate and this week I ended up just crashing because running at 50% left me exhausted. Hopefully some task thin out for you soon!

    Oh, and I just received sweet potatoes from my CSA- I can’t wait to make these biscuits!

  2. Erin

    Oh yes, I understand. This has been one of those weeks where I’m really not sure how we’ve gotten to Friday. Every day has seemed so strange and busy and I don’t know where our week has gone.

  3. Jacqui

    I think I have to disagree about what you say about the best writers. It’s true, good writers have to think about what they put on the page. But some of the best are the ones who can put something out on a page despite the writer’s block. Who write something every day, whether or not it makes sense. Sometimes the best writing comes from a stream of nonsensical thought and then bam! There it is: an idea, and then a sentence, and then a paragraph that is actually good. I like this post, and I like your writing, and I’m glad you wrote something last night. xo

    1. Shannalee

      You leave such good comments. Can I just say I really like that you will say you disagree with me!? : ) In this case, though, I don’t think we disagree that much, ha! What you are saying, about the writers who take time to sit down regularly and put something to page, I agree with you—discipline is important, and at least to some good writers, it’s a big part of where their work comes from. In fact, I kind of think that’s exactly what I’m doing here, what all bloggers are doing, when we keep coming back to write even when it doesn’t feel inspired (like last night!).

      But maybe what I’m saying (although not very clearly) is that I feel like there’s a difference between writer’s block and not thinking. Writer’s block may be coming to your computer again, sitting with it, not knowing what to say; not thinking is keeping yourself so hurried that you never get the chance to do so. It’s just that sometimes, not having time to think causes writer’s block… and you can still force yourself to write, through borrowed minutes between errands, but it feels different than if you clear a little space to sit.

      (PS: Was this my longest response comment ever or what! Of course it’s to you! Thank you, always, for your good voice.)

      1. Jacqui

        Yes. I know what you mean completely. And then there’s those times when you suddenly have this great thought, and you want to sit down and write it, but alas, you’re stuck in traffic, or in the shower, and by the time you sit down to write, the thought is gone … Isn’t that always how these things go? The solution, of course, is to invent some kind of waterproof dry erase board for the shower. omg does that exist yet? I think we just struck gold.

  4. Joanna

    I, too, am glad you wrote last night. And on the topic of thinking being writing and not having time to think I say Amen! And on the topic of needing to figure out what can go to clear more time for breathing deeply I say Amen and Amen!

    Also, thank you for an idea for squash. We are rolling in it.

  5. Magda

    It’s difficult, not having the time to think or being able to write. I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes it’s good to write the way this post is written. Let your fingers go and allow them to type whatever comes to mind, whatever is happening right now. Not everything has to be thought out. Shouldn’t blogging be more relaxed, more freeing?

    I wouldn’t know what to do with all this produce. You have made some pretty amazing dishes. These biscuits look especially appealing!

  6. Kat

    I can’t tell you how refreshing posts like this are, or how much I sympathize with your frustration with busyness. As I get older and try to make sense of daily life, I’m trying (and failing) to remember: everything is not a rush. Hope you find some minutes (hours!) to slow down and think. And write. In the meantime, rest in the fact that these words are just as lovely and rhythmic as always.

    1. Shannalee

      There’s this Pinterest quote: Stop the glorification of busy. I love that. I want to paint it on a billboard, shout it from a rooftop, make it my email auto-response!! Oh, to remember everything is not a rush. Yes. Thank you for your kind words, Kat — you have a lovely way of saying things.

  7. Kasey

    Love the honesty of this post. I definitely have those nights when I just don’t know where to begin…I tend to start rambling. Sometimes just letting the words flow helps me think in the process. Love the look of these biscuits!

  8. Helene @ French Foodie Baby

    I’ve been struggling with this also. And actually admire how often you post, I can hardly keep up! On one hand, I figure writing is writing, even if it’s about the fact that I don’t know what to write about. But then I often feel like I should only write if I have something pertinent to say. I think that if the writing is profoundly honest, as yours always is, it is always pertinent. That being said, I read these great quotes on the blog Flavor: “Taking time to live will only inspire your work”, and “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time” by John Lennon. So there. Living vs. writing vs. time. Or how to balance them out… There’s something to write about :-)

    1. Shannalee

      I totally agree with those quotes, especially the one about taking time to live inspiring your work! And that is why I’m so desperate to find time to live and time I enjoy wasting and time to think. Currently at a coffee shop, chilling and computering with Tim. Good start.

  9. Kendra

    So white spelt. Is that different from regular spelt? Because we’ve become a spelt flour family thanks to you. It’s my gateway flour. But I didn’t know there were different kinds. So when I make this, will it be wonky if I use regular spelt flour? Because my whole family hates butternut squash, including me. All winter squashes in fact. We keep trying to force ourselves to like them. BUT if they’re baked into something, that’s different. Delightful. So these will be made today hopefully. And the offer still stands to jump on a plane to help out. Becky’s done it; you can, too. :)

    1. Shannalee

      It is totally a gateway flour! Such an easy transition from regular flours because, so here’s the difference between white and whole-grain spelt, white gives results almost exactly like white all-purpose and whole-grain gives results almost exactly like wheat flour. My Whole Foods has only the whole-grain kind in bulk bins, so I often buy that; when I want white, I have to buy a five-pound bag (or, last summer, a 25-pound one online) (and yes, we totally went through the whole thing no problem). But I can’t wait to tell you about the latest flour we’ve been using. Stay tuned.

      Anyway – regarding these biscuits, whole-grain spelt will work fine and it may even be the more traditional spelt that Laken used in the original recipe. I would think the results will just be a little heartier, like they would with wheat vs. white.

      And on squash – you totally won’t taste squash in these biscuits, just the moist and soft insides that the extra liquidy ingredient brings.

      Hope that helps!

  10. Kathryn

    I love that you posted this. I always come here and feel totally in awe of the way that you write and tell your stories and then I open a page to write and can never think of anything to say myself (or, more often, am thinking too many things to be able to focus on what I want to say). To know that you struggle is so refreshing and honest. I hope you find the time to think and relax and write soon : )

  11. Ruthy

    I read this yesterday while on the bus and wasn’t able to reply, but I keep thinking about your writer’s block and how much I needed to read this post- and know that I’m not the only one! Sometimes it’s like my brain is broken. And then later it’s like a faucet. The pros and cons of blogging, right? At least the biscuits look amazing and perfect for this season (and your photos are gorgeous as usual :) )

  12. Pingback: Spicy Roasted Vegetable Soup | Food Loves Writing

  13. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    I feel ya, Shanna. These past two weeks have felt like your week – the Husband and I have both been working like mad in the midst of him moving his company into a new space that isn’t even finished with renos, me working 9 hours days in the office and then working even more at home in the evenings and weekends. Neither of us spending quality time together or even any time really at home. Dropping dead exhausted at 11pm every night without having uttered more than 10 words to each other. And I haven’t gotten to bake or blog much. I love that you stopped the frenetic pace of life to say to Tim, “let’s talk.” I need to do that more often. And these biscuits look delicious.

  14. Pingback: Weekly Top 10s | 80twenty

  15. MaryAnn

    I know just what you mean about being too busy to think. So many times it’s the way I live because it’s a way to defend myself against painful thoughts – thoughts I shouldn’t dwell on & thoughts I should meditate through because the painful thing is something God has brought into my life to change me. At this point in my life (unemployed *sniff*) I have a lot of time. But I find myself falling into this protective state of busyness. It needs to stop. And part of the way I am slowing down is by returning to calming habits of the past – reading blogs (especially yours!) & hopefully writing some posts of my own.

    And I agree, Pinterest is such a source of beauty in my life that I don’t think I’ll be signing off any time soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *