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Pumpkin-Sage Pasta with Blue Cheese Crumbles


In theory I’m working from my home office today but actually I’m spending much more time watching the goings on outside.  Seattle was hit with a snow/sleet/hail storm yesterday and, depending on where you live, the roads are pretty messed up today.  And no, it doesn’t take much to send this city into shutdown.  We have many, many hills and very few sanders, graders, snow removal machines – it just doesn’t snow often enough to really warrant spending tax dollars on those types of things.  So, yes, we are snow wimps and yes, very few people here really understand how to handle the stuff. 
I happen to live near the base of a very steep hill and right in front of my house is where the incline really begins to increase.  If you haven’t been to the neighborhood before it can sort of catch you by surprise but anyone who has lived through one winter here (or even one heavy rainstorm) should know the slip-sliding factor.  And today, the sheet of ice on the hill is highly visible – we didn’t really get that much snow but between the sleet, the slightly wet snow, the way-below-freezing overnight temperature we’ve ended up with a solid 1 1/2" – 2" of rock hard ice on this hill. 
Now, most of the time this hill does get sanded as it’s the main road in and out of the neighborhood.  It’s the road all the emergency vehicles use and they seem to be down here quite often as much of the population are in their 70s+ so the city takes pretty good care of the road.  I’ve often joked that I see at least one firetruck full of paramedics a day.  I thought it was kind of funny until one day, when I was donating blood, the technician who was getting ready to jab me was looking at my paperwork and exclaimed, "Hey I know where you live!" and then provided way too much detail.  Since I was in a completely different city at the time that sort of freaked me out.  He then explained that he was a paramedic with Seattle Fire Department and assigned to one of the two stations that serve my neighborhood.  Seems he drove by my house a couple times a week! 
Anyway, back to today – the hill has not been sanded and it is obvious there is a sheet of ice covering it.  So, all day I’ve been watching very silly people (okay really I’ve been calling them dooheads) get less than half way up and then come sliding back down – mostly backward, often sideways, and every now and then making a 360 degree spin.  Early this morning, of the first couple dozen vehicles I watched, one actually made it but all the rest came sliding back down.  Even now, at nearly 3 pm.  Very few can make it.  And of those that do, many are driving way too fast.  And people let me just tell you that minivans won’t do it!  Minivans are good for transporting a bunch of people or stuff but other than that have very limited functionality in the real world of driving.  Don’t take them out in the snow and especially not in the ice! 
This is all very scary as there are lots of people out walking and this neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks – so no curbs to stop a slide – and in some places there are no shoulders either.  I’ve seen several people leap to a high spot to avoid an out of control vehicle coming back toward them.  One driver, after trying several minutes unsuccessfully to even make a start up the hill left, only to return again 15 minutes or so later.  On this second attempt to assault the hill she slid back down and into my mailbox, which stopped her.  As I went out to see if she was okay and to give her car a shove she put pedal to the medal, until the spinning tires finally caught a bit of traction and she shot away – maybe she thought I was going to be mad because she hit the mailbox and smashed a bunch of plants but having watched her earlier I think she was just a super-doohead.  As I was approaching the car I noticed that while trying to negotiate all this she was clutching a cell phone in one had oblivious to the fact that two hands are pretty necessary while even attempting to drive on ice.  Two houses up my neighbor’s hedge has also caught quite a few sliders today. 
Well, as I’m feeling very snug and smug I decided I needed a hearty lunch to go along with the weather – it’s actually gorgeous and sunny just colder than heck.  I had some roasted pumpkin in the refrigerator and that became my inspiration for the following pasta.  This recipe just makes one very generous plate or two smaller servings. 
Pumpkin-Sage Pasta with Blue Cheese Crumbles
    • 1/2 Tbsp butter
    • 1/2 Tbsp flour
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 2 – 3 drops hot sauce
    • 1 tsp dried sage
    • Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin or squash
    • Pinch of brown sugar
    • Chicken stock or reserved pasta cooking water
    • 1 – 2 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles
    • 2 cups cooked pasta

Melt butter in small saucepan over medium high heat.  Add flour and stir until completely smooth.  Add milk, hot sauce, sage, nutmeg and a little salt and pepper.  Stir until mixture comes to a boil.  Add the pumpkin and pinch of sugar. 

If sauce seems too thick, add a bit of stock or a little water from the pasta pot.  Once at the desired consistency – you want it pretty thick but not gummy – check the seasoning, adding salt or sugar as needed to bring out the flavor of the pumpkin. 

Toss the sauce with the drained pasta, adding a bit more stock or water if needed. Scoop into a bowl or onto a plate.
Finish with a few crumbles of blue cheese. 
Sit in the front window and watch the cars slip-sliding away. 
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