I've missed eating homecooked meals. I hadn't in a long time as I had been working two jobs in Edinburgh. I was hostessing at restaurant A and I was waitressing at restaurant B, both jobs were making me slightly miserable (perhaps A more so than B), but they were both just to get some money and last Saturday I was fired from both. So now I have all the time in the world to cook for myself. Look at how beautiful this butternut squash dish is. It's got all these wonderful things like spring onions and lime and ginger and just look at the colors. I really can only describe it as full of "zing". It's like a more summery/springy take on this winter root veg.*Sigh*. Ok, here's how I actually got fired from both jobs because it's quite entertaining.
Restaurant A -- hostessing
Being a hostess in a restaurant is the most unsatisfying job in the world. My job was literally just to stand there, smile at guests coming in, take them to their tables, smile at them as they leave, and every now and then take down a few phone reservations. Most of the time I just stood there, smiling. It was f*cking miserable. I was just left there with my own thoughts, invisible to the world as I had this shell of a smiling mannequin. And I really was getting paid nothing at all, minimum wage with no tips..bah. The people were nice though, all my colleagues were lovely.
So it was all going well until one day I realized that one of my favorite authors was giving a talk at 8pm on Saturday. I was supposed to work from 12-10pm on Saturday, and look, I was really good with all the times they needed me to come early and whatnot. I always did as I was told and so just this once, just this once I wanted to leave slightly earlier and my manager wouldn't let me. It's not like the whole restaurant would fall apart on a busy night if I wasn't there to smile at guests, my smile isn't that great. I was redundant at the restaurant, I really was. It was a busy night however and the manager kept saying "we will see" throughout the day as I pestered him every hour. Then finally at 5pm he snapped and I told him that it was meant to be my last shift anyway and that if I left early they didn't have to pay me for the day and he just told me to leave right there and then.
Restaurant B -- waitressing
This wasn't that bad because most of the time the people I served were lovely. The staff at the restaurant, however unprofessional and badly managed, were also lovely. See, there I got tipped but the tips were pooled. I have no doubt that they took some of the tips as how was I supposed ot know how much the total was at the end of the day before the manager divided it amongst all the staff at the restaurant? But it's okay, I didn't care, it was a job. Then on Thursday my manager came to me and told me about a staff party happening the following week. It was going to have lots of food and drinks and I said how nice, of course I'll come, thank you. Then he said "okay great, we're taking a bit from the tips everyday for this party." --- hold on, what? And I said no, my tips are mine, I don't want it to go towards this party. "But there will be drinks and food" and I didn't care, my tips are mine I want my tips to go to me not to the party. "So you're not coming to the party then?" Well, no, not if it's coming out of my tips. "Ok then we won't take any from your share of the tips." Thank you. I wasn't working the following day and when I had called to ask about the following week's rota, the manager told me that the restaurant no longer needed me.
So now I have all the time in the world to cook. I'm just chilling in Edinburgh. For lunch today I made this delicious zingy butternut squash with garlic, ginger, spring onions and everything to really give it a kick. It's a great side dish. And it's all using very cheap ingredients as jobless Maria can't afford to be cooking with caviar at the moment.
Serves 2 as a side
1 cup cubed butternut squash
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
5mm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks of spring onions, finely sliced, whites and greens separated
pinch of brown sugar
1/2 tsp chili flkaes
1/2 lime, zest and juice
Fry the garlic, ginger, spring onion and chili in a pan with a bit of oil over medium-high heat. When fragrant, add the buternut squash and a pinch of brown sugar.
Stir to make sure the squash is covered in the mixture and then add a bit of water, cover, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5-10 minutes. Checking to see if it's dry every now and then and just cook until it's tender.
Season with salt and pepper, stir in the lemon juice and zest.