Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

How to peel a butternut squash


Basic ingredients.

Every week, before I head to the grocery store, I thumb through my vegan cookbooks, looking for something interesting to make. This week I thought I’d make a “Vegetable Stew with North African Spices” from a recipe in Forks Over Knives. I bought all the ingredients and then they sat in the fridge for almost the entire week. And do you know why?

Because one of the main ingredients was peeled and cubed butternut squash.

Let me tell you, I’ve peeled squash before and it’s no fun. The skin is tough, the shape is challenging and my vegetable peeler isn’t up to the task. So every day I’d think about making that stew and then I’d choose to do something else. Something that didn’t involve peeling a butternut.

None of these tools really worked well.

Today I finally decided to stop procrastinating and get it done. Plus I had no other food in the house.

It took a variety of knives as well as my vegetable peeler. It was hard. I stopped in the middle to go online to see if there was a better way. Two YouTube videos later I realized that there are no secrets. Except that you can buy this stuff already peeled and cut up. It costs a bit more the guy on the video said.


Back to work for me. I’m struggling with the bottom half of the squash, peeling off chunks of skin when suddenly the whole thing squirted out of my hands and flew across the kitchen slamming into the floor over by the fridge. Katie looked at me, frozen in place and then started toward the potential snack.

I screamed “NO!,” and racing around the wastebasket, I beat her to it. There were seeds splattered everywhere. She hovered near as I scrambled to pick them all up. I didn’t want her to ingest the sharp seeds and she’s a good girl, especially when her mama’s screaming at her, so she held her ground and I got it all cleaned up. Don’t tell anyone, but I rinsed that squash off and kept on going.

I wasn’t about to start over.

Finally I got the squash peeled and began to slice it up. Thirty minutes had passed. I was hungry and the sliced squash looked a lot like cheese. I wished it was.

Cheese…right? No? Rats.

After the hard work of peeling squash the rest of the recipe came together easily. Chopped onion, celery, carrot to start.

Looks like the beginning of every soup I’ve ever made.

Add the spices – paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon. Grate the ginger, mince the garlic. Peel a potato and a turnip, chop those up. Pour in some vegetable stock and at the end add a little mint.

Pretty except for those floating turnip pieces.

I was worried as it simmered. It didn’t really look like a stew, it resembled soup at best, with slices of turnip floating on the top. I don’t even like turnips. I had nothing else prepared for dinner, so it was this….or go get a sandwich from Subway.

Did we?

I held out hope.

And guess what? I liked the flavor even though I didn’t put in the pinch of saffron because I couldn’t find it in my spice drawer. I know I bought some because I remember how expensive it was! Eventually I looked online to see if there was a substitute but couldn’t discern anything about it other than it had a ‘subtle flavor.’ I figured maybe if it was subtle no one would miss it and I was right.


But who knows, maybe it would be amazing with saffron.

In the end it was OK, just like it was, but I kept thinking that the flavors would really compliment beef stew meat. And once I mentioned that, my husband enthusiastically agreed. What to do. Should I stay true to the vegan recipe? Or supplement it with…gasp….beef?

All I can say for sure is that I will never, ever, peel another butternut squash. Next time I’m buying that stuff already cubed. No contest. As for the beef…well…what would you have done?

Sorry, my vegan friends.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

22 thoughts on “How to peel a butternut squash

  1. Ha Ha! You painted quite the picture of that “flying” squash.


    • Hi Judy! So nice to hear from you! Yes the flying squash was funny…after the fact. At the time not so much. Katie was pretty much in shock that such a huge treat was flying through the air. Good thing she wasn’t ready or she’d have snatched it and run!

      Hope things are going well for you! I miss hearing about your adventures, and somehow I’m pretty sure you’re managing to do some interesting things even if you aren’t on the road now.


  2. Oh, I did laugh out loud about the flying squash. Yes, I pick stuff off the floor and rinse it, also. My husband says, ‘cat hair!’ Get over it, buddy!
    Look at ‘Isa Does It’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz or any book by Chloe Coscarelli. Both vegan cooks and awesome books. No butternut squash recipes….


    • I know…right? A little cat hair (or sheltie fur) never killed anyone! Might even be a bit of fiber in your diet. Never know. I will check out those cookbooks, thanks for the tip!

      Liked by 1 person

    • and that is why we rinse ’em–to get rid of the cat/dog hair! Yesterday I dropped my toast with jam–fortunately jam-side up. Wished I could rinse it, but not toast, so I brushed off the bottom, examined under good light, and, yum. And I’m still alive. Uncooked fruits & veggies dropped on the floor always rinse off perfectly well. What they pick up on our floors is probably healthier than the environments in which they were originally grown anyway. 3 cheers for not wasting food!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beef it up!


  4. Don’t know if it would work for something like this but I usually cut the squash in half the long way, clean out the seeds with a spoon, and bake it face down on a cookie sheet. For this recipe though if you did that you probably couldn’t cube it… just have to mush it into the stew as a kind of yummy thickener. Or something.
    But another thing… get a good peeler!😊❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know….I definitely need a heavier duty peeler! And I did think about roasting it and using it as a thickener…that would actually work in this recipe, as it turned out to be more like soup and less like stew, so thicker would be better. Do you have an oven?

      Loved the “or something” part of your comment! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Hope you are loving the UP. I enjoy it so much up there.


  5. I learned about the already peeled and cubed butternut squash awhile back – some things are worth paying a little more. The beef sounds like a really good idea to me, but then I eat meat, just not as much as I do of veggies, grains, pasta. Oh, and beans.


    • The meat did make it more like a stew, and more palatable to husband. So it’s OK once in awhile to bend the rules. We’re still eating a lot more veggies than we used to. And beans. Lots and lots of beans.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I only roast butternut whole so there is no peeling involved, or buy it cut- after struggling for years the way you did I’m done! I loved the mental image of you darting across the kitchen before Katie got there- reminded me of the old days with our dogs 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. hi Dawn, i love how you write about your life and experiences: so full of humor and insights.

    i don’t know if you know that unpeeled butternut squash can be STEAMED. i use a big sharp OLD heavy knife the way you would use a cleaver (sometimes i even hit the blade with a hammer if i can’t push the knife in!) to chop the squash into chunks. it is noisy and takes some muscle but is cheaper than buying the pre-peeled squash.

    it doesn’t take too long to steam; just keep adding water to the pan if it gets low. test with a fork for doneness.

    after the steaming, you could, if you desired, peel the chunks after quickly plunging them in cold water. very easy and little waste. you could then add the chunks to the stew at the end of the cooking time for the other ingredients… could be cooking the ingredients at the same time as steaming the squash.

    personally, i don’t ever peel them. i figure the fiber should be good for me and i am lazy about some parts of cooking. the suggestion of using the softened squash as a way to make it creamier is a good one too.

    you could even give up on the title “stew” and puree the whole recipe for a smooth soup that the French would love for a dinner with a salad and fruit. the peel would be pureed and not noticed by anyone eating it. i make a ginger-butternut-orange-onion puree soup that is great.

    sometimes i steam the squash and serve it as a side dish with butter and salt/pepper. sooo sweet and delicious. i scoop out the flesh from the rind at the table, just like acorn squash (which is faster to steam than to roast also) and no pre-peeling needed. sometimes i eat the rind.

    this is a long rambling comment about squash. i am glad that you are experimenting and giving yourself permission to stray from the recipe and try new things. carry on! bess

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bess! Thanks for all the great advice! I think you are right, steaming it while the rest is cooking would probably work! I never thought about eating the peel…seems so tough, you know? But maybe if it was all pureed. Maybe! LOL.

      Hope you are doing well! I am sitting at the moment watching it rain (finally!) and deciding when my next camping adventure should happen…and where…


      • does the rain cool things off or lessen the humidity? we almost never get rain in the summer here, which makes up for the 9+ months of rain every year.

        plan a trip to Oregon for next year and we could show you a marvelous time: ocean, volcanos, high desert, big rivers, waterfalls, fun!


        • Rain usually does cool things off and lessens the humidity. Generally it’s quite a bit cooler for several days after a good rain. I’m camping with Katie in a state park near the house right now..and it’s been perfect. Mid 70’s in the daytime (and my site is all shade, so I’m actually wearing long pants and sometimes a jacket) and mid 50s at night . Perfect sleeping weather for a sheltie!

          I’ll keep your Oregon offer in mind when we try to schedule something next year! Who knows if we’ll get to Oregon next year, but we’ll see!


  8. I even buy cut-up mushrooms these days–takes so long to slice up a couple pounds, and I’m all for just getting it done, or they’ll sit in the fridge and rot. As long as I can afford it…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I stopped adding saffron years ago. Doesn’t make a bit of difference in the taste to me and it’s too expensive.


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