ONCE UPON A THYME in a limestone castle with sea-blue turrets lived a king and a queen and their daughter, the Princess Diantheia. Diantheia was special. She had a spirit that was more powerful than song. This loving energy beamed out of her eye sockets and tumbled from her mouth and gleamed off of her forehead like July sunshine. It caused the sky to turn rose-pink and made the flowers bloom forever.
Every townsperson adored her.
Everyone except for the Noon Witch, that is.
The Noon Witch was a miserable old crone who lived far away from the palace in a dirty hut overgrown with weeds and brambles. She hated the rose-pink sky, the forever blooming flowers, and the loving townspeople. Her greatest wish was that everything would become just as miserable as she was. The Noon Witch plotted and plotted until one day, she decided to take her revenge.
On the eve of Diantheia’s sixteenth birthday, the Noon Witch climbed on the back of her milk-white moose and rode straight to the castle. She covered her warty face with a long black robe and snuck into the sleeping princess’s bedroom.
“I curse you to take the form of an imperfect butternut squash,” shouted the Noon Witch. “You can only escape your fate through the love and curiosity of a child.”
In the morning, the king and queen came into Diantheia’s bedroom to wake her for the birthday festivities. But all they saw in the big bed was the imperfect squash. The squash was discolored and misshapen. In no way did it look the least bit appetizing. Horrified, the queen tossed the vegetable out the window.
“Tell every person in every village,” the queen ordered. “Whoever finds my darling Diantheia will receive a lifetime of gold.”
She immediately sent the knights out into the kingdom to search for her missing daughter.
The knights traveled far and wide to find Princess Diantheia. They rode far out past the Black Forest and knocked on the door of a small home in the woods.
“The Princess Diantheia has gone missing,” said the knight. “Whoever finds her is promised a lifetime in gold.”
The mother’s eyes lit up very large.
“Oh no,” said the mother. “I live here alone with my seven children. No one ventures this far past the forest.”
The knights rode away but the mother could not forget about the Princess. Before her children left for market the next day, she gathered them around the table.
“Must we eat pierogi again today?” complained the eldest.
“We eat it every day,” whined the second eldest.
“I like pierogi,” said the youngest. “It is like a tiny treasure box.”
“A treasure box for a stupid vegetable!” shouted the third eldest.
“I want gold,” whined the fourth eldest.
“The Princess Diantheia has gone missing,” said the mother. “You must look everywhere on your way to market today. Whoever finds her is promised a lifetime of gold.”
“Then we never have to eat pierogi again,” said the fifth eldest.
“We can eat anything for dinner,” said the sixth eldest. “Pies!”
“Cakes!” said the eldest.
“Brownies!” said the second eldest.
“Cookies!” said the third eldest.
“Muffins!” said the fourth eldest.
“Doughnuts!” said the fifth.
“Ice cream!” said the sixth.
“Rainbows!” said the youngest.
“Rainbows?” repeated the eldest. “You can’t eat rainbows.”
The youngest child stuck out his tongue. He was used to his brothers and sisters dismissing his words as nonsense. He watched them run through the forest down the same path they took every single day. Then, he noticed a clearing in the forest near a field of bluebells. He had walked the regular route hundreds of times before and never once had seen a Princess. But who knew what could be found in the other direction?
The youngest child walked toward the clearing. He saw the same trees and the flowers he already knew and just when he began to worry that the new path was no different than the regular path, he stubbed his toe on something hard.
“Ow,” he exclaimed, and looked down at his feet. Next to his shoe sat the strangest butternut squash he had ever seen. It was misshapen and discolored and altogether unappetizing in every way. But the youngest found it curious. He picked up his prize and brought it home.
His brothers and sisters had already returned from the market. They returned with items such as flour and vegetables and oil and herbs.
The eldest pointed to the strange squash.
“What is that?”
“A musical instrument,” said the youngest.
“No, it’s not,” said the second eldest.
“Or a fairy spaceship,” said the youngest.
“It’s ugly,” said the third eldest.
“And useless,” said the fourth eldest.
His brothers and sisters would never understand. The youngest took the squash to his bedroom and played for hours. He and the squash played games and sang songs. They appreciated each other’s strangeness. When it was time for bed, the youngest made a small bed for the squash and went to sleep. In the morning, the youngest awoke to the Princess Diantheia sitting cross legged in his bedroom.
“Don’t be afraid,” said the Princess. “The Noon Witch turned me into a squash. I could only be saved through the love and curiosity of a child.”
That day, the Mother gave notice to the kingdom that her youngest had discovered the Princess Diantheia. The family received a lifetime of riches and never again did the brothers and sisters make fun of the youngest child.
Author’s note: The magical properties of the butternut squash contain earth energy, grounding and comfort.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1/2 sea salt
Butternut Squash Filling
1 small butternut squash roasted
1 cup feta cheese
1 small onion
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 Tblsp Olive oil
6 oz butter
12 sage leaves
2 garlic cloves
Begin with roasting your squash. Slice squash and remove seeds. Put on a baking sheet and roast at 400 F for 30 minutes or until soft. Let squash cool before handling.
While your squash is cooking and cooling in a medium sized bowl add flour and make a well. Mix together wet ingredients in a small bowl then pour into the center of your well. Use a spatula or your hands and fold the flour into the wet mixture until a ball is formed. Store in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.
To make the filling, once the butternut squash is cooled scoop out puree in food processor. I add 1/2 cup of water to help puree. Sauté your onions in olive oil with thyme, salt, and pepper. Once onions are translucent add them to pureed squash along with feta cheese. Set the mixture aside.
To make pierogi roll out your dough (should be thin like paper). Use a small glass or cookie cutter and cut small circles. Use a teaspoon and add puree and then fold over circles to close. Use water to seal the dough, wiping away any excess puree. Let pierogis sit for about 20 minutes so they dry out before you sauté.
I browned my butter with garlic and sage leaves on a medium heat. Once butter was melted and began to brown I added about 5 pierogi at a time. Let cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes once cooked add the next batch until all pierogi are cooked. Recipe yields about 16 pierogi depending on how thin you roll out your dough. Once all pierogi are cooked plate and drizzle butter over top. Enjoy!
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