I have a tendency to hoard food. There’s no basis for this habit. I’ve always been well fed (too well fed as my scale sometimes notes) and never gone without, but for some reason I have this anxiety that if I eat it all, I can’t get it again. Maybe it happened when I started taking this locavore thing so seriously. The realization that strawberries can’t grow year round in the northeast. I need to get my fill while they’re in season, preserve their flavors as best I can and hunker down for a round 9 months without seeing them again. By the time strawberry season finishes, I’ve stuff myself so full I can’t imagine having even the smallest of berries. That lasts for about a month or so, then the cravings return with a vengeance. Preserving helps, knowing that I have fresh strawberry jam to last the winter puts me slightly at ease. Until it doesn’t. I only have 6 jars to survive the winter (let’s forget about the other few dozen types of jam I also have stored up in my pantry). I panick. Will they really last? So I ration myself, allowing myself only a small spoonful of the sweet chunky jam every few weeks, determined to make my inventory last. Fast forward 9 months later, as strawberries start to surface at the greenmarkets and I find myself still left with 4 jars. I’ve rationed too well and find myself pushing jars of jam on everyone I know (thanks for holding the subway door for me; here, have some homemade jam) so I can start fresh in the new season.
Strawberries aren’t the only culprit. I canned over a dozen quarts of apple sauce last fall and have barely touched them for fear that if one single jar is opened, the others will instantly be consumed. Butternut squash too. I roast, puree and freeze them. I have a small family sitting on my pantry shelf. Yet as the first days of spring arrive, I finally come to terms that winter squash season is coming to an end, and I need to consume the remains of last years harvest soon.
As bitter cold turns to bright sunny afternoons and chirping birds return to Brooklyn, soups become less of an option. I’ve never seen a recipe for chilled butternut soup, and my little experience with the idea (sampling a bite from leftovers chilling in the fridge) tells me it wouldn’t go over too well. But somehow light stews have the power to transcend seasons. Replace heavy cuts of beef and hearty root vegetables with bright colors and lighter flavors and a winter dish can easily earn its place in an spring menu. The addition of dried apricots add an almost tropical feel, making me wonder if I could even force this menu on a chilly summer eve. And the fact that recipe is crockpot friendly only increases its likeability.
Slow Cooked Butternut Squash & Apricot Stew (Adapted from The Healthy Slow Cooker)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 inch piece ginger, grated
- 1 cinnamon stick, approximately 2 inches long
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Pinch of salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 c vegetable broth
- 1/2 c orange juice
- 4 c peeled, cubed butternut squash
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 c dried apricots, chopped
- 1 1/2 c quinoa, rinsed
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until it shines. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, spices, salt and pepper and mix well.
Add vegetable broth and orange juice and bring to a boil. Transfer to crockpot. Stir in squash, apples and apricots. Cook on low for 8 hours, until vegetables are tender.
Remove cinnamon stick from crockpot. In a medium saucepan bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa in a steady stream to prevent lumps from forming and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Add quinoa to crockpot and stir well. Serve immediately.
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- Meatless Mondays: Curried Butternut Squash Risotto (bklynlocavore.com)
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