We had the most amazing sneak peek at spring this weekend! Could it be that the long dark days of winter are finally coming to an end or is spring just teasing us with a taste of what is to come?
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens
Yesterday we took the opportunity to enjoy the unusually warm spring weather. We picked up a gelato from our local ice cream parlour and went for a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk at Toronto’s Kew Beach. While we were walking a flock of Canadian Geese flew overhead as they came in from the lake on their journey north.
Now that I think of it, I have noticed quite a few birds this past week. Many stop in and around Toronto before heading north while others stay right through until fall. We are a stopping off point in the migration path after crossing Lake Ontario from the warm south.
I find it amazing that two weeks ago we had such a build-up of snow that it made it difficult to get around town and now the snow is gone and the roads are finally clear.
Other signals are telling us that spring is almost here. This week is spring break for school children and the stores are filled with brightly coloured outfits for the days ahead. Next week marks the official start of spring on March 21 and we set our clocks ahead one hour for daylight saving time this past weekend.
“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself. “-Ernest Hemingway
I know I am getting ahead of myself but my excitement cannot be contained. Even if we get one last dump of snow before the real start of spring I can look ahead and I can see it coming. I can almost smell the flowers and see the rich green that nature paints over the lawns and trees.
This is the time of year when I start to crave lighter food and less meat in my diet. These wonderful stuffed acorn squash make a terrific vegetarian main course or side dish. They would be great at an Easter Dinner as well.
Makes 4-6 servings
3 acorn squash (each 4 inches/ 10 cm in diameter or 2 (each 6 inches/12 cm in diameter)
2 slices of multi-grain bread
½ large red apple such as Honey Crisp, Cortland or Spy
2 tbsp. (30 ml) butter
2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
½ cup (125 ml) onion, diced small
1 large stalk celery, diced small
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. (15 ml) lemon juice
1 tsp. (5 ml) dried rubbed sage
1 tsp. (5 ml) chopped fresh thyme
¼ to ½ tsp. (1 to 2 ml) salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (125 ml) toasted slivered almonds
¼ cup (60 ml) dark raisins
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 to 3 tbsp. (30- 45 ml) cold water
1 cup (250 ml) grated old cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C)
Lightly oil a 10 x 15 inch (25x 38-cm) jelly-roll pan or spray with cooking spray.
Cut squash in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, thoroughly scrape out seeds and all stringy bits. Lay halves cut-side down on sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until tender when pierced.
Meanwhile, cut bread into very small dice, measure out 2 ½ cups (625 ml). Finely dice 1 cup (250 ml) unpeeled apple.
Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, until bubbly. Add onion, celery and garlic. Sauté 2 to 5 minutes or until onions become translucent. Stir in apples, lemon juice, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
Add almonds, raisins and cranberries to pan; stir well. The add bread cubes; gently toss to mix in well. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until hot. Remove from heat; sprinkle with water. Mixture should feel moist. Sprinkle cheese over stuffing mixture, rapidly stirring to mix in well.
Turn over hot squash halves. Divide stuffing mixture evenly among the squash halves.
If making ahead you can cool the squash, cover and refrigerate for up to one day.
Place pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot.
Serve ½ to 1 squash half person.
Recipe from the LCBO Food and Drink Magazine-Holiday 2012 edition